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animal rights in the law

Discussion in 'Laws & Legislation' started by dora, Jan 18, 2005.

  1. dora

    dora Big Dog

    i came across this when i was looking up resources on discrimination and freedom of speech even though it is a hole different subject i still thought i should share this with you all...dora


    Animal rights in law

    Generally speaking, no legislation recognizes animal rights. Animals are not granted the same rights as human beings and corporations. However, animals are protected under the law in many jurisdictions. There are criminal laws against cruelty to animals, laws that regulate the keeping of animals in cities and on farms, transit of animals internationally, as well as quarantine and inspection provisions. These laws are designed to protect animals from unnecessary physical harm and to regulate the use of animals as food. In the common law it is possible to create a charitable trust and have the trust empowered to see to the care of a particular animal after the death of the benefactor of the trust. Some wealthy individuals without children create such trusts in their will. Trusts of this kind can be upheld by the courts if properly drafted and the testator was of sound mind. There are also many movements to give animals greater rights and protection under in Parliament. The law, if passed, will introduce a duty of care, whereby a keeper of an animal would commit an offence if he or she failed to take reasonable steps to ensure the animal’s welfare. This concept of making the animal keeper have a duty to the animal is equivalent to granting the kept animal a right to proper welfare. The draft bill is supported by an RSPCA campaign.


    Animal rights is the concept that all or some animals are entitled to possess their own lives, and that animals are deserving of moral rights to protect their autonomy and well being. The animal rights view rejects the concept that animals are merely capital goods or property intended for the benefit of humans. The concept is often confused with animal welfare, which is the philosophy that takes cruelty towards animals and animal suffering into account, but that does not necessarily assign specific moral rights to them.

    The animal rights philosophy does not necessarily maintain that human and non-human animals are equal. For example, animal rights advocates do not call for voting rights for chickens. Some also would make a distinction between sentient or self-aware animals and lower life forms, with the belief that only sentient animals, or perhaps only animals who have a significant degree of self-awareness, should be afforded the right to possess their own lives and bodies, without regard to how they are valued by humans. Others would extend this right to all animals, even those without developed nervous systems or consciousness. They maintain that any human or human institution that commoditizes animals for food, entertainment, clothing, scientific testing, or for any other purpose, infringes upon their fundamental rights to possess themselves and to pursue their own ends, which, therefore, is unethical.

    Of course, this argument assumes that a particular species or individual animal is capable of "having ends" which it is capable of "pursuing" in any meaningful manner. Few people would deny that other great apes are highly cognitive animals who can reflect on their own condition and goals and can become frustrated when their freedoms are severly curtailed. In contrast, many other animals, like jelly fish, have only extremely simple nervous systems, and are little more than simple automata, capable only of simple reflexes but incapable of formulating any "ends to their actions" or "plans to pursue" them, and equally unable to notice whether they are in captivity or free. By the criteria that Biologists use, jelly fish are undeniably animals, while from an "animal rights" perspective, it is questionable whether they should not rather be considered "vegetables". Clearly, merely being alive is not enough to be accorded "rights", as no one has yet seriously proposed that plants should be accorded rights (even though some plants are clearly worthy of protection, but that is another matter). There is as yet no consensus with regards to which qualities make a living organism an "animal in the animal rights sense". The animal rights debate (much like the abortion debate) is therefore marred by the difficulty that its proponents search for simple, clear cut distinctions on which to base unambiguous moral and political judgements, even though the biological realities of the problem present no hard and fast "black-and-white" boundaries on which such distinctions could be based. Rather, the biological realities are full of complex and diverse gradients, "endless gray areas with many facets of color". From a neurobiological perspective, paramecium, jelly fish, farmed chicken, laboratory mice or pet cats would fall along different points on a (complex and high-dimensional) spectrum from the "nearly vegetable" to the "highly sentient". Rather inconveniently, no matter which decision criteria one might wish to apply to decide whether any particular creature should be entitled to rights, the diversity of lifeforms is such that nature will always present us with many animals that fall too close to the decision boundary to be certain whether they should have rights or not. In other words, even if a clear consensus existed on what the appropriate criteria for animal rights should be, it would nevertheless be impossible in many cases to give a satisfactory categorical "yes or no" answer to the question whether a particular species of animal should or should not have recognized rights. Yet despite this fundamental moral ambiguity, the animal rights debate does seem to become increasingly polarized.

  2. dora

    dora Big Dog

    lol how did this happen sorry yall didn't mean to post it twice...sowwy!!!

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