Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Peter Singer / Animal Testing & Utilitarianism

Philosopher Peter Singer has been in the news again. While most well-known for his advocacy of animal rights, he has surprised many by claming that some animal testing may be justified. While some animals rights campaigners may be shocked - students may recongise the view that, as he is a utilitarian (of some kind), he would not have an in principle, objection - if the benefit can be said to outweigh the harm. Read here: about Singer's recent statements - and his seeming ability to upset just about everyone...

What is your view of animal testing? Is it justified in a consequentialist manner? On some other grounds? Or not at all?



  1. Anonymous1:13 pm

    this should not surprise anyone who's read animal liberation, where singer advocates killing mentally disabled (humans) over some non-human animals.

    anyway, i think singer's shift (already in the guardian this summer, look here:
    ) is important. animal activists have focused too much on the ethically controversial issue (testing) and too little on the ethically plain, if possible, one (meat).

  2. Nullo - thanks for the comments: The RPE students and I have been talking about these issues a lot recently (esp in Ethical Traditions module) - and whether meat-eaters can get on any moral high horse with regard to animal welfare -

    I hope some of our students will respond to your post (and look, as I did, at your blog)

  3. Anonymous3:26 pm

    This is something very topical for me personally right now. Since I moved to the country from London, I have found it somewhat disconcerting being in our back garden making animals noises with my daughter as we watch the cows and lambs etc graising right behind us, and then going into our kitchen and tucking into roast beef/lamb. It has struck me quite intenselly lately, and impacted greatly on my previous strong held views. I used to think animal testing was OK as long as it was for the better-meant of mankind (sorry if thats a nonword, better-meant!) and I used to think eating meat was 100% moral and ethical.

    right now - I am truly at a stand off. whilst I continue to eat some meat - I have completely stopped eating cheap factory farmed chicken. But then, if I go to a resaurant - I eat chicken, likely hood is thats been factory farmed!

    so - my point - it is here somewhere I promise - is this is an issue I hope to be able to have a concrete view on in the near future. The more moral and ethical reading I do, the harder I find it to happily eat meat. And condone animal testing. Hmmm (walks off pondering..)

  4. Anonymous7:02 pm

    Animal testing is fine. I've got no problem what so ever with it. But then again my ethics on such issues has never really been pc.

  5. Frances - thanks for the comment (no surprise there then...) -

    but just as an aside - I was wondering what you meant by 'pc' - I know it stands for political correctness - but what does that mean?

  6. Anonymous11:22 am

    i am completely against animal testing and have been involved in demonstrations against this for some time.. there is no specific need for it these days as it is possible to test drugs etc in other ways.. there is a research company that does just this and specialises in cancer research along with research in other areas... amongst other things they use placentas donated by new mothers... i find it abhorent that in the 21st century scientists are still using animals to do our dirty work.. humans do not have the same dna or physical make up as a mouse, rat or monkey...

    i have also been vegetarian for er.. a long time now... and this is due to my loathing of animal farming.. i would always have a problem with eating mammals tho but thats a personal view.. i take the stand that if a person wants to eat meat they should be prepared to kill an animal, skin it, gut it, then cook it and eat it.. sorry to be so blunt.. oh and i have done just this...

  7. Anonymous11:26 pm

    i feel so bad for animals being tested on it hurts them like it would hurt us. I hate how if we are animals then why would they test on our family huh smart ones if they want to tell us we are related to animals they should make sure they arent testing on them!!!!!