Although I have not had a permanent residence there for more than forty years I still consider Pittsburgh my home. The Burgh sets its roots deep in those who have known it.
We begin by asking how the moral status of animals has been understood by thinkers who deny that animals have rights.
Then we test the mettle of their ideas by seeing how well they stand up under the heat of fair criticism. If we start our thinking in this way we soon find that some people believe that we have no duties directly to animals, that we owe nothing to them that we can do nothing that wrongs them.
Rather we can do wrong acts that involve animals and so we have duties regarding them though none to them. Such views may be called indirect duty views. By way of illustration -- suppose your neighbor kicks your dog. Then your neighbor has done something wrong, but not to your dog.
The wrong that has been done is a wrong to you. Your neighbor no more wrongs your dog than your car would be wronged if the windshield were smashed. More generally, all of our duties regarding animals are indirect duties to one another -- to humanity.
How could someone try to justify such a view? A second possibility is that though both humans and your dog are hurt when kicked, it is only human pain that matters. But, again, no rational person can believe this. Pain is pain wherever it occurs.
Philosophers who hold indirect duty views -- and many still do -- have come to understand that they must avoid the two defects just noted: Among such thinkers the sort of view now favored is one or another form of what is called contractarianism.
Here, very crudely, is the root idea: Those who understand and accept the terms of the contract are covered directly; they have rights created and recognized by, and protected in, the contract.
And these contractors can also have protection spelled out for others who, though they lack the ability to understand morality and so cannot sign the contract themselves, are loved or cherished by those who can. Thus young children, for example, are unable to sign contracts and lack rights.
But they are protected by the contract nonetheless because of the sentimental interests of others, most notably their parents.
So we have, then, duties involving these children, duties regarding them, but no duties to them.
Our duties in their case are indirect duties to other human beings, usually their parents. As for animals, since they cannot understand contracts, they obviously Cannot sign; and since they cannot sign, they have no rights.
Like children, however, some animals are the object of the sentimental interest of others. You, for example, love your dog or cat. So those animals that enough people care about companion animals, whales, baby seals, the American bald eaglethough they lack rights themselves, will be protected because of he sentimental interests of people.
I have, then, according to contractaranism, no duty directly to your dog or any other animal, not even the duty not to cause them pain or suffering; my duty not to hurt them is a duty I have to those people who care about what happens to them.
As for other animals, where no or little sentimental interest is present -- in the case of farm animals, for example, or laboratory rats -- what duties we have grow weaker and weaker, perhaps to the vanishing point.
The pain and death they endure, though real, are not wrong if no one cares about them. When it comes to the moral status of animals, contractarianism could be a hard view to refute if it were an adequate theoretical approach to the moral status of human beings.
It is not adequate in this latter respect, however, which makes the question of its adequacy in the former case, regarding animals, utterly moot. Well, enough to make a difference -- enough, that is, collectively to have the power to enforce the rules that are drawn up in the contract.
That is very well and good for the signatories but not so good for anyone who is not asked to sign. And there is nothing in contractarianism of the sort we are discussing that guarantees or requires that everyone will have a chance to participate equally in framing rules of morality.
The result is that this approach to ethics could sanction the most blatant forms of social, economic, moral, and political injustice, ranging from a repressive caste system to systematic racial or sexual discrimination.
Might, according to this theory, does make right. Let those who are the victims of injustice suffer as they will. It matters not so long as no one else -- no contractor, or too few of them -- cares about it. A theory with so little to recommend it at the level of the ethics of our treatment of our fellow humans cannot have anything more to recommend it when it comes to the ethics of how we treat our fellow animals.
The version of contractarianism just examined is, as I have noted, a crude variety, and in fairness to those of a contractarian persuasion, it must be noted that much more refined, subtle, and ingenious varieties are possible.
For example, John Rawls, in his A Theory of Justice, sets forth a version of contractarianism that forces contractors to ignore the accidental features of being a human being -- for example, whether one is white or black, male or female, a genius or of modest intellect.Thus those involved in the animal rights movement are partners in the struggle to secure respect for human rights - the rights of women, for example, or minorities, or workers.
The animal rights movement is cut from the same moral cloth as these. Dec 01, · Animal Rights, Human Wrongs appeals to the head, and will be a useful addition to large philosophy or animal rights collections.
Recommended. * CHOICE * /5(25). Jan 01, · In Animal Rights, Human Wrongs prominent activist and philosopher Tom Regan skillfully puts forth the argument for animal rights through the exploration of two questions central to moral theory: What makes an act right?/5.
For the many people who have ever wondered “what difference does it make if animals have rights,” Animal Rights, Humans Wrongs provides a provocative and intriguing answer. Animal Rights, Human Wrongs: An Introduction to Moral Philosophy. Rowman and Littlefield.
Animal Rights, Human Wrongs. Translated by Per Helman. Alternative views are critically examined, including (a) the Kantian account, which holds that our duties regarding animals are actually indirect duties to humanity; (b) the cruelty account, which holds that the idea of cruelty explains why it is wrong to treat animals in certain ways; and (c) the utilitarian account, which holds that the value of Author: Tom Regan.
What gives an animal 'rights?' What makes product testing on animals wrong? In Animal Rights, Human Wrongs prominent activist and philosopher Tom Regan skillfully puts forth the argument for animal rights through the exploration of two questions central to moral theory: What makes an act right?
What makes an act wrong? Taking into .