Sentience's Argument For Animal Rights

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For so long, animals have been viewed as resources of humans. Animals have been killed for consumption since the Homo erectus some 1.8 million years ago. Hundreds and thousands of years later, as early as 300 B.C.E, animals were already used for experiments to study bodily functions. Animals were also treated as entertainment and hunting as a sport started as early as 4000 B.C.E. It was in 1828 that the first anti-cruelty law was passed. In the Philippines, it was only in 1998 that Republic Act 8485, the Animal Welfare Act, was passed. Under Republic Act 8485, establishment operations such as pet shops, veterinary clinics, zoos, and farms are regulated by the Bureau of Animal Industry. Permits must also be secured for transportation of animals. …show more content…
Sentience is defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as ‘feeling or sensation distinguished from perception and thought’. Animal rights advocates often describe sentience as the ability to suffer. Sentience is important in animal rights because it is the main determinant for whether a being has interests and rights. If a being is not sentient, it cannot suffer and does not have rights. Beings have rights to prevent society and individuals from causing undue suffering to each other, but without sentience, an object such as a table or a lamp is not injured by unfair or unjust treatment. If someone scratches a table, the table itself does not suffer, but the table's owner may be injured because of the loss of the table's economic, aesthetic or utilitarian value. …show more content…
He is not correct in holding that only a being who can use language can experience pain. Infants, for example, are not able to describe the location and character of their pains, and yet we do not suppose that when they cry they are not in pain. True, infants may have the potential to learn to use a language. But when the infant cries and screams, we do not say that the infant has a potential to feel pain but that he is really feeling it. Whether or not an individual is experiencing pain, in short, does not rely on his being able to perform one or another linguistic feat. If humans can experience pain without being logically required to be able to say so, or in any other ways to use a language, then the same standard should apply to animals as well. (Regan 6-7)
Animals do not respect human’s rights. If they have the right not to be killed, then they must also respect the rights of others and not kill them. However, animals could not reciprocate that therefore they should not have rights. Also, attribution of rights to animals leads to absurdity. For if, say, a lamb has the natural right to be spared from undeserved pain, then the wolf, who devours it unmercifully, without the benefit of anesthetic, should be said to violate the lamb’s right. This is absurd, and so is the attribution of rights to animals.

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