The question of whether or not we should favor the interests of humans over those of nonhuman animals is at the core of animal ethics. The view that we should favor human interests has been criticized as speciesist. You can find more information about this in our section on speciesism.
The claim that we should favor humans over other animals, and thus treat nonhumans disadvantageously, has been defended in several different ways:
These following are responses to these claims:
The structure of these arguments is explained in detail in these pages:
These are all arguments against speciesism. You can read more about arguments defending speciesism here:
1 Gaita, R. (2003) The philosopher’s dog: Friendships with animals, London: Routledge. Posner, R. (2004) “Animal rights: Legal, philosophical and pragmatical perspectives”, in Sunstein, C. & Nussbaum, M. (eds.) Animal rights: Current debates and new directions, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 51-77.
2 Harrison, P. (1989) “Theodicy and animal pain”, Philosophy, 64, pp. 79-92. Reichmann, J. B. (2000) Evolution, animal ‘rights’ and the environment, Washington: The Catholic University of America Press.
3 Carruthers, P. (1992) The animal issue: Moral theory in practice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Ferry, L. (1995 ) The new ecological order, Chicago: Chicago University Press. Frey, R. G. (1980) Interests and rights: The case against animals, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Leahy, M. P. T. (1991) Against liberation: Putting animals in perspective, London: Routledge.
4 Goldman, M. (2001) “A trascendental defense of speciesism”, Journal of Value Inquiry, 33, pp. 59-69. Midgley, M. (1983) Animals and why they matter, Athens: University Georgia Press. Næss, A. (1989) Ecology, community and lifestyle, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Petrinovich, L. (1999) Darwinian dominion: Animal welfare and human interests, Massachusetts: MIT Press.