Ethical Treatment of Animals
Alexandrea Cargill Edwards
SOC 120: Introduction to Ethics and Social Responsibility
December 03, 2012
Ethical Treatment of Animals
The issue of animal rights is very complex. There are both positive and negative sides which seem to have major contradictions. When referring to the ethical treatment of animals it seems as though everyone has an opinion. Some people are “meat eaters” and consume meat at nearly every meal. They would argue that this is survival and is justified; they would further argue that animals are not humans and were put on this earth for the benefit of man. Often they believe that it is necessary to use animals in medical research; their thought is that testing various substances on animals may lead to finding new medical solutions, medicines and treatments. There are those that believe vegetarianism may be in fashion while fur coats are no longer acceptable. When it comes to animals the range can be very vast from extreme animal haters to extreme animal lovers, the first group can be very cruel to animals and have no concern for their welfare, and the second group has more of a tendency to treat pets as idols and worships them, treating them as equals. Things are not just black and white areas when referring to the ethical treatment of animals, there also seems to be many shades of grey. In this paper I will discuss the ways that animals are being mistreated and exploited. I will also discuss the utilitarianism ethical theory, which is a theory that takes into consideration the interest of others. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory that places the focus of right or wrong solely on the consequences or outcome of choosing one action over another. I will also discuss relativism as it relates to the ethical treatment of animals. Relativism is no absolute truth. Each person has their own point of view on how to treat animals. The approach that I most agree with is the utilitarianism ethical theory this theory suggests that there is an obvious solution that is fair, and it may be one that appeals to common sense, also when faced with a set of choices, the chosen act should have the greatest number affected by the choice (Ethics & Social Responsibility 1-7). We must choose the act that minimizes pain and suffering and that will do the least harm. I am an animal activist and stand in favor of the protecting of animals; I cannot stand for animals to be mistreated in any way. The utilitarian theory allows us to examine ethical choices and in contrast, relativism allows us to determine our course of action with ethical values. Moral equal theories extend equal consideration and moral status to animals. (Ethics & Social Responsibility-1.7) Are animals entitled to moral consideration on their own behalf? Some would answer yes, while others would say no. Those who would answer that question in a negative way are believed to dismiss animal claims all together. Other people may admit that animals are entitled to moral consideration will often give the problem a very low priority rating, never really stepping up and taking a stand against the cruel and inhumane treatment of animals (Midgely, 1983). People differ considerably on what they consider to be appropriate ethical treatment of animals. “Some individuals believe that practices such as sport hunting, the consumption of animal flesh, and the use of animals in biomedical and psychological research are unjustified and cruel; in some cases, the very thought of these activities result in emotional distress. For others, these practices pose no particular moral problem and prompt no visceral revulsion” (Galvin, 1992). It is my belief that animals are living breathing creatures capable of feeling pain, pleasure, and suffering just as humans do. I do not believe that the lack of intelligence in animals give us the moral freedom to inflict pain and suffering upon them....
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