I have been persuaded of the rightness of the moral position advocated in Peter Singer's Animal Liberation for the past twenty years. There is, in my view, no moral justification whatever for the human exploitation of animals. I was convinced of this principally by reading the path-breaking book, Animals Men and Morals (1971), edited by Stanley and Roslind Godlovitch and John Harris. Singer acknowledges his debt to this pivotal work as well as to personal contact with some of the contributors, and his own 1975 book, of which there is now a welcome second edition, is largely a sustained working-out of the moral perspective developed by these earlier thinkers. I have to declare that, in my opinion, the arguments Singer mounts, and the facts he marshals, constitute a definitive and unanswerable case for the thesis that our treatment of animals, in every department, is deeply and systematically immoral. Becoming a vegetarian is only the most minimal ethical response to the magnitude of the evil. What is needed is a complete revolution in the way we deal with other species. Do not expect, then, to find me in any way 'balanced' on the question: this is not really an issue on which there are two sides. It's a won argument, as far as I'm concerned - in principle if not in practice.
LRB 24 January 1991 | PDF Download