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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am not currently concerned with animal rights, as I do not recognize them as having the same rights as humans. Is there some material I can read that will objectively describe the reasoning behind animal rights? I've noticed that a lot of vegetarians and vegans are also greatly concerned with the rights of animals.

Thanks,
Berkeley.
 

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Originally Posted by |$|Berkeley View Post

I am not currently concerned with animal rights, as I do not recognize them as having the same rights as humans.
In what way? Like the right to live, or right to vote? I don't think you'll find all that many people on Earth that would aim for non-human animals to have the right to vote.

Thanking the Monkey by Karen Dawn is good, there is Peter Singer, Gene Baur, Gary Francione, Howard Lyman, and countless others that have a good amount of books between them all. Here are a few lists:
http://www.animal-rights.com/reading.htm
http://www.veganism.com/books.html

Just the general term animal rights covers a lot of area. There's animal experimentation, farmed animals, common companion animals, entertainment animals, etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
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Originally Posted by Puppet Master View Post

In what way? Like the right to live, or right to vote? I don't think you'll find all that many people on Earth that would aim for non-human animals to have the right to vote.
I mean natural rights. That something does not have the same natural rights as humans doesn't mean that it doesn't have a "right to live" (like we should be at war with animals or something). In fact, I'm quite passionate about animals. I just wouldn't chose the family terrier to live over a human stranger, nor do I mind that animals are harmed for scientific study or forced to work under a yoke.

Humans survive by engaging in reason and acting on judgement. When humans live in a society, we need to be individually able to pursue actions with freedom from aggression, that is, we need to have rights to protect us. Because humans have the ability to reason, we can make relationships in a society where we can mutually identify and uphold the rights of others. Rights, therefore, are an extension of the human ability to reason. Because animals lack this ability, they do not have rights. Even if some humans gave "rights" to an animal, the animal is not aware of that concept, so nothing stops that animal from encroaching on the rights of others or another animal encroaching on its own supposed rights.
 

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Originally Posted by |$|Berkeley View Post

I mean natural rights. That something does not have the same natural rights as humans doesn't mean that it doesn't have a "right to live" (like we should be at war with animals or something). In fact, I'm quite passionate about animals. I just wouldn't chose the family terrier to live over a human stranger, nor do I mind that animals are harmed for scientific study or forced to work under a yoke.

Humans survive by engaging in reason and acting on judgement. When humans live in a society, we need to be individually able to pursue actions with freedom from aggression, that is, we need to have rights to protect us. Because humans have the ability to reason, we can make relationships in a society where we can mutually identify and uphold the rights of others. Rights, therefore, are an extension of the human ability to reason. Because animals lack this ability, they do not have rights. Even if some humans gave "rights" to an animal, the animal is not aware of that concept, so nothing stops that animal from encroaching on the rights of others or another animal encroaching on its own supposed rights.
I recommend watching the movie "Earthlings". It will familiarize you with the concept of speciesism. It is hard to watch, but I'll bet you come away from it with a different point of view on animals
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
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Originally Posted by sequoia View Post

I recommend watching the movie "Earthlings". It will familiarize you with the concept of speciesism. It is hard to watch, but I'll bet you come away from it with a different point of view on animals
Thanks, I'm watching it on their website. Kind of them to put it up.
 

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Originally Posted by |$|Berkeley View Post

Humans survive by engaging in reason and acting on judgement. When humans live in a society, we need to be individually able to pursue actions with freedom from aggression, that is, we need to have rights to protect us. Because humans have the ability to reason, we can make relationships in a society where we can mutually identify and uphold the rights of others. Rights, therefore, are an extension of the human ability to reason. Because animals lack this ability, they do not have rights. Even if some humans gave "rights" to an animal, the animal is not aware of that concept, so nothing stops that animal from encroaching on the rights of others or another animal encroaching on its own supposed rights.
Because humans have moral agency and the ability to create moral and societal norms, humans can construct moral constraints on their own behavior, on how they behave in relation to other beings. These moral constraints can serve to protect the interests and pursuits of others from the actions of the moral agent who is bound by those constraints, and can be called 'rights'.

This takes us to which 'others' deserve to have their interests protected and why. If the reason for protecting an interest of X is that X can reciprocate by respecting our similar interests, or that X can participate in "the social contract" -- which is a rather selfish basis for rights, to begin with -- then many humans are excluded, such as infants or many mentally disadvantaged. They don't have a proper understanding of rights, interests or the social contract. Certainly, they may not actively threaten our interests, but neither do countless non-humans, so if "not threatening our interests" was the criterion for rights, any non-aggressive non-humans would have rights.

Since understanding of and willing participation in "the social contract" is not the reason to respect others, then what is? Intelligence (understood as abstract thinking of mathematics etc.) will likewise exclude many humans, and criteria like external appearance are entirely arbitrary. But sentience, and the having of interests at all (interests in life and avoiding suffering etc.), is something all humans have in common but which they also share with other species. Since ultimately all other moral criteria are arbitrarily restrictive, the proper reason for respecting X's interests is simply that X has interests to protect.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
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Originally Posted by Sevenseas View Post

Because humans have moral agency and the ability to create moral and societal norms, humans can construct moral constraints on their own behavior, on how they behave in relation to other beings. These moral constraints can serve to protect the interests and pursuits of others from the actions of the moral agent who is bound by those constraints, and can be called 'rights'.
Yes.

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This takes us to which 'others' deserve to have their interests protected and why. If the reason for protecting an interest of X is that X can reciprocate by respecting our similar interests, or that X can participate in "the social contract" -- which is a rather selfish basis for rights, to begin with -- then many humans are excluded, such as infants or many mentally disadvantaged. They don't have a proper understanding of rights, interests or the social contract. Certainly, they may not actively threaten our interests, but neither do countless non-humans, so if "not threatening our interests" was the criterion for rights, any non-aggressive non-humans would have rights.
This is silly, because infants are an investment that are expected to mature into the social system and their rights must be protected. People who are mentally disadvantaged don't necessarily lack the ability to comprehend it either. Animals will never acquire this ability.

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Since understanding of and willing participation in "the social contract" is not the reason to respect others
Why not? If we had no social structure and everyone was out in the wild living with the code of ethics of animals (none), then there is no reason to respect others. The reason we do form societies and respect others is because we understand that having a relatively peaceful environment where we don't have to look over our shoulder every minute out of fear of being attacked by another human is beneficial for all involved.

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the proper reason for respecting X's interests is simply that X has interests to protect.
No, the proper reason for respecting X's interests is because I must have an interest in protecting X's interests. Logically, if there was an animal that had an exclusive diet of humans and had an interest in eating humans, your supposition would suggest that we have to protect this animal's interest in eating humans simply because it is in this animal's interests to eat humans.
 

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Originally Posted by |$|Berkeley View Post

This is silly, because infants are an investment that are expected to mature into the social system and their rights must be protected.
On the contrary, that they may some day display moral reciprocity and participation in the social contract, is a silly reason to grant them moral protection now. It is especially silly in relation to your attempt to make morality entirely dependent on self-interest. If the majority of adult humans suddenly decided that they hate babies and gave up on their emotional attachment to them, and decided that they do not wish to see a next generation of humanity, your ethic would provide no explanation whatsoever for why they wouldn't be morally permitted to kill every infant in existence. Of course, my ethic would -- the babies are sentient.

If you think an infant can't be killed because you want to secure the eventuality of a reciprocal moral agent, then maybe abortion and using contraception are wrong too, as they too preclude the possible eventuality of there being agents reciprocating moral rules.

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People who are mentally disadvantaged don't necessarily lack the ability to comprehend it either.
Some have just as much understanding of moral rules and the social contract as non-humans have.

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If we had no social structure and everyone was out in the wild living with the code of ethics of animals (none), then there is no reason to respect others. The reason we do form societies and respect others is because we understand that having a relatively peaceful environment where we don't have to look over our shoulder every minute out of fear of being attacked by another human is beneficial for all involved.
Hi, Thomas Hobbes. No, the reason I don't steal from my neighbor or harm others in various ways is not that I'm interested in a "peaceful environment". I could harm others in countless ways and still enjoy the benefits of the social arrangement of legal and moral rights, if I just made sure I wouldn't get caught.

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No, the proper reason for respecting X's interests is because I must have an interest in protecting X's interests.
See above. People can harm each other in various ways without getting caught, without jeopardizing their enjoyment of all the benefits of the rule of law. But even though I don't think your ethic of making respect for others entirely contingent on self-interest makes much sense, there are calculating criminals who might strongly agree with you.

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Logically, if there was an animal that had an exclusive diet of humans and had an interest in eating humans, your supposition would suggest that we have to protect this animal's interest in eating humans simply because it is in this animal's interests to eat humans.
Nope, what I said would only imply that that a non-human's interests in general should be respected because that non-human is the kind of being who has interests. I didn't say that all interests whatsoever that anyone might have deserve moral protection, that would of course be silly.
 
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