I've been puzzled these days with the following (admittely rather theoretical) problem: to go against speciesism makes sense when you're trying to, say, make your point as vegan. But how do people that are against speciesism see the fact that that we destroy animals' homes (sometimes killing some of them along), to make things we don't need to survive? I mean, Wikipedia says in the "Speciesism" entry that

A common element of most definitions is that speciesism involves treating members of one species as morally more important than members of other species in the context of their similar interests.

We not only destroy animals' habitats directly, but also affect their enviroment in many other ways (for example, throwing contaminants in the sea and in the air). But this seems to be inevitable with the economic issues we face (and maybe with technological issues too). If we were intoxicating (directly) or destroying peoples' houses to buy things we don't technically need to survive, it would be such a fuss in media and people would boycott whoseever fault it was. But how do people that are against speciesism see the fact that we do this to lots of animals (and that there is probably some animal death involved in production chain of a lot of one's goods - let me know if this is false, but I don't think so).

Unless you are considering going back to the Stone Age, you're not gonna boycott everything you consume - but why not if you believe humans are not morally superior to animals?

Also, one could always end up in issues like "Oh, I need... [some good/service. Cloting, gadgets, food...]. I'm gonna use i anyway", but then, if you would believe that animals are not morally inferior, why would you be ok with exchanging their very life's for your, say, coat, notebook, social acceptance? Seems nothing proportional (Pretty sure this logic is messed up, i'd love if someone could make explicity to me why).

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    There seem to be two basic moral questions here. One, if species are of equal moral value, when is one species permitted to consume shared environmental resources? Two, when may one encroach upon, take, or otherwise diminish the value or utility of said resources? An additional consideration might be distinguishing between present happiness and future prosperity -- i.e. comfort versus reproductive potential.
    – Michael
    Jul 25, 2023 at 15:13
  • Okay, not a serious answer. But I would point out that our economic system does destroy human lives, both directly and indirectly. Life spans dropped sharply with urbanization and then early industrialization. They have been declining even among many U.S. populations since the rise of neoliberalism and mass inequality. So you might say we are not practicing "speciesism," since we are killing ourselves alongside every other species. Jul 25, 2023 at 16:13
  • A crucial link is missing, you say? Look again, mon ami, look again. I'm more worried about the general pattern typified by the issue you raise. Ben, a guy, didn't know he was in NY, but that doesn't mean he wasn't in NY, oui?
    – Hudjefa
    Jul 26, 2023 at 18:05
  • @NelsonAlexander Until covid, life spans had not been declining on a national level in any country on earth. There are some incidental minor downticks here and there, and a few big ones in war zones, but not a single country has had a net decrease in life expectancy over the years 2000-2019. Not even countries such as Syria and Yemen that did experience brief but sharp drops due to war. In fact the global life expectancy has increased by 5.3 years in those 20 years!
    – user67004
    Jul 26, 2023 at 18:44
  • I just fact-checked myself and must make a small correction: There are precisely two countries with a net decrease over the years 2000-2019: Venezuela at -0.31 years and, quite surprisingly, the Bahamas at -0.84 years.
    – user67004
    Jul 26, 2023 at 18:50

3 Answers 3


This sounds essentially like a variation on the Malthusian problem - that there is a level of sustainable production, but that population support falls below that level, meaning that either you jettison the commitment to sustainability or you challenge the capacity for human existence (/in your weaker sense, human comfort).

Well, is there not a modus ponens to your modus tollens? Yes, the human species is living beyond its sustainable means in many respect, and this is bad! So human populations should be contracting and learning to work and live within the bounds of sustainability, and if we don’t do it consciously then it will end up happening due to environmental catastrophe, taking more than just humans with it.

  • I don't think I made myself clear in the text. What I meant is something like: if the life of an ant is as important as the life of a human, why don't peopel against speciesism make, say, a funeral for each ant they smash while walking? Or pay extreme atention trying to their way to avoid that? Do they believe they should be arrested for killing an ant? And that could include eventual animals killed in the extractivist activity. Another example: if our best chance to cure a certain disease is by testing in animals, would these people be against that? I guess most buddhist monks don't get 2that
    – Jp_
    Aug 5, 2023 at 23:28
  • You might not want to read the book "The Vision" by Tom Brown Jr. After not reading "Stand On Zanzibar" by John Brunner. Maybe Catch 22 as well, and Slaughterhouse 5. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court... So many books to avoid.
    – Scott Rowe
    Mar 22 at 15:27

Speciesism is like super stuck in how our society works. If we wanna make real changes to help animals, we'd have to totally change so many huge industries that make tons of money from animals. And it's not just the economy - it's in how people think and live too. History shows stuff like this basically never happens without people struggling hard for a long time. Getting mad online or just being vegan yourself doesn't fix the whole system.

And it's only getting worse in some ways. More people want meat and animal stuff as countries get richer. Our population keeps growing, so we take over more land where animals live. New tech doesn't really seem to be stopping us from trashing the planet either. I don't see all this turning around soon even if we have a greener future.

For real change, people would need to care a lot and change how we all live. But most peeps care more about their own lives day to day, you know? We're pretty selfish. The scale of change needed seems so hard. Big money and the way things work now keep animal harm going. Our human nature makes caring a lot long term difficult, even if we should. So I'm not very optimistic we'll see huge progress stopping speciesism any time soon.

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    It is quite true that our scale of thinking on a daily basis is pretty small: we think mostly about our stuff. However, I would hardly classify this as selfish. Most people do have their own problems to take care of - which can be a lot - and do not have the time, the knowledge or the resources to make actual changes. Obviously, that doesnt mean no change is ok. (by the way sorry for taking this long to respond)
    – Jp_
    Aug 5, 2023 at 23:24
  • That being said, I don't think I made myself clear in the text. What I meant is something like: if the life of an ant is as important as the life of a human, why don't peopel against speciesism make, say, a funeral for each ant they smash while walking? Or pay extreme atention trying to their way to avoid that? Do they believe they should be arrested for killing an ant?
    – Jp_
    Aug 5, 2023 at 23:24

Peter Singer is arguably the most important philosophical critic of speciecism. Here is an article that explains his position in a way you may find helpful:

Singer's notion of equal consideration does not mean that animals receive equal treatment, and it does not preclude the morality of a decision to exploit a human or nonhuman. As long as an animal's interests receive equitable consideration (consideration untainted by the speciesism that discounts animal interests simply because they are the interests of a supposed "inferior"), Singer's equality principle is satisfied. But this notion of equality is consistent with animal exploitation if the consequences justify that exploitation and if the decision to exploit is not based on species discrimination. Indeed, Singer acknowledges that he "would never deny that we are justified in using animals for human goals, because as a consequentialist, [he] must also hold that in appropriate circumstances we are justified in using humans to achieve human goals (or the goal of assisting animals)." Singer claims not to be "the kind of moral absolutist who holds that the end can never justify the means," and he has denied arguing that "no animal experimentation is ever of use to humans" or that "all animal experimentation involves suffering."

In short: no, considering the ethical consequences of human actions as they pertain to other species without automatically putting human interests first in all instances does not imply a rejection of all technology or anything of the kind. There are anti-civilization primitivists like John Zerzan who fall closer to that, but that is not the only critique of speciesism or even necessarily the dominant one.

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