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Title: The Moral Framework of Peter Singer's Animal Liberation
Subtitle: An Alternative to Utilitarianism
Author(s): LLORENTE, Renzo
Journal: Ethical Perspectives
Volume: 16    Issue: 1   Date: March 2009   
Pages: 61-80
DOI: 10.2143/EP.16.1.2036278

Abstract :
Peter Singer’s arguments in Animal Liberation have often been misinterpreted. The most common, and momentous, misinterpretation among professional philosophers consists in the belief that the moral argument advanced by Animal Liberation is based on utilitarianism, and not, as is in fact the case, on the principle of non-maleficence ('not causing harm'). This essay examines some of the reasons for this misinterpretation of Animal Liberation as well as its effects on one’s assessment of the book’s philosophical merits. In particular, it argues that many of the alleged or apparent inconsistencies in Animal Liberation – e.g. Singer’s position on the use of violence to advance animal liberation, or his treatment of the so-called Argument from Replaceability – arise only when the book is erroneously interpreted as a utilitarian text. When Animal Liberation is read correctly, as a work whose basic normative inspiration is the principle of non-maleficence, it becomes clear that Singer’s text contains none of the alleged or apparent inconsistencies considered in the essay.

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