Animals’ ethics is an important philosophical issue that needs to be discussed in the society nowadays. Peter Singer is one of the defenders of such problem in the context of contemporary scientific realm. His article “All Animals are Equal” aims to articulate his position towards the rights of other species different from our own called “homo sapiens”, and explains the basic principle of equality in general. Therefore, his point of view is worth being considered profoundly in this paper.
To achieve the stated goal, this work consists of the three main parts. The first one elucidates of the basic principle of equality as the central argument of the philosopher’s point of view. The second one evaluates the author’s argument in details in order to find out the strongest and poorest points of the thinker’s view. Finally, the third part explains the persuasiveness of Peter Singer’s reasoning. Thus, the structure of this paper reflects the main issues of the chosen text in order to represent the central argument of the article and assess it.
Overall, this paper aims to analyze and criticize the main standpoint of Peter Singer’s “All Animals are Equal”. The main issue in the article is the basic principle of equality, and its use towards the animals as the members of other species different from humans. In conclusion, animals’ ethics will be the general context for the matter of rights and equality.
Central Argument of the Article
In the article “All Animals are Equal” Peter Singer presents the basic principle of equality. Contrary to his colleagues, he expands it not only to the oppressed groups of his own species, but to the other beings different from “homo sapiens”. His idea means the necessity to provide the other species with the equal rights that the humans possess. There is some reasoning for this statement, which should be explained in more detail.
First, the philosopher explains the essence of the basic principle of equality in reference to other species. He writes: “The extension of the basic principle of equality from one group to another does not imply that we must treat both groups in exactly the same way, or grant exactly the same rights to both groups” (150). For him “the basic principle of equality … is equality of consideration” (150). Therefore, different beings should be treated in different ways and granted the different rights.
Moreover, both humans and animals cannot be considered according to the definite state of mind or other ability. Peter Singer elucidates that, “the claim to equality does not depend on intelligence, moral capacity, physical strength, or similar matters of fact” (153). His statement proves that “equality is a moral ideal, not a simple assertion of fact” (153). Thus, his standpoint refutes the others’ assurance that it is possible to divest the rights of those who differ from human beings in some aspects.
Conclusively, the Austrian thinker gives the reader two main points towards the basic principle of equality. The first one affirms that equality means the equal consideration to the different beings, in order to treat them in different ways and give them different rights. The second one asserts that equality is a moral state, which cannot depend on the factual statements about intelligence or other capacities of these beings. Overall, the basic principle of equality should be extended not only to humans, but also to the members of other species.
Evaluation of the Central Argument
In order to assess the main standpoint of Peter Singer’s argument, it is necessary to examine his two basic positions of the central statement. According to the abovementioned, the first one is the explanation of the basic principle of equality. The second one is the definition of equality by itself which means the equality of consideration and equality as the moral ideal. Thus, the evaluation of the central argument of the article “All Animals are Equal” pertains to the stated two positions of the standpoint.
To begin with, the basic principle of equality should be extended to other species different from the “homo sapiens”. This statement possesses the positive attitude towards the animals and other non-human beings that are worth not to be violated and suffer on the reason of human actions. The examples of the cruel behavior to them are the speciesism in cases of eating them as the food and the vivisection as the experimentation on them. These proofs indicate the gap between the human understanding of other species existence on the Earth, on the one hand, and the necessity of such extension of the basic principle of equality to non-human beings in addition, on the other hand.
As for the notion of equality, the thinker explains that the equality of consideration requires the different treatment and, accordingly, the different rights. The strength of this statement lies in the example that there is no need to give the right of vote to the animals as they do not demand it by their existence and present physical capacities. Nevertheless, it lacks the determination of the extent of difference between these rights and ways of treatment to be considered equally. As a result, Peter Singer requests the equal consideration of the treatment and rights for the other species, besides humans, but does not provide the explanation of the degree of such determination.
In addition, there is another definition of the equality as the moral ideal. The advantage of such understanding of the equality lies in the explanation that it does not depend on the mental state or other capacities of the being in general. The consideration of the equality of the different species allows them to be treated regardless of their origin and, therefore, prevents their suffering. Conclusively, the comprehension of the equality as the moral ideal provides the essential support for the defense of animals and other beings to protect them appropriately.
Overall, the basic principle of equality and two main determinations of the equality by Peter Singer possess both the strong and poor points at the same time. Nevertheless, the preference of the first ones defines the reasonableness of their proclamation by the author. The necessity to pay attention not only to the expansion of the rights to the other species, but also to the equal consideration, irrespective of their capacities, prevails over the weakness of the article.
Persuasiveness of the Author’s Reasoning
As it was shown in the previous parts, the central argument of the author consists of the strong premises and the appropriate conclusions. The strength of it is in his proofs that sound quite persuasive to the reader. Free comparison and correlation between the people and other beings make the single argument grounded on the basic reasoning. Logical assumptions of Peter Singer prove the essence of the written article.
First, the author figures out the clear aim of his investigation. He supports it with two strong explanations of the basic principle and the notion of equality. The first one means the equality of consideration. The second one is the moral ideal. Both elucidations are valid and persuasive, according to the rules of logical assumptions.
Second, the Austrian philosopher uses the clear and adequate examples of the kinds of discrimination of the other beings, different from humans. Such issues as speciesism and vivisection illustrate inequality in the rights of various species, like animals. These examples let the reader distinguish the real problems of the existing world. Therefore, the reasoning is based on the strong statements using the appropriate instances and parallels.
Finally, the unity of the components of central argument that consists of the basic principle of equality and the two main determinations of that notion makes the reader be convinced about the necessity of providing the equality to other species, besides humans. The reasonable and valid examples and parallels with the human rights provide the thinker’s standpoint the strength and essence in his proclamation. Therefore, the structure of the philosopher’s central point of view justifies his main reasoning in order to provide the necessary background for the strong argumentation.
Conclusively, the article “All Animals are Equal” by Peter Singer pays attention to the essential issue of moral ethics as the principle of equality. Contrary to other philosophers, the Austrian thinker deals not only with the human rights, but also defends the rights of animals and other beings. He elucidates the basic principle of equality, explains the meaning of this notion, and in such a way, gives the argument for the equal consideration for all of beings on the planet. His reasoning and conclusions convince the reader to let understand the cruelty and nonsense of those, who divest the others on their rights, and make non-human beings suffer greatly within their practice.