Argument: Human and animal differences do not justify speciism/discrimination
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Tom Regan. "The Philosophy of Animal Rights". Retrieved May 6th, 2008 - "1. The philosophy of animal rights is rational Explanation: It is not rational to discriminate arbitrarily. And discrimination against nonhuman animals is arbitrary. It is wrong to treat weaker human beings, especially those who are lacking in normal human intelligence, as "tools" or "renewable resources" or "models" or "commodities." It cannot be right, therefore, to treat other animals as if they were "tools," "models and the like, if their psychology is as rich as (or richer than) these humans. To think otherwise is irrational.
[...] 3. The philosophy of animal rights is unprejudiced Explanation: Racists are people who think that the members of their race are superior to the members of other races simply because the former belong to their (the "superior") race. Sexists believe that the members of their sex are superior to the members of the opposite sex simply because the former belong to their (the "superior") sex. Both racism and sexism are paradigms of unsupportable bigotry. There is no "superior" or "inferior" sex or race. Racial and sexual differences are biological, not moral, differences.
The same is true of speciesism -- the view that members of the species Homo sapiens are superior to members of every other species simply because human beings belong to one's own (the "superior") species. For there is no "superior" species. To think otherwise is to be no less predjudiced than racists or sexists."
Randy Fairchild. "The Case Against Animal Testing". Helium - "But even assuming that animals are so very different from us, where does this concept of difference justifying mistreatment come from? Is it supported in the modern ethics of developed countries? It certainly was not the principle justifying our war against Nazism, the better part of a century ago, let alone its more subtle ethical variant of the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. A central concept of Civil Rights is to treat different persons as well or better (e.g. affirmative action) than oneself - In short, to ascend to selflessness, cherishing diversity.
Nor is it sufficient to draw the species barrier. What difference does it make, ethically, that humans cannot reproduce with other animals (and therefore are not the same species)? What defines a species drifts over time in a process called evolution, and all animals diverged from one another at one point in the past, just as humans may diverge from one another and form new species in the future."
Isaac Bashevis Singer - "As often as Herman had witnessed the slaughter of animals and fish, he always had the same thought: in their behaviour toward creatures, all men were Nazis. The smugness with which man could do with other species as he pleased exemplified the most extreme racist theories, the principle that might is right."
Pete Singer - "In an earlier stage of our development most human groups held to a tribal ethic. Members of the tribe were protected, but people of other tribes could be robbed or killed as one pleased. Gradually the circle of protection expanded, but as recently as 150 years ago we did not include blacks. So African human beings could be captured, shipped to America and sold. In Australia white settlers regarded Aborigines as a pest and hunted them down, much as kangaroos are hunted down today. Just as we have progressed beyond the blatantly racist ethic of the era of slavery and colonialism, so we must now progress beyond the speciesist ethic of the era of factory farming, of the use of animals as mere research tools, of whaling, seal hunting, kangaroo slaughter and the destruction of wilderness. We must take the final step in expanding the circle of ethics."
A summary of Peter Singer's main premise of equality by Michael Pollan in a New York Times Magazine Article entitled, "An Animal's Place" (November 10th, 2002) - "Singer's argument is disarmingly simple and, if you accept its premises, difficult to refute. Take the premise of equality, which most people readily accept. Yet what do we really mean by it? People are not, as a matter of fact, equal at all--some are smarter than others, better looking, more gifted. "Equality is a moral idea," Singer points out, "not an assertion of fact." The moral idea is that everyone's interests ought to receive equal consideration, regardless of "what abilities they may possess." Fair enough; many philosophers have gone this far. But fewer have taken the next logical step. "If possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle one human to use another for his or her own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit nonhumans for the same purpose?"
[...]But the differences between blacks and whites are trivial compared with the differences between my son and a chimp. Singer counters by asking us to imagine a hypothetical society that discriminates against people on the basis of something nontrivial--say, intelligence. If that scheme offends our sense of equality, then why is the fact that animals lack certain human characteristics any more just as a basis for discrimination? Either we do not owe any justice to the severely retarded, he concludes, or we do owe it to animals with higher capabilities."