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Resolved: Justice requires the recognition of animal rights

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/1/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,127 times Debate No: 19618
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English Philosopher Jeremy Bentham once said, "The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor, "Can they talk?" but rather, "Can they suffer?"

It is because I agree with Mr. Bentham that I stand in affirmation of the resolution which states,
Resolved: Justice requires the recognition of animal rights

Before beginning, I would like to offer the following definitions;
(Definitions from the Oxford Dictionary)
Justice: moral righteousness
Recognition: formal acknowledgement
Animal: Non human animal
Rights: A moral entitlement
Morality: the distinction between right and wrong

The supreme value in today's debate ought to be that of morality. Bringing unnecessary harm to animals is cruel and wrong, thus the value criterion in today's debate is justice. We have been granted the power to use animals to our own ends. But merely having this power does not relinquish the owner of all duties and responsibilities. Because with power comes responsibility, justice requires the fulfillment of this responsibility. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy writes, "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." In the end, it doesn't matter if humans have more rights. This should not strip animals of all rights and moral considerations.

Contention 1: Animals possess the inherent right to be free from unnecessary suffering

Subpoint A: Animals have rights because they have intrinsic value

Today we have to focus on our own actions because humans alone have the power to reason. While we are able to recognize these rights, we have to realize that animals simply cannot. Because of this, we should not expect reciprocation. For example, is a baby capable of reciprocating rights? It neither respects your rights, nor cares about what you think. But do you get to kill the baby because it is annoying you? The answer is no. This is because the baby is capable of being wronged in a morally relevant way. The same can be said for animals. Rights are the product of human reason. This reason should enable us to recognize that, at a minimum, we have an obligation not to cause harm to the beings we interact with.

Regardless of utility, all animals possess inherent value because they are living creatures.
Nobel Peace Prize recipient Albert Schweitzer once noted that, "In the past, we have tried to make a distinction between animals which we acknowledge have some value, and others which, having none, can be liquidated when we wish. This standard must be abandoned. Everything that lives has value simply as a living thing."

Subpoint B: Animals are capable of suffering.

Richard Sarjeant points out that non-human animals possess an anatomical complexity of the cerebral cortex that is nearly identical to that of the human nervous system. He writes in The Spectrum of Pain that, "Every particle of factual evidence supports the contention that the higher mammalian vertebrates experience pain sensations at least as acute as our own."

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy continues,

"There is no morally justifiable way to exclude from moral consideration non-humans or non-persons who can clearly suffer. Any being that has an interest in not suffering deserves to have that interest taken into account. And a non-human who acts to avoid pain can be thought to have just such an interest. Korsgaard writes, "it is a pain to be in pain. And that is not a trivial fact" (1996, 154).
When you pity a suffering animal, it is because you are perceiving a reason. An animal's cries express pain, and they mean that there is a reason, a reason to change its conditions. And you can no more hear the cries of an animal as mere noise than you can the words of a person. Another animal can obligate you in exactly the same way another person can. …So of course we have obligations to animals. (Korsgaard, 1996, 153)

When we encounter an animal in pain we recognize their claim on us, and thus beings who can suffer are morally considerable."

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 from occurring. Where animals have the right to not be subjected to unnecessary harm, any violation of that right is unjust.

Contention 2: Animals need rights against unnecessary suffering

Subpoint A: Many Animals Are Confined For The Fashion Industry

Gary Francione, Professer of Law, Rutgers, 2004, Animal Rights: Current debates and new directions, eds. Sustein & Nussbaum, p. 110

And we kill millions of animals annually simply for fashion. Approximately 40 million animals worldwide are trapped, snared, or raised in intensive confinement on fur farms, where they are electrocuted or gassed or have their necks broke. In the United States, 8-10 million animals are killed every year for fur.

Subpoint B: Animals suffer from bad conditions when they undergo testing


Every year, cosmetics companies kill millions of animals to test their products. These companies claim they test on animals to establish the safety of their products and ingredients for consumers. However, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require animal testing for cosmetics, and alternative testing methods are widely available and lead to more reliable results. Hundreds of companies – including Avon, The Body Shop and Mary Kay – already use humane non-animal testing methods to ensure the safety of their cosmetics
It is because this kind of suffering is unnecessary, and procedures can be changed in order to avoid this suffering, that we need to recognize animals rights in order to uphold morality.
The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy writes that, "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." We don't have to treat animals like humans. But we do have to treat them as living beings because WE are human. For that reason, I ask for an affirmative ballot at the end of today's debate.


First off, how do you have so many characters when the rules are 2000? This is not allowing me near enough for a full response.

Contention 1:

The problem, is that morality and rights are human concepts; furthermore, without an objective source from which morality can arise, there is nothing morally binding in which to consider. I.e. animal rights. The big picture is that humans only have rights because we have big men with guns that enforce those rights.

Contention 2: Natural Selection, enough said.

Con 1: "Animals possess the inherent right to be free from unnecessary suffering"

Why? There is nothing that inherently gives them that right.

SP A: "Animals have rights because they have intrinsic value"

Intrinsic value has no bearing on why we acknowledge rights. The notion that animals cannot recognize rights only further suggests that they should not be given rights. Animals cannot and do not follow our rights, they cannot communicate to each other these rights, and they do not respect these rights. In response to your human baby statement, Like previously stated, we give them rights.

I will concede to you your statement that animals possess inherent value because they are living creatures in one sense. Yes i agree, but the notion that they are alive is not what gives them value, what gives them "value" ("relative worth, merit, or importance is what we need them and/or use them for. Example, they are useful for the fur we skin them to make a delightful hat.

SP B: I agree that animals who have an interest in not suffering should be taken into account; however, again this has no bearing since there is no code that which defines principles in which we need to abide by.

"If we as a society accept that..."

There is nothing that we as a society accept that humans should not do to animals.

Con 2: That does not oblige us in any way.

SP A: So? That is reason enough. Refer to point on natural selection.

I am out of room.
Debate Round No. 1


iloveframework forfeited this round.


Alex forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


iloveframework forfeited this round.


Alex forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by Alex 7 years ago
I will screenshot it next round.
Posted by BlackVoid 7 years ago
Like, no offense Pro, but exploitation is not cool.
Posted by BlackVoid 7 years ago
There's some kind of exploit where you can bypass the character limit by copy/pasting from a certain program. If the limit really is 2000 then Pro's already lost conduct. If he keeps doing it then he'll lose args too.
Posted by Alex 7 years ago
I wish I would have seen that there is a 2000 character limit. I'm not sure why it binds me to that rule but not you. Anyways I apologize nothing is as fully explained as much as it should be but 2000 is hard to work with hopefully you'l see i got enough of my point across.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by WriterSelbe 7 years ago
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Total points awarded:01 
Reasons for voting decision: Exploitation=No-No and is just annoying.