Paper 2: ethical theory and animal rights
Speciesism involves the assignment of different values, rights, or special consideration to individuals solely on the basis of their species membership. The term is mostly used by animal rights advocates, who argue that speciesism is a prejudice similar to racism or sexism, in that the treatment of individuals is predicated on group membership and morally irrelevant physical differences. Biocentrism in a political and ecological sense, is an ethical point of view which extends inherent value to non-human species. It stands in contrast to anthropocentrism which centers on the value of humans. Advocates of biocentrism often promote preservation of biodiversity, animal rights, and environmental protection. Peter Singer argues that non-human animals deserve the same equality of consideration that we extend to human beings. His argument is roughly as follows: Membership in the species Homo sapiens is the only criterion of moral importance that includes all humans and excludes all non-humans. Using membership in the species Homo sapiens as a criterion of moral importance is completely arbitrary. Of the remaining criteria we might consider, only sentience is a plausible criterion of moral importance. Using sentience as a criterion of moral importance entails that we extend the same basic moral consideration (i.e. "basic principle of equality") to other sentient creatures that we do to human beings. Therefore, we ought to extend to animals the same equality of consideration that we extend to human beings. Carl Cohen’s is one of the most prominent philosophical advocates of the view that non-human sentient animals do not, and cannot have moral rights. Many who enjoy and profit from the infliction of pain, suffering and death on animals, especially those in the vivisection industry, strongly applaud his efforts at attempting to defend the moral propriety of their outlook and deeds. Any plausible argument...