Symposium: The Moral Standing of Animals
Good evening all, and welcome to “The Moral Standing of Animals.”
extend my gratitude to those of you who could attend tonight, and I assure you that the
experience will be both intellectually fulfilling and entertaining.
As tonight’s moderator,
I will pose both informational and critical questions to our three panelists, experts on
extensionism, in an effort to better understand the sentiments of animal rights/welfare
Panelist 1 is a utilitarian, Panelist 2 a deontologist, and Panelist 3 an
I will end part one of tonight’s event with a criticism of the extensionist
movement in order to smoothly transition to part two of the event, a speech from a
The first series of questions and criticisms will be directed at our
Could you please explain what you mean by “extensionism” in the context of
Gladly, but before I do so I’d like to thank you for inviting me out here on
this lovely evening.
I am an “extensionist” because I attempt to take an ethical theory,
Utilitarianism, which traditionally only grants moral standing to human beings, and
it to cover non-human animals.
What is Utilitarianism?
In a nutshell, Utilitarianism is the maximization of pleasure and
minimization of pain for all affected, because pleasure is the only intrinsic good and pain
is the only intrinsic evil.
I, as a utilitarian, believe in achieving the greatest good for the
When analyzing the consequences of an action, whose interests does a
utilitarian take into account?
And all interests should be counted equally.
As the famous
utilitarian Jeremy Bentham said, “Each to count for one and none for more than one.”
But Bentham himself, through a utilitarian calculation, concluded that mass
killing for food and research on animals should persist because it benefits humans far
more than it harms animals, while you believe that both should be radically reformed.
Why is it that you so radically differ from Bentham when you utilize a similar ethical
Bentham only came to such a conclusion because he was engaging in
Just as racism justified discrimination through an appeal to a morally
irrelevant quality, race, and sexism justified discrimination through an appeal to a
morally irrelevant quality, sex, “speciesism” justifies discrimination through an appeal to
a morally irrelevant quality,
Bentham, because he was immersed in
the anthropocentrism (human-centeredness) of the day--the belief that all animals are
mere means—came to the speciesist conclusion that human interests are far more
important than non-human ones.
If it weren’t for his speciesism, Bentham would have
arrived at the same conclusion I have.