Speciesism: Are we going too far?
–The relationship between the rights of animals and peoples need to develop
To most of us a boy is in no way equal to a rat, which, according to Conniff. R, is a good example of Speciesism or racism towards another species. As he mentions in Fuzzy-Wuzzy Thinking (Audubon Magazine, 1990, p126-133), “a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.” This depicts an image of equality in relation to man compared with the beast. In my opinion, speciesism is unacceptable as animals have rights and we should treat them with respect. But the total egalitarian approach in the aforementioned text has an issue. It does not take in account mankind’s dependence on these animals for essentials. Thus this essay will talk about the attempt to find balance between the need for man to develop by consuming and using animals at varying degrees of necessity, and the resulting infringements on animal’s rights once a degree of unnecessary action is breached.
There are many arguments regarding animal rights and the relationship between animals and human beings. The contemporary Australian philosopher Peter Singer, in the book Animal Liberation, uses a utilitarian approach to point out that interest of animals should be considered because their ability to suffer. This point mostly concurs with the ideas provided in Fuzzy-Wuzzy Thinking where it is stated “the suffering of animals was morally equivalent to the suffering of humans.” Singer strongly believes that “sentience is both necessary and sufficient to have interest (rights).”(Environmental Ethics, 1993, p124).
... based on an organism’s membership in a species is speciesism. Speciesism is a term that is used to refer to racism ... laws that prevent the cruel behavior of animal experimenters towards animals. Despite the benefits of animal experimentation, animal tests must be completely abolished. This ... a look at the statistics of the number of animals used in animal tests reveals that the numbers used are rising ...
However, the American philosopher Tom Regan approaches the same idea with the view “practices (of killing and abusing animals) are unethical in principle. They violate animals’ rights by denying the intrinsic ethical possessed by some animals”. Regan’s view adheres to the cognitive processes of Kant, who believes in the inherent values as being subject-of-a-life. This ontological approach of life brings forward the egalitarian theory of justice for both humans and animals. Furthermore P.S. Elder combined Regan and Singer‘s thoughts that an animal is considered to have morals only when it can “weigh alternatives, freely choose among them and appreciate their attainment”(Legal Rights for Animals, 1984, p102).
Elder’s logic led to the conclusion that no animals fit the criteria of morality, and “if they can feel pain, but cannot conceptualize, we can still kill them for food” (Legal Rights for nature, 1984, p102).
Fuzzy-Wuzzy Thinking is in accordance with Singer’s view. Unfortunately, the merit of Singer’s argument falls flat since we have no way of quantifying suffering. How can we measure pain, sorrow, and sensation? In fact, not all pain is conceivable by an external being because of the subjectivity of pain. According to Singer, a paralyzed person does not have rights, or has less rights, because he lost the ability to feel pain. Thus, contrary to what he is proposing in Animal Liberation, we do not need to all become vegetarians to uphold the rights of animals. Extrapolating from Singer’s text we can conclude it is in humanitarian bound to simply euthanize the animals mercifully so that they suffer the least. As for Regan’s argument, the problem is that since every life is equal, deductively we can see that we cannot kill plants as well as bacteria for that matter, since at a cellular level they exhibit the same characteristics all living organisms do. Following this strain of thought, how is life going to be supported? Biologically bigger organisms lacking the ability to photosynthesize thus need to kill and consume other living creatures. On the other hand, Elder’s argument seems to be based on the assumption that animals are not aware of the future and they are not aware that they died immorally when they are killed. These assumptions have fallacies in logic since they are too anthropocentric and lack valid evidences.
... the same amount of pain or pleasure felt by humans. I agree with Singer because I have always wanted animals to have equal rights ... reason. The only way I would allow a human to kill an innocent animal would be if there were nothing I could do ... very definitely ethical egoism. Singer has almost the exact opposite views that Guthrie has in his defense of animal liberation. He states that ...
From my point of view, animal Speciesism and animal liberation are two extreme ideas, which cannot serve as the only guidelines for choices in respect to the treatment of animals. Suppose that these extreme views on animal rights become a moral standard that has to be abided by. This would mean no animals could be killed eliminating the very lively hood of many native cultures that cannot be supported through agricultural means such as the Inuit. The inability to do anything that might be constituted as cruel or harmful to animals, to some extent, would leave us passive without any initiative to move forward in fields such as medicine, chemical science and organic chemistry. If the current relationship between animals and human beings disappeared, the only addition would be that of the added moral responsibility needed to be shown toward animals. Thus, in the relationship between animals and human, our value, interest, principle and not to mention source of food and clothing are excluded. Of course this idea is good for animals and the environment; however, undeniably it will also hinder the development of mankind. For instance, where could we draw the line, would it be constitutional to kill bacteria and viruses?
In light of this, I believe the rights of animals should be determined by the necessity and moral standard of each individual granted it is within sensible bounds. It is impossible for us to ignore our own interest and only focus on the value of animals. As Marx had pointed out, practice is the medium between human and nature, human “not only alter the forms of nature, but also achieves their own purpose during the process”. (Translated from Complete Works of Marx and Engels, book 23, 1972, p84).
We must find the balance between the rights of animals and our own requirements. For animal protection movements, the rights and interests of animals should be their only focus, but should not be considered the only judgement or standard of judgement, for our general practices. The fundamental interactions between humans and animals should not be simplified to fall under either the fascist category of speciesism, nor should it fall under the ideals found in Singer and Regan’s arguments. In reality the complications of context and the combination of animal interests and human interests, need to be balanced between our desire and the morality. However, this does not imply that we can use animals as tools if it is considered moral because as previously stated we cannot quantify suffering so it is best to limit ourselves to what we need to survive and prosper.
... Cohen believes man is a moral animal and says humans confront choices that are purely moral; lay down moral laws for others and themselves ... no moral distinction between human and ani mals (Cohen, pg. 762). While I agree with the activist point of view the animals do ... Cohen explains this argument away by stating that moral judgement distinguishes humans from animals is not a test to be administered to ...
One problem regarding the combination of these notions is that it is incredibly hard to determine the balance point. The theoretically perfect balance point which is crucial to practise might be subjective and therefore abused. For example, the laboratory mouse mentioned in Fuzzy-Wuzzy Thinking might be defined by the authority to have few rights in the name of development of mankind. Nevertheless, what some people are doing can be considered as moral self-regulation and awareness of animal rights. For example under a new Swiss law regarding rights for animals, dog owners will require certain qualifications, anglers will take lessons in morally correct fishing such as catch and release and in order to obtain food. The purpose of the animal protection law is for animals to have a joyful life and decent death. Therefore, a relatively balanced state is not impossible under sound laws and policies.
In conclusion, we should promote understanding of moral and ethical treatment of animals in schools, within hunting agencies and in corporations so that when interactions between animals and humans are necessary the most sensible action will be taken. Also, countries can instate laws and then enforce them so that people have a guideline for what they can and can’t do. After all if we as beings are capable of such complex concepts such as philosophy, surely we are capable of treating animals with some common decency, sensibility and respect.
Author last name, first name. (year of publication).
The Essay on To what extent does the law balance out the rights of the victims, offenders and society in the criminal investigation process?
... of the criminal investigation process is to balance the rights of the victims and offenders ... program such as crime stoppers. The Australian law defines a victim as someone who has been ... majority of these powers are found in the law and enforcement (powers and responsibilities) act 2002 ... law attempts to adhere to. While all are individual, the rights will differ for the purpose of maintaining a balance ...
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Audubon Magazine. “Fuzzy-Wuzzy Thinking”.
Jardins, Joseph. (1993).
Duties to Animals. California: Five Lakes Publishing.
A book with two or more authors
ABBAR, ANNAS AND KIM HIGHTOWER. (2000).
PHOTOGRAPHIC ESSAYS OF THE END OF A CENTURY. ATLANTA: LAKES & SONS.