Gebäude 21, 1. OG
+49 30 838 62901
Introduction: About 25 years ago the Australian philosopher Peter Singer replaced the traditional question whether humans are allowed to kill animals by two new questions: the question of killing and the question of suffering. He is convinced that this approach, to consider the issue of killing animals in isolation from the infliction of suffering, is necessary for a clear philosophical understanding of the separate issues involved.
Methods: The ideas of recent philosophers – Peter Singer, Tom Regan, Paul Taylor and others – concerning the question of killing are compared with each other and with ideas of historic philosophers – René Descartes, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, Jeremy Bentham and others – touching the question of killing. All arguments are analysed down to their underlying postulates. Because postulates are finally unprovable their plausibility was compared.
Results: The result is a paradox. The most plausible postulates are found in ancient arguments, although the question of killing was not understood in the modern way. The arguments however published since Singer raised the question of killing are build on postulates of low plausibility.
Discussion: Evidence suggests that the philosophical uncertainty about the question of killing follows from an inadequacy of the human ability to make moral evaluations for the problem in question. The killing of animals without any signs of fear or suffering (shown by the animals involved) seems to be neither moral nor immoral but unexpectedly without a moral status.