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Indirect Theories and Moral Equality Theories on Kindness to Non-Human Animals - Essay Example

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Indirect Theories and Moral Equality Theories on Kindness to Non-Human Animals
According to Immanuel Kant, humans have duties to be kind to animals because these “duties towards animals…are indirect duties towards mankind” ( 64 ). …
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Download file to see previous pages This means that despite them being non-human animals that “are not rational, self-conscious beings capable of grasping the moral law” ( 63 ), they still have intrinsic moral worth. According to Kant, animals are not included in the human territory because only humans are capable of creating and understanding moral laws. This also means that while a human, being an “end in itself” ( 64 ) are not indebted to animals, kindness towards animals “will help develop good character in us and help us treat our fellow human beings with greater consideration” ( 63 ). Aside from making humans less likely to be cruel to other humans, kindness to animals makes human beings fulfill the indirect duties to humanity, which is a categorical imperative. Kant provides good examples of this claim. A dog, for example, may not have rights like humans do, but letting the dog suffer is a reflection of lack of humanity. Kind treatment of the dog, especially one that has been faithful over time, in not necessarily a human being’s duty towards the animal, but a human being’s duty of “humanity which it is his duty to show towards mankind” ( 64 ). Cruelty to animals, according to Kant, reflects in humans an immoral tendency that might be inflicted to fellow humans. However, despite the need to be kind to animals, they should not be treated as ends in themselves. Human beings “serve(s) the will as the objective ground for its self-determination” ( 63 ), yet this is not the same with non-human animals. Animals are a means to an end, and that end is man. This means that while man does not have the right to use other people in ways to serve another human’s end, the case is not the same with animals. Still, one must consider that kindness towards animals is an imperative that will ultimately serve the end purpose that is humanity. Human beings require respect because they are sovereign and have freedom. Such autonomy is important and a creature can only have it by having free will. Since animals do not have the capacity for reason and are not guided by consciousness, they do not really have free will, and are thus not autonomous. Kant has a strong point when he says that one can ask, “Why do animals exist?” ( 64 ). However, the question “Why does man exist?” is meaningless ( 64 ). It seems the argument is that animals exist for a specific purpose, and one of those purposes is to serve the goals of man. Kant’s arguments make strong points. However, some amendments may be done according to some principles of consideration. While animals do not have the capacity for reason, are not guided by consciousness, do not really have free will, and are not autonomous, humans should act with “consideration in satisfying (their) needs and interests” ( 76 ). Singer quotes Bentham: “The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny” ( 76 ). Does this mean that consideration of one’s needs and interests apply to animals as well, and that giving animals rights is utterly necessary to reach this goal? To answer this requires not only a slight reconstruction of Kant’s views, but of Singer’s as well. What is required here is to determine if animals have morally significant needs and interests. The emphasis on moral significance means that withholding such could inflict unnecessary harm and suffering to non-human animals. Do animals have welfare or well-being that could benefit or be harmed by the non-existence of animal rights? It could be possible. However, saying this about a creature lacking logic, consciousness, and free will is tantamount to saying the same regarding a, say, car. Do animals have needs and interes ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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