In the article “All Animals are Equal” Singer argues that using animals for experimentation is not justifiable since animals should be afforded the same rights as human beings. The author tackles the issue of animal liberation and he begins by arguing for the equality of animals. He argues against “speciesism” which he defines as the attitude of bias and favor to one’s own species at the expense of the other species. The author goes on to show that an overwhelming majority of humans most human beings are speciesists since they allow the interests of other species to be violated in order to promote their own interests.
The author notes that some people argue that the same rights afforded to men cannot be extended to nonhuman animals. He notes that according to this argument, animals are denied equal rights to humans since they differ greatly from men. The author suggests that while this reasoning is correct up to a point, it does not serve as a basis for discrimination. He goes on to articulate that the principle of equality does not necessitate treating all in exactly the same manner but rather giving equal consideration. Singer states that if we discriminate against animals because they are different, the same principle can be used to discriminate on the basis of sex, intellectual capabilities and other differences that exist between humans. Singer asserts that the principle of equality does not imply that all humans are actually equal but rather it is “a prescription of the manner in which we should treat other human beings” (6).
The thoughts expressed by Thomas Jefferson who stated that equality for men should not be based on any ability or talent since there should not be a logically compelling reason for treating each other equally are used in the article. The author asserts that the truths about equality to man as advanced by Thomas Jefferson also apply to animals. Singer further notes that while many philosophers have proposed the “principle of equal considerations of interests when dealing with human beings, they have failed to recognize the same principle as applicable to members of other species”.
The author suggests that the “capacity for suffering” as is articulated by Jeremy Bentham should be the only attribute used to determine whether to accord equal consideration. He states that the capacity for suffering is the attribute that enables a being to have interests in the first place. Therefore the author demonstrates that inanimate objects such as stones do not have any interests since they cannot suffer. Singer considers the option advanced by some philosophers who argue that animals do not have rights since they are “not autonomous and do not have any sense of justice or ability to respect others” (8). The author refutes this claim by stating that suffering should be the only consideration taken despite the nature of the being. The author argues that suffering and not other characteristics like intelligence or rationality can be used as the basis for fair treatment.
The author also considers the claims made by some people that animals do not feel pain in the same manner that humans do and hence should be preferred for experimentation. Singer refutes this claim by demonstrating that we only know that human beings feel pain through their external reactions. As such, we can tell that animals feel pain by observing their physical reactions. The author further shows that while human beings have more developed brains, the nervous systems which cause emotions and feelings of pain in man are also well developed in other species of animals.
The author points out the faulty argument used to justify using animals for research which is that: they lack a well-developed language and are unaware of what is happening to them. He shows that if this was the rationale used, then the same argument can be used as justification for using infants and retarded humans for experimentation. The author also notes that experimenters justify the use of animals in experiments by claiming that thousands of human lives could be saved by single experiments on a single animal. Singer counters this by demonstrating that it would be highly unlikely for the experimenters to use a human infant or a brain-damaged adult (who possess even less intellectual power and self-awareness than animals) as readily as they use animals even if such experimentations were the only way to save many people. The author reveals that this is positive proof of speciesism by human beings.
The author concludes by noting that at the present time, millions of animals are suffering for reasons that are unjustifiable. He states that while it is possible that there are some experiments in which the use of animals may be justifiable, these would be very rare cases and they should not be used to justify the blatant suffering caused to animals by experiments. He calls on people to stop this unjustifiable suffering of animals caused by experiments that are aimed at satisfying man’s trivial interests.