PHILOSOPHY 12

Saturday, July 31, 2004

FINAL #05

5. Now answer whether animals have moral rights? Justify "philosophically" your position. This is not simply just your opinion. But you need to "back up" your answer with philosophical reasoning....use other "ethical theorists," ones that we covered in the course, as a backbone. I encourage your to draw upon material from earlier in the semester. I would like you to use at least three philosophers to justify your position (Hobbes, Mill, Nietzsche, Spinoza, Sartre...whoever you think might fit here and exlain why).

i do NOT believe that animals should have animal rights, but this does not mean that we can then just go around killing animals all we want; there are limits to this. the difficulty of assigning rights to animals is this: should we give all animals the same rights or not? if the answer is yes, we should, then that means a dog in the living room has the same right as the mosquito spreading the west-nile virus. if we can't kill dogs, then we can't kill mosquito as well. if the answer is no, we shouldn't, then we will be giving unfair rights to animals; we will be considering a species of animal greater than another species. why should mammals be considered a higher species to reptiles? why should reptiles be considered a higher species to bugs? or vice versa. this difficulty makes it impossible to assign rights to animals. what kind of rights? which animals should be affected?

many argue using the same basis of argument: "animals can feel pain. humans can feel pain. if humans don't like pain then animals don't like pain as well. if we shouldn't kill human beings because it inflicts pain on them, then we shouldn't kill animals either." as far as the argument goes, it is valid and sound. but there is a problem with it. what is defined by "animals?" mammals? reptiles? or everything in the animal kingdom? vegetarians use the claim that it is immoral to kill animals, but do they not kill ants? or bugs? or gophers causing ruckus in their yard? this might sound extreme, but they never say it is immoral to kill or hurt cows, chicken, fish, and pigs; they claim it is immoral to kill or hurt ANIMALS. no offense, but do they not consider reptiles and bugs animals? again i need to emphasize that i am not saying that we should go around and make every animals extinct.

peter singer argue for animal rights, claiming that as long as killing animals cause pain, then we should not kill animals. in other words, he is saying that if the animal does not feel pain, it is okay to kill it. the problem with this argument is that it is difficult for us to know which animals feel pain and which animal does not. when you hit a dog with a stick, how do you know the howl means that the dog is in pain? how do you know that the dog doesn't have a twisted or retarded dog-brain that the dog becomes one who takes pleasure in being hit by a stick? this might seem ridiculous, but it is not impossible. just like there are people who enjoy hurting themselves, like cutting or stabbing themselves. i forgot the politically correct term for these people, but they do exist. also, how much is it required for the animals before they feel pain? a pinch to a 3-month-old baby does not inflict the same pain as a pinch to arnold schwarznegger. the latter one might inflict pain on the person who pinches instead. if singer claims that killing animals is immoral because it causes pain to the animal, then if we put all the animals to sleep with, say, sleeping gas, then shut down all their nervous system so they cannot feel pain, then it is okay to kill them? of course it is still not okay. pain cannot and should not be used as a reason against animal killing.

david lane uses an example about transhuman being who are far more intelligent than us and find our meat to be delicious and argues that it is still not moral for them to eat us. lane also compares these intelligence of these transhuman being to us is like us to cows. well, if there is such a thing as those transhuman beings, then maybe they DO deserve to enjoy our meat as delicacies. of course lane was just taking an extreme example, and i fully understand that he is just trying to put us in the position of the cows. but here is the reason why ---even if these transhuman beings do exist--- we are different from the cows. we can assemble. we can join forces to resist. if these transhuman beings try to eat us, of course we will fight back. if we do not have the will to fight back in order to preserve ourselves, then sure, they have all the right in the universe to eat us. i am not joking, but if somehow these cows, chickens, and pigs join forces to freed themselves from being the source of food of human beings, then maybe they won't be food anymore. i am not talking about intelligence either; a bird is more intelligent than any of us in building a stiff, strong nest that will not fall of a branch of a tree from merely a bunch of trunks. i am talking about the will. we have will, and that makes us superior than these animals.

regarding gandhi's argument, claiming that since we are superior to animals, it is our duty to protect them, i have to say i agree, though not fully. but again this does not mean we should all give up from eating meat. i didn't fully agree with gandhi because again, what kind of animals are we talking about here? why should we prefer cows over slugs or mosquitos? now, i do not know whether mosquitos or slugs have nervous system or not, but IF THEY DON'T, then a cow with its nervous system shut down is no different than these puny mosquitos. and even if they DO have nervous system, why is it not immoral for us to kill mosquitos? lately, mosquitos have been threatening our lives with the west nile virus, so to take precaution, we clean up all kinds of place that can be used by these mosquitos to live. in other words, we are killing these mosquitos so that we do not die. and when we kill these mosquitos, do we carefully look first and give them the benefit of the doubt that they're just regular blood-sucking creatures with no west-nile virus? no. we just smack them with our palms instantly and after they're squashed, we then look and say: "oh well, it's just a regular mosquito after all." but again i need to emphasize that i am NOT saying we should all just kill every living animal.

if one wants to defend the cows chickens pigs and fish being killed daily for our food sources, do not use animal rights as a reason to back up the argument. i firmly do NOT believe that animals should be given rights, not because they are worthless or anything degrading like that, but because we have to ask the question to ourselves: WHO ARE WE TO GIVE THESE ANIMALS RIGHTS? are we their creators? no. are they the citizen of our country? no. they just happen to be living here. if they don't like it they can rebel and leave, i would not mind. if one wants to defend these animals from being eaten daily, DO IT OUT OF RESPECT. i can give up meat whenever i want, for i usually give up meat for 40 days every year during lent. of course there are trouble finding variety of cheap nourishing non-meat food that can sustain my need to stay awake for 18-20 hours everyday doing college work, but meat is NOT something i need to survive. i DO agree with that argument. all i'm saying is that pain should not be used as an excuse for us to not eat animals. when gandhi argues that we do not meat to survive, i feel that such is a much stronger argument than what singer and lane has proposed. of course singer proposed such an argument as well, but his main point lies in the "pain" argument.

argument to defend animals based on their pain is ---at least for me--- ridiculous. giving animals their rights is even worse. what's next? the neighbor cat being taken into prison, tried, and sentenced into 5 years in prison for hurting my hamster? some other animal rights activist argue that we shouldn't feel superior to animals, that they have rights as well. but think of it this way: if we give them rights, then they have to follow regulations as well, and by regulations i mean the constitution and the state laws. are they able to comprehend such? if they ARE able, that means we have to give them the same right we have, and that means cats and dogs and mosquitos and slugs will have as much right to education as us. i can sense affirmative action bill being passed by the supreme court to let these animals the right to a higher education. am i being ridiculous? i think not. this is what will happen if we give animals the same right as us. "well, of course not the SAME right, you doofus," you say. okay, let's give them lesser rights. they don't need education and cars, maybe just a right for them to live. but then that implies most if not all of the people in the world will be sentenced to prison for mass massacre of ants, attempted murders mosquitos, and such ridiculous charges. like i have said before: when animal rights activists argue for the rights for animals, they should be implying ALL animals, because otherwise they will have to be specifics like dog rights activist, or cow rights activist. i do not think animals not need rights, what they need is RESPECT.

friedrich nietzsche will, of course, support this argument of mine. as much as i hate him for his arguments (and i have my own reasons for that), he will agree that my argument here reflects his "will to power" concept. nietzsche claims that human beings will have the power to dominate over nature if they can evolve into a better human beings he called superman. this idea of nietzsche reflects darwin's theory of evolution, or simply put, the survival of the fittest. this is the concept i used in my argument; if those cows or chickens can evolve into a better beings (like supercow or superchicken) that can think and join forces, then they will be able to fight us, the demonic meat-eaters. kinda like the movie "chicken run." too bad the chickens in this world don't have mel-gibson-like intelligence to organize such an escape.

mill's utilitarian principle would also support this view, but for a weaker reasoning. utilitarianism concerns with the concept of the greatest pleasure for the most people. well, although living without meat is possible, but giving up something tasty will result in less pleasure and will not go along with utilitarianim. one might argue against this by saying that vegans gain longer healthy life by giving up meat, but then again, it all comes back to the questions: how much longer? is longer really worth it? and why can't a meat-eater live a healthy life?

kant's categorical imperative, however, will be the strongest to back up my philosophy regarding animal rights. kant claims that we should "act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law." so if we want to give animals their rights, then it SHOULD apply to all animals, because otherwise it won't be universal. like i have said before, what right do we have to prefer dogs over mosquitos? if we try the maxim "we should not kill animals" then it would also apply to mosquitos and flies. but now we have west-nile-virus-carrying mosquitos around us, will we just let ourselves be obliterated because of such maxim, and our persistency on animal rights? (animal rights, not dog or cat or cows or chicken rights)

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