Analysis Of Tom Regan's Arguments For The Ethical Treatment Of Animals

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Tom Regan argues for the treatment of animals to be the same as that of humans. Rather than arguing a utilitarian perspective, Regan posits that an inherent value exists within entities that are what he calls “the subject of a life,” or rather have the ability to perceive and to possess desires and to deprive these entities of their life without sufficient moral reasoning is unconscionable. While humans may be privy to a larger range of cognitive abilities, Regan argues that these talents are superfluous and that mutual respect must be equally enjoyed amongst all subjects of life. This implies that consumption of meat must cease and that subjection to research cannot unilaterally be applied to animals. Opponents to Regan’s stance argue that …show more content…
It posits that because predation deprives an animal of its life, it is an unethical partnership and if humans and animals were to be considered truly morally equal, humans would be obligated to interfere with these unethical natural relationships and prevent this suffering. Humans would for example have the obligation to protect gazelles from lions in the same fashion as humans would protect small children from lions, as Regan allows no distinction between humans and animals. Because there is no current system of policing the natural world, so the argument goes, humans are failing their ethical duty. This implies that there must not be an assignment of rights to animals and that Regan’s stance is …show more content…
To not harm is a moral obligation. That is, to cause harm from the direct consequences of one’s own actions is morally reprehensible and must be avoided. This does not, however, impose a moral obligation to mitigate harm where it may exist if it should fall from the hands of others. For example, the act of helping—though morally good—is not a moral obligation. This is derived from envisioning a system in which every human helps one another in every achievable scenario. While this theoretical world is possible, the implications that not constantly expending energy to help others is somehow morally unconscionable is overly demanding and relegates the act of helping as an imperfect duty—an action that is good, but is not required. While the act of saving an animal from the clutches of a carnivore could be viewed as morally good, because it creates an overly demanding system, it cannot be viewed as an obligate duty, permitting the lack of a police state for the autonomy of

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