WR150 Varisara Pongpairoj Reading Response 1 01/24/18

WR150

Varisara
Pongpairoj

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Reading
Response 1

01/24/18

In Animal Liberation, Singer conveys the
superiority of consciousness and complexity to other qualities on the scale of
importance in an organism. Basically, he is saying that sentient life of higher
intelligence is more valuable than those inferior in this aspect. This is
because he thinks that the higher the level of consciousness and intelligence
an organism has, the higher its capacity for both happiness and suffering. Office1 Singer, like John
Stuart Mill, is a utilitarian and his belief includes the greatest happiness
principle. The greatest happiness principle holds that goodness maximizes
pleasure and minimizes suffering and pain. Therefore, a human’s life which
holds greater potential for pleasure and pain is superior, making it more
valuable, although ironically more vulnerable to unhappiness, than that of
other species.

Similarly, an average human’s life is superior
to that of a mentally incapable person from a utilitarian’s perspective
since they can achieve higher pleasure as well as feel more pain. Further
clarification must be made about pleasure. Other than intensity and duration of
pleasure, there are also different grades of pleasure according to Mill. For
instance, theorizing a philosophy would give a higher pleasure than eating food
and having sex based on Mill. Also, humans have the ability to plan and the
knowledge of their imminent death could cause more anguish than it would for an
ant. Since
they would either not be able to obtain that information or cannot remember it
long enoughOffice2 . The method Mill
proposes as way to measure the value of pleasure is to survey people who
experienced all concerning types of pleasure and ask them which they would
consider superior. Although I personally think that this doctrine is reasonable,
it is incomplete without consideration of other factors such as one’s sense of purpose
and the practicality of the doctrine itself. Mill assumes that everyone views
pleasure similarly, Office3 however, every
individual has different goals and would rank pleasure accordingly.

Additionally, this method is impractical since we would have no way to
generalize the hierarchy of pleasure for every organism. Since Mill sweeps
happiness and things which leads to it under the utilitarianism, things that
give an organism’s purpose of life or sense of meaning would
also fall under the umbrella goodness. The only way for utilitarianism to work is for
the word “pleasure” to be used
either very loosely and assume different specific meaning on a case-by-case
basis or to be listed out extensively like legal law. Office4 Being
self-aware gives meaning to the pleasure and pain felt, which could further
amplify these experiences. Office5 In addition,
being self-aware also enable the possibility of understanding the concept of
virtue through sentiment, which is one of the end goal for utilitarianism since
it follows the greatest happiness principle through harmony and action with
interest of group.

I find Singer’s and Mill’s view about
the relative value of human and non-human lives to be interesting and would be
persuasive if assuming that a human is capable of more happiness and suffering
of oneself and other organisms than other non-human. To be honest, I do not believe a
doctrine can really result in absolute fairness and this does not seem far off.

Office6 Mill argued
in the book Utilitarianism that just because the doctrine is neither
practical nor achievable at this instant and in the near future does not make
it any less valid. While I maintain that this is true, it still does make the
doctrine seem irrelevant to me. To my surprise, Singer’s and Mill’s views on
the relative value of human and non-human lives were actually based on the
democracy of a specific group of people. Therefore, this theory is heavily
reliant on the authority to decide what is good. As Shakespeare pointed out, “there is
nothing either good or bad, only thinking make it so”, in this
case experienced people were the thinkers in the equation. Utilitarianism
potentially maximizes happiness and absence of suffering perceived by these
group of people.

Moreover, Mill raised an interesting question
regarding the fairness of democracy. Utilitarianism is correct with respect to
the majority of experienced people at most times. Even the experienced people
do not necessarily have the same state of mind they did at another point in
time after they experienced both scenarios to choose from depending on their
perception of the event at different times. It is certainly a possibility that
they were misled by misinformation to choose something that actually results in
more suffering and less pleasure. Therefore, if normally happiness is not
guaranteed along with the choice one makes, should not one consider the
probability of getting the results when making decisions about who or what to
sacrifice as well? For instance, Mill mentioned using animals for inhumane
experiments even when the likelihood of resulting benefit to anyone is almost
nonexistent. This implies that even at a very low chance of goodness for
humanity, the nonhuman’s suffering which was guaranteed were less important.

In addition, the experienced people might not
be at the state of mind to prefer what Mill refers to as higher pleasure all
the time either. People’s wants are not linear, there is always the
probability that they would prefer one thing over another a split second later
while the variable except time and train of thoughts were the unchanged. For
instance, a person might want to watch an educational video over a show and
changes his/her mind. This educational video doesn’t guarantee
you more happiness so the test based on an experienced person’s choice to
determine which pleasure is of higher status is highly impractical. In most
cases, real life experiences do not involve people rationally comparing and
choosing what would actually make them happy all the time. The perceived or
anticipated pleasure or suffering do not always come and one might choose
something not necessarily better but a more ultimately best realistic choice.

We are always faced with uncertain outcome with no guaranteed outcome and can
only rely on probability which we call luck.

 Office1excellent

 Office2fragment

 Office3comma
splice

 Office4good
point. Perhaps this is why Singer chooses to focus on “suffering,” which we
probably have a better theoretical grasp on, and then talks in term of “interest
satisfaction.”

 Office5Very
well put, and an important point to highlight. Another sentence here explaining
this point or offering an example would help.

 Office6What
do you mean?