Animal Rights: Runs from Animal Liberation to Animal Exploitation

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Animal rights and animal welfare fall at different points on a continuum that runs from animal liberation at one end to animal exploitation at the other. The animal rights viewpoint can be defined as the belief that humans do not have the right to use animals for their own gainin the laboratory, on the farm, in entertainment or in the wild. The degree to which humans may benefit from any use of nonhuman animals is irrelevant to determine how animals should be treated. The animal welfare viewpoint advocates the humane use of animals which involves maintaining animal well-being and prohibiting unnecessary cruelty. Many distinctions can be made within these terms but both connote a concern for the suffering of others. A concern for the welfare of animals can be seen in multiple laws set forth in the Old Testament. There are requirements that animals also rest on the Sabbath and that they be fed before feeding oneself. There are prohibitions against, for example, boiling the meat of a kid in his mother’s milk and yoking animals of different sizes together. In ancient Athens, Triptolemus, a Greek demi-god also known as “the most ancient of the Athenian legislators” is said to have established the following law; …Sacrifice to the Gods from the fruits of earth; Injure not animals. And in India, between 274-232 BCE, King Asoka published multiple edicts to protect animals and promote kindness to living beings. Secular anti-cruelty legislation dates back to 1635. At that time a law was passed in Ireland which prohibited working horses by their tails and pulling (rather than shearing) wool from live sheep. The Massachusetts Body of Liberties of 1641 enacted statutory legislation to McMahan 2

protect animals from cruel treatment. This was the first anti-cruelty law passed in what would become the United States and the first law to protect animals in transit. The taxonomy Carl Linnaeus proposed in the 1700s was based on the similarities among humans and other animals. This along with the work of Charles Darwin and the abhorrence of pain and suffering in Victorian England represents a turning point in the ways in which animals were viewed. Prior to the work of Linnaeus, the Cartesian notion of animals as unfeeling being was widely held. In Victorian England causing an animal unnecessary pain was the measure of animal cruelty. It was at this point in time that vivisection came to be considered an evil. Today vivisection refers to all experimental procedures that result in the injury or death or animals . During the nineteenth century animal welfare organizations came into being. The first such organization in the world, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) was formed in 1824 by Arthur Broome in England and became the Royal SPCA (RSPCA) in 1840 as a result of the patronage of Queen Victoria. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), the first such organization in the Americas, was founded by Henry Bergh in 1866 and was modeled after the RSPCA. Soon many such organizations were founded across the United States. Carolyn Earle White of Philadelphia cofounded not only the Women’s Branch of the Pennsylvania SPCA but also the American Anti-Vivisection Society. The early 1980’s saw the birth of many national animal rights organizations including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Farm Animal Reform Movement (FARM) and In Defense of Animals (IDA). The Animal Liberation Front (ALF) McMahan 3

came to America in 1977 releasing two dolphins in a raid of a research lab in Hawaii and received much press in the 1980s for raids of laboratories and releasing animals used in research. While the 1980s was a decade of high media visibility, the protests and demonstrations of some organizations were not garnering as much media coverage in subsequent decades. This, at least in part, resulted in organizations such as Earthsave and Farm Sanctuary...
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