A few weeks ago, I provided my opinion on whether or not non-animals have rights. In this paper, I have used some of the same information; however, I have added instructions from God through the teaching in the bible in regards to animals, along with how the theory of utilitarianism applies to animals. To answer the question, do non-human animals have rights? I believe they do. Furthermore, I follow the passage in Genesis 9:3 - "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things" (Bible). What this verse means is that God has given us the animals for us to consume but not for abused or experimentation.
On the other hand, I believe that experimentations through animals are important to provide answers to unknown subjects in science; therefore, helping science progress and help humankind. Abuse to animals, however, is out of the question. In late 1800, Queen Victoria asked Joseph Lister in 1876 to put an end to animal testing. Joseph Lister, a scientist, along with other scientists used to practice called vivisection. This practice used dissected animals while they were still alive to see their organs at work. Although Lister still needed to continue with this practice, he agreed to campaign for animal rights. The Cruelty to Animals Act passed in 1876. On the other hand, it was not until 1975 in a book called Animal Liberation written by philosopher Peter Singer that the idea of non-human animals emerged (BBC).
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Peter Singer, father of the modern animal rights movement, unlike Bentham's, his views on utilitarianism applied to all beings that have preferences, which had nothing to do with animal rights. On the other hand, he agrees with maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. According to Singer, "if a being suffers, that suffering must be taken into account along with the like suffering of others, and it does not matter what species the suffering being is." However, it is important to clarify that although Singer agrees with these view's, his views are somewhat different. Singer believes that if one takes an interest in the not suffering, and the goal of those actions taken by one is to cause the least amount of pain, suffering or even death, to an animal then those actions are justifiable. For example, he agrees with causing the least amount of pain to kill a cow but does not agree with causing the least amount of pain to kill a sibling. The difference is that your siblings can express and articulate their wishes to continue in existence and the cow cannot.
He also reported, that apart from our cerebral complex, the animal's nervous system is nearly identical to ours. In addition, non-human animal's reaction to pain is similar to ours (humans). Animal's advocates claim that animals do suffer. For example, think of the researcher that forces a rat to choose between an electric shock and starvation, just so they can see if the rat develops ulcers. Why do they use rats? Because they know that, the rat's nervous system is similar to the human (Animals feel pain). Singer argued that promoting suffering to animals is a matter of ethical concern. He stated that other options should be explored and if available suffering to animals should be avoided. However, if the only option available would still cause some suffering, then that action would be the ethical course of action (Gruen 35).
Utilitarianism, the strongest theories to express how one must to attend to other animals, is primarily concerned with maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain to anything or anyone been affected by any given action. Therefore, it is not hard to see what motivated classical utilitarianism's founding father, English philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, to extend the theory to other animals. For Jeremy Bentham, pleasure and pain are what is of most importance. As he stated, it cannot be " the number of the legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrumâ€¦ (Gruen 34)" Utilitarian's embrace all sentient being, beings who can suffer, in their analysis to conclude what actions are right and what actions are not. For those beings, if the actions taken endure more suffering than pleasure, then is considered unethical. In addition, for non-human animals or humans, it does not matter, whether is combined or compared, actions with the least suffering are what is ethically required (Gruen 35).
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Some people argue that animals should have no rights, interest, or moral status because they cannot think or rationalized things. So, if they cannot think or rationalize, how do we explain Darwin's statement? Furthermore, how do we explain Jane Goodall's, British primatologist, etiologist, anthropologist, she reported the death of a healthy chimpanzee of grief, three weeks after his mother died. There have also been reports of other animals, such whales, elephants, dogs, etc. that suffer of grief and die (Animals feel pain).
To believe in Darwin's evolution theory, is to believe that humans evolved from animals. Darwin's theory explained the anatomical similarities of humans and animals. He went as far as explaining similarities on mental characteristic; therefore, the evolution of mental traits. Darwin also stated from a work conducted by his cousin Galton, (survival-of-the-fittest theory), that character traits as well as mental characteristics are passed down from our parents (inherited); therefore, he found indications that similar mental powers and characteristics (love, cleverness, and kindness) in certain animals, such as monkeys, dogs, cats, etc., are comparable to humans (Darwin). He concludes on this point that "Nevertheless the difference in mind between man and the higher animals, great as it is, certainly is one of degree and not of kind" (Darwin 336).
Overall, I agree with Singer, interest no matter whose should always be taken into account. Other than the cerebral cortex, there is no other difference between non-human animals and humans. Likewise, If animals are so similar to humans, then they should have an interest and rights; on the other hand, I believe in the circle of life and the use of animals (as long as they do not suffer) in research to help researcher or scientists come up with new ways to help humanity. Rational nature or high intelligence is not needed to experience pain. The brains of many higher animals have developed to the extent that they have the capacity to suffer. This suggests a moral obligation to stop their pain; therefore, giving them some rights.