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gertvegan
Nov 29th, 2006, 11:36 PM
This was bulletin posted on myspace.


I was most concerned about the reports regarding Peter Singer and decided to contact him directly, this morning, to find out his views 'from the horses mouth'.

His response was swift and included an attached letter to the editor of the Observer which is as follows:
____________________________

The Editor

Your story "Animal Guru Gives Tests His Blessing" (Observer, 26/11/06) suggests that my remarks in the BBC2 documentary "Monkeys, Rats and Me:
Animal Testing" represent a change in my position on animal testing. That impression needs to be corrected.

Neither in my 1975 book Animal Liberation, nor anywhere else, have I ever said that no experiments on animals could ever be justifiable. My position
has always been that whether an act is right or wrong depends on its consequences. I do insist, however, that the interests of animals count among those consequences, and that we cannot justify speciesism, which I define as giving less weight to the interests of nonhuman animals than we give to the similar interests of human beings.

In our on-camera discussion, Professor Aziz claimed that experiments he had performed on a small number of monkeys had yielded major benefits for tens
of thousands of people suffering from Parkinson's Disease. I replied that if the facts were indeed as he asserted, and there was no other way in which
the benefits could have been achieved, such research could be justifiable.
Whether the facts are as Professor Aziz claims I shall leave for others to debate.

Professor Aziz is quoted as saying that my remarks are "an encouraging sign." Before he gets too encouraged, he might consider that in Animal Liberation I suggested that a test for whether a proposed experiment on
animals is justifiable is whether the experimenter would be prepared to carry out the experiment on human beings at a similar mental level - say, those born with irreversible brain damage. If Professor Aziz is not prepared to say that he would think such experiments justifiable, his
willingness to use animals is based on a prejudice against giving their interests the same weight as he gives to the interests of members of our own species.

Whether or not the occasional experiment on animals is defensible, I remain opposed to the institutional practice of using animals in research, because, despite some improvements over the past thirty years, that practice still
fails to give equal consideration to the interests of animals. For that reason I oppose putting more resources into building new facilities for animal experimentation. Instead, these funds should go into clinical research involving consenting patients, and into developing other methods of research that do not involve the harmful use of animals.

Sincerely,

Peter Singer

focus
Nov 29th, 2006, 11:53 PM
In our on-camera discussion, Professor Aziz claimed that experiments he had performed on a small number of monkeys had yielded major benefits for tens of thousands of people suffering from Parkinson's Disease. I replied that if the facts were indeed as he asserted, and there was no other way in which the benefits could have been achieved, such research could be justifiable.

If Singer or Aziz were to insert their own name in place of the word 'monkeys' in the above paragraph, I wonder if they would still feel the same. Or anyone else for that matter.

gertvegan
Nov 30th, 2006, 12:04 AM
the programme also showed that we need some harder and tougher debates about the ethics of animal research. And from a pro-test supporter as well, see here. (http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php?/site/article/2147/)

fiamma
Nov 30th, 2006, 12:12 AM
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.

They recently had a referendum here to make research on stem cells legal, but the Vatican was actively encouraging people not to vote and they failed to reach the required quota.

Daniel
Dec 1st, 2006, 05:56 PM
Why does Singer consider vegan advocacy to be counter-productive, Daniel? Can you expand on that?

Peter Singer says veganism is too much to ask of people. This reflects Singer's strong conservativism, because the whole point of social change is to challenge society. Singer outright opposes radical change in favor of promoting alternative methods of exploiting animals. Singer does this in The Way We Eat, where it is recommended that consumers "buy the more expensive but better-tasting eggs from hens free to move around inside sheds." Singer describes a vegan lifestyle as "the other choice," as opposed to the "better-tasting" one.

Singer doesn't really challenge the assumption that humans shouldn't exploit other animals. But more importantly, Singer does not believe in veganism as a social movement. In several interviews over the last year Peter Singer has repeatable said that a world that continues to exploit other animals would be morally acceptable. Singer's opinion is that no one, including Singer, should feel obligated to live a vegan way of life.

In the misnomer Animal Liberation, Singer advocates that there is negligible ethical concern with exploiting so-called "free-rage" chickens for their eggs. Singer wrote, "They will be killed when they cease to lay productively, but they will have a pleasant existence until that time."

Singer's views are in stark contrast with Donald Watson's comment that this sort of "idyllic scene [is] nothing more than Death Row. A Death Row where every creature's days are numbered by the point at which it was no longer of service to human beings."

It seems obvious to me that the person who opposes exploitation and killing is truly in favor of liberation.

paec311
Dec 5th, 2006, 10:17 PM
I've been trying to find a site where I can watch this debate. Does anyone have a link that is viewable in the US?

Korn
Dec 7th, 2006, 01:46 PM
Peter Singer says veganism is too much to ask of people. IMO it's not too much to ask, but it's too much to except that everybody will do it, or that we'll all be 'perfect vegans' in a non-vegan world.

If he really wants animal liberation, how can he expect the world to move in that direction of animal liberation without asking people to avoid animal product as much as 'practical and possible'?

fiamma
Dec 7th, 2006, 02:29 PM
Singer puts across a very bold, challenging and interesting point of view. I can see where he's coming from, not that I necessarily agree. I'm just going on what I've read here, I haven't read any of his books.

Korn
Dec 7th, 2006, 02:33 PM
Singer puts across a very bold, challenging and interesting point of view.
Where's the 'interesting' part of it? :)

fiamma
Dec 7th, 2006, 04:44 PM
Interesting because he states that veganism is too much to ask of people. I think it's incredibly difficult to be vegan, and when I get the comment "oh I admire you so much" I suppose i'm flattered, but I also feel like I'm being labelled, like my views are way too extreme for others to comprehend and therefore even to take into consideration. In my experience people can react by shutting their systems down, so to speak, saying veganism is too extreme and so they are unwilling to listen to what we have to say. Perhaps if the vegan movement showed a little more "sympathy" people would be more willing to listen and it would bring about more changes. But veganism by its very nature would never change like this, it would no longer be veganism. I'm just giving my interpretation of Singer's viewpoint here from what little info has been given on this thread; my own views on veganism have not changed.

Korn
Dec 7th, 2006, 05:59 PM
Perhaps if the vegan movement showed a little more "sympathy" people would be more willing to listen and it would bring about more changes. But veganism by its very nature would never change like this, it would no longer be veganism. Hmm... the way I see it, 'sympathy' and respect is the very core of veganism. Unlike other lifestyles, the 'vegan sympathy' includes animals too: we don't want to exploit them or harm them. If he thinks animals should be liberated (they are basically treated like slaves today), I can't see how this could happen without adopting a vegan lifestyle, which is why I can't see how he both can respect animals and state that changing our lifestyles in a way which means harming them as little as possible ( = a vegan lifestyle) can be asking for too much.

People who moves from one country to another often miss the food or products they ate in their home country, but they decide to move to somewhere else, and therefore they adjust their lifestyle to their new location, just the same way pregnant women stop normally smoking or avoid other things they know isn't good for their child. Change may be difficult, but it's a lot easier when the motivation/understanding is strong, especially with help from others. If he has said that veganism is asking too much of people, he probably speaks for himself: if what I've heard is right, it seems that he is more concerned with talking and writing about these topics than actually changing his own lifestyle. I may also be difficult for him to defend killing of disabled babies, so the question is: why are people able to do something 'difficult', but not something else that's 'difficult'?


I think the degree of difficulty associated with going vegan is associated with a few of important things:

1) If you believe it's difficult, it'll probably seem difficult
2) If we don't accept that change some time may take time, and that we're not perfect (and are perfectionists), it will feel harder to change than it actually is
3) If you meet a lot of people who support you in thinking that going vegan is difficult, it may be harder than if you communicate with people who have done it and support you in moving towards a vegan lifestyle
4) Wrong focus.

Last time I've heard about Singers veganism, he said that he had gradually become increasingly vegan since 1971. Maybe he personally finds it difficult to change his habits, and creates a theory around it, eg. by saying that there's nothing wrong with allowing oneself 'the luxury of not being vegan' once in a while... If we forget about rights and wrongs, it seems that he personally see something 'luxurious' about eating non-vegan - which he may or may not think, but instead of trying to deal with it, he builds a theory around it.


I'm all for accepting our lack of perfection. I believe it helps people who want to go vegan a lot if they accept that 'yesterday I ate something non-vegan, but that was yesterday, and I'll keep living according to how I want to live', but that's different than defending a right to 'respect' our own old habits more than respecting the animals that suffer as a result of our tastebuds or old habits.


Habits do change, and while it's important to accept that we are not perfect, I think it's a lot better to try to live according to how we think and feel we should live (also when traveling or in a fancy restaurant) instead of building a lifestyle or philosophy around or imperfection.

Some people think it's easy to be vegans, and others think it is difficult. If we could find out why some people think it's difficult, maybe we could help them seeing that it's easy? My first attempts at going vegan failed, and I have some ideas regarding why this happened. But that's probably a different thread! :)

fiamma
Dec 7th, 2006, 06:17 PM
At this moment in time I could list a lot of reasons as to why I'm finding veganism difficult, but I fear it would just turn into a gigantic whine, as well as derailing this thread :) Maybe you could start a new thread and be our Vegan Agony Uncle :)

Korn
Dec 7th, 2006, 06:24 PM
OK; I'll play the role of the uncle, if you start the thread. Deal? :)

howdawg
Dec 7th, 2006, 06:35 PM
Three cheers Korn!

eve
Dec 8th, 2006, 05:21 AM
At this moment in time I could list a lot of reasons as to why I'm finding veganism difficult, but I fear it would just turn into a gigantic whine, as well as derailing this thread :) Maybe you could start a new thread and be our Vegan Agony Uncle :)
I understand fiamma even though I don't find it difficult to follow a vegan lifestyle. At the moment, with chrissie in the offing, there are invitations to celebrations, luncheons etc, but it doesn't bother me to decline invitations. However, this could be an age thing - I'm at an age when I couldn't care less about celebrations, including christmas - over chrissie I'll probably spend more time reading. I do have a few friends, but they are all meat eaters, so if we want to get together, it is over a coffee/soyaccino, but I don't want to be at a table where people are scoffing down a chicken's legs, or a slice from a cow's rump. When you are younger, as most people here are, socialising is important. Not to me though, therefore difficulties are removed. :)

Other difficulties I've noticed people on this forum have, is to find confectionary that is vegan, and quite frankly it is frustrating to me that instead of a discussion on a topic of interest, it is on vegan timtams or the like! :) I often feel like commenting: "get real"

fiamma
Dec 8th, 2006, 01:18 PM
Thank you for your kind reply, eve, I appreciate it very much. Someone on the forum (don't remember who it was, sorry) said that veganism in itself is not difficult, it's other people who make it difficult, and I think that's true to a certain extent. But then again we don't live in a vacuum, we must live alongside others and interact with them, therefore cutting others out of the equation does not make much sense. I could never go back to eating how I did before and am proud of the choice I've made. Thanks again eve for your support.

Also thanks to Daniel for your reply. :)

Steph
Dec 9th, 2006, 06:39 AM
At the moment, with chrissie in the offing, there are invitations to celebrations, luncheons etc, but it doesn't bother me to decline invitations. However, this could be an age thing - I'm at an age when I couldn't care less about celebrations, including christmas - over chrissie I'll probably spend more time reading. I do have a few friends, but they are all meat eaters, so if we want to get together, it is over a coffee/soyaccino, but I don't want to be at a table where people are scoffing down a chicken's legs, or a slice from a cow's rump. When you are younger, as most people here are, socialising is important. Not to me though, therefore difficulties are removed. :)

Other difficulties I've noticed people on this forum have, is to find confectionary that is vegan, and quite frankly it is frustrating to me that instead of a discussion on a topic of interest, it is on vegan timtams or the like! :) I often feel like commenting: "get real"

Eve, I agree completely.

eve
Jan 24th, 2007, 12:55 AM
Last night on the Phillip Adams show, Late Night Live, Adams repeated an interview he had with Peter Singer a little while back. I missed it previously, but heard the hour-long interview last night, and it will be repeated this afternopon at 4pm on abc radio national. Well worth listening to their conversation. Apparently Peter Singer was here to speak at the writers festival, and to launch his book about the ethics of what we eat, that he wrote together with Mason.

nickn505
Jan 24th, 2007, 07:57 AM
Thankyou for the info I'll have to tune into that. I also didn't know he had a new book out.
Peter Singer was required reading in my ethics class and I really enjoyed it. It was a reason why I went vegan.

Campbell
Jan 28th, 2007, 12:24 AM
I think Peter Singer has some useful ideas, and his heart is in the right place. It's interesting that he doesn't call himself an animal rights advocate in the true sense - from a philosophical standpoint, he's a utilitarian and doesn't base his argument on 'rights' at all. To the extent that human and non-human animals have an equal interest in avoiding suffering and living a happy and peaceful life, Singer says we shouldn't kill or harm animals unnecessarily. His reasoning is based on the consequences of our actions, rather than the action itself.
Maybe the subtleties of ethical reasoning are less important in the context of political activism, raising awareness and promoting compassion towards all life. I do admire Singer and think he provides valuable support to the vegan community most of the time. But personally speaking, I believe compassion is an ethical imperative in itself, not because of any rational assessment of consequences (which we can't always predict) but because gentle actions are inherently good and beautiful. I guess I'm not an especially rational person.

Korn
Feb 28th, 2007, 01:18 AM
I looked for some info about Gary Francione, and here's (http://www.abolitionist-online.com/article-issue05_gary.francione_abolition.of.animal.exploit ation.2006.shtml) what he says about the 'Singer/Peta'-coalition:


Singer maintains that animal use per se does not raise a moral issue because most nonhumans do not have an interest in continuing to live;

Singer maintains that we can consume animals in an ethical manner;

Singer regards inflicting violence on nonhumans as an acceptable way of learning about animal exploitation;

PETA kills (“euthanizes” is the wrong word because it implies a death that is in the interest of the animal) thousands of healthy animals because PETA apparently accepts Singer's view that animals do not have a fundamental and morally important interest in continuing to live. “Animal rights” means “humane” executions.

I don't agree in all Francione says, but can someone who knows more about Singer than I do confirm that what Francione says about Singer above is correct?

Barley
Feb 28th, 2007, 12:21 PM
Korn - if you don't already know the writings of Hans Ruesch - I'm sure you must - he had a long (possibly still has, though Hans is very frail now I believe) bitter battle with Singer - try googling him, he (Hans) has a website I think called CIVIS. When I was first involved in AR back in the 80's Singer was our hero - there's no doubt about it, but now I find myself regretting the alleigance - I don't think he has much to say that I would agree with.....

Pisces
Feb 28th, 2007, 01:06 PM
I read that entire article that Korn just posted as a link (thanks, Korn). I was aware of Peter Singer's hypocrisy of "approving" testing on monkeys--as if that wasn't appalling enough!!!:( Not only does my disturbed state and repugnance toward Peter Singer grow, but I am also officially appalled with PETA. Not to mention Singer and Mason's "thing" they did with the chickens and turkeys, that they believe to be acceptable! :mad: Singer, Bruce Friedrich, Mason, PETA, and other corporate welfare not only PROMOTE the exploitation but are lip service to veganism (the TRUE animal rights movement).

Speaking of which--after reading that I now know the exact difference between "animal welfare" and "animal rights". The latter is the way to go, whereas the former is a "double-think" (not what it's commonly believed to mean).

Yeah, I was originally with Peter Singer and PETA (thinking they really were supporting veganism), until I started learning their true colours--and if that wasn't enough--that article officially was the last straw.
:mad:

Korn
Feb 28th, 2007, 10:54 PM
If it's true that Singer thinks that we can consume animals in an ethical manner - and since it was Peter Singers viewpoints that inspired Ingrid Newkirk to found Peta 20-30 years ago, maybe we shouldn't expect too much of either of these in terms of promoting veganism. I just tried that google trick where you can enter a site name and search for how many times certain phrases are used there, and peta.com contains 'go vegetarian' 32 times, but 'go vegan' only once. Even if we all know they support veganism, their focus seem to be somewhere else - and if Peter Singer, Ingrid Newkirks inspirator really thinks that animal use as such does not raise a moral issue, or that 'most animals do not have an interest in continuing to live', it seems that the whole aspect of animals liberation got lost somewhere, doesn't it?

I don't know if any of these statements are Francione's (mis)interpretations of Singer - and I must admit that I'm not interested enough in his philosophy to read his books - but very often when I come across vegans who comments on Singer, it isn't very favorable. Weird, because he's sometimes described as the 'godfather' of the animal liberation movement.

Charlotte
Feb 28th, 2007, 11:14 PM
Reading Singer did not make me go vegan but convinced me that I had good logic for my feelings. I'm also pro choice and tend to go along with a lot of utilitarian arguments, I don't see an logic or reason in moral/ethical absolutism.

As regards the killing of severely diabled children, I don't think he advocates this on any eugenic ground, rather on the the potential enjoyment of subsequent life and interest in continuation of life.