In ‘The Place of Nonhumans in Environmental Issues’ Peter Singer makes such a moral interpretation, in arguing for the importance of considering nonhumans in ethical decision making. In examining Peter Singer’s argument in ‘The Place of Nonhumans in Environmental Issues,’ this essay considers both Singer’s greatest intellectual strengths and greatest intellectual weaknesses.
If one makes a brief perusal of some of Peter Singer’s writings on ethical constructs, such as ‘Foreign Aid and the Moral Value of Freedom’, one notices that one of Singer’s predominant strengths as a writer is his ability to distill complex ideas into easily understandable prose. Indeed, in ‘The Place of Nonhumans in Environmental Issues’ this strength is also witnessed as Singer makes great effort to clearly define the topic of his discussion and the various points of his argument. For instance, he identifies the extent of the subject being examined – the nonhumans – by stating, “it is with nonhuman animals, rather than plants, that I am chiefly concerned” (Singer, pg. 558). He also further elaborates his argument in this regard by noting that while animals are often regard as a collective entity, in his argument they will be considered along individual criteria. Singer also clearly states the central issue of his investigation and doesn’t engage in elaborate circumlocution in advancing the argument’s central concerns; he states, “The general question, then, is how the effects of our actions on the environment of nonhuman beings should figure in our deliberations about what we ought to do” (Singer, pg. 558). Singer is also clear and direct in qualifying that the nonhuman animals he is considering must have interests that distinguish them from entities such as rocks or even plants and trees that while living entities, most people will agree lack any sort of conscious interest or developed sense of pain. One