Animal Rights and Human Wrongs Essay

6065 Words Feb 9th, 2013 25 Pages

Animal Rights and Human Wrongs
Hugh LaFollette

Are there limits on how human beings can legitimately treat non-human animals? Or can we treat them just any way we please? If there are limits, what are they? Are they sufficiently strong, as som e peop le supp ose, to lead us to be veg etarians and to se riously curtail, if not eliminate, our use of non-human animals in `scientific' experiments designed to benefit us? To fully ap preciate this question let me contrast it with two different ones: Are there limits on how we can legitimately treat rocks? And: are there limits on how we can legitima tely treat other human beings? The an swer to th e first ques tion is pre suma bly `No.' Well, that's not q uite right. There are som e
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That is, such acts are wrong not merely because other humans are bothered by them. We would think them equa lly wrong if they were secretly done so that no one else in the community knew about them. We think they are wrong because of what it does to the animal. On the other hand, we are also part of a culture which rather cavalier ly uses a nimals for food, for clothes, for research in the development of new drugs, and to determine the safety of household products. And many of these u ses req uire inflicting a great d eal of pa in on animals. Record of such


uses is readily available in various academic journals, and chronicled by num erous writers on the topic'. 3 But for the reader who might be unfamiliar with them, let me briefly describe two ways in which we use animals ways which inflict substantial pain on them. Anima ls who are raised for food are obviously raised with the express purpose of making a profit for the farmer. Nothing surprising. But the implications of this are direct and obvious and deleterious to the an imals. There are two ways for a farmer to increase her profit. One is to get higher prices for her goods, the other is to spend less producing those goods. Since there is a limit on how much people will pay for meat, there is substantial financia l pressu re to dec rease th e expe nse of

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