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Do Animals Have Rights?

Discussion in 'U.S. Politics' started by Brandon, Aug 21, 2006.

  1. Brandon

    Brandon New Member

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    As the title suggests. Tell us your thoughts on animal rights/treatment/etc..
     
  2. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    Any sentient being should have both rights and recognition. Anything that is able to feel pain should be treated with some respect and by humane standards. The point behind the whole animal rights movement is this… respect life, and the fact that animals can feel fear and love, as well as pain. Because we are the dominant species we have a responsibility to care for and protect the species we coexist with on this planet.
    (And you stole my topic Jackass.)
     
  3. dong

    dong New Member

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    I'd just like to throw up some specific points and underlying premises here so that the parameters of the topic might be clearer, as well as try to summarise the current front of debate in the realms of animal and environmental philosophy. That said, the following is probably overly simplistic and incorrect in places:

    1. The debate of animal rights seems tied to the notion of animal rights relative to our granted premises of human rights.

    2. Thus, the common perception of the debate hinges on the moral considerations that accompany the property of moral agency (or more specifically, the capacity for moral agency). In particular moral agency involves capacity to react to situations, and for decision making. This implies an inherent degree of autonomy.

    3. It should be noted at this point that the egalitarian part of our liberal axiology (right to life and liberty of ALL people) is pervasive insofar as we consider a species as a whole. I suppose this is primarily because existence of an individual depends on existence of a species (I'll take a basic understanding of evolution as a given without going into the details).

    4. Animals as a general rule are sentient in that they also possess a consciousness and display emotional and cognitive behavioral responses which are not entirely dependent on some biologically hard-wired function. They should thus be considered as being moral agents.

    5. This is essentially aimed at previously prevalent cultural practices which held that animals do not have rights as humans are 'a race apart'. Sentience was taken to be a defining factor and therefore the license to our right to subjugate and treat other animals as we pleased. This stems from a certain specisism, or perhaps anthropocentrism, that grants humans some kind of "intrinsic value" or in other words, a pedestal. Not only was this a mistaken belief, I'm arguing that regardless of how it is defined, this is an irrelevant consideration. Other animals would have rights in so far as they apply to we (human) animals.

    6. It must be asked at this point what a right entails. I suggest it is not a concrete term apart from having a moral connotation which may be manifest in some legal terms. Commonly referred concrete moral principles here are that of murder and control (denial of life and liberty), and here the treatment gets very tricky.

    7. Moral vegetarianism! I'm hoping to steer clear of this particular debate because...it tends to spawn a bunch of biological arguments ("you're meant to eat meat" "if you eat meat you will get bowel cancer") which are all WRONG insofar as they purport to convey a definitive moral judgment but invariably will fall short, relying on semantics and rhetoric to tide them over. But that's where we seem to be at, especially since Singer.

    I'd like therefore to extrapolate on something Sarah said:

    Because we are the dominant species we have a responsibility to care for and protect the species we coexist with on this planet

    If I may, I'd suggest that by "dominant" we mean the one who exert the most destabilising influence on the ecosystem as a whole, due to our method of manipulation of it. That I guess means conversion of the most resources, or in terms of physics, we fight entropy the most. I agree with the general sentiment of that statement, especially because it concurs with my general outlook on morality- a consequentialist one that always considers context, as opposed to a prescriptive list of behaviors and judgments of various properties.

    Why do I say this? Because one also must be aware (as implied by my reference to entropy) that survival and co-existence entails a necessary tension. Our own living comes at the expense of other resources and our responsibility I believe (for the sake of the earth and everything on it, including us!) is at the very least the management of the interaction between ourselves and the environment. However, this doesn't necessarily mean we can't kill animals for our own purposes, as strange as it may sound, this is not quite synonymous with respect. Nor does it make hard and fast conclusions on farming and agriculture. Discussion of these topics should take much more detail into consideration.

    That's all I will write for starters. If it's valid, then hopefully people will keep this in mind if the thread were to continue. If it's not, hopefully somebody will tell me why.
     
  4. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    Now, without over-intellectualizing the answer... what is YOUR view on the issue dong?
    You’ve states facts, now I want to know how those facts sit in your head
     
  5. dong

    dong New Member

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    Personally? Basically my thoughts boil down to we should treat animals with respect and are obligated to provide them with quality of living should we choose to control aspects of their lives.

    Why? We thus acknowledge them as beings in their own right, and I particularly think that we should distance the fact of executive/cortical superiority from any intrinsic specicist value of worth. That's to say we should not feel justified in treating other animals whimsically.

    Respecting animal rights also does not necessitate that one become a moral vegetarian, but doing so isn't a problem to me. In this light, I guess in their capacity as a consumable resource, we should be respectful insofar as we do not treat it wastefully.

    There are some necessary tensions that arise from this general outlook, but since I'm not over-intellectualising, I'll only address them if prodded ;)
     
  6. l99999us

    l99999us New Member

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    Hi Doug....

    You did give a good answer though I do i guess disagree with you on the vegetarianism. i think this is especially true in modern culture with factory farming and the like. Still I am not sure if it is possible to treat animals respectfully and treat them as a commodity as well. i guess their would be a little disconnect their and wether the desire for profit would win over the idea of humane treatement. I could see the point in cases of where eating meat was necessary but i think for the vast majority of people it is more of a cultural thing or a convienience.

    I don't mean to sound intolerent necessarilly and i do know it is a major change in many people's lives. Still I think it is an important idea to consider and their is a good veriety of alternatives out their. (for the record I have been a vegetarian for 9 years and a vegan for about 7 years).

    peace

    -Todd
     
  7. OneofaKind

    OneofaKind New Member

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    I don't believe that animals really have rights, but I do believe that we have the responsibility to treat them properly
     
  8. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    What do you think proper treatment would include??
     
  9. palefrost

    palefrost New Member

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    I totally agree with your view. Except for the jackass part on Brandon. I would label him more along the feline, dare i say pussycat line of animal over a jackass....
     
  10. Brandon

    Brandon New Member

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    I don't think you have to treat animals at the same level as humans but they do deserve to be treated fairly. By this I mean no violent attacks and cruel punishments. I don't consider wacking a dog on the nose a cruel act but beating it with a bat (or your fists) is grounds for a abuse case.

    Umm...I thought this thread was about animal rights? I am so confused!?
     
  11. OneofaKind

    OneofaKind New Member

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    I couldn't have put it better myself

    Thanks Brandon :)
     
  12. l99999us

    l99999us New Member

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    Do you feel that this should include all animals (even ones people normally think of as food)?

    peace

    -Todd
     
  13. Brandon

    Brandon New Member

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    I think that a basic level of treatment should be put into place with dealing with animals.

    You can't eat a cow unless you kill it, so I don't take the extreme position about no violence. I just think that the cows should not be beaten or killed in an inhumane way.

    This is what good hunters do. They kill the target in a way that is quick and painless (or a minimum amount of pain). No animal should be used as entertainment for a disturbed hunter.

    I hope this better sums up my arguement!
     
  14. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    You are always confused Brandon...
     
  15. dong

    dong New Member

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    Humans being animals, I don't believe that humans really have rights either. We simply have imposed upon ourselves the impression of the responsibility to fair treatment.

    With the vegetarianism, I believe that it would indeed rest much easier on some peoples' conscience if they did turn vegetarian. Whenever I can, personally, I try to balance the concerns between eating a balanced diet (keeping the essentials) and keeping the meat intake as low as possible. Without going into a biological argument, I believe it is suffice to say that in most cases in most countries, being vegan is more difficult than being vegetarian than being omnivorous (and being carnivorous is not a good idea). We do have minimal nutritional requirements and I'm not posing any moral obligation in regards to that, but if we are valuing life here, then it does have significant import. :p

    That said, we're talking about a balance here- it will be easier for some than for others due to access to resources. I am in an environment where unless one spends a lot of time and a fair bit of money, neither of which I have, it is difficult to be vegetarian and remain healthy (I could manage if I copped an iron deficiency, or somesuch, but then I wouldn't be able to cope with living).

    I am somewhat unclear about the issue of the current practices of animal treatment. I am aware that bulk produce entails poor ethical practices, but the general principle I'll hold here is a reduced emphasis on metaphysical conundrums (I'm not sure how much import they play on the state of being of other species, I think it would vary), and remind ourselves that we must deal with the situation as it stands now, and not some long bygone ideal that may have been the case in the past.
     
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