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The Value of Life

Introduction In this paper, I will argue that even though Animal Rights Theory is more successful in expressing the grounds of animal’s value of life compared with utilitarian Theory of Peter Singer, neither of the theories Is successful In appreciating the animal’s value of life. In the first part of the paper, I will mention the major arguments of Singers utilitarian Theory of Animal Rights.

Then under The Relationship between Interests and the Capacities sub-title I will try to explain why Singer does not have persuasive utilitarian grounds to disvalues the lives of non-self-conscious beings. I will continue with the criticisms about the repeatability argument. Lastly, by referring to Reggae’s criticisms I will stress that even though Singer tries to synthesize his anti- spiciest arguments with his utilitarian theory, there is a tension between them. In the second part of the paper, I will summarize the arguments of Tom Reggae’s Animal Rights Theory.

Firstly, under The Value of Life sub-title I will mention why Animal Rights Theory Is more successful compared with Singer’s utilitarian Theory of Animal Rights In terms of appreciating the animal’s value of life. Secondly I will mention eroticism of Steven Davis about the fallacy of the presumptions of Animal Rights Theory. 2. Singer’s utilitarian Theory of Animal Rights According to classical utilitarianism, actions are right if they tend to produce the greatest happiness for the greatest number.

Therefore, one ought to live in such a way that one contributes as little as possible to the total amount of suffering in the world and as much as possible to the world’s total happiness. L However Singer claims to subscribe a modified form of utilitarianism called preference or interest utilitarianism according to which the morally appropriate act in any particular tuition is the one that will maximize the interests of those that will be affected.

These interests include desires and preferences of those who are affected. And pleasure and pain matter because they are part of what humans and non-humans prefer, desire or seek to avoid. 2 It Is Important to mention that for Singer, In terms of pain there should be a certain kind of equality: the pains of every being should be taken into account no matter what they are human or non-human. 3 He stresses that because of species humans failed to do this, which caused a systemic devaluation of animal interests.

By giving examples about inhumane production methods the animal producers have adopted, Singer mentions that factory farming causes massive harm to animals. 4 Basic interests of these animals are set aside by these factories to ensure that production is efficient and meat is cheap. 5 In these conditions, the consumption of meat and other products from commercially reared animals creates animal suffering that is not outweighed by the human pleasure it generates. 6 Therefore eating meat of animals produced by factory farming Is problematic for Singer.

In his words: None of these practices(raising animals Intensively) cater for anything more than our pleasures of taste, our practice of sacrifice of the most important interests of other beings in order to satisfy trivial has a moral obligation to cease supporting the practice. 7 Although Singer argues for equal moral consideration for the pains of every being, he does not think that values of all lives are equal worth and we should be vegetarian in every condition. He says that: “A rejection of species does not imply that all lives are of equal worth.

While self-awareness, intelligence, the capacity for meaningful relations with others, and so n are not relevant to the question of inflicting pain, these capacities may be relevant to the question of taking life. It is not arbitrary to hold that life of a self aware being, capable of abstract thought, of planning for future… Is more valuable than the life of a being without these capacities. 8″ While explaining his position, Singer refers to preference utilitarianism.

According to preference utilitarianism, an action contrary to the preference of any being is wrong unless this preference is outweighed by stronger contrary preferences. For this reason, other things being equal, killing a arson who prefers to continue living is wrong. Moreover, taking the life of a person will normally be worse than taking the life of some other being since a being that cannot see itself as a distinct identity with a possible future existence cannot have a preference about its own future existence. Some “higher animals” that have the capacity to see themselves as continuing selves can also be regarded as a person and their lives have the same special value with humans. 10 For Singer, as lower animals are impersonal, one does them no personal wrong by killing them. But the robber is that this act reduces the quantity of happiness in the universe. 11 So, killing lower animals can be morally problematic for two reasons: it may cause suffering and once a being is killed, it can no longer have positive experiences.

In other words, killing may increase suffering and reduce pleasure in the world. Singer thinks that this wrong can be counterbalanced. To quote Singer : “It is not wrong to rear and kill it for food, provided that it lives a pleasant life, and after being killed will be placed by another animal which will lead a similarly pleasant life and would not eave existed if the first animal had not been killed. This means that vegetarianism is not obligatory for those who can obtain meat from animals that they know to have been reared in this manner. As it can be seen, Singer uses the repeatability argument while explaining the permissibility of killing lower animals. By referring to Leslie Stephen, Singer defines the repeatability argument as follows: “As meat eaters are responsible for the death of the animal they eat and for the loss of pleasure experienced by the animal, they are also responsible for the creation of more animals f the same species. In this way, the benefit they confer on one animal cancels out the loss they inflict on the other. “12 However, the repeatability argument is not valid if the animals in question do not have a pleasant life.

Therefore, eating the flesh of animals reared in the modern factory farms cannot be Justified by using this argument due to the fact that their life is more of a burden than benefit to them. 13 3. Criticisms about Singer’s Utilitarian Theory of Animal Rights 3. 1 . Criticisms About the Relationship Between the Interest and the Capacities Although Singer argues for equal moral consideration for all sentient creatures, he suggests that it may be worse to kill rational and self-conscious beings, since self-conscious beings have more interests that will be frustrated by death compared with non-self-conscious beings.

Moreover, higher- level capacities also give rise to additional interests, such as an more loss of pleasure. 14 Although Singer mentions that there is a relationship between interests of individuals and their capacities, he does not explain how exactly these capacities contribute to the magnitude or quantity of interests. 15 Sherries Irvin argues that the relationship might go like this: To have an interest, one must have the capacity to differentiate between the alternative state of affairs.

If one’s psycho- physiological system does not react differently to two alternatives, it can be said that one cannot have an interest in the obtaining of one of the two alternatives. But if one has a capacity to form preferences for some state of affairs over others, these preferences may give rise to interests. And having more interests means greater potential for satisfaction. However the problem is that, actually, expected utility is tot a measure of satisfaction but of the likelihood of satisfaction.

It is still plausible to conclude that expected utility of the ones that have the capacity to differentiate between the alternatives will be lower. Because it is possible that only satisfied interests contribute to the utility and frustrated interests tend to detract from utility. So, there is good reason to think that the interests arise as discriminatory capacities are more likely to be frustrated. 16 There is another model that defends the idea that highly developed capacities lead to greater expected utility. According to this model, our levels of satisfaction depend on our capacities.

And the satisfaction we get as a result of our higher capacities are more intense and valuable than the satisfactions that do not involve our higher faculties. However, Edward Johnson opposes this view stating that the arguments based on the priority of the complex state of mind to the other ones do not have moral weight as it ignores the fact that each mind can be valuable in itself. 17 Moreover, he states that it is not possible for the ones that have higher mental capacities, to Judge the value of the satisfaction that the other ones experience.

Their capacities make one satisfaction possible while makes other ones impossible, thus they are not qualified to compare the level of satisfactions. 18 3. 2. Criticisms About Value of Life: Repeatability Argument Singer’s utilitarian theory ascribes an instrumental value to life. He weighs pleasures and pains to determine which action will bring about the best consequences for all effected. If violating a right holder’s right to life will produce more desirable consequences than respecting that right, then Singer is committed to violating that right. 9 For this reason, Reagan artifices this approach stating that utilitarianism has no room for individual’s inherent value. 20 1 think the reflection of this understanding of Singer can be seen most clearly in reparability argument. Singer’s “repeatability argument” ignores the likely possibility that sentient beings have an interest in staying alive. 21 If we take into account that the right to life is an essential basis for other rights, killing sentient animals is an ethical problem.

From this viewpoint killing is unacceptable even though animals live a pleasant life, killed painlessly and replaced by the other ones. 2 1 think that it is meaningful to mention the fictional case animated by Michael Lockwood that illustrates this worries: “Many families, especially ones with young children, find that dogs are an asset when they are still playful puppies… ,but become an increasing liability as they grow into middle age, with an adult appetite but sans youthful allure. Moreover, there is always a problem of what to do with the animal when they go on holiday.

It is often inconvenient or even impossible to take the dog and unreliable. Let us suppose that, inspired by Singer’s article, people were to hit on he idea of having their pets painlessly put down at the start of each holiday (as some pet owners already do), acquiring new ones upon their return. Suppose, indeed, that a company grows up, ‘Disposal Ltd’, which rears the animals, house-trains them, supplies them to any willing purchaser, takes them back, exterminates them and supplies replacements, on demand.

It is clear, is it not, that there can, for Singer, be absolutely nothing directly wrong with such a practice. Every puppy has, we may assume, an extremely happy, albeit brief, life – and indeed, would not have existed at all but for the practice. 3″ I think that the case that Lockwood offers is impermissible as it disvalues lives of dogs. I am not sure if Singer regards dogs as higher animals but for me, such kind of a practice cannot be approved even though dogs belong to lower animals as the dog which is killed will not have the opportunity to get satisfaction from life. . 3. The Criticisms about The Tension Between Utilitarian Theory and Rejection of Species I think the most serious criticisms about Singer’s theory are offered by Tom Reagan stating that there is a tension between utilitarian principles and rejection of species. Reagan focuses on the following argument of Singer: Eating the flesh of animals reared in the modern factory farms is not justifiable as it unnecessarily harms animals as sacrifices their most important interests for our trivial interests.

Reagan argues that while stating the argument that we should not consume meat reared in modern factory farms, Singer Justifies it by mentioning the purpose of his argument: Not to cause trivial harm. However, Reagan thinks that as a utilitarian what Singer should do is to explain the possible consequences of current practices and compare them with the value of the consequences that would result if his argument is adopted. 24 If such a comparison s made, it is not possible for a utilitarian to conclude that interest in eating meat is trivial.

The animal industry is big business compromised of many people whose interests in raising animals are far from trivial. For this reason, as a utilitarian Singer should take into account their interests as well as the interests of the other persons who are not directly involved in the practice but who might be affected by its possible cessation. 25 4. Animal Rights Theory Reagan explicitly sets up his animal rights view in opposition to utilitarianism. He thinks that utilitarian are mistaken in thinking that harming some beings to bring bout good consequences for others is morally permissible.

He mentions that rights theory would never allow such kind of a disrespectful treatment to the individuals. In terms of commercial animal agriculture, Reagan calls himself as categorically abolitionist. 26 To quote Reagan: “As for commercial animal agriculture, the rights view takes an abolitionist position. The fundamental moral wrong here is not that animals are kept in stressful close confinement or in isolation, or that their pain and suffering, their needs and preferences are ignored or discounted. All these are wrong, of ours, but they are not the fundamental wrong.

They are symptoms and effects of the deeper, systematic wrong that allows these animals to be viewed and treated as lacking independent value as resources for us- as indeed, a renewable resource. ” Reagan thinks that our treatment to animals reflects a distinction that we make between humans that we regard as “persons” and anonymous that we regard as “thing” side to the “person” side. 27 Reagan offers this move because he thinks that some animals possess the characteristics that we normally associate with Persephone such as beliefs, desires, memory, perception, intention… So, all of the human beings and the animals that have these characteristics are “experiencing subjects of life” for Reagan. Experiencing subjects of life have inherent value on their own based on their nature and capacities. That is why they cannot be the instruments for someone else’s use and benefit. For Reagan, it is wrong to kill “experiencing subjects of life” even if it is painless and another being is created. 29 Because killing deprives the animal of all the goods that the rest of its life would otherwise contained.

Thus, killing an “experiencing subject of life” is to show ultimate crispest by destroying the animal’s inherent value and thereby violating its rights. 30 For this reason Reagan thinks that we have a moral obligation to be vegetarians. 5. Criticisms About Animal Rights Theory 5. 1. The Value of Life As I have mentioned above Singer’s theory fails to value life in and of itself; he accepts the destruction of life as a means to an end. 31 Different from Singer, Reagan grants inherent value to the experiencing subject of life. 2 His respect principle states that no individual with inherent value may be treated as a means to end in order to maximize the aggregate of desirable consequences. Although I think that animal rights theory is more coherent and less problematic than Singer’s utilitarian theory in terms of value of life, if we also take into account the tension between utilitarian principles and rejection of species, still I am not sure if animal rights theory gives more value to the lives of the animals that do not fit into the category of experiencing subject of a life.

As it can be seen although there are major disagreements between two theories about the animal’s value of life, there is one point on which both agree: They both argue that capacities of the animals are of remarry importance in deciding which animals will be regarded as moral agents. 33 Moreover they both settle some characteristics of human beings which differentiate value of lives of animals: the ones that share these characteristics with human beings and the others. I can also ask the same question to Reagan that I addressed to Singer : Why do all sentient beings have the same value of life and thus, right to life?

For example, Paul Taylor claims that “all living things possess the same inherent worth because no species is higher or lower than, or superior or inferior to, any other pieces. It is this value that grants individual living organisms moral status, and means that we must take the interests and needs of such entities into account when formulating our moral obligations. “34 1 consider this view to be extreme due to the fact that as humans we need to kill some of the living organisms simply in order to live and if we settle the threshold for the animals that we attribute inherent value too low it would be impossible for us to survive.

But still, although I accept that we have to kill to survive, I am not convinced why killing a monkey is worse than killing a souse? I would like to leave this question open here, to take into account it in another criticism directed by Steven Davis. 5. 2. Davis Versus Reagan On Ethics of Eating Meat I would like to mention an interesting objection directed to Animal Rights Theory experiencing subjects of life, we have a moral obligation to be vegetarians. Davit’s argument undermines the most important presumption of moral vegetarianism: By choosing a vegan diet instead of meat based diet an individual prevents the killing of animals.

However, this is not the fact for Davis. By referring to the scientific studies e states that modern agriculture causes astronomical number of animals to die such as doves, black rat, house mouse, wild turkey. So, as humans we have to kill animals to survive one way or another. Moreover Davis makes a hypothetical study to compare the animals killed because of modern farming and animal agriculture. First he calculates how many animals would be killed assuming that all of the available land of United States would be used for modern farming.

Then he compares this with another situation in which half of the land is devoted to plant food while on the other half ruminant cattle are raised on grass diet. He finds out that 450 million fewer animals die in the second situation. Second argument of Davis is that species are not relevant to the moral status of animals: killing a mouse is Just as wrong as killing a cow. He concludes that to give the least harm to animals we should choose the second hypothetical situation in which least number of the animals are killed as the species of the killed animals do not have any moral relevance.

Moreover, he suggests that if we will continue to eat meat we should choose the largest animal possible to reduce the overall number of food animal deaths. 35 However, Animal Rights Theory eight not be sensitive to the criticisms of Davis as the animals that are harmed because of modern farming may not fit into the experiencing subject of life category. 6. Conclusion: My major concern about both theories is that they both argue that capacities of the animals are of primary importance in deciding which animals will be regarded as moral agents.

However, I cannot be convinced by their arguments as I do not believe that having characteristics similar to human beings does not make the life of one animal more valuable than the other. I agree with Paul Taylor in that all living things josses the same inherent worth because no species is higher or lower than, or superior or inferior to, any other species. However, there is an important fact we have to take into account: As human beings we have to kill in order to survive. So, the problem we have to solve is: Which animals should we sacrifice?