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Specifying Speciesism

Roger Fjellstrom

Abstract: Many philosophers consider favouritism toward humans in the context of moral
choice to be a prejudice. Several terms are used for it – ‘speciesism’, ‘human chauvinism’, ‘human racism’, and ‘anthropocentrism’ – with somewhat varying and often blurred meanings, which brings confusion to the issue. This essay suggests that only one term, ‘speciesism’, be used, and it attempts a conceptual clarification. To this end it proposes a set of conditions of adequacy for a concept that would be acceptable to the parties of the controversy. Through an examination of various forms of alleged speciesism it eventually proposes a rather precise concept. On this definition some positions believed not to be speciesist perhaps should be so called, and some positions believed to be speciesist perhaps should not be so called. The latter would better be referred to as ‘humanistic ethics’ or ‘non-speciesist humanism’.

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