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The Philosophy of Animal Rights

The Philosophy of Animal Rights

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Published by: AB on Sep 14, 2010
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The Philosophy of Animal Rights
by Dr. Tom Regan
10 Reasons FOR Animal Rightsand Their Explanation1. Rational2. Scientific3. Unprejudiced4. Just5. Compassionate 6. Unselfish7. Individually fulfilling8. Socially progressive9. Environmentally wise10. Peace-loving10 Reasons AGAINST AnimalRights and Their Replies1. Equating animals and humans2. Rights: human vs animals3. Vegetables vs Animals4. Where to Draw Line5. Experience Pain6. Animals Respecting our Rights7. Dominion Over Other Animals8. Immortal Souls9. Animal Overabundance10. Other Problems THE PHILOSOPHY OF ANIMAL RIGHTSThe other animals humans eat, use in science, hunt, trap, andexploit in a variety of ways, have a life of their own that is of importance to them apart from their utility to us. They are not onlyin the world, they are aware of it. What happens to them matters tothem. Each has a life that fares better or worse for the one whoselife it is.That life includes a variety of biological, individual, and social needs.The satisfaction of these needs is a source of pleasure, theirfrustration or abuse, a source of pain. In these fundamental ways,the nonhuman animals in labs and on farms, for example, are thesame as human beings. And so it is that the ethics of our dealingswith them, and with one another, must acknowledge the samefundamental moral principles.At its deepest level, human ethics is based on the independent valueof the individual: The moral worth of any one human being is not tobe measured by how useful that person is in advancing the interestof other human beings. To treat human beings in ways that do nothonor their independent value is to violate that most basic of humanrights: the right of each person to be treated with respect.The philosophy of animal rights demands only that logic berespected. For any argument that plausibly explains theindependent value of human beings implies that other animals havethis same value, and have it equally. And any argument thatplausibly explains the right of humans to be treated with respect,
also implies that these other animals have this same right, and haveit equally, too.It is true, therefore, that women do not exist to serve men, blacks toserve whites, the poor to serve the rich, or the weak to serve thestrong. The philosophy of animal rights not only accepts thesetruths, it insists upon and justifies them.But this philosophy goes further. By insisting upon and justifying theindependent value and rights of other animals, it gives scientificallyinformed and morally impartial reasons for denying that theseanimals exist to serve us.Once this truth is acknowledged, it is easy to understand why thephilosophy of animal rights is uncompromising in its response toeach and every injustice other animals are made to suffer.It is not larger, cleaner cages that justice demands in the case of animals used in science, for example, but empty cages: not"traditional" animal agriculture, but a complete end to all commercein the flesh of dead animals; not "more humane" hunting andtrapping, but the total eradication of these barbarous practices.For when an injustice is absolute, one must oppose it absolutely. Itwas not "reformed" slavery that justice demanded, not "re- formed"child labor, not "reformed" subjugation of women. In each of thesecases, abolition was the only moral answer. Merely to reforminjustice is to prolong injustice.The philosophy of animal rights demands this same answer--abolition--in response to the unjust exploitation of other animals. Itis not the details of unjust exploitation that must be changed. It isthe unjust exploitation itself that must be ended, whether on thefarm, in the lab, or among the wild, for example. The philosophy of animal rights asks for nothing more, but neither will it be satisfiedwith anything less.10 Reasons FOR Animal Rights and Their Explanation1. The philosophy of animal rights is rationalExplanation: It is not rational to discriminate arbitrarily. Anddiscrimination against nonhuman animals is arbitrary. It is wrong totreat weaker human beings, especially those who are lacking innormal human intelligence, as "tools" or "renewable resources" or"models" or "commodities." It cannot be right, therefore, to treatother animals as if they were "tools," "models and the like, if theirpsychology is as rich as (or richer than) these humans. To think 
otherwise is irrational."To describe an animal as a physico-chemical system of extremecomplexity is no doubt perfectly correct, except that it misses out onthe 'animalness' of the animal."-- E.F. Schumacher 2. The philosophy of animal rights is scientificExplanation: The philosophy of animal rights is respectful of our bestscience in general and evolutionary biology in particular. The latterteaches that, in Darwin's words, humans differ from many otheranimals "in degree," not in kind." Questions of line drawing to oneside, it is obvious that the animals used in laboratories, raised forfood, and hunted for pleasure or trapped for profit, for example, areour psychological kin. This is no fantasy, this is fact, proven by ourbest science."There is no fundamental difference between humans and the highermammals in their mental faculties"-- Charles Darwin 3. The philosophy of animal rights is unprejudicedExplanation: Racists are people who think that the members of theirrace are superior to the members of other races simply because theformer belong to their (the "superior") race. Sexists believe that themembers of their sex are superior to the members of the oppositesex simply because the former belong to their (the "superior") sex.Both racism and sexism are paradigms of unsupportable bigotry.There is no "superior" or "inferior" sex or race. Racial and sexualdifferences are biological, not moral, differences.The same is true of speciesism -- the view that members of thespecies Homo sapiens are superior to members of every otherspecies simply because human beings belong to one's own (the"superior") species. For there is no "superior" species. To think otherwise is to be no less predjudiced than racists or sexists."If you can justify killing to eat meat, you can justify the conditionsof the ghetto. I cannot justify either one."-- Dick Gregory 4. The philosophy of animal rights is justExplanation: Justice is the highest principle of ethics. We are not tocommit or permit injustice so that good may come, not to violate therights of the few so that the many might benefit. Slavery allowedthis. Child labor allowed this. Most examples of social injustice allowthis. But not the philosophy of animal rights, whose highest principle

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