Protecting the Welfare of Nonhuman Animals Essay example

Protecting the Welfare of Nonhuman Animals Essay example

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‘Hominum causa omne ius constitutum: all law was established for man’s sake’. Endorsed by early Judaeo-Christian beliefs, holding that humans were created in God’s image having ‘dominion over all animals’. This statement remains true today, despite such assertions being undermined by scientific developments proving homo sapiens to simply be biological entities like any other organism. Such discoveries call into scrutiny the determination of rights on the basis of species and have lead to modern philosophers asserting the contention that animals should be included within the spectrum of rights. Regan, advocating a rights based approach, argues that rights should be afforded to all who possess consciousness, namely ‘mammals aged one year or more’ on the basis that they have inherent value deserving of respect. This differs from Singer’s utilitarian approach where rights should be granted, regardless of species where the capacity to suffer is present. Singer’s interest theory asserts that nonhuman animals should have their rights protected in the same manner as those within the category of marginal cases, claiming that in conferring rights only to humans regardless of autonomy is a form of speciesism akin to racism and other forms of discrimination. Such approaches fail as they often advocate for a lowering of rights conferred to marginal human rights. This essay will conclude that advocating for a Rawlsian contractarian approach placing everyone behind a ‘veil of ignorance’ will protect both the rights of nonhuman animals and marginal humans.
The current debate about animal rights dates back to ancient times. Aristotle argued that animals on account of their irrationality only existed for the sake of more rational humans pr...


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... of Human and Non-human Animals (Duke University Press 1995)
Scruton R, Animal Rights and Wrongs (Continuum 2006)
Singer P, Rethinking Life and Death: The Collapse of our Traditional Ethics, (OUP 1995)
Steiner G, Anthropocentrism and Its Discontent: The Moral Status of Animals in the History of Western Philosophy (University of Pittsburgh Press 2010)
Regan T, The Case For Animal Rights in Peter Singer, In Defence of Animals (Blackwell 1985)
Wacks R, Understanding Jurisprudence: An Introduction to Legal Theory (3rd edn, OUP 2012)
Websites
James Gorman, ‘Considering the Humanity of Non-Humans’ New York Times (New York, 9 December 2013)
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/10/science/considering-the humanity-of-nonhumans.htm?ref=crueltytoanimals

Reich D and Lander E, ‘Sequencing the Chimpanzee Genome’ www.genome.gov.uk/pages/research/sequencing/seqproposals/chimpgenome2.pdf

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