Peter Singer argues in “Speciesism
and the Equality of Animals” that interests of animals and humans are both equally
morally important and ought to be treated with equal consideration. Singer
defines speciesism as assigning moral preference to the interests of individuals
of your own species, over matching interests of individual members of a different
species, only because it is an individual of your own species (Singer 277). Singer
claims that speciesism is a preconception that is just as unacceptable as
racism or sexism (277). He stresses that moral equality does not require identical
factual characteristics (277). A human’s degree of intelligence does not
determine their level of moral fairness with other humans. Similarly, simply
because animals are not as intelligent as humans does not mean they are not
worthy of equal consideration. In basic terms, identical interests must be assigned
equivalent moral weight despite the type of species (277). In addition, Singer
asserts equal treatment does not require the same treatment, but typically involves
diverse treatment (277). To claim humans and animals as morally equal does not obligate
us to treat typical animals equivalent to exactly how we treat typical humans. Factual
distinctions between individual members of different species can justify
differential treatment. For instance, equal treatment of a person who is unable
to hear and one who can hear demands different, not identical treatment. Further,
Singer claims if a being suffers there can be no ethical defence for dismissing
that suffering (278). We should not disregard animals’ interests in not
suffering simply because they are unable to speak or are not capable of
reasoning. Sentience is the prerequisite of all interests. Therefore, there is
nothing to be considered if a being cannot feel or suffer (278). Singer is establishing
that if a being is not sentient, such as a stone, then giving it moral
consideration makes no sense (278). Singer argues that most human beings are
speciesists, as we give greater weight to interests of members of our own
species compared to interests of members of other species (279). For instance,
we eat animals without taking the animals interests into consideration. Do
animals want to be killed? No. Singer claims sacrificing the most important
interests of other beings in order to satisfy trivial interests of our own
shows that humans are indeed speciesists (280). For example, we kill and
torture animals to simply have a more tasteful palate or for experimentation
purposes (280). Both our pleasure and marginal benefits are not rational
justifications for their suffering. We are taking significant lives of other
species, to satisfy our insignificant interests (281). Singer explains humans have
a moral obligation to stop supporting the practice of speciesism (280). If this
practice is not ceased, as consequence animals will continue to suffer and be killed
(280). Overall, Singer emphasises that the ideal of moral equality commits us to
equal consideration of the interests of all sentient animals (278). 

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