Should Animals Have Rights?
In Philosophy, the rights for animals or even human beings are most controversial and problematic. For this reason, it comes as no surprise that specific concerns arise on whether animals should have rights. Rights encompass entitlement notions to be handled or treated in a particular manner.
It is something that the rights holder is owed. The important thought of arguing in favor of animal rights is because it offers a challenge to the notion that probable beneficial outcomes to humans are the only yardstick for measuring appropriate behavior towards animals in science and other settings. In this paper, I will argue in favor of animal rights specifying: one, rights such as moral natural or rights that should be extended to animals; two, explanation on the sort of standards or rules that should be put in place to improve treatment of animals and protect their rights; three, the areas of current animal use that these rights should apply, in laboratory areas in particular.
Five animal rights
There are many areas of current animal use where animal rights should apply. The argument in this section is based on the area of using animals in experimental research. In general, according to animals rights would effectively assist in improving their lives. There are specific rights that animals, particularly those animals used in experiments should have. In this paper, I will talk about the five significant animal rights, essentially for animals used for experimental purposes. The first three rights are rights that provide freedom from interference to animals. These types of rights are referred to as negative rights.
The next two are rights extended which offer assistance of some sort to animals, also referred to as positive animal rights. The first three rights include; rights that animals under experiments should have, rights of freedom from unnecessary pain and suffering, and rights of not restricting the liberty of animals. The next two rights include; right not to have animal lives unnecessarily restricted, and the right to live by the nature of the species they belong to. I will argue these rights specifying and explaining the sort of standards or rules that should be put in place to improve our treatment of animals and protect their lives. The paper also specifies the area of laboratory testing of current animal use these rights should apply.
Protection from painful experiments
First, about their rights, animals used for experimental purposes should at least be accorded the same kinds of protection that humans currently extend to their domesticated animals such as pets. It is well understood from various sources that animals used for experimental purposes do not receive the same treatment as extended to domesticated animals with which humans have relationships. It is an open fact that the treatment of any specific species considerably vary, depending on its living surroundings and the purpose for which it’s kept.
For instance, an animal such as a rabbit will tend to receive different treatment if kept as a family pet as opposed to being a subject of research or a caged animal in the zoo. Experimental animals should be extended moral rights too. Whenever experiments are conducted on these animals, measures must be put in place to reduce painful experiments or those experiments that result in considerable suffering to the animals. Therefore, we do have a direct responsibility to animals used in experimentations not to subject them to unnecessary pain and suffering. Since the subjection of pain and suffering to animals under experiments is a frequent occurrence, it is significant to differentiate when it is or not necessary.
The evaluation of this can be done partly by putting to scale the benefits given to humans against the harm inflicted to animals. Insisting on the use of drugs for considerable pain can be another way of ensuring that this right is protected. Other ways include; the application of point scales to show the point limit to which we should not go, husbandry conditions that do not cause animal suffering, and humane euthanasia by experts in such techniques when death as the endpoint is unavoidable (Yarri, 101).
Protection from suffering
Second, about pain and suffering, a significant distinction needs to be made. When it comes to animals being exposed to pain, all of them capable of feeling pain should be extended identical treatment. For instance, all other factors being held constant, a painful procedure on a mouse instead of a monkey cannot be justified if we understand that they will experience identical pain. Due to varying cognitive levels, however, some animals may have an enhanced capacity to suffer compared to others. When this can be established us, then those specific animals who may have a greater capacity to suffer should be accorded greater protection so that when we have a choice, animals with lesser capacities to suffer should be utilized in experiments (Singer, 50).
Returning to natural habitats
Third, in the laboratory setting, the simple desire for animals to move is greatly restricted. Animals would have considerable movement in their natural habitats. Usually, we don’t give most experimental animals the same level of movement as their counterparts in the wild. However, we should accord to them at least what we would accord to them if we reared them as pets. Though pets have a restricted life compared to their wild counterparts, they generally have a better life than their experimental counterparts. Thus, about movement, the rule of the thumb as a significant effort should be made to extend to animals in the laboratory an equal kind of movement that we extend to domesticated animals. Practically, this would mean provision for larger cages for rodents or large rooms or pens for animals not kept on cages, with outdoor facilities if possible (Yarri, 102).
Protection from death
Fourth, the animals have the right not to be shortened unnecessarily. After experiments, it is regrettable that most experimental animals will be put to death. This is warranted in many circumstances, especially when animals will feel considerable pain and suffering in living out the rest of their lives. Human and animal experimental specimens have sharp differences in that experimental animals live confinement for the rest of their lives in laboratories, unlike humans. In most cases, these animals are killed after experiments. The fact that people have the right to live, animals should not be construed to have the same rights.
However, there should be some concerted efforts to prevent this problem. For instance, adopting animals is no longer utilized for experimental purposes and allowing the use of pets for those experiments that are short-term. Knowing that this might not work in some circumstances, however, it can work well in others. Therefore, efforts must be made to implement if there is a possibility of providing these animals longer and better life (Singer, 50).
Living in natural conditions
Fifth, animals under experiment should be extended rights to live under the nature of the species they belong to. These animals can be allowed to live in laboratories according to their species nature by people learning and understanding what their natures are. This can be done through observation of the species in their natural habitats to find out how they behave, and user preference tests.
Treat with respect
Finally, animals under experiments just like individuals should be treated with respect. A pointer to this is the entrenched general attitudes and practices accorded to animals under experiments that could engender respect towards these animals. Therefore, animals should not be viewed only as resources to be utilized but should be regarded with dignity. They should not be seen only in terms of their instrumental value, but intrinsic value as well. Attempts must also be made to empathize with the suffering of the animals being experimented on so that an initial understanding is to know whether we would be willing to allow such treatment to be made on ourselves. The experimenters should also equate the animals they work with and the kind of treatment they accord their pets.
In sum, it is not a solution to grant animals under experimentation legal or moral rights in terms of their treatment. However, the general acceptance of animals having rights as humans do would be a greater step towards animal protection.
Singer, P. In Defense of Animals. San Francisco: Wiley.com Publishers, 2006.
Yarri, D. The Ethics of Animal Experimentation. London: Oxford University Press, 2005.