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

Resolved: It is immoral not to extend rights to living animals.

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/20/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,213 times Debate No: 29373
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (3)




Resolved: It is immoral not to extend rights to living animals.

I will be affirming this resolution in this debate.

Here are my conditions for a successful debate:
Round 1 - agreement to debate, introduction
Round 2 - definitions, burdens, values, and contention-level arguments
Round 3 - refutations to the arguments and conditions created in Round 2
Round 4 - summary and crystallization of the key arguments and voting issue

Here are a couple of observations hat I have with respect to the previous structure. NEITHER PRO NOR CON MAY DO THE FOLLOWING THINGS. These should be automatic grounds for disqualification:
1. beginning contention-level arguments, definitions, values, burdens, or observations in Round 1
2. doing any refutations of the opponent's arguments in Round 2 (ex: Con cannot spend his/her Round 2 speech refuting my arguments from Round 2)
3. trolling, loitering, or being disrespectful to the opponent

And finally, a couple of expectations for the round (so long as my opponent agrees to them):
1. use evidence, statistics, and examples to illustrate arguments
2. follow through with impacts to arguments, clearly defining how each links back to the values and burdens stated at the beginning of the Round 2 speeches
3. sign-post arguments (ex: using contentions or benefits)

As affirmative, I believe that the U.S. should value rights of animals majorly because they can feel pain. However, I will NOT make any definitions or specific arguments until the Con accepts this debate.

I look forward to it!


I accept my opponent's terms and look forward to a lively debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I affirm. Definitions:

immoral - conforming to standards of bad behavior
extend - to expand in effect
rights - the abilities to live and be free from suffering
living animals - animals who can respond to their environments

My standard is NET BENEFITS FOR HUMANS AND ANIMALS. This is a fair framework that gives the Pro and Con sides equal access to the ballot. Thus, the winner of this debate should be the one who creates the most benefits for humans AND animals.

My plan is that we uphold the Endangered Species Act. The ESA is a law passed by President Nixon that protects endangered and threatened species. Upholding the ESA is one of many ways we can extend rights to living animals; thus, it should be valid for this public-forum-type debate. Without the ESA, fewer rights would be extended to animals because many of them would become extinct or extirpated. The way I achieve the resolution is by proving that it is immoral NOT to extend the Endangered Species Act.

The Pro burden is that failure to extend the Endangered Species Act does more harm than good (as dictated by my definition of “immoral” and by my plan).

The Con burden is that extending basic rights to animals does overwhelmingly more harm than good for humans and animals (the framework of the debate).

Contention 1: The Endangered Species Act is economically beneficial. The United States is economically desperate, making any method of recovery a “good behavior”. Subpoint A: The Act provides millions of dollars each year for local communities. A 2006 study by the University of Montana found that the return of wolves to Yellowstone brings an estimated $35 million in tourist revenue and DOUBLE that after cycling through the local economy. Moreover, the total economic value of maintaining healthy ecosystems in four Florida cities transcends $3 billion. Local governments have a moral obligation to provide their citizens with good schooling and sufficient opportunities; the capacity to do this is suppressed if the Endangered Species Act is not upheld. Subpoint B: The Act provides economic advantages on a national level. According to Defenders of Wildlife, wildlife-related recreation generated more than $120 billion in 2006. In addition, wildlife watching generated almost $45 billion and provided over 860,000 private secotr jobs. Finally, visitors to national parks spend $28 billion on fishing, hunting, and hiking, leading to more than 400,000 private and public sector jobs. The U.S. is currently handicapped by an unemployment rate of about 8 percent. To fix this and inherently improve the quality of life for citizens, the Endangered Species Act should be protected. Subpoint C: The Endangered Species Act promotes human productivity. Annual benefits from ecosystem services total $33 billion in soil maintenance and $30 billion from insect pollination. Moreover, some keystone species benefit human health. The pacific yew tree, for example, has led to the development of a natural cancer-treatment drug. Another example is the Gila monster lizard, which ahs been used to alleviate the effects of diabetes. Thus, the Endangered Species Act continues to play a vital role. By protecting the basic rights of critical species like crocodiles, fish, and bears, diseases can be prevented, increasing the overall productivity, stability, and competitiveness of various nations. It is simply immoral not to strive for these qualities.

Contention Two: Extending rights to animals improves human health. National governments are morally obligated to protect the lives of their citizens, as mandated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Subpoint A: Dependence on ecosystems. When a species becomes endangered because it has been deprived of its ability to live, the ecosystem slowly falls apart. Humans depend on healthy ecosystems for purify their own environment. Without ecosystems of living animals, humans would lose access to clean air, water, and land. The ability to enjoy opportunities and contribute to important causes improves if humans have access to basic necessities like these. The only way to ensure that is if animals are given a few basic rights. Subpoint B: Medical. According to States United for Biomedical Research, the armadillo has been responsible for a treatment against leprosy to be treated in all areas of the world in which leprosy is still prevalent. Another example is bats, which, according to scientists from Texas, could substantially increase human lifespan. Some hypotheses are made about fruit flies and their potential to unlock the mystery of Alzheimer’s. Others reveal that the gila monster can help control glucose levels and allow people to lose weight. The fact that the list extends beyond these examples shows that giving living animals some basic rights to live independently signify substantial paveways for human enhancement and life.

Contention Three: Animals have complex thought, assimilating them closely with humans. First, Human beings are complex, evolved creatures who are afforded rights on the grounds that they can think and feel pain. Other animals, like dolphins, dogs, jaguars, bats, hawks, and giraffes, can think and feel pain. It is immoral to extend rights to some entities that can think but not to others. Equality is the keystone of many moral systems internationally, and it can only be pursued if animals have at least one or two of the fundamental rights that humans, a type of animal, enjoy for themselves. Second, compassion is a much more reasonable alternative to self-interest. Tigers, crabs, and parrots cannot drive automobiles and do not play chess with one another. Humans are superior to animals in many respects. With this disparity of power, they could use it to help or harm animals. Using the benefits of a human mind to harm other animals is analogous to a self-centered refusal to help the poor. It is a good behavior to be mindful of our peers and a bad behavior to abuse them simply because they cannot generate counter-attacks.

Contention Four: Not extending rights to living animals is inconsistent with our intuitions. First, the evolutionary attachment of humans to other animals demands that other animals receive the respect of “rights”. Ever since the publication of Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, it has been concluded and accepted that human beings are related by common descent to all other animals. Failure to care for an ape or ostrich is analogous to failure to care for a cousin or sister-in-law. Furthermore, not extending these basic rights to life and freedom from pain violates the concept of reciprocity. For example, dogs are known for developing a bond with humans, respecting their rights and avoiding to bite or injure them. When dogs and other pets respect human beings as entities in nature, they enter with humans into a social contract. The animals that are capable of respecting basic human rights are the same ones that should be respected by humans. Finally, cruelty to animals is the sign of an uncivilized society. It encourages violence and barbarism in society. A society that respects animals and restrains base instincts is by definition more civilized. Since civility is a good behavior, and bad behavior defines morality, it is simply immoral not to extend very rudimentary rights to animals.

I would like to reiterate my burdens in today’s debate. I must prove that upholding the Endangered Species Act is more “right” than “wrong”, because that is my plan; it is one way to achieve the resolution while advocating something that is practical and balanced. I do NOT have to prove that the utilization of animals for hunting or food is wrong. Since the Endangered Species Act can still be upheld with the production of meat, hunting of common birds, etc., any arguments that do not refute my plan of upholding the Endangered Species Act are invalid unless they support a counter-plan offered by the Con.

I ask Con to follow the expectations I set forth in Round 1.

Thus, I affirm.



Immoral: Contrary to established moral principles. [1]

Rights: I will be defining rights in a limited sense: the right to life. This encompasses, in short, ‘the right of innocents to be free from violent force which brings about death or pain’. The definition of this term is further explored in my second contention.

Living animals: Non-human animals possessing self-sustaining biological processes which function.

My standard is the morality of the extension of human rights. This is implicit in the resolution and gives both sides room to make their arguments.

My plan is to show that the nature of legal rights make it impossible for animals to hold them.

1. No viable code of morality demands the impossible of its adherents.

2. It is impossible to extend the right to life to animals.

3. Therefore, no viable code of morality extends rights to animals.

The pro burden is to prove that, due to the nature of the philosophical foundation of natural rights, it is impossible to extend them to non-human animals.

The con burden is to prove that there is some legitimate manner in which the concept of rights can be applied to non-human animals.

First Contention: A viable code of morality cannot demand the impossible of its adherents.

During this argument, I will use the following definition:

Code of morality: The term “morality” can be used either

  1. descriptively to refer to some codes of conduct put forward by a society or,

    1. some other group, such as a religion, or

    2. accepted by an individual for her own behavior or

  2. normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons. [2]

Any of these definitions involve the governing of conduct. Conduct refers to voluntary action. In any moral code, actions which are moral are demanded or encouraged while those which are immoral are prohibited or discouraged. Otherwise a would-be system of morality would be unable to influence conduct and would therefore not meet the above definition. I argue that to demand that one practices the impossible strips any moral code of its viability as it becomes impossible to live without breaking the dictums of that code. If everyone is deemed immoral then the code loses its ability to differentiate between the moral and immoral and therefore to encourage and discourage behavior. To encourage that one practices the impossible is a futile request since it cannot be fulfilled and therefore serves no legitimate conduct-modifying purpose. Thus I hold that a moral code which demands the impossible is not viable, and any dictum which encourages the impossible is futile and can thus be excised from said moral code without doing violence to the system as a whole.

Second Contention: Rights stand on a logical framework which precludes their extension to non-human animals.

What are rights? For the sake of my argument I have restricted the definition to the right to life. This is usually what is being discussed when one addresses the idea of animal rights. After all, it would be patently absurd to extend to them many of the other rights (free speech, of which they are incapable. A trial by a jury of their peers, which is fun to imagine but would be a rather messy, chaotic, and unproductive affair in practice) which humans enjoy. The right to life is a natural right. The concept of natural rights was developed largely by Hobbes, who took the older theories of natural law and radically transformed them. Hobbes argued against a society governed by natural law alone. Natural law, or ius naturale, was a Roman concept which diversified over the years. Simply put it referred to a set of laws which was common to all men because it was derived from the laws of nature via reason. Hobbes argued that a return to complete natural law would result in terrible anarchy, chaos, and suffering. He stated that certain freedoms guaranteed by natural law must be surrendered to the state in order that the state might universally secure other more crucial freedoms amongst the citizenry; namely to secure their lives. This was the beginning of social contract theory in the enlightenment era. [3][4]

But the concept continued to evolve from there. Locke in particular expanded upon Hobbes’s work. He held, as Hobbes did, that the State of Nature was not desirable. But instead of holding that it was synonymous with a state of war Locke simply held that it could easily disintegrate into war over property disputes. It is primarily for the preservation of their personal property (the combination of labor and resources), Locke argued, that people form governments, not out of the fear of death, as Hobbes argues. Locke points out that in the State of Nature people live not as individuals roaming the wilds but as communal units who join together to raise children. He points out that it is due to the fear of losing both life and property to invaders that these communities band together into political units. In doing this they instill a common government with the power to deliver retribution to aggressors, both internal and external, who threaten the rights of the people to life, liberty, and property. These rights were later adapted by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence, wherein he expands the right to property to ‘the pursuit of Happiness’.


In conclusion, I argue that extending rights to animals ignores the entire historical and philosophical foundation on which the concept is built. An animal is not capable of entering into a social contract with a human. Even advanced primates like chimpanzees live in the State of Nature, banding together to raise their young while viciously fighting neighboring communities. Since the entire concept of rights is based on the idea of giving up certain freedoms granted under natural law, and since no animal species has shown itself to be capable of understanding such an abstract agreement, I argue that the idea of individual rights cannot apply to animals. What is impossible to do cannot be considered immoral, therefore it cannot be immoral not to extend rights to living animals. Thus, I deny.






Debate Round No. 2


I affirm.

For the definitional debate, my opponent defines "immoral" on a foundation of moral principles, but he/she does not actually DEFINE morality. Thus, prefer my definition that "immoral" means conforming to standards of bad behavior in ANY way, shape, or form.

It looks like we agree on the definition of "rights". Realize that my opponent's definition also includes "free from VIOLENT FORCE which brings about death or pain". Thus, I could argue that killing an animal in its sleep is not depriving it of its rights because I would use a nonviolent method. Thus, I will agree to my opponent's slightly modified definition for the rest of this debate.

I would like to agree with living animals as long as all "non-human animals possessing self-sustaining biological processes which function" can feel pain. If Animal C is beaten each day but has no nervous system, we are not depriving Animal C of its rights.

My opponent's standard is sort of a repetition of the resolution. In debate, a standard (or framework) should be a way to WEIGH the debate. "Which side better upholds _______?" Prefer my framework of net benefits for humans and animals, because it makes sense that the side whose arguments are more beneficial to these living things should win the debate. My opponent does not specify which ways we can access the ballot.

My opponent brings up a plan (technically called a "counter-plan"), but my plan is still also valid. If I can prove that the benefits of upholding the Endangered Species Act, a key piece of legislation for protecting basic animal rights, outweigh the costs, then I should win today's debate.

I would like to argue that my opponent's burdens are very narrow and do not look to a fair debate. If we look to just philosophical arguments, then my opponent by definition has more access to the ballot starting at Round 1. I have a more simplistic burden for my opponent, which is to show that extending rights to living animals does more HARM than GOOD. The reason for this burden is that morality, as I defined, measures the principles of good and bad behavior. Thus, if my opponent proves that giving rights to living animals is a uniquely bad behavior, he/she should be eligible to win. But if I prove that the benefits of my plan (upholdings the ESA) outweigh the costs, then I should win.

Refutation 1:
My opponent defines codes of morality as "put forward by all rational persons". This means that every single rational (not mentally insane? not a child?) individual would have to AGREE on a standard of morality. Thus, in a population of 10 trillion people, if one of them disagrees to extend rights to living animals, then extending rights to living animals is an immoral behavior. This is an abusive definition that does not give me any ground to refute the contention. Thus, please refer to my opponent's FIRST definition of the code of morality.

I would like to point out a couple of glaring holes in the evidence that my opponent uses. In his/her OWN links, my opponent defines "morality" from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. From that very same source, I quote that "comparative and evolutionary psychologists have taken morality, or a close anticipation of it, to be present among groups of non-human animals, primarily other primates but not limited to them." The same encyclopedia states one sentence later that "'Morality” has also been taken to refer to any code of conduct that a person or group takes as most important." With respect to the first quote, realize that morality can extend to non-human animals and that it is not impossible to achieve this ideal. With respect to the second quote, my opponent uses a source that says that morality can be used to mean something that is most IMPORTANT. Cross-apply my first and second contentions, where I show that extending rights to living animals is both economically beneficial and helps to improve human society. If these are in the best interests of society, then my opponent's definition falls on itself, and the argument is turned to the Pro side.

My opponent continues to rely on a premise that extending rights to living animals is impossible. There is no warrant for this argument. Extending rights is PHYSICALLY possible: I can rid my household of all weapons that could attack or violently end the lives of my animals. Extending rights is ECONOMICALLY possible: cross-apply my first contention, where I talk about the national money saved as a result of upholding the ESA. Finally, extending rights is MORALLY possible because my opponent does not differentiate a human animal from a non-human animal. If it is immoral (or, as my opponent implies, disagreeable) to kill a fellow human being, what makes it 100% less immoral to killa fellow non-human animal? Again, prefer my definition of "immoral" as stated at the beginning of my Round 2 spech, because it gives Pro and Con fair access to the ballot and really defines immoral in an unbiased, sensible manner.

Refutation 2:
My opponent makes a very philosophical argument about Hobbes' and Locke's theories of government and rights, especially the latter of the two. He/she begins by definining Thomas Hobbes' system as the social contract theory, namly that "freedoms guaranteed by natural law must be surrendered to the state in order that the state secures other freedoms to secure their lives". I would point out that while animals do not have a definite government that presides over them, there is a special social contract between humans and animals. Regardless of whether animals are capable of hurting humans or not (some are), the fact of the matter is that they do not hurt or negatively impact our productivity. Thus, according to Hobbes' theory that my opponent presents, we therefore have no warrant to hurt or negatively impact the productivity (or, for presence of a better word, welfare) of animals.

In the second paragraph of my opponent's second contention, he/she trashes Hobbes' theory and replaces it with an emphasis on Locke's approach, which essentially implies that a society with rights must be able to instill a common government that can deliver retribution to threatening aggressors. I would argue that humans do not have to bond together with animals politically to share a system of rights between one another. My opponent's argumentation once again falls on itself, because while there are no political social contracts between the United States and Germany, any citizen from the U.S. would deem it immoral to use violent force to kill or torture a German citizen. Sometimes, a social contract theory is implied by common intuitions. I would cross-apply my fourth contention, because my opponent has not drawn the line between a foreigner, who has no defined social contract with another country, and an animal, who lacks no more than the same defined contract with that other country.

Response to Conclusion:
I would like to finally argue that some behaviors can be both impossible and immoral. Thus, even if I agreed with my opponent that it is impossible to extend rights to animals, not doing so could still confirm to principles of bad behavior. For example, I, an American citizen (hypothetically), cannot physically assault the president of the United States because he has too much defense and too many guards. This does not strip the act of its immorality. Another example is shoplifting every single item from a supermarket. I would be caught and convicted long before being able to remove everything from the store, but once again there is still an act of immorality in doing so or even trying to do so. Impossibility and immorality are not mutually exclusive, as I have proven with common examples. Thus, it is impossible (and immoral) for my opponent to extend this premise through the rest of the debate.

Thus, I affirm.





Immoral: Immoral is a word that is negatively defined; it is something which is not moral. I find this to be the only definition which is acceptable. If ‘bad behavior’ is defined in such a way that it refers to a breach of morality than I would agree with my opponent’s definition.

Extend: I agree

Rights: I disagree entirely. To define rights as ‘the abilities to live and be free from suffering’ is self-defeating, since no living thing which is capable of suffering is free from it. Under this definition, rights cannot exist because they would contradict the facts of reality. Everyone on earth would be deprived of rights, making the concept meaningless.

Living animals: There are some animals which cannot respond to their environment but which are alive (unconscious animals, for example). I prefer my definition for this reason.


The standard implicit in the resolution appears to be morality, which need not be utilitarian. And the consideration of the benefit to animals in the assessment of whether or not rights ought to be extended to them is illogical, given that if my position is true then there is no reason for humans to concern themselves with the welfare of animals unless it benefits them to do so. My standard is simply whether or not extending rights to animals is moral.


My opponents plan would appear to be:

1. If the endangered species act is beneficial, then extending rights to animals is beneficial.

2. The endangered species act is beneficial.

3. Therefore extending rights to animals is beneficial.

This argument takes the following form:

1. If P, then Q

2. P

3. Therefore Q

Modus ponens is a valid argument form; therefore my argument will focus on whether or not the premises are true.

1. If the endangered species act is beneficial, then extending rights to animals is beneficial.

I would argue that this premise is not true. The EDA being beneficial may not be because it extends rights to animals. My opponent must also prove not only that the EDA is beneficial because it extends rights to animals, but that it extends rights to animals in the first place. As far as I can see my opponent focuses entirely on proving his second premise while neglecting this rather critical aspect of his argument.

2. The endangered species act is beneficial.

This will be dealt with by the addressing of my opponent’s various contentions. But overall I do not contest this at all.


The Pro burden is that failure to extend the Endangered Species Act does more harm than good (as dictated by my definition of “immoral” and by my plan).

My opponent must also support the first premise of his argument (addressed above) in order for the conclusion to follow.

The Con burden is that extending basic rights to animals does overwhelmingly more harm than good for humans and animals (the framework of the debate).

I have already addressed how requiring a person arguing against the morality of animal rights to prove that their stance provides a utilitarian benefit to animals is irrational.


1. My only qualm with my opponent’s arguments are that they are not sourced, making it very difficult for me to examine them in the first place. All of these contentions support my opponent’s second premise, while it is the first that I take issue with.

2. My opponent assumes that the only way to maintain biodiversity is to extend basic rights to animals. Yet it is his own argument which demonstrates that it is in the best interest of humans to maintain biodiversity, meaning that the utility of animals to human beings is a sufficient reason to prevent extinction and that it is not necessary to extend them rights.

3. My opponent has offered no support for the notion that rights are based on the ability to think and have complex thoughts. As my argument examines in detail, rights have an extensive framework based on the capacity of human beings to enter into a social contract. To take the term right, with all of the moral force which it acquires due to this framework, and then to apply it in a way with no relation to that framework and with no justification for doing so constitutes a fallacy of equivocation. The arguments from compassion and equality are also inadequate. Certainly many moral systems hold that this is true. But all do not. If my opponent wishes to make this argument he will need to deal with the many systems, such as rational egoism and enlightened self-interest, which reject this concept. Otherwise he is resorting to an argumentum ad populum.

4. The first argument which my opponent makes is a complete non-sequitur. He fails to demonstrate why the fact that non-human animals and humans belonging to the same clade necessitates the application of rights, a human concept developed to organize human governments, to animals. Or why failing to care for an ostrich or an ape is analogous to not caring for a mother or sister-in-law. I care for my mother because she if of immense personal value to me. Apes and ostriches have value to me only so far as they are useful to me. And if this is true then the same extends to insects and other invertebrates seeing as they, too, are animals. Spraying for cockroaches would be deemed genocide. His second argument is a misapplication of the term social contract. A dog is trained not to bite humans. He does not recognize the overarching philosophical principles involved and then agree to surrender his right to do so. This is a dangerous position to take, as there are plenty case of dogs attacking their owners due to a human’s mistaken anthropomorphization of their pets. [1] And anyone who owns a cat knows that they certainly do not subscribe to any sort of social contract theory. The last point is, in effect, an argumentum ad novitatem, an appeal to newness or modernity. This is a logically fallacious argument.

My opponent’s final statement is interesting due to the nature of his standard. I would argue that taking a utilitarian standpoint and then prohibiting your opponent from addressing the most glaringly negative impacts of the extension of rights to animals defeats the purpose of adopting utility as the standard of value in the first place.


Debate Round No. 3


I affirm. Definitions:

Prefer my definition of immoral because it isn't circular. My opponent defines immoral as "something which is not moral". How do we define morality? Instead, I define "immoral" to be conforming to standards of bad behavior. Thus, wasting money, assaulting someone, and procrastinating on a homework assignment are all immoral.

My opponent is very sensitive to my definition of rights. If an animal can breathe air, perform functions to sustain life, and not feel pain, then it has had rights given to it. I believe that this is the mutually agreed-upon definition and that we should stick to it for the debate.

I would argue that living animals should be conscious; that is how debates about animal rights are centered. An unconscious animal does not feel pain, which is one of the requirements of "living animal" as established by both of us. Thus, prefer my definition of "living animals".

My opponent calls my standard utilitarian, when it is actually net benefits for humans and animals. My opponent essentially says that since our assessment regards animals, benefits or harms to them need not be included in this debate. I would argue that involving a subject in a resolution actually makes them the MOST important for weighing benefits and harms. If we debate whether or not the U.S. should trade with Cuba, we should consider the implications to Cuba of doing so. If we debate abortion, we should consider the implications to the unborn fetus and not just the mother. Extend my standard throughout the round: whichever side creates more benefits for animals/humans should win.

My opponent takes issue with my plan text. I argue that upholding the ESA is ONE of the ways through which we can AFFIRM and ACHIEVE the resolution's burden. Why? Upholding the ESA necessarily means giving rights to living animals. If upholding the ESA does more good than harm, then giving rights to animals does more good than harm. My opponent says that I must prove that the ESA is beneficial because it extends rights to animals; that is exactly what it does! I have attached a definition of the ESA to the bottom of this speech, but here is my logic for my plan.
I have to argue to uphold X.
Y is one way in which X is upheld.
Thus, I can argue to uphold Y and still fulfill the burden provided by the resolution.The ESA is driven by protecting the rights of animals, not by anything else. My opponent needed to have provided evidence otherwise if he wished to attack my plan further.

Extend my burdens throughout the round. They are more practical for today's debate and give the Pro and Con fairer grounding than did those of my opponent in his Round 2 speech. I will try to put them in different words.
Pro: prove that EITHER failure to extend rights to living animals is IMMORAL: a bad behavior (i.e. does more harm than good), OR that failure to pursue the mechanism through which rights are extended to living animals is a bad behavior (this is what I do via the ESA)
Con: prove that the BENEFITS of not extending rights to living animals outweigh the COSTS (more benefits --> good behavior --> not immoral). This is the only way Con can negate the resolution because he never provides a counterplan or alternative mechanism for accessing the ballot.

My Contention 1: My opponent's only response to this argument is that I have no evidence. I did cite where I got my information in my Round 2 speech, but below is the link from which I obtain my information. Don't let my opponent criticize my evidence in the last speech, because I have no time to respond to it (i.e. after Round 5). Essentially, if I provide evidence, then the idea that extending rights to living animals is economically beneficial extends throughout the debate. This is relevant to the standard of net benefits.

My Contention 2: My opponent responds to this argument by saying that since the argument is only a benefit to humans, this essentially invalidates my standard of net benefits for humans and animals. Any argument that matches at least ONE part of the framework AND extends throughout the debate is a VALID voting issue. In other words, since this argument is a benefit for humans and NOT a cost to animals, it fits perfectly within my framework. We should look to net benefits for animals too, because as I describe in my standard's justification, they are the subject of the resolution and must be considered with policy implemementation. Other than that, my opponent can NOT refute the idea that extending rights to living animals improves human health.

My Contention 3: My opponent has scarce offense in response to my third contention. He goes on and on about how rights are dependent on a social contract theory, pointing to Locke's theory of government. But first, remember that he fails to JUSTIFY Locke's theory (i.e. over Hobbes' or just in general) in the scheme of today's debate: why is it more topical? Don't let my opponent generate a response in the Round 5 speech, because I have no time to respond. I argue that humans and animals ARE part of an implied social contract. Since animals do not strip humans of their rights, humans should reciprocate. This is the only way to achieve fairness and prevent IMMORALITY, which is what the resolution calls for. Let contention 3 extend through the debate.

My Contention 4: My opponent altogether misunderstands my 4th contention, calling it logically fallacious argument. The argument mandates that all human beings have a common descent to other animals. This is validated by Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859, a source that is never directly refuted by my opponent. My opponent says that dogs must be TRAINED to respect human beings; this does not take away from the fact that they do so. Philosopher Mearsheimer writes: "If humans were not incentivized and punished for their behaviors in society, then it is questionable how loyally they would conform to philosophical standards in society." But once again, my opponent does not directly refute the main point of my argument: since animals respect humans, humans should respect animals. Since Americans respect Cubans, Cubans should respect Americans. Once again, reciprocity is key to morality.
Note that my opponent NEVER refutes the subpoint to my 4th contention about how not extending rights to living animals is a sign of a barbaric society; let it flow through today's debate.

My opponent continues to accuse me of bringing a standard of utilitarianism to today's debate. I only want to look to net benefits for a few reasons:
1. it gives Pro and Con fair access to the ballot
2. my opponent fails to respond to it
3. it is a clear way to measure immorality: what is a bad behavior, and what is not?

Reiteration of Refutations:
Opponent's Contention 1: Turn this argument on itself; I provide a definition of morality IN my opponent's source that says that rights are present among non-human animals.
Opponent's Contention 2: My opponent gives no reason to prefer Locke's theory of government. He also fails to refute the idea that humans and animals do not have an implied social contract between them.

Do not extend Con's contentions throughout the round.

Voting Issues: (These are the ways in which Pro wins today's ballot.)
1. economic benefit - Pro wins, as demonstrated by my 1st contention. Con provides no economic benefits resulting from not extending rights to living animals.
2. human health - Pro wins, because Con's only response is that this contention invalidates the standard (which I show that it does not). More health --> more benefit --> less immorality.
3. fairness - We must reciprocate. If animals respect us, we must do the same. Additionally, animals can think and feel pain just as humans, making their basic entitlements difficult to distinguish from ours. This is another reason to vote Pro.

I affirm
and extend my voting issues to the judges.



I prefer my definition of immoral because it is a term which is negatively defined – which is different than being circularly defined. Anoxia means ‘without oxygen’. Asexual means ‘without sex’. Immaculate means ‘without blemishes’. Immaterial means ‘not material’. Imperfect means ‘not perfect’. Immoral means ‘not moral’. The Latin prefix ‘im’ makes this undeniable. I define morality in my arguments using a credible source.

I prefer my definition of rights because my opponent provides scant defense of his claim, other than the bare assertion that it is the ‘mutually agreed upon definition’. I provide an extensive argument backing up my concept of rights. He also fails to explain how it is possible to have a right to be ‘free from suffering’ when such a state is an impossibility.


My opponent makes an argument that I find interesting: that of abortion. I actually find this to be a perfect analogy for our debate over the standard: I am arguing that animals do not have rights. If my position is true then their hardships need not be taken into consideration, and certainly not when in conflict with those of humans, which do have rights. A pro-choice position would mirror mine quite nicely: they are arguing that a fetus does not have rights. If this is true then their hardships need not be taken into consideration, and certainly not when in conflict with those of the mother, who does have rights. As for Cuba, that depends. A strict isolationist would argue that the welfare of Cubans is not at all a legitimate concern of our government. I think that undertaking an argument on abortion under the condition that the welfare of the mother and the fetus must be given equal weight gives the pro-life side an enormous advantage, since the point of contention in the first place involves whether or not we ought to extend such considerations. The same applies to this debate. I think that sticking to the simple standard of morality allows for a broader, more varied debate with many possible angles of attack.

Plan & Burdens:

I would still argue that my opponent has failed to defend the first premise of his plan, the veracity of which is instrumental to the soundness of his overall argument. In order for his conclusion to follow, he must prove that ‘if the endangered species act is beneficial, then extending rights to animals is beneficial.’ If this is not proven to be true, then his entire argument falls. His angle seems to be only that the endangered species act extends rights to animals; this is not sufficient by itself. If under any circumstances P is true and Q is false then the material conditional is false, his first premise is false, his modus ponens is unsound and his entire plan is dismantled. In other words, he must prove that “the endangered species act is beneficial” in order for his second premise to be true. He must then either prove that “extending rights to animals is beneficial” independently or restate the first premise and prove it in some other way in order for the argument to hold. He also claims that I must prove that his premise is not true, but the onus is always on the one making a proposition. The first premise of his argument is a proposition, so any attempt to shift the onus onto me constitutes a fallacious argumentum ad ignorantiam.

My First Contention: My opponent misunderstands a rather expansive definition; all four statements end in ‘or’, meaning that the normative definition which he takes offense to is only one of four options. My opponent then attacks several straw men. My first contention is not that it is impossible for animals to, among themselves, adhere to codes of morality or that it is impossible to extend morality to animals, so these arguments have no bearing on those that I present. His next straw man is to claim that my first premise consists of claiming that immorality and impossibility are mutually exclusive. He then proceeds to provide examples of deeds which ware both immoral and impossible. But my first statement does not claim that immorality and impossibility are mutually exclusive, only that no viable code of morality demands the impossible of its adherents. Surely my opponent would agree that a moral code which demanded that he steal every can in the grocery store or be deemed immoral would be useless for the purpose of governing human conduct? That is my point.

My Second Contention: My opponent begins by misapplying Hobbe’s theory: social contract is a political theory; it is a foundational theory of government. The fact the animals do not have governments precludes them from engaging in a social contract. There is no social contract between humans and animals. If I startle a cornered horse, it will not hesitate to kill me. It did not agree to live in a civilized society; it does not understand the principle of non-aggression. It was rigorously trained to act in a certain manner in order to prevent such actions, but its instinct can and will overpower that training in certain scenarios.

I did not trash Hobbes theory, any more than one trashes Charles Darwin when one brings up Gould’s theory of punctuated equilibrium. One theory builds upon the other, often tweaking it slightly. If my opponent holds that humans and animals need not bond politically in order to share rights then he must come up with an alternate philosophical base for rights and defend it. One cannot just tear the word out of its political and philosophical framework and expect it to hold the same weight; this constitutes a fallacy of equivocation. As for the claim regarding foreigners, our government represents us in foreign affairs and has an incalculable number of treaties with foreign powers around the globe to make such things illegal. This is a proper function of government.

Opponent’s 1st Contention: I am satisfied with the source. I still claim that the benefits arise chiefly from biodiversity, which can be maintained without extending rights to animals.

Opponent’s 2nd Contention: I can argue that the benefits were not a result of extending rights to animals but rather a result of decisions informed by sound science.

Opponent’s 3rd Contention: Already addressed.

Opponent’s 4th Contention: To say that I do not understand this contention is quite accurate, seeing as it is a non sequitur. There is no logical reasoning given to link our sharing a clade with non-human animals to the application of the altogether human political and philosophical concept of rights to them. Mutual respect has nothing to do with rights. Cubans and Americans are both human, thus able to share in the social contract. A human and a dog are not. And I did refute the last argument: it is a blatant argumentum ad novitatem. One cannot say that just because something is new and modern that it is better. Atom bombs, school shootings, flamethrowers and mustard gas are all unique to modern ‘civilized’ society. This does not automatically make them good.


Here I will restate my argument:

1. All P are M

2. No S is M

3. Thus no S is P

1. All demands for the applications of rights to animals are impossible.

2. No viable moral demand is impossible.

3. Thus no viable moral demand is a demand for the application of rights to animals.

1. My opponent consistently failed to show how rights under social contract theory could be applied to animals while also failing to present an alternate workable definition.

2. My opponent has failed to provide an effective counter argument to this premise, attacking a straw man instead. I never claimed that the impossible could not be immoral, only that a viable moral code cannot demand the impossible.

This follows the form modus camestres and is valid.

My premises have been defended as true.

Thus the conclusion follows and is true, and, following the law of non-contradiction, the resolution must be false.

I thank you for your time and effort.

Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by Citrakayah 5 years ago
Bacteria aren't animals, Roy. And part of Pro's reasoning is utilitarianism, which relies on the ability of something to suffer. Bacteria can't do that; most animals can.
Posted by RoyLatham 5 years ago
Children and others who cannot defend their rights nonetheless have them, and society defends them. the debate has a point.

If animals have an inherent right to life, then humans cannot wipe out bacterial disease like malaria or smallpox. We couldn't discriminate on grounds that bacteria are unworthy. Con's case is that an unenforceable right cannot be viable, and that bears out.

In practice, there s not much evidence that the Endangered Species Act has saved more species than would have been saved without it. Bison now exist in large numbers because a commercial market for the eat was developed.
Posted by Deadlykris 5 years ago
Animals cannot exercise rights. This debate is pointless.
Posted by TheElderScroll 5 years ago
Typo...typo. It should be: referring to.
Posted by TheElderScroll 5 years ago
Mind if I ask what kind of Rights you are reffering to?
Besides, are you talking about all living animals (wild animals included) or only some living animals?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by LatentDebater 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con refuted all of pro's points and didn't really have any of his successfully refuted with any evidence (merely subjective opinionated assertions of pro). Con gets conduct for going further than he had to since BOP was purely on pro. Additionally Pro didn't meet his BOP to be honest since he only use emotional opinions to justify it all apart form round one, in which the economic point was never really upheld nor did he prove economical value to be the source of morality. Sources for very obvious reasons.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: An interesting debate. Con argued abstractly, which didn't match up systematically with Pro's concrete arguments. I think Pro's error is supposing that the benefits he correctly cites can only be derived by applying a concept of rights to animals. He didn't show that. Endangered species are preserved absent a concept of rights. Con's arguments would have been better had he given examples, but nonetheless he successfully defended his case.
Vote Placed by Deadlykris 5 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Conduct for trying to force nonstandard definitions on this debate; such nonstandard definitions need to be declared in the Instigator's R1, else they become, like in this debate, a point of contention. Con had more convincing arguments as well. And as a side note, it seems that Pro misunderstands what "rights" are.