Is it Immoral to Eat Animal? Essay

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Animal Liberation -- Peter Singer

Critic Peter Singer has written an in-depth review article about the book, Animals, Men and Morals, which very thoroughly covers the essays within the book and posits that there are some very serious questions about morality in the U.S.

Animals, Men and Morals

Singer begins his essay by recounting the various (and fairly recent) liberation movements in the United States (Black Liberation, Gay Liberation, and Women's Liberation); and Singer believes (based on his reading of the essays in the book) that the next (and current) liberation movement is for animals. Given that this article (and the release of the book) is 33 years old, there may have been some more recent arguments and theories that could trump the ideas and philosophies in this book, but that is irrelevant. Why? Any scholarship that is worthy has something valuable to offer the reader, no matter whether it is 2,000-year-old or just 33 years old.

Singer asserts that the book -- whether the editors and essayists intended it to be or not -- amounts to the launch of a liberation movement for animals; "the book as a whole amounts to no less," Singer explains on page 1 of his critique. The powerful narrative that is contained in the book gets what seems to be fair and full exposure by Singer. For example, as to his insistence that this book is the informal launch of an animal liberation movement, that remark can be backed up by the narrative of Patrick Corbett, Professor of Philosophy at Sussex University in England. Corbett sounds a bit like American Revolutionary icon Patrick Henry when he says:

"…We require not to extend the great principles of liberty, equality ad fraternity over the lives of animals. Let animal slavery join human slavery in the graveyard of the past" (Singer, p. 1). To invoke slavery as a metaphor for how animals are treated in the West is quite daring, and even provocative. Singer says, okay, animals are deserving but are they to be placed in the same liberation context as women, African-Americans and gay men and lesbian women? His challenges to the salient theme of this book pop up periodically, and with a sharp eye and sound logic.

Moral philosopher Jeremy Bentham believed that the interests of every being that have interests "are to be taken into account and treated equally with the like interests of any other being" (Singer's paraphrase used here). Bentham isn't the only moral philosopher taking this position, but he makes a good point (Singer, p. 2) when he writes that the question is "not" can a horse or dog or cat reason, or can they talk; the question is, "Can they suffer?" (Singer, p. 2). And Springer believes that Bentham is correct when he reasons that if any being suffers (be it a dog or cat or cow) there can be "no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration." But Springer may be treading on thin moral ice -- at least with many people who don't categorize animals in the same genre with humans -- when he asserts on page 2 that if a being suffers its suffering should count "equally with the like suffering (if rough comparisons can be made) or any other being" -- including humans (p. 2).

At this point in his essay Springer spends too much time convincing readers (and perhaps himself) that animals do indeed experience pain. But by page 3 he begins a review of the issue of language and beings without language. Just because animals do not use English or other languages that humans are familiar with, doesn't mean they don't have thoughts; and Springer uses a point from iconic chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall that humans don't always use language themselves to illustrate their emotions. Apes clasp hands, cheer their colleagues, and express other emotions through body language -- just as humans do -- hence, "basic signals we use to convey pain, fear, sexual arousal…are not specific to our species," Singer points out (p. 3).

So the argument then is not whether or not non-human species suffer, but whether or not humans cause their suffering by eating their flesh. On page four Singer quotes from the author's Introduction: Noting that a "full force of moral… [end of preview; READ MORE]

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Is it Immoral to Eat Animal?.  (2011, April 3).  Retrieved January 23, 2020, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/immoral-eat-animal/8645999

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