The Instigator
Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Animals should only have rights it is in our interest to give them.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/12/2018 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 396 times Debate No: 110579
Debate Rounds (3)
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In this debate I shall argue that when deciding how we are permitted to treat animals, the only relevant factor should be whether the rights we give them are in our self-interest.

The debate will be three rounds, so please don't add any completely new points in the third round. I believe the burden of proof to be on the person asserting that we have other reasons for granting animals rights other than that it helps us, so feel free to give arguments in round one. If you really disagree with this point, mention why in your round one statement but I don't want to get drawn into debating that, so preferably accept this debate only if you're willing to start by offering a case for animal rights.

Thanks to my opponent, and hopefully we shall both learn something from the debate.


I'm a little unsure of what you expect from the opposing argument. Nevertheless. I will address the issue you brought up, i.e. whether it's in our self-interest to grant or acknowledge the rights of animals who aren't homo sapiens. First and foremost, the right is a moral concept which establishes a condition in which we ought to live. It is a rationalization of our environment and our interactions with in it. Now since you specifically suggested that we "give them" rights as opposed to acknowledging a natural right, you're essentially referring to a privilege subject to legal referendum. Whether granting these privileges will provide some benefit, we have as of yet to be illuminated. I suppose that's where you come in: what are these proposed benefits? I'll continue once you make that clear.
Debate Round No. 1


I think you may have misunderstood the position of this debate. It isn"t "whether" it is in our self interest to acknowledge or grant animals rights. That"s a separate topic entirely. I"m arguing that our self-interest should be the only factor that determines how we treat animals. If it turns out that it is in our self-interest to grant them rights, then that"s all very well, but it"s not what this debate is about.

As for what I expect from the opponent, I"d hoped for an opinion. I said in round one that I wanted someone who would give an alternate account of animal rights. Whether your position is that the rights are "given" but we have good moral reasons to do so, or that they have inherent natural rights that we need only to acknowledge, is fine by me. However, you haven"t given your position on animal rights at all, so I can"t know what to focus on for this round. Perhaps I should have been clearer about what I intended in round one (I"m new to this, apologies), but in future if you don"t understand what I mean, ask in the comments rather than taking up a round with these questions.

So I"m arguing that our self-interest should be the factor determining how we treat animals. As you noticed, the position clearly implies I don"t believe animals have objective natural rights, though if you believe they do then argue that.

With regards to natural rights, someone who believes in them would have to provide an explanation of where they arise from and what things are capable of having them. Commonly, one will either do this by tying rights to cognitive ability, e.g. a dog has more rights than a cockroach which has more rights than a plant. Alternatively, you could claim that all living things have equal natural rights. Both of these require an explanation for why we should assume them, and I argue that there is no convincing explanation.

Rights typically involve the ability to make a claim to something. For example, if I have a right to property, I could claim that property. What seems clear here is that these rights can only exist within a community of rational moral agents. An animal is not capable of making a claim and so it makes no sense to think of them as having rights. Similarly, rights tend to come with corresponding duties. For example, if you have a right to a piece of property I am holding, I have a moral duty to give it to you if you claim it. An animal can have no moral duties to us, and so it can have no rights either.
Lastly, if an animal has no natural rights, then we have no reason to grant it any arbitrary legal rights unless doing so ultimately serves our interest.


Okay. Your title states, "Animals should only have rights it is in our interest to give them." The syntax of this statement would suggest that you believe it is in our interest to to give Animals rights. Your opening statement suggests that the only relevant factor in giving them rights is our self-interest. Hence, I stated, "I'm a little unsure." There's nothing imprudent about using a debate round to clear this up. And now that we have cleared it up, I don't disagree with you; therefore, our debate is over.
Debate Round No. 2
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Debate Round No. 3
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