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Exploring the boundaries of rights
Transcript of Exploring the boundaries of rights
...the way it treats its animals
Issues about humans should always take precedence over non-human animals
Issues about white slave owners should always take precedence over those of their black slaves
What if I suggested...
Q: What are our modern prejudices/blind spots?
The question is not can they reason, nor can they talk, but...
capacity for suffering is the vital characteristic that entitles a being to equal consideration
if a being suffers there is no moral reason not to take that suffering into consideration
is the boundary for the concern for the interest of others
intelligence or rationality are arbitrary markers - why not use skin colour?
we give equal weight in our deliberations to like interests of all those affected by our actions
X and Y
Equal consideration of interests
that we have in common
If X will lose more than Y will gain,then we don't do it
NB Equal consideration of interests
does not necessarily mean
can they suffer?
Should animals have rights?
What, if any, should be the limits to those?
New Zealand bans animal testing on binobos/chimps/orang utan/Gorillas other than for research on own species
Spain approved resolution granting apes right to life, protection from research and exploitation
EU bans animal testing for cosmetic ingredients
Battery cages phased out in EU
'The expanding circle' worthy of moral consideration
Legal rights v natural rights
scepticism about natural rights...
nature can endow
Some say 'rights' go with 'responsibilities'
animals cannot meaningfully be responsible for their actions
so, they cannot have rights
What is your answer?
Linking responsibilities to rights only applies to those whom we judge capable...
(e.g. babies, brain damaged, coma patients are exempt)
We don't extend those rights to such beings, which require exercise of responsibility
(e.g. bearing arms, driving, marriage)
"To what extent are [animals] due equal consideration to humans?"
The more interesting question is:
In what ways are humans equal?
Find 3 characteristics that all human share
'Equality' is a fundamental ethical principle,
rather than an assertion of fact
..."really strong ethical pronouncements
as to what should be done"
Racists violate principle of
equal consideration of interests
by giving greater weight to their own interests
than those of another group
Is the same true of
They don't accept that suffering is the same when experienced by pigs
Spiecies-ism in practice
Animals as food
Experimenting on animals
Separating from mother
Breaking up of herds
How do we know animals feel pain?
Animals eat each other, so why can't we eat them?
Humans and animals are different in kind
"Whose side are you on?
Should trees have standing?
Does the language of rights mean anything in respect of the environment?
Western tradition of man's dominion over nature (Genesis)
dominion or stewardship?
Aristotle: hierarchy of life forms
Maori and the moa
Native Americans with guns
Agree or disagree?
worst effects will disproportionately affect poorest countries
countries whose rights are less well protected have less chance to adapt
Do we have responsibilities to people who live far distant from us?
Do future generations have rights?
If so, what are our obligations?
(See Climate Vulnerability Monitor)
Killing animals to eat for necessity is not the reality for most of us
feeding animals grain is a highly inefficient way to provide us with nutritional value
Major interests of animals are sacrificed for
minor interests of humans
Equal consideration of interests?
What is the justification for experimenting on animals for the benefit of humans?
Helps the human condition
Is this the most telling example of spiecies-ism?
If rats help us understand ourselves then they must have something significant in common with humans...
Would we use humans/babies to test out whether something would be beneficial for animals?
Is it to do with their lesser intelligence?
Some common objections:
Animals are not self aware
can we take
ethics goes beyond
mere self interest
My own needs
do not count more
than other people's,
just because they are my needs