Lecture 8 - Animal Rights Joel Feinberg discusses two basic...

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Animal Rights Joel Feinberg discusses two basic ethical concepts: right and interest Feinberg’s main argument: to have a right is to have a claim to something and against someone, the recognition of which could be used to protect one’s legal rights or one’s moral rights. In either case we appeal to the enlightened conscience To have a right in the full moral sense of the word, then is to have enlightened conscience But there is another, conceptual way of having rights. There are certain kinds of beings that can have rights because we can meaningfully predicate rights to them (following a certain logic of reasoning) Such beings have only contingent rights which are always in some way combined with the rights of enlightened conscience The rights of seven main groups: individual animals, vegetables, whole species, dead persons, human vegetables, fetuses and future generations. 1). Individual animals: there are legal rules against cruelty and meaningless killing of animals, but this does not solve the problem whether individual animals have rights or not. The law reflects that we have duties regarding animals but not necessarily to animals . What’s the difference? Animals are not genuine moral agents, therefore, they do not have rights and duties in the same way that humans do. Why is that? Common reasons to deny animal rights: Animals are intellectually incompetent; we cannot reason with them. They cannot claim their own rights by making a motion, or appearing in court on their own. Animals don’t understand whether any of their rights have been violated and they cannot respond adequately to that Feinberg: the ability to understand your own rights and set the legal machinery toward protecting them, are not necessary for the possession of rights. If that were the case, incompetent human beings (human vegetables) and babies would be deprived of rights. A more sound argument: a being that has rights is one that has interests and could be represent; one that is capable of being a beneficiary in his own person Animals of incapable of interests Animals are like mere things. In order to have interests, one has to have conative life, conscious wishes, desires and hopes, urges and impulses, aims and goals, direction of growth, natural fulfillment. Animals lack conation So, the laws against cruelty against animals are laws for us, not for the animals. We don’t want to encourage cruel behavior in humans
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But animals do have interests in an important sense. Many of the higher animals have appetites and conative urges, rudimentary purposes, the integrated satisfaction of which constitutes their welfare or their good that is worth protecting.
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