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PHL273H1 Lecture Notes - Tom Regan, Speciesism, Deontological Ethics

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Ingrid L.Stefanovic

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Phl273 lec 2; sep 24animal ethics
LD50 tests; where you test substances or chemicals on animals and normally +50% die
St Thomas Aquinas
o Believed that ethics shouldn’t include animals
o “there is no sin in using a thing for the purpose for which it is. Now the order of things is such that the
imperfect are for the perfect and thus all animals are for man”
Peter Singer and Tom Regan
o Both support an individualistic ethic (not species-based)
They both include animals under a certain umbrella
o Regan feels that env holism is equivalent to facism
He is against holism
In favour of honouring animals as ethic individuals
o Singer: basically utilitarian
o Regan: basically deontological (rights-based)
Bentham and stuart mill: classic advocates
o Consequalist ethics: moral worth of action established in terms of its outcome
o Maximizes overall utlity (ex: happiness, pleasure, preferences)
Greatest good for the greatest # of ppl
Singer on speciesism: excluding animals from moral considerability(kind like racism)
o “we are used to regarding the oppression of blacks and women as among the most important moral and
political issues facing the world today... but animals?”
He would call Aquinas a speciesist
He believes that animals have a capacity to feel pleasure and pain
Capacity to suffer and amount of suffering determines special moral requirements
o He does agree that sometimes humans may suffer more than animals because of anticipation, detailed
memory, greater knowledge of what is happening
Ex: mouse can’t feel a heartbreak from a loved one dying or relationship being over; however a
human would emotionally feel devastated
o However he does say that sometimes that animals may suffer more than humans
Ex: you like showering however a dog gets terrified every time you put them in the shower
o Questions that come up are: animals eats each other so why shouldn’t we?
Ethical and reciprocity (treat others as you would want to be treated)
Question that comes up: babies don’t reciprocate; i can feed and nurture them but they
won’t always go to bed when i want them to
Objections to utilitarianism
o Where do u draw the line between consequence vs action
If a rich person drops 100$ do you go after them? Even though there would be a huge happiness
for you and maybe your family, we don’t know if he really is rich and if that was his last $100
o Special obligations to particular people or animals (eg: your parents, your dog)
If a celebrity is in a burning house and so is your parent who do you save?
According to UT you would save the celebrity because it would create a greater pleasure
for the rest of society
o What happens when one suffers while many benefit
o Health consequences: putting people to sleep? Putting stray dogs to sleep (regan says no you don’t put
them to sleep)
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