Common Denominator

“If equality is to be related to any actual characteristics of humans, these characteristics must be some lowest common denominator, pitched so low that no human lacks them-but then the philosopher comes up against the catch that any such set of characteristics which covers all humans will not be possessed only by humans.” (Singer 325)

This is such a powerful statement attributed to speciesism, because it critiques the ways in which humans have illogically placed us above all other species with no set foundation. We are said to be above non-human animals because we can communicate, we have progressed as a species, and basically conquered the world and all in it. I just feel like this statement reinforces how similar we are to animals and really makes that binary ambiguous. This notion of the common denominator, I believe, is genius because it causes us to evaluate our society and ourselves and, at least for me, my characteristics. It is true that if equality is real and we consider all humans to be equal, there must be a common characteristic that some non-human animals can possess.

Singer puts this as a “catch” and I believe that part of the reason why a “common denominator” has not been formed or is widely known is because not only is equality fake among animals, it is non existent among humans as well. I think this discourse brings a lot of different opinions and ways of viewing equality. It opens up the conversation to not just non-human animals, but humans and how we aren’t an egalitarian society. With that being said, I found Singer’s point to be brilliant and something I’d never really thought about. I don’t know if this has been a point of conversation or a rebuttal to equality and the rights of non-human animals but I’d like to know more. I feel that this ties in to a larger discussion about our equality and who is considered to be equal to someone else. Animals are brought into the discussion as further evidence that we, ourselves, aren’t equal but if we were to find something to base that equality on a characteristic, non-human animal would also be included. I wonder if the reason why this hasn’t happened is because animals would have rights and equality and the human species just cannot accept that. Is it our ignorance or our ego that causes inequality in both human and non-human spheres?


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