Some people believe that animals are humans’ friends. The other people might do not think so. Because people have different values of animals, the arguments are commenced. Since 1977, all of three philosophers, Peter Singer, Tom Regan and Carl Cohen have respectively written their work to declare the status of animals.
On the one hand, according to Peter Singer’s “All Animals Are Equal(1977) ,” and Tom Regan’s “The Case for Animal Rights(1989),” they claim that people should give equal rights to animals as the way do for human beings, and treat all the animals in certain way no matter how the consequences are; On the other hand, in “The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research(1986),” Carl Cohen believes that animals have no rights because they are not a part of a group whose typical members are moral agents and able to respond to moral claims.
Only human can be the top one of the living beings in the world.
Then the other two consider this is a form of speciesism. To see how this long debate’s process, animals’ equal rights and speciesism are the focus. First of all, animals should have equal rights. Peter Singer starts to call for the equal rights for animals. A similarity can be found by Tom Regan. Regan presents the principle, “subject-of-a-life” as the basis of his case for the fundamental rights of animals.
Once any being has complicated spiritual life, like desire, belief, memory, intention and a sense of the future, which is a subject of a life. Due to the fact that each subject of a life is an individual who worries and thinks about his or her life, that life is defined with inherent value. Indeed, Regan identifies that being is not important as the state, and concludes that all who have inherent value equally. Therefore, all animals’ equal right should be treated with respect.
However, Cohen replies that “animals are not morally self-legislative, cannot possibly be members of a truly moral community “(Cohen2. Para. 6), and “not being of a kind capable of exercising or responding to moral claims” (Cohen 2. Para. 5), so they do not allow to gain rights. But as human infants, severely retarded humans are members of a group whose typical members are moral agents, so they do have rights. Regarding to Cohen’s idea that animals have no rights, Peter Singer analyzes the idea of speciesism to ground his case for the basic rights of animals.
Speciesism is a prejudice or partiality that prevents objective consideration of one’s own species and against those of members of other species. Singer goes to explain three claims against speciesism. First, he thinks equal consideration is the basis of equality, so it is unfair to argue an animal since they do not have extending rights. He cites the claim of dogs that are unequal because they do not know what voting is so that cause them not allow to vote. Secondly equality is a moral idea not an actual one.
He points out the problems of claims came from defense of racism, sexism, and arguments against the equality of human beings to illustrate his thinking. The aim of this is to put forward the point that, “equality does not depend on intelligence, moral capacity, physical strength, or similar matters of fact”(Singer3. Para. 12). Thirdly the capacity for suffering is the basic support structure of rights. Therefore he concludes that equality cannot pursue with speciesism. Finally, Carl Cohen argues that speciesism is not at all like the cases of racism or sexism, it can defense morally.
Racism has no rational ground whatever…the same is true of the sexes, neither sex being entitled by right to greater respect or concern than other” (Cohen3. Para. 21). Unlike the differences between the sexes and races, there are much morally relevant differences between humans and animals. “Theirs is a moral status very different from that of cats or rats” (Cohen 3. Para. 22). For example, Animals cannot make moral judgments. Also, Cohen describes that the benefits of an adequate utilitarian calculus of animal experimentation which are much more valuable than its costs.
As a result, the idea to oppose animal experimentation is inconsistent because this is by far a better use of animals than are other uses of animals the opponents accept, like the use of animals for food, clothing, and shelter. On the other hand, but Cohen applies the idea that it is human beings’ responsibilities to help animals to stop meaningless suffering. Carl Cohen’s arguments against animal rights are shown to be unsound. Cohen’s strategy entails that animals have rights, that humans do not, the negations of those conclusions, and other false and inconsistent implications.
Singer’s view is not so very radical, and does not lead to hugely counterintuitive conclusions, because he thinks there are lots or differences between the interests of humans and the interests of other animals. So in practice, treating animals and humans as equals allows for a fair amount of different treatment. However, “the Case for Animal Rights” is beyond question the most important philosophical contribution to animal rights and is a major work in moral philosophy. Should animals have more rights? The answer we need to wait until the next declaration to go on the animal rights.