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P​‌‍‍‍‌‍‍‍‌‍‍‍‌‌‌‌‌‌‍‍​lease respond to the following questions and have them numbered. It may seem long but the teacher is just explaining how the question should be answered. 

1) Please watch this short mini-documentary about Singer’s views: https://vimeo.com/7932801 (Links to an external site.) Do you think Gandhi’s quote about “moral progress,” stated at the beginning of the film, is strong? Or weak? (For example, is it relevant how Nazi Germany treated animals? https://news.uoguelph.ca/2014/04/historian-uncovers-nazi-animal-laws/)? Please exp

lain — and then describe one argument Singer offers in the documentary, explaining if it is compelling. 2) Please watch this classic Twilight Zone episode (25 minutes) and explain how Singer could interpret this film’s message in light of his arguments. If the scenario in the film took place (hypothetically), what moral argument, if any, could humans give in response? Does this film and Singer’s article make a compelling case that much of our treatment and use of non-human animals are ethically unjustified from the perspective of the ones being used? Please explain. https://www.dailymotion.com/video/x80j7it .

3) Please read this Wikipedia entry on “Speciesism.” Take a particular look at the section about the “Argument from Marginal Cases.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speciesism . What do you think about Singer’s argument here that if we are to avoid speciesism, we must at least consider doing to human animals what we now do exclusively to non-human animals — assuming both have similar levels of sentience or the ability to feel pain. For example, if we are going to experiment on rabbits (for product testing or medical research), then must we also consider experimenting on human beings with similar abilities? If we argue in response, “But Singer, humans have a special dignity animals do not have,” Singer would ask us to think carefully about whether that prejudice (“human chauvinism”) towards our own species is morally justified. He argues that just like valuing the interests of one’s own race, gender, or sexual orientation above others is morally wrong, isn’t valuing the interests and feelings of human animals over the similar interests and feelings of other animals, merely because we are homo sapiens and regardless of whether we are without brain activity (or even without a brain at all), morally wrong?

 For Singer, a moral person must look at the particular traits of the animals involved and judge accordingly, instead of automatically assuming that human animals’ minor interests ought to trump other animals’ major interests. Why, in other words, would one think it is moral to experiment on a conscious adult rat, dog, cat, or primate, yet never even contemplate experimenting on a human being with a similar, or a decreased, level of ability and sentience? Singer would ask, “It is complete speciesism to cause suffering to a highly conscious non-human animal, with a social life and the ability to feel pain, yet never contemplate experimenting or using a human being of comparable abilities, for example, someone who is in a permanent vegetative state, who can feel no pain and has no consciousness. Why are fully conscious and aware cats, dogs, and primates experimented upon, yet we (in our speciesist mindset) would never dream of experimenting, for instance, on a child born without a brain or someone in a permanent coma?” Does the “Argument from Marginal Cases” work? Please explain. 

4) How do you respond to Warren’s argument that abortion is generally morally justified because we must compare the rights of a full-fledged moral person (an adult woman) with the rights of a potential person (a fetus) — when they conflict in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, the actual person’s rights override the rights of the potential person? She argues that abortion is a moral matter (something is killed, to be sure), but no person is being killed, since fetuses do not have any, or at least all, of the traits of a person. (If we give fetuses full moral personhood, then we must, to be consistent, also give many non-human animals personhoo​‌‍‍‍‌‍‍‍‌‍‍‍‌‌‌‌‌‌‍‍​d, such as fish, cats, cows, and many other creatures, since they have many more person-like traits than a fetus. Incidentally, one could argue against Warren here, and argue that recognizing fetuses’ rights also entails recognizing the rights of non-human animals.) Is this a compelling argument for the morality of abortion? Please explain. 5. Please watch this short film about the early development of humans: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ODyzzYNang (Links to an external site.) When it comes to deciding when a pre-born genetic human is a person (in the sense of attaining full moral value), there are at least four views: 

1) Personhood begins at conception.

 2) Personhood begins at birth. 

3) Personhood begins after birth, perhaps age 1-2.

 4) Personhood begins sometime between conception and birth. Each of these positions has its advantages and disadvantages. 1) and 2) are the easiest in some ways, since there is a clear dividing line marked by conception and birth. However, one can ask what happens at conception that makes a newly fertilized egg a full moral person, when all it has is potential and a unique genetic code? One can also ask, if birth is the dividing line, why that being was not a person an hour before birth? (What, a skeptic could ask, magically happens at conception or birth?) If we consider views 3) and 4) we also encounter questions. If a newborn is not yet a full moral person, then why do we generally react with horror at infanticide but have philosophical debates about abortion? If personhood begins in between conception and birth, then what special marker determines the threshold between non-person and person? (Heartbeat? Brain activity? Movement/quickening? 

Each of these markers has something to say for it, yet they all seem to be arbitrary in some sense — none stand out as an obvious and non-controversial dividing line.) In your view, when does full moral personhood begin? Please provide an argument that could potentially convince anyone; please avoid citing religious texts and beliefs that will probably not be convincing to fellow students who are outside of that particular religious tradition. Similarly, please avoid citing brute scientific facts as if they can answer the ethical questions by themselves alone. (Scientists seek to describe the physical world, or explain what is the case. On the other hand, ethics / philosophy / religion are about prescribing what should be the case.) 6. Please consider this argument, which Marquis might offer: “What if, G-d forbid, someone were to quietly break into a house in the middle of the night and find someone there in a deep, deep sleep? Now, assume that this person is TOTALLY UNCONSCIOUS — not even dreaming at the moment. The intruder then painlessly and expertly inserts a needle into that person’s arm, and then allows lethal poison to enter their bloodstream, killing the innocent victim immediately. If we just focus on what is good or bad for the innocent victim, isn’t it clear that her or his future on earth had just been ripped away? Is it relevant at all that the victim did not even realize what happened?

 If the murderer was caught and, when put on trial, argued that ‘Ignorance is bliss — what’s the harm, really?, would this be compelling in the slightest? We all know that this is not a morally good argument when we are talking about taking an innocent human life. Similarly, ripping the future away from very, very, very, very young humans is totally wrong, even if they cannot even have a shred of understanding that it even took place. Furthermore, the justification given for taking such a life is usually in terms of the extremely young age of the genetic human. But isn’t this ageism, pure and simple? To highlight this point, what if someone, G-d forbid, were to painlessly take the lives of extremely old genetic humans, all without their awareness? Would it be sufficient to argue that ‘Because they are over 100 years old — that is really old — their lives do not have any value’? You know that justification is weak. But isn’t it also weak when ageist arguments are used in the other direction — against the very young?” Is this a strong or weak argument? Please expla​‌‍‍‍‌‍‍‍‌‍‍‍‌‌‌‌‌‌‍‍​in.


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