[1975] Animal liberation

  title={Animal Liberation},
  author={Singer, P.},
  publisher={Random House}

In openlibrary.

My highlights:

The taking into account of the interests of the being, whatever those interests may be—must, according to the principle of equality, be extended to all beings, black or white, masculine or feminine, human or nonhuman.

Concern for the well-being of pigs may require no more than that we leave them with other pigs in a place where there is adequate food and room to run freely.

The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? If a being suffers there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration.

[A] study showed that it was possible to induce a state of hopelessness and despair by repeated administration of severe inescapable shock. Despite the suffering the animals have gone through, the results obtained, even as reported by the experimenters
themselves, are trivial, obvious, or meaningless.

Many of the experiments that are performed on rats can only be explained by assuming that the experimenters really are interested in the behavior of the rat for its own sake, without any thought of learning anything about humans. Either the animal is not like us, in which case there is no reason for performing the experiment; or else the animal is like us, in which case we ought not to perform on the animal an experiment that would be considered outrageous if performed on one of us.

Just as a rat can be conditioned to press a lever in return for a reward of food, so a human being can be conditioned by professional rewards to ignore the ethical issues raised by animal experiments. Animal experimentation often actually hinders the advance of our understanding of diseases in humans and their

When we go more deeply into the subject, however, we find that what appears trivial on the surface very often really is trivial.

There is nothing sacred about the right to pursue knowledge.

Cruelty is acknowledged only where profitability ceases.

Take responsibility for our own lives, and make them as free of cruelty as we can.

It is not practically possible to rear animals for food on a large scale without inflicting considerable suffering. If we are prepared to take the life of another being merely in order to satisfy our taste for a particular type of food, then that being is no more than a means to our end. Traditional farming involves castration, separation of mother and young, breaking up social groups, branding, transportation to the slaughterhouse, and finally slaughter itself.

Becoming a vegetarian is a highly practical and effective step one can take toward ending both the killing of nonhuman animals and the infliction of suffering upon them. Vegetarianism is a form of boycott. The aim of the boycott is not to alter the past but to prevent the continuation of the conditions to which we object. In the case of vegetarianism, however, I believe we do achieve something by our individual acts, even if the boycott as a whole should not succeed.

The food wasted by animal production in the affluent nations would be sufficient, if properly distributed, to end both hunger and malnutrition throughout the world.

We take from the earth food that is ready for us and does not fight against us as we take it.

When an attitude is so deeply ingrained in our thought that we take it as an unquestioned truth, a serious and consistent challenge to that attitude runs the risk of ridicule. Rather than having one unified attitude to animals, the child has two conflicting attitudes that coexist, carefully segregated so that the inherent contradiction between them rarely causes trouble. What about the animals we eat? One response to this problem is simple evasion.

[We] give children picture books and stories that encourage respect for animals as independent beings, and not as cute little objects that exist for our amusement and table. Nonvegetarian parents are going to be reluctant to let their children learn the full story, for fear that the child’s affection for animals may disrupt family meals.

Ignorance, then, is the speciesist’s first line of defense. “Don’t tell me, you’ll spoil my dinner”

Once we give up our claim to “dominion” over the other species we should stop interfering with them at all. Judging by our past record, any attempt to change ecological systems on a large scale is going to do far more harm than good