For Steve Kramer
By Matt Young
Why is it that we as a society condemn the actions of a man against a man but very rarely a man against an animal? I think this question must be understood if we are ever to change the rights animals have. As of yet I don't believe animals have any actual rights. Rather humans have rights that involve animals. If we are to truly allow animals to have rights the same or similar to humans then we must first define what it is that makes us feel as if they are entitled to rights.
Peter Singer addresses the ordeal of animal rights better than I have ever seen anyone address it. His analysis laid out in A Utilitarian Defense of Animal Liberation is remarkably stated. He pushes the viewer to see animals as equals to us. But in order for him to do this he must first redefine equality. I think that the over use of the word equality has been an enormous set back in the movement for animal rights. Obviously a dog is not physically equal to a human and it would be outlandish to state that a dog has equal mental ability to that of the average human. However, there are humans that have fewer mental capabilities than that of the average dog. We would not subject this human to product testing and research but we feel it is all right to place animals in this position. A general defense to this is that the human life matters more than that of an animal, but what allows us to make that judgment. Singer addresses this defense by comparing the inequality placed on species to that of the inequality placed on races and sexes, hence his term "speciesism".
For the majority of my life, since I remember having a specific viewpoint one way or another, I have considered my-self a person in favor of animal rights. It wasn't until I read A Utilitarian Defense of Animal Liberation that I realized my idea of animal rights was greatly understated. It also brought back a memory that I had...