AR Defined 1a

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Information about AR Defined 1a

Published on June 16, 2007

Author: Gulkund


What is “Animal Rights”?:  It’s the philosophy of allowing nonhuman animals to have the basic rights that all sentient beings desire: the freedom to live a natural life; free from human exploitation, unnecessary pain and suffering, and premature death. What is 'Animal Rights'? Speciesism:  is the withholding of these basic rights from nonhuman animals. Discriminating solely on the basis of species is as illegitimate as discriminating on the basis of sex, or race, or the ability to Cha Cha. There is no reason to value some mentally defective human beings coughBushcough more than some nonhuman animals. Speciesism Animal Rights is NOT:  about working for equality between human and nonhuman animals. Animal Rights is NOT Different creatures -- women, men, children, animals -- need different rights -- access to abortion, voting, room to stretch wings. From where do AR supporters derive their moral criteria?:  Logic. At the foundation of a system of ethics are moral axioms, such as 'unnecessary pain is wrong'. Given the set of axioms, methods of reasoning (such as deduction and induction), and empirical facts, it is possible to derive ethical hypotheses. It is in this sense that an ethical statement can be said to be true. From where do AR supporters derive their moral criteria? The most fundamental ethical axioms:  are nearly universally accepted. However, actions from these axioms are not logically concluded. This can be demonstrated by asking a person why he has compassion for human beings. Typically he’ll agree that his compassion does not stem from the fact that humans: 1) do math, 2) speak French, or 3) go bowling. Instead, he’ll say that it stems from the fact that humans can suffer, feel pain, be harmed, etc. It is then easy to show that nonhuman animals can also suffer, etc. The person's inconsistency in not according moral status to nonhumans then stands out starkly. The most fundamental ethical axioms AR logic didn’t impress this guy:  AR logic didn’t impress this guy The Complete Logicof Animal Rights:  Let’s begin with a statement with which most of us agree, and then see if that helps us understand this issue by exploring all logical paths. Something most of us believe: It would be morally wrong for anyone to treat us as animals are treated. (Might we be wrong in that judgment?) The Complete Logic of Animal Rights Why do you believe…:  …that it would be wrong for someone to perform harmful (painful, fatal) experiments on you to try to cure someone else’s diseases or to increase knowledge in general? Why do you believe… What is it about you that makes it wrong to treat you those ways? What ethical hypothesis best explains that fact (if it is a fact)? An answer: We have moral rights that make it wrong to mistreat us:  Moral Rights are like invisible ‘No Trespassing’ signs; They protect our most fundamental interests in life, avoiding suffering, not being ‘used’ as ‘mere means’, etc. Rights impose respect: if someone has rights, their interests must be respected; he or she is not a mere ‘thing’ to be used, against her will. An answer: We have moral rights that make it wrong to mistreat us Who has moral rights?:  At least, folks like us, we tend to think. Who is 'like us'? Some answers: 1. ‘Rational’ beings, so a being has rights if, and only if, it is can engage in abstract reasoning. 2. ‘Intelligent’ beings, so a being has rights if, and only if, it is smart enough. 3. ‘Autonomous beings,’ so a being has rights if, and only if, it can reflect on its life and decide how to best pursue it. 4. ‘Beings who have the concept of rights,’ so a being has rights if, and only if, it recognizes that it has rights. Who has moral rights? If any of these claims are true:  (and rights require sophisticated mental abilities), then none of the following beings are owed respect; they can all be used as mere things: 1. Human babies 2. Severely mentally challenged individuals 3. Alzheimer’s patients 4. Humans in comas 5. coughBushcough If you think any of the above deserve rights, then the previous rationale is refuted. If any of these claims are true Another approach to assigning rights:  'We have rights, i.e., are owed respect because we are human.' What do you mean by ‘human’? Do you mean ‘biologically human’ or having human DNA, or being in the human species? If so, then you are suggesting this: 'A being has rights, if and only if, it is biologically human.' Another approach to assigning rights Using biology to assign moral rights:  gives rights to: human organs in a vat human cells in Petri dish dead human corpses very early human fetuses Furthermore, assigning rights based simply on a physical characteristic is no more ethical than assigning rights to white people, Nazis, or clowns with big ears. If you accept this, then someone else may use similar logic to exclude you from having rights. Using biology to assign moral rights A rough hypothesis about moral rights:  A being has moral rights – is owed respect and is not a thing to be used for pleasure or even serious benefits for others – if it is conscious, can feel pain and pleasure, and its life can be better and worse for it, from its own point of view. A rough hypothesis about moral rights A consequence of this theory:  Some animals are conscious, can feel pain and pleasure, and its life can be better and worse for it, from its own point of view. Therefore, they moral have rights on this view: they are not ours to eat, wear, experiment on, or use for entertainment. A consequence of this theory Logical Conclusion:  If some humans have moral rights, then some animals have moral rights also. The best reasons to think that humans have rights justifies the claim that animals have rights. Logical, rational consistency requires this. Moral rights really have nothing fundamentally to do with biological species. Logical Conclusion Responses:  Response 1: accept the basic argument Response 2: try to argue that it is unsound. To do this: One needs a better hypothesis that explains why humans have the moral rights they do that 'covers' all the relevant humans. But, this hypothesis cannot apply to any animals either. Responses All attempts to do this suffer from these flaws:  1. They are wildly implausible and convoluted explanations why we have rights, or: 2. They imply that it’s only a contingent fact, or an accident, that babies and mentally challenged humans have rights. 3. Imply there’s no reason why animals should not be brutally tortured for fun; they remove animals from the 'moral ball game' entirely. All attempts to do this suffer from these flaws Doesn't the Bible give Humanity dominion over animals?:  Doesn't the Bible give Humanity dominion over animals? Dominion is not the same as tyranny. The Queen of England has dominion over her subjects, but that doesn't mean she can eat them, wear them, or experiment on them. Seeking moral authority from the Bible has two problems: 1. the world has many gods. 2. there are serious problems with literal interpretation of Biblical passages. A link to several articles discussing problems with the Bible: Other Bible Proverbs:  Other Bible Proverbs Proverbs 12:10 'A righteous man has regard for the lives of his beast, but the mercy of the wicked is cruel.' Genesis 1:29: 'And God said, ‘Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food.’'

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