Animal Criticism: Specicism And Immanuel Kant

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Peter Singer makes a substantial argument regarding animal ethics, and although the term ‘specicism’ has existed for some time, Singer really brings popular attention towards it. In order to make a firm decision on the plausibility of Singer’s argument, I will be looking closely at Shelley Kagan, who criticises Singer’s argument in itself, as well as an earlier writer who discussed animal ethics, namely, Immanuel Kant. By looking at critics of Singer’s ideas, we can then discuss which view is more convincing.
In order to understand how specicism may be similar to racism, it is first necessary to define specicism. Specicism is, a prejudice or a bias that favours the interests of an individual’s own species against other species, which Singer
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Shelly Kagan attempts to object the idea that specicism is a mere prejudice. Kagan discusses why specicism is a moral insight rather than a prejudice (Kagan 5). He argues that counting the pain of a human in higher regard is in fact, moral insight and not a prejudice (Kagan 5). However, this argument falls short of explaining how counting the interest of one species over another is again not just a prejudice. Singer explains that racists violate equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of their own race, and sexists do the same respectively. The same is happening in the case Kagan describes, you are counting the interests of one species over the other, and this is from a prejudice, or specicism. We know now that there is no biological difference between races, and gender merely the social meaning of sex. Although it is true, that only humans are rational, self-aware and autonomous, and taking these distinct human characteristics is not a form of specicism but can be challenged by the argument from marginal …show more content…
Immanuel Kant argues that animals are a means to an end, whose end is humanity, simply because animals cannot reason and are therefore at humanities disposal (Kant 223-248). The argument is not absolutely a speciesists one, but is arguably still a form of disguised specicism as the argument takes certain characteristics into consideration, such as rationality. The reason for introducing the argument is to strengthen my case that disguised specicism can be argued against. Which I will do by thinking back to Kagan’s argument - which has some commonalities to Kant’s argument – where he describes himself as not a speciesist, and that it is through moral insight that he counts the interests of a human more, as only humans are rational or self-aware (Kagan 5). This argument is venerable to the argument first proposed by Jeremy Bentham, and is the argument for marginal cases. Kagan’s argument was that because the human knows how to reason and is self-aware, then our interests count more than the any other species. When presented with the marginal cases argument, it shows how the decision to count human interests more, even with justification that humans can reason, is still a prejudice and a problematic

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