22 January 2004

John Benson on Peter Singer

For a reason that I do not understand Singer advocates giving up meat-eating but not the use of drugs whose development involves the use of experimental animals. He makes the good point that the meat industry needs not our approval but our money. 'So long as people are prepared to buy the products of intensive farming, the usual forms of protest and political action will never bring about a major reform.' The same point applies to the drug companies, but Singer's recommended forms of action do not include refusing to accept treatment that involves the use of their products. The heavy emphasis on how to make the personal change in way of life implied by giving up meat seems to be unbalanced. A less extreme anti-speciesist might say that as long as we do not use drugs to relieve slight discomforts but only in cases of serious illness we need not worry. But Singer's general position requires a more rigorous approach than that.

(John Benson, "Duty and the Beast," Philosophy 53 [October 1978]: 529-49, at 531-2 [footnote omitted])