Peter Singer, Liberation, and Animal Intelligence
After writing my blog post “Are We Really Smarter?“, it was not difficult to find real philosophers that agreed or had similar ideas to the questions I posed. After briefly researching some different philosophers, I decided to look more in depth into Australian Philosopher Peter Singer. Many of his known works, such as his book “Animal Liberation” (1975), pertain to issues involving ethics, especially with animals. In his book, he talked about animal intelligence as well. He argued that animals do have a lower intelligence than the average human, however that some animals show intelligence of that of human children. Therefore, he believes, intelligence should not be a basis when providing treatment of nonhuman animals any less than when considering the treatment of children. Thinking of the way we treat animals, would it also be an ethical way to treat children? In my earlier post, I mentioned SeaWorld, where intelligent animals such as dolphins and orcas are kept in small tanks for our entertainment. However, would it be socially accepted to do the same with human children? I think not.
Singer also argued that there is a larger difference between an oyster and an ape than an ape and a human. He says that calling a great ape, or other intelligible animals, an “animal” is truly arbitrary. I feel that this solidifies my own argument that as humans, we may not be the most intelligent animals on the planet. Because, truly, we are animals too.
To my disappointment, I could not find anything in my research about Peter Singer’s opinion on animals conscience, as it is a large portion of my metaphysics questions. I wonder if Singer even considered animal conscience, as it was not as well known about when he wrote his novel “Animal Liberation” in 1975. I feel that it would only support his arguments further.
When researching, it was difficult to find a philosopher specifically on animal conscience. I found articles about the opinions of marine biologists, neuroscientists, and other animal specialists. The majority of philosophers that had anything to do with animals focused mainly on ethics. Ethics does come into play with my metaphysics post, as with the idea of animals having intelligence and a conscience, one must think about the way we are treating animals, and if it is “right” to do so if they are equal with us.
To finish, Australian philosopher Peter Singer has ideas (along with many other opinions on ethics) that solidifies my own metaphysics arguments. Similarly to myself, he argued that animals have a similar level of intelligence to us as humans, and therefore must think about if the ways we treat animals is ethical. Unfortunately I was unable to find any writing about Singer’s opinion on animal conscience, as it is a large part of my metaphysics project, although I found multiple articles about the opinions of neuroscientists and animal experts.