Singer's philosophy, where it belongs

Readers may or may not be familiar with Peter Singer, the Australian born philosopher (I use that term very loosely here) who teaches at Princeton, and who thinks that baby cows either do, could or should have more moral rights than baby humans.

I think he’s finally found the perfect avenue (not that it ended up being a very receptive audience). He recently appeared on the Comedy Central show, The Colbert Report.

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9 thoughts on “Singer's philosophy, where it belongs

  1. Peter Singer is a utilitarian. By definition, they do not believe in rights.

    For the sake of your own credibility in the least, please get your facts straight before you criticize.

  2. Danielle D, this is just an error on your part. It’s false that utilitarianism by definition denies the existence of rights. Utilitarianism is the view that the right course of action is that which maximises utility, which in the case of preference utilitarians (like Singer) refers to preference satisfaction.

    There’s nothing in this definition to even suggest that rights do not exist. See for example the volume edited by Peter Singer and Tom Reagan, Animal Rights and Human Obligations. In his own essay in that volume, “All Animals are Equal,” Singer acknowledges that “There are important differences between humans and other animals, and these differences must give rise to some differences in the rights that each have.”

    Even a browse of readily available material like Wikipedia could have told you that “Although Singer rejects rights as a moral ideal independent from his utilitarianism based on interests, he accepts rights as derived from utilitarian principles, particularly the principle of minimizing suffering.”

    Now, what were you saying about getting the facts straight before criticizing?

  3. Hey, could you please have a post critiquing Singer’s notion of speciesism?

    In secular terms I would be interested to know why a human automatically has more rights than a non-human.

    Thanks

  4. Richard, I think Singer is right when he makes the point that once we get rid of (what he considers to be) religious mumbo jumbo, humans do not have more rights than other creatures by virtue of the fact that we are human. Speciecism is just the denial of this claim. I basically agree with Singer’s claim about what follows once the religious suppositions are rejected.

  5. Ok thanks for that, often I see people struggling to explain human superiority in secular terms.

    Another question I have is; why would your God create non-human animals that are so similar to humans and experience pain in such similar ways, yet not argue that we should include their interests in our ethical judgemetns?

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