The Instigator
Pro (for)
21 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Justice requires the recognition of animal rights

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 5/9/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 5 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 255 times Debate No: 90930
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (3)




First round is for acceptance. No new arguments in the final round.

BOP is shared (i.e. offense is expected from both sides).

"Opt-in" voting standards apply (


Fine then, I define animal rights as-
The rights of animals to live free from human exploitation and abuse
Justice- the quality of being fair and reasonable
Debate Round No. 1



The resolution states that “justice requires the recognition of animal rights.” As Pro, my burden of persuasion is to show that, for a society to be just, it should recognize animal rights. This doesn’t mean I should show that just societies ought to recognize all animal rights, or even most of them. If I can show that justice requires the recognition of even one animal right, I win the debate. Con’s burden of persuasion, to the contrary, is to show that justice does not require the recognition of any animal rights. According to the Britannica Encyclopedia, “Animal rights [are] moral or legal entitlements attributed to nonhuman animals.” [1] Prefer this definition because of the various historical views of animal rights, many of which don’t fall into Con’s definition, but all of which fall into this definition. [1]

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains, “Rights are entitlements (not) to perform certain actions, or (not) to be in certain states; or entitlements that others (not) perform certain actions or (not) be in certain states.” [2] This essentially means a right is granted to a set of individuals so that they may be protected from a certain action (negative rights) or be able to perform a certain action (positive rights). As such, if a right is granted to a set of individuals, even if the purpose of the right is to benefit another group, it is still considered that set’s right. Similarly, even if animal welfare laws are created for the benefit of someone else, they are animal rights.

The resolution asks us if, for a society to be truly “just,” it must recognize animal rights – so the assumed value in today’s debate is justice, defined as fairness in decision-making. The criterion, therefore, is fairness, which deems equal treatment to beings that lack morally relevant differences and in fulfilling entitlements. My arguments in today’s debate are simple: (1) recognizing the universal right against needless suffering to animals is required by justice, (2) certain animals lack morally relevant differences to humans, so any discrimination towards them is arbitrary, and therefore unjust, and (3) recognizing animal rights poses benefit emotionally and physically to humans.

1. Recognizing the right against needless pain is required by justice

There are certain things that humans ought not to do to non-human animals. Insofar as such negative rights exist for animals, and justice requires their recognition, the resolution is affirmed.

(A) Animals have an interest to avoid pain

Philosopher Peter Singer explains, “Every particle of factual evidence supports the contention that the higher mammalian vertebrates experience pain sensations at least as acute as our own . . . their nervous systems are almost identical to ours and their reactions to pain remarkably similar.” [3] According to the U.S. National Research Council Committee on Recognition and Alleviation of Pain in Laboratory Animals, most vertebrates experience pain. [4] Elephants recognize themselves in mirrors, and have been known to experience post-traumatic stress disorder, indicating that they can experience trauma. [5]

Pain is intrinsically undesirable. Animals have stress and trauma on experiencing pain, just like humans do, because pain is defined as an undesirable feeling. They – like humans – seek to avoid pain, and have an interest to do so.

(B) Needless abuse is unjust

Needless abuse is unjust, because of the purpose of justice. Christine Korsgaard explains, “When you pity a suffering animal, it is because you are perceiving a reason. An animal's cries express pain, and they mean that there is a reason, a reason to change its conditions. And you can no more hear the cries of an animal as mere noise than you can the words of a person. Another animal can obligate you in exactly the same way another person can . . . [s]o we have obligations to animals.” [6] Essentially, if there is a reason to change the conditions of A and no reason not to, then not changing the conditions of A is unjust.

The very reason human rights exist is for that. There are reasons to change conditions of suffering humans, regardless of rationality. Similarly, if there are reasons to change conditions of animals, and no reasons to not do so (i.e. the suffering being inflicted is needless), then there is a moral obligation to change the conditions of animals. As such, animals are due the right to not suffer without purpose.

2. Animals and humans lack morally relevant differences

The only sound way to differentiate between humans and non-human animals morally is based on rationality. But there's no logical reason to believe that rationality is a criterion for rights. Currently, even those that are severely mentally enfeebled sufficient to be non-rational are granted some basic rights such as the right to life and right against torture. Similarly, animals – which are of similar mental states – should be granted such basic rights.

Outside of rationality, humans and animals are essentially the same psychologically, since they are able to experience pain and pleasure – both of which are important in intuitive moral calculations. [7] Pleasure is inherently valuable in itself, since humans and animals both seek to maximize this pleasure. The same way, suffering is inherently undesirable, and both humans and animals seek to avoid it. As explained above, granting a right against needless suffering is required by justice because there is a reason to bring change to conditions of suffering and no reason not to.

Since humans and animals are psychologically the same outside of rationality (and rationality isn't a sound basis for recognizing morality, because there's no reason to do so, and even animals have such subtle, unique psychological differences, e.g. stronger senses), they should all be considered individuals worthy of moral consideration. Justice is, by definition, treatment without needless discrimination. Since any such discrimination is arbitrary and there are no morally relevant differences between humans and animals, it is unjust to deny animals basic rights.

3. Recognizing animal rights has benefits to humans

Recognizing some animal rights will benefit human society greatly. For instance, some animal rights (e.g., the Endangered Species Act) will have economic benefits. Extending rights to animals will also benefit human health. When a species becomes extinct, the ecosystem around it eventually falls apart. There exist "keystone species," such as lions, that are responsible for preserving ecosystems. Biodiversity loss is a driver of ecosystem change. [8] Ecosystem change will have severe adverse effects to humanity.

What are the harms of ecosystem collapse? Collapsing ecosystems will result in greater carbon dioxide concentrations in the atmosphere, thus trapping further heat. Global warming is a fact, and at the current rate of global warming, the Earth could soon become uninhabitable to humans. [9] Ecological collapse could also cause mass-extinctions, outbreaks, and deprive humans of land, clean air, and food security. Not recognizing the rights of endangered animals means allowing unfettered mass extinctions, threats via climate change and ecological collapse, which is a massive harm. As such, recognizing rights of endangered species is important.

As explained above, as per rights theory, even if recognizing animal rights is not done for animals, it is still a “right” to animal per the definition of that term.

For these reasons, vote Pro.

[6] Christine Korsgaard, The Sources of Normativity, p. 153


Rebuttal point 3
Sources- Global Warming isn't real, so ecosystem collapse doesn't count-
Global Warming may not be real, therefore that benefit is not counted. And Pro must explain the economic benefits of the Endangered species act.
1b rebuttal
Needless abuse is not unjust against animals as animals are a threat to the human species. Carnivores such as lions, tigers etc. stop us from exploring jungles. Herbivores eat up lot of plants and reduce greenery and crop production, which justifies beating them up. Omnivores have the same reason. Parasites drink our blood. Poisonous snakes and rats kill us. Animals also can transfer infectious diseases to us, decrease cleanliness of any area and make unwanted noises to distract us. Nuisance such as monkeys have often stolen food and destroyed delicate articles. Once they changed the location of my satellite dish and I couldn't watch TV. If any animal doesn't come in this list, then that animal will be beaten for appearing as a threat to us. If it doesn't appear as a threat, it is luring us into a trap and must be beaten. Or it came in our path and ruined our view, and justice ought to be done. Animals shouldn't be found in the urban environment, and I don't think anyone is mad enough to go into the forest just to beat them.
2 rebuttal
I think intelligence is a morally relevant difference. If not, how about the facts that they are unable to communicate, do not follow any religion, and are a pest that has no regard for trespassing or for any human laws? If you believe justice should be applied to animals, then human laws should be applied to animals, otherwise it will be species' discrimination. Pretty much every animal has broken the rule of trespassing boundaries, and some have even stolen. Others have broken curfew in their countries. If anything, they should be tried for attempting to suicide due to passing on roads.
If environmentalists had their way, soon there will be plant rights and we would be dying due to lack of food source.
Please don't post my article anywhere, it is not at all good.
Debate Round No. 2



Con doesn't have any positive arguments or offense. The rules in Rd. 1 state that the burdens of persuasion are equal, which means both sides -- myself and Con -- have an obligation to present positive argument to affirm or negate the resolution. Even if your judging paradigm doesn't support the Rd. 1 rules (which it should, since the debaters define the terms), the topic is a normative one (i.e. one that is about desirability or obligation). The purpose of debate is persuasion, which means both sides are required to have even ground. Even if your judging paradigm disagrees with this and involves upholding the "status quo," note that the status quo recognizes animal rights in nearly every country [10].

As such, Con fails to fulfill their burden of persuasion.


I will now proceed to defend my case.

"Global warming isn't real, so ecosystem collapse doesn't count."

Global warming exists and poses a significant threat. Basic physics suggests that carbon dioxide traps heat. In this case, solar radiation is trapped within the Earth's atmosphere because of carbon dioxide and similar greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide has been the dominant forcing in the Cenozoic Era [11]. Rises in CO2 concentrations correspond directly to temperature rise [11]. Climatologist J.D. Annan -- with a study using the Bayesian statistical approach, the dominant method in the scientific literature -- concluded that, per doubling of CO2 concentration in the atmosphere, the global mean temperature rises by 3 degrees Celsius [12].

97% of scientists believe that global warming is primarily human-caused, and not one study in all of the scientific literature suggests that global warming doesn't exist at all [13]. If we continue emitting greenhouse gases at this rate, Hansen, et al. explain that climate change "would make most of the planet uninhabitable by humans." [14] Recognizing the rights of endangered animals prevents ecosystem collapse, thus mitigating the threat of climate change. Con's first source predicts a "pause" in climate change and sites HadCRUT3. But HadCRUT4 data -- which is more contemporary -- suggests an upwards trend that has significantly accelerated since 1975 [15]. Con's second source doesn't prove his point.

"Pro must explain the economic benefits of the Endangered Species Act."

Alright, I'll proceed to doing that. Protecting wolves in the United States is critical to maintaining tourist revenue. Researcher John Duffield of the University of Montana found that, between 2004 and 2006, 150,000 people from all over the world visited Yellowstone National Park just for the wolves [16]. Tourism brings with it economic revenue. Wyoming, Idaho and Montana get $35.5 million each year because of "wolf tourism." [16] If wolves had no protection whatsoever and people started poaching them till they were extinct, this revenue would be lost. The same with endangered species such as tigers.

Thus, I have defended my contention that recognition of animal rights brings benefit to society as a whole, and just societies require benefit to their people.

Con contends that animals harm humans by their presence in urban areas. He has multiple examples to prove this point. But Con is employing circular reasoning here, since I showed that if there's a reason to change the conditions of animals experiencing suffering and no reason not to, then the right against suffering exists. In most of Con's cases, the "harm" felt by humans is easily outweighed by the harm experienced by the animal. I'll address this via the quote-rebuttal method, which I usually don't use but is the only method which would be effective in today's debate.

"Carnivores such as lions, tigers etc. stop us from exploring jungles."

First, this is a bare assertion; insofar as necessary precautions are taken, "exploring jungles" is still possible. Second, Con doesn't explain how preventing us from exploring jungles is sufficient warrant to abuse lions and tigers. Abuse actually creates immense pain, but "exploring jungles" has little benefit. Con is employing circular reasoning since he's assuming human rights are more important than animal rights.

"Herbivores eat up lot of plants and reduce greenery and crop production, which justifies beating them up."

First, Con doesn't explain how this reduces "crop production," because farms are usually secure from herbivores eating the crop. Second, Con doesn't explain how this "reduces greenery," because even humans eat plants: would you say that "reduces" greenery? Humans reduce greenery. The rate of herbivorous plant consumption, on the other hand, is not much higher than the rate of plant growth. Third, Con doesn't explain how this "justifies beating them up."

Con then brings up arguments from safety. If a person's safety is compromised in an individual situation, they are justified in self-defense. That isn't an instance of "needless suffering." Con then says animals "make unwanted noises," which is a hilarious justification for abuse.

None of Con's responses to the argument from the right against needless abuse is compelling, because Con doesn't address my justifications (pain is undesirable and needless pain in animals should be avoided), instead bringing up examples either where (1) there is actual need, or (2) animal abuse is unjust by my own argument.

"If you believe justice should be applied to animals, then human laws should be applied to animals."

This is a bare assertion. Most human rights (e.g. the right to property) were built on the assumption of rational faculty. But Con doesn't explain how this is the case for, as an example, the right against needless abuse. For example, if a person who is severely mentally enfeebled to the point where they are intellectually equivalent to a non-human animal, them stealing isn't going to be punished, nor their "trespassing property." They aren't morally culpable. But they are still awarded rights. The same applies to animals.

Con doesn't explain how rationality is sufficient reason to deny rights. Humans are just another species of animal. If "rationality" is sufficient, why isn't "non-opposable thumbs" a unique characteristic for denying rights?


Con mostly misrepresents my position in this debate. I'm arguing that some amount of animal welfare, in some form, should exist. I've proven that recognizing animal rights benefits humans, that animals ought to be subject to moral consideration, and that "rationality," the "ability to communicate," and "the ability to follow a religion" are entirely arbitrary characteristics for denying rights. For those reasons, vote Pro.



Okay my argument was dumb but at least I tried.
And go through the global warming link at least, it will be the next topic of my debate.
Good luck to pro.
Debate Round No. 3


I guess that's a concession, so vote Pro.

Thanks for the debate.


Yeah was a good debate. Vote for pro. It isn't just treatment as such to beat up an animal, so pro wins.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by its.chandler 5 months ago
Do you want me to start a new debate on the trans-gender topic so you can debate the Con side of the argument???
Posted by lord_megatron 5 months ago
I am not reading any of your sources LOL
Posted by tejretics 5 months ago
Source 7 proper link:
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by fire_wings 5 months ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Mohawks CONCESSION
Vote Placed by Danielle 5 months ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Con basically conceded.
Vote Placed by Fkkize 5 months ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Con conceded