francis and norman 1978 - some animals are more equal than others

Francis and norman 1978 - some animals are more equal than others

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Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others ESLIE PICKERING FRANCIS and (RICHARD NORMAN [t is a welcome development when academic philosophy starts to concern tself with practical issues, in such a way as to influence people's lives. Recently this has happened with one moral issue in particular—but infortunately it is the wrong issue, and people's actions have been in- luenced in the wrong way. The issue is that of the moral status and treat- nent of animals. A number of philosophers have argued for what they call 'animal liberation', comparing it directly with egalitarian causes such women's liberation and racial equality and suggesting that, if racism and sexism are rationally indefensible, so is 'speciesism'. If one ought to give equal consideration to the interests of all human beings, then, so they daim, one must on the same grounds and in the same way recognize that 'all animals are equal', be they human or non-human. We believe that this assimilation of 'animal liberation' to human liberation movements is mistaken. We focus our discussion on what we take to be the most persuasive defence of 'animal liberation', that put forward by Peter Singer. 1 The essence of Singer's case is this: traditional attempts to justify equal con- sideration for the interests of all human beings, but not equivalent con- lideration for the interests of non-human animals, have consisted in identifying some property—such as the possession of rationality, or language, or intelligence, or moral capacities—supposed to be characteris- tic of human beings and to distinguish them from all other species. But any property we might select either will not be possessed by all human beings, and so will involve us in unacceptable moral conclusions about how to treat, for example, very young children or human imbeciles; or, 1 We shall refer to Singer's book Animal Liberation (New York: Avon Books, 1977) and to his paper 'All Animals are Equal' in T. Regan and P. Singer [eds), Animal Rights and Human Obligations (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: rentice Hall, 1976). Further page references to these two works, abbreviated as A.L. and as R.S. respectively, occur parenthetically in the text. Arguments similar to the ones we discuss in this paper can be found in other papers in the Regan and Singer anthology, notably those by Feinberg, Regan and Rachels. Although we criticize Singer in this paper, we should like to acknowledge that , his work has substantially affected our thinking on the issue. Philosophy 53 1978 507
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Leslie Pickering Francis and Richard Norman if it is possessed by all human beings, will be possessed by some non- human animals as well. Singer writes: If equality is to be related to any actual characteristics of humans, thes? characteristics must be some lowest common denominator, pitched so
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Francis and norman 1978 - some animals are more equal than others

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