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The philosophical necessity of animal rights

People are not more important than the other animals, are not superior to the other animals, are not even better off than the other animals. This is not exactly because people and animals are “equal” but because there are no grounds for making these comparisons at all.

CHRISTINE KOORSGARD: ‘Immanuel Kant’s argument that no human being should be used as a mere means to the ends of others has become a part of our moral culture… But we human beings have not been willing to exercise this kind of restraint or grant this kind of value to the other animals who share the planet with us. Instead, we have eaten them, experimented on them, tested medications on them, kept ourselves warm with their fur and skin and feathers, used them for transport and for heavy work like pulling plows, enlisted them in our wars, employed them to sniff out bombs and drugs and to track the missing, made them fight and race for our amusement, and found joy and comfort in their companionship.

These uses have to a large extent been at the expense of the interests of the animals themselves, whom we have genetically altered by selective breeding to suit our own purposes, made to work beyond their capacity, subjected to torments in laboratories, and confined to factory farms where they lead short lives in deplorable conditions. Even when we do not use the other animals, we have been heedless of their welfare, freely killing them whenever they are a nuisance to us, and depriving them of the habitat on which they and their communities depend for leading their own lives.

What could justify this difference in the way we treat other human beings, or anyway in the way we think we ought to treat them, and the way we treat the other animals?… Some people think that animals have some value but people just have more. Some people point to the higher capacities of human beings and argue that our lives have more value than the lives of animals. In Fellow Creatures, I argue that none of these arguments work. People are not more important than the other animals, are not superior to the other animals, are not even better off than the other animals. This is not exactly because people and animals are “equal” but because there are no grounds for making these comparisons at all’. SOURCE…

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