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The Place of Nonhumans in Environmental Issues Essay

1) Do you agree with singer that, morally, animals have an ‘equal consideration of interests’ with humans? Explain the reason for your answer.

The suffering and happiness is the main moral principles of equal consideration of interests. Humans and non-humans both have the ability to feel pain and pleasure, so they should be considered equal in regards to these two aspects. However, due to ‘Speciesism’ which is our society’s way of thinking that non humans are inferior and that we should favor the human species over them, is how we morally justify acts like, for example, experimenting of animals rather than on humans (Parenethical.com, 2014). Singer says that no matter if you’re human or non-human, if someone suffers or will suffer, it is important to consider this suffering and not find ways to morally justify them (Parenethical.com, 2014).

Equal consideration does not mean treating everyone the same and place equal value on both humans and non-humans lives. It only means considering the interests of both sides and not just giving preference to humans. As mentioned above, if animals interests are considered, and their pain and pleasure are measured against the pain and pleasure of humans, things like factory farming can be considered immoral (Parenethical.com, 2014).

Some people also morally justify speciesism because they misinterpret and think that animals feel less pain than humans do. For example, slapping a horse across its back and slapping a baby in the same way. Due to the horse’s thick skin, the horse wouldn’t feel as much pain as the baby would because babies have sensitive skin. However, this is not the same amount of pain between the two, the horse being hit with something harder, for example a stick, might then feel the equal amount of pain as the baby being slapped. So if we claim that it is wrong to inflict that much pain on a baby, we must then agree that it is wrong or immoral to inflict the same amount of pain on a horse (Stafforini, 2014).

To conclude, it is important for animals to have equal consideration because of the fact that animals do suffer, so humans and non-humans do have the same interest in avoiding pain and that there is no non-speciesist way to draw the line between animal interests and human interest (MacKinnon, 1995).

2) Do the economic interests of humans come before the well-being of animals?

People see animals as sources of food and clothing. Experimenting on animals is also viewed beneficial to test the safety and effectiveness of drugs, detergents and cosmetics. In other words, animals are known as economic commodities (MacKinnon, 1995).

In the case study, Singer talks about how people are willing to allow animals to live and endure in the bad, unsuitable conditions for the duration of their lives just so they can eat meat at low enough prices that they can afford. This is an example of how society would rather not pay extra money on meat for their own economic interest, over the interests of the animals. The other example in the case study is the timber industry, instead of obtaining timber from forests by cutting only certain dead and matured trees, they use clear cutting, which means cutting down everything in a given area which destroys wild animals habitat. Despite the fact that cutting down dead and mature trees will cause little disturbance. Timber companies use clear cutting method due to the fact that it is a lot cheaper than if they gave equal consideration to animals and went with selecting to cut the mature and dead tress instead (Barry, 1979).

Other environmental issues are water and air pollution and other effect such as global warming. People and industries change the environment for their own economic interest. However, these changes not only affect the non-humans but also the humans. The case study gives an example of humans discharging cadmium into the bay and eating shellfish from the bay which can make people ill and can potentially be fatal (Barry, 1979).

Due to speciesism and other factors, humans cause pollution and global warming which destroy habitats and tend to not give equal consideration of interests to animals because it results in an economic gain for them whether it is a short term gain or long term economic gain.


Barry, V. (1979). Moral issues in business. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub. Co., pp.361-365.

MacKinnon, B. (1995). Ethics. Belmont, Calif.: Wadsworth Pub. Co.

Parenethical.com, (2014). Equal Consideration for Animals « Introduction to Ethics. [online] Available at: http://parenethical.com/phil140sp11/2011/05/08/equal-consideration-for-animals/ [Accessed 25 Nov. 2014].

Stafforini, P. (2014). Equality for Animals?, by Peter Singer. [online] Utilitarian.net. Available at: http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/1979—-.htm [Accessed 25 Nov. 2014].

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