Monday, October 02, 2017

Rawls and Animal Rights (updated)

Peter Singer on Ideology

It is a distinctive characteristic of an ideology that it resists refutation. If the foundations of an ideological position are knocked out from under it, new foundations will be found, or else the ideological position will just hang there, defying the logical equivalent of the laws of gravity. 

In the case of attitudes to animals, the latter seems to have happened. While the modern view of our place in the world differs enormously from all the earlier views we studied, in the practical matter of how we act toward other animals little has changed. If animals are no longer quite outside the moral sphere, they are still in a special section near the outer rim. Their interests are allowed to count only when they do not clash with human interests. If there is a clash--even a clash between a lifetime of suffering for a non-human animal and the gastronomic preference of a human being--the interests of the nonhuman are disregarded. The moral attitudes of the past are too deeply embedded in our thought and our practices to be upset by a mere change in our knowledge of ourselves and of other animals.

Peter Singer, Animal Liberation