This conversation is closed.

Should we allow animals to have rights?

Should animals have rights?
If so, what kind of rights should they have and why?
(Please be specific)

If not, why not?

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    Nov 1 2011: Should?
    Implying we can give or take away?
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    Nov 3 2011: Animals should have rights.

    I will refute the justification of killing animals for food as my argument, because that is widely regarded as acceptable.

    I believe many people feel that we are justified in killing animals for food in the same way that Savannah predators are justified in killing their prey. This is false. We, unlike Savannah predators, are now technologically advanced enough to build a system whereby we can acquire essential nutrients without the murdering of other sentient beings. If you are not satisfied with eating high-protein vegetarian food, we still have no excuse for not financing research of meat synthesis.

    If one argues that we are justified in killing animals because they do not have the semblance of death that human beings possess, they are ignoring the fact that almost all animals still have a semblance of pain. The manner in which we confine and slaughter animals is surely recognized by the animals themselves.

    Furthermore, to argue that a semblance of death, or a heightened intelligence, is the reason that we can kill animals I ask - why do we not simply kill off all the humans that do not have a semblance of death or a heightened intelligence, such as people in persistent vegetative states?

    Society's real reason behind not killing humans, I believe, but having no problem killing other animals, is because even humans who are less intelligent than us are still 'our kind'. We rationalize our killing of animals and sparing of less 'useful' humans as 'humanitarian', when in actual fact, this is just glorified Speciesism.

    Why have *we* made the rules? Why have we ordained ourselves to be above the rest, simply because we have the power to do so? If these are our actions, why do we vilify discrimination on a racial level?

    How can we justify speciesism, but vilify racism?

    We need to lower and then eliminate the extermination of sentient beings for food, and, obviously, for other purposes.
    • Nov 3 2011: "I ask - why do we not simply kill off all the humans that do not have a semblance of death or a heightened intelligence, such as people in persistent vegetative states?"

      Because that is murder, and murder is wrong.

      It has nothing to do with intelligence or semblance of death.

      It has everything to do with humans being on the top. At this moment there is no animal species that could stop us humans from eating them. No cow can stop the farmer from shooting it, no dog in china can stop its owner from cooking it up to feed his family, no duck can stop a duck hunter from shooting it and eating if for thanksgiving.

      "The manner in which we confine and slaughter animals is surely recognized by the animals themselves. "
      Then why doesn't every cow (on a particular farm of a thousand of them) revolt all at the same time and escape from the fear of pain and ultimately death?

      Humans do that quite often. The holocaust is a perfect example. instead of just walking willingly into a gas chamber some Jews made an escape or made a way for others to escape or even postponed their judgement from the Nazi's and evaded death through the red army freeing them.

      "Why have *we* made the rules?"
      Cause God made us on top. Adam was created to govern the earth and the animals. Man is on top and will continue to be the dominant beings on this earth until the end.
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        Nov 3 2011: I was beginning to think that you simply had a few holes in your logic until your last answer.

        God? Come on, man.

        Don't bring the rule of religion - something that no one agrees on - into this talk.

        Talk only from the perspective of someone who would like to see the world become a better place.

        I would have no trouble refuting all your points with arguments I have already explicitly stated above, but I am not going to put the effort in for someone who cites the bible in a debate.

        Re-read my entire argument, and maybe you'll be able to prove yourself wrong after doing so.
        • Nov 4 2011: That's your response.....? Don't cite the bible...

          Why can't we base our answers on facts instead of random assumptions and opinions.
          Whether you believe the Bible is true or not your opinion is still not a fact or credible at all in this discussion. I thought perhaps you might take liking to the bible and wouldn't mind the Bible's opinion. I believe the Bible is true so I cite it.

          You might believe that (well whatever you believe in) is true so that is where you get your information from. I get mine from the Bible.

          Don't forget I posted this question and if you don't like what you see you don't have to post.
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        Nov 4 2011: For some reason it won't let me reply to your recent post, so I'll reply to your first.

        I apologize.

        I shouldn't have criticized the Bible.

        Instead, I should have said, since we disagree about its credibility we cannot have this debate.
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        Nov 4 2011: But from the bible, you are correct.

        Animals have no rights and humans are wholly entitled to subjugate them in any way we please.
        • Nov 4 2011: Thanks Nick.

          It's just opinions. I could never persuade you to believe the bible is true and that man is in control of animals.
          That is not my goal either. I was just giving my thoughts and opinions based on what I believe.
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    Nov 5 2011: .
    A big problem in this debate is that relatively "minor" acts (like cruelly beating animals) might be penalised, while a much more brutal, irreversibly cruel act -- simply "murdering" them for food -- will not be penalised. This is a serious contradiction.
    • Nov 7 2011: Is it murder when the farmer kills a pig for his family to eat?
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    Nov 3 2011: Animals have intrinsic rights of autonomy, i.e. non-interference from humans. These rights are independent of human subjective consideration. I believe we ought to extend moral consideration to animals to protect these intrinsic rights. This moral consideration includes but is not limited to legal representation on the behalf of those communities/individuals harmed by human actions, vegetarianism, and required sustainable design for all future human projects. The time of ignorance and dis-compassionate behavior is over. Humans won the race. We are dominant. It is time to stop sacrificing the losers.

    If another dominant species arose from the abyss and took over the world, everyone would pray that the new winners adopt a similar moral code as I described above. How would you like to have zero moral considerability with regard to your master? How would you like to be farmed as a commodity? I doubt very you would like it very much. Why do people think this is OK? It is one thing to be impoverished and behave out of necessity, but there is little excuse for the rest of us to perpetuate these evils.
    • Nov 3 2011: Correct me if I am wrong.
      But you seem to be putting us on the same level as animals in regards of importance.

      What I am trying to say is we humans are far above animals. Why?
      We have a conscience.
      We can love.
      We can hate.
      We know right from wrong.
      ect....

      Thoughts.....
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        Nov 3 2011: You list some unique human attributes but you make no attempt to show why those ought to be valued above other traits. Furthermore, not all humans have those traits, what can we say about them? Do we leave them behind based on this narrowly defined view of moral considerability?

        My views are of a form of holism wherein each individual is a member of a number of different communities. You are a member of a family, a town, a state, a nation, a species, an environment, etc. There are responsibilities for each member between each member in each community. What we are failing to realize is our duty to those in our various communities. I think the foremost duty is of non-interference (a negative duty). I believe we have stronger positive duties to those in our closer moral communities, such as our positive duties to help humans in need. Maybe we don't have positive duties to those outside of our species. Maybe we do. I am not putting animals on the same level as humans, but they need to be taken into consideration due to their membership in one or more of our communities. Once again, the most important thing is the non-restriction and protection of autonomy of 'animals.'

        This of course begs the question about where you draw the line for animals. Technically algae are animals, but do they deserve moral consideration? I would contemplate this question further with another appeal to the algae's membership in one of my communities and my particular duties to that community. E.g. I have a duty to my city and state and nation to vote on what I believe in. Or I have a duty to algae because I believe they are an important part in an environment that has intrinsic worth.
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        Nov 3 2011: And we can have wars and destroy the planet and all species with us.
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    Nov 3 2011: Shouldn't we talk about the rights of specific animal groups? Is it sensible to have the same rights for great Apes than for birds? I think that there's an urgency to grant rights to the Great Apes that there just isn't for other animals. Having human rights on one side and non-human animal rights on the other seems senseless, not being human shouldn't constitute a category by which you define a group to which you give rights.
    • Nov 3 2011: So in return what do you suppose we do?
      Which animals or species should we allow to have rights?
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        Nov 3 2011: Most of them can have a form of rights protecting them, just not the same rights. For example, while I remain ambivalent about animal testing on mice if it serves a purpose (not cosmetic, but truly scientific), it's much harder for me to support it for Great Apes given the incredible presence of mind they all display. It's difficult to delineate new rights for specific families, we'd probably have to sit down and discuss it in depth, but at any rate, our approach to animal rights should be a gradualist one.
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    Nov 2 2011: " The only thing worse than the unplanned destruction of the forest will be the planned destruction of the forest. We will see much more of this in our lifetimes. I believe future generations will curse us for it'" Starker lecture 2005

    I believe the very same statement can be said for species extinction. David Orr and E.O. Wilson talk about that we are losing between 50 and 250 species a day.

    So if we look in the mirror, can we see who the real invasive species is?
    • Nov 3 2011: Are we "or yourself" willing to let an animal live in exchange for a human life. Perhaps one of those 250 species of animals that die everyday are animals that humans eat all around the world for survival. Are we just supposed to stop eating animals altogether to make sure no animal specie dies?
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        Nov 3 2011: No Sir, you entirely missed my point. Please try again.
        • Nov 3 2011: I don't think I missed it......
          I asked a question pertaining to your comment about us invading animals. Why are we invading them? Well my guess is we need more space and more meat.

          Please correct me if I am wrong.
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    Nov 2 2011: I think how animals are is largely(or entirely)depends on how we treat them.So it seems to me its not so much about whether or not animals should have rights but more about how I can protect or treat them kindly.The last mean act i saw that has been done to a poor puppy is that the owner rudely pulled back the leash in an sudden when the doggie tried to explore something new(me)curiously with cute little eyes.and that made me think O i will never do that to my puppy and not put leashes around their necks at all.
    • Nov 3 2011: Perhaps the owner was beginning to train his dog for a purpose that meant the dog had to be completely obedient to his commands. Perhaps one of his commands is not to sniff other humans or try to go off on his own.
      Is that a bad thing? The owner must correct the dog, should he?
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        Nov 3 2011: Hehe ,that could be a case.Its not a bad thing at all to train your dog.but how you train them matterrs.I think the owner can choose a more respectful behavior to train the dog well instead of pulling back the leash rudely.

        O I get a little nervous when the word "obedience" is used (even with a dog) ;)
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        Nov 4 2011: Timothy, nothing wrong with this word but how the word can be misused .One's ego can thrive on the intention to make others(or animals) obedient. For example, in this case,the owner could be abusive to the puppy and says :"I just want him/her to be obedient to me or I just want him to be a good dog." However , there's a difference between abusive behavior and kind one.
        ;)
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    Nov 1 2011: In any ecosystem , every species has it's role in food chain as well as to keep balance of the system.
    For our own sake we need to keep that balance, whether telling it RIGHTs or not doesn't matter. Who we are to give or take rights? As Christopher rightly asked below.

    The revenge of nature can be slow but it seems to could very dangerous , definite and irreversible.
    We mankind already did lot damage , showed many species the road of extinction and result we are getting now. Need wake up !!!
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      Nov 2 2011: There is no ecosystem. There's constant twists and turns of events in nature. Otherwise, there'd be no evolution. Mankind did little damage considering the massive extinctions of the past, where something like 95% of living things were wiped out completely.
      Besides; are humans not part of nature?
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        Nov 2 2011: That are quiet interesting comment about Ecsystem Gerald. Need to understand and learn why there is no Ecosystem ?
        Who told ecosytem is static and a barrier for evolution.
        Exitinction of past happened due to non adpatability to the cahnged environment by species or due to catastrophe that my limited learning of biology says. Also agree if we start to counting from Trilobites or even before from the fossils available for so far those were extinct , the numbers defintely are huge, but that doesn't denounce the extinction of many species during last 200 year due to huamn agression.
        Did I say Human is unnatural ?
        Human is the only species that cahnges nature for it's comfort otherwise other species try to adpat with nature.

        So you think there is no environmental risk due to human activity like deforestation, industrialzation , mining etc etc.......

        Would love to hear your perspective .
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          Nov 2 2011: I think there is environmental risk due to human lack of knowledge. And deforestation is a catastrophy, don't get me wrong.
          What I mean is that it's too often that you hear about humans as something evil, much unlike the friendly species among which we live. Every single thing is evil, and the only thing stopping certain bacteria from destroying us is medecine. Zebras' only dream is that lions starve to death, and they run as fast as they can to reach this goal.
          You say, for instance, that humans change nature for comfort, unlike other species that just adapt to nature. This isn't accurate. We've adapted as much as we could on a biological level too. Our brains are such adaptations. And other species do change nature as well, the world would be completely different without certain species. But we say they don't change things with foresight, they do what they feel needs to be done. But don't we?
          Improving knowledge about our planet is what can save it from blind destruction of ressource. There is nothing nasty about changing nature to improve comfort. What is nasty is changing it with no foresight, what non human species do. They just might take a wrong turn and face "natural" catastrophies. Only humans can avoid such catastrophies, and save some of this.
          So please a little respect for homo sapiens.
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        Nov 3 2011: What I wrote has broader meaning than just what word means. As for example, when I wrote only human change nature if you take this word only with literal meaning than you are right & I am wrong. I agree also other species does same for their comfort or struggle for existance i.e. mouse / rats digs earth , birds makes nest, insects also dig earth and so on.....

        But what I wanted to mean is only Human being brings things like polythene , plastic or destroy whole habitat for mining. Definitely human being went through evolution and due to it success with it's evolving brain power it could not only change but to some extent can say can control nature.....which others species couldn't do yet

        Another point in evolutionary thoughts are Barriers that says there are geographical, environmental, anatomical , physiological barriers to keep a species it's gene pool separate from the other species. As for example you will not find a Camel in cold Mountainous geography (except in zoo) but it's cousin Lama can be. Here the environmental barriers is in work. Human being is the only species that actually crossed all environmental and geographical barrier.

        Not a proven theory , but an hypothesis about evolution , which says super growth of any organ of any species sometimes can be proven lethal for it's own existance, example is the exitintion of sabor tooth tiger.......the canine of that tiger overgrew so much that it resulted in to an ineffective tool for hunting so the whole species couldn't survive

        Your Zebra , Lion example is natural example of Food Chain , hypothesis is there if there is no extrinsic influence Zebra & Lion will maintain their numbers in a jungle despite they have a predator prey relation. Moreover Lion never kills a Zebra when it's not hungry , human does (please don't think I am telling only Human is Evil). Its just an example......

        Thanks for your perspective that made me re think over my insufficient learning of biology that i did many days back.....
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          Nov 3 2011: We agree, Salim.
          But just one thing about lions and zebras. The only reason why lions don't kill more zebras than they need to is that it's energy-costly to catch one. Energy is precious. It can be used instead to reinforce one's social status or to worry about mating. Time and energy wasters have less progeny than strategic investors and are soon replaced. This is an interesting question. What animals do with their spare time and spare energy. Some animals have very little of these. Some have a lot.
          Baboons, I read, have about 9 hours a day they can spend on social activities.
          Humans have an incredible amount of energy available in modern wealthy societies. Boredom comes into account. As you say, a rich doctor may fancy getting on a plane and hunting lions and hippos for recreation. But this meaningless activity is just a self stimulating way not to be bored.
          My point is that lions would kill more things, perhaps, if they had more time and energy in their hands. But natural selection is harsh on them.
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        Nov 3 2011: Quote: "Improving knowledge about our planet is what can save it from blind destruction "

        Are you serious Gerald. Do you really think it is possible and if it was it had any effect on human behavior?
        What we need, and fast is a bit of knowledge about ourselves.

        There's nothing natural about most human beings because they've separated themselves from it.
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          Nov 3 2011: I agree that we also need always more scientific knowledge about ourselves in order to save the environment. For instance, knowing that rhinoceros horns have no effect on potency might have saved the species from extinction.

          Do I think it's possible to what? Save the planet (do you think we're already doomed)? Or is it impossible to save it with knowledge(do you think knowledge about the world is irrelevant)?

          It seems obvious to me, yes, that knowledge only can diminish the amount of waste and pollution. See how much greener tomorrow's energies will be compared with coal and oil. And if we'd had knowledge about farming back then, wouldn't we still have mammoths in Siberia?
          What about synthetic materials replacing animal fur?

          Humans have separated themselves from nature, you say. What makes you say that? What are we doing different? Are we not acting like animals?
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        Nov 3 2011: You said it Gerald, a lot of people act like animals, animals in the zoo that is.

        And yes knowledge can help to recycle resources and clean our waste but it can’t replace the rainforests or revive the ocean life. Indeed we are too far already almost as far as the point of no return.

        What we have to know about ourselves isn’t only what’s superstition but more how we have to rear the next generation to be cooperative and aware that the only way to navigate this planet through space is by standing together for a common future.
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          Nov 3 2011: I'd say we all act like animals (what else would we act like, what are we?). Some of us living in zoo-like conditions act like fairly similar animals living in zoos. I don't think we all live in such conditions, though.
          You must be refering to Desmond Morris. Well I've been to the zoo, it's depressing. I can't agree that we live in such misery. Prisoners are like apes in zoos, sure. They have no way to get out, they're fed according to a fixed schedule, they don't chose their room mates, etc... I live in a big busy city, but I've had the freedom to select out of my life anything that interfered with my biological needs. I can mate when I wish to, can spend time with my offspring, can travel around, have physical activity, encounter challenges to my creativity, have unlimited access to culture, and so forth...

          But anyway, back to our topic. I don't think we've reached the point of no return. For one thing, this is what people have kept saying since... God knows when. We've screwed up much of this planet, but in the process, a bunch of people has dug up tons of knowledge. There is tons of it still awaiting us. This is what pessimists often forget : our knowledge is increasing VERY fast. Who could have predicted 100 years ago that we could bring back extinct species?
          Why can't you imagine that we might be able to fix things up gradually? A common view is that things have never been worse. But this isn't true. Our ecological conscience has just been born and our means to live in harmony with our environment are growing parallel to scientific progress.

          I agree that we should stand together in this quest, that we should cooperate to favour progress, instead of hanging on to traditional ignorance and principles.
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        Nov 14 2011: Hi Gerald
        Interesting thoughts those you mentioned about "energy conservation" & hunting by animals. There might be research findings about that, will love to know.

        You see for human to kill , for long they don't need to spend much of their energy because of invention of technology.....so killing spree of human being has created an imbalance. Whatever may be the reason in nature there is certain sort of limit....which human crossed successfully.....seems even now human being guiding the Natural Selection (exagerrating I am may be) !!!
    • Nov 3 2011: In response to the first comment by Salim.

      Interesting thought.
      Who are we to give or take rights?

      As it currently stands animals have no rights in human terms. They (most importantly) do not have the right to live or die. So we are the most important part of this "case". We as humans have the power to give them rights because we give them no rights now. If we have the power to not give them rights then we have the power to give them rights.

      Food for thought.
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      Nov 3 2011: Hi Salim.

      Your debate with Gerald largely revolves around our entitlement to be predators. I will quote my response:

      "I believe many people feel that we are justified in killing animals for food in the same way that Savannah predators are justified in killing their prey. This is false. We, unlike Savannah predators, are now technologically advanced enough to build a system whereby we can acquire essential nutrients without the murdering of other sentient beings. If you are not satisfied with eating high-protein vegetarian food, we still have no excuse for not financing research of meat synthesis."
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        Nov 14 2011: Hi Nick
        Just a bit calrification about my point.....it's the natural condition of predator prey relationship in food chain that I mentioned not an entitlement by human being to be predator.

        Even if human being is a predator in food chain , it has broken the natural phenomenon through it's technological invention to become a mosdt fercious predator that kills also just for pleasure ....!!

        Agree what you told about producing protein through technology ...waiting when that technology become commercially feasible one .
  • Nov 20 2011: I think the animals need to have rights to get thier food in their place or can move with the help of human to get to other place by humans. Because animals are living things not dead things so I think they have the right to get their own security.
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    Nov 17 2011: If animals have rights is would be something we recognize and maybe defend, but not something we allow. The very nature of a right is that it is innate, not bestowed by other people.

    An easier question might be what is our ethical responsibility to animals and nature in general. This question was answered beautifully by Aldo Leopold: http://www.aldoleopold.org/about/LandEthic.pdf
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    Nov 10 2011: Yes but only when we dont need to eat them
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    Nov 6 2011: Greetings Earthlings!

    I am a civil engineer from the Vegas star system. We plan to destroy Earth to created an intergalactic teleportation system. I was sent here to determine if any species on Earth should be saved and relocated. We already have decided to save whales, dolphins, dogs, cats, and parrots. I am here to see if there is any good reason to relocate homo sapiens. Should homo sapiens have rights? Whales are intelligent. Cats are cuts. Dogs are loyal. But it seems homo sapiens are just bad news. Can you give us one good reason to why we should bother to save man? We have have seldom come across a species that is dumber, so lacking in redeeming qualities, so useless, and so contentious.
    • Nov 7 2011: Why are humans dumb, lacking in redeeming qualities and so useless again?
  • Nov 4 2011: Why the need for "rights"? Why should we force them into that corner preemptively?
    We need to eat, but we could eat many more vegetables.
    We can hit them with our cars, but we could walk the two-whole-blocks to the store.
    I think the less we are considerate of them, the less we learn to consider other people as well. We have no self-respect, so we have to "go-out & get" to cover up that lack.
    When we find self-respect, we can stop trying to "do and accomplish," slow down and settle for natural, simple actions (or non-actions) that will end up supporting animals & people.
    Little contributions matter! You are enough.
    • Nov 7 2011: Why don't we have self-respect?
      • Nov 29 2011: I figure that if we had self-respect, we'd need so much less time & effort spent in ego-protection & serving only what or whom serves us. Some only value their animals when they exhibit traits of obedience or subordination, or when they reckon its ignorance as charming, [something akin to how we see children].
        Some say that their dogs give them "unconditional love." Yeah, it may be nice, but I think it's a far far cry from the possibilities of interactive human love.
        Some value their animal relationships above human ones, {yes, & some rely upon angels}, because there is so little emotional jousting & risk; (little self-respect to rely on).
        We destroy the whole of nature - cut the limb from under our feet. We revel in others' faint opinions of us, rather than respect the integrity of our safety.
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    Nov 3 2011: Timothy,
    What my statement is the relative to whole earth and what is happening world wide. Human beings are at cause of the majority of extinctions that are occurring 50 to 250 a day, according to Orr, Wilson and others. The trends are generally getting worse, not better. From the perspective of other species, human beings are the invasive species as it is us who are fouling our nests (collectively).

    Does that help?
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    Nov 3 2011: Here in Holland animals have their own party in politics: "Party for the rights of animals."
    They even are part of the government.
    Their influence made a few differences and the funny part is that it works positive for the people as well.
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    Nov 3 2011: Currently, humans are not exactly in the direction of extinction. In fact, we're overpopulating like crazy, we're a bigger problem than any animal who's so called "overpopulating"...we have fishes, chickens, cows, lambs (If u think about it we have so much choice)....I think most of them are not exactly endangered. Endangered i mean like.....a type of shark they used to create shark fin soup?Tigers that are killed for its fur?

    My point is that we are actually just like any other animal on the planet. Animals and humans have different strengths and weakneses. We say we are powerful due to the intelligence we have but we have something to learn from animals as well. We all share the planet. So put it this way, if humans and animals all started sharing the planet to begin with, why do humans have the right to wipe out a species from existence? I mean, that's unfair to me because I believe in equality and the question is where is that equality?
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    Nov 3 2011: hard...

    I believe animals that you have as pets have the right not to be abused and such. for the sake of animal testing, only in the case that it would be essential to the progression of medicine. In the case of in general, only the bad tasting ones (coming from a omnivore).
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    Nov 3 2011: Difficult question. Depending what animals you mean. Animals are a huge category of living things on this earth.

    Endangered animals have the right, I think because it is unfair to completely wipe out a species who have been put on this earth just like any other animal or human being.
    If Chickens, fish or ducks had rights, something would go wrong with our food supply....however, i think in today's society we need to control our intake our food somehow (its an idea) as humans take more what they need. In life, everything works with balance but the question is where is that balance between animals having rights and our survival...
    Animals that are overpopulating should definitely not have rights because that would just overpopulate the earth even more and we already have us, humans as the problem of overpopulation already.

    So, depends...
    • Nov 3 2011: So does it go as far as an animal going extinct or the human race going extinct because we can't eat certain animals cause they are endangered?
  • Nov 1 2011: The "Right to life" should be for all species. Shouldn't be a case of who should get what.
    Nature does take a long time to react but when it does, we all will wish we had done better.