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Peter Singers Speziesismus

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Peter Singers Speziesismus

Autor: Achim Stößer | Datum:
An Open Letter to Vegan Voice

26 December 2001

Dear Editor:

While gratefully acknowledging philosopher Peter Singer's
contribution to the modern animal advocacy movement, which he as much
as anyone may reasonably be said to have launched, I find certain
aspects of his thought disturbing. Within the past few months I have
twice encountered Singer using chickens as an example of "lesser
beings." The fact that chickens are disparaged in Singer's recent
comments rather than in something he wrote or said years ago
increases my concern. The fact that Singer has the world's ear to an
extent seldom granted to a philosopher makes it all the more
disturbing that he would reinforce, directly or indirectly, the
ignorant denigration of chickens that makes it easy for people to
dismiss them as inferior creatures, the "least equal" among
acknowledged sentients.

In 2000, the total number of chickens killed in food production
worldwide, including hens used for egg production and then
slaughtered, exceeded 40,000 million, an increase of approximately
1,300 million chickens per year through the 1990s. Based on the
evidence, it can reasonably be said that the chicken is a doomed
species whose doom consists not of extinction but of something worse:
an ever-expanding increase in the number of individuals living in
hell or its moral equivalent. Among land animals, chickens constitute
the largest, most expanding universe of pain and suffering on the
planet. To add an ounce of insult to these birds instead of using
precious opportunities to bolster their image in the public mind is
terrible. There is enough scientific and anecdotal documentation for
anyone wishing to be just and helpful to chickens to do so without
making false or sentimentalized claims about them.

In "An Interview" in his book Writings on an Ethical Life (2000), on
page 323, Singer defines a "person" as a "being who is capable of
anticipating the future, of having wants and desires for the future."
He cites the chicken as a type of creature who "perhaps" has "no
sense of existing over time," hence a creature who "perhaps" cannot
lay claim to the privilege of "personhood." "Perhaps" scarcely
qualifies this negative attribution or mitigates its impact: it's the
kind of cover your butt word that scientists and philosophers
routinely use. The fact that every morning the chickens at our
sanctuary yell and otherwise beg and demand to be let out of their
enclosures into the yard shows that they "anticipate the future"
satisfactions that await them in the yard-satisfactions they remember
having enjoyed there and fervently desire to enjoy again. I cite this
as one of many examples of chickens' memory-and-anticipation
cognitive behavior.1

In a review of Joan Dunayer's book Animal Equality: Language and
Liberty (2001), in the December - February 2002 issue of Vegan Voice,
Singer contests Dunayer's recommendation that we should use "equally
strong words for human and nonhuman suffering or death." He writes:
"Reading this suggestion just a few days after the killing of several
thousand people at the World Trade Center, I have to demur. It is not
speciesist to think that this event was a greater tragedy than the
killing of several million chickens, which no doubt also occurred on
September 11, as it occurs on every working day in the United States.
There are reasons for thinking that the deaths of beings with family
ties as close as those between the people killed at the World Trade
Center and their loved ones are more tragic than the deaths of beings
without those ties; and there is more that could be said about the
kind of loss that death is to beings who have a high degree of
self-awareness, and a vivid sense of their own existence over time."

We can argue till doomsday over what elements must be present in
order to characterize a horrible experience as a "greater" or
"lesser" tragedy for those involved. However, I would like to offer
the following considerations in response to Singer's assessment
above. To begin with, there is an implication in his comparison that
a sudden, acute agony or attack is somehow worse than a chronic
everyday one such as chicken slaughter is acknowledged to be. Even
for animal advocates, words like "slaughter," "cages," "debeaking,"
"forced molting," and "ammonia burn" lose their edge, causing us to
forget that what has become routine and blunted in our minds is brand
new for each individual who is forced to endure what these words
signify. Moreover, what do we really know about the kinds of ties
chickens living together in the chicken houses might or might not
have formed among or between themselves in the course of six weeks or
a year or two? Perhaps we should give them the benefit of the doubt
rather than the other way around. We've certainly broken their ties
with their own mothers and the natural world. We do not know how
these birds feel in being ripped apart from one another in the
process of being violently grabbed while asleep in the middle of the
night by men who are cursing and yelling at them while pitching and
stuffing them into the crates in which they will travel to the next
wave of human terror attacks on them at the slaughterhouse. For 35
million chickens in the United States alone, every single night is a
terrorist attack, if the victim's experience counts and human agency
is acknowledged. That is what "chicken catching" amounts to in
essence. And it isn't just something that is "happening" to these
birds but a deliberate act of human violence perpetrated against
innocent (they have done us no harm), defenseless, sentient

While I would not dream of using arguments to diminish the horror of
the September 11 attack for thousands of people, I would also suggest
that the people who died in the attack did not suffer more terrible
deaths than animals in slaughterhouses suffer every day. Moreover,
the survivors of the September 11 attack and their loved ones have an
array of consolations-patriotism, the satisfaction of U.S.
retaliation, religious faith, TV ads calling them heroes, etc--that
the chickens, whose lives are continuously painful and miserable,
including being condemned to live in human-imposed circumstances that
are inimical and alien to them as chickens, do not have available.
They suffer raw, without the palliatives. Doubtless the majority, if
not every single one, of the people who suffered and/or died as a
result of the September 11 attack ate, and if they are now alive
continue to eat, chickens. It is possible to argue, using (Peter
Singer's) utilitarian calculations, that the deaths of thousands of
people whose trivial consumer satisfactions included the imposition
of fundamental misery and death on hundreds of thousands of chickens
reduced the amount of pain and suffering in the world.

In conclusion, I think it is speciesist to think that the September
11 attack on the World Trade Center was a greater tragedy than what
millions of chickens endured that day and what they endure every day
because they cannot defend themselves against the concerted human
appetites arrayed against them. Perhaps the word "tragedy" should not
be used anyway in this context unless in the more precise sense of a
fundamentally terrible thing happening to a human being who
consciously or subconsciously brought the terrible thing upon him or
herself, lived through it, and gained insight and wisdom as a result.
In this classical sense of tragic drama, it remains to be seen
whether America is a "tragic hero" or even a "tragic" victim. If,
though, the question is whether the World Trade Center attack was
worse for its thousands of human victims than the sum total of misery
and terror was for millions of chicken victims that day, I see only
one nonspeciesist answer to the question.

Karen Davis, PhD
United Poultry Concerns
26 December 2001

Vielen Dan aus Chicago

Autor: madonna niles | Datum:
Hinweis: Dieser Beitrag wurde am 19.01.02 (20:05 Uhr) von der Moderation überarbeitet!

Hinweis: Dieser Beitrag wurde am 19.01.02 (2:49 Uhr) vom Verfasser überarbeitet!

[Vollquote des Originalartikels entfernt - Moderator]

Ich danke dir fuer diese Brief von Karen Davis von United Poultry
Concerns. Ich denke dass, es sehr wichtig ist, dass wir fuer die Tiere
weltweit sprechen. Wir muessen in unsere Arbeit fuer die Tiere
einander ermutigen.

Vielen Dank nochmal, aus Chicago.

mit freunlichen Gruessen,
Madonna Niles

Eine Nachschrift, bitte: Entschuldigung, bitte, fuer meinen Fehler in
die Ueberschrift zu meinem Brief. Ich weiss, dass das Wort ,,Dan"
nicht richtig ist. Das richtige Wort ist ,,Dank", und ich danke dir fuer
deine Geduld.

(Auf Englisch, bitte: Achim, I would be very grateful if you could correct
my mistake. If not, that's okay. My German teacher tells me always that the German people are very forgiving towards those who are trying their best. Vielen Dank nochmal. Madonna Niles)

Administrativer Hinweis

Autor: Achim Stößer | Datum:
>Eine Nachschrift, bitte: Entschuldigung, bitte, fuer meinen Fehler in
>die Ueberschrift zu meinem Brief. Ich weiss, dass das Wort ,,Dan"
>nicht richtig ist. Das richtige Wort ist ,,Dank", und ich danke dir fuer

Leider ist eine Änderung der Überschrift in der Software dieses Forums m.W. nicht möglich, aber zum Glück ist die Sprache so redundant, daß "vielen Dank" auch ohne "k" verständlich ist ;-) .


Peter Singer und Hühner

Autor: Dirk Micheel | Datum:
>... If,
>though, the question is whether the World Trade Center attack was
>worse for its thousands of human victims than the sum total of misery
>and terror was for millions of chicken victims that day, I see only
>one nonspeciesist answer to the question.

Erstaunlicherweise schrieb Peter Singer schon in "Animal Liberation" (mir liegt die deutsche Neufassung vor):
"In Übereinstimmung mit den dort genannten Gründen habe ich alles in allem keine Einwände gegen die Freilandhaltung von Hühnern zur Eierproduktion."
(Kapitel 4, S. 284, 1. Absatz)

Und das wohlgemerkt in dem "Manifest der Tierbefreiungsbewegung"! Das erste Kapitel, Alle Tiere sind gleich, ist durchweg (nach meiner Erinnerung, das obige Zitat aus einem späteren Teil des Buches hätte ich naiverweise nicht erwartet) akzeptabel und sehr empfehlenswert.

Über die Realität kann man sich jedenfalls hier informieren: