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Essay/Term paper: Animal ethics

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Animal Rights

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Animal Ethics


Animal ethics is concerned with the status of animals, whereas
environmental ethics concerns itself with the relationship to the environment.
I will show the existence of animal ethics depends on the existence of
environmental ethics. I will prove this by showing that such philosophers who
have practiced animal ethics such as Singer, Regan, and Taylor are limited
because they are individualistic. Which means they are limited to animal
concerns, and nothing else. But with the environmental ethics such
philosophers as Leapold, Wesra and Naess look at the environment ethics
collectively. Which means they look at the big picture which includes the
animals and its environment.

I will first look at the views of Peter Singer, who is a utilitarian. A
utilitarian is someone who believes the greatest amount of good for the greatest
number. Singer wants the suffering of animals to be taken into consideration.
He states "If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing
to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of the
being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally
with the like suffering...". What this means is that the suffering of animals
is not justified. He also states how he thinks a major way to stop the
suffering of animals is to stop the experimenting on animals. He states"...the
widespread practice of experimenting on other species in order to see if certain
substances are safe for human beings, or to test some psychological theory
about the effect of severe punishment or learning...". When he is talking
about the experiments and suffering of animals. He is concerned most with
domestic animals, he is not too concerned with the other animals in the word.
Views like these make Singer limited.

Singer is limited and individualistic because he is not concerned with
the environment in which animals live and since he is a utilitarian, equality
is not something he is concerned with. Even other philosopher criticizes the
utilitarian point of view exhibited by Singer. Regan protests "Utilitarian has
no room for the equal moral rights of different individuals because it has no
room for their equal inherent value or worth. What has value for the
utilitarian is the satisfaction of an individuals interests, not the individual
whose interests they are". If things are not given equal rights, that
includes the environment there will be a tomorrow to look forward to.

Singer has also been known to show a lack of compassion and sympathy.
As stated by Westra "IT is probable that, at a minimum, instrumental values has
always been ascribed to those animals which have contributed in some way to the
human community down through ages...Still it is possible to raise doubts about
sympathy, as many claim to have no such feeling, including such animals
defenders as Singer". Westra goes on to describe how Singer is not only
unsympathetic to that of animals with intrinsic value but to those people in the
third world. Singer feels that since the people of the third world are so far
away that it is not of his concern. Singer wants the suffering of animals to
stop because it is not justified, but what makes the suffering of third world
countries justified? Because they are further away? Such individualistic
approaches will not save the habitat in which the animals live and without that
the environment will not survive. Singer is not the only one with an
individualistic approach.

Another philosopher of environmental ethics Tom Regan also displays the
individualistic approach. Regan believes in Cantianism. What that means is
that the individuals have rights. Regan has modified it a bit to say that
everyone is subject to a life. Regan believes that animal and humans all have
intrinsic value, therefor they have a right to life. He calls for three changes
"1) The total abolition of the use of animals in science. 2) The total
dissolution of commercial animal agriculture. 3) The Total elimination of
commercial and sport hunting". He believes that animals should not be treated
as our resources. he also believes that since everyone is subject to a life
people should not believe in contractarianism. Contractarianism states that in
order to gain morality you must be able to sign and understand a contract and if
they can not sign a contract (i.e. infant) you do not have the right to morality.
But Regan also views things individualisticly.

He, like Singer also looks at the concerns of animals, of "Value".
Those animals used in science experiments, agriculture, and commercial and
sport hunting. But what about the animals not included in the list, who is
going to protect the rights of those animals? Without all animals and
especially the environment. Regan will not just have to worry about the reform
of animal rights.

The last philosopher concerned with animal ethics in which I am going to
look at is Paul Taylor. He is an egalitarian, which means everyone's interests
count and count equally with the like interests of everyone's else's. He argues
that humans are no more valuable than any other living thing put should see
themselves as equals. He calls for two changes "1) Every organism, species
population, and community of life has a good of its own which moral agents can
intentionally further or damage by their actions....2) The second concept
essential to the moral attitude of respect for nature is the idea of inherent
worth". What this means is to respect everything and everyone even if that
means the little creepy crawlies on earth. But if we respect everything intern
we are respecting nothing.

One of Taylor's biggest flaws is that he has no hierarchy which intern
some animals lose out. Westra sums it up best "Further, it is such an
intensely individualistic ethic that it requires me to consider every leaf I
might pick from a tree, every earthworm that might be lying across my path. It
will also be extremely different to apply to aggregates, such as species, or
community, such as ecosystems". With no hierarchy he is looking at things
individualistic which means something is going to lose out.

Another problem with Taylor's that he can be applied to animal ethics as
well as environmental ethics in order to make a stranger argument he should
stick to either one or the other.

One way we can avoid this individualism outlook is to look at things
holistically such as Leapold. He believes that we should see ourselves not as
conquerers of the Land but as members of the community. He proposes we can do
this by having a land ethic. The Land Ethic states "the land ethic simply
enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants, and
animals a collectively; the land". This is like an animal ethic but expanded
to include the environmental ethics. He also proposes we have a land pyramid
which consists of "1) That land that is not merely soil. 2) That the native
plants and other animals kept the energy circuit open; others may or may not.
3) That man made changes are of a different order than evolutionary changes,
and have effects more comprehensive than is intended or foreseen". The land
pyramid states that changes must be made to the whole ecosystm and everything in
it. It looks at things collectively. But lie everything it has its faults.

When we are looking at things holistically we are leaving some things
out. And for whose to say that the land pyramid is correct, and will work? Who
is Leapold to decide how and what is more important than other things.

Another philosopher who views the world collectively is Westra. Westra
is concerned with the principle of integrity. She states that " "Integrity'
thus includes the wholeness of a living system". Therefor she wants to look at
the ecosystem as a whole. She protests that there are four sections of
ecosystem integrity. They are first ecosytem health. The second is the
capacity to withstand stress and regenerate itself afterward. The third is
optimum capacity (for place and time, including biodiversity). The fourth is
the ability to continue development and change. With these four features an
environment has a good chance of survival.

Another reason why she has a holistic approach is because she says "It
counsels respect for the basis of life as well as for all entities living within
ecosystems, including animals, which would involve the abolition of
agribusiness, factory farming, and all other wasteful, explosive practices".
She believes everything should be looked at as equal. But her views are too
controversial.

Westra sates that there should be an abolition of agribusiness, but she
herself admits that she eats "free-range' chicken. It to is an agribusiness so
why does it make it OK for free-range? And if we are looking at things
holistically who is she to say that one type of business is any better than
factory farming or agribusiness. Sure they are taking advantage of animals,
but if she is to look at things holistically any business that runs successfully
involves expletive practices in some manner.

The last philosopher of environmental ethics in which I am going to look
at is Arne Naess. He looks at the environment in terms of deep ecology. What
this means is that 1) holistic perspective. 2) biospherical egalitarianism
(everyone's valuable). 3) principles of diversity and symbiosis. 4) anticlass
posture, no racism, no sexism. 5) fight against pollution and resource
depletion. 6) complexity not completion, cutting up science. 7) local
autonomy and decentralization. They are a matter of steps or hierarchy and you
have to start from the bottom and start fixing till you make it to the top. Or
should I say if you make it to the top because if you can not fix each level you
can not continue to the next level until its fixed. But this way of looking at
things can cause problems.

Viewing the world like this could leave us right were we started from
because if we can not fix it we can not move on. Another problem is when you
get near the top of the steps you hit a point where you should look at things
threw an egalitarian point of view. Which can bring you back to where you
started from because you are supposed to respect everything which intern you end
up respecting nothing.

In conclusion do to the arguments I have shown, we can conclude the
existence of animal ethics depends on the existence of environmental ethics. I
have shown this by demonstrating the individualistic ways in which Singer, Regan
and Taylor look at this world will only save the rights of animals , and the
world can not survive with just animals. I have also shown that by
demonstrating the holistic views of Leapold, Westra, and Naess will preserve the
rights of the environmental as a whole.



 

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