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All Animal Rights Are Equal - Essay Example

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All Animals are Equal Peter Singer’s article argues that animals are equal to humans and should be treated as such. He compares the animal liberation movement to the gender and racial equality movements. Referencing a work of satire by philosopher Thomas Taylor, Singer argues that, like past movements for equal rights for women and equal rights for African-Americans, animals should be given similar equal rights as well because the arguments for the rights of animals and the arguments for the rights of gender & race are the virtually the same…
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All Animal Rights Are Equal
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All Animal Rights Are Equal

This is similar to what Martin Luther King Jr. argued for when he said that people should be judged by the content of their character and not by the color of their skin. Singer also argues that just because there exists certain factual differences between groups of people (i.e., women are generally physically weaker than men), that this doesn’t justify “any difference in the amount of consideration we give to their needs and interests” (1977). Singer then relates racism and sexism to a concept known as speciesism. Since racism means that a person believes their race is better than another race, and sexism means that a person believes their gender is superior to the opposite gender, speciesism similarly means that a person believes that humans are superior to animals and can therefore treat them as they please. Speciesism is therefore as morally wrong as racism and sexism. However, a person may ask, why should we treat animals with the same consideration and respect as humans if they can’t reason or talk? For the answer to this question, Singer points to a statement made by Jeremy Bentham, who wrote, “The question is not, can [animals] reason? Nor can they talk? But, can they suffer?” (1977). The fact that both humans and animals suffer, he believed, shows that both deserve to have their needs and interests considered. In this article, Singer argues that most humans are speciesists. By eating animals, we are using them for our own selfish ends and not considering the violation of rights which we have committed against that animal. If humans had to eat animals to survive that would be another matter, but since we are capable of getting the same nutritional value from things like vegetables and beans, humans usually only eat animals for pleasure. Singer argues that this is unnecessarily cruel and therefore morally wrong. He also writes that many scientific experiments involving animals are also wrong because of they are cruel and the animals are often killed. Here, he says, the benefits to mankind from many of these studies do not outweigh the costs of the inflicting pain on and the killing of animals. Speciesism and the Idea of Equality Although Bonnie Steinbock also writes that we should give consideration to animal suffering, she refutes Singer’s claim that animals and humans have equal rights. But Steinbock does not focus on animal rights in her article because she argues that even if people and animals don’t have equal rights, that doesn’t mean we are justified in treating them poorly. For instance, pulling on a cat’s tail is wrong not because cats have equal rights, but because doing so is simply a morally wrong and cruel action intended to hurt another sentient creature. Of course, Steinbock argues, unnecessary cruelty toward animals in wrong. Yet she could see certain scientific experiments involving animals as justifiable and not morally wrong. If an animal experiment saves human lives, for example, she argues that such an experiment is morally justifiable. She also writes that it is not reasonable to say that animals and ... Read More
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