Essay by walterkeenanCollege, UndergraduateB-, June 2014

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Walker Keenan

Philosophic History of American Environmentalism

Prof. Mark Fowler


Although Singer is an advocate for humane utilitarianism and Leopold is an advocate for the environmental ethic, they both believe decisions should be guided more by ethics than by economics. However, Leopold expands the definition of what a moral patient is to beyond just animals, while Singer restricts the definition of moral patient to individual animals. Leopold is concerned more about environmental systems, where Singer is more concerned about individuals. Since Singer wants to decrease pain in sentient animals, the current way we raise the animals we eat must be corrected. The way we treat these animals now is in line with the fact that we treat anything non-human as property, which both of these theorists have postulated. Although both Singer and Leopold would like to change the way we currently treat animals, Leopold is not against killing animals and in fact is in favor of hunting to control animal population sizes.

Singer is against this because he is against all animal pain; however, Singer is in favor of eliminating some predators as they do harm on other animals. In the 21st century both theorists would take a stance against factory farming. Leopold would be against factory farming because of the effects this farming method has on the environmental system (e.g. greenhouse gas production, runoff, antibiotic resistance, etc.). Singer would oppose using this method of farming purely because of the pain it would cause animals. Although Singer tends to focus more on individual animals and Leopold tends to focus more on the environment as a whole, both theorists want to change the way we think about our use of animals. The goal of this is to have us think about their suffering or how their use could have an...