Published on January 14, 2009
Screaming Chicken Productions Presents:
The Theory of Animal Rights: Agriculture
This presentation address’s just a couple of the reasons regarding the theories around animal rights, and in no way represents a absolute argument for the rights of animals. There are many other compelling reasons to convert to a plant based diet, what follows is simply one of those reasons.
Most people agree that it is morally wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death to animals.
But what is considered unnecessary suffering and pain? Most people follow what our society says about this issue. Our society, and consequently our laws dictate what is considered unnecessary suffering and pain.
For Example, our society condemns and punishes incidents of “animal cruelty” such as dog fighting or microwaving cats.
Animal Agriculture, however accounts for over 98% of our societies use of animals. It is estimated that over 27 billion animals are brought into the world and killed each year - in North America alone.
This use of animal agriculture can be considered morally unnecessary when one considers the following:
Firstly, The Americans Dietic Association, and Dietitions of Canada state that “…Vegetarian diets are healthful, nutrionally adequate, and provide health benefits…”
Dietians of Canada
Also, entire nations have had religious vegetarians sustaining themselves off little or no animal agriculture for thousands of years. Religious vegetarians consist of Hindu’s, Sikh’s, Buddhists and Jains.
Furthermore, many medical and health organizations such as the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine are advocating a vegan diet to reduce cancer, diabetes and a host of other diseases.
Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine
Therefore, we can conclude that animal products are unnecessary. Once one has established that animal products are unnecessary to sustain life, the arguments in support of the continued use of animals agriculture cannot be taken in form of necessities.
Sentience of animals is one of the most key factors in the argument in favour of animal rights.
Sentience is defined as: “the ability to experience pleasure and pain”.
“The question is not, can they reason? Nor can they talk? But can they suffer?” - Jeremy Bentham
“If a being suffers, then there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration....
“No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering of another being” - Peter Singer
Recognizing Sentience is the first step in understanding the theory of animal rights. However, it is not just the ability to feel pain that propels the theory of animal rights. The theory is morally supported by the natural instincts of all animals.
Firstly, all forms of sentient life seek freedom, and consequently liberation from any oppressor. This is true in the case of human slavery, as well as in the case of animal confinement.
The degree of moral infringement of these comparisons is irrelevant. The point remains however, that any captive being desires to live life on their own accord.
Live life on their own accord.
All sentient beings have a natural desire for basic needs such as food, shelter and reproduction. Animals desire food above all else so that they may continue to live.
They desire shelter so that they are kept save from predators. They desire reproduction so that their species may continue to live on. All animals are cognitive of these needs as they readily seek them out.
Cognitive of these needs.
If you accept that animal products are unnecessary to sustain human life, and that animals do indeed suffer, then you already have a basic understanding of this theory of animals rights.
To further understand this theory of animal rights, one must look at the arguments that are in favor of exploitative animal use, and why these arguments are fundamentally flawed, mirroring arguments of racism and sexism.
One of the most prominent arguments in favour of animal agriculture use is that animals are inferior to humans, and thus it is morally acceptable to treat them as commodities.
Treat them as commodities.
Intelligence, however, is not a deciding factor when attributing moral consideration to a being. Mentally delayed humans, who while admittedly are inferior in terms of intelligence, are given equal rights and consideration when it comes to the right to live free of pain, with a shortened life span and to live free of death.
All mentally delayed humans and animals both share a want to live free of pain, without death or suffering, because both have some degree of sentience.
They are more or less the same when viewed for intelligence; yet we award one moral consideration, when we don’t give a thought to the other.
We do not award moral consideration.
It should be noted however, that it has only been in recent years that those with mental disabilities have become accepted into society. They were once treated quite similarly to how animals in agriculture are treated now.
Another prominent argument is that eating animals is natural and that we’ve done it for thousands of years. The word natural however, is nothing more than a label, and is often used to defend operations that have been deemed immoral, but still operate because it is of our “nature”.
This argument has often been used to defend racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination or oppression. There have been documented vegetarians for over 2000 years, proving that even if animal use for agriculture was “natural”, it was not necessary.
A Once “Natural” Practices.
Another position defending the consumption of animal product is that they taste good. This argument has no sound moral standing; it is the same argument that a proponent of slavery or sexism would use. It is enjoyable, profitable, but not a necessity for us to eat animal flesh.
It is enjoyable, profitable, but not a necessity for us to eat animal flesh. Similarly, it is enjoyable, profitable, but not necessary for one to commit acts of sexism, or for one to be a proponent of slavery.
Make no mistake; the degree of moral infringement is not the matter to be discussed here. The point is that all three of these actions satisfy the proponent, are completely unnecessary, and morally abhorrent.
No Moral Standing.
Animal Agriculture is first and foremost an unnecessary practice. On top of the above moral arguments, animal agriculture contributes to many other massive worldwide problems.
Supporting animal rights isn’t an arduous or impossible task. By cutting out portions of animal products out of ones diet, and slowly reverting to a Vegan diet one can start to be the voice for the voiceless, and end animal suffering and death.
“Do we, as humans, having an ability to reason and to communicate abstract ideas verbally and in writing, and to form ethical and moral judgements using the accumulated knowledge of the ages, have the right to take the lives of other sentient organism, particularly when we are not forced to by hunger or dietary need, but rather do so for the somewhat frivolous reason that we like the taste of meat?” - Dr. Peter Cheek
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