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Today’s word of the day is …

Written by PETA | March 18, 2008

Don’t ask me what I was doing nerding around at Wordsmith.org this morning, but this particular Internet detour turned out to be felicitous and surprisingly, um, appurtenant.

Turns out that today’s Word of the Day is “Speciesism,” which the good folks at Wordsmith have defined for us as “The assumption of superiority of humans over other animal species, especially to justify their exploitation.”

There’s also a nice story in there by Charles Darwin’s biographer, James Moore, who quotes Darwin as follows: “To say man is the pinnacle of creation and all things were created for him … Darwin says that is the same arrogance we see in the slave master.”

Anyway, there you have it. “Speciesism” = today’s word of the day. A small step, in the scheme of things, but a step nonetheless. There’s also a book on the subject, which I can highly recommend for anyone who wants to pursue this topic further.

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  • MauricioZ says:

    Hey well I am a vegan already and I would like to read Animal Liberation by Peter Singer but… I was about to buy it but then I thought there might be somewhere to download it as an ebook because I know it is an important book to put into the popular domain… Please if somebody know about where to get it I will appreciate it and also we will be able to send it to a lot of people to read and hopefully get them vegan… Ultimately it is for the human health peace and Animal Liberation. ” Animal Liberation .pdf ? anyone ? please “

  • rojo says:

    Hi Mark apologies for missing your comment until now. When we talk about disabilitiesI’m thinking more mental than physical and rights we also have to realise that we often confine the disabled for their own safety or the safety of others. Mentally deranged killers are kept of the streets when caught they don’t have that moral distinction either but they aren’t allowed to continue. If animals lives are equal to ours then it is our duty to prevent animals killing other animals the duty of a moral agent. cheers

  • Ronixis says:

    Wow. Just wow.

  • lynda downie says:

    As we grow in our understanding of animals the boundary between humans and other species begins to blur. Regan’s classic distinction between moral agents and patients doesn’t run neatly along the species boundary. Even according to his criteria some animals like some humans will be classed as patients some agents.

  • Mark says:

    Rojo I’m glad you agree that the intellectual basis is not being discussed enough especially because reason seems to be on the side of animal rights. The issue you brought up is discussed in Animal Liberation httpwww.petacatalog.orgprodinfo.asp?numberBK390 and a few other good places but just to summarize it is important to remember that nonhuman animals are not “moral agents” capable of reflecting on ethical principles while most normal humans are moral agents and therefore we are capable of reflectively choosing whether or not to cause suffering. It is also important to note that other animals’ lack of moral agency is not a reason against including them in our ethical concern just as in young children’s and intellectually disabled humans’ lack of moral agency is not a reason against including them in ethics.

  • Antigone1000 says:

    Mark I hope you have great success with your campaign and that it can be used in other colleges.

  • lynda downie says:

    You just put a bright spot in my day Jack! ‘Speciesism’ the word in Wordsmith!?! Who’d ‘a thunk it? I’m beginning to believe in little steps.

  • rojo says:

    Mark I’ll try and read Singers work. My initial response is that we are being particularly speciesist by being the only species that will have to abide by the proposed moral code. It’s ok for animals to kill animalswhich it is I’m not arguing otherwise but not for the human variety to do so? Either it is wrong for animals to be killed for food or it isn’t if it is wrong then the rules must apply to all beings if speciesism is to be avoided. I’m glad to see a push for an intellectual approach rather than one simply based on emotional button pushing. Or worse misinformation. cheers I’m aware of my limitations in this field it’s people more important than I that would have to be persuaded.

  • Mark says:

    This is probably the most important post in a long time. We need the discussion of this basic ethical issue to become more prevalent in our campaigns. I am working on a campaign about speciesism at my college which I will send to PETA for your consideration if it is successful. The main argument is that the very most basic concepts of ethics that we apply among humans against causing pain and suffering for trivial reasons applies to other species precisely because they are capable of pain and suffering. Our attitude of not taking the suffering of other animals seriously is therefore a form of blatant prejudice. Any argument used to exclude nonhumans can also be used to exclude groups of humans in other words it goes against our own concept of ethics. I challenge anyone who opposes PETA or animal rights to read Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation the link is above in the post and I hope PETA particularly Bruce because he’s good at explaining it considers making a wellexplained version of this concept more prominent online and elsewhere in PETA’s work. It will drive our opposition completely on the defensive and it will put us on the intellectual high ground.

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