In 1975, an Australian philosopher by the name of Peter Singer first published his controversial book Animal Liberation. It has since become widely known as the beginning of the current "animal liberation movement" in America. The book preached the virtues of vegetarianism and vilified the American agribusiness, which Singer believed was highly immoral. Singer's Animal Liberation has had many varying effects on the world; and specifically, the United States. Singer's book had a great number of admirer's, as well as its fair share of critics. In November of 2002, New York Times contributing writer Michael Pollan wrote an article entitled "An Animal's Place." This article dispelled some of the myths behind Singer's Animal Liberation, as well criticized some of Singer's ideas. Pollan's article, however, is more than a mere argument against Singer's belief system. Pollan delves into Singer's arguments, and points out that while some are valid, many are not.
[...] vegetarianism, and it didn't take long for me to see why: within a few pages, he had succeeded in throwing me on the defensive” (Pollan 2). Once the defensive,” Pollan begins laying down the basis for his personal “philosophy”; one that opposes Singer's on many levels. One of the founding concepts in Peter Singer's Animal Liberation is the comparison between non-functioning humans (including the demented and the severely retarded) and those animals with higher-functioning minds (such as chimpanzees). Likewise, the backbone of Michael Pollan's argument falls amidst this comparison. [...]
[...] Peter Singer's heart is in the right place. Animal suffering is never a good thing, and Singer is correct in wanting to put an end to it wherever possible. His ideas for accomplishing this goal are, however, unreasonable. Factory farms need to be reformed, but convincing people to stop eating meat all together is not the answer. Pollan is a meat-eater; and doesn't plan on stopping. Like Singer, he denounces the way factory farms treat animals, but thinks that people should focus [...]
[...] Singer in turn stated that it could never be moral to treat a “sentient being” merely as a means to an end. Singer's statement makes the suffering of animals by humans an immoral act. However, Singer's theory, which seems similar to Kant's, could not be more different. Kant believed that only humans could be considered “rational creatures.” In fact, he didn't even believe that all humans could be considered “rational creatures.” Singer's take on Kant's theory is foolish and nonsensical. [...]
[...] They recognize only the way things are; animals are simply not equipped to “envision” a life in the wild. Peter Singer defines “sentience” (the only qualifier, in his mind, for equal treatment) as capacity to suffer” (Singer 8). Singer believes that the suffering animals experience in order to become food is unnecessary and morally wrong. Animals, as Singer points out, obviously feel pain, and therefore should not be subjected to the excruciating ends they experience in order for humans to eat them. [...]
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