Saturday, July 23, 2016

Singer on Animal Suffering

From guest blogger, Yi.

I do agree with Singer that human beings should stop eating meat based on ethical reasons. However, I do not think his “suffering pain” argument is applicable.
I do believe that we have our moral obligations towards animals. It is not because animals suffer, but because we are human beings. We need to make this distinction between humans and animals first. The main reason why I am not fully convinced by Peter Singer is that he only focuses on the common feelings (pain) between humans and non-humans. Based on Theory of Evolution (which I believe it is true), we are developed from animals. It is common that we share a lot of same and similar behaviors. Both humans, animals need to eat, to drink, to sleep, etc.  When we talk about ethical duties towards animals, what we should focus is why human beings ourselves have these moral duties upon animals and how these duties affect us. (instead animals suffer pains).
It is also hard for Singer to explain why we should not do animal experiment based on his argument. (Maybe he thinks it is also wrong for us to use animals to do experiment. I don’t know his attitude.) But if he thinks that it is permissible for some animals to be used for medical development, then it seems that he contradicts himself. Sometimes lab animals even suffer more tortures than factory animals. Since his theory is impartial, how we supposed to pick and sacrifice certain animals instead of others if animals suffer the same amount of pains.
However, if he denies that lab experiment is permissible, then we should not use animals for medical ways. However, by not doing animal experiments, human beings might suffer a lot of pains because we are not able to find and test new medicine. A lot of human beings will lose wellbeing and might be dead because of the physical and mental pains they suffer. How would Peter Singer make a choice between letting human beings’ suffer and permitting animals to be experimented. As a consequentialist, how would Singer calculate the loss of wellbeing of those people who might be dead because of lacking of new medicine or operations.
He might say that specisism is wrong. Instead of using animals for medical experiment, we can use humans to do medical testing. (Even though I highly doubt that he would say that, probably) We just use ourselves to get what we need. In that case, I think it would involve the discussion about human rights. (I will not discuss in this blog) however, as a consequentialist, he would face a problem that which people can be experimented and what influences would this bring?
In conclusion, I agree that we should stop eating meat but not based on Singer’s reason.


Aria said...

Hi Nan Yi,

I think you had a good summary of Singer's beliefs on animal suffering based on the readings. As you know, Singer is utilitarian and he could respond to your objection about animal experimentation by stating that such experiments are morally permissible as long as the happiness/pleasure caused by them exceeds the suffering and pain they have to endure. For instance, he would say that animal experimentations is morally permissible if it results in finding a cure for cancer and saving millions of lives across the globe. So his choice between human suffering and animal suffering, as we discussed in class, would depend on the amount of suffering inflicted upon each organism and the consequences of those sufferings in the future.


William Wagner said...

I agree with your view. It seems like Singer contradicts himself a lot, which is one of his theories weaknesses. I also think you make a great point about having to distinguish ourselves from animals. While, we do have a moral obligation to animals I do not believe Singer makes it clear why we have this moral obligation. As a consequentialist Singer is way to demanding morally and is way to impartial.

Tessa Hansen said...

I also agree with your view. I have been a vegetarian for seven years. I think people need to re-evaluate their diet in order to help sustain the environment and protect animal rights, yet I do not think people will switch their eating habits based on animals suffering being equal to humans suffering. I also have an issue with Singer believing in animal testing "in some cases." It seems like a huge contradiction just because his views are so strong.