Are Peter Singer’s ideas too dangerous to hear?-By peter Kavanagh 13.09.2015
Philosopher Peter Singer is being celebrated at Western University this week. His polarizing views have put him at the forefront of debates over such topics as euthanasia and assisted suicide.
If you are an animal, Peter Singer might be the closest thing you have to Moses. If you are a severely disabled human baby — or a disability activist — he’s more akin to the Angel of Death.
This week, the 69-year-old Australian philosopher is being celebrated at Western University in London, Ont. In lectures and conversations, the power of his logic, the force of his world view, the startling and sometimes unexpected conclusions to his arguments will be on full display.
Singer, the Ira W. DeCamp professor of bioethics at Princeton University, is a utilitarian who wants to maximize happiness and minimize pain. He isn’t so much concerned with rescue animals as with industrial agriculture. Stop the mass production and slaughter of chickens, he argues, and you will maximize happiness much more than if you rescue an abandoned pit bull.
He is also a consequentialist: the outcome of your actions matters much more than the principle you act on. Forget about donating money to a museum or opera company; instead, contribute to saving lives in the Third World. The difference in impact will be measurable and remarkable.
Message For People Who Protest Proposed Ban On Meat Sale
Message For People Who Protest Proposed Ban On Meat Sale
Singer is a master of practical ethics and at the forefront of debates involving health care, euthanasia and assisted suicide. Just after the publication this spring of his latest book, The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism Is Changing Ideas About Living Ethically, he gave interviews reiterating his views on rationing health care. Singer believes health care is by definition a scare resource, and scare resources need rationing. This logic leads him to argue that some severely disabled infants should be killed after birth to minimize their pain and that of their parents, as well as to save health-care dollars.
To his supporters, Singer is an essential thinker. Western University philosophy professor Anthony Skelton, one of the organizers of this week’s celebration, explains, “Everyone in philosophy who writes on these topics deals with Singer’s views.”
Amy Hasbrouck, a Montreal lawyer and chair of Not Dead Yet, a North American disability rights group, agrees completely, but with a twist. “Given the prestige of his position, Singer gives legitimacy not only to eugenicist views, but also to the related and commonly held view that life with a disability is a fate worse than death,” she said in an interview. “This view is what drives the current push toward legalization of assisted suicide.”
The tribute at Western’s Rotman Institute of Philosophy takes place on the 40th anniversary of Singer’s book Animal Liberation. Skelton thinks the celebration is appropriate because it is, he says, “one of the few books in philosophy that have served as the intellectual basis for social change.
“The book’s main message, that our treatment of non-human animals is speciesist, has generated a large and influential following both within and without philosophy, which is not to say that it is not hotly contested,” Skelton adds. “Some think Singer has gone too far and some think that he has not gone far enough.”
It is the success of Animal Liberation that has many in the disabled community concerned about their own status in a world guided by Singer-influenced ethical thinking.
Ryerson University professor emerita Catherine Frazee, a leading disability studies scholar and a member of the federal panel studying the implementation of the Supreme Court’s decision on assisted suicide, believes it’s the power of Singer’s reasoning that causes such angst among the disabled. “The logic of his approach is, by many accounts, impeccable and eerily seductive,” she says. “But is logic the single most important tool when we contemplate the large important questions of life? I would argue that it is not. Logic can be helpful, but when it takes us to conclusions that do not accord with our moral intuitions, we had best not be enslaved to its reasoning.”
This fear of a world enthralled with the reasoning of Peter Singer, especially his thinking about severely disabled people, lies behind the most contentious and problematic moments in his career. In the wake of comments he made about health care and euthanasia upon the publication of The Most Good You Can Do, he was disinvited from a philosophy conference in Cologne, Germany, where he was scheduled to be a keynote speaker. In the United States, there were demonstrations at Princeton University and an online petition.
The demands of the petition, organized by Not Dead Yet, are straightforward: Princeton should fire Singer because his views “both devalue the lives of people with disabilities and advocate public policies that would end those lives through denial of health care.” Skelton has some sympathy for the reaction to Singer’s views. “The disabled community does have a point,” he says, “since a lot of the debate often turns on impoverished views about how well the disabled fare and about what kinds of lives are worth living. But it is a discussion worth having.”
Having a discussion and calling for an academic to be fired for the positions he holds are two very different things, and the blowback against the latter has been fierce. Academics around the world have taken to social media and blogs to denounce the protesters or, in rare instances where they have sympathy for the protesters’ perspective, to suggest they should calm down and be reasonable.
Russell Blackford, a philosopher at the University of Newcastle in Australia, isn’t worried that Singer is in any professional danger, but thinks the protesters’ demands that he be fired will have an effect on “younger academics who’ve faced real problems because of their controversial opinions about decisions at the beginning and end of life.
“And that shows the wider danger,” Blackford continues. “While Singer himself will survive the campaign against him, others who can see what’s happening are likely to be intimidated.”
Elizabeth Barnes, a philosopher at the University of Virginia and the author of an upcoming book on disability, thinks defenders of Singer should try to see the situation from the perspective of disabled people. “Academic freedom should allow Peter Singer to say what he thinks,” she argues, “but it shouldn’t protect him from the consequences, including public outrage.
“He has a habit of saying things that are extremely offensive to disabled people. Disabled people are going to get up in arms about that, especially since they deal with the very real, very rational fear that the views of thinkers like Singer will have influence both on public policy and on wider public perceptions about the quality of life of people with what Singer calls ‘severe’ disabilities.”
Context matters, and while the occasion for the Western University tribute to Singer is a significant anniversary, the context for Canadian disability activists is the ongoing discussion of assisted suicide and euthanasia. Alex Schadenberg, executive director of the Euthanasia Prevention Coalition, thinks the impact Singer has had on that debate is undeniable. “Singer’s views on euthanasia are already being implemented in Belgium and the Netherlands,” he argues. “In fact, the Canadian Supreme Court Carter decision would allow, if approved by the government, euthanasia for chronic pain as well as for people with psychological pain. This means that Peter Singer’s views may have already been approved, for the most part, in several jurisdictions.”
Canvassing views on Peter Singer leads to the contradictory notions that he’s the greatest thinker of our time and the most dangerous man alive. “He could be both,” says Skelton. “Anyone who argues that many of our prevailing ethical attitudes are unsustainable is likely to be considered both formidable and dangerous. He could be a great thinker in that he has challenged many of our ideas with compelling argument and be dangerous because of the effect he might have on various vested interests in society.”
Vested interests can be a loaded term. For some it summons up images of industrial farming; for others it means who decides who lives or dies.
Peter Kavanagh’s most recent book is The Man Who Learned to Walk Three Times: A Memoir.
Philosopher Peter Singer is blunt and clear, insisting he’s guided by reason alone. Here are five moments when his words unleashed a storm:
Top 10 Best Countries to be Vegetarian
10. Canada:There is a large vegetarian culture in Canada, especially in big cities. Because Toronto is the most diverse city in the world, you can enjoy delicious vegetarian cuisine from so many different cultures; visit the Toronto Vegetarian Association.
9. Israel:Because Israeli restaurants and supermarkets will often abide by Kosher laws, pork and shellfish are not served, and prepared food usually will not combine milk and meat. Falafel and hummus are available everywhere, and cucumbers and hummus are served with every meal.
8. Hong Kong:Inspired by British culture, Hong Kong has many vegetarian options, that are not only Chinese food, but often Indian or Western inspired. There are also several health food stores.
7. United States:Especially around big cities like New York, San Francisco or Chicago, the US has many vegetarians. It is more difficult to eat out in the South, but supermarkets will have an abundance of options.
6. Thailand:Vegetarianism is accepted in Thailand, and many traditional Thai dishes with rice and noodles are meat-free and loaded with a wide range of fresh veggies. Many vegetable dishes are made with fish sauce, but you can request to have it excluded. There is even a Phuket Vegetarian Festival!
5. Taiwan:Taiwan does offer vegetarian options, but it is difficult to navigate your options without knowing the language. Click here for some helpful hints.
4. United Kingdom:This is one of the most advanced vegetarian cultures in the world, with veggie-friendly food available in almost every town. Most restaurants have vegetarian options, and vegetarian food in supermarkets is often clearly labeled. The UK isn’t exactly known for its amazing native food, so there are often great vegetarian Indian dishes available in restaurants. Pubs often serve veggie burgers.
3. Vietnam:Though many of the vegetable dishes are made with fish sauce, there are ways around it. Read this article for some tips. Their delicious Pho noodle dishes taste just as great without meat.
2. Malaysia:There is a vegetarian culture in Malaysia, and their food is inspired by Chinese, Indian and European influence. There are many delicious vegetarian curry and noodle dishes, and it is not difficult to find suitable restaurants.
1. India:India has the highest number of vegetarians in the world, making up 20-40% of the population. Food in supermarkets has special labels for the vegetarian selections, and almost all restaurants offer the option
The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Eating Meat
As a journalist and experimenter I must say that I have gone on an appropriate journey in order to find the answers to both questions and my determination would be, to find an alternative, however, I will also say “Different Strokes For Different Folks.” In this 1 year journey of eating meat, I must say that the results were horrifying. Here is the scenario: I went from eating just fish and chicken to eating full blown meats like steak, ribs, hotdogs, burgers, and any other meat source that you can think of. Some of the symptoms entail heavy breathing, stomach aches, weight gain, a build up of mucus membranes, tiredness, slow thinking etc. etc. And, I am very fortunate to have only made this an experiment simply due to the other health risk extremities that come with unhealthy eating. My symptoms could have been a lot worst but lucky for me, I am here today to give proven evidence that if you should consume meat, please consume it in moderation or it could be lethal.
There was a recent study done by a Harvard University Analysis which gave a list of diseases that come with eating to much meat. The first study was based on the amount of meat one should consume in one day. 42 grams per day of meat would be considered fine for the averaged person if they are eating good meat and not processed meat. You should also be careful about the drugs that the animals are injected with. Now, in this study, it indicates that if one is to consume 100 grams of meat per day they have a 12% chance of getting diabetes and those who eat processed meat have a 17% chance of getting diabetes and that would be based on their consumption of only 50grams of the processed meat a day. In another study done by the National Cancer Society---those who consume 40 ounces of meat per day have a 30% chance of being infected with cancer, and those who eat processed meat are at an even high risk. The International Journal of obesity found that people who eat meat consume up to 700 more calories a day than those who don’t. This article isn’t to frighten anyone, but it is clearly to help you understand the importance of your health, and the risk that we all take everyday by way of our food intake.
Here is a list of advantages and disadvantages of eating meat and why you should take precaution when eating anything that would be considered a health risk into you body.
1. Provides Vitamin B1, 2, 6, and 12, Vitamin K, E, D and Folate
Example: A 100g portion of sirloin steak contains 6.93 mg of niacin, 0.514 mg of pantothenic acid, 0.126 mg of riboflavin, 1.53 micrograms of vitamin B-12, 0.126 mg of thiamin, 0.545 mg of vitamin B-6, and 8 micrograms of folate.
2. Provides Protein
Example: chuck beef, braised (6 ounces) contains 49.2 grams of protein and 1 gram of protein equals 4 calories
3. Provides Minerals Potassium, Magnesium, Calcium, Sodium, Zinc, Selenium, Copper, Iron, Manganese and Phosphorus
Example: An 8 ounces serving of sirloin steak has 12mg of zinc, 75mcg of selenium , and 525mg of phosphorus.
4. Contains amino acids that the body needs
Example: The human body only contains 10 amino acids which are aspartic acid, alanine, asparagine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, cysteine, tyrosine and serine. The amino acids that our bodies don’t produce are isoleucine, leucine, lysine, histidine, phenylalanine, methionine, threonine, tryptophan, and valine, these essential amino acids are found in meat.
1. The Health Risk
2. Cardiovascular Disease
4. High In Sodium
5. High In Saturated Fat And Cholesterol
6. To Much Processed Meat Causes Bowel Cancer
7. Very Hard To Digest Due To The Drugs Injected Into The Animals
8. Mad Cow Diseases
9. Alzheimer’s Disease
10. Causes Constipation
11. One Of Leading Cause Of Obesity
12. Causes Lethargy
With all that has been presented before you, it could be hard to decide what is needed to have a healthy and balanced diet. However, studies make it plan and simple----why put something in your body that would put your health at risk, whether it has something that you need in it or not---there are alternatives. In a study done by the medical experts of Mayoclinic.com it was proven that those who eat less meat live longer. Which one do you choose life by consumption of the right foods or death by consumption of the wrong foods.