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Zaradi's Prized Tournament: Animal Rights

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Voting Style: Judge Point System: Select Winner
Started: 3/3/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 6,542 times Debate No: 70987
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (182)
Votes (4)





This is the Semi-Final round of Zaradi's Prize Debate Tournament. I want to extend my thanks to Zaradi for hosting and for being magnanimous enough to attach a prize to this tournament. I also want to thank 16k--it may have taken us awhile to agree on a topic (and by "awhile" I mean eons...), but we got here nonetheless :)

This is a judge-only, "select winner" debate. The judges are Raisor, Dalt, Endark, BV, Cermank, Wylted, Bluesteel, Thett, Zaradi, and Whiteflame. If 16k has any objection to this panel, he may PM me prior to acceptance and I will make the necessary and agreed upon modifications. I would also ask that 16K NOT accept the debate until 4 days from this point; acceptance prior to that time will empower me to have the debate reset.

Full Topic

Justice does not require the recognition of animal rights.


The following definitions were influenced by Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Merriam Webster, and Encarta:

Justice - 'giving each their due' and/or 'fairness or reasonableness esp. in the way things are treated or decisions are made'
Require - 'to demand as essential, where essential means extremely important or fundamental'
Animal - 'a non-human, vertebrate mammal'
Right - 'something that one may properly claim as their due' and/or 'a moral or legal entitlement to (not) perform or have others perform certain action(s) and to (not) be in certain states'


1. No forfeits
2. Any citations or foot/endnotes must be individually provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling or semantics
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (e.g. moral skepticism, moral nihilism, rights don't exist, etc.)
7. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add definitions
8. The BOP is Shared
9. Pro must go first and must waive in the final round
10. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss


R1. Pro's Case
R2. Con's Case, Pro rebuts Con's Case
R3. Con rebuts Pro's Case, Pro defends Pro's Case
R4. Con defends Con's Case, Pro rebuts Con's Case
R5. Con rebuts Pro's Case, Pro waives


...again to 16k; I am looking forward to a truly stellar and engaging discourse!


I thank bsh for instigating. We have also accepted prior to the debate that all humans have rights unless forfeited through immoral actions, such as murder.

C1) A pragmatic case against animal rights

Of course, since philosophy isn’t my strong suit, I would have to have some contention relying upon actual evidence and talk about how recognizing animal rights would harm society. This argument is a utilitarian argument. I am arguing recognition of animal rights would harm society.

a) Animal Testing

Although many dispute the morality of animal tests, it is undisputed that these tests save lives. Many things done to animals during these tests would be illegal and immoral to do to humans. They are often kept in captivity their entire lives and even their children can be studied over many generations. Scientists can control their environment, including food intake, temperature, and lighting. Even assuming that most of the tests do not harm animals, there are indisputably some which put the animal into pain.

The Humane Society argues many animals are killed in painful ways during animal testing. Animals are often exposed to toxic chemicals, exposed to dangerous drugs, experience genetic manipulation, have ears or tails clipped for identification, deprived food and water, and the list continues. There have been cases of animals being killed by “carbon dioxide asphyxiation, neck-breaking, decapitation, or other means.” [1.]

But most serious scientists do not oppose animal testing. Animals are essential for breakthrough research which has the capacity to save human life. Much of what we know about HIV/AIDS is known through research of the equivalent disease found in primates. Research of cancer in mice actually is giving promising results in regards to combating cancer through gene therapy. Polio vaccines were developed through animal testing. In fact, “virtually every medical breakthrough in human and animal health has been the direct result of research using animals.” [2.].

Animal testing cannot exist if we recognize animal rights. Animal testing would be directly prohibited under any regime which recognizes an animal’s right.

A just society should NOT recognize animal rights in order to promote developments of future medical breakthroughs which will save millions of lives. To support animal rights is to doom people in the future with diseases to death, which infringes upon human rights, the accepted premise. To oppose animal rights is to support the advancement of human well being.

b) Sustenance

There is an extreme example as well as a moderate example which will be used.

An extreme example would be pointing to countries where access to non-animal sustenance is scarce. In, say, the Sahara access to any food--meat or otherwise--is very limited. A society springing up in this area would have to forgo recognition of animal rights as their people would need to eat. Any food found, whether it be a seed or an animal, would be fair game in order to prevent starvation. Accepting animal rights in this situation would lead to starvation and maybe even death. Societies in areas where farmland is impractical and trade is difficult would need to rely upon animals being killed in order to survive. So in this situation, a just society would not recognize animal rights in order to help the people living in the community.

But this example does not apply to much of the known world. Although applying to parts of Canada, Alaska, Africa, and Siberia, most of the world can either produce enough vegetarian food to feed its populace or import goods in order to feed it’s populace. Even assuming meat is not necessary, it is still in the society’s interest to oppose animal rights. A review of the research has found moderate red-meat consumption “may positively influence nutrient intakes and fatty acid profiles, thereby impacting positively on long-term health.” [3.] Consumption of animals can enhance human flourishing. The mere fact that red-meat consumption benefits people--even when vegetarianism is possible--supports the argument that a society can justify the opposition to animal rights because opposing them benefits people like you and me.

It should be noted my C1 relies upon the accepted premise: that people have rights. I have proven recognition of animal rights harms people and infringes upon their right to life, human flourishing, and future prosperity. If bsh argues the suffering of animals is justified as it benefits humanity, he is conceding that humans are superior to animals. If this is true, any discrimination against animals is justified because we are inherently different. And different things deserve different treatment.

C2) Animals are not part of the ‘moral community’

While I have proven recognition of animal rights is unjust because it tramples upon the rights of humans, I will also provide a more traditional argument against animal rights.

Before explaining how animals are not part of the ‘moral community’, I need to define what a community even is. To do this, take religious status. You have to be religious in order to be in a religious community. You must identify with the Catholic Church in order to be part of a Catholic community. So moral status--which translates into a ‘moral community’--is especially important for this debate. The question both bsh and I must answer is simple: is the moral status of animals high enough in order to give them basic rights (e.g. life).

It should also be noted being part of a moral community does not mean you automatically qualify for the possession of rights. In a community there can be various degrees of importance. A school president has more importance than a janitor in an educational community. So even if bsh proves animals are part of the moral community, he must also prove that they are worthy of acquiring actual rights.

So I will argue the requirements to be part of the moral community--which is required in order to prove animals ought to have recognized rights--is not fulfilled by animals. Animals simply do not meet the requirements to be part of the moral community.

Animals are not part of the moral community because they are not of a rational kind. To enter a University, you must meet minimum requirements in order to be part of the University. In a similar fashion, animals must meet standards in order to have moral worth. We can only understand who can and cannot become a member based upon how the group is structured and what common factors the group is formed around. The moral community is structured around morality. Morality, simply defined, is ‘good’. So in order to be part of a moral community, you must promote (or accept) things which are loosely defined as ‘good’. This is why people like murderers forfeit their right to life, because they do not recognize good and bad acts in the same way as the community.

Animals, on the other hand, are not rational creatures. Being rational is important in regards to moral standing because, as stated, the point of morality is to pursue goodness. Animals, as they are not rational, are incapable of pursuing any moral concepts. They are unable to act, understand, or pursue goodness. Lacking these qualities makes it impossible for animals to be part of the moral community. “The moral community is likewise organized around something shared in common by all of its members. This common factor is none other than the capacity for rational agency. … the capacity for rational agency is both necessary and sufficient for having moral status … rational agency is a necessary condition for having any sort of moral standing.” [4. (forthcoming)].

Bearers of rights must have the capacity to understand and exercise the rights they have been given. Because of this, animals do not and cannot have have rights. When using animals for, say, experimentation, no rights are infringed because “they have none
to violate.” [7.]

It is hard to deny human exceptionalism--which is the counter label to the name “speciesism”. Humans are rational, animals simply are not. “What other species builds civilizations, records history, creates art, makes music, thinks abstractly, envisions and fabricates machinery, improves life through science and engineering, or explores the deeper truths found in philosophy and religion? … Perhaps most crucially, what other species can be held to moral account?” [5.]

Legal structures around the world are made by humans and for humans. Animals cannot have rights because rights are inherently human. They were made in the realm of human morality, and are only applicable in our world [6.]. This further points to the simple fact that animals are not part of the moral community or even close to the same moral worth as a person--who has rights.

Humans are simply superior to animals, and animals cannot be treated equally. Animals do not fit the requirements of a moral community, and thus do not qualify for rights.

Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to 16k! Onto my case!


OB1. It is not my burden in the round to show that animals are due equal rights to humans, or even most rights accorded to humans. It is my job to show that 'animal rights,' i.e. those right(s) fit for or applicable to animals, are required by justice. Therefore, if I can show that animals have any rights at all, even just one, and I can show that these rights are required by Justice, then I win the debate.

OB2. It is not my job to show that animals each have the same set of rights. Just as different humans have different rights (for myriad reasons), the same is true of animals.

OB3. I do not need to show that all animals have rights. If I show that any animals have rights, I have shown that "animal rights" exist, in that there are rights that are not exclusive to humans.

OB4. It is the case that if something is a right, it is required by Justice. Justice involves giving each their due, and rights are our dues--those things to which we are entitled. Consequently, I simply need to show that animal rights exist and, in doing so, I simultaneously affirm that Justice requires them.


C1. A Fundamental Due: Needless Suffering

SC1. Preventing Needless Suffering is a Fundamental Due

Perhaps the most fundamental due we ascribe to beings is the right to be free from needless or wanton suffering. In fact, one could make the argument that one of the primary purposes of rights is to prevent needless suffering. A person denied of liberty, unable to own property, and without any guarantees of bodily integrity is a person apt to be subject to needless suffering, and so the existence of these rights shields against that likelihood.

Moreover, we can claim that even if preventing needless suffering weren't a goal or justification for the existence of certain rights, we can affirm that it does coincide with the moral community's understanding of rights and justice--someone who is needlessly suffering is, by necessity, having at least one of their rights violated and is being treated unjustly.

A third and final justification for the importance of preventing needless suffering is an appeal to the idea of Justice itself. Justice is fairness or reasonableness, as well as giving each their due. Needless suffering is neither fair, nor reasonable, nor due--it is, by its very nature, needless.

SC2. Animals have a Right against Needless Suffering

At least some animals are capable of suffering. Take elephants for example. Their advanced emotional capacities mean that they are definitely capable of suffering: "Studies show that structures in the elephant brain are strikingly similar to those in humans. MRI scans of an elephant's brain suggest a large hippocampus, the component in the mammalian brain linked to memory and an important part of its limbic system, which is involved in processing emotions. The elephant brain has also been shown to possess an abundance of the specialized neurons known as spindle cells, which are thought to be associated with self-awareness, empathy, and social awareness in humans. Elephants have even passed the mirror test of self-recognition, something only humans, and some great apes and dolphins, had been known to do." [1] Elephants that have witnessed or been subject to violence also show signs of PTSD. "'A large body of research shows that the neurobiological mechanisms of attachment are found in many mammals, including humans and elephants...The emotional relationship between the mother...offspring impacts the wiring of the infants' developing brain.'" [1, 2] Elephants are also known to mourn those they lost, showing negative emotions (e.g. regret) at the absence of the lost others. [3]

Generically, research suggests that "all vertebrates appear to have some capacity for primal affective feelings." [4] All mammals have universal survival circuits as well. These circuits are closely related to emotions, strongly implying that some similarities in emotions carry across the board. [5] There is even evidence many that mammals have conscious experiences. [6]

The conclusion that can be drawn from the above is quite simple: if animals can needlessly suffer, and there exists a generic right against needless suffering, then animals have a right against needless suffering.

C2. A Symbiotic Relationship: Give and Take

Relationships where one party uses the other as a tool merit some kind of compensation for the party used as a tool. An employer uses his employees as tool, and so he must pay them. Give and take is a concept naturally intertwined with justice. If we imagine justice as a scale (return to the idea of fairness), then it would be unbalanced (unfair) if I failed to give back. If that employer takes your time without paying you, then the scale tips noticeably in his favor. Similarly, when a thief steals, we acknowledge the victim's right to be reimbursed for the value of the stolen object(s).

It seems obviously unfair and unreasonable to take from animals, without giving anything in return. A shepherd's llama defends the sheep from predators, and so the shepherd, in the spirit of fairness, should reciprocate by providing shelter and/or food to the llama. Similarly, most animals are necessary to sustain the planet's biodiversity and healthy ecosystems, and so provide us a benefit. We should reciprocate somehow, e.g. human treatment, and this would be their due. And, because it is their due, or something that could be properly asserted to be their due, it means that it is also their right. The basic moral intuition here is that a one-sided relationship is not a fair (or just) relationship.

C3. Sympathy: Emotions and Rights

When we look into the face of the Other, we understand their pain and sympathize with them. This expression is a demonstration that the Other matters to us, and bestows on the Other moral value in the beholder's eyes. It demands that the beholder respect the Other. Sympathy is an internal compulsion to act, pressing on our individual moral compasses. That we feel sympathy for the Other gives the Other a claim on our action; to forgo acting on sympathy would be to deny the worth of the Other, a worth our sympathy had just validated. If we feel sympathy for animals, then it seems they too deserve/have a right to respect.

C4. A Truism: Animals have Legal Rights

SC1. The Truism of Inheritance

Animals have legal rights in the status quo; it's a truism. Say I had a pet barn owl (awesome!) or a pet red panda (too cute!), and I died. Suppose that I bequeathed money to both animals to ensure that they were cared for. Are these sums not the animals' dues?

"Children and idiots start legal proceedings, not on their own direct initiative, but rather through the actions of proxies or attorneys who are empowered to speak in their names. If there is no conceptual absurdity in this situation, why should there be in the case where a proxy makes a claim on behalf of an animal? People commonly enough make wills leaving money to trustees for the care of animals. Is it not natural to speak of the animal's right to his inheritance in cases of this kind? If a trustee embezzles money from the animal's account, and a proxy speaking in the dumb brute's behalf presses the animal's claim, can he not be described as asserting the animal's rights'? More exactly, the animal itself claims its rights through the vicarious actions of a human proxy speaking in its name and in its behalf." [7]

SC2. The Law as a Due

If the Law makes the promise of any action X, then are not the promisees due action X? As long as the promise does not violate some preexisting law, then the promise itself is valid, and it would, prima facie, seem unfair and unreasonable to not keep the promise. For example, if I promise to make you a vase, you are reasonably entitled to expect the delivery of that vase.

The law makes promises to animals, who, by extension, now have ethical and legal rights to cache in on those promises. For instance, laws against animal abuse or of using animals in fights makes promises to the animals that they will be (not) treated in certain ways. Animals thus become entitled to the promised conditions, which are their rights.

C5. Humans + Animals: No Relevant Differences

In this contention, I will endeavor to show that if we believe humans have rights, we must, by default, acknowledge that animals have rights (in some degree) as well. My logic can be laid out in the following syllogism; though I make no claims to its formal validity, it illustrates my thought-process:

P1. Humans have rights
P2. There are no relevant differences between humans and animals
C1. Animals have rights

We can look to the examples of babies and of the profoundly mentally handicapped (including severe Alzheimer's, brain injuries, etc.) with which to make this case (perhaps even the comatose). Humanity accords to both of these groups certain rights against maltreatment and abuse, yet they are incapable of reasoning, incapable of higher-order emotions, self-actualization/goal-setting, and are unable to rationally engage with the moral community.

If these classes of people are granted rights, then why shouldn't animals? All three groups (animals, the mentally handicapped, and infants) share a dearth of those qualities usually used to differentiate humans and animals. In fact, some animals might be more capable of rational thought, emotions, goal-setting, and/or communal engagement than those groups of people, seemingly making them more qualified for rights than many humans.


Presume Pro because it's more egregiously unjust to deny rights where they were due than to award rights where they weren't.


1 -
2 -
3 -
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 -

Thus, I affirm. Over to Pro...


Horizon broadening time.


I agree with the observations, as the definitions are vague enough for his observations to be true. I was dumb and didn’t contest them before the debate, so I am forced to accept these.

Ob1: Agreed

Ob2: Correct

Ob3: Yep

Ob4: Indeed

R1) Needless suffering

I actually agree with many parts of this. Many animals have feelings. But I don’t see how being able to perceive pain is sufficient for something to be immoral and require animal rights. Pain is necessary, but it is not sufficient, in order to gain rights.

Bsh’s first point under the section is merely saying the majority of people agree with his statement. This isn’t necessarily how justice should be applied. If 90% of the world supported murder, it wouldn’t necessarily make it just. Bsh also argues the moral community--one of my arguments--would see needless suffering as bad. And this is only half true. Suffering is necessary for rights, but it is not sufficient. Bsh finalizes his sub contention saying justice itself requires the end to needless suffering. I will expand as to why this basic thesis really isn’t true.

Essentially, to refute this, I must demonstrate that needless suffering alone is not sufficient for granting rights to animals.

There is a difference between harm and moral harm. What is it about pain which makes it a moral harm? This is something which bsh has not established. An animal’s welfare in and of itself does not warrant a moral response. A plant without sunlight or carbon dioxide will die. But no one would say plants have rights. Bsh may argue he has proven elephants can have emotion and thus be aware of their pain, a plant has no such capacity. This is correct, but the objection falls short. There is a difference between being a psychological subject--being able to feel pain--and being a moral subject worthy of rights. Animals being able to feel pain makes their welfare conditions more complex, but it does not “add anything beyond a new set of welfare conditions. Even though it does intuitively seem as if consciousness of a certain kind is relevant to moral status, consciousness as such is not what confers moral status. There needs to be a further fact that conceptually links the two together.” [1.]

Harming animals is also not the reason animal abuse is wrong, as animals have no rights. The reason it is wrong is because harming animals in such a way hurts the human. Acts of cruelty harm then “in the real sense”, but it is the person who is morally harmed, not the animal. Abuse may harm the animal, but it is the moral harm the human incurs which makes it ‘wrong’. “[T]he harm dealt to animals is a necessary — but not sufficient — feature of what grounds the wrongness of animal cruelty.” [1] Thus, animals have no rights. Any ‘rights’ given to them is because humans have rights, not because animals do.

Immanuel Kant argues “[a]ny action whereby we may torment animals, or let them suffer distress, or otherwise treat them without love, is demeaning to ourselves.” [2.] Inflicting pain onto animals is not immoral because an animal has a right to not be put into pain, but because it harms the person. So infringement upon human rights is the reason why causing animals pain is immoral, not because animals have rights.

My C2 further serves as a rebuttal to all of this. An animal may have emotions, but that does not make them rational. In order to be a ‘rational being’ one must have the capacity for reason. An animal can do something moral but it is unable to know why it is moral. In order to be rational and thus qualify for rights, you have to understand what right and wrong is--not just what pain is and what pain isn’t. A moral community does encounter many issues such as arguing how goodness should be pursued. But this proves that those in the community are able to act for those moral reasons. “The moral community is thus a community of rational and free beings. … From this we can conclude that the capacity for rational agency is both necessary and sufficient for having moral status” [1]. Rationality is what is required in order to have rights, not the ability to feel pain.

R2) Give and take

I would argue treating animals as property and using them is an effective way to protect them. So taking from them is actually in their best interest (and, therefore, a just society would not support animal rights). Property rights have been seen as a solution to many environmental issues as people do not like their property being misused. Making animals property, then, actually increases an animal’s welfare. From an animal rightist viewpoint, keeping them subjugated and taking from them is best way to protect animals.

Kant argues, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means.”

According to Kant, you cannot treat a rational being as merely a means but also an ends. When it comes to animals, who are irrational, we needn’t give them credit. Thus, using them as a means is not immoral. In the words of Kant himself on animal rights, “Animals are not self-conscious and are there merely as a means to an end. The end is man”.

R3) Emotions and rights

I don’t see how being able to empathize with things gives them rights. Being able to cause emotion isn’t really indicative of moral worth. The fact that we, as humans, can have an emotional connection with an animal does not give the animal rights--it is because *we* are the rational being. This has nothing to do with the animal, it has to do with how we, as humans, are and react to different situations.

R4) Animals have legal rights

a) Inheritance

In the scenario provided the animals should receive the care the deceased human wishes. But this has nothing to do with animal rights. It is the right of the human who can grant his/her possessions to the animals and ask other people to care for the animals after his/her passing. This has to do with the right of the human to have control over their belongings, not because the animals are entitled to the belongings. In the current legal system, if the owner had said nothing, the animals (who are considered property) and the belongings would transfer to the closest relative who is a person (or some animal housing facility). So if we are basing ‘rights’ off of the legal code, this scenario shows that animals by default have no claim to inheritance. They only get it if said by the owner--and even then, it is the right of the owner, not the animals’, which gives them the possessions.

b) The law as due

What laws promise animals anything? The constitution of the United States grants rights to people, not animals. I don’t think there is any legal code which gives any significant rights to animals. The only rights given are under the framework that people have rights. And the reason animal cruelty is immoral is because of the moral harm it inflicts upon the person, not the animal.

Now bsh gives us an interesting scenario about giving animals promises, but this argument fails to convince. Animals can’t even rationalize the promise. Regardless, even assuming this is true, animals are not part of the moral community. To not follow up on the promise would be a moral harm to the person, not the animal. Any ‘rights’ given to animals are not animal rights, but rather human rights (which, by definition, is animal rights).

R5) Animals and humans have no difference

P2 is where we fundamentally disagree. And pointing to infants or the disabled does not refute the fact that animals are not part of the moral community.

Both newborns and the disabled have the capacity to reason. Although infants lack the ability to reason immediately, they “they nevertheless — in virtue of being a member of a certain natural kind — possess a root capacity for rational agency” [1], and it is the potential for rationality which forms the basis of moral status. In fact, people who are sleeping or drugged lack the capacity for reason but they are still given moral worth. Kind membership matters, and merely being of humankind gives you the capacity to be a rational being, regardless of whether or not you can exercise it.

Indeed, in the abortion debate, it is the “capacity for self-awareness” which “is necessary for full personhood.” [3.] The capacity to rationalize and simply being a human is what gives you rights. This means people with alzheimers and newborns still have rights even though they cannot exercise said rights immediately. Animals have no such capacity.

Debate Round No. 2


Thanks, 16K, for a fabulous debate thus far! Now, rebuttal time!


C1: Pragmatism

Overviews: Utilitarianism fails to affirm.

OV1. Rights exist distinct from ends-based concerns. Pro seems to imply that humans have a right to life; yet, it is often utilitarian or pragmatic to kill humans. This suggests that the existence of particular rights is not pegged to the outcomes of those rights. My right to my life exists in spite, and sometimes in defiance, of pragmatic considerations. Conflating the two fundamentally misunderstands what rights are and wherefrom they emerge.

OV2. Justice and utilitarianism are not compatible; utilitarianism is a bad way to assess the round. Suppose I won a competition and earned $100 in prize money (this is my due). Instead of awarding me the money, the event organizers decide to donate it to a foodbank where the money has greater net utility. I am denied my due; it also seems unfair and unreasonable to cheat me of something that I fairly earned. Clearly, utilitarianism is thus fundamentally at odds with justice.

OV3. Even if you don't buy into the previous OVs, utilitarianism is a bad means to assess the round because it is anti-rights. Using Pro's logic, any right that subverts pragmatic interests shouldn't be recognized as a right. But every right will, at times, be contrary to utilitarian interests. If the government can kill someone to save 5 others, that would be pragmatic, but that 1 person's right to life stymies pragmatic action. This line of reasoning would lead us to conclude that no rights at all should be recognized--that's an implicit "kritik" of the topic (as it denies the existence of rights), which is prohibited by rule 6. Moreover, it would lead Pro to contradict himself, since he begins his round by acknowledging the existence of rights.

OV4. Rights are a balancing act; the existence of animal rights does not lead to the impacts Pro says they will. We balance rights all the time: does my right to a speedy trial outweigh the right of the public to gather evidence, does my right to my property outweigh your right to freedom of movement, etc. We can recognize that animals have rights, for example, but still recognize that killing 1 animal (possibly violating its rights) to save 10 people from death by hunger (impacting their right to life) is an acceptable trade-off. We do not deny that the animal had rights, but when rights come into conflict, we have to balance them. So, saying that animal rights inherently preclude all testing or hunting is incorrect.

OV5. Pro is begging the question. He writes: "Many things done to animals during these tests would be illegal and immoral to do to humans." He is viewing the issue through a utilitarian lens, but he seems to imply that we should only factor in the suffering and wellbeing of humans into utilitarian considerations. Of course if he excludes animals from utilitarian calculations, he is going to reach the conclusions he does, so his conclusion is, essentially, built into his premise. He needs to first explain why animal suffering is not something that should be evaluated under utilitarianism, esp. since he present utilitarianism and the moral community as separate arguments.

SCA. Animal Testing

a) Animal testing is not reliable. "A 2004 study from the [FDA] found that 92 percent of drugs entering clinical trials following animal testing fail to be approved. Of those approved, half are withdrawn or relabeled due to severe or lethal adverse effects not detected during animal tests...A 2008 study in the journal Alternatives to Laboratory Animals showed that more than 80 HIV/AIDS vaccines successful in nonhuman primates failed in human trials...According to a 2004 study... more than 4,000 studies report efficacy of more than 700 treatments of stroke in animal models. Yet none of the approximately 150 of these treatments tested in humans showed clinical benefit...Drugs intended to reduce inflammation in critically ill patients, previously tested in mice, failed in nearly 150 human critical trials according to a 2013 study." [1]

b) Animal rights are not necessarily a barrier to animal testing for two reasons:

b1) If animals have a right to humane treatment, we can use humane means of testing rather than not testing at all. For example, "Under the Animal Welfare Act, the USDA issues and enforces regulations regarding humane care, handling, treatment and addition to general husbandry standards related to housing, separation of species, cleanliness, feeding, quarantine procedures, and veterinary care. The law also contains provisions for the use of anesthesia or pain-killing drugs for potentially painful procedures and for the post-operative care of laboratory animals." [2]

b2) There are effective alternatives to animal testing. It is now possible to create organs in laboratories and to test chemicals on those organs instead of on actual organisms. [3] To cite a specific instance of this: "EpiDerm, derived from cultured human skin cells, is more accurate than animal tests in identifying skin irritants. In a correctly detected chemicals that irritate human skin, while tests on rabbits were wrong 40 percent of the time." [1]

SCB. Sustenance

a) There are alternatives to eating meat. There are viable, human dietary supplements for meat. [4] Moreover, there are enough plant-based products available in the world to feed everyone on Earth. [5]

b) Eating bushmeat is not utilitarian; it leads to ecological collapse. "Unsustainable use of wild meat also has negative long-term implications for maintenance of forest biodiversity. The radical depletion of forest animal species, known as 'the empty forest syndrome,' is increasingly prevalent, afflicting even protected areas...Since forest animals play important roles in ecological processes such as herbivory, predation, pollination, seed dispersal and germination, the loss of forest animal species will eventually be followed by the loss of the plant species that depend on them in one way or the other." [6]

C2. Moral Community (MC)

Overviews: Theory Failures

OV1. The rationality discourse ignores the role of sy/empathy in morality. "[R]ational argumentation fails to capture those features of moral experience that allow us to really see why treating animals badly is wrong. The that members of our communities, however we conceive of them, pull on us and it is in virtue of this indescribable pull that we recognize what is wrong with cruelty." [7]

OV2. The rationality discourse fails to truly reflect justice. Justice is about fairness and reasonableness. It is perfectly possible for a rational agent to unfairly or unreasonably treat non-rational agents. So, the focus on only rational agents fails to capture the full scope of justice.

OV3. The MC only deals with moral rights, not legal rights. To say otherwise would be to conflate the realms of the legal and the moral, which are clearly not the same. Not all legal rights are moral rights and vice versa.


a) What is Morality? Pro writes, "Morality, simply defined, is 'good'. So in order to be part of a MC, you must promote (or accept) things which are loosely defined as 'good'." Why must you be able to pursue good to be a part of the MC? Firstly, I think merely having a good/interest of your own would be sufficient. According to Pro, babies (as humans) have rights, but they are not rational and cannot accept/promote the good; the same is true of other groups of humans. Secondly, morality is a lot more than just pursuing good or accepting it, it is also about not infringing on the good of others, and so we have to take that into consideration. "Many of the higher animals at least have appetites, conative urges, and rudimentary purposes, the integrated satisfaction of which constitutes their welfare or good." [8] Thirdly, Merriam Webster defines morality as a set of principles, not any kind of action. [9] Clearly, a MC could set principles such as, "don't cause suffering," which would give animals rights.

b) Rationality is not strictly necessary to pursue moral concepts; animals can develop the basics of moral senses. Consider the case of elephants. Their advanced emotional capacities allow them to empathize and feel sadness and joy, arguably the rudiments of right and wrong. Their emotions can direct them to pursue basic morality.

c) Pro contradicts himself multiple times. He is unable to simultaneously affirm that "all humans have rights" while also asserting that no animals have rights:

c1) Pro writes, "You must identify with the Catholic Church in order to be part of a Catholic community." Yet, some humans are incapable of identifying with the MC, and would thus be excluded.

c2) Pro talks a lot about the role of rationality. Again, some people aren't rational, and are unable to pursue goodness. This excludes them from Pro's MC.

c3) Pro states, "Bearers of rights must have the capacity to understand and exercise the rights they have been given." Yet again, certain groups of humans cannot understand or exercise their rights, excluding them from the MC. Plus, Pro commits an ipse dixit fallacy there.

d) It is just false that legal structures are made by humans for humans. Humans enact laws or even adopt social or religious rules (e.g. ahimsa in Hinduism) that protect animals. It seems that even if animals don't have inherent rights, humans can still choose to give them rights by extending their laws to protect animals, as they have done. So, the fact that animals aren't part of the MC would not necessarily be an obstacle to animal rights


1 -
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8 - R2, Source 7
9 -

Thanks! Over to Pro...


C1) Pragmatic arguments against animal rights

Bsh seems to want me to defend every human right--this seems abusive. Why must he defend only some animal rights and I must defend all human rights? I think this should apply to me as well. This means many of these objections to utilitarianism (and even the MC) fall short.

Ob1: I do not need to defend every human right. One person may lose their right to life if it benefits everyone else. Having exceptions does not refute my C1.

Ob2: Utilitarianism upholds justice. Bad forms of justice are weeded out and good forms of justice come forward because of it’s impact on society. From a utilitarian viewpoint, your analogy could still be seen as immoral if the harm done outweighs the benefits done to the orphanage. For all we know, you were planning to give the money to a greater cause or invest it into the economy, causing economic growth and higher wages. The reason we view justice the way it is viewed now is because “survival... is what] most people value themselves” [1.]. Utilitarianism adequately describes why we have adopted the current form of justice.

Ob3: The reason we support human rights is because we see them as good. We have adopted this view because violations of human rights lead to negative consequences. Utilitarianism is compatible with how human rights came about in the first place. Utilitarianism gives human rights “a strong logical foundation” [1]. We have accepted that humans have rights, but accepting it without a logical foundation is silly. Utilitarianism causes human rights to make sense. Many false rights have been created, such as slavery, but this is bad because of the suffering caused. Utilitarianism is one of the reasons false rights were abolished. Utilitarianism enhances human rights.

Ob4: The rights bsh is balancing are legal rights. But legal rights are not always indicative of rights. Just because the government says it’s so doesn’t make it so. The existence of legal rights =/= justice requires recognition. The resolution says recognition of animal rights. If we assume animal rights exist, this may cause balancing. By balancing we do NOT recognize animal rights as other things override them.

Ob5: Only people in the moral community are worthy of moral consideration. We have no direct obligation to animals. Animals would not be considered in my utilitarian calculation.

a) Animal testing

A 10% success rate is high. That 10% success rate has caused essentially every medical breakthrough in the 20th century whether it be vaccines or HIV/AIDS research.

Animal test failures can be a good thing. Animal tests removed 36% of drugs from advancing to the next stage. This causes drugs dangerous to humans to not be tested on humans. 86% of drugs in early human trials fail in later drug trials [2.]. No one suggests human testing is inaccurate. The argument that animal testing is unreliable is a misapplication of the statistics.

My opponent argues we can use other methods or that animal testing can be applied humanely. An animal’s right to life, is often thrown out during animal testing. Despite many regulations which reduce an animal’s pain, many tests include inflicting brain damage upon animals. Others include applying acid or burns. This may lead to long-term disfiguration [3.]. Many pain killers like anaesthesia are effective, but there are many cases where local anaesthetics have not been applied properly and pain is still felt by the patient [4.]. Current regulations reduce the suffering of animals but fail to end it. Animals will continue feeling pain unless we recognize animal rights. Sadly, this would lead to the deaths of millions of people in the future.

I do not deny that alternatives are being found, but right now animal testing is irreplaceable for medical research. Although many advancements have been made, studies have concluded that “many areas involving experimental animals have been barely touched” and “testing and experimentation on animals will be indispensable for some time” [5.]. I welcome alternatives, but the evidence tells us that animal testing is indispensable for current medical research.

b) Sustenance

I do not deny that we could feed the world without meat; I preempted this. I provided evidence that eating red meat is good for people, and recognizing animal rights makes it impossible to intake red meat. Bsh responded by saying replacements exist; those replacements are protein replacements. The research argued that red meat was good because of the fats it provides. The replacements have very little fat. I never said that modern society *needed* meat, but that meat gives us a plethora of health benefits. These benefits would be removed if we recognize animal rights. The alternatives fall short in the health aspect.

Bsh claims unrestricted consumption of bushmeat will lead to ecological collapse. Many species cause amazing amounts of environmental destruction. Wild boars caused a famine in 1749 and caused 3,000 people to starve. They cause agricultural distress which forces many farmers to utilize techniques to protect their crops [6.]. For some species, unrestricted consumption would benefit the environment. In the examples I provided eating animals would be fairly rare. The population in the Sahara is very small. If you are starving to death, killing the random camel you find is better than dying. The amount of animals killed would be fairly low. The Sahara region really doesn’t really regulate the hunters there, and there isn’t a massive ecological breakdown due to hunting. In Alaska, where there are people living off of the grid, they often rely upon animals. I am not saying everyone in New York should have guns kill the entire deer population, but a society in Alaska or the Sahara should have the ability to kill an animal if it is a situation of life and death. To deny them that right is to condemn thousands of humans to die.

C2) Moral Community

Ob1: This is question begging. What makes harming animals bad? The quote seems to rely upon the opinion of the author as to what makes harming animals evil. The rational argument says it is bad because it infringes upon human rights and causes humans moral harm. The actual effect is that animal abuse is still frowned upon and animal rights still not recognized. The rational argument--which spends a lot of time explaining why hurting animals is wrong even if they have no rights--explains animal suffering.

Ob2: The MC does discuss justice. If animals are not part of the MC, no rights can be infringed upon and thus justice does not require the recognition of animal rights. It does not seem reasonable to give animals rights if they do not fulfill the necessary requirements. I argued against mistreatment of animals, but this does not mean they have rights. It is bad because it harms the person morally. Physical harm of animals is not sufficient for moral status.

Ob3: Legal rights are based upon morality. We ban murder because it is immoral, we ban robbery because its immoral, we allow gay marriage because there is no reason to ban loving adults from forming a union. Laws are based upon what we see as good. If animals have no access to moral rights, there is no reason to grant them legal rights. Recognizing animal rights has no foundation. Prohibiting animal rights upon the MC gives the law a foundation to stand upon. Giving legal rights to animals makes no sense if there is no moral foundation. If there is no moral foundation, how can justice be applied? How can it be required? Establishing moral rights is imperative as to whether or not animals should be given legal rights.

a) What is morality?

Bsh confuses moral action with moral status. You can commit moral actions but still not have moral status. Animals do many things we see as ‘moral’, but they cannot rationalize why it is moral. Bsh brings forth a definition of morality, but MC and moral actions are different, and his definition doesn’t really clash with mine. The MC is committed towards moral actions and improving the moral status of the community. The MC has many moral principles and continually refines them for the better. The MC is both oriented towards principal and action oriented goodness. Bsh’s definition really doesn’t affect what the MC is.

Bsh’s next argument here is against moral status. He argues many animals actually are rational. Humans are the *only* rational animal in all measures: culture, mind, life, and matter. Many animals exhibit similar behaviors, but it is simply incorrect to claims animals are even on the same level of rationality. “[H]umans are exceptional in that they have the capacity for self-conscious justification” [7.]. As bsh states, animals have the ability to enhance their welfare and help others; they don’t know how or why they are helping others, they just do it. Humans, with our ability to rationalize, are on a totally different playing field.

Emotions are irrelevant. You must be able to rationalize moral behavior, not just feel it.

b) Other issues

You do not have to actively join the MC to be in the MC. You can have standing in a community without acknowledging you are part of it. A nihilist may say he is not part of the MC but he actually is. He thinks nihilism is the best moral code for the world, which means he meets the MC’s requirement: to attempt to advance the moral goodness of the world (which requires rationality). And as stated in R1 (and above) some people do not have rights, so people not being in the MC doesn't refute the contention. You cannot have standing in a community unless you uphold and understand its values--something animals are incapable of doing.

People who are unable to be rational have the capacity to be rational. See last round.

The legal structures argument was fairly insignificant. See Ob4 C1.

Debate Round No. 3


Thanks again, 16K! I will now defend my case.


While I don't think the definitions were such that Pro had to accept the observations, he nevertheless does accept them. The impacts coming from 1-3 are that I only need to show (at least) 1 right that 1 animal can access in order to prove animal rights exist. The impact of 4 is that if I show that animals have any rights, as defined, then I have also show that justice requires them.

Pro also DROPS my underview, so presume Con. Finally, all of my contentions function independently, so I only need one to win. Pro's contentions don't function independently, because Pro contends that only members of the moral community can be factored into utilitarianism; so he needs to win his C2 for his C1 to even be possible.


C1: Needless Suffering

Overview: Pro agrees that animals can suffer; so if preventing needless suffering is a right, it can be meaningfully given to animals.


In SC1, I gave 3 discrete justifications for why preventing needless suffering was a fundamental due:

1. The whole raison d'etre for rights is to prevent needless suffering
2. Preventing needless suffering is an objective of the MC
3. Needless suffering is an affront to justice

JUS1. Pro says I'm making the argument that because "the majority of people agree with [the] statement" that it proves that is "how justice should be applied." But, Pro's not correct--I'm not attempting to apply justice broadly, just rights specifically, and I am not attempting to assess majority opinion, just to observe how rights work.

I am actually making the claim that if you examine all rights (pick any right at random, e.g. life, liberty, food, bodily integrity, due process, etc.), it appears to be the goal of all of them to prevent needless suffering. Liberty is good because it prevents us from being miserably locked up in confinement or from being terrorized by an authoritarian regime. Food is good because it prevents us from suffering from hunger. Bodily integrity is good because it prevents us from being beaten up or tortured. So, the claim I am asserting is one of the nature and purpose of rights. Pro NEVER REBUTS the idea that the purpose of rights is to insulate something against needless suffering.

The impact of this is fairly straightforward: if the fundamental purpose of rights is to prevent needless suffering, then any kind of being that can experience needless suffering would qualify for rights--just as the purpose of unemployment benefits is to help the unemployed, if you are unemployed you would qualify for them. Since animals can needlessly suffer, they have a right against needless suffering.

JUS2. Pro's rebuttal doesn't do anything to counter the idea of morality as a set of ideals; he merely repeats his stance on rationality. Last round I noted morality is defined as a set of principles. If one of the principles the MC has agreed on is that needless suffering is bad (Pro NEVER DISPUTES that this is a goal of the MC), then it would seem immoral to cause needless suffering to animals even though they're animals. The principle is still just as applicable to treatment of animals as it is to treatment of humans. Some societies, such as Hindu society, even explicitly include animals in this principle. The impact therefore is that animals have a moral right (a due given to them by moral principles) against needless suffering.

JUS3. Pro's main counters are that pain to animals is not a moral harm, that we don't abuse animals for our sakes vice the animals' sakes, and that emotions don't connect beings to morality--only rationality does. I have 5 responses:

a) Suffering is obviously a moral harm. I only need to point to Pro's own argument of utility to make that link. Furthermore, as I said earlier, pick any good, like liberty, and we can see that it is valued for the pain it avoids and the pleasure it brings. But even if you don't buy that, I still did give 3 reasons why needless suffering was key for rights.

b) Pro says that harming animals is not bad due what it does to the animal, but how it impacts us. Why does animal abuse harm us? The essay Pro cites notes: "the question is the duty to cultivate feelings that are conducive to morality." So, if humans have a duty not to cause needless suffering (since inflicting that suffering is not conducive to morality), then my claim that animals have a right not to needlessly suffer is affirmed. Rights are the other side of duties, after all. Plus, this supports my claim that preventing needless suffering is vital for morality.

c) Agents often establish rights not out of interests for others, but for themselves. In the state of nature, we realize that it is in everyone's interests to bring some order, and so we set up rights to provide us protections from others. So, why do we have to not abuse animals for their own sakes in order for them to have rights? It seems that rights can be granted even in spite of selfish motives.

d) If we agree that preventing needless suffering is of moral importance (which follows from my 3 justifications, and from points (a) and (b) above), then why should we distinguish between animal and human suffering. Suffering is suffering is suffering. Pro might respond with more of his MC/rationality claims, but these fail because we've already established that suffering itself (irrespective of other considerations) carries moral weight.

e) Morality is not only a rational enterprise. Emotions play a significant role too. Human's sense of conscience, or our natural moral compass, is not something we rationally came to a decision on; it is an emotional experience. Sympathy, empathy, love, etc. all inform our moral system. Pro only talks about rationality, but in doing so he misses an important part of the picture. Pro writes: "An animal can do something moral but it is unable to know why it is moral." Maybe that is true on a rational level, but I would submit that on an emotive level its not true. At least some animals can emotionally experience why certain things are wrong, just as we do. So, it seems that animals can still "pursue goodness," which was Pro's criterion for rights, on an emotive level.

C2: Give and Take

a) Saying that animals are inherently better off as property without rights is like saying that slavery was a good thing. Slavemasters "do not like their property being misused. Making [slaves] property, then, actually increases [a slave's] welfare." Hopefully this illustrates the absurdity of Pro's point. Rights are necessary to establish boundaries of conduct.

b) The rationality argument he applies here has nothing to do with whether a one-sided relationship is fair (or, at least he never makes that impact). If animals give, people shouldn't just take. Justice is a scale, and when it tips to far in one direction, it's no longer fair or just.

c) TURN: Pro kills his own C1. He cites Kant, who claims that people can never be used as a means; this defeats utility, which requires people be used as means in pursuit of the greater good.

C3: Emotions and Rights

Pro's only reply is that, just because it is we feel sympathy, doesn't mean that the animal has rights; it only has to do with us. My point is that when a person feels sympathy, they care about the Other. So, to that particular person, the animal is morally significant from their individual point of view. As I said: "the Other [has] moral value in the beholder's eyes." Because those who sympathize with the animal feel morally compelled to act, the animal is entitled to those actions, just as if I were legally obligated to pay taxes, the state is entitled to those taxes. As I said: "Sympathy is an internal compulsion to act...That we feel the Other a claim on our actions." Obligations give way to entitlements, i.e. rights. Pro pretty much DROPS most of this.

C4: Animals have Legal Rights

SC1. Inheritance

a) The presence of one right doesn't negate the existence of another. That my relative had a right to give me my inheritance doesn't logically imply that I cannot have a right to that inheritance, esp. since my inheritance is "something that [I] may properly claim as [my] due." It is owed to me. Both rights seem equally valid.

b) Pro says that as the animals wouldn't have gotten anything if it had not explicitly been bequeathed to them, they have no claim to inheritance. But this misunderstands the issue. The animals may not have had a claim to the inheritance before it was left to them, but once it was left to them, they did have a claim, and thus a legal right. This is how it works with human inheritors and wills too.

Pro DROPS that proxies can claim the rights of animals on their behalf.

SC2. That Law as a Due

Pro asks where the laws promise anything. Laws, for example, against animal abuses (which I specifically mentioned) promise animals that they won't be treated certain ways. Next Pro says animals need to be able to rationalize the promise. But, he never explains why. Promises are not contracts; they don't require both parties to understand and act. If the law promises something, an animal (via proxy) can legally assert the animals claim to the promise, thereby giving the animal a legal right.

C5: No Relevant Differences

a) Pro claims that just being of humankind makes you the capacity to be rational, and all such beings are part of the MC. Yet, elsewhere he says right-holders must understand their rights and be able to pursue morality. He even writes: "in order to be part of a [MC], you must promote (or accept) things which are loosely defined as 'good'." Clearly, not all humans can do those things.

b) Pro's whole notion of capacity is vague: how does someone who is severely impaired have rational capacity? Esp. if you were born with the impairment, you'd never have the potential to be rational.


Pro can't rebut dropped points as they'd be new arguments. Over to Pro...



Dropping the underview doesn’t really mean presume Con, how is dropping a summary a dropped argument?

C1) Suffering


JUS1: Bsh says he is arguing specific applications of rights are all made in order to prevent suffering. This is correct.

He goes on to list many rights, and then says I never responded to them. This is false. I spent the majority of the round explaining how it was true for humans but not animals. I noted how pain itself is not sufficient for rights. It is moral pain, not physical pain, which causes rights to be enacted. Animals may experience physical pain, but they lack the capacity to rationalize the pain. TO reiterate the rebuttal, “[T]he harm dealt to animals is a necessary — but not sufficient — feature of what grounds the wrongness of animal cruelty.” [1.] This is something that bsh actually drops. Unless my C2 is totally undone I win this point.

Bsh merely lists multiple human, not animal, rights. The goal is to prevent suffering in humans. The comparison cannot be made because humans can rationalize their suffering which is essential for moral status. It is the rationality which makes physical pain a moral issue. Animals cannot do this. Whether or not animals should be given a right to not be inflicted needless harm all relies upon rationality. If animals are not proven rational, pain in and of itself is not sufficient to garner a response.

JUS2: I never dispute that the MC’s goal is to promote needless suffering because it is true. But as you ignore, I explain in detail why this doesn’t necessarily apply to animals. The MC wants to promote goodness, but there is no reason to give goodness to outside members. The MC only promotes ‘good’ for those who are rational because autonomy (not to be confused with practical autonomy) are essential for rights. Just like the religious benefits of the Catholic church aren’t given to atheists, the moral benefits of the MC are not given to animals.

Humanity is identified by “[it’s] rational nature, a capacity he thinks of as distinctive of human beings, and he identifies our practically rational nature with our capacity to govern ourselves by autonomous rational choice.” [2.] In order to respect that autonomy through rational choice we should not inflict unjust pain upon other humans--something I have been saying since round one. Animals lack such capacity. Even assuming unjust pain is immoral, those rights cannot be transferred to animals.


a) Human suffering is a moral harm because it is wrong to infringe upon someone’s rational choices. A human rationalizes why harm is bad and avoids it. Animals simply avoid it due to instinct (which we do too, but have expanded upon such adaptations). Suffering in humans is wrong--animals suffering isn’t inherently wrong.

b) As I argued, it is wrong because it is “demeaning to ourselves.” [2] A rational actor abusing a non-rational actor is a sign of cowardice. The animal itself is physically harmed, but this does not mean it obtains rights. Scraping bark of a tree causes physical harm, but this does not mean trees should have rights. Whether or not something is rational is really what this entire debate hinges on. “Kant thinks that we can have duties only to someone who is in a position to morally constrain or obligate us by his will, and that only someone with a legislative will can do that. The non-human animals cannot obligate us because they do not have legislative wills.” [2] Whether or not needless suffering is immoral is irrelevant--it does not apply to animals.

c) Bsh suggests we can give them rights even though it harms us. But this is for the other arguments--the question under this contention is whether or not animals have a right to not suffer needless pain. They would not suffer needless pain not because they have a right to not suffer pain, but rather a human has a right to not to be morally harmed. We have no obligation to animals.

d) Suffering *only* carries moral weight under the specific conditions outlined. We are only obligated to not do something if the other thing is worthy of obligation. I have explained under (b) and in other parts of the debate as to why we only have an obligation towards other humans. Physical suffering is equal in both humans and animals, but moral suffering is very different between the two kinds.

e) Emotions do play a role, but the question is whether or not emotions can be rationalized. A dog may feel sad because his owner left to get food, but the feelings are not rationalized. Emotions are necessary but not sufficient. Rationality must be coupled with every factor bsh brings up. I am not saying other things are not necessary, but that they are not sufficient for moral or legal rights.

C2) Give and take

a) This is a utilitarian argument. There is actually evidence that slaves were actually harmed more often during reconstruction, but this is a perfect argument against C1. Physical harm increases, but the moral harms of slavery counterbalance this. Suffering is necessary but not sufficient. When it comes to animal rights, they are materially protected by property rights--and, of course, the moral harms of keeping animals as property is zero (because they are not of rational kind).

b) The question of whether or not a one sided relationship is bad is totally reliant on rationality. Bsh has to prove we have a direct obligation to animals--something I have been arguing against. I have proven we only have rational obligations to people because humans are “is in a position to morally constrain or obligate us by his will” [2]. Animals cannot do this. As we have no direct obligation, there is no reason a one sided relationship is immoral. We have no obligation to make it ‘fair’.

c) This doesn’t defeat utility. The reasons provided in this debate which say you can't use humans as a means is because it harms people both physically AND morally. This is a direct application of utility.

C3) Emotions

It doesn’t follow that caring for someone gives them rights. We accepted that humans, except those who commit things like murder, have rights. This means some humans do not have rights, but the eyes of a murderer dying in a botched execution garner sympathy, this has nothing to do with his rights. All it has to do is with ourselves. Emotion has nothing to do with moral worth or justice.

C4) Legal rights

a) This is true, but one right may be recognized over the other. If this is true, animal rights may not actually recognized meaning the resolution is not affirmed.

b) Human inheritors really don’t get claim, either. They only have claim because the deceased transferred the goods. It is the right of the deceased, not the right of the living, to choose which items get given to who. Animals and humans being given inheritance don’t have claim beyond what the deceased gives them, meaning it is the former person’s rights and not theirs.

Proxies suffers the same issue as above, which is why it is seemingly dropped when it wasn’t.

c) When a tree falls in the woods, it makes a sound but no one hears it. It has no relevance. If both parties do not understand the promise, it has no relevance and can be broken--the animal cannot morally obligate the human to keep the promise (see JUS3 b). Animal rights would not be recognized in this scenario. A proxy giving rights does not mean the animal has a right as the proxy is doing all of the work. The animals have no rights beyond what the human proxy is saying. Just because the law gives them something is a weak argument as we have no direct obligation to uphold our promises.

C5) Differences

a) I have used the language of rationality interchangeably, this is just arguing with my wording. They have the capacity to promote good which is what the entire argument is based upon. In R1 I argued, “Bearers of rights must have the capacity to understand and exercise the rights they have been given.” Animals have no such capacity, infants and old humans do. To rephrase in the words of Kant, they have the capacity morally force us to keep our obligations, animals cannot.

b) A human always has full potential for rationality, even if they cannot practically utilize it due to an impairment or due to the fact they are not yet developed. We have differing levels of practical autonomy, just as animals do, but animals will “never possess the consciousness of a human.” [3.] I have argued humans have worth by being of humankind--bsh has made no such arguments in favor of animals.


C1: Utilitarianism

a) Utilitarianism does explain justice and human rights.

b) Recognizing animal rights infringes upon human rights because it harms humans

C: Recognition of animal rights is not required by justice as it harms humans

I should note bsh’s rebuttal--that now allowing babies in the MC--is not compelling. We accepted in R1 that some conditions can release you from the MC, so an exception does not harm my case. I mentioned this last round.

C2: Moral Community

a) Rationality is both necessary and sufficient for moral status. All of the things bsh brings up are necessary but not sufficient.

b) As noted exceptions does *not* harm my case. Regardless, I rebutted the objection as the capacity to rationalize, not necessarily the ability to rationalize, are important. We have a direct obligation to humans, but no such obligation to animals

c) I have argued humans have rights simply because they are humans. Bsh has made no such claim, meaning animals have no claim to morality. Justice cannot require animal rights because animals have no worth in and of themselves.

d) This is not to say animal abuse is immoral, but it is immoral because it harms the human. It has nothing to do with animal rights

Thanks for the great debate!

Vote Con.

Debate Round No. 4


Thanks, 16k, for a great debate. I will now rebut and crystallize.


C1. Pragmatism


OV1. I am not saying Pro must defend all rights insofar as he defends ANY rights. If we acknowledge that my rights exist in spite of utilitarian considerations--and it seems like all rights will sometimes run into conflict with utilitarian goals--then utilitarianism isn't a good justification for rights, because they defeat their own purpose.

OV2. Justice is about fairness, not survival. Even if an action weren't utilitarian, if it were fair, it would be just. This is true merely by the R1 definitions. We can imagine scenarios, whatever they may be, where fairness and utility would conflict, where I was due something, but yet deprived of it to further the greater good. Thus, utilitarianism's a poor framework for the round.

OV3. We don't necessarily support rights for utilitarian reasons. We may ground them because in the dignity of life, even if respecting that dignity can produce bad ends. Pro cannot assert as fact that the root of rights is utilitarianism. Moreover, Pro DROPS that rights are often at odds with utilitarian goals, which implies that the utilitarian would not recognize any rights, so as not to constrain the pursuit of the greatest good. Pro's point is an implicit K and does contradict his own case.

OV4. The example that I gave may be legal, but Pro doesn't explain why the notion that rights should be balanced cannot apply to moral rights too. Pro says, "legal rights are not always indicative of rights," but the agreed on definition of rights includes legal rights. Finally, recognition does not mean enforcement in all cases. We recognize that I have a right to free movement, but we must balance that against someone else's right to property. That doesn't mean we only recognize one right; we can recognize both, but only enforce one in a given situation. Recognition is merely agreeing that a right exists and should be weighed when balancing the scales of justice. So, saying that animal rights inherently preclude all testing or hunting is wrong.

OV5. Pro agrees that his C1 is predicated on his C2.

TRN. Utilitarianism argues that, occasionally, even humans must be used as a means to an end (the greater good). Kant argues that this is ALWAYS immoral.

SCA. Animal Testing

a) Pro notes that %86 of drugs in early human trials fail later. This data applies to humans testing in Phase 1 of clinical trials. Phase 1 tests on only a very small group of people, so, arguably, if that initial pool were expanded, it's accuracy would increase. Moreover, studies only advance to phase 1 after animal testing, which speaks even more authoritatively on the inefficacy of animal studies. Besides, there are good reasons to believe that testing on humans would be accurate: "the FDA and...(EMA) introduced guidelines for testing very small 'microdoses' of drugs in humans...These early tests...would show, for instance, how the drug is distributed and broken down in the body, and whether it hits the right molecular target...[A] of the new AKT drug formulations...allowed the team to pick the one absorbed best by the body for use in future trials." [] Pro also never contests the accuracy of the numbers I gave earlier, he only says I "misapplied" them.

b1) Some animals will invariably die or be injured in testing, but if a right to humane treatment is recognized, it wouldn't curtail all testing, and regulation does minimize animal suffering. At the very least, this mitigates Pro's impacts.

b2) Testing on synthetic organs is happening now, in the status quo. The research Pro cites is referring to all animal research, not just inhumane research. Therefore, it seems possible to use animals for humane experiments, and to reserve inhumane tests to alternatives. This would respect animal rights.

SCB. Sustenance

a) Pro agrees supplements provide protein. It also seems possible to either find other sources of fats or to synthesizing them,eliminating dietary reasons for carnivory.

b) The question is whether there are species like the wild boar in the Sahara region (or even in Alaska), and Pro has not given any evidence to show that there are. Moreover, what is to stop people overhunting or stockpiling meat? Thus, my argument about ecological collapse stands. If the environment collapses, it will be even harder for people to find food (even plant food), and that isn't utilitarian--more people in the long run.

C2. Moral Community


OV1. Pro says that this argument is question-begging because it relies "upon the opinion of the author as to what makes harming animals evil." In fact, the argument merely articulates what I said last round: that such a narrow-focus on rationality ignores the important emotional facets of morality. That rationality alone is sufficient to construct an accurate picture of morality. This is DROPPED.

OV2. Pro argues that if animals aren't within the MC, their rights cannot be infringed on because they have no rights. This FAILS TO DENY that things outside of the MC can still be treated in unfair or unreasonable ways. Thus, while the MC discusses justice, it does so insufficiently and incompletely, making it a bad way to weigh the round. My framework is more complete, because if something cannot suffer, then there is no way to be unfair or unreasonable towards it--it has no good of its own and so can't be wronged.

OV3. Pro cannot have it both ways. First he says that legal rights are not indicative of moral rights, but now he says that legal rights are based on morality. Regardless, legal rights and moral rights are not the same; legal rights are things we voluntarily create and confer. Moral rights exist just in virtue of what morality is, irrespective of whether we choose to confer it. Even if we use morality as a justification for many legal rights, we don't HAVE to do that. We could choose to give animals legal rights (and, in fact, we have made that choice as point (d) of this contention shows), whether or not animals have moral rights. So, Pro cannot say that legal rights are necessarily predicated on morality. Pro does say that because animals don't have moral rights, there is no reason to give them legal rights. But, Pro has consistently repeated that it is morally good for humans to treat animals well. So, maybe animals should be given legal rights to ensure human moral wellbeing. That would still give animals a legal right which, per my case's OB4, justice would have to recognize.


a) Pro says: "Animals...cannot rationalize why [things are] moral." I have argued, and Pro has even agreed, that emotions are important to morality too. Even if animals cannot rationalize why an action is moral, they can understand why an action is moral on an emotional level. Pro never gives us a good reason as to why rational understanding should be preferred to emotional understanding. Animals can even pursue good on such an emotive level. Pro also DROPS that if the mentally impaired cannot rationalize why something is moral, then rationality is bad standard for assigning rights. Pro also DROPS that morality is about respecting the good of others and that animals have a "good" in their welfare. Even if animals cannot respect our good, morality would suggest that we should still respect theirs. This gives animals a claim to a due (their good.) Finally, Pro DROPS my definition of morality, but gives no explanation as to why the principles of morality can or should only apply to the MC.

b) I never said that animals are rational. Pro misunderstands. I argued that "their emotions can direct them to pursue basic morality." Pro states: "Emotions are irrelevant. You must be able to rationalize moral behavior." But this is just an ipse dixit (bare assertion) fallacy. There is literally no warrant here from Pro.

c) Firstly Pro writes: "You can have standing in a community without acknowledging you are part of it." This only makes it easier for animals to join the MC. But, still, this clearly contradicts his claim that: "You MUST identify with the Catholic Church in order to be part of a Catholic community."

Secondly, Pro then argues: "People who are unable to be rational have the capacity to be rational." Pro's argument is absurd. He says that individual bearers of rights must have the capacity to understand those rights. This means that a rights-bearer must have the ability to now (or in the future) understand her rights. This cannot apply to the mentally impaired. How does being human suddenly confer upon them a capacity to do that? Capacity requires the potential for manifestation, and for some people, that is never going to apply. Importantly, Pro agreed that all people had rights except when they gave up those rights by choosing to do wrong, so the mentally handicapped still have rights in Pro's world, resulting in a major contradiction.

d) Pro DROPS this. It impacts back to OV3. Animals have legal rights.


Per my case's OBs, showing any right negates. Also, Pro dropped the presumption; so, if it's close, presume Con.


I've taken this out with the Kant turn and by demonstrating its conflict with Justice.


Emotive action is sufficient to "pursue good," animals have a good to be respected, and the mentally ill would be excluded from the MC due to a lack of rationality (and/or capacity), which is a contradiction in Pro's case.


Animals can have legal rights, promises are still dues, and inheritance is a due.


The goal of rights is to stop NS, NS is contrary to the principles of the MC, and NS is an affront to justice. I only need to win 1 justification to win this point. Ultimately, suffering is suffering--it doesn't need to be rationalized to be valid; suffering is an emotional experience. Animals can suffer, so have rights.

Thanks! Please VOTE CON!



War is coming swiftly
The borders closing in
We're a company of soldiers
Mere forty rifles strong

All alone
Stand alone

Ardenner ground is burning,
And Rommel is at hand
As the Blitzkrieg's pushing harder
The war is all around!

All around
Hold your ground!

Fight all eighteen days of battles,
No odds are on our side
Few will fight for all until the bullets are gone

We will resist and bite!
Bite hard
'Cause we are all in sight
We take up arms and fight!
Fight hard!
Resist and do what's right!

No matter our fighting
The numbers will still count
We're outgunned and few in numbers
We're doomed to flag of fail

We fought hard
Held our guard
But when captured by the Axis
And forced to tell the truth
We'll tell it with a smile,
We will surprise them with a laugh

We are all
We were all

We were told to hold the border
And that is what we did
Honored were our orders
In despite of our foe

We will resist and bite!
Bite hard
'Cause we are all in sight
We take up arms and fight!
Fight hard!
Resist and do what's righ

We will resist and bite!
Bite hard
'Cause we are all in sight
We take up arms and fight!
Fight hard!
Resist and do what's right

Gloria fortis miles
The Wehrmacht closing in
Adversor et admorsus
The Boar against the Eagle
Gloria fortis miles
The Wehrmacht closing in
Adversor et admorsus
The Boar against the Eagle

We will resist and bite!
Bite hard
'Cause we are all in sight
We take up arms and fight!
Fight hard!
Resist and do what's right


The dawn of century, a boy born by a lake
Resettled from Karelia's plains
Grown to a man in exile as the great war came
Unleashed it's shadow on his world

Oh, no
Oh, no
Who knows his name?

Inmate in hell or a hero imprisoned?
Soldier in Auschwitz, who knows his name?
Locked in a cell, waging war from the prison
Hiding in Auschwitz, who hides behind 4859?

Outside help never came, decided to break free
The end of april -43,
Join the uprising, fight on the streets while hiding his rank
Takes command all while serving his country in need.

Sent to a prison, where the heroes are judged as traitors
Accused of treason by his own
Sentenced by countrymen under pressure of foreign influence
Men he once fought to free

Oh, no
Oh, no
We know his name!

Inmate in hell or a hero imprisoned?
Soldier in Auschwitz, we know his name!
Locked in a cell, waging war from the prison
Hiding in Auschwitz, he hides behind 4859!

White eagle
Blood of Heroes
In Heaven

Rest in Heaven
True Hero


Into the motherland
The German army march

In the Soviet Union summer 1943
Tanks line up in thousands as far the eye can see
Ready for the onslaught
Ready for the fight
Waiting for the axis to march into a trap
Mines are placed in darkness
In the cover of the night
Waiting to be triggered
When the time is right
Imminent invasion, imminent attack

Once the battle started
There's no turning back

The end of the third Reich draws near
It's time has come to an end
The end of an era is here
It's time to attack!

Into the motherland the German army march
Comrades stand side by side to stop the Nazi charge
Panzers on Russian soil a thunder in the east
One million men at war
Soviet wrath unleashed!

Fields of Prokhorovka
Where the heat of battle burned
Suffered heavy losses
And the tide of war was turned
Driving back the Germans
Fighting on four fronts
Hunt them out of Russia
Out of Soviet land
Reinforce the front line
Force the axis to retreat
Send in all the reserves
Securing their defeat
Soldiers of the Union
Broke the citadel
Ruins of an army
Axis rest in hell

The end of the third Reich draws near
Its time has come to an end
The end of an era is here
Its time to attack


Onward comrads! Onwards for the Soviet Union! Charge!

Ow mother Russia!
Union of lands
Will of the people
Strong in command
Ow mother Russia!
Union of lands
Once more victorious the red army stands!

The end of the third Reich is here
Its time has come to an end
The end of an era is here
Its time to attack!



Pulled into war to serve a vision
That's supposed to last a thousand years
Part of a machine unstoppable
As merciless as tidal waves

Were they the victims of the time
Or proud parts of lager goals?
Propaganda of the Reich masterful machine

Time and again the battle rages on
Beyond the gates of misery
As casualties rise and millions die around them
Did they see it all?

Crazy mademen on a leash
Or young men who lost their way?
Grand illusions of the Reich
May seem real at times

Panzers on a line
Form the Wehrmacht's spine
Lethal grand design
What about the men executing orders?

Ad victoriam
Ex machina
Non sibi sed patriae [x2]

Pulled into war to serve a vision
That just didn't last a thousand years
Part of a machine
Though stoppable as merciless as tidal waves

Crazy mademen on a leash
Or young men who lost their way?
Grand illusions of the Reich
May seem real at times

Panzers on a line
Form the Wehrmacht's spine
Lethal grand design
What about the men executing orders?


I will rule the universe

1804 as emperor sworn
soldier at heart a child of war
Napoleon Bonaparte
A master of the game and equal to God
Invading the lands of greed and fraud
Turned warfare to an art

He was known as the chosen one
Born 1769 in Corsica
His family's joy and pride
It is just like a fairy tale
This boy was not for sale
And he never lied, but how he cried:

I will rule the universe
I'm the glory, I'm the brave
Going down in history forever
I will rule the universe
I shall crush their sorrows veil
And soon I will be marching into heaven
I'm greater than God

Who could believe this boy would achieve
All of his dreams and what he believed
It went down in history
But luck has an end you know it too well
Heaven is bound to turn into Hell
His time was running out

At the battle of Waterloo
No chance; the enemy was far to strong
And here's another song
It was the end of the fairy tale
Everyone is bound to fail
It must be right; but damn he tried

I will rule the universe
I'm the glory, I'm the brave
Going down in history forever
I will rule the universe
I shall crush their sorrows veil
And soon I will be marching into heaven
I'm greater than God

There are many types of heroes,
and this is one of a kind
In these days so full of zeros,
I keep gazing at the sky


He was known as the chosen one
Born 1769 in Corsica
His family's joy and pride
It is just like a fairy tale
This boy was not for sale
And he never lied, but how he cried:

I will rule the universe
I'm the glory, I'm the brave
Going down in history forever
I will rule the universe
I shall crush their sorrows veil
And soon I will be marching into heaven
I'm greater than God
Debate Round No. 5
182 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by kingkd 1 year ago
bsh1 is soooooo good
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
16K - You need to come back.
Posted by Genghis_Khan 1 year ago
He's mad that you beat him.
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
16K, why'd you deactivate?
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
Thanks for the vote, Whiteflame!
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
RFD (Pt. 1)

Obviously, this was a great debate with a lot of intriguing arguments from both sides. Honestly, I felt that the wording of the debate should have given a massive advantage to Con that Pro was extremely unlikely to overcome. Pro disabused me of that notion quickly, and the debate got interesting fast.

I could spend the next two hours going through every individual point and assessing how they worked out, bbut this is one of those instances where I feel less is more. Instead, I'm going to focus on how well the general points held up, and determine how those points stack up within the debate.

1. Utilitarianism

I end up buying that utilitarianism is a mechanism for examining what is just and how to determine where rights belong. But there's two central questions I'm asking on this point by the end:

1) Is utilitarianism the best means for determining to what rights belong?
2) Does the infringment upon human rights outweigh the harms that result from their lack of rights?

In both cases, I'm unsure. While Pro effectively showcases why utilitarianism is often a means for determining why society allocates rights, it's not always a means for determining whether that allocation, or lack thereof, is just. I get that it can be a means for doing so, but it is a basic valuation of outcomes rather than a means of evaluating the justice behind this choice. Con's focus on fairness seems the far better determinant for justice, especially when he does a better job linking it to basic duties. The Kant turn Pro places here is also pretty deadly, since I get little in the way of response from Pro.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
(Pt. 2)

But that would all be fine, and I would still consider utilitarianism a reasonable option for evaluating the resolution, if there wasn't a basic question of whether the utilitarian harms are substantial enough to outclass the harms of fairness not being met. I don't see a substantial harm in either animal testing or sustenance, both of which rely on a lack of alternative means. In the former case, the reality that effective scientific research occurs with measures in place to protect the animals from harm, and that there are alternate means currently in place that could feasibly replace it (my concerns about these weren't expressed). In the latter, supplements mitigate and bush meat problems counter. Hence, even if I'm buying utilitarianism is an important factor in determining rights, I'm not sure there's enough here to completely trump the harms to fairness with.

2. Moral Community

There's something here that never quite sat right with me. I'm not getting a great picture of rationality's sufficiency in this regard, though it's made clear to me that rationality is important. It seems that Pro often tries to have it many mutually exclusive ways at once many times throughout this discussion. Saying that identification with a community is necessary, and then that they don't have to acknowledge their participation, for example, is problematic. Some inconsistencies build in Pro's arguments throughout, and that leaves me uncertain on this point as a whole.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
(Pt. 3)

I'm also not seeing why exceptions don't harm Pro's case. Pro made it clear from the outset that all humans are deserving of rights, and yet his analysis leaves out many of the mentally disabled. I like the argument that the potential to be rational allows many individuals to have rights, but I don't see that potential for these humans. The idea that humans simply have rights inherently just seems like question begging to me " the why behind that point is never addressed. It makes it difficult to see this as a broadly applicable argument.

All of this at least leaves me questioning this set of arguments. Some of bsh's best rubuttals come a little late (in particular, this idea that rights given to animals can affirm the reality that harms to animals harm humans), but the most I'm getting out of this point in the end is a shaky reason why I should prefer rationality. The stance as a whole just doesn't feel like offense by the end of the debate, since it's just a different way of looking at why we afford rights to those that we do. The smallest chink in this can be exploited heavily, and I think Con manages to do that quite well.

3. Legal Rights

Based on the burdens of the debate, I'm looking for any reason why animal rights might be preferred to a lack thereof, and this is a small but effective reason. We've promised animals something through current law, therefore they are deserving of what they are promised. By itself, that's not reason enough for me to vote Pro, because I don't see a reason beyond basic perception (which may or may not exist on their end) to do so, but the concept that humans have a duty to afford rights we promise is an intriguing one. I would have liked to see more in the way of arguments about upholding consistent principles and linking this point to a broader issue of how we treat other humans as well, but it's a point that nearly puts me over for Con.
Posted by whiteflame 1 year ago
(Pt. 4)

4. Needless Suffering

This is really what puts me over for Con by the end of the debate. If the basic goal of rights is to stop needless suffering, then I have no choice but to side with the person who is reducing that suffering substantially. The utilitarian harms simply don't outweigh, so the only thing left for me to ask is whether or not animals are worthy of this right. And on that, I think Con made it clear why: "suffering is suffering " it doesn't need to be rationalized to be valid; suffering is an emotional experience. Animals can suffer, so have rights." With the rationality point uncertain, I'm given enough room to believe that the emotional can define the basis for rights. And that's all I need to vote Con.
Posted by bsh1 1 year ago
Cool. Thanks, whiteflame!
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by whiteflame 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Given in comments.
Vote Placed by EndarkenedRationalist 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: What this debate, to me, really boils down to is needless suffering and the idea of a moral community. PRO argues that because animals lack rationality - lack the ability to choose right and wrong - they are not part of the moral community and thus have no rights. CON argues that animals can emotionally detect basic morality. Ultimately, I think PRO is correct that both are necessary and sufficient, but neither is alone - HOWEVER, PRO's contradictory stance with emotions being irrelevant does not fit in well with other contentions. CON makes a strong counterpoint in the mentally-handicapped, some of whom can never fulfill the potential they have for rational right usage. As for needless suffering, PRO often asserts that suffering is insufficient for rights, but this is never developed. It remains a prima facie statement. This, I think, hurts PRO's case more than anything else. It is the foundation, and it needed more development than it received.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 1 year ago
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Comments
Vote Placed by Wylted 1 year ago
Who won the debate:--
Reasons for voting decision: Test