An exploration of Peter Singer and Richard Posner's ethical arguments regarding the moral status of animals, with a specific focus on the use of animals for the consumption of food


  • Jade Eloise Eva Watts Northumbria University



The use of animals for the consumption of food is becoming a focus in recent times, due to environmental and animal welfare concerns. There has been an increase in research around the environmental concerns of the mass scale of the production of meat, with meat production in 2018 estimated at 330.51 million metric tons. In the UK alone, 182,000 cows were slaughtered in November 2018 and 108.4 million broiler chickens were slaughtered in October 2018. Many animal welfare groups argue against the inhumane conditions animals go through before they reach our plate. Due to this, a record number of people are reducing meat and animal product consumption, with some research indicating over 1.6 million people in the UK are vegan or vegetarian in 2016. With the questions and concerns around eating meat becoming so prominent today, it seems like the perfect time to revisit the philosophical arguments. This article will explore the global scale of using animals for the consumption of food, through the ethical arguments advocated by philosopher Peter Singer, author of Animal Liberation, of affording animals an equal moral status to humans. It will then consider the arguments advanced by Judge Richard Posner, as a tool to offer a critical analysis of Singer’s ideas.