Definitely, it is one of the most widely discussed issues in the global scientific community. So, I don’t even wonder that you are assigned to write a good essay on it. However, if you have never been interested in the controversial idea of animal rights before, it might be quite difficult to decide how you personally would approach it. Not to mention the fact that you are actually expected to take one of the two opposite sides: the side of those guys who support the idea of legal animal rights and the side of those guys who suggest leaving it all as it is now.
In this post I would like to throw out to you a few cast-iron arguments against equalizing the rights of animals and people. Sorry if I’ve just hurt your feelings. But I believe, as you and I are smart serious people, the arguments listed below will broaden our horizons and help us come up with really effective solutions for the issue raised. By the way, even if you support the idea of giving legal rights to animals, your referring to my counterarguments could also help you strengthen your position in the essay.
Nevertheless, let’s see what we have here!
Immanuel Kant: We Have No Duties Towards Animals, but We Can’t Be Cruel to Them
I bet you have heard about him. Immanuel Kant was one of the greatest German philosophers of the 18th century. So, quoting him would certainly add much weight to your argumentative paper. At that time, the question of legalizing animal rights was not discussed as hotly as today. However, the rapid development of philosophy made thinkers consider the fact that Homo sapiens is not the only creature of the Nature.
In his turn, Kant argued that although we had duties only towards each other and not towards animals, it did not mean that we could treat them cruelly. What is more, such cruelty would significantly harm the whole humanity. Just think, if you can hit, say, a dog for nothing, who can guarantee that you won’t go and hit that guy over there.
Peter Carruthers: Animals Don’t Have Concepts, so They Don’t Understand Rights
Let’s check what Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland, the US, can tell us. As a great contributor to the philosophy of language, Carruthers states that animals cannot have, and hence cannot be given, any kind of moral rights simply because they cannot conceptualize morality with what we know as language. Even the concept of “right” itself means nothing to them, as they are not able to name it.
Actually, the connections between the human abilities to think and speak, give names even to non-physical things (offence, kindness, fear, etc.) and keep all those concepts in mind and consciousness are very, very complicated. People just had to come up with the concepts of right or morality due to the way they organized their existence – I mean the society. Animals also have their communities, if we can call them like this. However, the principles of behavior in such a community are not determined by the concepts we have invented for our social selves.
Roger Scruton: Animals Don’t Have Duties, so They Can’t Have Rights
He is a modern British philosopher and great contributor to such UK media as The Times and The Spectator. Roger Scruton is probably the only thinker who reminds us that rights are always tightly connected with duties. He claims that only human beings have duties. And here Carruthers would probably note that only humans realize the concept of duties. Thus, only humans can realize what rights are and why they are so vitally essential.
It is definitely good that we strive to protect animals from cruelty, which so natural of us, people. However, our striving should not turn into an irrational obsession. Just imagine how your nice but old and lonely neighbor would live without her dear terrier if animal right activists proved that turning animals into pets (and taking care of them) means violating their rights.