Environmental Ethics:Animal Rights Essay

1752 words - 7 pages

Animal rights are concerned with the status of animals, whereas environmental ethics concerns itself with the relationship to the environment. I will show how the existence of animal ethics depends on the existence of environmental ethics. I will prove this by showing that such philosophers who have practiced animal rights such as Peter Singer, Tom Regan, and Paul Taylor are limited because they are individualistic. This means they are limited to animal concerns, and nothing else. However, with environmental ethics such philosophers as Aldo Leopold, Laura Westra, and Arne Naess look at the environmental ethics collectively. This means they look at the big picture, including the animals and its environment.I will first look at the views of Peter Singer, who is a utilitarian. A utilitarian is someone who believes the greatest amount of good for the greatest number. Singer wants the suffering of animals to be taken into consideration. He states, "If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering..." What this means is that the suffering of animals is not justified. He also states how he thinks a major way to stop the suffering is to stop the experimenting on animals. He states "...the widespread practice of experimenting on other species in order to see if certain substances are safe for human beings, or to test some psychological theory about the effect of severe punishment of learning...". When Singer is talking about the experiments and suffering of animals, he is concerned most with domestic animals, he is not too concerned with the other animals in the world. Views like these make Singer limited.Singer is limited and individualistic because he is not concerned with the environment in which animals live and since he is a utilitarian, equality is not something that concerns him. Even other philosophers criticize the utilitarian point of view exhibited by Singer. Tom Regan protests "Utilitarian has no room for the equal moral rights of different individuals because it has no room for their equal inherent value worth. What has value for the utilitarian is the satisfaction of an individual's interest, not the individual whose interests they are." Therefore, if things are not given equal rights, including the environment, there will not be a tomorrow to look forward to.Singer has also been known to show a lack of compassion and sympathy. As stated by Laura Westra, "It is probable that, at a minimum, instrumental values have always been ascribed to those animals which have contributed in some way to the human community down through ages...Still it is possible to raise doubts about sympathy, as many claim to have no such feeling, including such animal defenders as Singer". Westra goes on to describe how Singer is not only unsympathetic to that of animals...

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