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January 16, 2017 / Congau

Animal Rights?

Do animals have rights? It’s a weird question and it’s not so clear what it actually means. If human beings have rights (and even that is far from evident) it’s because they live in a system of mutual dependence with other individuals of their species. People may have rights if it has been granted them by someone, probably with the expectation that they contribute their share in the form of duties. The state may give rights within a system of citizenship and human rights are only conceivable with a full understanding of what it means to be human. Obviously animals are not and cannot be a part of a human interactive system; we cannot expect anything from them.

There’s a strange modern fashion that ethics has to be expressed in the language of rights. That is by no means necessary. Denying animals rights is not the same as allowing them to be mistreated. They are living things that are capable of suffering and we shouldn’t let any creature suffer if we can avoid it.

Where could a system of rights for animals possibly come from if it allows them to be killed and eaten and used for labor? We don’t imagine that we treat them the way they would have wanted if they could have expressed their view. Those imaginary rights are arbitrarily adjusted to human inclinations simply stating that you can treat animals however you like as long as it is necessary for your purpose.

Rights are either negotiable or fundamental, but animal rights can be neither. We cannot negotiate with animals and their “rights” are arbitrary.

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