Peter Singer on Ethics, Darwin, and Vegetarianism

Peter Singer was on Point of Inquiry for the last two weeks talking about Ethics, Darwin, and Vegetarianism.

In Part I, he talks about various ethical issues.  This comes from the site:

Peter Singer explores how controversial or compatible his views are with religious thought and in what sense his ethics is informed by a naturalistic or Darwinian understanding of the origins of life. He discusses the value of human life as regards end-of-life questions such as doctor-assisted suicide, and offers justification for the involuntary euthanasia of severely disabled infants. He details what it means to be genuinely “pro-life.” And he shares his views on stem cell research and abortion, arguing how that even though abortion is killing a human life, it is not unethical. He also explains what qualities of life would make killing it unethical.

In part II, he talks about Vegetarianism specifically.  Here’s the summary from the site:

Peter Singer defends vegetarianism, arguing that we should give equal consideration to all “beings who have interests.” He draws ethical distinctions between human fetuses and animals, such as dogs and cats. He argues against “dominionism,” which is the idea that humanity is special, and that other animals were made by God for humanity’s benefit. He attacks “specieism,” and explains why he did not sign the Humanist Manifesto 2000. He describes factory farming, and the commercial imperatives that he says cause animals to be treated as mere property. He talks about the decision to become a vegetarian, and what keeps secularists and scientists from making the decision, in terms of the question he posed to Richard Dawkins at a recent Center for Inquiry conference. And he considers how working with the religious may advance vegetarianism in society.

I agree with Singer when it comes to a lot of ethical issues, especially vegetarianism.  Although I have a few exceptions when it’s ok to eat meat which I gave a in a previous post about demi-vegetarianism.  Some of his other views are quite radical, but they are consistent with his utilitarian ethics.  He defines rights not at natural rights, but as “having interests.”  Well, animals have interests in having a good life.  Therefore, we should consider them when giving them rights.  Whether you agree with him or not, you must say that he has done a lot to philosophy.

About shaunmiller

I have just completed a visiting position as an assistant professor at Dalhousie University. My ideas are not associated with my employer; they are expressions of my own thoughts and ideas. Some of them are just musings while others could be serious discussions that could turn into a bigger project. Besides philosophy, I enjoy martial arts (Kuk Sool Won), playing my violin, enjoying coffee around town, and experimenting with new food.
This entry was posted in Ethics, Peter Singer, Rights, Vegetarianism. Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Peter Singer on Ethics, Darwin, and Vegetarianism

  1. Killer J says:

    I know where I stand on these issues, and I think you know where I stand as well.

    For anybody viewing this blog, click the links Shaun provided and read the discussion different people are having on Singer’s ideas. Pretty good debate.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s