Sunday, December 13, 2009

So Says Twitter About Dear Peter Singer

Recent news making the rounds on Twitter is that utilitarian ethicist and animal lover Peter Singer, has agreed to participate in a debate with abolitionists Gary L. Francione and Gary Steiner. That is, he's "agreed" to do so for a $10,000 fee, and only after being permitted to discuss the proposed topics beforehand because of issues he has with them. Oh, and the $10,000 fee would be forwarded to welfarist organization "Vegan" Outreach. General consensus amongst many whose eyes got sore rolling at the news on Twitter is that Peter Singer seems to have become more interested in posturing and self-promotion than in actually engaging in dialogue or debate to earnestly further animal interests. It's a shame that given an opportunity to articulate his beliefs to educate others that he would choose, instead, to make what seems to be some sort of thumb-nosing gesture. Could it be that the purported father of animal liberation has become a deadbeat-dad of sorts?

9 comments:

David said...

Peter Singer: "...it is important that there be room in the animal movement for a variety of views about ethics, including views that are rights-based and views that are consequentialist. Debate over such issues is a sign of an open and sound movement"
(http://www.princeton.edu/~psinger/faq.html)

Staying true to this means participating in a no-strings-attached debate with GLF and GS.

The Atheist Missionary said...

I would love to see this debate happen and I told Francione that when I had the good fortune to speak with him last weekend.

I'm a businessperson and I don't see anything negative about Singer requesting a speaking fee. However, I believe that all debaters should receive an equal fee and should be free to direct their fee wherever they wish (i.e. to their designated charity, including, perhaps, themselves).

The event should be held in a forum where tickets can be sold. It should also be videotaped for posterity.

Daniel K. Vegan said...

"...it is important that there be room in the animal movement for a variety of views about ethics, including views that are rights-based and views that are consequentialist. Debate over such issues is a sign of an open and sound movement"

I disagree with Singer on this. Singer isn't an activist, he's a theorist. The animal rights movement is about action. It's about saving lives, protecting animals and eliminating speciesism.

If a particular view of animals includes the killing and eating of them, then this view has nothing to do with the animal rights movement. Would we talk about human rights by including a discussion about eating them?

Luella said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Crystal said...

Since when is Vegan Outreach a welfarist organization? They're probably the Veganism promoting organization that is the least welfarist, at least as far as I can tell?

Vanilla Rose said...

Peter Singer is a bit of an embarrassment to the movement in my view, because of his enthusiasm for "euthanasia" for disabled human babies. I put "euthanasia" in inverted commas because it means "good death". Whilst I believe that that death may come as a release to some people and animals, Singer seems to go beyond that.

There are people (some of them vegan) with the same level of disability that Singer regards as candidates for "euthanasia". These people have spoken out and said they are glad to be alive, and that they disagree with him. Yet he has not changed his views.

Vanilla Rose said...

PS And whilst I agree it is not unreasonable to pay someone for their time, the sum involved seems very high.

Mylène Ouellet said...

PS And whilst I agree it is not unreasonable to pay someone for their time, the sum involved seems very high.

Sure, but he wasn't asked to make a speaking appearance; he was asked to participate in an academic debate with two other academics. He's no more entitled to a fee than they would be, but the point of the debate wasn't to raise funds--it was to discuss what has or hasn't been effective in animal advocacy.

Diana said...

the euthanasia thing gets misquoted and misunderstood all over the place. Peter Singer has just said that in cases of severely disabled children who will not achieve enough cognitive ability to enjoy life or achieve personhood (i.e. sentience) their parents should be allowed to end their lives in a painless fashion. Anyone with the cognizance to say "I'm glad I'm alive" is not who Singer is talking about.
I'm very disappointed in Singer actually. If there were ticket sales then they could all agree on sending the money to a charity of their choosing and all do it for posterity. Requesting a fee does not seem at all consistent with Singer's beliefs. His "flexitarianism" also upsets me but reading "Animal Liberation" is what made me go vegan 2 years ago.