Should animals have the same rights as humans essay

The two chimps are being held in the state university for a scientific study in locomotion. If granted, the habeas corpus writ would see them released and transferred to a sanctuary in Florida. Until a few years ago, I never paid much attention to how the animals I ate found their way to my table, let alone to the idea that they deserved some kind of rights.

Until I interviewed Temple Grandin.

She is the extraordinary woman who overcame autism to become the world's leading expert of the ethical treatment of domestic animals. She taught me a lot. On the face of it, the New York lawsuit seems preposterous. How could an animal's so-called rights be placed on the same plane as those of a human being? After all, the Bible tells us we have dominion over all kinds of things, including the beasts of the earth. Moreover, our economies depend to a large extent on the idea that animals are property; how can they possibly deserve rights?

Well, the answer can be found in an important just-released book called Canadian Perspectives on Animals and the Law , published by Irwin Law. Each one values his or her life and fights the knife. Only prejudice allows us to deny others the rights that we expect to have for ourselves. Dogs and pigs have the same capacity to feel pain, but it is prejudice based on species that allows us to think of one animal as a companion and the other as dinner. Take vital steps to cut thoughtless cruelty to animals out of your life and to educate others around you.

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Animal rights - Wikipedia

The same ethical imperative has focused attention on our treatment of the non-human world—the environment and animals. Many leaders of the activist animal movement in fact have roots in earlier movements—civil rights, feminism, homosexual rights, children's rights, labor. One cannot channel-surf across normal television service without being bombarded with animal stories, real and fictional. Recall, for example, the extensive media coverage a decade ago of some whales trapped in an ice-floe, and freed by a Russian ice-breaker.

This was hardly an overflowing of Russian compassion—an oxymoronic notion applied to a people who gave us pogroms, the Gulag, and Stalinism. Rather, someone in the Kremlin was bright enough to realize that liberating the whales was an extremely cheap way to score points with U. Strong and visible arguments have been advanced in favor of raising the status of animals by philosophers, scientists and celebrities [ 21 , 22 , 23 , 24 , 25 , 26 ].

Changes in the nature of animal use demanded new moral categories. In my view, while all of the reasons listed above are relevant, they are nowhere nearly as important as the precipitous and dramatic changes in animal use that occurred after World War II. These changes were, first of all, huge conceptual changes in the nature of agriculture and second the rise of significant amounts of animal research and testing. For virtually all of human history, animal agriculture was based foursquare in animal husbandry.

Thus traditional agriculture was roughly a fair contract between humans and animals, with both sides being better off in virtue of the relationship. Husbandry agriculture was about putting square pegs into square holes, round pegs into round holes, and creating as little friction as possible doing so. So powerful is the notion of husbandry, in fact, that when the Psalmist seeks a metaphor for God's ideal relationship to humans, he seizes upon the shepherd in the 23rd Psalm:.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want; He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters; He restoreth my soul.

Do animals have the same rights as humans?

We wish no more from God than what the husbandman provides for his sheep. In husbandry, a producer did well if and only if the animals did well, so productivity was tied to welfare. No social ethic was thus needed to ensure proper animal treatment; only the anti-cruelty designed to deal with sadists and psychopaths was needed to augment husbandry. Self-interest virtually assured good treatment. After World War II, this beautiful contract was broken by humans.

If a nineteenth century agriculturalist had tried to put , egg-laying hens in cages in a building, they all would have died of disease in a month; today such systems dominate. The new approach to animal agriculture was not the result of cruelty, bad character or even insensitivity. It developed rather out of perfectly decent, prima facie plausible motives that were a product of dramatic significant historical and social upheavals that occurred after World War II. At that point in time, agricultural scientists and government officials became extremely concerned about supplying the public with cheap and plentiful food for a variety of reasons.

Animal Rights Vs. Legal Fiction

Second, reasonable predictions of urban and suburban encroachment on agricultural land were being made, with a resultant diminution of land for food production. Fifth, projection of major population increases further fueled concern. When the above considerations of loss of land and diminution of agricultural labor are coupled with the rapid development of a variety of technological modalities relevant to agriculture during and after World War II and with the burgeoning belief in technologically-based economics of scale, it was probably inevitable that animal agriculture would become subject to industrialization.

There is thus no question that industrialized agriculture, including animal agriculture, is responsible for greatly increased productivity. It is equally clear that the husbandry associated with traditional agriculture has changed significantly as a result of industrialization. One of my colleagues, a cow-calf cattle specialist, says that the worst thing that ever happened to his department is betokened by the name change from Animal Husbandry to Animal Science. In addition, in the mid-twentieth century there arose large scale use of animals in research and testing for toxicity.

This too was an unprecedented large-scale use of animals, lacking the fairness of husbandry agriculture. A moment's reflection on the development of large-scale animal research and high-technology agriculture elucidates why these innovations have led to the demand for a new ethic for animals in society. In a nutshell, these new developments represent a radically different playing field of animal use from the one that characterized most of human history; in the modern world of agriculture and animal research, the traditional anti-cruelty ethic grows increasingly less applicable.

A thought experiment makes this clear. Imagine a pie chart that represents all the suffering that animals experience at human hands today. What percentage of that suffering is a result of intentional cruelty of the sort condemned by the anticruelty ethic and laws? When I ask my audiences this question—whether scientists, agriculturalists, animal advocates, or members of the general public—I always get the same response: only a fraction of 1 percent.

Few people have ever witnessed overt, intentional cruelty, which is thankfully rare. On the other hand, people realize that biomedical and other scientific research, toxicological safety testing, uses of animals in teaching, pharmaceutical product extraction from animals, and so on all produce far more suffering than does overt cruelty.

This suffering comes from creating disease, burns, trauma, fractures, and the like in animals in order to study them; producing pain, fear, learned helplessness, aggression, and other states for research; poisoning animals to study toxicity; and performing surgery on animals to develop new operative procedures. In addition, suffering is engendered by the housing of research animals. Indeed, a prominent member of the biomedical research community has argued that the discomfort and suffering that animals used in research experience by virtue of being housed under conditions that are convenient for us, but inimical to their biological natures—for example, keeping rodents, which are nocturnal, burrowing creatures, in polycarbonate crates under artificial, full-time light—far exceed the suffering produced by invasive research protocols [ 27 ].

Now it is clear that farmers and researchers are not intentionally cruel—they are motivated by plausible and decent intentions: to cure disease, advance knowledge, ensure product safety, provide cheap and plentiful food.

Should animals have rights similar to human rights? Michael's Essay

Nonetheless, they may inflict great amounts of suffering on the animals they use. Furthermore, the traditional ethic of anti-cruelty and the laws expressing it had no vocabulary for labeling such suffering, since researchers were not maliciously intending to hurt the animals. Indeed, this is eloquently marked by the fact that the cruelty laws exempt animal use in science and standard agricultural practices from their purview.

Therefore, a new set of concepts beyond cruelty and kindness was needed to discuss the issues associated with burgeoning research animal use and industrial agriculture. Society eventually became aware that new kinds of suffering were engendered by modern agriculture.

Once again, producers could not be categorized as cruel, yet they were responsible for new types of animal suffering on at least four fronts:. Production diseases arise from the new ways the animals are produced. For example, liver abscesses in cattle are a function of certain animals' responses to the high-concentrate, low-roughage diet that characterizes feedlot production. That is, of course, not the only cause of liver abscesses. Although a certain percentage of the animals get sick and die, the overall economic efficiency of feedlots is maximized by the provision of such a diet. The huge scale of industrialized agricultural operations and the small profit margin per animal militate against the sort of individual attention that typified much of traditional agriculture. In traditional dairies 50 years ago, one could make a living with a herd of 50 cows. Today, one needs literally thousands. In the U. Another new source of suffering in industrialized agriculture results from physical and psychological deprivation for animals in confinement: lack of space, lack of companionship for social animals, inability to move freely, boredom, austerity of environments, and so on.

Since the animals evolved for adaptation to extensive environments but are now placed in truncated environments, such deprivation is inevitable. This was not a problem in traditional, extensive agriculture. Instead of husbandmen, workers in swine factories are minimum wage, often animal-ignorant labor. So there is often no empathy with, or concern for, the animals.

These sources of suffering, like the ones in research, are again not captured by the vocabulary of cruelty, nor are they proscribed or even acknowledged by the laws based on the anti-cruelty ethic. Furthermore, they typically do not arise under traditional agriculture and its ethic of husbandry.

A few years ago, I experienced some sharply contracting incidents which dramatically highlight the moral difference between intensive and extensive agriculture. That particular year, Colorado cattle ranchers, paradigmatic exemplars of husbandry, were afflicted by a significant amount of scours. Over two months, I talked to a half dozen rancher friends of mine.

Every single one had experienced trouble with scours, and every one had spent more on treating the disease than was economically justified by the calves' monetary value.

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It is, of course, the same ethical outlook that leads ranch wives to sit up all night with sick marginal calves, sometimes for days in a row. Now in contrast to these uplifting moral attitudes, consider the following: One of my animal scientist colleagues related to me that his son-in-law was an employee in a large, total confinement swine operation. As a young man he had raised and shown pigs, keeping them semi-extensively. One day he detected a disease among the feeder pigs in the confinement facility where he works, which necessitated killing them with a blow to the head, since this operation did not treat individual animals, their profit margin being allegedly too low.

Out of his long established husbandry ethic, he came in on his own time with his own medicine to treat the animals. He cured them! Management's response was to fire him on the spot for violating company policy! He kept his job and escaped with a reprimand only when he was able to prove that he had expended his own—not the company's—resources. Eventually, he left agriculture altogether. The above-detailed contrasting incidents, better than anything else I know, eloquently illustrate the large gap between the ethics of husbandry and industry.

Many confinement operations are run by accountants, not by animal science or animal husbandry people. Given that the old anti-cruelty ethic did not apply to animal research or confinement agriculture, society needed new ethical concepts to express its concern about these new uses. But ethical concepts do not arise ex nihilo.

Plato taught us a very valuable lesson about effecting ethical change. If one wishes to change another person's—or society's—ethical beliefs, it is much better to remind than to teach or, in my martial arts metaphor, to use judo rather than sumo. In other words, if you and I disagree ethically on some matter, it is far better for me to show you that what I am trying to convince you of is already implicit—albeit unnoticed—in what you already believe. Similarly, we cannot force others to believe as we do sumo ; we can, however, show them that their own assumptions, if thought through, lead to a conclusion different from what they currently entertain judo.

These points are well-exemplified in 20th century U. Prohibition was sumo , not judo —an attempt to forcefully impose a new ethic about drinking on the majority by the minority. As such, it was doomed to fail, and in fact people drank more during Prohibition. Contrast this with Lyndon Johnson's civil rights legislation. As himself a Southerner, Johnson realized that even Southerners would acquiesce to the following two propositions:.

All humans should be treated equally, and black people were human—they just had never bothered to draw the relevant conclusion. So society was faced with the need for new moral categories and laws that reflect those categories in order to deal with animal use in science and agriculture and to limit the animal suffering with which it is increasingly concerned. At the same time, recall that western society has one through almost fifty years of extending its moral categories for humans to people who were morally ignored or invisible—women, minorities, the handicapped, children, citizens of the third world.

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As we noted earlier, new and viable ethics do not emerge ex nihilo. So a plausible and obvious move is for society to continue in its tendency and attempt to extend the moral machinery it has developed for dealing with people, appropriately modified, to animals. And this is precisely what has occurred. Society has taken elements of the moral categories it uses for assessing the treatment of people and is in the process of modifying these concepts to make them appropriate for dealing with new issues in the treatment of animals, especially their use in science and confinement agriculture.

What aspect of our ethic for people is being so extended? One that is, in fact, quite applicable to animal use, is the fundamental problem of weighing the interests of the individual against those of the general welfare. Different societies have provided different answers to this problem. Totalitarian societies opt to devote little concern to the individual, favoring instead the state, or whatever their version of the general welfare may be.