Monday, April 11, 2005
Animals Rights debate
I've always been more-or-less an animal rights supporter, but not too passionately. (I was a vegetarian for several years, now I am not--more out of laziness and lack of discipline that out of any change in principle, though.)
As a starting point, Slate.com published an interesting email debate from 2001 between Peter Singer (philosopher and animals rights activist who I mentioned before, in the abortion debate) and Richard Posner, a judge and senior lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.
I guess the first/main question here, carried over from the abortion debate, is:
what makes a human being a "person"?
Can any animal that is not a member of the species homo sapiens be a "person," or not?
Note, however, that it is not necessary to show that an animal is a "person" in order to argue that the animal has SOME rights.
We might argue that a human being is always more valuable than any other animal. It does not follow that we can therefore torture animals for the fun of it, or even that we can necessarily kill them. (It simply means that, if you had to choose between the death of a human being and the death of some other animal, you would choose the human to live.)
So on what basis might we claim that animals, besides humans, have "rights"?
I would say this:
1.) animals are "innocent" (another carry-over from the abortion debate . . .)
2.) animals can feel pain