Explain and evaluate Peter Singer’s arguments in his essay “Unsanctifying Human Life.” Be sure to include a discussion of what he calls “Speciesism”. Explain and discuss his arguments for eliminating speciesist bias from our moral thinking. You may want to consider in what ways species similar and/or different from Racism or sexism.

He suggests that “We have to change our attitudes in both directions. We have to bring non-humans within the sphere of our moral concern, and cease to treat them purely as a means to our ends. At the same time ice we realize that the fact that severely and irreparably retarded infants are members of the species homo sapiens is not in itself relevant to how we should treat them, we should be ready to reconsider current practices which cause suffering to all concerned and benefit nobody.” Evaluate this claim.

Some other issues  in your paper that you could address are:

The objection Singer considers at the end of the paper that speciesism serves an important role in our ethical thinking by ensuring that we treat all humans morally. Discuss his argument against this claim.

Or your paper could also include a more focused discussion of Euthanasia for mentally and or physically handicapped babies.


Keep in mind that your paper will need to A) explain Singer’s Argument (or arguments depending on exactly what aspect of the paper you choose to focus on) and B) discuss and evaluate that argument. You could do this by presenting a possible objection to Singer and then defending Singer. Criticizing some aspect of Singer’s position, which could be on a normative or applied level.

The types of criticisms you might make could be something like “Singer’s position on euthanizing mentally and physically handicapped babies is correct but it doesn’t follow that we ought to not to treat animals in a certain way because . . . .” Or “Singer’s argument presupposes utilitarianism which doesn’t work because  . . . ” Or “Singer attempts to deal with an objection to his theory but his response is inadequate because . . . ” Or “Singer’s argument would be stronger if he made the following modification . . .”

Please DO NOT address the issue of the origin of the “sanctity of human life” doctrine that Singer discusses.

Other Instructions:

Submit your paper on Angel with a file name of your last name followed by “Paper1” (ie. JonesPaper1).

Your Essay should be 1,000-1,500 words.

And whatever you do, do not plagiarize. If you have any doubt as to what plagiarism is or how to avoid it ask me.

Bring a first draft of your paper to class on Thursday for a class discussion and paper grading exercise.

Bring a Second draft of your paper to class on Tuesday for a second class discussion and paper grading exercise.

Submit the final draft of your paper by Tuesday April 9th 11:59 PM.

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