Peter Singer's Animal Rights and the Catholic Church

Philosopher and animal rights activist Peter Singer argues that the moral circle should be extended to include all sentient beings. "Love your neighbor" and "love your enemy" should encompass all "sentient beings" such as lions, lobster, monkeys, snakes, sharks, etc. With reference to Singer's work, critically evaluate his arguments against speciesism (akin to racism or sexism).

Warning: A single possible reference by Peter Singer (or someone) goes into an area that is pretty disgusting, but is mentioned in the Bible as sinful behavior.

  • Introduction
  • Expanding Moral Justice to all Sentient Creatures with Interests
  • Animal Research and Human Medical Care
  • Peter Singer's Interest-based Utilitarianism
  • Conclusion
  • Expanded Footnotes
  • Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Catechism of the Catholic Church, para #2415, 1994.
  • John Paul II, Centesimus annus 37-38
  • Bibliography

Bible and Church Quotations:
  • "'Please allow your servants a ten days' trial, during which we are given only vegetables to eat and water to drink. You can then compare our looks with those of the boys who eat the king's food; go by what you see, and treat your servants accordingly.' The man agreed to do what they asked and put them on ten days' trial. When the ten days were over, they looked better and fatter than any of the boys who had eaten their allowance from the royal table; so the guard withdrew their allowance of food and the wine they were to drink, and gave them vegetables. To these four boys God gave knowledge and skill in every aspect of literature and learning; Daniel also had the gift of interpreting every kind of vision and dream." (Daniel 1:12-17) [New Jerusalem Bible]
  • "The upright has compassion on his animals, but the heart of the wicked is ruthless. " (Proverbs 12:10) [New Jerusalem Bible]
  • The lion will eat hay like the ox. The infant will play over the den of the adder; the baby will put his hand into the viper's lair. No hurt, no harm will be done on all my holy mountain, for the country will be full of knowledge of Yahweh as the waters cover the sea.'' (Isaiah 11:6-9) [New Jerusalem Bible]
  • The wolf and the young lamb will feed together, the lion will eat hay like the ox, and dust be the serpent's food. No hurt, no harm will be done on all my holy mountain, Yahweh says. (Isaiah 65:25) [New Jerusalem Bible]
  • The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para #2415)
  • Animals are God's creatures. He surrounds them with his providential care. By their mere existence they bless him and give him glory. Thus men owe them kindness. We should recall the gentleness with which saints like St. Francis of Assisi or St. Philip Neri treated animals. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para #2416)
  • Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?' (Matthew 6:26)
  • Bless the Lord, you whales and all creatures that move in the waters, sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever. Bless the Lord, all birds of the air, sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever, Bless the Lord, all beasts and cattle, sing praise to him and highly exalt him for ever. (Daniel 3:79-81)
  • God entrusted animals to the stewardship of those whom he created in his own image. 198 Hence it is legitimate to use animals for food and clothing. They may be domesticated to help man in his work and leisure. Medical and scientific experimentation on animals is a morally acceptable practice if it remains within reasonable limits and contributes to caring for or saving human lives. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para #2417)
  • It is contrary to human dignity to cause animals to suffer or die needlessly. It is likewise unworthy to spend money on them that should as a priority go to the relief of human misery. One can love animals; one should not direct to them the affection due only to persons. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, para #2418)
  • And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. The fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every bird of the air, upon everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea; into your hand they are delivered. Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; and as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything. Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood. (Genesis 9:1-4)

1 comment:

  1. Our treatment and views of all of God's creatures is very important to God. Someday we will be held accountable for all of creation including every one of God's creatures. We need to hear more from our leaders concerning our responsibility towards all animals who all belong to God. Instead we support the billions of God's creatures being tortured for our dinners, celebrations, etc. in factory farms.
    The environment, the animals and our health (spiritual and physical) would benefit if we cut down our consumption of animal products.
    Jan Fredericks, LPC, MA
    Catholic Concern for Animals-USA
    Hebrews 4:13
    Numbers 11 - God dealt with the greed of the Israelites who wanted meat.