Utilitarianism and animal rights essays

Sentient utilitarianism

I do not regard the conflict between the position I have taken and widely accepted views about the sanctity of infant life as a ground for abandoning my position. The context of Singer's comments involves an examination of the argument that meat eaters actually do animals a favor by causing them directly or through consumption demand to come into existence in the first place. All rights reserved. Do these theories, which propose ideal moral states, have prescriptions for how to effect incremental change in order to achieve the state of affairs for animals that would be required under the ideal state? Would he have emulated Singer? As Henry Shue has argued in the context of human rights, there is a logical distinction between what Shue calls "basic" rights and "non-basic" rights. For utilitarianism, the use of nonhuman animals can be acceptable only if the happiness their exploitation causes is greater than the harm it causes. Therefore you serve pig and bring pleasure to the majority of guests, hard luck for the pig and the six veggies. But Singer cannot maintain that there is any absolute rule against killing such a being because the aggregation of consequences may militate in favor of such killing. It is impossible to avoid participation in institutionalized animal exploitation completely since virtually every aspect of our lives is involved in some way with the institutionalized exploitation of animals. Professor of Law and Nicholas deB. In this light, the issue of incremental change is understood as the incremental eradication of this property status. See generally Gary L. Emphasis in original. Bentham and Singer are interested in different research fields, however, for both of them, ethics must not be based on custom or habit but be evaluated by looking at the consequences of an action which is where the consequentialist principle originates.

One particular form of utilitarianism focuses not on the total sum of happiness minus suffering, but on minimizing the total sum of suffering. In addition utilitarianism laudably considers other beings in the firing line of a moral issue; it does not consider just your own interests.

What ethical theory supports animal rights

Once we recognize that animals are no longer "things," then we can no longer treat them as beings whose fundamental interests in their own lives may be sacrificed because we enjoy the taste of meat, or because we enjoy shooting pigeons, or because we enjoy the feel or look of fur or leather. As long as Simon has had a fair opportunity to develop his mathematical abilities, using Jane's "intelligence" as a criterion for determining the distribution of the particular resource in question educational benefits is fair. Third, and related to the problem of inter-species comparisons of pain and suffering, is Singer's analytic framework. Find out more. But it is often difficult to predict these consequences under the best of circumstances. This matter of inclusion is to be distinguished from the matter of the scope of any rights that animals may have once we move them from one side to the other. I will also suggest a different course of action the woman could have taken to be justified, through both ethical theories. I would like our conviction that it would be wrong to treat intellectually disabled humans in this way to be transferred to nonhuman animals at similar levels of self-consciousness and with similar capacities for suffering. This is called negative utilitarianism. Singer desires as a long-term goal the treatment of animals that would be dictated by a theory of act utilitarianism informed by the principle of equal consideration for equal interests. Singer, Animal Liberation, supra note 16, at If the goal of morality is to maximize happiness or preferences , then sometimes we will need to cause an individual harm in order to obtain this utilitarian goal. This is not to say that these negative consequences would not necessarily outweigh the animal interests involved in not experiencing pain and suffering incidental to intensive agriculture; it only says that if the issue hinges on the aggregation of consequences, it is unclear whether it would be morally right under Singer's view to abolish factory farming. Singer Ed. Part V proposes a theory concerning three components of moral theory.

Difficult moral questions will remain. He does not even urge that as a proactive measure, animal advocates should assess the competing options and pick the one that will reduce suffering the most. They stated that the interests of nonhuman animals should be respected as equal to those of humans.

from a utilitarian perspective animals have rights so long as they may suffer

I do not wish to suggest that intellectually disabled humans should be force-fed with food colourings until half of them die […]. For utilitarianism, the use of nonhuman animals can be acceptable only if the happiness their exploitation causes is greater than the harm it causes.

Utilitarian view on eating animals

Another distinction within utilitarianism is the distinction between classical utilitarianism also known as hedonism and preference utilitarianism. Singer's utilitarian theory is different from traditional animal welfare in that Singer regards the long-term goal as animal "liberation," which is Singer's shorthand for a state of affairs that would accord equal consideration to the equal interest of animals. We need to be aware both of the fact that animal lives have a value, since animals are sentient, and that human lives are not sacrosanct simply because they are human. Even if Singer would maintain this position, the humanocentric evaluation of consequences is likely to be evaluated differently when nonhumans are involved, for a number of reasons, including that it is humans who do the evaluating. Torture may be admissible if it aims at wresting capital information out of someone, in view of the general interest. The inclusion, for the first time, of nonhuman animals into this community is an ambitious project. Instead, an approach similar to that used to resolve ethical dilemmas in clinical practice may be more helpful. This question can be rephrased as whether there is any way to change incrementally the legal status of animals that is consistent with rights theory. Your action may seem beneficial at first but a long time later reveals harmful results.

James M.

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From Jeremy Bentham to Peter Singer