G’Day World #332 – Peter Singer, The Great Ape Project

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My guest today is Peter Singer.

Peter Singer

He is the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and laureate professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE), University of Melbourne. Outside academic circles, Singer is best known for his book Animal Liberation, widely regarded as the touchstone of the animal liberation movement.

I invited him onto the show to talk about the recent news from Spain that they will soon probably extend basic legal rights to all non-human hominids, an idea that has been driven by an organization that Peter co-founded, The Great Ape Project. We also talk about the basic ethics of utilitarianism and how the best thing you can do to reduce your carbon footprint is to stop eating meat.

The G’Day World theme music:

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“Secrets of Life” (mp3)
from “End of Days”
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“Great Apes” to get full rights in Spain?

Apes to get full rightsAn interesting story… apparently “great apes” – that is, all non-human members of the biological family Hominidae which includes chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans – are soon to get full human rights in Spain.

They won’t be able to be kept captive, used in experiments for in television commercials. This outcome is the work of The Great Ape Project, which was co-founded by Peter Singer, a Melbourne-born philosopher who is currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University.

But why stop at hominids?

I’m sure Singer would like to see all animals share the same rights as humans but hominids is the low-hanging fruit. They share so much DNA with us that it’s easy to make the case that they should enjoy the same rights.

Personally I’d like to see similar laws in Australia and I’d also like to see them extended to all mammals.

Imagine a world where it was against the law to put a cow or a sheep or a kangaroo behind a fence or in a cage, let alone kill them for food.

We’d be forced to re-think our entire relationship with other species. We’d be forced to re-think our entire way of life.

Back to Spain… amazing to think that the country that only abolished the Inquisition less than 200 years ago has now legalized gay marriage and is about to give full human rights to apes and chimps. Any Spanish folks out there? I’d love to know what you think about how Spain is leading the world on these issues.