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Specifying Speciesism

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Many philosophers consider favouritism toward humans in the context of moral choice to be a prejudice. Several terms are used for it - 'speciesism', 'human chauvinism', 'human racism', and 'anthropocentrism' - with somewhat varying and often blurred meanings, which brings confusion to the issue. This essay suggests that only one term, 'speciesism', be used, and it attempts a conceptual clarification. To this end it proposes a set of conditions of adequacy for a concept that would be acceptable to the parties of the controversy. Through an examination of various forms of alleged speciesism it eventually proposes a rather precise concept. On this definition some positions believed not to be speciesist perhaps should be so called, and some positions believed to be speciesist perhaps should not be so called. The latter would better be referred to as 'humanistic ethics' or 'non-speciesist humanism'.

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Keywords: Rawls; Singer; animals; anthropocentrism; ethics; human chauvinism; human racism; humanism; partiality; speciesism

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-02-01

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  • Environmental Values is an international peer-reviewed journal that brings together contributions from philosophy, economics, politics, sociology, geography, anthropology, ecology and other disciplines, which relate to the present and future environment of human beings and other species. In doing so we aim to clarify the relationship between practical policy issues and more fundamental underlying principles or assumptions.

    Environmental Values has a Journal Impact Factor (2016) of 1.279.
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