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Part I - Appendix C: Animal Rights 
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Post Part I - Appendix C: Animal Rights
Part I - Appendix C: Animal Rights

Please use this thread for discussing Part I - Appendix C: Animal Rights, found on pages 75 through 80.



Sat May 02, 2009 12:57 am
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Post Disappointed
I really would have thought de Wall would be for animal rights. This appendix surprised and disappointed me. I really take issue with two of his comments against animal rights.
I don't agree with his opinion that "rights selectively granted, are in my book, no rights at all." Sometimes we have to accept small changes in some areas. We don't just give up the ideal becuase we can't get it all at once. An all or nothing attitude is seldom the way to get change to happen. :(
He mentions how he doesn't agree with "giving them [animals] rights" and how handling this through the legal system is the "American way". However, I'd like to point out that there are other countries that have animal rights laws that are way better than any animal protection laws we have on the books. I've read about laws in other countries and wish I had something to cite. If anyone has a link or citation to good animal rights laws in other countries, please post it. I agree with him that a change of attitudes about animals is needed. I just don't think that is all we need. Sometimes we need laws to prohibit things before a sweeping attitude change happens. We don't just sit around and allow bad things to happen in society and wait for people's attitudes to change! :angry:



Fri Jun 12, 2009 5:28 pm
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I haven't read de Waal's words on this subject yet, but I do agree with everything you've said. Laws are needed. Public opinion will follow. We need to act right away to protect animals and expect the average person to suddenly give a damn about anything but themselves. Make it illegal to cause harm to animals and people will slowly, like Lemmings, start to think of causing harm to animals as a bad thing.

I look forward to reading this section of the book and will comment in more detail after I have done so.



Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:15 pm
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Post Animal rights
I've just read this section and de Waal is certainly very provocative in questioning whether the legal approach of defining and strengthening "rights" is the most effective way to improve the situation of animals. He comments
Quote:
What if we drop all this talk of rights and instead advocate a sense of obligation? In the same way that we teach children to respect a tree by mentioning its age, we should use the new insights into animals' mental life to foster in humans an ethic of caring in which our interests are not the only ones in the balance. (Appendix C, p77)


I really like this idea of an ethic of caring as distinct from legal rights. Caring is about improving human attitudes through education, while the rights-based approach assumes you can't change attitudes and need to use state enforcement.

A good related discussion is at http://www.clientearth.org/index.php/vision/ an organisation that promotes the right to a healthy environment. This seems to me to be a useful example of how rights-based approaches achieve de Waal's objective of getting people to care more. Yet de Waal has a good point that much rights talk is silly when applied to animals - a gazelle has no right not to be eaten by a cheetah.



Fri Jun 12, 2009 6:39 pm
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Post Re: Animal rights
I was surprised, too, that de Waal was so negative towards the idea of animail rights. I was especially miffed at his statement of how insulting it is to compare animal treatment with slavery. Why?
deWaal says on page 77
Quote:
...rights are part of a social contract that make no sense without responsibilities. This is the reason that the animal rights movement's outrageous parallel with the abolition of slavery - apart from being insulting - is moraly flawed: slaves can and should become full members of society; animals cannot and will not.

Here he is saying (if you think backwards in time) that if people who were enslaved collectively refused to become contributing members to the current society and somehow made that decision known, then they should have just remained slaves. Does that make sense? Not to me. The comparison to slavery, in my view, is a comparison of judging a practice that is wrong (1809 - slavery, 2009 - institutionalized animal abuse) to be right because it is what people do. The two have many parallels ... here are two rationalizations that apply to each, off the top of my head.
1. judged to be appropriate because of the economic advantages the practice brings to the owners
2. judged to be appropriate because the object (slaves or animals) are lesser beings and so don't deserve consideration.

When animal rights people make a ccmparison between slavery and animal treatment, I believe they are making a comparison of attitudes utilized to rationalize horrific abuses. Here is a link for a small view into why the comparison is made. http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish ... 567.shtmlI

After reading Appendix C, I turned to Peter Singer's comments. He talks about the comparison of aboltion of slavery with animal rights on page 156.



Tue Jun 16, 2009 7:59 am
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Lois, I have just finished reading Singer's comment. As usual, I find Singer to be right on! He says everything and more that I wanted to say about de Waal's stance on animal rights. I heard Singer speak at a Great Ape Project Fundraiser a few years ago and he was awesome. He just makes a lot of sense to me.



Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:45 pm
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Tarav, I agreed with all that Peter Singer had to say in his comments, as well. I heard him speak here at the University of Minnesota a few years ago and I loved it! I hadn't known who he was before that, but I bought his book "Animal Liberation" and then found that I didn't read it because it was too hard for me to read what he was describing.
But, at any rate, I'm really glad that I got to hear him and learn more about these issues. I think it is important for people to know.



Thu Jun 18, 2009 10:44 am
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I was told by someone at work that Pres. Obama, while giving an interview on camera, paused to squash a fly with his hands. The next day, PETA sent him a letter educating him on such treatment and a humane fly trap (is he supposed to take the fly out to the country and release it?). I mention this just to suggest that de Waal shuns the animal rights approach because it can get pretty absurd and also lead us to stridently deny things our emotions tell us, such as that there is a big difference between using apes in medical research vs. using rats. De Waal is obviously in favor of humane treatment of animals. I agree with his reasoning that some have objected to, that human slavery bears no relation to animals' "struggle" for freedom, and that our granting animals rights has to be selective and thus these rights are "no rights at all." I agree with his thinking that an ethic of care or obligation towards animals is a better route than making laws to protect their rights. We already have anti-cruelty laws to prevent gross abuse of animals or ban such practices as dog-fighting. What other laws are thought to be needed? I would personally favor tighter laws on animal medical research, but I really don't know if enforcement is possible.



Thu Jun 18, 2009 9:49 pm
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de Waal: Indeed, giving animals rights relies entirely on our good will. Consequently, animals will have only the rights that we can handle. (p. 77)

First of all, let me say that I am against cruelty to animals. I cry every time that that that SPCA commercial with "In the Arms of the Angels" comes on. I think people who are neglectful or cruel to animals should be punished severely.

However, I also agree with de Waal that giving animals more rights will not necessarily solve the problem. Once the animals are protected from cruelty, what other rights should they have? What other rights are they in a position to exercise? What responsibilities will they bear in order to fulfill their end of the social contract that rights require according to de Waal?

DWill: I agree with his thinking that an ethic of care or obligation towards animals is a better route than making laws to protect their rights. We already have anti-cruelty laws to prevent gross abuse of animals or ban such practices as dog-fighting. What other laws are thought to be needed? I would personally favor tighter laws on animal medical research, but I really don't know if enforcement is possible.

I happen to agree with this expression of de Waal's views. It is much more important to "advocate a sense of obligation" (p. 77) than it is to make more laws on animal rights.



Fri Jun 26, 2009 6:39 am
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I did also like Korsgaard's conclusion about our obligation to animals.

"De Waal remarks, 'Animals often seem to regard those who belong to another kind as merely ambulant objects.' But no species is more guilty of treating those who belong to other kinds as ambulant objects than we are, and we are the only species that knows it is wrong. As beings who are capable of doing what we ought and holding ourselves responsible for what we do, and as beings who are capable of caring about what we are and not just about what we can get for ourselves, we are under a strong obligation to treat the other animals decently, even at cost to ourselves (my bold).

What is the implication for medical research using animals? I suppose you could question, though, whether, if we're not the highly ethical beings she says we are, we still have this obligation. If we don't live up to this potential, the ethical bar regarding animals would presumably be lower.



Fri Jun 26, 2009 6:55 pm
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