Against Animal Rights

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Category:Animal Rights
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As society expands the increase of animal interactions between human and wild animal are drastically rising. As society has migrated from our agricultural roots to a more urban existence, the importance of distinguishing between animal rights and animal welfare becomes eminent. The public debate about animal products (fur, meat, leather etc.) is often distorted with confusion between two important concepts: animal welfare and animal rights. These terms sound similar and are often used interchangeably, but they describe two profoundly different ideas.

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The issues surrounding the views of animal rights and animal welfare are very familiar to those who utilize animals in industry, entertainment, sport or recreation.

SPCA and PETA are two of the most recognizable organizations we all find familiar, but how can we distinguish which side of this topic they are on? Animal Welfare, as defined by the American Veterinary Medical Association as, a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being including; proper housing, management, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling, and, when necessary, humane euthanasia. While animal welfare is the view that animals have rights similar or the same as humans. True animal rights proponents believe that humans do not have the right to use animals at all. Animal rights proponents wish to ban all use of animals by humans. As PETA’S mantra in rally is “Not better cages but, No cages” we easily tell they are supporters of the rights group. SPCA is focused on the care of abandoned and ill animals we see they are the general welfare group. Through the upcoming research paper, we will explore both sides of this radical debate and gain a new outlook on each side. Are animal rights activist extremist while welfare groups and associations are the ones with the obligation of taking care of the animals who are left behind while society over runs?

As we dive into Animal Welfare, we need to address the Animal Welfare Act which requires standards to govern the treatment of animals by dealers, exhibitors, and research facilities. The AWA protects animals that are sold or transported in commerce. The AWA is a federal statute that directs the secretary of the USDA to “promulgate standards to govern the humane handling, care, treatment and transportation of animals by dealers, research facilities, and exhibitors.” Why is animal welfare important to Animal Science as a whole? Animal welfare requirements are important for regulatory, scientific, and ethical reasons. Scientific research and standards set for animals is supported by many people due to this being the only reliable mechanism for testing the safety of compounds before exposure to humans. Without the Animal Welfare Act in place the treatment of animals would not be of importance and there would not be expectations set around the ethical treatment of such animals. “As an extension of this animal rights philosophy, a number of people are embracing veganism, relying exclusively on plant-based food, and plant-based and synthetic clothing. However, with less than 3 percent of the Earth’s surface being suitable for crop production, animal protein and fiber will continue to be indispensable to the survival of the planet’s 6 billion people, and to the conservation of natural habitat. It is for these reasons that the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) promotes the use by humans of both plants and animals, domestic and wild.” (6)

Animal rights is the philosophy, sociology, and public policy of animals in society and how they are treated, with the view that no animal has the right to be used by any human for any purpose. Activists try to end animal cruelty and suffering around the world. Whether or not animals have “rights” depends on how the term is defined. If living things are ascribed a “right” to remain living, then animals would have rights. Most ethicists do not use the term so broadly. They generally ascribe rights only to members of societies that are capable of applying mutually accepted ethical principles to specific situations. The animal rights viewpoint also leads to some philosophically untenable conclusions. For instance, in its strongest form it implies that the lives of all animals, including humans, are equal. But, the death of a human is not equivalent to the death of a mouse. Animal rights advocates do not distinguish between human beings and animals.

Human overpopulation is the number one threat to wild and domestic animals worldwide. Whatever humans do to use, abuse, kill, or displace animals is magnified by the number of people on the planet; but do animals need rights? Animals don’t need rights to deserve protection. Animal-welfare advocates have worked for the past 100 years to ensure that the animals that provide us with meat, dairy products and eggs receive good nutrition and care. Thanks to their efforts we have humane-slaughter regulations, codes of practice and other provisions to minimize stress and suffering. This is an on-going process. Animal rights groups have attempted to distort the facts about animal research. As well as fabricate videos and articles accusing the FDA of non-adequate treatment of animals in feed yards and other animal productions. Animal rights groups grossly exaggerate the numbers they use within their campaigns and marketing.

The biggest topic for animal rights vs. animal welfare is animals within research. Rights groups have tendencies to contrive false numbers regarding the facts of animal research. They claim the majority of research animals are primates and stolen pets but yet, “90 percent or more of the animals in research each year are mice, rats and other rodents.; cats, dogs, and other animals such as hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits, primates, and farm animals collectively make up the small remaining percentage of animals.” (4) Stringent controls are in place by the federal government through the Animal Welfare Act and its amendments, in place since 1966 in order to keep animals welfare in mind and under supervision.

Both parties are for the overall care and well being of animals but the fine line which is crossed is the radical acts and extremist ideas of the Animal rights organizations. This argument can be met with understanding on each side; also met with haste and belligerence. The welfare of animals is the most important beyond each argument.

There is evidence that humans were thinking about the cognition of animals in the 17th century when Rene Descartes philosophized that animals had no thought (Regan, 2004). Since then more theories have been made about the cognition of animals. Many people now believe that animals possess “conscious awareness” (Regan, 2004, pg. 2). This in return suggests that animals can feel pain, think, plan, and possibly have feelings. With modern research we can observe deeper into the consciousness of animals. With the field of consciousness research rapidly evolving. Abundant new techniques and strategies for non-human animal research have been developed. Animal cognition encompasses the mental capacities of non-human animals. The University of Cambridge has exceeded in cognition quoting “ Birds appear to offer, in their behavior, neurophysiology, and neuroanatomy a striking case of parallel evolution of consciousness. Evidence of near human-like levels of consciousness has been most dramatically observed in African grey parrots.” (Phillips, 2012) Thus, also showing signs of emotional networks just as humans. The ability to self-recognize is the presence of consciousness and cognition working together as the University of Cambridge has been able to see that “Magpies in particular have been shown to exhibit striking similarities to humans, great apes, dolphins, and elephants in studies of mirror self-recognition.”(Phillips 2012)

To measure awareness is similar to human research basic tasks are evaluated by how well you are able to complete. “Include an examination of perception, learning, categorization, memory, spatial cognition, numerosity, communication, language, social cognition, theory of mind or mindreading, causal reasoning, and metacognition.” (Andrews, 2016)

So, the question poses; if animals are self-aware should we give them more rights? The idea of animal rights vs. animal welfare is a larger portion of the problem. The idea that there are two sides to consider when all in all they are fighting for animals lives in general. The basic principle of equality does not require equal or identical treatment; it requires equal consideration.

The thing is different people have different concepts of what being an animal lover is. The idea that there are two sides to consider when all in all they are fighting for animals lives in general. The basic principle of equality does not require equal or identical treatment; it requires equal consideration. The thing is different people have different concept so what being an animal lover is often confronted with whether they are on the animal rights spectrum of just for general welfare of the animal. Emphasizing that animal rights is not proponent in the use of animals at all; including pet ownership. For a example a zoo had a polar bear die unexpectedly after giving birth. Animal welfare groups were to interfere and take on the cub to ensure its life was safe and to attend to its needs; Animal rights had the input to leave the cub as is and not interfere. Animal rights would rather see animals die in “freedom” rather than in captivity in any means.

This grey area is often construed with interchanging terminology. Where is the line drawn between the ideas of animals rights and animal welfare in real life situations rather than idealistic fantasies of the rights groups.  

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Against Animal Rights. (2021, Jun 11). Retrieved from