Animal Rights and Ethics

Animal Rights and Ethics

Animal Rights and Ethics

PHI 107 Philosophy of Human Conduct

Barri Mallin

Linda Richardson

January 19, 2008

Throughout the ages, animal’s rights have been dictated from Genesis to theorists and philosophers like Kant, Aristotle, Singer, Reagan, and Descartes. Some of these theorists believed animal’s rights are to be limited due to their lack of higher thinking, reasoning, rationality skills, and moral status. Some are inclined to give them limited rights and yet some believe they are equal to humans. We will delve into some theorist’s basic ideas and some fallacies in their understanding animal behaviorism. Over the past 20 years theorists like Singer and Regan have come to the forefront of animal rights reformation: while such efforts have been a long time coming, we still have a long way to go. We will not only examine the evils of the human condition but also the hope of the compassionate soul of man. “The question is not “Can they reason?” nor “Can they talk?” but rather, “Can they suffer?” (Bentham, 2007)

Many theorists are of the belief that animals do not possess the capacity for higher thinking skills. One theory put forth by Descartes states that animal behavioral patterns are based upon their simple response to stimuli (Wilson, 2006, section c). Descartes compares animal behavior in stating, “First human beings are capable of complex and novel behavior. This behavior is not the result of simple responses to stimuli, but it is instead the result of our reasoning about the world as we perceive it. Second, human beings are capable of the kind of speech that expresses thought.

I am of the belief that many animals are very capable of higher thinking skills. There is much evidence to suggest that chimpanzees form hunting parties, carefully choosing individual chimps for certain positions within their hunting parties. According to chimpanzee behaviorist Craig Stanford, one observation that must be explained is...

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