GOOD Q&A: Peter Singer

On PETA and the ethics of dog shows. The philosopher Peter Singer is considered by many to be the intellectual father of the...


On PETA and the ethics of dog shows.The philosopher Peter Singer is considered by many to be the intellectual father of the "animal rights movement." His 1975 book Animal Liberation-which argued against "speciesism," the privileging of humans' interests over those of other animals-became a touchstone for groups like the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. With the world still recovering from the finish of the Westminster Dog Show-as well as PETA's KKK-inspired protests outside the event-we asked Singer about the ethics of breeding and Best in Show.GOOD: In Animal Liberation, you argue that we should consider the interests of all species, not just those of humans. Do you think dogs' interests are served by the Westminster Dog Show?Peter Singer: I'm not really sufficiently knowledgeable about the Westminster Dog Show to answer that question. What I can say is that any standards for breeds that require mutilations contrary to the dogs' welfare, or breeding for features that similarly are not in the best interests of the dogs, are unethical.G: I don't have any particular expertise in animal psychology, but it seems that the dogs in the competition might really enjoy themselves. Do you think the winning and losing dogs have any sense of how they've performed?PS: I'm sure they have a sense of whether or not their human companions are pleased with them.G: The British Kennel Club has changed the breeding standards for bulldogs, who have a hard time breathing and getting around because of the way humans have bred them to look. What are your thoughts on the ethics of purebreds?PS: It is unethical to have breeding standards that are not in the best interests of the animals. I'd also add, that as long as we have dogs being killed in pounds because no one wants to adopt them, it is unethical to encourage people to breed dogs when they could be adopting them. For that reason, putting special weight on purebred dogs is not a good thing.G: If we have an obligation not to breed animals to be uncomfortable, do we also have an obligation to actively breed them to be as comfortable as possible?PS: Yes, we do, if we are going to breed them at all.G: PETA pressured advertisers to pull out from sponsoring the Westminster Dog Show. In some of your recent work, you seem to judge whether an action is ethical based on its "opportunity cost," to borrow a term from economics. Would the world be better served if PETA instead spent their time and energy raising funds for Oxfam, for example?PS: No, not at all. PETA does immensely valuable work for animals, just as Oxfam does immensely valuable work for the world's poor. I'm not going to say that one is more important than the other.G: Have you seen the movie Best in Show?PS: Yes, it was hilarious.G: I thought so, too. What are you working on currently?PS: I'm currently promoting my new book, The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty. And no, I'm not going to say that it is a more important book than Animal Liberation-they are both part of the same overall aim, to reduce unnecessary suffering and misery, whether it happens to animals or to humans. But I hope your readers will take a look at the book, and at its associated website, by by Denise Applewhite)
via Douglas Muth / Flickr

Sin City is doing something good for its less fortunate citizens as well as those who've broken the law this month. The city of Las Vegas, Nevada will drop any parking ticket fines for those who make a donation to a local food bank.

A parking ticket can cost up to $100 in Las Vegas but the whole thing can be forgiven by bringing in non-perishable food items of equal or greater value to the Parking Services Offices at 500 S. Main Street through December 16.

The program is designed to help the less fortunate during the holidays.

Keep Reading Show less

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by HAL9001 on Unsplash

The U.K. is trying to reach its goal of net-zero emissions by 2050, but aviation may become the biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.K. by that same year. A new study commissioned by the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and conducted at the Imperial College London says that in order for the U.K. to reach its target, aviation can only see a 25% increase, and they've got a very specific recommendation on how to fix it: Curb frequent flyer programs.

Currently, air travel accounts for 2% of global greenhouse gas emissions, however that number is projected to increase for several reasons. There's a growing demand for air travel, yet it's harder to decarbonize aviation. Electric cars are becoming more common. Electric planes, not so much. If things keep on going the way they are, flights in the U.K. should increase by 50%.

Nearly every airline in the world has a frequent flyer program. The programs offer perks, including free flights, if customers get a certain amount of points. According to the study, 70% of all flights from the U.K. are taken by 15% of the population, with many people taking additional (and arguably unnecessary) flights to "maintain their privileged traveler status."

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet