Animal rights

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Animal rights, or animal liberation, is the movement to protect non-human animals from being used or regarded as property by humans. It is a radical movement, insofar as it aims not merely to attain more humane treatment for animals, but to include many animals within the moral community — that is, all those whose basic interests (for example, in not being made to suffer unnecessarily) ought to be given the same consideration as our own similar interests. The claim, in other words, is that non-human animals must no longer be regarded legally or morally as property, or treated merely as resources for human purposes, but should instead be regarded as persons. To this end the movement advocates that many animals be given legal rights to protect their basic interests.

Some countries have taken the first step toward awarding personhood to non-human animals. Switzerland passed legislation in 1992 recognizing animals as beings, not things, and in 2002, the protection of animals was enshrined in the German constitution. The Seattle-based Great Ape Project, founded by Australian philosopher Peter Singer, is campaigning for the United Nations to adopt its Declaration on Great Apes, which would see gorillas, orang-utans, and both species of chimpanzee included in a "community of equals" with human beings, and which would extend to the non-human apes the protection of three basic interests: the right to life, the protection of individual liberty, and the prohibition of torture.[3] For information about individual activists and groups, as well as their aims and methodologies, see Animal liberation movement.


[edit] Overview

Template:Animal liberation movement Animal rights is the concept that all or some animals are entitled to possess their own lives; that animals are deserving of, or already possess, certain moral rights; and that some basic rights for animals ought to be enshrined in law. The animal-rights view rejects the concept that animals are merely capital goods or property intended for the benefit of humans. The concept is often confused with animal welfare, which is the philosophy that takes cruelty towards animals and animal suffering into account, but that does not necessarily assign specific moral rights to them.

The animal-rights philosophy does not necessarily maintain that human and non-human animals are equal. For example, animal rights advocates do not call for voting rights for chickens. Some also would make a distinction between sentient or self-aware animals and lower life forms, with the belief that only sentient animals, or perhaps only animals who have a significant degree of self-awareness, should be afforded the right to possess their own lives and bodies, without regard to how they are valued by humans. Others would extend this right to all animals, even those without developed nervous systems or self-consciousness. They maintain that any human or human institution that commodifies animals for the purposes of food, entertainment, cosmetics, clothing, scientific testing, or for any other reason, infringes upon their fundamental rights to possess themselves and to pursue their own ends.

Few people would deny that other great apes are highly intelligent animals who are aware of their own condition and goals, and can become frustrated when their freedoms are curtailed. In contrast, many other animals, like jellyfish, have only extremely simple nervous systems, and are little more than simple automata, capable only of simple reflexes but incapable of formulating any "ends to their actions" or "plans to pursue" them, and equally unable to notice whether they are in captivity or free. By the criteria that biologists use, jelly fish are undeniably animals, while from an animal-rights perspective, it is questionable whether they should not rather be considered "vegetables". There is as yet no consensus with regard to which qualities make a living organism an animal in need of rights. The animal-rights debate (much like the abortion debate) is therefore marred by the difficulty that its proponents search for simple, clear-cut distinctions on which to base moral and political judgements, even though the biological realities of the problem present no hard and fast boundaries on which such distinctions could be based. Rather, the biological realities are full of complex and diverse gradients. From a neurobiological perspective, jellyfish, farmed chicken, laboratory mice, or pet cats would fall along different points on a (complex and high-dimensional) spectrum from the "nearly vegetable" to the "highly sentient".

[edit] Animal rights in philosophy

One of the first philosophers to take animal liberation seriously was one of the founders of modern utilitarianism, Jeremy Bentham, who wrote, speaking of the need to extend legal rights to animals: "The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny." Bentham also argued that an animal's apparent lack of rationality ought not to be held against it insofar as morality is concerned:

It may one day come to be recognized that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate.
What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason?, nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being? The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes ... (Bentham, 1781)

Arthur Schopenhauer argued that animals have the same essence as humans, despite lacking the faculty of reason. Although he produced a utilitarian justification for eating animals, he argued for consideration to be given to animals in morality, and he opposed vivisection. His critique of Kantian ethics contained a lengthy and often furious polemic against the exclusion of animals in his moral system, which contained the famous line: "Cursed be any morality that does not see the essential unity in all eyes that see the sun."

The concept of animal rights was the subject of an influential book — Animals' Rights: Considered in Relation to Social Progress — by English social reformer Henry Salt in 1892. A year earlier, Salt had formed the Humanitarian League; its objectives included the banning of hunting as a sport.

In modern times, the idea of animal rights was re-introduced by S. and R. Godlovitch, and J. Harris, with their 1971 book Animals, Men and Morals. This was a collection of articles which restated the case for animal rights in a powerful and philosophically sophisticated way. It could justly be said that it was this work that reinvigorated the animal rights movement, and it inspired later philosophers to develop their ideas. It was, for example, in a review of this book, that the Australian philosopher Peter Singer, now Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics in the University Center for Human Values at Princeton University, first coined the term 'animal liberation'.

Peter Singer and Tom Regan are the best-known proponents of animal liberation, though they differ in their philosophical approaches to the issue. Another influential thinker is Gary L. Francione, who presents an abolitionist view that non-human animals should have the basic right not to be treated as the property of humans. Activists Karen Davis of United Poultry Concerns, and Ingrid Newkirk of PETA have also presented philosophies of animal rights.

Although Singer is the ideological founder of today's animal-rights movement, his approach to an animal's moral status is not based on the concept of rights, but on the utilitarian principle of equal consideration of interests. His 1975 book Animal Liberation argues that humans grant moral consideration to other humans not on the basis of intelligence (in the instance of children, or the mentally disabled), on the ability to moralize (criminals and the insane), or on any other attribute that is inherently human, but rather on their ability to experience suffering. As animals also experience suffering, he argues, excluding animals from such consideration is a form of discrimination known as 'speciesism' — a term first coined by the British psychologist Richard D. Ryder.

Tom Regan (The Case for Animal Rights and Empty Cages), on the other side, claims that non-human animals as "subjects-of-a-life" are bearers of rights like humans, although not necessarily of the same degree. This means that animals in this class have "inherent value" as individuals, and cannot merely be considered as the means to an end. This is also called the "direct duty" view. According to Regan, we should abolish the breeding of animals for food, animal experimentation, and commercial hunting. Regan's theory does not extend to all sentient animals but only to those that can be regarded as "subjects-of-a-life." Regan argues that all normal mammals of at least one year of age would qualify in this regard.

While Singer is primarily concerned with improving the treatment of animals and accepts that, at least in some hypothetical scenarios, animals could be legitimately used for further (human or non-human) ends, Regan believes we ought to treat animals as we would persons, and he applies the strict Kantian idea that they ought never to be sacrificed as mere means to ends, and must be treated as ends unto themselves. Notably, Kant himself did not believe animals were subject to what he called the moral law; he believed we ought to show compassion, but primarily because not to do so brutalizes human beings, and not for the sake of animals themselves.

Despite these theoretical differences, both Singer and Regan agree about what to do in practice: for instance, they both agree that the adoption of a vegan diet and the abolition of nearly all forms of animal experimentation are ethically mandatory.

Gary Francione's work (Introduction to Animal Rights, is based on the premise that if non-human animals are considered to be property then any rights that they may be granted would be directly undermined by that property status. He points out that a call to equally consider the 'interests' of your property against your own interests is absurd. Without the basic right not to be treated as the property of humans, non-human animals have no rights whatsoever, he says. Francione posits that sentience is the only valid determinant for moral standing, unlike Regan who sees qualitative degrees in the subjective experiences of his "subjects-of-a-life" based upon a loose determination of who falls within that category. Francione claims that there is no actual animal-rights movement in the United States, but only an animal-welfarist movement. In line with his philosophical position and his work in animal-rights law for the Animal Rights Law Project [4] at Rutgers University, he points out that any effort that does not advocate the abolition of the property status of animals is misguided, in that it inevitably results in the institutionalization of animal exploitation. It is logically inconsistent and doomed never to achieve its stated goal of improving the condition of animals, he argues. Francione holds that a society which regards dogs and cats as family members yet kills cows, chickens, and pigs for food exhibits what he calls "moral schizophrenia".

[edit] Animal rights in law

A monkey in a restraint tube filmed by PETA in a Covance branch, Vienna, Virginia, 2004-5 [2]

Animals are protected under the law, though without having rights assigned to them. There are criminal laws against cruelty to animals, laws that regulate the keeping of animals in cities and on farms, the transit of animals internationally, as well as quarantine and inspection provisions. These laws are designed to protect animals from unnecessary physical harm and to regulate the use of animals as food. In the common law, it is possible to create a charitable trust and have the trust empowered to see to the care of a particular animal after the death of the benefactor of the trust. Some individuals create such trusts in their will. Trusts of this kind can be upheld by the courts if properly drafted and if the testator is of sound mind. There are several movements in the UK campaigning to require the British parliament to award greater protection to animals. The legislation, if passed, will introduce a duty of care, whereby a keeper of an animal would commit an offence if he or she fails to take reasonable steps to ensure an animal’s welfare. This concept of giving the animal keeper a duty towards the animal is equivalent to granting the animal a right to proper welfare. The draft bill is supported by an RSPCA campaign.

Switzerland passed legislation in 1992 to recognize animals as beings, not things; and in 2002, the protection of animals was enshrined in the German constitution when its upper house of parliament voted to add the words "and animals" to the clause in the constitution obliging the state to protect the "natural foundations of life ... in the interests of future generations." [5] [6]

The State of Israel, meanwhile, has banned dissections of animals in elementary and secondary schools; performances by trained animals in circuses; and foie gras.

[edit] Animal rights in practice

In practice, those who advocate animal rights usually boycott a number of industries that use animals. Foremost among these is factory farming, [7] which produces the majority of meat, dairy products, and eggs in Western industrialized nations. The transportation of farm animals for slaughter, which often involves their live export, has in recent years been a major issue of campaigning for animal-rights groups, particularly in the UK.

The vast majority of animal-rights advocates adopt vegetarian or vegan diets; they may also avoid clothes made of animal skins, such as leather shoes, and will not use products such as cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, or certain inks or dyes known to contain so-called animal byproducts. Goods containing ingredients that have been tested on animals are also avoided where possible. Company-wide boycotts are common. The Procter & Gamble corporation, for example, tests many of its products on animals, leading many animal-rights supporters to boycott all of their products, including food like peanut butter.

The vast majority of animal-rights advocates dedicate themselves to educating the public. Some organizations, like People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, strive to do this by garnering media attention for animal-rights issues, often using outrageous stunts or advertisements to obtain media coverage for a more serious message.

There is a growing trend in the American animal-rights movement towards devoting all resources to vegetarian outreach. The 9.8 billion animals killed there for food use every year far exceeds the number of animals being exploited in other ways. Groups such as Vegan Outreach and Compassion Over Killing devote their time to exposing factory-farming practices by publishing information for consumers and by organizing undercover investigations.

A growing number of animal-rights activists engage in direct action. This typically involves the removal of animals from facilities that use them or the damage of property at such facilities in order to cause financial loss. A few incidents have involved violence or the threat of violence toward animal experimenters or others involved in the use of animals. There are also a growing number of "open rescues," in which animal-rights advocates enter businesses to steal animals without trying to hide their identities. Open rescues tend to be carried out by committed individuals who are willing to go to jail if prosecuted, but so far no factory-farm owner has been willing to press charges, perhaps because of the negative publicity that would ensue. However some countries like Britain have proposed stricter laws to curb animal extremists. [8]

See also: Animal rights activism

[edit] Animal Rights in the Media

[edit] Radio

There are a number of radio shows dedicated to discussing animal rights, animal welfare, vegetarianism, and related topics. One is the volunteer-run Animal Voices, [9] airing from Canada on the University of Toronto radio station.

[edit] Criticism of animal rights

Criticism against the concept of animal rights include philosophical arguments that to have rights requires moral judgements, that animal rights actually turns humans into second-class citizens under animals, and that humans have a responsibility to promote Animal welfare instead of animal rights. Criticism against the animal right movement include statements that the animal rights movement is actually anti-human. Each crticism is detailed below.

[edit] Rights requires moral judgements

Critics such as Carl Cohen, professor of philosophy at the University of Michigan and the University of Michigan Medical School, oppose the granting of "personhood" to animals. Cohen wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine in October, 1986: [10]

The holders of rights must have the capacity to comprehend rules of duty governing all, including themselves. In applying such rules, the holders of rights must recognize possible conflicts between what is in their own interest and what is just. Only in a community of beings capable of self-restricting moral judgments can the concept of a right be correctly invoked."

Cohen rejects Peter Singer's argument that since a brain-damaged human could not exhibit the ability to make moral judgements, that moral judgements cannot be used as the distinguishing characteristic for determining who is awarded rights. Cohen states that the test for moral judgement "is not a test to be administered to humans one by one." [11]

The Foundation for Animal Use and Education states: [12]

Our recognition of the rights of others stems from our unique human character as moral agents--that is, beings capable of making moral judgments and comprehending moral duty. Only human beings are capable of exercising moral judgment and recognizing the rights of one another.
Animals do not exercise responsibility as moral agents. They do not recognize the rights of other animals. They kill and eat one another instinctively, as a matter of survival. They act from a combination of conditioning, fear, instinct and intelligence, but they do not exercise moral judgment in the process.

[edit] Humans as second-class citizens

Critics of "animal rights" say that it turns humans into "second-class citizens". [13] Robert Bidinotto, nationally recognized writer on environmental issues, said in a 1992 speech to the Northeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies: [14]

Strict observance of animal rights forbids even direct protection of people and their values against nature's many predators. Losses to people are acceptable...losses to animals are not. Logically then, beavers may change the flow of streams, but Man must not. Locusts may denude hundreds of miles of plant life...but Man must not. Cougars may eat sheep and chickens, but Man must not.

Chris DeRose, Director of Last Chance for Animals, stated "If the death of one rat cured all disease, it wouldn't make any difference to me." [15] When given the choice between rescuing a human baby or a dog after a lifeboat capsized, Susan Rich, PeTA Outreach Coordinator, answered, "I wouldn't know for sure... I might choose the human baby or I might choose the dog." [16] Tom Regan, animal rights philosopher, answered "If it were a retarded baby and a bright dog, I'd save the dog." [17] Critics opposed to animal rights generally support animal welfare. [18]

[edit] Animal Welfare as a responsiblity

The Foundation for Animal Use Education supports Animal welfare as opposed to animal rights: [19]

Even if we believe that animals cannot have rights, it does not mean we can treat animals any way we please. As moral agents, we recognize our own obligation to treat animals humanely--not because it is their right, but because it is our responsibility.

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has defined animal welfare: [20]

human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, human handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia.

Some animal rights advocates view "animal welfare" as an impediment. Gary Francione, Former Director, Rutgers University Animal Rights Law Clinic, stated: [21]

The enactment of animal welfare reforms actually impedes the achievement of animal rights.

[edit] Animal rights can be anti-human

The Foundation for Animal Use Education states "Although some (animal rights) groups try to portray themselves as moderate and mainstream, the words of these (animal rights) leaders reveal a disturbingly extreme and fundamentally anti-human perspective." [22]

Susan Rich, PeTA Outreach Coordinator, during the Steve Kane Show, WIOD-AM Radio, Miami FL, February 23, 1989: [23]

Question: "If you were aboard a lifeboat with a baby and a dog, and the boat capsized, which would you rescue?"
Answer: "I wouldn't know for sure...I might choose the human baby or I might choose the dog."

Tom Regan, Animal Rights Philosopher, North Carolina State University, in a speech to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, October 27, 1989: [24]

Asked which we would save, a dog or a baby, if their boat capsized in the ocean: "If it were a retarded baby and a bright dog, I'd save the dog.

Chris DeRose, Director, Last Chance for Animals, in Los Angeles Times, April 12, 1990: [25]

If the death of one rat cured all diseases, it wouldn't make any difference to me.

[edit] Other criticisms

British physicist Stephen Hawking has criticized activists for failing to concentrate on what he sees as more worthwhile causes: "I suspect that extremists turn to animal rights from a lack of the more worthwhile causes of the past, like nuclear disarmament.” [26]

Some critics, such as Alan Herscovici, of the Fur Council of Canada, claim that "Virtually none of the money they collect is used to fund humane shelters, develop better animal husbandry methods, or find cures for diseases. Instead, donations pay the salaries of professional organizers, subsidize more fund-raising, and fuel sensationalist campaigns against animal-use industries." [27]

The animal-rights position is also criticized by some who favour animal liberation. Although he is often called the father of the modern animal-rights movement, Peter Singer actually rejects the notion of moral rights. As a utilitarian, he prefers to talk in terms of the equal consideration of interests. [28]

Some criticisms of the animal rights movement take the form of parody, positing a "vegetable rights" movement. [29]

[edit] Quotes

  • "A man can live and be healthy without killing animals for food; therefore, if he eats meat, he participates in taking animal life merely for the sake of his appetite. And to act so is immoral." — Leo Tolstoy (On Civil Disobedience)
  • "It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind." — Albert Einstein (Letter to Vegetarian Watch-Tower, Dec. 27, 1930)
  • "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated." — Mahatma Gandhi
  • "We have enslaved the rest of the animal creation, and have treated our distant cousins in fur and feathers so badly that beyond doubt, if they were able to formulate a religion, they would depict the Devil in human form." — William Ralph Inge
  • "The question is not can they reason, nor can they talk, but can they suffer?" Jeremy Bentham
  • "In years of studying the (Animal Rights) mentality and engaging (activists) in debate, I have arrived at four basic characteristics that all ARAs seem to have in common. The proportions vary, of course, but all ARAs seem to have all four traits in some percentage. The four traits are as follows: Misplaced Compassion, Denial, Intellectual Laziness, and Arrogance." — Ward M. Clark (Misplaced Compassion - The Animal Rights Movement Exposed, Writer's Club Press, 2001)
  • "You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughter-house is concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity, expensive races, -- race living at the expense of race." — Ralph Waldo Emerson ("Fate")
  • "Among all civilized nations, Germany is thus the first to put an end to the cultural shame of vivisection! The New Germany not only frees man from the curse of materialism, sadism, and cultural Bolshevism, but gives the cruelly persecuted, tortured, and until now, wholly defenseless animals their rights. Animal friends and anti-vivisectionists of all states will joyfully welcome this action of the National Socialist government of the New Germany! What Reichschancellor Adolph Hitler and Minister-president Goering have done and will do for the protection of animals should set the course for the leaders of all civilized nations! It is a deed which will bring the New Germany innumerable new elated friends in all nations. Millions of friends of animals and anti-vivisectionists of all civilized nations thank these two leaders from their hearts for this exemplary civil deed!" R.O. Schmidt, "Vivisection Forbidden In Prussia", Die Weisse Fahne {The White Flag} 14 (1933) : 710-711. [[30]]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

[edit] Further reading

[edit] Books about animal rights

  • Adams, Carol. The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory. New York: Continuum, 1996.
  • Adams, Carol. The Pornography of Meat. New York: Continuum, 2004.
  • Adams, Carol, & Donovan, Josephine. (eds). Animals and Women: Feminist Theoretical Explorations. London: Duke University Press, 1995.
  • Adams, Carol J. The Social Construction of Edible Bodies
  • Adams, Douglas. Meeting a Gorilla.
  • Anstötz, Christopher. Profoundly Intellectually Disabled Humans
  • Auxter, Thomas. The Right Not to Be Eaten
  • Barnes, Donald J. A Matter of Change
  • Barry, Brian. Why Not Noah's Ark?
  • Bekoff, Marc. Common Sense, Cognitive Ethology and Evolution.
  • Cantor, David. Items of Property.
  • Cate, Dexter L. The Island of the Dragon
  • Cavalieri, Paola. The Great Ape Project — and Beyond
  • Carwardine, Mark. Meeting a Gorilla
  • Clark, Stephen R.L. Apes and the Idea of Kindred.
  • __________________ Good Dogs and Other Animals
  • __________________ The Pretext of "Necessary Suffering"
  • Clark, Ward M. Misplaced Compassion: The Animal Rights Movement Exposed, Writer's Club Press, 2001
  • Dawkins, Richard. Gaps in the mind.
  • Francione, Gary. Introduction to Animal Rights, Your child or the dog?, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2000
  • Nibert, David. Animal Rights, Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation, New York: Rowman and Litterfield, 2002
  • Scruton, Roger. Animal Rights and Wrongs Claridge Press, 2000
  • Spiegal, Marjorie. The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery, New York: Mirror Books, 1996.
  • Steeve, Peter H. (ed.) Animal Others: On Ethics, Ontology, and Animal Life. New York: SUNY Press, 1999.
  • Taylor, Angus. Animals and Ethics. Broadview Press, 2003
  • Weil, Zoe. The Power and Promise of Humane Education. British Columbia: New Society Publishers, 2004.
  • Wolfe, Cary. Animal Rites: American Culture, the Discourse of Species, and Posthumanist Theory, Chicago: University of Chicago Press: 2003.
  • Wolch, Jennifer, & Emel, Jody. Animal Geographies: Place, Politics, and Identity in the Nature-Culture Borderlands. New York: Verso, 1998.

[edit] Animal rights in philosophy and law

[edit] Animal rights resources

[edit] Animal rights organizations

[edit] Animal rights online community


[edit] Animal rights directories

[edit] Ethical concerns

es:Derechos animales he:זכויות בעלי חיים nl:Dierenrechten pl:Prawa zwierząt pt:Direitos dos animais ru:Права животных sv:Djurrätt

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