File - Noah's SLCC ePortfolio

Noah (Tyler) Roberts
Professor Drexler
PHIL 2300
April 28, 2015
The Dilemma on Peter Singer’s Moral Circle
Ever since the creation of the Moral Circle there has been a big argument on whom and
what should be let into it. There are many different views on this, such as only having humans in
it, letting animals in it, letting plants in it, and including everything in it. There are also a lot of
different ways that people see how the moral circle works and what it is; some people see it as
having a gradient and separate levels of how much to include people, animals, plants, and other
things in it, and other people think of it as a strict circle with only a certain amount of things
inside and outside of it.
Some people think that only humans should be included in the moral circle. They think
that animals are just running and living mechanically and plants are just things that look good
and give us oxygen. Some philosophers agree with this viewpoint because they see it as very
logical. They say that since we can’t technically “prove” that plants and animals are living and
breathing creatures that feel pain and can think for themselves.
Some people actually extend the moral circle out to animals also. They believe that
animals are living and breathing creatures that can think for their own selves. They think that
since animals can feel pleasure and pain, and look like they can think on their own that they
should be include in the moral circle with humans. Some of the people that think this also believe
that they are equals with us, and others think that they should be included in the moral circle, but
only to a certain extent.
Some people believe that humans, plants, and animals should be included in the moral
circle together. They believe that plants are living breathing creatures also and that they deserve
to be included with us and animals. There are many different ways that people look at this, such
as it being in a gradient like humans, animals, and then plants or even in any other order. Some
people even see all three of those things as equals and think that they should all have even
standing in the moral circle.
Some people believe humans, plants, animals, and everything else in the world such as
minerals, chairs, and robots should be included in the moral circle, some more than others. They
think that everything has boundaries and morals that should not be broken or obstructed. They
believe that everything has a purpose and that nothing should be left out. They are very open
people that have no problem in being equal with everything around them. Some of these people
only take it to a certain extent, and others seem to take it to almost a creepy level.
I think that the people that believe that the moral circle should be in gradients are very
smart and understanding people. Society has raised us so that we believe that family should go
before friends, and friends should go before strangers. This is the “social norm” that almost
everybody I know seems to follow. People that believe that there is a strict boundary on the
moral circle seem like they are pretty close minded. It is hard to deny the fact that animals can
clearly feel pain and pleasure and make their own decisions. For all we know, we could be
running mechanically and be pre-programmed to think the way that we do.
You can never really decide who the true winner in an argument on ethics is; I believe
that each individual should have their own idea on how things should be. It keeps people open
minded, and if they please then they can be “close minded.” It doesn’t really matter what other
people think because it doesn’t necessarily affect your life. I can see how it will affect your life if
morals are used in food production, water processing, and other matters such as in the
government, but other than that I don’t really see the meaning on arguing about something if it
doesn’t affect you or have a probable cause for argument.
I believe that all things should be one-hundred percent fact based because then everything
would be much easier it would all work better. I do like philosophy, but in philosophy no one
person can be truly right; it always depends on who is the better one at arguing or like I stated
before, whoever has the most factual evidence supporting their argument.
Peter Singer believes in the concepts of Moral Extensionism, Utilitarianism, and
Sentience. He thinks that if a certain “thing” can experience pleasure and pain it should be
included in the moral circle because it fits in the “criteria” for moral consideration. According to
Singer if a being can suffer, “actions are wrong as they tend to produce” that suffering. He also
brings up an interesting concept called Species-ism, which pretty much means that we deny
equal moral consideration where the interests are the same.
Being in the moral circle means that you are worthy of moral consideration by that
individual. It also means that your needs and interests matter, we are obligated to take your
welfare into consideration, you are important and valuable in yourself and not just for how you
can benefit others, and that we may not violate any rights that you may have. To me being in the
moral circle means that you are valued as more than just a basic object and that I have “feelings”
towards you and that I would respect you and your thoughts and actions.
Many people believe in the act of moral Extensionism; moral Extensionism is the act of
expanding the moral circle to include more “things” such as plants, animals, and other things
even if they aren’t alive. People that believe in moral Extensionism argue that the expansion of
the moral circle is not yet complete. They tend to take traditional ethical theories and argue that
those theories also apply to animals and the natural world.
Tom Regan is another philosopher that agrees with Peter Singer’s philosophies and also
adds and expands upon his ideas. He says that if a being is a “subject of a life” then they should
be included in the moral circle. This means that he includes things such as plants, animals, and
humans. He has a theory called the Rights Theory; this theory compares Intrinsic vs.
instrumental value, and asks “what matters morally?” The rights theory is based off of respecting
individuals, not violating rights, and honoring dignity. A similar philosopher named John Locke,
who is similar to Kant, said that we should not be cruel to animals because “cruelty to animals
leads people to be cruel to other people.” Regan states that the “greatest good” could still justify
extreme and poor treatment of animals.
After all of these discussions and readings that I’ve done concerning the moral circle and
the many facts that the many philosophers have my views have changed on what should be
included in the moral circle. Before I took this class I didn’t even know what the moral circle
was, and once I did I realized that I only really included humans and some animals in it. This
class and the many philosophers have opened up my mind to the real world and have led me to
realize that I now include plants, humans, and animals in the moral circle. It really got me
thinking about what was actually happening around me and gave everything a deeper meaning
than having something just “be an argument” that I didn’t care about.