From Applying Ethics:
POINT: ”All this talk about animal liberation, animal rights, and speciesism is an insult to women and minorities. How can you equate sheep and women, cows and blacks? How can you compare raising animals for food to denying our fellow human beings the attainment of their most fundamental aspirations. Farms animals can’t feel humiliated. They can’t feel robbed of their dignity. They can’t feel the outrage that humans feel when denied recognition of their worth. They can’t know what it’s like to be treated like a thing instead of a person. They have no idea what it means to be a person, to have rights, to be treated fairly.”
COUNTERPOINT: ”My point isn’t to compare animals just to women and minorities, but to all humans – and that includes white men. It’s not to insult anybody either. Nobody wants to demean humans. I just want to give nonhumans the respect they deserve. And all that stuff about a sense of dignity and the the rest is irrelevant. All it shows is that some things that matter to us don’t matter to them. But other things do. Avoiding pain, for instance. And freedom. And to many of them, their lives. Animals want to roam free, have enough space to do what comes natural to them, and lead pain-free lives. Their aspirations may not be precisely the same as ours, but they’re equally real.”
I might add, the argument that “You can’t compare the interests of one group to another because the former group is naturally superior to the latter”, is equal in reasoning to the sexist who places ‘women’ in a position of inferiority to ‘men’: from a position of dominance, demonstrable arbitrariness of this kind – logic that not only doesn’t follow but concludes with a justification of slavery, for example – is accepted without contestation. And finally, given the characteristics listed as morally relevant in distinguishing those who count from those who do not, only those human beings who can sufficiently reason their way through complex problems and understand abstract concepts are included in the group allegedly offended by the argument for ethical veganism. Therefore, infants, the mentally handicapped, and those in the advanced stages of senility would be excluded. What duties do we have to them?
Crossposted @ That Vegan Girl