Inaugural Guelph Lecture in Philosophy Focuses on Ethics and Animals

March 16, 2009 - News Release

The world's most well-known bioethicist is coming to the University of Guelph on March 21 to inaugurate the Guelph Lecture in Philosophy.

Peter Singer, whose 1975 book, Animal Liberation, changed the way many people look at animals and inspired the modern animal rights movement, will discuss “Ethics and Animals” in Room 101 of Rozanski Hall from 2 to 4 p.m.

“We’re very fortunate to attract a speaker of his stature to launch our annual lecture, which we hope will focus attention on the innovative and exciting work going on in our department,” said Prof. Andrew Bailey, chair of the Department of Philosophy.

The Australian-born Singer is a professor of bioethics at Princeton University whose provocative views on everything from the ethical treatment of animals and vegetarianism to abortion and euthanasia have drawn praise and scorn around the world.

He rejects rights as a moral ideal in favour of viewing rights as derived from utilitarian principles, especially the principle of minimizing suffering.

Singer argues that animals should have rights based on their ability to feel pain rather than their intelligence and that the interests of all creatures capable of suffering should be given equal consideration.

Because it is uncommon and difficult to raise animals for food without inflicting pain, Singer believes the most practical solution is to adopt a vegetarian or vegan diet.

His latest book is The Life You Can Save: Acting Now to End World Poverty, in which he argues that in order to live ethically, individuals in the Western world must do a lot more to help the billions of people living in poverty.

The lecture is co-sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and the Campbell Centre for the Study of Animal Welfare (the Basil Capes Memorial Lecture). Admission is free.

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