This Intelligence Squared debate did include some of the unimpressive arguments that have characterised the AV debate more generally, but it also touched on some far more interesting and under-explored issues that lie at the heart of the debate about electoral reform.
We now generally accept that there are very important things called human rights that are possessed by all persons simply because there are persons, and which must be respected universally. However, we all generally still accept that the world is made up of communities called nations that are entitled to organise and dictate their own affairs, and that the members of nations owe each other more than they owe to outsiders.
The real question here, however, is whether domestic human rights abuses alone are sufficient to label a country a real ‘tiger’. I’m not sure that they are. Countries with questionable human rights records and nuclear ambitions may cause legitimate and understandable alarm in the international community. But does this mean that they constitute a real threat to international security, that they are genuine tigers?
Singer’s first, animal-centred argument is the stronger of the two, because it offers necessary and absolute reasons not to eat meat. But I do not agree with it. In fact, I am quite offended by it. However nice it may sound to some people, the idea that we should treat all animals with the same respect we afford to humans is monstrous (and, you guessed it, somewhat misanthropic).
Peter Hitchens made engaging and under-acknowledged arguments. They relate to the extent to which liberal secularism is, or can be, neutral between competing worldviews; the relationship between religion, culture and politics; and the place of moral authority in the context on considerable moral disagreement.