Animal Rights and Ethics
Is it ethical for animals to have the same rights as humans? During this paper I will present the views of both sides. I will try my best to give the reader a chance to come to there own unbiased conclusion. I will talk about the key areas of animal ethics. I will present the facts and reasoning behind the arguments over Animal cruelty, testing, hunting, and improper housing. My conclusion will hopefully bring us closer to answering many of the question surrounding “Animal Rights and Ethics”. Animals Rights and Ethics” Animal ethics is a complex subject. Despite opinions Animal ethics has nothing to do with someone’s sentimental love for animal. In fact you don’t even have to own or like animals to argue that it is morally wrong to mistreat them. For many it raises fundamental questions about the basis of moral rights. For years animal rights activist have tried to prevent animal suffering. Two of the main topics which animal rights activists have brought to the attention of the public are; animal testing and hunting.
The testing performed on animals has gone on for years and even with certain regulations set in place some of these experiments can be extremely cruel and barbaric. Even now it is still defended by the scientist performing these acts and our governments as a necessary (evils or) safety procedure. They don’t want to spray perfume on people and cause them to get a rash so they use it on animals before it is safe for the public. There have been a lot of negativity surrounding animals testing but some of these tests have lead to medical breakthroughs.
Clinicians can now use Herceptin to treat Breast Cancer. If it wasn’t for animal testing the estimated five million diagnosed diabetics in the United States alone wouldn’t be able to use Insulin safely. If we look at the good side of animal testing it is that humans benefit in long run. The dark side of animal testing is the majority of test subjects or test animals have went blind or died not because of medical advancements but simply because it was necessary to test whether cosmetics like perfume burned when sprayed in eyes of animals instead of humans.
The views of animal rights activists are that innocent animals live there life in labs and cages not for the benefit of man but for the benefit of the next test. As of today these procedures are viewed as ethical and expectable in our culture. Hunting is an extremely controversial subject because hunting in different cultures means different things. In this country hunting laws were dramatically, changed causing outcry within the hunting community. Activist believes it would be ethical to ban hunting world wide.
Hunters would argue that they have the right to live off the land and it’s a form of population control. It comes back to the fact hunters don’t need meat to live and most hunting is did for fun, not for food. As far as population control places like Africa have adopted things like “Hunting Safari’s”. On these safari’s you can hunt any animal for a certain fee. So as long as you have the money you can go kill a rhino or tiger with no hesitation for fun. To pay and kill innocent animals for a photo ethically seems to be a ludicrous idea.
If animals kill people it is universally viewed that the animal should be put down but when humans kill animals it’s the exact opposite. Most Activists have felt if animals don’t have rights people will always be allowed to commit these unethical acts. While hunters feel they can’t be held morally wrong if these events are legal by law. For years people have avoided arguing that all animals deserve rights because this would give rights to creatures that are so simple that the idea of them having rights would seem to defy common sense.
The second problem is arguing which animals should have rights. The argument that only the “higher level” animals have rights would suggest that we have the right to pick and choose which animals deserve respect. For instance the household animals which we keep as pets have the right to live a happy fulfilled life, but the spider you washed down the stink or the slug you or a kid poured salt over did not because they are not a “higher” animal. Even though it might seem wrong or controversial for one to decide which are ‘higher’ animals, our society and government have decided this for us.
For example household pets such as dogs and cats are hailed too much higher standards in the United States than Cows or Chickens. Which raises the question, is it ethically wrong for Animal rights activists to fight for the rights of some animals and not others? Animal Cruelty is a subject that spreads far across the United States and into most civilized cultures. Animal cruelty can either be in the form of intentional abuse, simple neglect, or abandonment of animals. Whatever forms the abuse takes, however, the animal that is the victim of the abuse is often helpless and may experience extreme suffering.
Animal right activist feel if you don’t know how to take care or treat an animal it can be as deadly as physical abuse to care for one. Activist also feel by giving a child a fish, rabbit, or bird to take care of can viewed as intentional neglect or abuse. This is based upon a child not being able to take care of its self but giving another life which depends on its care in order for it to live. This is hardly ever considered by the parent(s) or suppliers of pets and for that that reason organization like PETA and The Humane Society feel it is necessary to step in and make the general public aware of these issues.
The Improper housing of animals have been a bitter subject with Animal rights activist as well. This is viewed as immoral because Activist feel it is unfair to house or travel with animals in cages against their will. They see places like the zoo, breeding houses, and the circus can all be guilty of the in proper housing of animals. The general public along with the zoo, breeding houses and the circus do not see anything wrong with the showcasing of animals but the showcasing is not at the core of what upsets the activist.
The argument is that animals are being treated and housed unfairly and immorally for profit or amusement. Governments and a lot of organizations have taken action against the in proper housing and treatment of animals. Law enforcement units have been made to protect and ensure animal safety but still Animal activist feel it’s not enough. Animal activist feel the best way ethically to make a difference would be to give animals the same rights as humans. Which brings us back to the main topic: Is it ethical for animals to have the same rights as humans?
The arguments against animal rights center on whether animals behave morally, because rights only have a meaning within a moral community. And as animals don’t behave in a moral way they don’t deserve moral treatment from other beings. It is said that animals usually behave selfishly, and look after their own interests, while humans will often help others, even if this is to their own disadvantage. Some feel Animals don’t display these characteristics and therefore is not a member of a “moral community”. Some people enjoy eating meat and fish, and so face a conflict between animal and human interests.
The act of killing animals for food is trivial because humans do not need to eat meat in order to survive. So should the human interest to eat meat be satisfied at the expense of the animals? Moral behavior comes into play when asking this question. To the people that argue animals don’t behave morally therefore they don’t deserve rights, I ask this. If we behave in an immoral manner do we deserve our rights? The view that animals were put on this earth to serve human’s comes originally from the Bible, but probably reflects a basic human attitude towards other species.
It was for these reasons that the Animal Welfare Act was put in to place. The Act is an overhaul of pet abuse laws and came into force in England and Wales in 2007. The act was the first review of pet laws in 94 years. It replaced the Protection of Animals Act, first passed in 1911 and designed to prevent outright cruelty to animals. The animal welfare act combined more than 20 pieces of legislation in to one. The act introduced harsher penalties for neglect and cruelty, including fines at up to 20,000, a maximum jail term of 51 weeks and a lifetime ban of some people keeping pets.
It also rose the age of buying a pet from 12 to 16 years old. Although the act banned mutation for cosmetic reasons such as docking (cutting or removal) of the tail the exception was made for “working” dogs’ such as those in the police or armed forces. It also allowed such practices as castrating, spaying cats and dogs and ear tagging which were not made illegal. This act has forced people to acknowledge that animals do have rights. In closing, I feel animals deserve more than the rights they have and that we might not deserve all the options and liberties we are granted.
It is ethical to treat others as you would like to be treated, should this statement only be meant for man. I think this comes down to knowing what is right or wrong but by saying that I can only consider my view as what is right, which could be viewed by others as wrong. I present this conclusion; “When hunting becomes a sport instead of a survival skill, it is wrong. When one animal is considered better than another that is wrong’. When any life is taken out of neglect, spite, hobby or abuse, Animal or human, ethically and morally, we can agree, without bias is “wrong”.