My full view is expressed here but this post is just a repeat of some specific remarks about Singer as I do not engage with his position in my piece because I was so disappointed to read his work. An example can be found here: http://www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-m/singer03.htm
Titled “Do animals feel pain?” I do not want to engage much with his conclusions. Let us concentrate primarily on his methods. That is to say: the philosophical techniques he uses to establish his position. They need to be valid arguments, or we can ignore his conclusions (which will be as bad as simply false, or as good as mere assertions). He does write “We also know that the nervous systems of other animals were not artificially constructed--as a robot might be artificially constructed--to mimic the pain behavior of humans.” which I agree with, as I stated. But when he asks the question “If it is justifiable to assume that other human beings feel pain as we do, is there any reason why a similar inference should not be justifiable in the case of other animals?” he answers “no”. He argues, “It is surely unreasonable to suppose that nervous systems that are virtually identical physiologically, have a common origin and a common evolutionary function, and result in similar forms of behavior in similar circumstances should actually operate in an entirely different manner on the level of subjective feelings.” but as I have argued this is completely false. You can indeed share an almost identical architectural hardware (as say chimps and humans do with respect to their brains) but the software (the mind!) can be altogether different. And yes there are hardware differences, of course - and perhaps those hardware differences contain the specialised processing and memory capacity required to run the special “universal knowledge creation” software of a person, but the point is: similar hardware says nothing about software. Two identical Apple Mac computers can run totally different software. One might be running a computer game. Another, a spreadsheet. That look nothing alike. The brain of a chimp might superficially look kind of like the brain of a human: but the mind? Totally different. And so the experiences might be totally different. Indeed I argue they are totally different. But Singer, like most people concerned about this topic, is completely confused about (because he is ignorant of) the relationship between the physical and the abstract; between hardware and software. The brain-mind connection. The mind really is a causal agent. Like software controls the hardware. He does not know about universal knowledge creators and the morally central role concept this plays in our understanding of the potential for a creature to suffer. Of course, this is no fault of his, at the time of writing (that article predates “The Beginning of Infinity” by over 20 years) but I think most people agree “animals can feel pain and all pain is bad so that’s that” kind of thing. But more worrying to me is the following, where Singer writes: “The overwhelming majority of scientists who have addressed themselves to this question agree. Lord Brain, one of the most eminent neurologists of our time, has said: “I personally can see no reason for conceding mind to my fellow men and denying it to animals…”
So Singer resorts to *appeal to authority* and the authority he appeals to resorts to *argument from ignorance*. Singer says “Look, other scientists agree with me” (inference being: scientists are clever people who get things right. Always though?) And the authority “Lord Brain” says “I don’t see any reason to suggest animals don’t have minds like people do” which means “I don’t understand the differences”. Now if I read this from a journalist, or even a scientist I could perhaps forgive these sort of mistakes. But Singer purports to be a professional *philosopher*. One who constructs arguments and explanations in order to establish conclusions. One who knows the logical fallacies - and how to avoid them. But he has not avoided them here. He has deployed them!
“…there are no good reasons, scientific or philosophical, for denying that animals feel pain. If we do not doubt that other humans feel pain we should not doubt that other animals do so too. Animals can feel pain.”
As I have argued: animals may well feel pain. But so does a person exercising: and it feels good, even if painful. An animal that feels pain does not suffer - that is a philosophical position that no science experiment can undermine (yet). These are critical distinctions that, if you are engaged in arguing for so-called "animal rights" and talking about something as ethically important as the morality of pain: you need to take seriously. But given the terrible philosophical arguments made by Singer we must, unfortunately, conclude he is not actually philosophically serious about one of his most cherished areas of expertise. He resorts to arguments from authority, arguments from ignorance and a good measure of the emotive thrown in. Philosophers should be far more cautious because if they have important points to make, people might just stop listening if they demonstrate they cannot "ply their own trade" with competence.