Monday, September 15, 2008

A Couple of Bon Mots from Peter Singer

Here’s something from the Times Literary Supplement on environmental ethics from animal liberator Peter Singer. It is a book review of Ethics and the Environment by Dale Jamieson and not as provocative and some of his stuff. It does, though, contain a couple of gems that betray Singer’s agenda.

Firstly, can you spot the mistake in this sentence from the review?
Jamieson begins by showing how ethics can withstand a range of popular challenges posed by theists, amoralists and cultural relativists.

It is quite entertaining to find Singer claiming that theists are challenging ethics in the same way as amoralists and cultural relativists. Perhaps he missed the ‘a-’ from the beginning of ‘theist’, but given his hostility to religion, I doubt it.

Secondly, what about this as an example of declaring victory before battle is even joined?
Jamieson agrees with what now seems to be a near-consensus among philosophers that “species-ism” – the view that we are entitled to take the interests of animals less seriously than we take human interests, simply because humans are members of our species – is not a defensible moral position.

Does Singer seriously believe that “species-ism” is anything other than a game played by ivory tower bound philosophers and the nuttier fringe of the animal rights brigade? To describe it as near-consensus among philosophers can only mean that ‘philosopher’ is defined as someone who sees the world in basically the same terms as Singer does. I suppose that excludes theists, not to mention amoralists and cultural relativists.

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