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The Animal Rights and Welfare Debates Essay (Critical Writing)

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Updated: Jun 28th, 2020

Background

The traditional attitude towards animals was based on the assertion that animals have no rights, and therefore it is not the subject of moral concerns (Bekoff & Meaney 149). Based on the traditional view, animals are valued as mere resources, and humans have the right to dispose animals in the way they see fit. Thus, animals are valued based on the context of food source, a source for raw materials, and objects of fun.

The traditional view is supported by different philosophers and schools of thought regarding the ultimate purpose of animals on this planet (Francione and Garner 2). It can be argued that the traditional view of animals is not a byproduct of complicated philosophical debates. It is the end result of a practical appreciation of the realities of life.

In a hunting-and-gathering society comprised of nomadic people, no lecture is needed to persuade tribal people to go out and hunt. Societies in the ancient world and communities living in the outer fringes of society depended on excellent animal hunting techniques to survive. There are several native societies around the world that depended on trapping animals for the purpose of food consumption and raw materials extraction in order to survive.

Philosophers from the Judeo-Christian school of thought are in agreement that animals are subservient to men. Even Greek philosopher like Aristotle pointed out that every living creature exists for the sake of mankind. After thousands of years, several people came out to challenge the status quo. One of the most prominent dissenting voice was Peter Singer who pointed out that human beings are tyrants when it comes to the way they treat animals. Singer went even further when he said that this tyrannical behavior against animals causes a great deal of pain and suffering. Singer persuaded people to stop this kind of behavior.

Singer’s philosophical stance was a popular topic of discussion among like-minded people. However, the average person did not understand the message that animal rights activists wanted to convey to them. A deeper understanding required the use of dramatic footages that showed the living conditions of animals inside commercial farming sites.

A different type of impact was created when animal rights activists no longer relied on the discussion of abstract ideas concerning animal welfare. They experienced a different type of feedback when they linked food that was served on people’s tables to the cruel treatment of animals in commercial farms. In an instant, animal right activists saw significant support from different sectors of society (Bekoff and Meaney 12). It emboldened them to declare the following goals:

  • the one hundred percent abolition of the use of animals in science experiments; and
  • the one hundred percent dissolution of commercial farming.

Those who were highly educated began to empathize with the plight of animals housed in poor living conditions. At a certain degree, the majority of the human population understood the importance to end cruelty towards animals. However, the majority believes that it is impossible to abolish the use of animals in science experiments and commercial farming. It must be pointed out that the upsurge in support also galvanized the disparate groups that opposed the radical views of animal rights activists.

Arguments: Pro and Con

It must be made clear that those who support the stance of animal rights activists must adhere to their philosophy with regards to animal welfare. The adherence to their point of view means total support to their ideas, especially when it comes to animals in science experiments and commercial farming.

Those who are against the idea of improving animal welfare in commercial farms explained their stance on the basis of the following perspectives: 1) a religious and moral framework asserting that all living creatures were created for the sake of man; and 2) in relation to human beings animals have no rights and not subject to moral concerns.

Animal rights activists based their claim on three major ideas: 1) human beings are part of the animal world, and therefore it is unacceptable for them to slaughter non-human animals; 2) animals are sentient beings, and therefore they have the capacity to feel; and 3) animals have rights and they are subject to moral concerns. Therefore, it is wrong to cause them pain and suffering.

Based on this line of reasoning, there is no justification for the existence of commercial farming, because this type of farming removes animals from their natural habitat. In addition, commercial farming forces animals to live in poor conditions. The end goal of commercial farming is not to provide a happy and carefree existence for animals in captivity, but to force these animals to produce meat, eggs, milk and other forms of raw materials for their owners.

Based on the philosophical stance of animal rights activists, experiments conducted on animals are immoral. They borrowed heavily on the ideas culled from the Civil Rights movement, principles of equality, and principles of freedom from the U.S. Constitution to bolster their claim that nonhuman animals deserve equal treatment under the rule of law.

Those who are opposed to the radical stance of animal rights activists argue from the point of view of religious, philosophical, and practical point of view. It is not uncommon to find people who quoted Bible verses to show that human beings were made lords of the earth, and therefore, they had the power to dispose living things as they see fit. This point of view shoots down the argument based on nonhuman animal rhetoric that attempts to set the human world and animal world in equal footing.

Those who opposed the view of animal rights activists find support from non-religious philosophers that established the role of human beings as the masters of the planet. Respected philosophers like Aristotle found no reason to enhance the importance or significance of animals in relation to human beings. Nevertheless, one can argue that a brilliant mind like Aristotle is not needed to state the obvious. Billions of people around the world depended on the consumption of animals products to survive.

Personal View

Citizens of the world must work together to end cruelty to animals. There exists a wealth of scientific data supporting the claim that animal maltreatment is a symptom of human depravity (Melson 171). In other words, the behavior associated to animal maltreatment creates a slippery-slope effect that leads to lower levels of violence against other living creatures. Animal maltreatment in childhood will gradually improve to violence against humans.

The assertion that there is a link between human depravity and animal maltreatment is supported by scientific evidence. For example, in one study fifty-six percent of violent offenders admitted cruelty to animals in childhood (Linzey 24). Researchers also discovered that the cycle of domestic violence started with animal cruelty. They also found out that child abuse and animal cruelty occurred in the same household.

The proponent of the study believes that when a child accepts cruelty to animals as a normal behavior, then, it is easy to transition into other forms of violent behavior. In other words, it is beneficial to teach children, and demonstrate by example the need to respect animal rights and to improve animal welfare. This type of culture and belief system promotes respect for other forms of life. Thus, it creates a pleasant mindset, and makes it harder for children to contemplate about negative actions.

It is important to eradicate all forms of cruelty to animals. However, it can be argued that commercial farming itself is not a prima facie evidence against cruelty to animals. Dairy farms and sheep farms are good examples of how to develop a symbiotic relationship with animals. Even the slaughter of animals for food consumption is not an example of cruelty to animals. According to opponents of animal rights activism, animals released into the wild are not assured of an idyllic existence. Animals in the wild are in the fight for their lives as they struggle to survive in a hostile environment. Animals in the wild die from exposure, and if they are less fortunate torn to pieces by predators.

Universal Appeal

Due to mass media communication and the proliferation of books, animal rights advocates are able to convey their message across different sectors of society. However, it can be argued that only people with high levels of literacy can appreciate the message regarding animal welfare. In the real world, people think in practical terms. Ordinary people have no time to worry about the moral rights of animals. They have no time to think about the accountability of human beings with regards to the way they treated nonhuman animals. In the real world people are starving, and they need every ounce of protein they can get from seafood to beef steak.

It is important to feed the hungry. On the other hand, it is prudent to acknowledge the growing belief among the general population that cruelty to animals is unacceptable. Thus, it is imperative to strike a balance between the need to feed billions of people all over the world, and the need to treat animals with dignity and respect.

Objections and Counter-Arguments

The proposition of animal rights activists to end commercial farming and to stop all types of scientific experiments involving animals is impractical and implausible. People are dying from hunger and many are ravaged by diseases that have no cure. It is of great importance to develop a sustainable farming system that ensures the supply of meat products to feed billions of hungry people all over the planet. It is impossible to feed 7 billon people with animals grown using free range farm techniques.

Animal rights activists will make their counter-argument by presenting facts and figures, to demonstrate the feasibility of free-range farming (Melson 188). This is the type of farming wherein animals are given the space to roam free and enjoy their existence. They will also reveal facts and figures to illustrate the needless experiments conducted on animals by the cosmetics industry (Melson 188).

Response to Objections and Counter-Arguments

Animal rights activists will offer a complex solution to end commercial farming, and that is to reduce the intake of protein-based food. This method will ensure the drastic reduction in the demand for meat products. However, this is not a feasible argument, because the bottom line argument forces people to switch to a vegetarian diet. In other words, there is no practical solution yet for the growing demand for protein-based diet. There is no end in sight for the increasing demand for seafood and meat products.

Animal rights activists find it extremely difficult to provide an alternative solution to the use of animals in validating scientific studies. In this regard, opponents of animal rights activism makes the counter-argument that without the use of animals in science experiments, the pharmaceutical companies will never be able to produce effective drugs to counter diseases and health problems worldwide.

Conclusion

It is important to end all forms of cruelty. It can be argued that animals exist to serve, and human beings must appreciate the type of service they provide. Human beings must learn to appreciate the type of service animals provide, because they provide this service to the point of death. Thus, it is not unethical or immoral to slaughter animals for food consumption. The best thing to do is to develop efficient and effective mechanisms applicable to slaughterhouses in order to reduce the pain and suffering of animals brought to slaughter.

It is also important to improve the techniques employed in commercial farms in order to reduce the suffering and pain the animals experience while they are growing. One way to solve the problem of cruelty in commercial farming is to use economic forces to compel farmers to change their ways. One strategy is to pay a premium for products that were grown organically or in free-range farm types. It is also prudent to pay higher prices for meat products produced in conditions that will get the approval of animal rights activists.

Even proponents of animal welfare will agree that there is no practical solution available to replace the highly successful model of commercial farms to produce high volumes of meat products. Thus, the best compromise is to improve the techniques employed in commercial farming. Government legislation could also force commercial farmers to think less about the profit, and use part of the revenue to improve the physical conditions of the farms.

For example, they can grow a great number of livestock or poultry in a small space; however, they are compelled to construct air-conditioned farms for this purpose. With regards to the use of animals in science experiments, one way to solve the problem is to limit experiments to drug-related experiments, and to ban experiments related to the cosmetic industry.

Works Cited

Bekoff, Marc and Carron Meaney. Encyclopedia of Animal Rights and Animal Welfare. New York: Routledge, 2013. Print.

Francione, Gary and Robert Garner. The Animal Rights Debate. New York: Columbia University Press, 2010. Print.

Linzey, Andrew. The Link between Animal Abuse and Human Violence. OR: Sussex Academic Press, 2009. Print.

Melson, Gail. Why the Wild Things Are. MA: Harvard University Press, 2005. Print.

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