Korostichenko Ekaterina

Christian view on treating animals: theological criticism of P. Singer

Korostichenko Ekaterina (2022) "Christian view on treating animals: theological criticism of P. Singer ", Vestnik Pravoslavnogo Sviato-Tikhonovskogo gumanitarnogo universiteta. Seriia I : Bogoslovie. Filosofiia. Religiovedenie, 2022, vol. 104, pp. 46-67 (in Russian).

DOI of the paper: 10.15382/sturI2022104.46-67


P. Singer is called one of the most influential living philosophers in the world, and one of the most controversial. The author of "Animal Liberation", "Practical Ethics", "Famine, Affluence, and Morality" created his own project of preference utilitarianism, in which he placed animals as moral subjects equal to man. In this, he questions Christian anthropocentrism: a human in his system of ethics is intrinsically no better than a chimpanzee or a dog. He recognizes the uniqueness of all species, speaking out against speciesism (discrimination on grounds of species). Singer's ethics is completely independent of religion. Raising issues related to abortion, euthanasia, animal rights, etc., the philosopher inevitably arrived to confrontation with Christian ethics and religious worldview in general. Religion, especially Christianity, plays a significant role in his works, since he considers many of the provisions of Christianity: the special position of humans in the natural world, the attitude to the sanctity of life - to be morally problematic. The article analyzes Peter Singer's critical theses on the Christian religion, including Christian ethics. The second section considers the responses of a number of modern religious thinkers to Singer's criticism of Christianity. In conclusion, the arguments of both sides are analyzed, their strengths and weaknesses are outlined, involving a broader tradition of secular-religious dispute. Conclusions are made about the validity of P. Singer's criticism of religion. Although said criticism is broadly integrated into the works of the philosopher, it is hardly a focus point - rather a tool to solidify Singer's position on practical questions like abortion, euthanasia, animal rights, etc. The negative attitude to religion has roots in Singer's early acquaintance with the Bible and the unhappy past of his family (two of the philosopher's grandparents died in concentration camps). The question of the meaninglessness of suffering largely determines the philosophy and practical ethics of P. Singer. Arguing with theologians, he most often resorts to the classical argument from evil. Singer's criticism of Christian religion is limited, reduced to the problem of the meaninglessness of suffering, the Euthyphron dilemma, criticism of the sanctity of human life, the "dominion" of man over nature. With the exception of a detailed analysis of the bias of Christianity against animals, the criticism is not original.


Peter Singer, criticism of Christianity, atheism, humanism, animal protection, speciesism, sanctity of life, utilitarianism, Holy Bible


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Information about the author

Korostichenko Ekaterina

Academic Degree: Candidate of Sciences* in Philosophy;
Post: Российская Федерация, 109240, г. Москва, ул. Гончарная, д. 12, стр. 1;
ORCID: 0000-0002-7018-6301;
Email: klinkot@yandex.ru.

*According to the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED) 2011, the degree of Candidate of Sciences (Cand.Sc.) belongs to ISCED level 8 — "doctoral or equivalent", together with PhD, DPhil, D.Lit, D.Sc, LL.D, Doctorate or similar.


The work is supported by a grant by the Ministry of Education and Science and the Council for Grants of the President of the Russian Federation for state support of young Russian scientists (MK-4357.2021.2, “On the way to dialogue: discussions about religion and the church in a secular public space”), 2021-2023.