Peter must be given equal moral weight no

Peter Singer argues in “Speciesism
and the Equality of Animals” that interests of animals and humans are both equally
morally important and must be treated with equal concern. Singer defines
speciesism as assigning moral preference to the interests of members of one’s
own species, over identical interests of members of a different species, only
because it is a member of your species (Singer 277). Singer claims that speciesism
is a preconception that is just as unacceptable as racism or sexism (277). He stresses
that moral equality does not require identical factual characteristics (277). A
human’s degree of intelligence does not determine their level of moral fairness
with other humans. Similarly, simply because animals are not as intelligent as
humans does not mean they are not worthy of equal consideration. In basic
terms, identical interests must be given equal moral weight no matter in what
type of being they occur (277). In addition, Singer asserts equal treatment
does not require identical treatment, but usually requires different treatment
(277). To claim humans and animals as morally equal does not obligate us to
treat typical animals equivalent to exactly how we treat typical humans. Factual
distinctions between individual members of different species can justify
differential treatment. For instance, equal treatment of a person who is unable
to hear and one who can hear entails different, not identical treatment. Further,
Singer claims if a being suffers there can be no moral justification for
refusing to take that suffering into consideration (278). We should not
disregard animals’ interests in not suffering because they cannot talk or are
incapable of reasoning. What interest matters? The capacity to feel and suffer.
This element of life is the prerequisite of all interests. Therefore, if a
being is not capable of feeling or suffering there is nothing to be taken in
account (278). Singer is trying to establish that if a being is not sentient, such
as a stone, then the idea of extending moral consideration to it makes no sense
(278). Singer argues that most human beings are speciesists, as we give greater
weight to interests of members of our own species compared to interests of members
of other species (279). For instance, we eat animals without taking the animals
interests into consideration. Do animals want to be killed? No. Singer claims
sacrificing the most important interests of other beings in order to satisfy
trivial interests of our own shows that humans are indeed speciesists (280).
For example, we kill and torture animals to simply have a more tasteful palate
or for experimentation purposes (280). Both our pleasure and marginal benefits
are not rational justifications for their suffering. We are taking significant
lives of other species, to satisfy our insignificant interests (281). Singer explains
humans have a moral obligation to stop supporting the practice of speciesism (280).
If this practice is not ceased, as consequence animals will continue to suffer and
be killed (280). Overall, Singer emphasises that the ideal of moral equality
commits us to equal consideration of the interests of all sentient animals (278). 

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