Animal Rights and Ethical Theories
PHI 208 Ethics and Moral Reasoning
Instructor: Hai Nguyen
September 7, 2014
Human Rights and Philosophical Theories
We live in a society where many people fight for rights of their specific groups. Women’s rights, African American’s rights, and rights for handicapped people are just a few examples. Now these are all groups, where people verbally fight for their groups, but what about animal rights? Animals cannot speak or communicate for themselves, they are unable to defend themselves and fight for their rights in our world. Many philosophical theories are used to decide whether or not something is ethically right or ethically wrong, but the theories are pertaining to humans and are species prejudice. We will review animal rights, concerns, and how animal rights are looked upon when applying different ethical theories. We will also conclude that the deontology theory would be most in benefit of animals in the case of animal right whereas the utilitarian theory would be in the greatest benefit of humans when looking at animal rights. There are many big differences between animals and humans. Even within the different species of animals you have many differences. It is nearly impossible to compare an insect to a wolf for example. So when studying animal rights activists’ articles and media, it is hard to agree and say animals are equal to humans. Even when comparing animals to humans who are mentally ill and cannot communicate, there is still a huge difference. Humans are able to communicate with one another where animals have their way of communicating as well but it is tough to compare their way to ours. If an animal is mistreated, it is impossible for that animal to speak up for itself and seek protection. Sometimes animals find protection but this is because humans will stick up for them and act as their voice. Utilitarianism states; “This arrangement, more than any other, will be the most beneficial to the greatest number of people.” (Mosser, 2013) Note the word people at the end. So how does this affect other species? So when applying this to animals, automatically we look at how humans are affected by the way animals are treated. We use animals for our resources and have for a very long time. Not only are they part of our 3-course meal but due to testing on animals, cures are found for diseases and often even things like make-up are tested on animals first to make sure no harm will come upon humans. This is not fair to animals and often while being used for food and testing they are mistreated and abused in the process. Sad as this is, would you choose an animal’s right over a cure for cancer being found? It is really tough to think of issues like this. Many animal rights activists will argue that animals have right too, and although they do, when looking at most humans, animals just simply come second. A person’s life at the end of the day has more meaning then an animal’s life. In recent years more produce at grocery stores has become caged free, many companies and farms advertise a more humane kind of farming. When you think about it though, whether the animals are treated right or not, they are still getting butchered to end up on our dinner plates. Now there is a great deal of vegetarians and even vegans but they still do not make up a large part of overall society and probably never will.
Animals have feelings and do deserve a fair treatment but according to the utilitarianism theory, whatever is being judged has to be ethically right for the greatest number of people. As people we eat animals, we test on animals to find medical cures, we use animals to make clothing, and we use animals for a variety of other reasons and a variety of other types of testing as well. “The fundamental wrong is the system that allows us to view animals as our resources, here for us — to be eaten, or...
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