Among the number of animal advocates who I most admire are Karen Davis, president and founder of United Poultry Concerns, and the philosopher Peter Singer. In a movement that isn’t always capable of rational and respectful debate on ideas and strategy, Karen makes the case in this thoughtful and fascinating article that Peter’s ethical stance on the moral and legal status of animals — and, in particular, chickens — has changed since the publication of his important book Animal Liberation in 1975.  She discusses various statements and actions Peter has taken and discusses them within the context of the place poultry occupy in the animal liberation struggle. She concludes that Peter

condemns the cruelty and environmental havoc of factory farming and observes that ‘ultimately, we should be aiming to eat vegetarian diets,’ which is all well and good, but he is no longer an inspiration for animal liberation.

What do you think?

One comment on “Karen Davis Assesses Peter Singer

  • What has always bothered me about Singer’s utilitarianism is the completely unexplained and unreasonable elevation of human planning. Surely the instant the human being is dead, she or he no longer suffers over the loss of those plans. In fact, those plans are almost solely the machinations of an ego–which is a construct anyhow–and have no real value in practical existence.

    I fail to see how planning is morally valuable. If I plan on liberating 100 cows and I die before I am able to enact the plan, the tragedy is for the cows who continue to suffer, not for the plan itself. Why should the plan or planner have extra value if there is no extra suffering?

    The way I see it, pain and suffering do not belong to anybody. Ownership as a concept depends upon an ego, and if we cannot own an animal, why can we own pain and suffering? The individual suffers, but the suffering is the concern, not the abstraction of the self or individual. In this way, we consider the decision that results in the least amount of suffering the ethical one, not the one that least offends the highest ethical beings.

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