The Moral Debate: Animal Rights Vs. Human Interests

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In the article “All Animals Are Equal” by Peter Singer he argues that there is no reason to deny that animals are equal to humans in many ways. He elaborates on the term speciesism (the exploitation of animal,) and how it is wrong and needs to be stopped. He claims that our pleasure is not a valid reason for animals suffering. In this paper, I will argue how this fails, I am going to argue the point of view that animals have no rights and causing death to an animal is not morally wrong in the strict cases that the animal does not feel any harm or suffering for the effect of our character.

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I will do this by providing the reasons/arguments why some would think this to be true, including statements from Kant and Hsiao, I will consider the objection from Peter Singer that animals interests are just like humans interests and deserve the same treatment, and lastly reply to this objection by addressing that animals are used to provide meals and we use animals in order to benefit humanity, therefore animals have no rights.

In “We Have No Duties to Animals” Kant elaborates that we really do not have any moral obligations to animals. He suggests that instead we have a need to treat animals fair, meaning they must not suffer or be mistreated, but if the killing is necessary and humane it is moral. In this article, as well as in Joel Feinberg’s “ The Rights of Animals and Unborn Generations ” humans have these “obligations” because the treatment could possibly affect our character. Kant claims “We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals (pg 361.)

Meaning, if man is to treat an animal badly, making them suffer, it will only affect his moral standards and therefore affecting his relationships and making his/her life worse and then the act would not be moral. Throughout his piece he elaborates on the idea that mistreating animals makes us bad, and that is what makes animal cruelty wrong, not mistreating the animals itself and I agree with this. Animals are a way for humans to provide food for their family and many other things (agriculture, labor, etc.) and as long as no harm and suffering comes to the animal than nothing is wrong.

In another article “Industrial Farming Is Not Cruel to Animals” Timothy Hsiao also argues that the causing of pain and suffering to animals is based on the needs of the humans. Hsiao claims that if the killing is necessary to humans then the killing is moral. Throughout the article he is trying to convince his audience that the practices of animal agriculture is not cruel. He confirms that raising and slaughtering animals is moral because it provides us with food and other and services that is necessary or our lives.

While Hsiao mainly argues the view that industrial farming does not treat animals badly and opposes the arguments that others make, he makes excellent points when contrasting moral and non-moral harms (footnote 10.) He makes the example of cutting a rose from a bush, saying that it has harmed the bush but no claims that it is immoral to cut a rose from a bush. Hsiao makes us think by stating that there is no difference between the rose and animal agriculture. He concludes at the end that animals lack moral status and therefore it is okay for us to use them for our own purposes, but we have a duty to keep animals free from torture and brutality.

Although these arguments may seem to be enough many have objected to these arguments and have fought these ideas. In the article, “All Animals Are Equal” by Peter Singer he argues that animals are equal to us and the idea of speciesism is wrong. He suggests that humans “discrimination” to animals is wrong and needs to be stopped. He supports his claims by explaining it through sexism, racism, etc. In his work, Singer gives the example of sexism that “since a man cannot have an abortion, it is meaningless to talk of his right to have one. Since dogs can’t vote, it is meaningless to talk of their right to vote” (pg. 362)

He suggests that if animals cannot say if killing them for humans needs is moral then who are we to decide if it is. His argument is laid out like this… In his first premise he makes the statement that racism and sexism violates the principle of equality. In the seconds he claims that racism and sexism are wrong. Then follow by saying that speciesism is also discrimination and does not follow the principle of equality.

And therefore his conclusion is, speciesism is wrong and we should give animals the same rights as humans. Although I do believe that premise one and premise two are true. I have problems with the third premise. Singer suggest that speciesism is wrong because of the fact that animals are not treated with the same rights as humans, however he fails to realize that animals are not like humans and therefore do not deserve the same rights. Although animals may possess the some of the same interests are humans, “animals are not self-conscious and are there merely as a means to an end” (pg. 361 Kant.)

In the article, “Animal Consciousness” by Collin Allen, philosophers show that “consciousness can be tied together with language, abstract reasoning, or some other mental characteristic that potentially could explain our apparent separateness from the natural world” (Allen section 6.1.) If this is true Singer’s ideas above are proven to be false. This is because if the definition of consciousness in Allen’s text is true then animals do not fit the guide line of “consciousness” and are not equal to humans. We rather have indirect duties to animals and must treat them with respect, not for the animals sake but for our own benefit (Kant and Hsiao.)

In conclusion, I have argued that animals have no rights and causing death to an animal is not morally wrong in the strict cases that the animal does not feel any harm or suffering for the effect of our character, and defended Singer’s argument against my claim saying that animals interests are equal to humans through the principle of equality.

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The Moral Debate: Animal Rights vs. Human Interests. (2019, Oct 20). Retrieved from