Comparison of the Arguments Posed by the Peter Singer and Richard Posner Debate

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Peter Singer is an Australian philosopher that lectures on applied ethics through the lens of utilitarianism. Singer is best known for his book Animal Liberation, which introduced the concept of speciesism. Like sexism or racism, speciesism is a type of discrimination based on membership to a particular species. Richard Posner is a judge and also a lecturer who teachers on the intersect between legal issues and morality.

Posner and Singer engaged in a rousing debate through a series of letters that were published in Slate Magazine during the summer of 2001. The argument posed in Singer???s book, Animal Liberation, served as a launching pad for this debate because Posner disagree with the concept that reasoning based on the foundation of ethics alone should supersede intuition and a basic sense of morality. Singer???s position seeks an end animal suffering and pain because he views infliction of harm to nonhuman animals no less wrong than intentional harm caused to humans.

Posner questions Singer???s belief that nonhuman animals have comparable feelings and experiences of pain. While he remains open to the findings of future research, he staunchly disagrees that any animal???s life should be prioritized over any human???s life. While Singer pointed out that some animals are more intelligent than some humans, Posner???s hierarchy places the interests of all humans above those of animals.

Peter and Singer???s heated debate has opened up a dialogue related to a number of causes, including the humane treatment of animals and the question of whether or not animals can truly experience emotions. Both intellectual figures expressed their points with authority. While the pair emerged from the public debate with a number of items of agreement, they remained divided about the divide between human and nonhuman animals.


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