Friday, April 25, 2008

Paper 4: Topic: Racism, Sexism and Speciesism

Paper 5: Extra Credit: Top 10 List for How To Address Moral Issues

“There is perhaps no set of social issues on which otherwise sane people on either side of the question allow themselves to be so overwhelmingly irrational as in matters pertaining to the treatment of animals, and our moral obligations to them.”

– Philosopher Bernard Rollin

PAPER 4: Topics: Racism, Sexism and Speciesism: Is it Permissible to Harm Animals for Pleasure?


No late papers and no (late) papers accepted via email unless you have prior approval

Your paper should have a short introduction, a thesis (“I will argue that _____), and be well-organized, clear and readable to someone who is not familiar with these issues. Your paper’s claims should be carefully and thoughtfully defended: objections must be responded to with well-thought out reasons.

This paper focuses on you providing well-thought out, carefully-defended answers to these questions:

  • Is the fur industry engaged in morally permissible behavior, or are they doing things that are morally wrong?
  • Are the animal agribusiness industries engaged in morally permissible behavior, or are they doing things that are morally wrong?
  • What, if any, are there any relations between these two questions? Does your view about the morality of the fur industry have logical implications for your view about the morality of the, e.g., meat industry, and vice versa?
  • Should you personally support the fur industry? Should you personally support the meat (and related) industries?

To answer these questions, you must carefully present and explain the arguments by Peter Singer (the fundamental principle of equality, from “All Animals Are Equal,”) and John Simmons (from “Reasonable Humans and Animals” [online; handout]). Explain their arguments for the conclusion that – in our circumstances: i.e., modern America – it is wrong to raise and kill animals to wear them and to eat them. You must explain and defend your view on whether either of their main arguments are sound or not. Since thinking about moral problems involves applying moral principles to factual circumstances, you must briefly give some factual information about these industries and practices.

You must discuss at least five of what you think are the strongest and/or most common objections to arguments like Singer’s & Simmons. (Kant and Machan provide some of these arguments; others are from class and a handout). Fully explain how Singer and/or Simmons would respond to these objections. Explain whether these objections show that their arguments are unsound.

Note: if you discuss anything about nutrition science, you must provide the source of your information (i.e., the study’s citation) from PubMed from the National Library of Medicine: or our books. Random, anecdotal reports from various webpages are not a reliable source for scientific information: you need a reputable source

Some industry groups:
-- Fur Commission USA ( ).
-- National Animal Interest Alliance:
-- Animal Agriculture Alliance:
Some animal advocacy groups:
-- Compassion Over Killing:
-- Vegan Outreach

Suggested restaurant field trip, to ask for advice on how to answer these questions:
Soul Veg Restaurant: 879-A Ralph Abernathy Blvd. SW – Atlanta, (404) 752-5194
Soul Veg Restaurant: 652 North Highland - Atlanta, GA 30306 (404) 874-0145

PAPER 5: EXTRA CREDIT: Top 10 List for How To Address Moral Issues


Make a "Top 10 List of helpful things to do and/or not do when thinking about moral issues and addressing moral problems." Explain what people can do to better think about and address moral issues: these might be things to look out for and avoid, as well as positive techniques or attitudes or skills to use. For each of your suggestion of what to do (or not do), illustrate it with an example (or examples): explain why your suggestion is a good one. The goal of this assignment is for you to critically reflect on what we have done and develop a list of helpful ideas that you can use in the future (and help others use) when thinking about moral issues. 3-4 pages.