Animal Rights

August 8, 1980

Report Outline
New Interest in ‘Speciesism’
Animals and Medical Research
Treatment in ‘Factory Farming”
Motivations for Vegetarianism
Special Focus

New Interest in ‘Speciesism’

Concept of ‘Natural Rights’ for Animals

Do animals have rights? It appears as if more persons than ever before now believe that they do. In recent years animal rights' advocates have journeyed to Newfoundland to try to protect baby seals from the annual Canadian seal slaughter. Others have helped remove wild horses and burros out of Grand Canyon National Park, and illegally released dolphins from an experimental tank in Hawaii. Animal rights' proponents also have worked in many other, less dramatic ways to try to ease the suffering of animals in experimental laboratories, on farms and in zoos. Their cause has been bolstered by recent scientific evidence that suggests that many animals, especially dolphins and primates, have high intelligence levels, can feel pain and pleasure and exhibit a wide range of emotions, from fear to elation.

The basic points of the animal rights movement are ethical ones. If animals do have rights, what are they and how should they be determined? Peter Singer, professor of philosophy at Australia's Monash University, is a leading exponent of animal rights. Singer's 1975 book, Animal Liberation, dealt with “speciesism,” which he defined as “a prejudice or attitude of bias toward the interest of members of one's own species and against those of members of other species.” Singer compares speciesism to discrimination among humans: “If possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle one human to use another for his own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit non-humans for the same purpose?”

The issues of animal rights and how animals are treated by humans are not new. “People have been addressing themselves to those issues for thousands of years,” Newsweek science editor Peter Gwynne wrote last year. “And always, from the very beginning, man's relationships with animals have been ambivalent, contradictory and constantly changing.” The earliest humans lived by hunting and gathering, but anthropological evidence shows that beginning about 10,000 years ago they also cared for domesticated animals.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Animal Rights
Jul. 18, 2016  Animal Rights
Jun. 29, 2012  Whale Hunting
Oct. 22, 2010  Animal Intelligence
Jan. 08, 2010  Animal Rights
Jan. 12, 2007  Factory Farms
Aug. 02, 1996  Fighting Over Animal Rights
Aug. 08, 1980  Animal Rights
Jan. 12, 1966  Treatment of Animals in Medical Research
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Biology and Life Sciences
Livestock