While, because of its many practical and historical considerations, it is difficult to take “sides” in this argument. As a matter of ethical stance the argument of Regan and Singer presents a clearer more definitive philosophical/ethical case, while Baxter’s hyper-utilitarian defense rings arrogant, unethical, and morally bankrupt.
Both Baxter, and Regan and Singer rely heavily on the Utilitarian theory to support and dispute respectively the notion of ethics as applied to animal rights. As a theory of Mill and Bentham, Utilitarianism says the morality of an action is determined by its utility in providing happiness or pleasure to sentient beings. An action, as it were, is judged by its outcome.
Baxter states this case word for word through criteria developed from this theory to support his view that when it comes to that which benefits the majority of people, “Damage to penguins, or sugar pines, or geological marvels is... simply irrelevant” (Baxter 523). He neglects to discuss animals as feeling creatures. Anyone familiar with animals could never dispute this. It can hardly be leave out of any conversation, pro or con, when it comes to animal rights.
The basis of many of Baxter’s justifications is often expressed in dollars and cents, in the highly and often unethical human spheres of money, profit and even politics. “Penquins don’t vote” (Baxter 524), a sarcastic statement relating to the Utilitarian notion that decisions are made in the collective [by humans], and that animals, as not a part of that collective, have no say and deserve little consideration other than which man chooses to give them.
Baxter stoops to the argument that while some say they want to protect animals from harm in all circumstances they still allow them to be slaughtered for food. It is an old argument. Regan and Singer can not be accused of