Singer on 'speciesism': a specious argument by Helene Guldberg.
Peter Singer is recognised as the driving force behind the modern animal rights movement, and is widely credited with making 'speciesism' an international issue - speciesism being the idea that a human-centered morality is as abhorrent as racism or sexism. His new book In Defense of Animals: The Second Wave, of which he is editor, brings together 'the best current ethical thinking about animals', according to the cover blurb. Read the full article Here.
This article is worth reading, but not because it is necessarily good. Guldburg disagrees with Singer on many points, but ultimately fails to give a coherent reply. On top of this she falls into the trap that many who read Singer are tempted into by their finely honed pseudo-humanist conservative outrage: Singer's move to draw the comparison between animals and humans (who for what ever reason) that have similar mental abilities is not intended to be a justification for treating these humans as we would animals. It is rather to encourage us to treat these animals as we would humans; to raise them up to our level, rather than to bring us down to theirs.
Now I am not saying that there is nothing wrong with Singer's arguments. Those who know me in the real world have seen me eat meat, wear leather shoes etc, clear evidence that I'm not really convinced by them. But Peter Singer is a clever person. You don't end up as being Professor of Bioethics at Princeton by being a daft bugger. To critique his work requires a certain amount of emotional restraint. Stop getting upset by his seemingly outrageous analogies and focus on the actual content and structure of his arguments. Guldberg fails utterly to do this and therefore misses the point.