May 2017, Opposition Pieces

Animal Rights

VIEWPOINT 1: Why We Should Care About Animal Rights – Ila Ghoshal
VIEWPOINT 2: Why Animal Rights Do Not Deserve to Be at the Forefront of Social Justice Issues – Bryden Cheong


Ila Ghoshal

A person should not intentionally cause another person to suffer, and yet, we seem to hold ourselves to a different standard for animals. Since non-human animals are capable of suffering as well, is it not morally wrong for us to cause them to suffer as well?

We know that animals can feel pain. Additionally, considering there is no significant difference between humans and animals in terms of capacity to feel such pain, we should all support the claim that animals have rights. In fact, to say that human suffering is more “real” than an animal suffering is to consider that animals are unworthy of moral consideration because they are inferior to us. This suggestion seems all the more ridiculous when you consider that humans are animals as well, and as such should not be considered to be more intrinsically valuable than other animals. To consider non-human animals as inferior to humans solely because they are members of another species is a form of discrimination.

Our current farming practices, namely factory farming, cause animals a lot of suffering. For example, the average “broiler” chicken only gets a half-square foot of space to live in. This lack of room to move in combined with their large weight leads to many chickens being unable to support their own body weights. Furthermore, factory farmed chickens do not have the room spread their wings which causes them severe physical harm. Worst of all is the fact that male chicks are often ground up alive because they serve no purpose for farms. As such, the extent of our mistreatment of animals proves that we must devote our time to remedying this situation. Indeed, if such things were perpetrated on humans, we would be incredibly quick to call such living conditions and treatment torture and physical and psychological abuse.

Some might argue that animals can’t think or aren’t conscious as evidence of the superiority of human beings. However, because of animals’ behavior and because of the similarities between all mammalian nervous systems, we know that they are capable of feeling pain, of developing deep emotional bonds, of undergoing actions and initiatives for the sake of objectives different that the continuity of their lineage and more (National Geographic, 2016). The other main argument against animal rights is that animals are not moral and, therefore, we have no obligations of being moral towards them. However, not all scientists agree that this is true. In fact Jane Goodall – a scientist having spent most of her life living among and studying chimpanzees – has reported that chimpanzees are capable of altruistic behavior.

However, even in scenarios where animals do not seem to behave based on anything more than animalistic instincts, a duty of care to living creates that we are a society feed on is undeniable.

The issue of animal rights is very important because, at the moment, we clearly are not respecting the intrinsic value of animals and fulfilling our moral duty towards them by minimizing their amount of suffering. Public outrage beyond the simple utility associated with taking care of animals has proven time and time again the interest and necessity of such a cause.


Written by MWR writer Ila Ghoshal, edited by the MWR team


Bryden Cheong

It should be unfathomable that somebody suggests that animals are worth more than humans. There is no scenario in which somebody should prioritize an animal’s life and well over a human’s.

I do not wish to undermine the value of animal life. There is no justification as to why humans are any more important. Objectively, the lives of all living things should  hold equal importance. However, as proven by the laws currently implemented in our society, humanity values the lives of human more than it does animals.

It is understandable that to humans, humans are worth more than animals. From an evolutionary perspective, it is natural that a species would want to prioritize itself before others. So, while animals are no better or worse than humans are, humanity has prioritized the well being of its members first, which is only natural.

The problem with animal rights is that it undermines this notion. When we focus our attention to the well being of animals, we simultaneous divert attention towards human issues. As a society, as a species, our attention should be on helping own on before helping others. The World Bank states that over 10% of the human population are living under $1.90 daily. Less developed regions have rampant diseases and insufficient treatment. It seems unfair to those people that we divert our resources and attention towards animals instead when resources allocation clearly needs to be  done more effectively and more in line with human interests.

There are countless social problems that plague our society that needs to be addressed. These problems are critical and are of high importance.

The thesis of this particular article, of course, is that animal rights are nearly incomparable to the human rights abuse that happens on a daily basis in our world. It can even be argued that animal rights serve only as a medium for people to distract themselves from the more pressing, immanent problems society faces.

Ultimately, humans have no obligation to help animals. There is no reason for us to prioritize problems related to animals when we have our own issues that need to be solved. Thus, while animal rights are a great way to distance ourselves from our own human issues, they are ultimately of little importance, and should therefore not be considered as significant issues for our society to work on and devote resources to.


Written by MWR writer Bryden Cheong, edited by the MWR team

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