Animal rights

A man with a captive monkey seeking alms in Shanghai
Egg laying hens in a factory farm battery cage
Parshwanatha, the 23rd Tirthankara, revived Jainism and ahimsa in the 9th century BCE, which led to a radical animal-rights movement in South Asia.[1]
The c. 5th-century CE Tamil scholar Valluvar, in his Tirukkural, taught ahimsa and moral vegetarianism as personal virtues. The plaque in this statue of Valluvar at an animal sanctuary in South India describes the Kural's teachings on ahimsa and non-killing, summing them up with the definition of veganism.

Animal rights is the philosophy according to which many or all sentient animals have moral worth that is independent of their utility for humans, and that their most basic interests—such as in avoiding suffering—should be afforded the same consideration as similar interests of human beings.[2] Broadly speaking, and particularly in popular discourse, the term "animal rights" is often used synonymously with "animal protection" or "animal liberation". More narrowly, "animal rights" refers to the idea that many animals have fundamental rights to be treated with respect as individuals—rights to life, liberty, and freedom from torture that may not be overridden by considerations of aggregate welfare.[3]

Advocates for animal rights oppose the assignment of moral value and fundamental protections on the basis of species membership alone—an idea known as speciesism since 1970, when Richard D. Ryder adopted the term[4]—arguing that it is a prejudice as irrational as any other.[5] They maintain that animals should no longer be viewed as property or used as food, clothing, research subjects, entertainment, or beasts of burden.[6] Multiple cultural traditions around the world such as Jainism, Taoism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism and Animism also espouse some forms of animal rights.

In parallel to the debate about moral rights, law schools in North America now often teach animal law,[7] and several legal scholars, such as Steven M. Wise and Gary L. Francione, support the extension of basic legal rights and personhood to non-human animals. The animals most often considered in arguments for personhood are hominids. Some animal-rights academics support this because it would break through the species barrier, but others oppose it because it predicates moral value on mental complexity, rather than on sentience alone.[8] As of November 2019, 29 countries had enacted bans on hominoid experimentation; Argentina has granted a captive orangutan basic human rights since 2014.[9]

Outside the order of primates, animal-rights discussions most often address the status of mammals (compare charismatic megafauna). Other animals (considered less sentient) have gained less attention; insects relatively little[10] (outside Jainism), and animal-like bacteria (despite their overwhelming numbers) hardly any.[11] The vast majority of animals have no legally recognised rights.[12]

Critics of animal rights argue that nonhuman animals are unable to enter into a social contract, and thus cannot be possessors of rights, a view summed up by the philosopher Roger Scruton (1944–2020), who writes that only humans have duties, and therefore only humans have rights.[13] Another argument, associated with the utilitarian tradition, maintains that animals may be used as resources so long as there is no unnecessary suffering;[14] animals may have some moral standing, but they are inferior in status to human beings, and any interests they have may be overridden, though what counts as "necessary" suffering or a legitimate sacrifice of interests can vary considerably.[15] Certain forms of animal-rights activism, such as the destruction of fur farms and of animal laboratories by the Animal Liberation Front, have attracted criticism, including from within the animal-rights movement itself,[16] and have prompted reaction from the U.S. Congress with the enactment of laws, including the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, allowing the prosecution of this sort of activity as terrorism.[17]

  1. ^ Kumar, Satish (September 2002). You are, therefore I am: A declaration of dependence. ISBN 9781903998182.
  2. ^ DeGrazia (2002), ch. 2; Taylor (2009), ch. 1.
  3. ^ Taylor (2009), ch. 3.
  4. ^ Compare for example similar usage of the term in 1938: The American Biology Teacher. Vol. 53. National Association of Biology Teachers. 1938. p. 211. Retrieved 16 April 2021. The foundation from which these behaviors spring is the ideology known as speciesism. Speciesism is deeply rooted in the widely-held belief that the human species is entitled to certain rights and privileges.
  5. ^ Horta (2010).
  6. ^ That a central goal of animal rights is to eliminate the property status of animals, see Sunstein (2004), p. 11ff.
    • For speciesism and fundamental protections, see Waldau (2011).
    • For food, clothing, research subjects or entertainment, see Francione (1995), p. 17.
  7. ^ "Animal Law Courses". Animal Legal Defense Fund.
  8. ^ For animal-law courses in North America, see "Animal law courses" Archived 2010-06-13 at the Wayback Machine, Animal Legal Defense Fund. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
    • For a discussion of animals and personhood, see Wise (2000), pp. 4, 59, 248ff; Wise (2004); Posner (2004); Wise (2007).
    • For the arguments and counter-arguments about awarding personhood only to great apes, see Garner (2005), p. 22.
    • Also see Sunstein, Cass R. (February 20, 2000). "The Chimps' Day in Court", The New York Times.
  9. ^ Giménez, Emiliano (January 4, 2015). "Argentine orangutan granted unprecedented legal rights". edition.cnn.com. CNN Espanol. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
  10. ^ Cohen, Carl; Regan, Tom (2001). The Animal Rights Debate. Point/Counterpoint: Philosophers Debate Contemporary Issues Series. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. p. 47. ISBN 9780847696628. Retrieved 16 April 2021. Too often overlooked in the animal world, according to Sapontzis, are insects that have interests, and therefore rights.
  11. ^ The concept of "bacteria rights" can appear coupled with disdain or irony: Pluhar, Evelyn B. (1995). "Human "superiority" and the argument from marginal cases". Beyond Prejudice: The Moral Significance of Human and Nonhuman Animals. Book collections on Project MUSE. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780822316480. Retrieved 16 April 2021. For example, in an editorial entitled 'Animal Rights Nonsense,' ... in the prestigious science journal Nature, defenders of animal rights are accused of being committed to the absurdity of 'bacteria rights.'
  12. ^ Jakopovich, Daniel (2021). "The UK's Animal Welfare (Sentience) Bill Excludes the Vast Majority of Animals: Why We Must Expand Our Moral Circle to Include Invertebrates". Animals & Society Research Initiative, University of Victoria, Canada.
  13. ^ Cite error: The named reference Scruton was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  14. ^ Liguori, G.; et al. (2017). "Ethical Issues in the Use of Animal Models for Tissue Engineering: Reflections on Legal Aspects, Moral Theory, 3Rs Strategies, and Harm-Benefit Analysis" (PDF). Tissue Engineering Part C: Methods. 23 (12): 850–862. doi:10.1089/ten.TEC.2017.0189. PMID 28756735. S2CID 206268293.
  15. ^ Garner (2005), pp. 11, 16.
  16. ^ Singer (2000), pp. 151–156.
  17. ^ Martin, Gus (15 June 2011). The SAGE Encyclopedia of Terrorism, Second Edition. SAGE. ISBN 9781412980166 – via Google Books.

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