The Animal Liberation movement has long been viewed as a radical, terrorizing group of people that violently protest animal laboratories or commit arson without regard to human achievement, but this is simply not the case for those who believe in the liberation of animals by the systematic oppression of humans. Peter Singer is one moral philosopher, who specializes in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, utilitarian perspective. His perspective as a son of two Jewish Holocaust survivors as well as being a social activist and vegetarian describes his role as a stakeholder in this debate.
To Singer, all human animals and nonhuman animals are sentient and not mere means to an end but are ends in themselves. He believes this because non human animals, like humans, communicate their pleasure and pain in certain situations. To Singer, one must maximize pleasure and provide the greatest happiness for the greatest number of beings. In addition there must be equality of like interests between humans and non-humans and an equality of ranking procedures to decide conflicts. Basically, non-Humans and Humans are equal in their right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What Singer’s policies are classified as is Abolitionist for the achievement of egalitarian rights for all animals. Oftentimes the prejudice called speciesism, or the practice of privileging humans over other animals is overlooked unlike its counterparts in racism and sexism. It is commonly thought in many religions to assume that humans were divinely chosen as dominant over other animals so when people oppose this they are considered opposed to the most basic rules that govern our society. In addition, if similarities are noted between animals and humans speciesists also attribute these to an over-employment of anthropomorphism.
The basis of much of modern-day Animal Liberation is laid out in Animal Liberation published in 1975, written by Peter Singer. As Peter Singer does, the writing employs a utilitarian approach to the modern animal liberation movement. According to the piece, there is no reason not to apply these standards to other animals because the boundary between animals and humans is completely arbitrary. Intelligence, which is what many ethicists consider to be the qualifications of moral standing is not actually the basis for nonhuman animals any less consideration than intellectually challenged humans. If a preference is shown to avoid pain then there is obviously, to Singer, a precedent for them to be equal to humans.
A Case Study that can be considered by Peter Singer is the moral query between animal testing and solving the diseases that plague humanity. If we uphold the utilitarian principles of Singer’s egalitarianism then it is difficult to say that animals must sacrifice their well-being for the good of humans since they are equal beings. I think that Peter Singer would feel empathy for animals that are enslaved by humans to do their bidding-including sacrificing their well-being and lives for human well-being. Peter Singer would recommend other options to animal testing such as experimenting with DNA and manufactured materials in order to not harm sentient beings that feel pain.
In my opinion there must be a better way to address the needs of experimenting with bodies than raising millions of animals for the sole purpose of being tortured and subsequently dying in pain. This similar reasoning also applies to the argument against factory farming. If Factory Farming continues to be the operation that it is today, despite feeding millions of humans daily, then all the participants who are involved are considered morally wrong in their decisions. Another institution that he would condemn is the entertainment sector that includes circuses due to their abusive nature.
The world may never share the same views as Peter Singer, and it is true that many of his ethical arguments are considered to be controversial to the main stream, but perhaps his ideas can provoke thought and change in the centers of immoral conduct towards animals. I have hope that one day alternatives to animal testing can be found and used on a large scale in order that we do not harm any beings in the pursuit for a better life for humanity. What people should remember is to remain sympathetic to animals in morally compromised situations, for they feel pain just as you do.