Tuesday, 18 February 2014

On Animal Rights

by Freya Derby

It recently occurred to me that eating animals might be morally wrong. Although in terms of nutrients, relying on plants is definitely less convenient, it is possible; and, when it comes down to it, we’re murdering for fun.
This realisation came as a bit of a blow to me, as, frankly, animal rights are very inconvenient to my lifestyle. I like to think of myself as a fairly ethical person, and so I was faced with a dilemma:  sacrifice my moral integrity or… vegetarianism. I subsequently discovered that my attachment to my integrity was not as strong as I had thought.

I do not like attempts to define humans as something completely different to animals. I think that concepts like ‘the soul’ are invented as an attempt to set us apart and to justify a world where we can treat unborn babies or the brain-dead as more valuable than, for example, a dolphin. There might be a ‘human condition’, but is it any more important than the ‘penguin condition’ or the ‘bee condition’? And why?
On the other hand, I don’t like the idea of an inconceivable number of human deaths from disease because, as we are unable to distinguish them from humans, we can’t test medicines on animals. In order to justify medical animal testing, we need to distinguish what can and cannot be tested on. Would it be okay to use a brain-dead but living human being? Rationally, it seems that it would, but I think that there would be many sentimental objections.

I think that it is just not practical to treat animals as equal to humans at the moment. Where does the sponge, and animal with no thoughts or capability of experiencing pain fit in to this? Maybe at some point in the future we’ll have an understanding of the universe that enables us to know what exactly we’re trying to protect with rights, although I doubt it. For now, I think it’s best to adopt the philosophy of The Lion King, and embrace the circle of life.

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