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« Ever wonder what makes up stuff? | Main | Oh, How Generous! »

November 24, 2008

My grandchildren versus field mice

Field_mouse Peter Singer writes in Newsweek that as we move towards a "nonspeciesist" world, we will go from requiring factory farmers to keep chickens and pigs in crates large enough to allow them to "stand up, lie down, turn around and fully extend their limbs," to relying on scientists to "grow meat in vats," to turning over large swatches of land to animals. In order to accomplish this last goal, human would have to have fewer children.

So--my children will have to sacrifice some of my grandchildren to ensure there's plenty of room for field mice?

Singer also suggest that we may be "ethically bound to prevent animals from killing other animals." But "to contemplate interfering with the workings of ecosystems would be presumptuous, at least for now," Singer notes.

I'm trying to imagine a world where animals don't kill and eat one another. Will we rope off lions from chimpanzees? After we do that, how will we feed them? Because if we take away their food sources, we will be ethically bound to provide food for them. Moreover, It doesn't seem to occur to Singer that demanding that humans bear fewer children is also "interfering with the working of eco-systems."

I can accept the idea that factory farms ought to treat animals more humanely. But why, in all the passionate arguments about equal rights for animals, are human fetuses always left out in the cold?

(Image © ScienceDaily)

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Comments

LeeQuod

It's fun to think of Peter Singer as the incarnation of the Good Fairy, admonishing Little Bunny Foo Foo.

Humans get short shrift because we're the only animals fully submissive to our own control. As you say, Anne, lions are a bit more of a challenge. It's quite amusing to think of Singer, lover of free-roaming animals, protecting all animal life by turning the planet into a huge zoo.

And, we are seen by the Singer crowd as dominating the planet, when in fact bacteria are the dominant form of animal life. (Does Singer have a way to eradicate necrotizing fasciitis? Someone should ask him.) We're assigned far more power than we actually have - especially in God's hierarchy.

But Zoe already blogged about the logical result of Singer's recommendations: http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2008/10/go-forth-and-mu.html

becky

Poor Singer. He doesn't realise that he was made in the image of God and so were all those other pesky people. I think that his ideas show the emptiness of his world view. Wonder if he treats his dog exactly the same way he treats his human family. Maybe Fido has his own checking account and driver's license!

Jason Taylor

Wouldn't preventing animals from killing other animals be a form of specieism? It would after all be forcing Peter Singer's morals on helples lions and tigers and bears.

Steve (SBK)

The problem with Singer is that, from his starting point, he's (mostly) logically sound.
(Though I enjoy the incarnation of the Good Fairy imagery). I tend to think of him as an academic who's pursuing his line of reasoning to the end, and he must find that exciting. "I'm doing something new/different! No one's ever done this before! Enthralling the masses with my academic-rigour on how to better (i.e. create less guilt) kill the unwanted of our own species!"
It's amazing to me that the same argument is used to defend animal life and kill human life.
One (possibly?) scary thing is the way this all points to a nation-state controlled industry... where the bulk of human activity in the future will be employed in finding better ways to ensure the peregrine falcons are attacking falling leaves instead of the millions of bats in their territory. Sentience, Singer's main reference point, goes pretty deep (as there's no logical reason to stop anywhere). Leopards, Voles, Frogs, Chameleons...
Singer probably just chuckles to himself because he'll be long gone by the time his ideas make humans slaves to all the animals.

Dennis Babish

Me thinks Singer has been smoking too much of that wacky tobaccy and it has now made him a few clowns short for a circus.

Jason Taylor

Chesterton once pointed out that the essence of madness was not lack of reason but lack of anything else.
A better way to describe it is that Singer has a sense of abstract logic but not of proportion which is also part of reason. Or simply that he fails to see that there is nothing wrong with the reductio ad absurdum when it describes an absurdity.

But perhaps Orwell put it best in his curmudgeonly way: "Only an intellectual could believe that."

labrialumn

Ahh, Peter Singer thinks it is unethical to kill animals, but that it is ethical - even mandatory - to kill children up to age two (just like the President-Designate).

Terrell

One of my favorite book endings had to do with the Singeresque types who sought to reorder the earth and it's ecosystems along the same lines Singer advocates. It was Clancy's Rainbow Six. The poetic justice came in the end of the book, this book is old enough to put out a spoiler, when Jack Ryan and Clark and crew took the "bad guys" and put them in their most natural state and left them in the most natural Garden of Eden there in the Amazonian Jungle.

I suppose I wonder how Peter would fare if HE had to live out the logical conclusions of his musings instead of everyone else. How come Peter Singer isn't actually living this stuff out instead of pontificating?

Elizabeth

Singer's view of humanity is both too low and too high.

It is too low because it fails to recognize the unique dignity of the image of God, reducing people to the level of any other animal.

It is also too high, because it relies on human ingenuity to create the perfect world. Just as our dignity comes from a higher source, the day when "the lion will lie down with the lamb" will not be the result of human activity.

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