Reason as the Leading Motive

Response to Singer

Posted by Jerry on July 28, 2005

The workings of my mind:

Here’s the skeletal form of my response to Peter Singer’s argumentation on the ethic of meat-eating.

The crux of the issue: to eat or not to eat meat
Why? Because animals have life, and therefore feel pain, and therefore suffer, and therefore if we don’t eat human babies, why do we eat animals?
Living creatures have consciousness and experience pain and suffering. Plants? Do they have consciousness?
Animals have life. Life is a value. Life gives rise to Rights. Animals have rights. Right to life. Right to LIVE and not be eaten.
What is the meaning of “Rights”? How does it really come about? What are the necessary requirements to possess “Rights”?
If animals have Rights, then babies have Rights. Then a fetus has rights?
Origin of Rights: Concept “RIGHTS” is squarely connected with the concept “MORALITY”
To violate Rights means to be immoral, or evil. To kill a human baby (assuming it has RIGHTS) means to be evil. To kill a fetus, similarly, is to be immoral. To kill an animal and eat it, is also immoral. Yes?
What is “MORAL”?
Morality is choosing of deliberate action.
Choose right over wrong is choosing moral over immoral
Choosing to live is moral because it is right. Life is a universal standard of value. Without that standard of life, we are talking about death, or non-existence- then this whole conversation is useless because we value death and non-existence, so why talk about any reason to protect life? Rights are tools and requirements to protect LIFE not death.
Thus, rights give rise to morality, which is based on life as a value.
Any life? Plant life?
No. It cannot be plant life or animal life because morality is ONLY concerned with the life of VIOLITIONAL beings that can CHOOSE to have Rights that protect and enhance life.
Animals and Plants don’t and cannot CHOOSE to protect or enhance life. For them, it is instinctual and automatic. Plants and animals cannot commit suicide or choose to starve to death. Thus, there is no talk about morality in terms of their actions because morality requires the deliberate act of choice in the face of alternatives.
Animals hunt and kill one another, but we cannot consider their actions under moral lenses. Those acts are instinctually natural.
Thus, morality is only in the realm of HUMAN life.
Thus, only HUMAN life, Human consciousness, is the standard of our moral values and virtues. Not any life, just Human life.
Morality is in choosing the right. Immoral is in choosing the wrong. Amoral is in not having the faculty, capacity and the options to choose.
Thus, eating animals is not violating any “RIGHTS” of animals because they cannot have “Rights” that protect their moral choices based on a universal standard value. Animals, by their nature are neither moral nor immoral, but amoral, and therefore cannot have the concept of “Rights” because they do not have the concept of “violation of Rights” i.e. committing a wrong or immoral act against another animal.
What about babies and fetuses?
Babies – independent entities (in the sense that they are a self-contained unit) that belong to the species of Humankind, and Humankind is the only species that are concerned with Rights and Morals.
Babies are Humans equipped with all the faculties necessary for a rationality and intellectual consciousness. The extension of Rights to Humans should then appropriately cover newborn Humans, because they are here and now, existing as their own self-contained entity with the potential to achieve rational consciousness.
Fetuses – develop this more… talk about essential definitions and differences. Fetuses are excluded from the coverage of Human Rights and protection. Why?

3 Responses to “Response to Singer”

  1. innommable said

    So babies have the right to live and not be killed, because they have “the potential to achieve rational consciousness,” which would make them human, which would give them rights; Correct?

    When you get to the fetuses, however, it’s pretty much the same… isn’t it? A fetus already has differentiated cells and body parts… an embryo does not. And I found this definition on the web, “In humans, the unborn young from the end of the eighth week after conception to the moment of birth, as distinguished from the earlier embryo”

    If you’re saying, a baby is potentially a rational being, and thus human, and thus has rights, and that for this reason, we should not kill them, isn’t also a fetus ALSO a potential rational being?

  2. Ergo Sum said

    Good question. Seems logical, doesn’t it?
    But no. It’s not. Fetuses cannot have human rights other than those granted to it by the mother (assuming the fetus exists in her womb) purely out of her own free choice.

    This is where your argument gets muddled and makes an illogical jump: “Babies have the right to live and not be killed because they have the potential to achieve rational consciousness which would make them human.”

    Babies are ALREADY human. They ALREADY BELONG to the species of Humankind (or homosapiens, or whatever).
    An infant is already a humanbeing existing independently as a seperate, self-contained, individual entity. The baby does not possess self-awareness or rationality just yet, but all the MECHANISMS to give rise to those things, i.e. all the FACULTY of rationality, intelligence, self-awareness, etc. is already CONTAINED WITHIN THE BODY of this self-contained, individual creature that we classify as genetically and biologically “Human”.

  3. Ergo Sum said

    This requires its own post. I’ll need to explain myself in some detail here.

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