Peter Singer Animal Liberation Summary

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In 1975, Peter Singer published his work, Animal Liberation, which is, as some animal activists have argued, the catalyst for the modern animal rights movement in the United States. In his work, Singer argues that the principle of equality requires that we not only take into consideration the interests of our fellow human beings, but also the interests of all beings with the capacity for suffering. Singer’s argument revolutionized the way many people thought about the treatment of animals – given that animals can suffer, there can be no moral justification for continuing the current practice of exploiting animals for our own interests and as such, activities like eating and experimenting on animals are morally unjustifiable and violate
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He states that if we are to take seriously the principle of equality, which allows us to say that all humans, despite the color of the skin or what abilities they possess, should be treated as equals, then we must commit and apply this same principle to our relation with the non-human animals. For example, if we believe discrimination against a disabled person for either their lack of mental capacity or their inability to communicate is wrong, then it is equally wrong to discriminate against animals who lack these abilities. Similarly, just as we should not disregard the interests of people who are not members of our race, we should not disregarded the interests of animals who are not members of our species. Like Jeremy Bentham, the father of modern utilitarianism, Singer believes people often draw arbitrary lines when determining whose interests should be taken into consideration. Historically speaking, sometimes the line is drawn based on gender, other times it is based race or abilities. Singer states that it is not the case that our predecessors have simply chosen the wrong characteristics to draw the “insuperable line” that determines whether the interests of a being should be considered. Therefore, the question is not, “Can they reason? Nor can they talk? But, can they suffer?” (588). Essentially, Singer makes the claim that the capacity for suffering is a necessity for having any interest at all; thus if a being is incapable of suffering, then there is nothing to be taken into
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