When the word bigotry is uttered, various scenarios enter one's mind. Ideas of slavery in ancient cultures, the attempted wiping out of a particular ethnic group, slave plantations in Pre-Civil War America, and the women's suffrage movements in various parts of the world over the last century are just a few which come to mind. Yet bigotry can exist in very slight-of-hand ways, from "dumb-blonde" jokes, to dishonest hiring practices concerning racial minorities. Perhaps the most notable forms of bigotry are sexism and racism, particulary since their struggles and overcoming of which in most countries is a contemporary development. This essay will examine the plausibility of adding to this list a bigotry which, if found to be coherent and legitimate, has been practiced for the whole of recorded human history. Yet this proposed bigotry, speciesism, appears counter-intuitive(and perhaps ridiculous) to many at first glance because of its solidarity within our society. However after defining, and examining various arguments concerning speciesism, its legitimacy as a true form of widespread bigotry will be considered.
The term speciesism was apparently first used by Richard Ryder but made popular by philosopher Peter Singer. In setting out to define speciesism, its basic definition which Singer identifies is "a prejudice or bias in favor of the interests of members of one's own species and against those of members of other species" . In other words, one species sees fit to use another at its disposal without concern for this other group based solely on the fact of its being part of another species. Obviously this is an assertion which strikes the majority of human beings with a feeling of indifference, and a response of carelessness; a response(and its validity) which will be examined later. Pushing the ideas further, Singer bases much of the weight of his speciesist argument on his account of the concept of interests, and the value which every sentient being's interests may add up to.