The Origin of Speciesism

Philosophy 71 (275):41- (1996)
Abstract
Anti-vivisectionists charge that animal experimenters are speciesists people who unjustly discriminate against members of other species. Until recently most defenders of experimentation denied the charge. After the publication of `The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research' in the New England Journal of Medicine , experimenters had a more aggressive reply: `I am a speciesist. Speciesism is not merely plausible, it is essential for right conduct...'1. Most researchers now embrace Cohen's response as part of their defense of animal experimentation. Cohen asserts that both rights and utilitarian arguments against the use of animals in research fail because they `refuse to recognize the moral differences among species'.2 If we appreciate the profound differences between humans and non-human animals, he says, we would understand why animals do not and could not have rights and why animal pain does not have as much moral weight as human pain. Animal liberationists think speciesism is immoral because they mistakenly equate it with racism and sexism. Cohen claims this equation is `unsound', `atrocious', `utterly specious', and `morally offensive'. Doubtless Cohen is right that the charge of speciesism is founded on an analogy with racism and sexism. He is mistaken, however, in asserting that the comparison is categorically illicit
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Oscar Horta (2010). What is Speciesism? Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 23 (3):243-266.
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