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Argument For Animal Rights Essay

1863 words - 7 pages

Argument for Animal Rights

The argument for animal rights assumes that animals posses their own
lives and deserve to be assigned rights in order to protect their
wellbeing. This view insists that animals are not merely goods
utilised only to benefit mankind and they should be allowed to choose
how they want to live their lives, free from the constraints of man.
But if animals are given absolute rights, then surely they shouldn’t
be allowed to kill each other, as this would be a violation of these
rights. Should murderous animals be administered prison sentences or
even…capital punishment?

One method of preventing animals killing each other would be to
provide animals with a vegetarian environment which caters for their
every need. However, in this fictional vegetarian world wouldn’t the
rights of the animal be suppressed as it is being held in captivity
against its will? From an evolutionary point of view it is the natural
right of a stronger animal to devour a weaker one. If this is
acceptable then surely it is acceptable for us to eat meat too, as we
humans are more evolved than the creatures we eat. But this argument
implies that if you have physical power over someone or something then
you should be allowed to do what you want. If this was the case, it
would be perfectly acceptable for me to torture an infant, purely
because I have the physical capacity to do so and if an alien race
should happen to invade Earth with the intention and power to kill and
eat us, they should also be allowed to do so.

Being human beings, we have the ability to reflect upon that which we
have done which is the main reason we choose not to attack those less
powerful than us.

Animals on the other hand cannot think about their actions in great
depth and rely upon instinct to direct them. This is ironic because we
are moral beings and can think about our actions, yet we kill and
mistreat animals as they are lesser beings and can’t think about their
actions. However, before we can answer the question of whether or not
animals have the right to kill each other, we must ask whether or not
they even have rights.

It can be argued that, as greater beings, we should take
responsibility for the wellbeing of those species that are less
developed than us, rather than using our power to manipulate and
exploit them. According to Rawls’s contractualism, animals are not
rational agents and humans are. This implies that, as humans are the
ones who have created the concept of rights, they should only apply to
humans. However, Peter Carruthers extends this theory so that it
defends the rights of animals. He suggests that a rational agent could
enter into a contract for an animal, representing their interests in
‘the formulation of the basic contract’. There are also some human
beings who cannot speak...

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