Peter Singer, in his article on All Animals are Equal, have arrived at an inference that both humans and non-human species have an equal consideration of interest, which is know as non-speciecism or the unbiased treatment of other species. He expounded on the idea by presenting both sides of the arguments when he said that racists, just like speciecisists, violate the consideration of equality principle when they are biased or prejudicial in their treatment of another race or species. He inferred that because of the greater weight that a particular race or species give to their own race or species, they exercise inequality. In this paper, I will present claims and counterclaims that, indeed, the principle of giving due consideration to the interests of other species is as important as the equality that people of democrative ideals uphold to the best of their abilities, no matter what their limitations are or those of other kinds (race, species, gender, sex, inter alia).
II. Arguments Against and For Equality Among All Human and Non-Human Species
In reiteration and in a faithful quoting of Peter Singer’s ideation concerning the equality among all animals, he said:
Racists violate the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of their own race when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race. Racists of European descent typically have not accepted that pain matters as much when it is felt by Africans, for example, as when it is felt by Europeans. Similarly those I would call “speciesists” give greater weight to the interests of members of their own species when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those other species. (579-580)
In the above quote, I agree with Singer because humans, and even other animals, have the predisposition, inclination or nature to side with their own kind (race, sex) when it comes to issue that require special interests. Not only do humans of a particular race give greater consideration to the interests of their own members when conflicts arise between their own and those of others, but also when it is the only way to strike a balance between self-interest and of their own race. Precisely, that is the most rational way to preserve one’s life and those of their immediate race. I think there is nothing contrary to logic about that except when a particular human being is ex-communicated, ostracized, or condemned by his/her own kind. In a parallel manner, the same holds true as well when we talk about human interests and the interests of all the other non-human species (especially, animals). But, what is the actual similarities or differences, if any?
Let me argue first about the importance that sentience plays between humans and non-humans. Human sentience, is indubitably, is higher compared to non-human sentience. People have a greater sense of awareness, reasoning, language ability, to mention a few than any other species. On the contrary, non-human sentience has limited capacity and ability as evidenced by the way animals communicate with each other. For instace, adult human beings and adult animals are incomparably different when they exercise their abilities, such as simple or complex language proficiencies. Humans have complex built-in ways to communicate with one another, not to mention the technological tools that they have invented so far. On the other hand, animals simply communicate using sounds, body language and other means that are very unchangeably primitive since time immemorial. So, in language alone, incontestably, humans are more superior than their animal counterparts. If the list continues, humans far outweigh any other non-human species on earth (except of course, for some human capabilities that people do not have by reason of their humanness and some animals for reason of their animalness, such as seahorses that begets their young or bats that have ultrasonic abilities or anatomical echolocation).
In line with the preceding statement and with Singer’s reasoning, by sentience, humans seem to be more conscious of suffering and happiness that non-humans. However, I do not totally subscribe to that idea simply because there are humans who are dissatisfied like Socrates, for instance, but are better than satisfied pigs. What I mean by that is that there are humans that behave like animals, while animals are simply better off satisfied with what nature has endowed them. There are, for example, humans who are normal enough to use their mental faculties to reason efficaciously, and yet, deny that rationality to act judiciously, such as individuals who prefer to be bribed than stick with their principles and other humans who are atrocities towards others. Hence, considering that non-human species, like animals, act simply out of their animal nature, they are more understandably better than humans who act like real animals do. As such, that is one of my objection to Singer’s All Animals are Equal. Nevertheless, if the author is referring to all animals to the exclusion of truly human individuals, he has nailed his message well.
Now, regarding the anyone attempting to justify eating factory farmed d meat, I concur with Singer. Animals should be treated just like any other species against torments, sufferings, or whatchamacallit. Humans have no right to make animal suffer by treating them simply as means to men’s means. Singer was right when he said that humans get a small percentage of nutrients from animal meat as compared to the grains that such animals ingest. Hence, if farm owners, just like slave owners in times past, are simply turning animals for mere profit by housing them in congested or de-animalizing conditions, I object to such practices. Animals deserve to be satisfied with what nature has given them, such as cattles grazing natural farms and hens laying their eggs in the nest that they put up on their own. I have actually seen much of what animals do in their natural setting and I am simply amazed with their animal behaviour and how they treat their own kind. One way or the other, humans should at least learn also from the way animals manage their affairs in the most natural and benign way.
I think that continuously eating factory farmed meat is an immoral hypocrisy. Nonetheless, it is, I also believe, simply a matter of lack of sufficient understanding and consideration to the issue at hand why many people still eat mass-produced farmed meat. Unlike in Switzerland and other parts of the worlds where animals are treated humanely even when they later are served as meal, there must be animal welfare acts and laws to prevent de-animalization (that is, animals that are treated harshly from the start until they are butchered). For me, it is not wrong to eat animal meats, not because I am a vegetarian, but because animals should at least be given the animal dignity that humans can exercise from the bottom of their heart. Why should animals be accorded with seemingly non-human cruelty when we pride ourselves as being the most superior species in the food chain? Isn’t it that we must be more rational and affective when dealing with the least of the species? We cannot be far better off being humans if we, ourselves, act like animals. Animals are animals and humans are humans, and the difference does not lie in being one or the other kind if we cannot truly exercise our humanness and humaneness towards other races, species, sex, gender, or what have we.
Regarding Singer being most likely right and yet still consuming factory farmed meat, I believe that he is not an immoral hypocrites as he professes himself to be. In the first place, he has written an article that counters the consumption of such meat. He may be unaware eating tormented meat from a specific fast food chain and, still, does not make him the person he is. If, hypothetically, I offered him food with fried chicken and with the label “factory farmed meat” and he still ate it, I may infer that I still agree with the content of his article but not with his practice. Professing something is different from actually internalizing and doing what one preaches. For my part, I do not know and have not all the time to investigate where my meat comes from. When I bought something to eat, I just make sure that the meat was legally obtained , prepared, cooked and served well. Other than that, I do not know whether it was from a factory farm or not. However, given the chance to scrutinize and find thing out myself, I will of course not eat factory farmed meat. Thus, concisely put, the government and other concerned groups should advocate against factory farmed meat and look for other healthier ways to manage diet.
I agree with Singer that animals are all equal, but for my part, not all animals are equal. Moreover, he said that sentience plays a role on human awareness, faculty, satisfaction and suffering, which I also strongly believe, and animals have lesser sentience. I also concur with Singer that animals should be treated humanely and not just serve as means to human consumption (whether as part of human diet, apparel, and so on). Likewise, people should discontinue eating factory farmed meat because it is not only de-animalizing but more so, de-humanizing from the point of view of an animal rights advocates. To the contrary, I do not think that anyone who eat factory farmed meat are immoral hypocrites, especially when they do so unawares. Nevertheless, to prevent de-animalizing non-human species, humans should pass laws that will curtail animal farmers from resorting to inhumane ways of treating animals in maltreating or brutal ways. Humans should be in accord not to patronize products that they confirmed to have come from factory animal farms. If there is really a need to eat animal meat, it is better to take care animals in their natural or non-de-animalizing settings.
Singer, P. 2010. “All Animals Are Equal” Argument . In L. Vaughn, Contemporary Moral Arguments: Readings in Ethical Issues (pp. 578-588). Oxford: Oxford University Press.