justice animal rights ya.....
Debate Rounds (3)
Resolved: A Just Society Requires the Recognition of Animal rights.
The resolution asks us to determine what a just society is, and within the parameters of such a society should the rights of animals be recognized? Justice, then is our value. Let's begin with the a basic understanding of justice: giving each their due. If individuals have rights in a society, then justice must concern itself with the protection and cultivation of those rights. No law, institution, or person is just if it or he violates or ignores or in some way encroaches upon the rights of others. A system of justice (of a just society) must recognize (acknowledge formally) the rights of all individuals recognized to have rights within that society.
What, then, are rights? Rights themselves are "Rights are entitlements to [or not to] perform certain actions, or to [or not to] be in certain states; or entitlements that others perform [or not perform] certain actions or be [or not be] in certain states... Rights dominate modern understandings of what actions are permissible and which institutions are just. Rights structure the form of governments, the content of laws, and the shape of morality as it is currently perceived. To accept a set of rights is to approve a distribution of freedom and authority, and so to endorse a certain view of what may, must, and must not be done." (1)
1) To accept that animals have rights only requires that one accept that there are certain things that humans ought not do to animals.
"To say that a being deserves moral consideration is to say that there is a moral claim that this being has on those who can recognize such claims. A morally considerable being is a being who can be wronged in a morally relevant sense." (2)
This debate is only concerned with human to animal interaction because animal rights exist only in animal to human interaction, as humans alone have the power to to recognize those rights while animals do not. To that end, there can be no expectation of reciprocation from the animals to humans. Do animals merit moral consideration? Can animals be wronged in a morally relevant way? Rights are the product of human reason, reason that enables us to recognize at minimum our obligation not to cause harm to the people and things we interact with.
Kant argues in "Groundwork" and that humans are innately superior to animals because humans are rational beings and therefore are ends themselves, "not merely... means to be arbitrarily used." According to Kant, "[animals] only a relative value as means and are therefore called things." Indeed, humans have the power to arbitrarily use animals to whatever ends humankind may desire, but merely having a power does not divest the holder of that power of all duty and responsibility with regard to that power.
In essence, simply because humans can abuse animals does not make us justified in doing so. That is not to say that humans and animals moral claims are equal, nor are human rights and animal rights equal. Because humans are superior (I cite Korsgaard's justification (2) for that assertion) our rights are superior to those of animals. Similarly though, that humans have superior rights does not strip animals or all rights or moral consideration. This is acceptable because merely "that non-human animals can make moral claims on us does not in itself indicate how such claims are to be assessed and conflicting claims adjudicated. Being morally considerable is like showing up on a moral radar screen—how strong the signal is or where it is located on the screen are separate questions." (2)
We accept that animals experience pain, but also that they are incapable of reciprocating recognition of rights and therefore we do not senselessly abuse animals or expect them recognize our right not to experience pain. If any being has an interest in avoiding pain, that being has a moral claim to pain avoidance because as Korsgaard so eloquently phrased it "to be in pain is a pain, and that is no trivial fact." (2)
What the moral significance of those claims are situational and beyond the scope of the resolution because if we accept that any being that has an interest in avoiding pain deserves to have that interest taken into account (recognized) by an individual capable of recognizing that right, then we accept that there are restrictions governing what humans may do to animals. From that conclusion we deduce that animals have rights; and that those rights are due recognition if they are to have significance.
By contrast, to assert that animals have no rights is to assert that there neither are nor ought to be any permissible limitations governing human to animal interaction. If animals have no moral claim whatsoever then there is no action, injury, or abuse which humans may inflict upon the animal kingdom with any consequence to the morality of the person causing the harm. Accordingly, animals are due the right to not be made suffer without cause.
2) If we accept that there are certain things that humans ought not do to animals, then the rights of animals must be recognized by a just society.
If animals have rights, then to violate them without cause is unjust. What may constitute a viable cause to violate the rights of animals is another debate entirely and vary by context, but we may stipulate easily that (like with human to human interaction -though the cause to violate the rights of an animal, given that animals have less rights than humans, need not be as compelling as the cause to violate the rights of a human) it is permissible to conceive of a situation where the rights of humans and animals may be in conflict and it would be justifiable for a human to violate the rights of an animal.
A just society is one that upholds the values of its citizens. Humans, by our nature, have a sense of humanity and compassion. We do not delight in the suffering of animals, and as such we do not cause what we individually consider to be unnecessary suffering or inflict senseless pain. If we as a society accept that there are certain things that humans should not do to animals, then the task of justice is to prevent those things (whatever they are) from occurring. Where animals have the right to not be subjected to unnecessary harm, any violation of that right is unjust. A just society then assumes the responsibility of preventing such an occurrence by codifying morality, accepted human ethical obligation into a system of law where penalties are established for violating those laws.
In that, the just society ensures that where any person violates those rights they are due consequence -and animal rights are recognized. If we accept that humans ought not bring about unnecessary harm to the animal kingdom, then we recognize animal right as individuals. A just society, being a reflection of the individuals it is constructed of, then is obliged to ensure that animals not be made to unnecessarily suffer. A society that does not recognize animal rights on any level does not accept any limitations governing what humans may or may not or ought or ought not do to animals, is unjust then because without recognition of animal rights on any level there is no restriction preventing senseless or causeless animal suffering.
To accept that animals have rights is to accept that there are certain things that humans shouldn't do to animals. Because there are limitations (moral or otherwise) governing what humans should and should not do to animals, animals have rights that stem from those limitations. Most reasonable humans do not abuse animals for this reason, and because most people disapprove of animal abuse (in the abstract sense) a just society that recognizes the rights and values of its members is required to recognize animal rights in order to be just.
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