Matthieu Miossec

Doctoral Student - Genetic Medecine (Congenital Heart Disease),

This conversation is closed.

Should we take a gradualist approach to animal rights?

We often talk about animal rights as one large idea that encompasses all non-human animals. Isn't this an erronous way of thinking about animal rights given what evolution has demonstrated? Just as we humans have laws specifically tailored for our species, should we not also approach the question of rights for non-human animals on a species, genus or at least family basis? Should we give other members of the ape family more consideration than we would under a "one set of rights fits all" regime?

  • thumb
    Feb 28 2011: I think you'll enjoy this poem and perhaps you can use it in a presentation or something of the kind:

    f you can start the day without caffeine,
    If you can get going without pep pills,
    If you can always be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
    If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
    If you can eat the same food everyday and be grateful for it,
    If you can understand when your loved ones are too busy to give you any time.
    If you can overlook it when those you love take it out on you,
    If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
    If you can ignore a friend's limited education and never correct him,
    If you can resist treating a rich friend better than an poor friend,
    If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
    If you can conquer tension without medical help,
    If you can relax without liquor,
    If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
    If you can say honestly that deep in your heart you have no prejudice against creed, color, religion or politics,
    then, my friend, you are almost as good as your dog.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Feb 24 2011: I hate P.E.T.A with a passion. Their idea of total animal liberation makes absolutely no sense given years of artificial selection and their actions and those they sponsor are revolting. Besides, I don't see any sort of gradualism in their actions.
  • thumb
    Feb 23 2011: The only kind of "animal rights" I'm aware of basically say "No killing; Except for farm animals" and "No domestication of threatened wilflife". Do you have any other kind of rights you're talking about? Rights that actually need to be species-tailored I mean.
    • Comment deleted

      • thumb
        Feb 24 2011: Animals don't feel pain in the same way. There are varying degrees of sophistication to the feelings they can have. Do you think humans and non-human animals feel pain the same way? And if not why should it be different between species?
    • thumb
      Feb 24 2011: Animal testing in laboratories. Animals we can allow ourselves to eat. Whether one given species can lead a healthy existence in a zoo...many issues could do with having species-tailored components.
      • thumb
        Feb 25 2011: Well, AFAIK, currently the laws of most countries sound basically like this:
        1. Animal testing in laboratories - any non-endangered animal, as long as the conditions are deemed "appropriate" with that term being opened to interpretation on a case-by-case basis by government officials.
        2. Animals we can eat - all species qualified by government as farm and/or domestic animals, currently including among others pigs, cows, sheep, goats, horses, rabbits, ducks, chicken, cats and dogs; Oh, and non-endangered fish too.
        3. Animals allowed to live in a zoo - any non-endangered non-domestic and non-farm animal, as long as the conditions for every species is "appropriate" with the term being opened to interpretation by government officials; Special license is to be given for every endangered species a zoo might want to take care for, with a certain grace period in cases where the speciment arrived suddenly in the zoo with no more appropriate place being available. Every zoo itself is also to be licensed.

        Of course I'm neither a lawyer nor an animal keeper, so I don't know for sure... but if that's not the case already, I think such kind of law is sufficient - allowing government to be flexible and at the same deal deal with as many potential problems at once as possible.
        • thumb
          Feb 26 2011: None of these laws reflect any sort of gradualism. So the question remains, should we take a gradualist approach to animal rights? Your opinion seems to be no and you're entitled to that.
  • Comment deleted

    • thumb
      Feb 24 2011: Well for me to "know" the answer there would have to be one universal right answer, which I'm not sure is the case (as with a lot that touches upon morality and ethics). Personally, I am increasingly of the opinion that we should take a gradualist approach and that categorizing all non-human animals together makes no sense. To me it is indicative of an archaic way of seeing the animal kingdom as "there's us and there's the rest". There is so much depth of thought to a chimpanzee for example that you can't find in a mouse. I think many would advocate for the elimination of unnecessary animal suffering. But what about the suffering we deem necessary? Is it alright to incur suffering in a chimpanzee even with a medical goal in mind?

      As a sidenote, I think we can all agree that animal suffering for entertainment gains such as corridas is just downright cruel, that's a given.