The other animals humans eat, use in science, hunt, trap and exploit in a variety of other ways have a life of their own that is of importance to them, apart from their utility to us. They are not only in the world, they are aware of it and also of what happens to them. And what happens to them matters to them.
Each has a life that fares experientially better or worse for the one whose life it is. Like us they bring a unified, psychological presence to the world. Like us they are somebodies, not somethings. In these fundamental ways that nonhuman animals in labs or on farms for example are the same as human beings. And so it is that the ethics of our dealings with them and with one another must stress on some of the same fundamental moral principles.
At its deepest level, an enlightened human ethics is based on the independent value of the individual. To treat human beings in ways that do not honor their independent worth is to reduce them to the status of tools, or models or commodities, for example, is to violate that most basic of human rights, the right to be treated with respect.
The philosophy of animal rights demands only that the logic be respected for any argument that plausibly explains the independent value of human beings implies that other animal have the same value and have it equally. And any argument that plausibly explains the rights of humans to be treated with respect also implies that these other animals have the same rights and have it equally also.
As a result of selected media coverage in the past which this evening’s debate is a notable and praiseworthy exception, the general public has tended to view advocates of AR in exclusively negative terms: we are anti-intellectual, anti-science, anti-rational, anti-human, we stand against justice and for violence. The truth, as it happens, is quite the reverse. The philosophy of AR is on the side of reason, for it is not rational to discriminate arbitrarily, and discrimination against...
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