Feb 6, 2020 in Case Studies

Environmental Study

The human beings is considered creature who proclaimed its superiority over other species. The number of philosophical dogmas were written on this issue since Renaissance. All of them eulogized the humans’ achievements. To date, there is a discussion on the moral duties of people as species before the other non-human beings. Although there exists a vast majority of thoughts of the humans’ superiority, in particular, Emmanuel Kant presents one of them; the modern opponents of this point of view provide controversial arguments. In fact, Peter Singer accentuates on the new prejudice of the human civilization, known as speciesism.

To begin with, Emmanuel Kant, an outstanding German philosopher, adhered to the opinion that non-human animals should not be treated as “ends-in-themselves”. Thus, they are not regarded as persons, but merely as means to an end.  Although they are not beings that possess consciousness, they deserve to be treated respectfully. In fact, the person’s attitude toward animals is a direct reflection of such actions to humanity. There are no analogies between human and animals’ natures. However, the former’s responsibility before the latter is the means of manifestation of humanity.


Meanwhile, the philosopher believes that humans deserve special consideration due to the rationality of their existence that is represented in an end in himself. Therefore, they are not used as means, but apply objects accordingly to their will. As far as the will is the faculty that refers to “the conception of the certain laws”, – in particular, it is the typical characteristic of the rational beings, – this fact makes humans superior comparing to other creatures. In addition, they possess the desires, motives, and pleasures reflected as the effects of the final actions represented in the material world, which frame up the essence of the beings, known as “ends – in – themselves.

Henceforth, Peter Singer, a professor of philosophy at Princeton University, provides an argumentative response to Kant’s views that humans have only indirect duties to other animals. In fact, he states that the new liberation movement has appeared.  Primarily, he names the risen aspect as speciesism and compares it to the current issues known as racism and sexism. Singer claims that the superiority of the white man have been lasting for centuries. Moreover, this consideration have never been doubted. In fact, the problem becomes of the same importance as the other moral aspects of the proper relationships between males and females, blacks and whites, and so forth.

Nevertheless, the professor states that the issue of speciesism may be regarded irrational nowadays, but the similar consideration of the women’s and black’s rights was observed hundreds of years ago. Merely to date, the problem is taken seriously comparing to the ironical attitude to it in the past. Thus, the equality appears as a significant element of the existence of both human and non – human beings. However, the principle should be studied from the diverse points.

Considering the equality among races and sexes, it is to mention that the problem is regarded in the realm of the human beings. Undoubtedly, people possess various distinguishing attributes; all of them have the peculiar characteristics of the species they belong. That is to say, every person has self – consciousness. Moreover, he or she is capable of performing rational actions regardless the race, age, or the IQ level.

Henceforth, the principles of the equality regarded above can be applied in case of the human beings only, as the latter resemble each other. However, they are illogical if implemented relatively people and animals since the differences between species are obvious, and they cannot be treated in the same manner. Thus, Peter Singer claims that the human beings do not have indirect duties to other animals merely. 

Therefore, the professor’s points of view are based on the consideration of the equality among all sentient creatures. He claims that any living being has an interest to the personal welfare. People, as well as animals, feel pain or become dissatisfied with a certain physical condition, despite the fact they are representatives of different specious. Therefore, no moral justification can take place for the suffering experienced by any human or non-human living being. The same consideration is referred to happiness and enjoyment. As a result, Singer states that it is naturally to endow with the superior characteristics of one group over the others. For instance, the representatives of the white population provide with chief interests members of their racial group. The similar phenomenon is typical not only for the racial discrimination, but to the speciesism as well. The majority of people find themselves justified to dominate over other species.

Consequently, the writer provides a vivid example that illustrates the typical speciesism among humans. The inhabitants of the urban areas commonly are distant from nature. The mere manner of interaction with the non-human species is during the mealtime while consuming meat products. Thus, people’s behavior correlates with Kant’s consideration of animals. The latter appear as means, which are subordinates. Additionally, non-human beings are the means of satisfaction of the human’s nutrient needs. Therefore, the fact relates not merely to the act of killing, but to the act of suffering. Therefore, Singer states that animals are regarded as “the machines that convert fodder into flesh, and any innovation that results in a higher “conversion ratio” is liable to be adopted”. However, the typical actions are maintained not only in gastronomy, but in the medicine as well. People use animals to test new therapies and medicine, which assist in concluding and providing proper treatment for them. As a result, all of the practices consider the indulgence to the human beings, those who are superior of all the species.

Another issue Peter Singer discloses in his article is the infant test. He suggests making experiments on the human infants rather than adult mammals such as cats, rats, apes, et cetera. The professor claims that the latter are more aware of the actions implemented over them. Additionally, they, similarly to the human infant, experience suffering and pain. As a result, the rejection to provide experiment on the human being’s offspring relates to the bias of views, which once again show that people naturally assert the interests of their species rather than the lucid mind. They justify personal experimenting even with the negative consequences on the non-human being to the same with the positive results on the human infant. Consequently, the experimenting and the consumption of the animal’s flesh are the means to satisfy human needs. The both examples reveal the patterns of the speciesism intrinsic to the human nature.

Summing up, Emanuel Kant supports the consideration of the superiority of the human being. Other non-human creatures are treated as means to reach satisfaction or indulge the desires. In addition, people’s attitude toward animals is regarded as the manifestation of their humanity. Meanwhile, the modern professor of philosophy, Peter Singer, provides the controversial thought to Kant’s theory. He claims that all the sentient creatures should be treated equally due to their ability to experience suffer and enjoyment. Overall, Singer provides the arguments that disclose the speciesism among people as a modern basis for discrimination.


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