Let’s discuss animal rights.
The crux of the animal rights argument is that humans are indistinguishable from animals in all but arbitrary ways. We have a different DNA structure and many humans have the ability to reason abstractly, but these two differences do not seem to justify why human suffering alone is morally relevant.
I think the argument goes something like this (though if someone out there can offer a stronger formulation I welcome it)…
Premise 1: Some animals suffer as some humans do, and think as some humans do.
Premise 2: A system of rights should be consistent; it should not give and deny rights arbitrarily.
Premise 3: It is wrong to treat weaker human beings, especially those who are lacking in normal human intelligence, as “tools” or “renewable resources” or “models” or “commodities.”
Premise 4: There is no morally relevant difference between humans and animals that makes one deserve rights and not the other.
Therefore: Some animals ought to be afforded some of the rights we afford all humans, including basic rights to freedom and life.
So the questions for the forum:
Which of these premises is wrong?
Does the conclusion not follow from the premises?
Is one of the assumptions being made invalid?
In what other ways is this argument bad?
One more point:
Most of us concede that unnecessary animal suffering is wrong. Why is useful animal suffering then moral? Because of the greater good? It seems to me that utilitarianism is an inadequate response to AR arguments. Here’s what Nozick says on this…
If you believe that there is no rational basis for ethics, or that ethics cannot be objectively debated, this isn’t the thread for you. If you believe that humans have souls and animals do not, and that souls entail rights, this is not the thread for you. For everyone else, let’s hear it.