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Animal Rights Chapter 8 Chaim Soutine, Carcass of Beef
Animal Rights There are many different views regarding animal rights. We will examine the views of utilitarians, animal rights advocates, theists, animal liberationists, and environmentalists. Utilitarian view: Bentham wrote: – The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum(1), are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day, or a week, or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
Cruelty to Animals Learned helplessness experiments: –"learned helplessness"-supposedly a model of depression in human beings. In 1953 R. Solomon, L. Kamin, and L. Wynne, experimenters at Harvard University, placed forty dogs in a device called a "shuttlebox," which consists of a box divided into two compartments, separated by a barrier. Initially the barrier was set at the height of the dog's back. Hundreds of intense electric shocks were delivered to the dog’s feet through a grid floor. At first the dogs could escape the shock if they learned to jump the barrier into the other compartment. In an attempt to"discourage" one dog from jumping, the experimenters forced the dog to jump one hundred times onto a grid floor in the other compartment that also delivered a shock to the dog's feet. They said that as the dog jumped he gave a "sharp anticipatory yip which turned into a yelp when he landed on the electrified grid." They then blocked the passage between the compartments with a piece of plate glass and tested the dog again. The dog "jumped forward and smashed his head against the glass." The dogs began by showing symptoms such as "defecation, urination, yelping and shrieking, trembling, attacking the apparatus, and so on; but after ten or twelve days of trials dogs who were prevented from escaping shock ceased to resist. The experimenters reported themselves "impressed" by this, and concluded that a combination of the plate glass barrier and foot shock was "very effective" in eliminating jumping by dogs.This study showed that it was possible to induce a state of hopelessness and despair by repeated administration of severe inescapable shock.
A religious viewpoint St. Thomas Aquinas summed up the traditional view as follows: –Hereby is refuted the error of those who said it is sinful for a man to kill dumb animals; for by divine providence they are intended for man’s use in the natural order. Hence it is no wrong for man to make use of them, either by killing them or in any other way whatever.
KANT AND ANIMALS For Kant and the Kantian tradition, animals have no moral standing in themselves. Kant’s categorical imperative only applies to humans, not to other kinds of animal. Kant believes that we should not be cruel to animals because “he that is cruel in his dealings with animals becomes hard in his dealings with man.” Is that why we should not be cruel to animals or is it because the animal should not suffer?
Animal Rights If meat could be produced without causing the animal any pain or suffering, would that be all right? One possible response is that every animal is a subject –of –a –life, just as people are. It has the same right to exist and survive as we do. To kill an animal, even painlessly, is to deprive it of its inalienable right to live its life.
Animal Rights If meat could be produced without causing the animal any pain or suffering, would that be allright? According to the text, one possible response is that every animal is a subject –of –a –life, just as people are. It has the same right to exist and survive as we do. To kill an animal, even painlessly, is to deprive it of its inalienable right to live its life.
Animal Rights Do animals have the same value that a person does? According to Hospers, one possible answer is that it does not have the same value: An animal is incapable of creating works of art, or inventing automobiles, or even medicines to cure its own diseases. Human life is more valuable that that of the so-called “lower animals,” but animals don’t kill each other for sport, they don’t invent nuclear bombs, and they don’t pollute their environment. Animals should have the same rights that we do.
Animal Liberation From Peter Singer: –What is animal liberation trying to achieve? The aims of the movement can be summed up in one sentence: to end the present speciesist bias against taking seriously the interests of nonhuman animals. But where do we begin? This is so broad a goal that it is necessary to have more specific aims. The traditional animal welfare organisations concentrate on trying to stop cruelty to animals of those species to which we most easily relate. Dogs, cats and horses are high on their lists, because we keep these animals as pets or companions. Next come those wild animals that we find attractive especially baby seals, with their big brown eyes and soft white coats, the mysterious whales and the playful dolphins. Animal Liberationists are also, of course, opposed to the suffering and killing that is needlessly inflicted on dogs, cats, horses, seals, whales, dolphins and all other animals. They do not, however, think that how appealing an animal is to us has anything to do with the wrongness of making it suffer. Instead they look to the severity of the suffering, and the numbers of animals involved.
Animal Liberation Singer (Continued) : –This means that the animal liberation movement is more likely to demonstrate on behalf of laboratory rats, or factory-farmed hens, than for dogs or cats that are being mistreated by their owners. After all, there are some 45 million rats and mice used in laboratories each year in the United States alone; and in the same country, every year, over 3 billion chickens get raised in factory farms, stuffed into crates on the backs of trucks, and then hung upside-down on the conveyor belt that takes them to slaughter. The amount of suffering involved in such institutionalised speciesism dwarfs the harm done to dogs and cats by thoughtless or even cruel pet owners. So while animal liberation groups oppose all exploitation of animals, they have concentrated on animal experimentation and the use of animals for food. Let us look at these two areas a little more closely.
Environmentalism Preserving species vs. individual animals. Issues of overpopulation. “thinning the herd” Different reasons for not eating animals. Please see the bottom of page 249.