Who is Peter Singer?June 26, 2021
Australian philosopher and leading animal rights activist.
He has served almost his entire career in the Department of Bioethics at Princeton University.
Along with Tom Regan, he helped unify and pioneer the early animal rights and animal liberation movements in the 1960s. His book Animal Liberation has a very important place in animal rights and is considered a groundbreaking product of the philosophical literature.
Singer describes himself as a vegetarian and “flexible vegan”. In an interview with Mother Jones magazine, she explained: “I don’t eat meat. I’ve been a vegetarian since 1971. I’m slowly getting used to the vegan lifestyle. I’m mostly vegan, but I’m a flexible vegan.”
Australian philosopher Peter Singer has become one of the most active animal rights advocates after publishing his book “Animal Liberation” in 1975. Singer adopts a utilitarian approach to ethics, a tradition developed by the British Jremy Bentham at the end of the 18th century. Utilitarianism foresees evaluating the moral value of an action according to the results of that action. According to Bentham, we can do this by calculating the sum of pain or pleasure arising from our actions, as in a mathematical equation.
Singer’s utilitarianism is based on what he calls “equal reduction of interests.” According to him, pain hurts; It doesn’t matter if it’s you, me or anyone else. The extent to which non-human animals feel pain should be the measure of our consideration of their interests when making decisions that affect their lives and avoiding activities that would cause such suffering. However, like all utilitarians, Singer applies the “maximum happiness principle”, which states that we should make decisions that result in the greatest happiness of the greatest number of people. Singer points out that he never said that any experiment on animals could be justified. Instead, he says we should judge all actions by their consequences, and that “these results include the interests of animals,” and they form part of the equation.
Also please see:
– Peter Singer’s understanding of moral philosophy
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook