Animal Liberation

Josh carlosg at
Wed Nov 20 03:10:38 MST 2002

Josh, you have to compare like with like.

So are you saying a baby ape is "more intelligent and self-aware" than
a baby human and has the inherent ability to be more so as it grows

Are you saying that mentally-handicapped apes are "more intelligent
and self-aware" than mentally-handicapped humans?

I'm sorry but I don't think your argument holds up. I don't see why
age in itself should be significant at all, nor should you have to
compare handicaped with handicaped or normal apes and humans. Singer
simply argues that some animals are more intelligent and self-aware
than some humans and therefore the consequences, in terms of treatment
need to be considered.

On a wider note, for those who are not familiar with Singers' ideas on
the subject, I thought I'd briefly state them.
In his book "Animal Liberation" (Highly recommended!!) he starts with
the following words:

 "This book is about the tyranny of human over nonhuman animals. This
tyranny has caused and today is still causing an amount of pain and
suffering that can only be compared with that which resulted from the
centuries of tyranny by white human over black humans. The struggle
against this tyranny is a struggle as important as any of the moral
and social issues that have been fought over in recent years."

 "Most readers will take what they have just to be a wild
exaggeration. Five years ago I myself would have laughed at the
statements I have now written in complete seriousness. Five years ago
I did not know what I know today."

He goes on to say that he was "not especially interested in animals"
and "didn't love animals". His main argument is (in my words) that
they are arbitrarily discriminated against simply because they happen
to be nonhuman. He calls this discrimination "speciesism" cf racism,
discriminate on race. Sexism, discriminate on sex. Speciesism is the
act of discriminating based solely on species rather than on anything
significant like the ability to feel pain/happiness.

I would urge people to read his book as one can have a hard time
communicating the fine details of his points, it's also a good remedy
to the distortions you may occassionally hear written about his ideas.
It's also good to remember that he is currently a Professor at
Princeton University so he may not just be another nutter.

As someone once said (paraphrasing), A new idea is first ridiculed,
then debated and then accepted.

It may well be the case in this instance.


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