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Think the idea of animal rights is funny?
Start reading--and (if you have a functioning brain) you will soon stop laughing.

THE IRREFUTABLE ANIMAL RIGHTS ARGUMENT PAGE

The following arguments are quite literally beyond dispute and have been demonstrated as such.  They do not require that one follow a particular philosophy or religious system (such as Utilitarianism or Buddhism). They do not require that one consult a science text to confirm one's arguments, and they make no claims that can not be readily affirmed. In essence, they use common sense and the beliefs of the animal rights opponents against them. The only requirement is that your opponents have the ability to think coherently--which, unfortunately, can sometimes be asking for too much. Human nature being what it is, there are many reasons for human beings to ignore the truth. If they earn their living from animal exploitation, many would find it very disagreeable to let ethical problems interfere with their financial status and lifestyle. Some may regard the idea of equality with other beings in Nature as threatening--since believing you are superior to others (according to a deity or universal power) can be comforting, especially  to those of particularly fearful character. For others, the concept of forming a group (based upon racial, religious or some other divisive criteria) and shunning others who do not adhere to the criteria for admission, is a way of building  a sense of community and trust. Then there are those who unfortunately, derive pleasure from the suffering of others. There isn't much way to persuade these types. The best you can hope for is to befuddle them if they honestly believe they have a solid case for their beliefs(even though they do not).

Nevertheless, for those who wish to use the best arguments in an animal rights debate--then the following are the crux of the matter. An anti-nature fanatic can ignore the merits of these arguments, but they will be quite unable to offer an intelligent rebuttal of them. 

 

REFUTING THE HUMAN SUPREMACY ARGUMENT

 

The most basic animal rights/compassion philosophy stems from a realization that throughout history humans have discriminated against others according to various standards of value, such as race, religion, gender, appearance, and wealth; and that species is merely another example used to justify the oppression and exploitation of others, based upon standards of worth conveniently determined by those who stand to benefit from the discrimination. An animal activist seeks to apply the same ethical principle of fairness and justice that many of us have come to assume in our relationship with other humans to our relationship with non-human life: trying to be as compassionate and fair as possible to others, as opposed to being as cruel and unfair as possible to others. If you believe in human rights, then (if for no other reason than as a matter of ethical consistency) you must believe in animal rights.

 

If you argue that humans are superior in value as a species to others, and are deserving of special moral consideration that allows then to enslave, imprison, torture, and kill members of other species for a variety of purposes that would be deemed atrocities if carried out against even the most despised criminals, you have to be able to show human superiority to be true as an absolute, objective, universal fact. Why? Because a subjective and narrow argument would be no different in principle from those used by racists or religious bigots who say that their group is superior to others based on a standard of skin colour, language, nationality, interpretation of scripture etc. If species-based discrimination is just as biased as any other form of discrimination, then you can't criticize racists and sexists for doing what you yourself are doing without being morally bankrupt and a hypocrite.

 

Human supremacists want to be able to say that it is ethically justifiable to exploit non-humans in ways that would be immoral if done to humans—in other words; have their cake and eat it too. The problem is that all the standards of value used--"reason," " free will," "a soul," "my deity says so," are subject to doubt, not only in how each applies to all humans vs all non humans, but also in their absolute objective significance. Some humans are more intelligent or creative or faster or taller than some others, but for the sake of argument, if every human did possess some faculty x that other species lack, why then would this "faculty x " make them superior in value--and then free to do what they want to those who do not possess it?

It is a purely human value and claim. We say it is so, so it is so.

REFUTING THE SECULAR HUMAN SUPREMACIST ARGUMENT

 For example, the standard of Reason is subjective. It is a value judgement that only has discernable value to humans(just as skin color only has importance to racists, or a certain interpretation of the Bible only has worth to religious extremists). The universe itself cannot be shown to "favor" humans over non-humans since our kind is just as mortal as any other species. Erupting volcanoes do not alter their lava flows to spare humans; hailstorms do not drop their rocks of ice on everything but us; and sharks do not get paralyzed jaws if they attempt to bite a human swimmer (in violation of some law of Physics that recognizes human supremacy). If a basic observation of Nature does not show how humans are superior and deserving of special treatment, then what does?

REFUTING THE SPIRITUAL HUMAN SUPREMACIST ARGUMENT

 If one says that humans are superior as a species according to the will of a Supreme Deity, how do you prove it? If you cite a Divinely-inspired religious book written down by individuals who conveniently, are members of the very group that stands to benefit from the discrimination, then anyone else emphasizing race, or gender, or wealth instead of (or in addition to) species can come forward and claim that the same deity (or another one) decided that theirs is the ultimate measure of value for determining superiority. Such disagreements cannot be objectively resolved—and they must be to avoid hypocrisy and moral corruption. To be a universal/absolute/objective truth it has to be the final answer to the question; it has to be beyond doubt (for how can the absolute be questioned?).  Where then is this objective superiority of human beings demonstrated? Nowhere. We say it is so, so it is so.

   How then can the human supremacist argue, using ethics, that what he says is so, is superior to what the racist says is so?

  The only choice that an animal exploitation proponent has, to preserve some moral integrity, is to allow anyone to do what they want and discriminate against whomever they want (i.e. this would allow both human and non human exploitation and lead to complete anarchy), or to extend this circle of compassion and ethical justice to include non-human living beings. At the most fundamental level this isn't about love, or emotion, but ethical consistency and common sense.  

REFUTING THE "YOU CANNOT AVOID KILLING COMPLETELY" ARGUMENT

The issue is not about avoiding all killing but avoiding it as much as possible. Some may counter that plants are living beings too, and to eat them would be unethical. No ethical view--no matter how consistent--can take into account the interests of everyone at all times. One can certainly say the line of moral regard is not drawn at animals--that it is wrong to exploit trees and other plants (an argument found in the philosophy of  Fruitarianism). If there are problems in implementing such a policy, then it is true of all potential beneficiaries of moral conduct. No one can be perfect, either in compassion or cruelty.--especially when you come down to a microscopic level. Refuting the Human Supremacy argument doesn't mean the line is drawn at animals--one can say that it is wrong to exploit trees and other plants...the problem is in implementing such a policy—yet that is true of all potential beneficiaries of moral conduct. No one can be perfect, either in compassion or cruelty. BUT the failure to be morally perfect does not then mean one has to fall back to some safe line like species to focus one’s discrimination practices. If one argues for that--then there is no reason why the line cannot be drawn at race, or religion, or intelligence etc. Thus, the need to prove human supremacy still applies. The human supremacist is shackled to it.

 All you can do as a compassionate person is to try your best according to each situation, following a moral standard that endeavors to be fair and just--allowing you to be as compassionate as possible, as opposed to the alternative.

   

REFUTING THE HUMAN UNITY ARGUMENT

Some will try to shrug off the issue of human supremacy by claiming that human discrimination against other species is not motivated by a belief in human moral superiority but a practical reality of "humans sticking together." Some call this tenacious moral instinct. The notion that humans by their nature, like all species, will gravitate towards their own kind--and thus have a right to discriminate against other species accordingly.

 The first problem is that humans have enslaved and discriminated against each other based on race, religion, gender, age,  intelligence,  and appearance for 1000s of years. The ideal of universal human rights is itself a new concept.  Despite our laws we still have discrimination and exploitation of humans for a myriad of reasons. Therefore the idea that humans as a species have a natural tendency to "stick together" and that this acts as some overriding "moral instinct" is easily disproved by the fact that one does not lock their doors at night to keep out bears and wolves. Furthermore, other species have been known to fight and kill members of their own species, and conversely, "adopt" members of other species. Thus, one cannot define the act of moral regard according to some rigid hierarchy.

One could argue that members of a particular race, gender, age group, religion, economic status, all have a "tenacious moral instinct" towards others in their group--that can be greater than a "tenacious moral instinct" that allegedly governs human-non human relations. Some humans have risked their lives to help non humans and vice versa. The very fact that there are animal rights and environmental activists that challenge human actions demonstrates that this "instinct" can be overruled.

This also follows for arguments that pose a hypothetical scenario, such as: "If you were passing a river where a human and a non human were drowning, who would you try to save?" (also known as the burning barn scenario--frequently posed in reference to animal research(see the FAQ page for specific counters to that argument).

The attempt here is to suggest that if you say you would save the human, and then you support the concept behind "tenacious moral instinct" and industrial animal exploitation. 

In most desperate situations, people will save whomever they can save; they don't measure and qualify the recipients of care.  It "may" be true that as a human, one would feel a more urgent need and bond with another human who is drowning, but that situation would be no different if the argument were redefined to focus on race, language or gender instead of species. If you are white and you see a white man and a non-white man drowning, who are you more likely to feel a bond towards? What if one spoke your language but the other didn't? What if one was a close relative, the other a stranger? If you chose to save the more familiar individual, does that mean you endorse a policy-based, industrial, "factory farm" exploitation of the human group that is not given priority? If the answer is no, then it should be equally true for non-human groups not given priority either.

 

REFUTING THE "NATURE IS CRUEL" ARGUMENT

There is a myth perpetrated among "human rights extremists" or "anti-nature fanatics" that suggests that the problem with animal activists is that they are too emotional. They don't understand the harshness of Nature. Nature, they say, is inherently cruel, selfish. Thus, humans should be too. Or, they will say, "but cats are sadistic too. They play with mice before they eat them--and know they are hurting them."  The problem with the first argument is that the concept of cruelty is subjective. Nature cannot be proven to be cruel or compassionate--it just is. Anything else is a projection of human beliefs and sentiments onto a non-human subject. There is no way to make an absolute verification of such beliefs. But--for the sake of argument--let us say that Nature is inherently cruel. Then why should humans care anymore about human rights than they do about non human rights? There are dictators around the world that have lived very comfortable lives while they tortured and killed other humans. According to the argument of the human supremacist, they are just living according to Nature. Humans have raped, murdered, enslaved and stolen from each other for thousands of years. It is still true today. This would seem to be permissible according to Nature--why then should we try to stop it? If you argue "well, because it has mutual benefit for all humans," the fact is that some humans--those with power--have done quite well without worrying about "all humans."  So "mutual benefit" is not proven. That is the TRUE harshness of Nature. To deny this is to be either emotional, or hypocritical

Secondly, on the issue of non human cruelty. Yes, other species have been known to engage in acts that would be considered cruel--and cause pain and death to others. But there is zero evidence that other species, unlike humans, are aware that they are causing members of other species to suffer. Do cats or weasals set up arenas or stadiums in the wild or back alleys where they sit around as other cats and weasals torture mice? Do they roll on their backs in apparent glee as they watch a mouse screaming--as humans have been known to find pleasure and amusement from watching others--human or not--suffer? For a cat to be aware that a mouse suffers, and then to derive pleasure from its suffering, would be to project very human characteristics onto the cat. And why stop there?  Also, remember that there is one advantage that humans have over non humans in their capacity for cruelty. Only humans are capable of mental torment. Using language to tease and torture others. So yes--Nature can be cruel, and there is no better evidence of that then with the human capacity for cruelty.

REFUTING THE "IF WE HAVE TO HONOR ANIMAL RIGHTS THEN ANIMALS HAVE TO HONOR OURS" ARGUMENT.

This argument essentially has three parts. 1)The human supremacist will say that other species should have to live by the same rules--refrain from killing other species--and/or 2) that their failure to offer reciprocal ethical conduct to humans disqualifies them from being deserving of rights and/or 3) that an animal activist cannot say that a non human is equal to a human--and yet not be bound by the same rules and conditions as the human.

First part: Other species need to kill other species to survive. It is impossible as far as we know to stop lions from eating gazelles, birds from eating worms, and spiders from eating flies, and microorganisms from eating other microbes. Anyone who doubts this is welcome to try to police the rest of the Natural world and prevent violence and killing. Good luck. It may be better to focus on the one species that we can (at least in the principle--influence to change its behavior: human). Only humans as far as we know, have considered a concept of ethics and rights--which they endeavor to communicate to others. This is a practical matter. Other species function and survive in relative harmony--and have no need to employ ethicists. Humans on the other hand, have decided that the conduct of human beings needs to be controlled to ensure a civilized existence. 

Second: As for the issue of reciprocal ethical conduct--who says caring for others has to be reciprocal? We don't expect children, or the mentally retarded to be able to grasp concepts of law and morality to be granted protection and respect--so why expect the same from non humans who are similarly incapable of understanding human morality concepts? If it is unfair and unreasonable to expect a blind man to be able to read road signs just as well as a seeing man is able to, then the same should be true for a lion who cannot think like a human.

And third: This is assumed to be a fallacy in Definition: Conflicting Conditions--that they cannot be equal and unequal at the same time. This confuses two different definitions of "equality." The first definition is that non humans and humans are equal in value regardless of their differences(the "Martin Luther King jr." sense of the word: "All men are created equal." ). The second definition is not a value judgement, but an observation of the fact that everyone has different attributes. The animal rights proponent stresses equality in value while acknowledging inequality in attribute. There is no conflicting conditions. Other species are equal to humans in value, but they do not possess the attributes to think and behave the way humans do--just as the mentally retarded or children do not have the same attributes but are afforded equal moral protection and ethical regard.   We say a man with arms and a man without arms are equal in worth, but we don’t say because they have different abilities that the one with arms deserves more "rights" than the other.  By the logic of this attack, in order for all humans to be granted equal rights and respect, they would have to possess the same attributes (mentally, physically etc). 

 

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