Animal Rights Essay Research Paper Phil EthicsAnimal

  • Просмотров 134
  • Скачиваний 9
  • Размер файла 16
    Кб

Animal Rights Essay, Research Paper Phil. Ethics Animal Rights The question of animal rights is one that people have been debating heavily since the sixties. In the beginning it was thought that animals had no intelligence what so ever therefore we have no responsibilities towards them. Traditional philosophers, such as Aquinas, Descartes, Malebranche, and Kant, defended the view that our obligations toward animals are only indirect. For these philosophers, animals are unconscious biological organisms which operate by brute instinct, and only appear to be capable of experiencing pain. Malebranche offered the theological argument that all suffering is a consequence of Adam’s sin and, since animals are not descended from Adam, then they cannot feel pain. However, all of these

philosophers caution that it is wrong to torture animals, not for the animal’s sake, but because this desensitizes people towards suffering which they may then inflict on another person. You also have more modern philosophers and scientists who feel differently. These philosophers such as Tom Regan and Tibor Machan do not agree with the more basic theory of the older philosophers. Nearly all the external signs lead us to believe pain in other humans can be seen in other species, especially the species most closely related to us, mammals and birds. The behavioral signs include writhing, facial contortions, moaning, yelping or other forms of calling, attempts to avoid the source of the pain, appearance of fear at the prospect of its repetition, and so on. In addition, we know

that these animals have nervous systems very like ours, which respond physiologically like ours do when the animal is in circumstances in which we would feel pain: an initial rise of blood pressure, dilated pupils, perspiration, an increased pulse rate, and, if the stimulus continues, a fall in blood pressure. Although human beings have a more developed cerebral cortex than other animals, this part of the brain is concerned with thinking functions rather than with basic impulses, emotions, and feelings. The ability to experience pain is found in all vertebrate animals as such, animals while not able to possess the same rights as humans still should be guaranteed some rights that all feeling things deserve. Tom Regan’s position is best presented in his essay, “The Case for

Animal Rights” which is a summary of his 1985 book by the same title. For Regan the problem with current attitudes is that they view animals as resources, and not as beings with inherent value. Regan begins by attacking theories of indirect obligation towards animals. The traditional views maintains that animals are not capable of feeling pleasure and pain. This view has few advocates today, and Regan therefore does not address this approach. However, contemporary social contract theory also holds that we have only indirect obligations toward animals, but for different reasons. Social contractarianism maintains that, even though animals feel pain, human pain is the only pain which is morally significant. For, direct obligations apply only to those who contract into a moral

system, and this requires understanding the nature of the contract. Morality is like a club you can join, only if you know the rules of the club. And, since animals cannot understand the rules of the club, they cannot be members and thus cannot have a direct moral standing. Animals such as dogs and cats have a special place in the hearts of club members, so these animals acquire an indirect moral standing. But, other animals such as rats are not cared about so their moral standing is virtually non-existent. Regan criticizes contractarianism since, in theory, it could make morality into a highly selective club, and exclude members on the basis of gender, race, religion, or any other arbitrary factor. In his essay, “Do Animals Have Rights?” Tibor Machan attacks all theories