MOST COMMON ARGUMENTS
This page condenses some of the arguments found on the main page http://animalvegfaq.tripod.com
It may be useful for students writing essays or just as a summary of major arguments found on this page.
1) The myth that humans are superior in value as a group to all other lifeforms is not supported by a casual examination of natural phenomenon. The universe can not be shown to favor human beings--for volcanoes do not spew lava in ways that avoid humans, sharks do not get paralyzed if they attempt to bite human swimmers, and the laws of gravity have the same effect on them as any other lifeform. Whether you believe in a god or a mindless universe, human supremacy as an absolute objective truth cannot be demonstrated any easier than one could demonstrate that apples are superior to oranges, that one race is superior to another, or that the letter A is superior to the letter B. Such judgments can only be decided by humans--conveniently, the ones claiming their heightened status.
2)If you believe that humans can discriminate against and exploit other life because they are superior in value as a species to all others you have to be able to show this supremacy to be true as an absolute, objective fact. WHY? Because if you can't, then anyone can use similar non absolute, subjective criteria from religion to gender to skin colour to justify discriminating against anyone else (human or not), which is what humans do every day all over the world regardless of the laws or moral standards in place.
Any standards of value used--"the faculty of reason," "free will," "a soul," "my deity says so," etc. 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--does that mean that the more intelligent or creative or taller ones deserve more rights than those who are less intelligent or creative or tall? If not, why? The standard can be doubted, just as it can be for the arguments of racial supremacists. For the sake of argument, however, if every human did possess a 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. Some human says it is so, so it is so.
3)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 humans; 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 (according to absolute and objective criteria) and deserving of special treatment, then what does?
4) 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 can emphasize race, or gender, or wealth instead of (or in addition to) species 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. Some human says 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 choices that he/she has to preserve moral integrity is to agree that anyone should be able to discriminate against whomever they want (i.e. this would allow both human and non human exploitation), or to extend the circle of compassion and ethical justice to include non-human living beings. This would preserve the principle of trying to be as compassionate and as fair as possible to others. At the most fundamental level it isn't about love, or emotion, but ethical consistency and common sense.
5) An additional irony to the human supremacist myth is that when humans try to use certain criteria to show their superiority to other species, the opposite is often easier to prove. Example: humans likes to say they are more compassionate than other species, the words "humane" and "inhumane" show this--as humans like to think to be good is to be human, and to be evil is to be inhuman. And yet, altruism has been demonstrated in both domesticated and wild animals, across inter-species relations, even between traditional predators and prey. While these may be anomalies, the fact remains that at the same time altruism exists, we do not find examples of extreme cruelty and sadistic pleasure in the suffering of others among other species that humans have demonstrated throughout the ages. Humans have tortured and killed both humans and non humans in the name of religion, science, greed, sexual pleasure, entertainment etc. They have victimized others and enjoyed causing suffering, especially when they know that their victims are suffering. No other species has been shown to do this. Cats do not erect stadiums where other cats can watch mice being tortured, as humans did with the Roman Coliseum, and with bullrings or cock pits. Humans also like to say they were meant to be stewards of Nature, but it is humans who have caused deforestation, water and air pollution, extinction, soil erosion. And yet, the creatures that humans consider to be the lowest in significance and worthy of insult, insects, are responsible for maintaining the flora that all life including humans depend on. So by just these two criteria put forth by humans, other species are shown to be superior to them. This is another reason why humans should show some humility. And for those who believe in Biblical story, Pride was considered the greatest sin.
1) Meat eating for humans is unnecessary. Humans lack the natural born equipment to hunt anything beyond insects and slow rodents. They require tools and instruments to do it. A vegan diet is easy and healthy. Meat eating is therefore unnecessary cruelty and killing. If one believes we should try to be kind and compassionate and just, and not cause suffering when we dont have to, then meat eating cannot be justified as a diet for humans.
2) Meat eating is destructive. Health wise, meat needs to be irradiated to fight off diseases and bacteria. Urine and excrement spilled from the bowels of slaughtered animals gets sprayed onto the corpse.
3) Meat eating is destructive. Wildlife is killed for the sake of ranchers. Forests are cut down to grow soy to feet livestock. Rivers are polluted by ranching and factory farms. Livestock significantly contributes to greenhouse gases and global warming (according the UN).
4) Meat eating is wasteful. The water and grain/crops etc that go to feed livestock could be eaten directly by humans. Meat recalls, disease outbreaks that lead to killing of the animals--all waste.
5)Meat eating violates notions of human rights. If you believe humans should be fed--then we shouldnt be wasting resources on meat-based diets that deprive people of water and crops (or causes the prices or food to go up due to the extra demands on crops for livestock). Meat is sold that is full of disease. E coli, BSE, etc. The companies cover it up. Children are forced to eat meat even if they are compassionate to animals. This and the health effects makes it a form of child abuse.
6) Meat eating is cruel. Animals are raised, separated from their family groups, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, forced starvation(to cause moulting of egg laying chickens to get extra eggs out of them) , forced to stand even when sick so they can be approved for slaughter. Frustrated slaughterhouse workers torture animals--gouge their eyes out for fun, shock them, beat them, kick them, castrate them without anesthetic (all documented on video). Even if everyone ate from small "organic" ranches, you still have castration, branding, dehorning, and animals are sent to the same slaughterhouses.
7)Fruit and vegetables are the colours of the rainbow--when it rots it can still be digested(raisins etc). Meat is the colour of excrement and when it rots it is even more lethal. If there was a deity, fruit and vegetables have been given a good PR image, meat has not.
1)It is a perversion of altruism and compassion--you attempt to heal Peter by torturing and killing Paul. It is like trying to help a homeless man by kicking a family out of their house, beating them to death and moving the former in (except that finding a home for the homeless man is a sure thing--animal researchers have been trying to cure cancer for hundreds of years without success). The fact that the number one answer to criticism of animal research is a citation of alleged benefits proves that animal researchers lack a common sense understanding of morality and ethics--since we wouldn't allow murderers or thieves to cite the benefits they or their family attain from their actions to justify murder or theft.
2)It is a medical fraud--if you wouldn't think it is rational to find a cure for diseases in giraffes by experimenting on elephants why would you think it is rational to cure disease in humans by using mice, rats, dogs or chimps? Animal research is big business (from cage manufacturers to science grant applicants), and scientists have a vested interest in conjuring up new experiments to keep their paychecks, while telling the public that the research is important and a "breakthrough." (If you think animal researchers are strictly motivated by compassion, how many new drugs they develop can you get for free?) Pagan priests sacrificed animals and read their entrails to encourage the hope and health of society (a good harvest, easy childbirth). Those that opposed it endangered society by angering the gods. Today, animal researchers claim that if nonhuman animal research stopped, the world would descend into a hell of disease and misery (without explaining why society and culture endured even during the Medieval plague. By their logic, humans should have been extinct eons ago, plus it grossly exaggerates the power of medicine since humans continue to die from disease--including scientists). Animal researchers promote the view that life works according to a quasi-Darwinian "Great Chain of Being" hierarchy where animals follow a ladder of complexity--starting with worms and ending with humanity, and that you can take them apart and reassemble them as easily as a jigsaw puzzle. If animal research is necessary for producing safe drugs and treatments why then do we need clinical trials on humans? Why does Pfizer have to conduct medical trials in Africa? Why do drugs like Thalidomide get pulled after being shown to be safe in nonhuman animals? If one had a choice between a drug tested only on rats or chimps, and a drug tested only on humans, which would you deem safer for people? The answer determines one's belief in the importance on nonhuman animals in research.
3)Animal research treats nonhuman animals in ways that would be considered an atrocity if done to even the most despised criminal in history--and yet, nonhuman animals commit no crimes. Why do they deserve such treatment?
4)If finding a cure for disease is so important, why aren't scientists and patients advocating the use of criminals or volunteers in medical experiments? Humans are the best and safest model for research, and we send healthy people off to be maimed and killed in wars for natural resources, religion and political ideology, and yet the war against cancer is only considered of dire importance when it comes to the discussion of abolishing nonhuman animals in research.
5)Researchers say animal research is necessary--and yet they eat meat, and engage in all other activities that are clearly not necessary. It shows that the necessity argument isnt even a real factor--they simply regard non humans as less in value.
6) Researchers say they need to use nonhuman animals for research because they are like us--and yet they say they deserve no rights because they are not like us. This highlights the real issue--the motivation for animal research beyond money is an arrogant belief that humans as a species are superior in value to all other life, based upon arbitrary, non-absolute and subjective criteria conveniently determined by those who stand to benefit from the discrimination and exploitation. The same reasoning was used by Nazi doctors to justify their experiments--a belief in the superiority of a group defined by those who stand to benefit from it. Ultimately, scientists engage in animal research because they, like researchers who were racial or Christian supremacists (J Marion Sims, Josef Mengele) believe their victims are inferior in value.
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