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Justice Requires the Recognition of Animal Rights

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 5/11/2014 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 636 times Debate No: 54474
Debate Rounds (4)
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Yes, ladies and gents, now that Summer is upon us I decided to try to put my own effort into kick-starting the debate community again and do a bunch of debates! These will be open to anyone and everyone! First come first serve! If I get a forfeit I just remake it.

So this debate will be as stated below:

Resolved: Justice requires the recongition of animal rights

This is an LD debate, so standard LD conventions apply (this doesn't mean standard LD cases). Standard debate conventions also apply.

First round will be for acceptance. No new arguments in the final round. All that normal stuff we like to see.



This one accepts. Please post your argument.
Debate Round No. 1


Katrina Albright defines animal rights:

KATRINA M. ALBRIGHT [University of New Mexico School of Law, 2002; B.A., Geology and Environmental Sciences, Bryn Mawr College,]. The Extension of Legal Rights to Animals under a Caring Ethic: An Ecofeminist Exploration of Steven Wise's Rattling the Cage. NATURAL RESOURCES JOURNAL

“ "rights" involve "moral notions that grow out of respect for the individual.. .[and establish areas where the individual is to be protected”

This means I coopt negative arguments about better ways to treat animals because under my definition that better method would be considered a right because animals would be extended protection and thus the NC would affirm rights.

Part 1: Sympathy isn’t reserved for the kitchen. Feminist epistemology.

Traditional epistemologies that focus on absolute ethical maxims fail because they’re based on an exclusion that doesn’t allow for actual formulations of knowledge but rather hold up rational man on a pedestal. Warkentin:

Traci Warkentin. Interspecies Etiquette: An Ethics of Paying Attention to Animals. Ethics & the Environment, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2010, pp. 101-121 (Article)

“feminists have identified a “crisis of reason” in Western philosophy,The rational, disembodied human subject has become the centre, and gold standard, of knowing and of moral judgment, the main problem of “hyper-rationalism” is a contemptuous and deliberate denial of the body in ethical decision-making and in the production of knowledge the “inability of Western knowledges to conceive their own processes of production, processes that simultaneously rely on and disavow the role of the body,” is a direct “consequence of the historical privileging of the purely conceptual or mental over the corporeal” This patriarchal legacy of valuing a masculinized, pure, detached reason over what have been constructed as “feminized” embodied modes of knowing, has fostered a diminution of situated and relational knowledge-making”

Thus, epistemology based on similarities and reason is inherently exclusive and patriarchal. This ought to be rejected because the only way to ensure we are making valid epistemic claims is to be inclusive. Even if we ought to reject normative claims, from an epistemic level we must be inclusive. Even, if rationality isn’t bad epistemology based on sympathy is better. Donavan:

Josephine Donovan. ATTENTION TO SUFFERING: A FEMINIST CARING ETHIC FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS. JOURNAL of SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY, Vol. 27 No. 1, Spring, 1996, 81-102 1996 Journal of Social Philosophy

“sympathy is a "form" of rationality … it is "not a primitive animal feeling but an exercise of the imagination requiring self-consciousness and comparison" I try to picture to myself, standing here, how I would look, how I would feel, and how the world would appear if I were therein the place of that body which resembles mine and acts as I might. My imaginative projection into the place of another, conjoined with the two types of data given by the senses [appearance and behavior] makes empathy possible" a basis for ethical judgment should involve not -projecting oneself into another's situation but rather figuring out how the other is feeling: "it is not enough that I should imagine how I should feel if I were in the other person's place; I have to imagine how [the other] feels" “

Thus, only accept normative arguments that are based on this epistemology.

And, Epistemic justifications preclude normative and meta-ethical ones because knowledge sets the basis for the way normative systems function. Epistemic warrants are the only arguments that answer the question of whether or not meta-ethical assumptions are justified.

Part 2: care is more than irrational emotional. The ethic of the AC.

I value Justice. The only normative theory consistent with the epistemic framework is the ethics of care. Donovan 3:

Josephine Donovan. ATTENTION TO SUFFERING: A FEMINIST CARING ETHIC FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS. JOURNAL of SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY, Vol. 27 No. 1, Spring, 1996, 81-102 1996 Journal of Social Philosophy

“ “ethic-of-care” derive ethic[s] from the experience of the oppressed, urging that ethics be rooted in caring practice and an epistemology of attentive love. Such a focus need not-indeed must not-lose sight of the political context in which our moral awareness develops and our moral actions take place. But it also does not lose sight of the individual case. it envisages both the personal and the political. They see the downed cow in the slaughterhouse pen; but they also see the farming and dairy industry”

The ethics of care are not universal but are rather appreciating of each individual subject. Moreover, even if I’m wrong on epistemology ethics of care are the best way to resolve conflicting moral claims and thus to make ethical decisions. Donovan 4:

Josephine Donovan. ATTENTION TO SUFFERING: A FEMINIST CARING ETHIC FOR THE TREATMENT OF ANIMALS. JOURNAL of SOCIAL PHILOSOPHY, Vol. 27 No. 1, Spring, 1996, 81-102 1996 Journal of Social Philosophy

“conflicting responsibilities require …a mode of thinking that is contextual and narrative rather than formal and abstract. The conception of morality as concerned with the activity of care centers moral development around the understanding of responsibility and relationships, just as the conception of morality as fairness ties moral development to the understanding of rights and rules an ethic that is rooted in the kind of sympathetic understanding proposed by the sympathy theorists introduced above. caring ethic to the gift-exchange economy "[If we were to describe the ethical voices characteristic of people living within the two economies, they would be the two ethical voices described caring ethic should form the basis of environmental ethical theory.”

Thus the criterion is maintaining consistency with an ethics of care. My burden is to show that the ethics of care require recognizing animal rights.

Part 3: beyond cages and leashes. The contention.

I contend that the ethics of care require attentiveness to non-human animals. Warkentin 2:

Traci Warkentin. Interspecies Etiquette: An Ethics of Paying Attention to Animals. Ethics & the Environment, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2010, pp. 101-121 (Article)

“animal beings are best approached through a process of “practical etiquette” in which “the task is to create the space within which a response can emerge or an exchange coevolve” to bear an open “invitation” in this way is to embody a kind of non-anthropocentric, or posthumanist, ethics. Intent and attitude can be communicated through the body and cannot be easily masked. Hearne’sdistinguishes between three types of demeanor animal trainers and handlers, Hollywood types, and academics. Hearne finds that she can discern each of them from a distance, just by the way they hold themselves as they approach and move through the compound: the handlers and trainers move with an acute awareness and receptiveness of the animals that surrounded them, the Hollywood types move with complete indifference and the academics with an air of distanced observation that is nonetheless intrusive”

This involves a full ethical praxis of paying attention in order to meet the framework. Warkentin 3:

Traci Warkentin. Interspecies Etiquette: An Ethics of Paying Attention to Animals. Ethics & the Environment, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2010, pp. 101-121 (Article)

“an ethical praxis of paying attention requires much more than mere politeness or mildly observing. attentiveness involves one’s whole bodily comportment and a recognition that embodiment is always in relation to social others, both animal and human. embodiment enables the expression of ethical comportment toward others, while also providing a kind of empathic1 approximation of the experience of others in our midst, which can inform our responsive interactions with them.”

Compassion is the basis of rights and my approach gives animals rights. Albright 3:

KATRINA M. ALBRIGHT [University of New Mexico School of Law, 2002; B.A., Geology and Environmental Sciences, Bryn Mawr College,]. The Extension of Legal Rights to Animals under a Caring Ethic: An Ecofeminist Exploration of Steven Wise's Rattling the Cage. NATURAL RESOURCES JOURNAL

“[A]mong the many things that should have significance in determining whether an entity …is a rightholder is compassion. Emotions, being essential aspects of our nature and of our moral lives,are of relevance in determining who should be rightholders. If applied to the issue of granting rights to animals, our sense of compassion should count as a reason for granting rights to animals.”

And reject their evidence based on why humans should come first because it’s inherently circular and presupposes human superiority. Bailey:

Cathryn Bailey. A Man and a Dog in a Lifeboat Self-Sacrifice, Animals, and the Limits of Ethical Theory. Ethics & the Environment, Volume 14, Number 1, Spring 2009, pp. 129-148 (Article)

“examples described as relying on circular reasoning in that the prescriptive superiority of human life is thought to be proven by the fact that humans prefer human life. philosophical arguments, especially in ethics, often proceed from such common sense intuitions. the question is about the extent to which our deeply held intuitions are actually expressions of our anthropocentric prejudices. one can no longer get away with arguments that simply assume a higher value should be placed on human life. philosophers, make such assumptions through their reliance on hypothetical scenarios reveals something interesting.”

Moreover, reject their arguments about harming human rights because they presuppose that humans have more worth than animals rather than acknowledge it.



I plan to argue that justice is a participatory concept, requiring not just an individual’s moral agency, but his consent to both a social contract and a government that maintains that contract. My opponent has attacked my position’s core epistemology, but I want to define key terms and concepts first, lay out my arguments, and only after that, defend rationalism and attack the feminist critique - the reverse of my opponent’s structure.

I. Defining “Rights” and “Justice”

What is a right?
“Rights are entitlements (not) to perform certain actions, or (not) to be in certain states; or entitlements that others (not) …[do the same]”Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

How are rights acquired?
Rights do not merely “involve moral notions that grow out of respect for the individual,” as Pro suggests, because they must be constructed, codified, and enforced. An institution or individual grants rights, and this remains primarily important because outside granted rights, we can only get natural rights, which depends upon an individual’s strength and power to be protected - the law of nature so to speak. Rights are not abstract propositions; without enforcement and consent, those so-called rights are only a person’s opinion and purely fiction. The social contract - an agreement amongst free individuals to form a government that protects constructed and enumerated rights - undergirds most modern civil societies. The Bill of Rights would be a good example, as other laws. As Jean-Jacques Rousseau remarked in The Social Contract:

“The social pact, far from destroying natural equality, substitutes, on the contrary, a moral and lawful equality for whatever physical inequality that nature may have imposed on mankind; so that however unequal in strength and intelligence, men become equal by covenant and by right.”

What is justice?
Justice is both the individual and government abiding by the social contract, and if either party terminates the agreed terms - like breaking the law - this in turn breaks the contract. Tyrannical governments lose the right to govern and enforce laws and should face revolution, while individuals who break the social contract face criminal sanction. Justice must also be blind, for without equal protection and enforcement, the contract is broken.

II. Justice Does Not require Animal Rights

A. The Normative Epistemology
on face, of course animals cannot consent to the social contract, but my reasoning is more complicated than that. Consent is not just agreement but the act of a moral agent - an individual agreeing to take on certain responsibilities in exchange for certain privileges and rights. For example, I agree to pay my taxes and follow the law; in exchange, the police department or other agencies acting on behalf of the government will defend my property and person. If I broke the law by not paying taxes, then I could lose certain rights, like the right to my freedom or property.

This means that justice is a two-way street, a participatory system requiring not just an institution granting rights but a person taking on certain burdens and responsibilities. Animals cannot be a part of this system because they lack moral agency; they do not and cannot have responsibilities.

Second, extending rights to animals makes the concept of rights meaningless and makes affirming the resolution a contradiction in its own right.
Helena Silverstein, Professor, Lafayette College of Government and law, Unleashing Rights, p. 49

“The multiplication of rights…trivializes the concept and it underlying values. Hence, to suggest that rights apply not only to humans but also to animals undermines the notion and meaning of human rights…Do plants have rights? …Does the planet have rights? The slippery slope onto which we fall when rights are extended too far diminishes the power and utility of rights, for if we extend rights to everything then rights become meaningless.”

Third, discourse on animal rights engenders dangerous political ramifications. Even if it elevates animals, ultimately, it denigrates rationalism and human suffering as a special category, engendering anti-humanism and justifying harm. This contradicts even the most basic notion of justice.

Peter Staudenmeir, “THE AMBIGUITIES OF ANIMAL RIGHTS”, March 2003
Rightly rejecting the inherited dualism of humanity and non-human nature, animal rights philosophers wrongly collapse the two into one undifferentiated whole, thus substituting monism for dualism…But regressive dreams of purity and oneness carry no emancipatory potential; their political ramifications range from trite to dangerous… ‘speciesism’ yields liberation for neither people nor animals, but merely the same rancid antihumanism that has always turned radical hopes into their reactionary opposite.”

Lastly, membership to the human species is a morally relevant factor for deciding this debate. The circular logic of human superiority does not preclude the truth of that proposition
Dr. Thomas Dorman, “Species are Distinct”, Paracelsus corporation, November 1999 volume 4 issue 11

“To a careful observer, it is evident that all species have distinct characteristics … People have a rational mind… Once one started investigating this matter, one found hundreds nay thousands of serious thinkers who have drawn the same conclusion from a broader perspective with deep analysis covering all aspects of morphogenetics, of evolution..the anatomical and probably the personality characteristics of species cannot be explained mechanistically… I draw from this the conclusion that animals are not on a par with humans… we as a species are different and have a responsibility to other members of our species that exceeds that to animals; hence the modern idea of speciesism is specious.”

B. The relationship of animal rights, compassion, and justice

Despite some well-crafted opening observations, Pro has equivocated and obfuscated critical components of this debate.

First, his source, Katrina Albright, alleges that “compassion is the basis of rights…and animal rights.” However, this does not mean that Pro’s approach actually gives animal rights because this confuses necessary and sufficient conditions. More simply, rights may require compassion, but compassion cannot be the only factor in deciding whether rights should be granted. I may feel sorry for a criminal, but still deny his freedom. Thus, Pro has not established why compassion is a sufficient condition to grant animal rights.

Second, and more importantly, what does this have to do with justice? Nowhere in his first constructive did Pro actually define justice. So, we cannot know if his feminist approach fulfills the obligations of the resolution.

III. Rationalism is best; “the ethics of care” as a political or social epistemology is inherently dangerous

First, post-rational feminism collapses under its own contradictions because rationalism remains necessary to make distinctions, weigh arguments, and construct social/political narratives, which feminism embraces. You cannot escape the fact that in order to critique logic, you must use it. But post-rational feminism goes even beyond this because it wants to exclude certain epistemologies, especially normative ones. This wonderful piece of illogic sounds like this: “This ought to be rejected because the only way to ensure we are making valid epistemic claims is to be inclusive…only accept normative arguments that are based on this epistemology.”

Second, Pro relies on exclusionary, patriarchal logic in asserting the feminist hierarchy:
Tom Regan, Defending Animal Rights, p. 57-8
“Yet the implied claim to superiority on behalf of these feminine qualities appears highly paradoxical, first, because celebrating the “feminine’ set of qualities over the masculine is to engage in the very sort of dualistic, hierarchical thinking alleged to be characteristic of the male mind.

Third, rationalism is not inherently patriarchal because competing epistemologies make for good debate. Evaluating all possible perspectives for a course of action makes sense. This very debate on DDO proves that rationalism does not inherently exclude but wishes to weigh alternatives.

Fourth, rationalism is key to thoughtful discussion - excluding rationalism destroys the feminist epistemology’s chance for solvency
Michael Williams, “The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations,” Cambridge University Press

“Postmodern positions have often been guilty of a corresponding myopia toward the realist tradition…Defining the issue this way has not only contributed to the general misrecognition of rationalism’s status as an historically constituted theoretical practice…it has reduced substantial discussion and engagement to a series of caricatures. Claims to to rediscover the problematic of subjectivity…the crucial question of identity…are all important in context of rationalists reifications of all these factors.”

And finally, even if compassion and the “ethics of care” recognize animal rights, this mode of thinking must be rejected as a political epistemology. Why? By inserting the discourse of rights into the debate, Pro has demanded the politicization of compassion - whether or not Pro advocates for legal rights is irrelevant because we are still thinking in terms of social conduct and policy, our primary means of relating to the other.

Compassion, at least as reified by Pro, makes no distinctions, provides no barriers or means to discriminate between those who deserve our compassion and those who earn our contempt. Rationalism is necessary to form identity and exclusionary logic - like labeling someone an enemy or terrorist - and this remains necessary to our survival as a community. Compassion as a political narrative is the equivalent of pacifism, and pacifism is the equivalent of collective suicide in the face of those who wish to do harm to us.

Debate Round No. 2


Zaradi forfeited this round.


Too bad, could have been a good debate. If you want to retry, challenge me or feel free to post the next round.
Debate Round No. 3


Forfeiting due to a lack of internet access on my computer. I'll re-challenge my opponent if/when I get it back.
Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by Zaradi 2 years ago
F*ck. Due to my dad being a prick and shutting off my internet access (posting this from my phone as we speak), I won't have the time to be able to do a debate of this caliber. I'll forfeit for now but I would love to pick this up again with you at a later date where I have stable internet access.
Posted by Zaradi 2 years ago
erhmagerd. It's an actual response! I'll get to this either by tonight or tomorrow.
Posted by Flipz 2 years ago
Thanks to my opponent for a great opening speech.
Posted by Flipz 2 years ago
Thank you, would you be so kind as to define "epistemic warrants" and "epistemic justifications?" Thank you
Posted by Zaradi 2 years ago
My apologies for taking forever.
Posted by Zaradi 2 years ago
I didn't define animal rights for a reason.
Posted by JohnMaynardKeynes 2 years ago
An interesting resolution that I'm certainly interested in. A question for you, though: how do you define animal rights? That is, to what extent should they extend? We could both agree, for instance, that animals have the right to not be tortured. But if you'd define the term as broadly as PETA, that's where the disagreement would lie.
Posted by Zaradi 2 years ago
A debate.
Posted by Jazzyn4 2 years ago
What is this??
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by NiqashMotawadi3 2 years ago
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: FF.