View Full Version : Peter Singer

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Nov 27th, 2006, 12:49 AM
It seems like either he is losing it or he was misquoted/edited manipulatively.

I'm not sure, but I think it's a strong possibility that he's either misquoted or his comments taken out of context. I've seen it to be the case on the other end where people against AR have misquoted him and made him sound like a complete lunatic. Having said that, I don't agree with him in many things.

Nov 27th, 2006, 12:55 AM
As a matter of related interest, it can be noted that Singer was the object of an article in UNIKEN, the paper made by the staff of the University of NSW, in Sydney, on October 25, 1991, which states in part : « Consistent with the view of a university as a place where polemic is set aside in favour of rational discourse, the seminar on 9 October by Professor Peter Singer (Professor of Philosophy at Monash University who was visiting UNSW to give a few lectures on ethical topics for the School of Community Medicine) allowed a useful interaction between a significant number of UNSW staff who use animals in their work and the 'guru' of the animal liberation movement – especially during question time. « The scientists were obviously gratified to hear Professor Singer say that the use of pound dogs in research could, with appropriate controls, be 'an example of the most defensible kind of experimentation because the animal presumably feels nothing, additional to what it would feel' when put down with a high dose of anaesthetic, something which happens to thousands of abandoned cats and dogs every week in Australia... »

Those of us who are fortunate enough to live in so-called democracies, where a measure of freedom still remains to the citizenry, must wake up and assume the responsibility for the rot that has developed in society, while we, and our parents, and our grandparents were occupied, all of us, with our own little lives. If this wake-up does not happen soon, while there is yet the freedom to act and to reclaim control over our institutions and governments (a freedom which may, already, at this time, exist in theory only), the wake-up may come when it is too late, as we are being figuratively (and perhaps even literally) led to slaughter for the greater good of the greatest number, as defined by those who profit from every aspect of our existence, but who have lost their humanity along the way (if you think these words are an exaggeration, read up on Utilitarian Ethics --including calls for the euthanasia of handicapped and retarded children, justifications for bestiality, and even apologies for vivisection and medical experiments on 'useless' human beings, like tramps, the mentally retarded, the elderly... --all being propounded by these Utilitarian Ethicists (and prominent among them –a coincidence ?-- the aforementioned Peter Singer, today installed at Princeton University as a professor of bioethics).

The Campaign against Fraudulent Medical Research in Cabramatta NSW, Australia, issued a press release, at the time, in which they wrote : Professor Peter Singer, for years touted by animal liberationists as their 'guru', is suing prominent figure in the antivivisection movement, Hans Ruesch, after accusation of being a 'big phony'. Mr Ruesch made the accusation after a journalist accidentially disclosed in an Italian newspaper that Peter Singer's animal rights lecture tour of Italy at the time (1989) was being sponsored by THE ROCKEFELLER FOUNDATION. The Rockefeller industrial complex owns over 200 pharmaceutical enterprises – a major user of animal experimentation. Hans Ruesch wrote to Rome's antivivisection society, Lega Anti-Vivisezione (LAV), pointing out the irony of this acclaimed animal lover's pilgrimage being financed by the pharmaceutical outfits. The editor turned it into a full page article titled 'PETER SINGER IS A BIG PHONY'. Consequently, Singer is suing Mr. Ruesch and LAV. Spokesperson for the Campaign Against Fraudulent Medical Research, John Leso, explains : 'In suing Ruesch, who is the world-leader of the abolitionist anti-vivisection movement, Professor Peter Singer has put himself under the spotlight, something he could ill-afford to do.' Mr Leso further states that ''... If Professor Singer is to sue everyone who claims he is a 'phony', then he would be a very busy man.' »

Nov 27th, 2006, 02:40 PM
Just to remind people that the programme is on tonight.

Just seen a tv advert for the programme, and well well well what a suprise NOT, the BBC using emotinal blackmail trying to claim how wonderful vivisection is . And using a child aswell.
How low will some people stoop too try and protect their corrupt bank balance.

Nov 27th, 2006, 11:51 PM
Well I've just watched it, and i'm bored with this standard 'Mel takes on the world' shit they KEEP churning out. I have full respect for Mel from SPEAK, but why o why do these biased programmes constantly pitch one passionate animal rights guy against most of the medical profession? When are we going to see a medicine 'v' medicine argument? People do get pissed off with aggressive AR supporters and for that reason, many give up or don't even start the crusade, maybe if they had positive evidence on the pitfalls and alternatives to animal experimentation, instead of the media portrayal of angry do gooding eco warrior, people could make a more informed judgement. Argue science with science and passion with passion, keep them seperate.
And who was surprised by the emotional blackmail then??? Maybe if they had shown some 'real' experimentation, the debate would have been a little more objective.

Nov 27th, 2006, 11:55 PM
i didn't watch this programme precisely because i knew it would be like that and would just p*ss me off.

Nov 28th, 2006, 12:02 AM
i didn't watch this programme precisely because i knew it would be like that and would just p*ss me off.

Don't blame you Gorilla. Someone texted me to say it was on, I hadn't got a clue what it was about - I don't watch the telly, but I was surprised to hear Peter Singer in a debate with the surgeon (sorry name's aren't my strong point:o ) and after he described 'X' amount of people had been saved with only 100ish monkeys sacrificed in research, Peter Singer said he thought that was acceptable research??!?!!??!? :confused:

Nov 28th, 2006, 10:11 AM
Peter singer is also known to be affiliated with the Rockfeller drug empire http://whale.to/b/ruesch.html
http://www.animalvoices.org/ADAV/singer.htm the truth is coming out
Dismissive comments like these are only useful as fodder for people who don't think too deeply. Calling the Rockefeller organisation a drug empire is also a way of dissing the organisation. There are many honest and dedicated scientists and others who have received funding for their work, and in one case that I know of, the person was funded to oppose gm pharmaceutical companies and give their intellectual evaluation. I am also suspicious whenever I see the name of ruesch involved.

This doesn't mean that I wholeheartedly support Prof Singer, because I don't, but let's not go ott.

Nov 28th, 2006, 01:58 PM
I was disappointed by his offering up such a choice soundbyte quote in response to Tipu Aziz. They can't have believed their luck when he said that.

I think many people misinterpret him though, he's utilitarian first rather than a pure animal rightist so if you tell him torturing ten monkeys produces good results for tens of thousands of humans he will always go with the overall picture.

He has also made quotes that billions of chickens suffering and dying in slaughterhouses doesn't come close to the several thousand human deaths in 9/11. Because of the increased level of suffering amongst the human victims, the families left behind and the worldwide upset the event caused.

Nov 28th, 2006, 02:13 PM
I was really annoyed when I saw it for myself on the programme.
Just last week I bought his Animal Liberation book.
It was the 1st AR book that I have bought and was really enjoying it , until I saw that last night what he said. Now I jsut dont want to pick up the book.

I was hoping that when I read it on the newspaper links that it might just be the papers lying agian but seeing him saying it himself just confirmed what the papers were saying.

Anyone wanna buy a book from me? lol.

Nov 28th, 2006, 03:08 PM
It seems like either he is losing it or he was misquoted/edited manipulatively.

I think he answered intelligently. I don't think that it would have done him or the animal rights movement any favours if he had told Tipu Aziz to his face that his work to help sufferers of Parkinsons was undoubtedly wrong. Instead he hinted, as Pob said, that there may have been alternative methods of discovering the same knowledge, and that unnecessary animal suffering was wrong.

I was annoyed that they only showed that extract. You could tell from his tone of voice that he had a lot more to say, and it would have been better if he had (and/or they had shown it).

Nov 28th, 2006, 03:48 PM
There were all sorts of things not right about that show.

Tipu Aziz was never quizzed over how essential the tests on live monkeys were. They weren't solely developed on live monkeys.

It was assumed that without the monkeys the treatments could not have been developed. But Tipu Aziz never said that. Could an eeg of a human not have picked up which areas of the brain were firing wrongly?

It wasn't mentioned how long the monkey would be in the head restraints with the electrodes inserted. Notice the rat was never freed after having the electrodes inserted - it was killed. The monkey was mentioned as facing a 3 year period of experimentation. Would it spend all 3 years immobilized like that?

Tipu Aziz got away with a lot of wishy washy answers, that any unbiased and decent reporter wouldn't have allowed.

I did think it was funny that it mentioned how scary the protesters are, with a pic of SaucyVegan on the screen. Ha ha!:D

Purple Monkey
Nov 28th, 2006, 06:05 PM
I was completely shocked by what Peter singer said, but it did look like he had more to say that wasn't added. The whole programme was a sham though, making out that animal testing is neccessary to save that boy & the narrator supporting it in the final part. The debate about animal testing was stupid, with all the students going on about the campaign and extremism rather than the facts about animal testing. But at least it made Laurie Pycroft look like a twat because he just doesn't know what he is doing!!! They didnt show footage of the 1,000 people protest that happened @ oxford in the summer either.

Just another attempt by the media to make us all believe that vivisection is needed.


Nov 28th, 2006, 07:14 PM
Instead he hinted, as Pob said, that there may have been alternative methods of discovering the same knowledge, and that unnecessary animal suffering was wrong.

I was annoyed that they only showed that extract. You could tell from his tone of voice that he had a lot more to say, and it would have been better if he had (and/or they had shown it).

That's what I was talking about. In my experience there are very few instances where prominent AR people are actually able to thoroughly explain their ideas and thoughts without being interrupted, misunderstood, edited or ridiculed. I recently saw a show with Howard Lyman (Mad Cowboy) where he was so ridiculed that it made him look like a wishy washy non-sensical figure. Very sad when in REALITY the man has so much knowledge and experience and is a great asset to the social debate.

Nov 28th, 2006, 07:25 PM
I think many people misinterpret him though, he's utilitarian first rather than a pure animal rightist so if you tell him torturing ten monkeys produces good results for tens of thousands of humans he will always go with the overall picture.

That's right he's not an animal rights philosoper he just seems to give animals more consideration than most philosophers, based on the fact that they are sentient beings. It would have been a different story had Dr. Steve Best been there.

But as has been said, in a programme that was remarkably better than i thought it would be, the most glaring error was to yet again, allow a scientist to hold his 'professional' and 'educated' opinion above others without scrutiny from different scientists on both sides of the debate.

Nov 28th, 2006, 07:48 PM
A long time ago I witnessed a situation as it was being prepared to be reported on the local evening news. What I saw with my own eyes at the scene, and what I saw it transformed into on the news that evening were so utterly and completely different I stopped paying attention to anything reported on television or in the papers ever again. The people in charge of production can and will make something look exactly the way they want it to, not how it really is.

I will never accept without question any mainstream intrepretation of the views of people prominent in animal-positive movements, whether they work publically towards animal rights or animal welfare. There are too many powerful animal-exploiting industries to allow an unbiased, truthful presentation of the opinions of people who stand against them. It makes me sad to see that they are getting what they pay for, when I read some of the posts here. That's exactly what they want; to cause us to doubt the leaders of our movement.

None of us can practice our chosen principles 100%; we should not allow an imperfect practitioner of vegan ethics to lower our opinions of the ethics themselves. Peter Singer's Animal Liberation is what made me go vegan. His philosophy for the most part is sound. The motivation of the opposition to make him seem like he can't stick to his own philosophy is too strong to be accepted without question. But even if he is not fully committed to living by the ideas he has developed, it doesn't mean those ideas are meaningless.

QUESTION EVERYTHING!!! Peter Singer may not be what he seems, but decide that for yourselves, don't accept it from people with a vested interest in ruining his reputation and making him look like a hypocrite.

Nov 28th, 2006, 11:30 PM
Peter Singer was talking about animal rights back when nobody else was and he's a true pioneer, he started it all (correct me if I'm wrong here). If I had done as much for the cause of animals as he has done, I would be very proud of myself. He's also a longtime vegan which means that he also takes his theories and ideas to a practical level (already a lot more than most philosophers and scholars do). I respectfully disagree with many of his ideas, it's impossible to agree 100% with anyone regardless of common intrests and goals. I think his work is impressive and very important. Controversial - yes. Hypocrat - no, not more than every human being is.

Nov 29th, 2006, 10:21 AM
sorry kriz, but he's not a vegan.

Nov 29th, 2006, 11:03 AM
He may have made some people go vegan, but seem very focused on the 'suffering'-aspect only. And for sure, with his views on killing disabled babies after birth etc., he has for sure made a lot of people think that vegans are nuts.

Nov 29th, 2006, 04:40 PM
It's strange that Singer would endorse a specific (or any) primate experiment simply based on a verbal claim made by a scientist in a conversation. It seems like either he is losing it or he was misquoted/edited manipulatively.

If you read the full article where Singer was interviewed you'll find his backing of the tests was specifically qualified. His views seem to be utilitarian (the greatest good for the greatest number) rather than opposing all non human animal experiments uniquivocally.
The scientist (Aziz) was interviewed by Fergal Keane on Radio 4 recently and he admitted he would support testing of cosmetics on animals. He said that the problem with the animal rights lobby was that many of them get their facts wrong and are "illiterate".

Unfortunately if alternatives to animal testing are not funded by either governments, charities or corporations, people like Aziz will continue to do this sort of work. Scientists always go where the funding is. We should lobby for alternatives to animal testing.

Nov 29th, 2006, 07:06 PM
Unfortunately if alternatives to animal testing are not funded by either governments, charities or corporations, people like Aziz will continue to do this sort of work. Scientists always go where the funding is. We should lobby for alternatives to animal testing.

PETA has a group of scientists who are working on alternatives, as well as other scientists who are doing the same. (you are probably aware of this but I thought I'd throw it in)

'Please write polite letters to the company's executives. Ask them to meet with PETA scientists, develop modern methods to replace the current flea-treatment tests that cause so much suffering, and submit the new tests to the Environmental Protection Agency for approval'

Singer is brilliant in many areas, but I will never support vivisection on any level.

Nov 29th, 2006, 07:43 PM
A bit from Uncaged......

'Monkeying around with the truth

TV Review: ‘Monkeys, Rats and Me’, BBC2, Monday 27 November 2006

This documentary examined the ethics of animal experiments by using the SPEAK campaign and Professor Tipu Aziz’s research as a case study. However, there were a number of fundamental flaws in the programme that amounted to a systematic pro-vivisection bias. This may come as a surprise to reviewers such as Lucy Mangan in the Guardian[i]. But her lack of knowledge of the subject means that she doesn’t understand how the programme misled through omitting key issues, assuming controversial assertions were true, and by framing the debate in terms that directly reflect the perspective put forward by the pro-vivisection lobby.

An axe to grind?

Perhaps one of the most revealing comments made by the reporter, Adam Wishart, was that he had ‘no qualms about killing a rat he found in his kitchen’. It’s one thing to be prepared to kill an animal, but his total lack of compunction reveals his extremely unsympathetic attitude to animals. Wishart’s value judgements were also betrayed by his description of non-humans as ‘lower animals’. Wishart claimed that he ‘had no axe to grind’ – really?

Presenting controversies as facts

The concerns about underlying bias are exacerbated by the fact that Tipu Aziz’s claims regarding the validity and benefits of his research were not subject to even cursory examination. Indeed, from the very beginning the programme’s narrative worked on the assumption that Aziz’s vivisection of monkeys was valid, predictive and necessary. Repeatedly, the claim that there would be no medicine if it were not for animal research went unchallenged, despite such an argument being rejected by the pro-vivisection Nuffield thinktank [ii].

Instead of exploring scientific critiques of Aziz’s work, Wishart presented researchers as infallible experts driven purely by altruism. There was no investigation of the role of economic and professional self-interest in motivating animal research, or the historical context that now structures researchers’ choices about experimental methods.[iii] Similarly, features of pro-vivisection activity likely to be particularly controversial were evaded. Thus Aziz’s extreme position, exemplified by his support for cosmetic testing on animals[iv], and the financial relationship between the Pro-Test group and the pharmaceutical industry (via the Research Defence Society) were overlooked.[v]

Negative positioning of anti-vivisectionists

In contrast, the show portrayed anti-vivisection campaigners as violent and irrational – no scientific or academic critiques of animal research were aired. There was even an attempt to undermine the moral basis of campaigners through the suggestion that the main motivation of activists was a sense of belonging to a like-minded network. Interestingly, Wishart never attempted to second-guess the motivations of vivisectors.

The truth about vivisection secrecy

This positioning of the anti-vivisection movement was designed to present it in an unpopular light, and fed into one of the documentary’s most misleading themes (once again unquestioningly reflecting Aziz’s claims): that the secrecy surrounding vivisection was due entirely to ‘extremist’ action. Was this lazy or dishonest journalism? For, the fact of the matter is that secrecy in this policy area predates animal rights militancy by about 100 years. The most detailed historical study of animal research policy is Richard French's (1975) Antivivisection and Medical Science in Victorian Society ( Princeton : Princeton University Press). Discussing his methodology, he notes:

'My account of the administration of the [1876 Cruelty to Animals] Act is largely based upon Home Office ~156 letterbooks. It is a measure of the sensitivity of the vivisection issue that these documents remain under one hundred year restriction and I am most grateful to the Home Office for permitting me to examine the nineteenth-century letterbooks for the purposes of this study'.

The underlying reason for secrecy in this policy area is to minimise public awareness of animal suffering and thus control the political agenda. In reality, what is happening at the moment is that a tight-knit network comprised of government policy-makers, animal research industry leaders and some in the media with a fairly extreme pro-animal research agenda are promoting the storyline of 'animal rights extremism' as a way of positioning and discrediting anyone critical of the status quo in animal research policy, and to suppress legitimate freedom of information. The Research Defence Society’s internal newsletter gives the game away. Contradicting their public statements, they state: ‘it is very safe to speak out in the media’.[vi]

Hiding animal suffering

To complete the set of pro-vivisection myths, the programme promoted the idea that animal experiments were not painful. Once again, Aziz was permitted to make false assertions with impunity. He claimed that pain ‘was not part of the process of his research’. Yet anyone with any knowledge of his research knows this is untrue. The programme showed the initial stages of his research, where Felix the monkey was forced to spend hours in a tiny cage as he was trained to perform certain movements. This was disturbing enough in terms of the severe behavioural limitations imposed on the monkey and resultant psychological suffering. However, the later and most severe stage of the experiments – which were not broadcast - involved the artificial induction of ‘Parkinsonism’ (NB this is not the same as human Parkinson’s Disease) through damaging the brain of the monkey, resulting in a range of significant disabilities and illnesses. Similar earlier experiments were recognised by the Home Office as having to cause ‘substantial’ pain and suffering[vii].

The inaccurate, sanitised image of animal experimentation presented by the programme typified its general pro-vivisection agenda. Interestingly, Aziz’s denial of animal pain in his experiments suggests that he is incapable of fulfilling the legal responsibilities of a licence holder – not that the Home Office is genuinely bothered about compliance with the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986.

In conclusion, ‘Monkeys, Rats and Me’ presented a heavily one-sided and distorted perspective on this most heated of controversies, a manifestation of the boasts of pro-vivisectionists about their privileged access to journalists. Ironically, in a context where pleas are made for rational debate as a means of resolving the more extreme aspects of this conflict, this piece of propaganda will do nothing to encourage a reduction in the ‘extremism’ it purported to highlight.

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Nov 29th, 2006, 08:36 PM
We should lobby for alternatives to animal testing.
I agree, herbwormwood. That's why I advocate stem cell research every chance I get. We might have a shot in this country of getting it approved once Bush is out of office.

Nov 29th, 2006, 10:46 PM
Those who claim that Peter Singer meant something else are the ones misunderstanding Singer's philosophy. In Singer's own words, published in Behavioral and Brain Scienece (1990):

"I certainly would never deny that we are justified in using animals for human goals, because as a consequentialist, I must also hold that in appropriate circumstances we are justified in using humans to achieve human goals (or the goal of assisting animals). I am not the kind of moral absolutist who holds that the ends can never justify the means. Nor have I said that no animal experimentation is ever of use to humans (though I do think much of it is of minimal or zero value) or that all animal experimentation involves suffering. (If I seem testy here, it is because such oversimplifications are bad enough when they come from the popular press; when they come from people who teach at distinguished universities, they may well cause even highly sophisticated folks to wonder about the worth-whileness of a college education)."

For Singer it is all about a reverse form of hedonism: reducing the worst suffering, as opposed to promoting the greatest happiness. Singer does not believe in rights, including life or liberty. Singer also doesn't support veganism as a movement (in fact, Singer has called vegan advocacy "counter-productive"), nor does Singer even oppose humans sexually assaulting nonhumans.

Inevitably Singer's philosophy collapses into totalitarianism. The book Animal Liberation is a misnomer, because Singer is not at all opposed to control, force or exploitation -- all of which Singer thinks can and should be done without suffering. The Times article calls Singer the "father of animal activism," and, indeed, Singer promotes a disturbing form of paternalism. One of Singer's progeny is the notorious Norfolk, Va.-based organization that rounds-up healthy nonhuman animals and kills them under the pretense of "freeing" those animals from suffering.

Nov 29th, 2006, 10:57 PM
A friend of mine debated Singer in some kind of academic context some years back. Singer was advocating euthanasia of severely disabled infants with normally functional minds.

Nov 29th, 2006, 11:01 PM
Why does Singer consider vegan advocacy to be counter-productive, Daniel? Can you expand on that?