Animal Rights Philosophy Do animals have rights? Conflict and negotiation: who has rights and who decides? Key Concepts Animal welfare Animal rights MOVIES Five Freedoms denied to farm animals http://www.animal-lib.org.au/multimedia/movies.shtml Meet Your Meat http://www.peta-online.org/mc/tv/veg.html Background Long tradition of Animal Welfare like RSPCA and Humane Society More recently there has emerged a more militant movement arguing that we should see animals as having rights WARNING – disturbing photos next two slides Photos Rights- based movements The AR movement can best been seen as an extension of other human rights struggles Last century there was a ‘slave trade’ which civilised people supported because ‘everyone knew’ Blacks and so couldn’t be given the same rights as white people. And with their current abilities were only capable of being slaves Likewise, women were seen as different and ‘inferior’ and not able to vote or get an education. This is still true in some places in the world. Animal rights activists argue that the same logic is being used to justify the exclusion of non-human animals. Animal rights These things were changed when people mobilized to end them and now ‘everybody knows’ that women and Blacks should have equal ‘rights’, and the denial of these rights is now labelled as sexism or racism. Animal rights activists argue that there is no good reason not to extend the notion of ‘rights’ to non-human animals and it is species-ism not to see this. Some misconceptions The key text in this was Peter Singer’s 1975 book Animal Liberation Singer is not arguing that humans and other non-human animals should have the SAME rights How many animals do you think would be an acceptable number to kill to get a polio vaccine (it was 2.5 million)? When put this way a cost/benefit analysis which at first looks scientific hides the value judgment involved. How do we decide? Singer’s Argument Singer is a UTILITARIAN. He argues that our best criteria for determining ethical decisions is that we should MINIMIZE the amount of suffering. Does this seem a valid criteria to you? Singer (cont.) We know that animals can suffer pain (that is they have central nervous system unlike plants) and act in ways consistent with the observation that they can even, to some extent, anticipate pain and suffering (eg. they struggle when captured). Whether non-human animals should have rights then is not based of whether they can reason or talk but whether they can suffer. Singer (cont.) There is no logical reason to deny that animals suffer (those that deny it are in the same position as slave-traders who said Negroes don’t feel pain like ‘us’). Thus there is no prima facie case for excluding non-human animals from SOME consideration – this does not mean they are entitled to the SAME consideration Singer (cont.) Once this argument is accepted – that is we should minimize unnecessary suffering – Singer argues, then we need to do so as long as we don’t significantly increase the amount of suffering to humans. So, the question becomes what actions should we take in which the suffering of animals outweighs the cost to humans. Is it necessary to: Eat them? Experiment on them? Wear their fur? Use them in circuses, rodeos? Animals as food Most usual contact with non-human animals is at mealtime Is it necessary to eat non-human animals? If Singer is right then we would need to establish that human interests outweighed the animals interest (as in the case of Eskimos, who need to eat it to survive—but that doesn’t apply to most of us) Health risks of meat OXFORD STUDY 11000 subjects – half on usual meat and others on vegetarian diets: 40 percent less cancer , 30 percent less heart disease, 20 percent less likely to die before age 80 CHINA HEALTH STUDY 6500 subjects "In my view, no chemical carcinogen is nearly so important in causing human cancer as animal protein." -- T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. Director, the China Health Project There is a lot of good research to suggest that meat-eating is hazardous to your health. The China Health Study shows that as the traditionally vegetarian Chinese have added meat to their diet, there is a direct correlation in increased heart disease and cancer, leading to the director’s comment above. Environmental damage 2.5 acres of crop land can produce enough vegetables for twenty people, enough grain for fifteen people, enough chicken for two people or enough beef for one It takes 20 000 litres of water and 8-10 kilos of grain to produce a kilo of beef (plus topsoil, clearing etc) The benefits of eating non-human animals look dubious in the light of the environmental costs. So Singer’s argument would say that we are hardly justified in imposing suffering on non-human animals, when we don’t need to eat them (and we may in fact be better off). Animal Experiments Do animal experiments relieve more suffering than they cause? MNC’s research into effects of shampoo, skin cream, smoking, LD 50 tests on food colourings This looks shaky after the cost/benefit analysis. Much of the research is of dubious benefit, let alone leading to significant human improvement. Objection 1 Animals eat each other so why shouldn’t we eat them? Odd looking to animals for moral guidance Animals kill because it is necessary for them to eat, this would not be the case with humans Sociologically this is an argument from the supposed ‘naturalness’ of an action to its social effects which is invalid. In fact, much of what is “natural” we have laws against. Objection 2 Humans and animals are qualitatively different so we are entitled to treat them differently. But how is any difference MORALLY relevant? Everyone is different. What is acceptable criteria for causing pain that includes only non-human animals? Don’t use tools, don’t go bowling, don’t speak in human languages, may be true but does it follow that we should not minimize their suffering? Objection 2 (cont) Even if we take self-consciousness as key human characteristic Of course in some cases it may be morally relevant – humans suffer more in some cases BUT Some animals (parrots and apes) have shown self-consciousness, and some people (in comas) do not. Does it follow that our interest as self-conscious beings over-ride that of the merely sentient when our self consciousness is not at stake? Objection 2 (cont) What about someone with a severe intellectual impairment, if self consciousness is the basis of moral decision then would we say we should be able to eat them? Experiment on them? Or do we say that they need ‘special consideration’? Objection 3 Ethics or rights are reciprocal and so it makes no sense to extend rights to animals It also excludes intellectually disabled, children and infants Could be used in slave trader’s situation since Blacks were not able to reciprocate, we owed then nothing Singer rejects reciprocity as a basis for ethics Another theorist, Ted Benton, remarked that this amounts to saying that “only human beings can grant rights – so we won’t!” Summary I hope you are now clearer about some of the arguments about animal rights and about the ways in which science is used and misused in environmental debates More common arguments are discussed in the FAQs on this website. Christianity Two Traditions Human beings as dominating the earth Natural world seen only as instrumental to salvation Because of the incarnation, great ontological gap between human beings and all other natural beings Human beings have immortal soul, animals don’t Human beings as stewards of the earth Buddhism Compassion and respect for life A consistent ethic of respect for life Reincarnation Human souls may be reborn as animals, thus the possibility of a much smaller gap between human and animal worlds Native American Traditions: The Navajo and the Hopi Harmony (hozho) emphasizes a balanced relationship of respect Emphasis on everything having its proper place Models of the Relationship between Humans and Animals Animals as Objects of Use Animals as Objects of Respect Animals as Rights Holders Animals as Objects of Use: Unrestrained Animals are seen merely as being objects available for humans to use Origins: Christianity Technology Animals as Objects of Use: Restrained Animals are still seen primarily as objects to be used by human beings, but moral considerations constrain this use We must treat animals humanely or else we diminish ourselves Animals as Objects of Respect In this view, animals--and their pain--are seen as having some moral standing in the human world, even if it is not equivalent to human standing. We are urged to reduce animals suffering unless there is a strong human benefit for such suffering (e.g., medical research with animals). Animals as Rights Holders Animals are seen as holders of rights What entitles a being to rights? Some rights-conferring characteristic intelligence sentience soul What rights do animals have? Life Life in natural habitat Consequentialist Considerations Whose suffering counts? Speciesism Defenders of animal rights often maintain that those who disagree with them are guilty of “speciesism,” I.e., the view that we arbitrarily grant human beings rights that we do not accord to animals. Considerations about Rights Who has rights? On what basis? Rationality Soul Ability to suffer Ability to have a future How do we adjudicate conflicts of rights Animal Rights and Abortion One’s position on animal rights may have interesting implications for one’s position on abortion. If an entity has rights solely on the basis of its ability to experience pain, and if the fetus can experience pain, then it may have rights, even though it may not be accepted as human. Concerns about Character Compassion Proximity--do we just not want to see animal slaughter? Searching for Common Ground Medical Experimentation Commercial Animal Agriculture Wild Animals, Zoos, and Animal preservation Medical Experimentation Some animal experimentation is avoidable or redundant Can animal suffering count, even if it doesn’t count as much as human suffering? Commercial Animal Agriculture Some methods of raising and slaughtering animals involve much more suffering for the animals than others Wild Animals, Zoos, and Animal Preservation Should animals be held in captivity for humans to view? Promotes animal welfare programs Should we try to preserve animal species that may otherwise die out? Pets In what ways, if any, should human beings have close attachments to animals?