Animal rights are one of the most controversial issues being debated upon. It is a classical dilemma in deciding whether animals should have rights. However, as much as this is a controversial issue, people seem to agree on one thing concerning animals, that animals should not be treated mercilessly and cruelly. The essay intends to illustrate that apart from mistreatment of animals, the other rights are applicable in the contextual world.
Human beings do not necessarily need to use these animals in doing several things that will end up benefitting them and instead causing harm to the animals. Having animal rights would prevent human beings from using them due to the moral sense that some people want to attach to the animal kingdom. The essay will state the moral issues and their significance and then give opposing and proposing sides regarding the issue.
There is need to understand exactly what these animal rights are before an argument of whether animals deserve to have rights or not is raised. The animal right is an interest group with the main intention of providing protection to animals against the exploitation in addition to the abuse that human beings inflict on them. The movement is against any activity done by a human being to an animal that results into pain in addition to suffering.
There are lists of things that the movement has come up with, which are considered to cause pain and suffering to animals. This includes the imprisonment of animals in secluded areas to provide pleasure for human beings such as zoos and circuses, other things that are considered are the production of clothing using fur, killing animals for the purpose of acquiring meat for pleasure and the use of animals in medical research and experimentation.
There are also animal welfare activists who advocate for the proper treatment of animals in a humane way but the animal rights movement advocates for the treatment of animals like individuals rather than the way in which human beings treat them as property. The aim of these animal rights is to bring to a close animal suffering by bringing in the issue of animals having human rights just as human beings have rights that protect them against cruelty (Clark 25).
Animals need to have rights just as human beings need to have rights. Most people claim that rights are accorded to human beings due to the fact that human beings have the capacity to think and reason. However, there are two categories of human beings which include the standard paradigmatic humans who have the capacities that human beings have which is the ability to think while there is the other class of human beings which is the marginal human.
This class of humans lacks the capacities to reason and think. Examples of this are toddlers, the psychotic and the senile. Since rights are accorded to human beings on the basis that they can reason, then what about this ones that lack this capacity. Will they be treated cruelly and lack rights just because they lack the capacity to think? This is usually not the case and in the same way, animals cannot be denied their rights just because they lack the capability of thinking and reasoning.
Due to this fact, just as toddlers, infants and the senile cannot reason but they still can feel pain, then it is the same with animals. Therefore, there is no reason for animals to be denied animal rights on the basis that they lack the reasoning capacity. If so, then the marginal humans also have no right to possess human rights since they lack the reasoning capacity.
The marginal humans also possess the inherent values that standard paradigmatic humans possess. Inherent value is in itself a reason as to why human beings have rights. By having inherent value, it means that each person has their own unique qualities and these unique qualities render a person the right to have human rights. In just the same way that the marginal human beings have inherent value, so do animals possess this same value (Frey 58). It is thus justified for animals to be granted animal rights because they also have inherent values that make them have a right to have animal right so that they can be protected by these rights against the cruel acts of certain human beings.
There is only one thing that both proponents and opponents of the human rights agree upon and this is the fact that animals should not be treated cruelly and maliciously since it is an abhorred and emotionally affecting experience to see any creature being treated mercilessly for pleasure.
This is just where the agreement ends for both sides. Those opposing animal rights believe that the animal rights movement does make an unbelievable argument, just to think that animals can be accorded rights and be treated like individuals just like human beings are considered individuals. The fact that human beings can think rationally about the things that are happening around them is the main reason why human beings have rights (Narveson 169).
Human beings hold the capability of reasoning while this is a quality that lacks in animals. Therefore, due to the reason that human beings have the capability of reasoning and animals do not have this capability, individual rights cannot be granted to animals. Rights cannot be accorded to animals in the sense of causing pain, since animals do not have the ability to converse and discuss, any dispute that arises between a human being and an animal cannot be solved peacefully without force being introduced. This force has to be initiated by a human being because failure to do so will result to harm caused by the animal to a human being which is not morally acceptable.
In order to prevent animals for example lions and dogs from causing physical harm to a human being, force has to be applied and this is not the same case when it comes to human beings because human beings have the capacity to reason and this would enable them to solve the issue without necessarily having to use force. Animals cannot in any way be responsible for their acts, therefore, they exist for the sole purpose of being instruments that have to be utilized by human beings, may it be to acquire food, clothing or for medical research.
However, this does not offer any reason for a person to cruelly treat an animal. Especially if the animal is being used for reasons such as providing fancy clothing that people can do without and providing pleasure foods that are not necessary for consumption and most of all, the brutal use of these animals in labs for experiments and research. An animal is a creature with the right to life just as a human being has the right to live.
The fact that animals have life and the right to live then it also adds up to the fact that animals have inherent value. Because of this inherent value, due respect must be accorded to this animals and this means that human beings cannot just mistreat animals just so that they can have their selfish ends met. Due to this inherent value, animals have rights just as human beings have the right to life (Williams 153).
Apart from the above reason, some people may be of the opinion that since animals are not rational in nature and neither are they autonomous nor self-conscious then this gives human beings the privilege of having rights and at the same time deserving to have moral status in the society. This three qualities that human beings posses over animals does not necessarily provide reason for human beings to mistreat animals in any fashion that they seem to think right such as holding animals hostages in zoos and circuses.
What human beings have to remember is the fact that animals are also sentient. This fact alone shows that human beings should avoid causing pain and harm to animals merely by the fact that animals are not rational. Animals have feelings just as human beings have feelings of pain and pleasure. Just as a human being can differentiate between these two, so can animals, do the same. Therefore, animals need to have rights that protect them against cruelty just as human beings have rights that protect them against malice (Wilson, par. 4)
Human beings must come to the realization that just as they have human rights that protect them, so should animals have their own animal rights. These rights will ensure that the cruel treatment of animals is brought to a halt. Just as human beings experience pain and pleasure, in the same way do animals experience pain and pleasure. Therefore, there is no reason why a human being who has the same response to a certain stimuli should be protected by rights while the same stimuli have the same response in an animal and the animal should not be protected. Just as human beings are protected by human rights so should animal rights protect animals.
Clark, Stephen. The Moral Status of Animals. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.
Frey, Roger. Interests and Rights: The Case Against Animals. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1980.
Narveson, Jan. “Animal Rights”, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 7(1977): 161-78.
Williams, Meredith. “Rights, Interests, and Moral Equality”, Environmental Ethics 2(1980): 149-61.
Wilson, Scott. Animals and Ethics. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2010.