Animal Rights Ethics and Morality Term Paper

  • Length: 12 pages
  • Sources: 5
  • Subject: Animals
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #55485587

Excerpt from Term Paper :

These abilities are inclusive of memory emotion, belief, desire, intentional actions and an awareness of the future. With these things being understood this theory asserts that mammals not only have physical bodies that are alive but they also function as psychological beings whose existence can get better or worse. Proponents of this theory argue that other mammals have this capacity even though they cannot use human language to articulate this capacity.

The second stage of this theory asserts that subjects of a life are independent of one another. This argument is used to refute the idea that utilitarianism which asserts that living things are only vessels of morally significant value (Warren). As such damage done to one living thing may be permissible because it may provide some benefit to other living things. This is that argument used to justify using animals for medical research. However this is an idea that is rejected by proponents of the strong animal rights theory because they assert that one living thing or a group of living things is not more valuable than an individual living thing (Warren).

The third stage of this theory has as its foundation the second stage of the theory which asserts that living things are not just vessels. The third stage of the theory asserts that because living things have inherent value they mustn't be harmed. The third stage of the theory further asserts that there are moral rights attributed to things with inherent value. This means not only should living things not be harmed but human being should intervene or come to the assistance of other living organisms when they are in danger of being harmed (Warren).

This theory is problematic because it is inconsistent. If all things are individually valuable why is it wrong for a small percentage of those things to be sacrificed to assist a larger percentage of living things that may die if the smaller percentage is not sacrificed? Another problem with this theory is that it is only inclusive of mammals because this theory asserts that other mammals are the only species that posses the same inherent value as human beings. According to this theory birds, fish, plants and other living organisms should not be given the same consideration as mammals as it pertains to the manner in which they are treated. In addition the mammal has to be older than one year to possess these same rights. Does this mean that human beings under the age of one do not have a right to ethical Treatment?

Two Factor Egalitarianism

This theory argues that the issue of animal rights lies within the constructs of two principles represented by the letters a and B. A represents an animal that is less sophisticated on a psychological level (a rabbit) and B. represents the more psychology sophisticated animal (a human being) (Peffer). This theory asserts that it is morally permissible to forfeit the interest of a to encourage the similar interest of B. If a does not have the same psychological acuity that B. has (Peffer). In addition the theory asserts that it is morally permissible to sacrifice the basic interest of a to promote the serious interest of B. If a has a psychological capacity that is not comparable to B (Peffer). Finally this theory asserts that it is morally permissible to sacrifice the peripheral interest to promote the more basic interest if the organisms have similar psychological capacities (Peffer).

This particular theory purports that there are levels of significance as it relates to living organisms (Peffer). The measure of this significance is found if psychological the amount of psychological capacity that exist. Therefore the Two Factor Egalitarianism theory asserts that there is a moral weight assigned to living organisms that determines the manner in which they are treated.

As such the theory posits that it is completely understandable to sacrifice the moral rights of the species with less psychological capacity for the species with a greater psychological capacity. However, the ability to transcend these moral rights is contingent upon the interest of the species with greater psychological capacity. For instance it would be allowable for a human being (a) to kill the rabbit (B) if the human being needed food (Peffer). It is permissible because in this scenario the interest of the rabbit is basic but the interest of the human is serious. In essence this theory has as a foundation the issue of moral weight. The concept of moral weight is usually at the forefront of any debate concerning the treatment of animals.

Ecocentric Views

Ecocentric views contend that the biosphere is finite and as such restrictions should be placed on continued technological and economic growth. An ecocentric theory makes no ontological distinction between 'nature' and 'humanity'. This theory basically asserts that humans hold no more value than other living beings (Hettinger). Ecocentric views concerning the ethical treatment of animals assert that animals deserve the same consideration and treatment as human beings and as such they should not be subjected to pain or suffering for any reason not even for the benefit of human beings (Hettinger).

This particular theory does not believe that human beings are in anyway superior to other animals. As such it does not concede that human being have the right to preserve their existence if it results in the death or harm of some other type of living organism.

This particular view is problematic because if entire ecosystems are included it could also be inclusive of non-living entities. In addition such a theory could result in "philosophical foundations for the sacrifice of immediate human interests for the sake of some 'more fundamental' entity (Humphrey, 2002, pg 19)."

As such in some respect this theory could become dangerous if it was ever accepted and enforced on a large scale.

Opinion concerning ethical issues and the best theory to address these issues

As it relates to hunting and trapping animals I believe that hunting should only be allowed for the purposes of gathering food that is essential for human survival. There are people all over the world for whom hunting is a way of life and a livelihood; this is particularly true of indigenous people groups. Oddly enough, it is these indigenous groups that also seem to have the most respect for the earth and usually only take from the earth what is necessary for their survival; they tend not to exploit animals but instead live in harmony with them.

Hunting should not be permissible simply for sport, in my opinion this type of hunting causes undue or unnecessary harm to the animal. Hunting may also be permissible on occasions where overpopulation of an animal may threaten the ecosystem or endanger human beings. Such has been the case with large deer population and at times large populations of birds.

As far as trapping is concerned it should only be done if the animal may harm human beings or livestock. For instance, in certain areas of the country coyotes and wolves have been known to attack live stock. In these instances I believe it permissible to trap animals that jeopardize the livelihood of farmers or can do bodily harm to human beings.

As it relates to eating animals, it would seem permissible to me as this is the only way that many people in the world can acquire food -- through the consumption of animal flesh. It would be insensitive of people that do not have to eat animals to survive to attempt to tell those who do have to eat animals to survive not to eat animals. Also because the definition of what constitutes an animal is so broad it could include everything from plants to birds.

I do believe that if an individual is opposed to eating animals they have a right not to but they should not be in opposition to the necessity or right of others to consume animals.

As it relates to using animals for the purpose of research, I am opposed to such research for cosmetic products or any other reason that is not a life and death situation. With this being understood, I do think that using animals for the purpose of medical research is necessary and morally permissible. Many drugs that have saved the lives of people would not be available today if they had not been tested on animals first. In these instances rats, mice, and monkeys have provided human beings with the ability to cure or treat illnesses that could be fatal. For this reason a great deal of the opposition to the use of animals in medical research has fallen on deaf ears. Although I am a proponent of using animals for the purpose of medical research I do believe they should not be handled in a way that is haphazard or causes them pain that is beyond that necessary for carrying out the research.

Finally, as it relates to the manner in which domestic…

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