(4c) “…because they are not members of our species…”

Objection (4c): Species Membership

“Animals are morally less important than humans because they are not members of our species.”

The only property for which it is analytically true that it is shared by all humans and only by humans is membership of the biological species Homo sapiens. Given the above-mentioned problems associated with identifying some unique characteristic of humans, this criterion is sometimes invoked.


(4c.1) The Problem of Speciesism

For the moral discrimination of animals based on species membership the term “speciesism” has been coined (see also 2.1). Speciesism is a problem in so far as it is structurally identical to other discrimination paradigms, such as sexism, racism etc. All of these forms of discrimination are flawed by the fact that they fall back onto a morally irrelevant criterion to ground moral differences – namely membership in a certain group. But if sexism or racism is considered morally abhorrent today, so should speciesism as it is structurally identical.