Posted: December 2nd, 2013
There is much debate regarding whether animals are entitled to rights and the implications of those rights as well. However, there is less debate regarding the aspect of giving animals their rights and the consequences involved. The issue of animal rights informs society that as a principle, certain things should be considered wrong. Morally, human beings have an obligation towards refraining from those things. This implies not doing then even if they are humane. For example, if animals have a right to not being bred for food, then society has an obligation towards prevention actions of this nature. It does not make any difference if animals are given exceptionally good treatment throughout their lives and afterwards killed without pain or fear, and this is what animal rights stands (Cohen, Carl, and Regan, 34). However, giving animals these kinds of rights would have a devastating effect on a number of benefits society enjoys from animals. As well, social principles suggest that animals are not entitled to any rights.
For instance, granting rights to animals would imply that laboratory experiments done on them would cease. The main reason why animal testing is done comes with the benefit of assisting society in its discovery of drugs and treatments for the improvement of human health. Indeed, many drugs and medical treatment breakthroughs have been made possible through animal experimentation. These breakthroughs include cures for some forms of cancer, insulin, antibiotics, HIV management drugs, and other vaccines. This is among the main reasons why animal testing improves human health.
Another merit derived from animal testing comes with experiments done to certify drug safety for human use and other substances that people use or are exposed. Drugs particularly threaten human health when developed incorrectly. In this case, animal testing hands researchers with the opportunity of measuring the safety of drug use prior to their certification for human use. Primarily, experiments are done on animals with features similar to those of humans, primates in this case. In this regard, the researchers put into consideration the differences and similarities between humans and primates in the best way and hence make a conclusion regarding the experimental drug (Rohr, 27). Therefore, breakthroughs achieved from animal testing have greatly benefited society. Some may argue that the experiments subject the animals to pain and fear, but giving them rights against these tests would hinder society from achieving great feats in the medical field.
Furthermore, since it is necessary for lions, tigers, and other carnivorous animals have to eat if they are to survive. On the other hand, people need not eat meat for survival since they have many sources of nutrition other than food. However, the American Dietetic Association is in support of diets that include both meat and vegetables for healthy human lifestyles. As it states, the organization is mandated with appropriately planning diets that include meat and vegetables. These diets have been established to be nutritionally adequate, healthful and have been proven to provide the human body with benefits designed to prevent and treat certain diseases (Rohr, 38). Therefore, this necessitates killing certain animals such as goats, chicken, and cattle to facilitate the meat diet. However, giving animals rights means that this act would be made illegal. Hence, refraining from the meat diet would compromise the health of the human race leading to people with flimsy and vulnerable body health. In this case, it makes sense to go against giving animal rights.
Furthermore, animal rights activists solicit for a vegetarian society that should seek meat benefits from other sources. They argue that the meat diet infringes the animals’ right to freedom and life. Therefore, activists base their belief on the premise that people lack the moral right to consume animals. However, in terms of legal rights, the law in the United States allows meat consumption and the killing of certain animals for food (Schmahmann and Polacheck, 47). In addition, people against this school of thought would not go silent on the matter because they have a legal right to speech protected by law. The meat culture dictates a significant portion of the global economy with many businesses fixed upon as well as many people who enjoy eating meat. These parties form the majority and the benefits cannot be argue against since they far outweigh the disadvantages.
In addition, animal rights activists seemingly contradict themselves since they also play a part in killing animals as well. It is not possible to live in this planet and fail to cause death and suffering to animals. Animals are displaced and killed from farms for crop production. Animal products are essential for the production of surprising products such as car tires. Furthermore, pollution contributes to the destruction animal habitats and kills the animals that live in those habitats. This fact is not dependent on whether animals are entitled to rights.
From another point of view, if animal rights activists achieved their objective, the domestication of animals would hence be forbidden. If society ceases to breed domesticated animals, a limited number would be able to survive on their own and the rest would only be doomed to extinction. No one would prefer to release these animals into the wild, but it is prudent to understand that certain animals manage to escape and survive on their own. In this case, dog colonies and feral cats would manage to survive. On the other, animals that would not manage to survive on their death would be imminent. For example, broiler chickens if left unmanaged would eventually grow large and develop heart disease and joint problems. Currently, cows produce more milk (twice) than they did half a century ago, and domestic turkeys are unable to mate naturally due to their large size. Therefore, releasing these animals into the wild would lead to extinction. Hence, animal rights should not be undertaken (Schmahmann and Polacheck, 65). From an activist’s point of view, lack of rights leaves animals to endure suffering. However, the principle of personal rights is derived from the ability to think rather than suffer. The ability of thinking as a person is regarded the arbitrary criteria for moral and legal rights. While going against the argument put forward by activists, then the right criteria should be based upon animals’ ability to use echolocation, fly, or crawl up walls.
From a social point of view, Rene Descartes, a French philosopher, maintained that animals should not be considered more than complex biological robots. He implied that animals are the sort of beings without the capacity to have any moral consideration or rights. Going by the Bible, the religious book maintains that animals were created for the sole purpose of serving human beings (Rollin, 31). Even though this view is derived from the bible, it may be taken to reflect the basic human attitude expressed towards animals. St. Augustine and other Christian theologians developed the idea that by man’s ordinance to his creator (God), both the life and death of animals is subject to human use. St. Thomas Aquinas stated that the Universe construct was designed in a hierarchical system where beings are obligated to serve those above them. Since human beings are superior to animals in the system, then they are entitled to using animals for reasonable benefit.
Furthermore, Christian Theologians argued that beings that possessed souls are entitled to ethical consideration. In this case, animals are not considered to have souls are therefore not entitled to moral rights. This argument comes from the Biblical point of view that only human beings have souls and are therefore the only beings entitled to moral rights. Common belief maintains that there is an afterlife where people go after they live and die on earth. On the other hand, when animals die, the belief maintains that they have been erased from complete existence (Rollin, 42).
Furthermore, animals are not moral thus the more reasons they are not entitled to moral rights. Rights have to be considered unique to human beings because they only have meaning in a moral community. In this case, only humans reside in a moral community. Animals cannot comprehend the understanding or practice of living in accordance with a moral code. The differences through which human beings and animals experience the world is relevant for moral consideration. Therefore, the aspect of moral rights remains a unique human concept and only applies to human beings (Rollin, 57). In addition, animals lack the capacity to behave morally even if they are granted rights. Usually, animals behave selfishly and only act towards their own best interests. On the other hand, human beings are known to help their kind even when it means they are to be disadvantaged. A vague anxiety stresses the underlining of the preoccupation made by the media on attacks made by animals on humans. Roy Horn, a star in the act of “Siegfried and Roy” was attacked and killed by a tiger. In another situation, Timothy Treadwell, an advocate, and a companion were mauled by a bear while traveling defenseless across Alaska. This is further support that animals lack the capability to behave moral since they attacked and killed harmless and defenseless beings.
The aspect behind animal rights has sparked significant debate. As evidenced above, my stand on this matter maintains that animals are not entitled to moral rights, and have supported this opinion with sufficient argumentative points. My personal stance on morality and related rights maintains that human beings have an intrinsic value, have moral capacity with social well-being, and are therefore entitled to moral rights. On the other hand, however, animals lack the capacity to comprehend the understanding or practice of living in accordance with a moral code. Furthermore, granting moral rights to animals poses massive negative effects in the world’s social and economic system. However, according to my belief, when the aspect of personhood or rights is not based on moral dilemma, utilitarianism hence comes into play. In conclusion, even though this paper establishes that animals are not entitled to moral rights, it is prudent to understand that we are obligated to eliminate or minimize suffering, fear, or pain subjected to animals when they are used for beneficial purposes (Cohen, Carl, and Regan, 78).
Cohen, Carl, and Tom Regan. The Animal Rights Debate. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2001. Print.
Rohr, Janelle. Animal Rights: Opposing Viewpoints. San Diego, CA: Greenhaven Press, 2009. Print.
Rollin, Bernard E. Animal Rights & Human Morality. Buffalo, N.Y: Prometheus Books, 2010. Print.
Schmahmann, David R, and Lori J. Polacheck. “The Case against Animal Rights.” Boston College Environmental Affairs Law Review. 22.4 (2007): 747. Print.
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