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Beyond Bunny-Hugging: Applying human rights theory in defence of animal rights - Essay Example

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Beyond “Bunny-Hugging”: Applying Human Rights Theory In Defense of Animal Rights The rhetoric of animal rights protection has often been dismissed as first world, middle-class rhetoric, invocations of those who live in conditions where human beings are not confronted daily by mind-numbing realities of gnawing hunger, poverty and marginalization…
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Beyond Bunny-Hugging: Applying human rights theory in defence of animal rights
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Download file to see previous pages Corollary to this, modern theories of rights that seek to apply “human rights” standards to animals do not represent a new paradigm but are in fact simply new articulations of  old and accepted ideas. Indeed, the major theme of this exposition that the animal rights movement is founded on the same principles that inform and lend credence to the human rights movement. So many things are taking place now that put animals in danger. Big cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies engage in animal testing1. The constant pillage of endangered species for food, jewelry and potions has not abated. Animals that are to be eaten are left to suffer in horrendous conditions. They are forced in dark and constricted cages, they are force-fed beyond capacity to provide delicacies for the rich, they are put to a slow and harrowing death for human sport and enjoyment. According to Friend, “neglect, torture and destruction of helpless and usually inoffensive animals is so widespread and chronic in both history and contemporary society that one is tempted to conclude that cruelty to animals is a basic human instinct2.” But the question must be asked is this: aside from decency and compassion, is there an intellectual basis or firmament for the animal rights advocacy? Can defending the rights of animals as a moral imperative be founded on the same principles as human rights? This paper will take on three parts. The first part will look at the inescapability of animal rights and how it is inextricably intertwined with human rights, flowing as it does from the same logical predicate. The second part will review the literature appurtenant to the issue of animal rights vis a vis human rights, and explore the debates and discourse surrounding the subject matter. The third part will discuss the argument that animal rights should be seen in the same plane as human rights, because in contrast to the belief of many that it is an avant garde concept, it is deeply rooted in the same theoretical foundations that underpin human rights.   The Inescapability of Animal Rights Animal rights can find justification in theories of right that are embedded in time. It is interesting to begin this exposition by looking at the fairly recent debate between Judge Richard Posner of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit and Animal Rights activist Peter Singer. At the heart of the debate was a statement made by Posner, that “human beings prefer their own. If a dog threatens a human infant, even if it requires causing more pain to the dog to stop it, than the dog would have caused to the infant, then we favour the child. It would be monstrous to spare the dog.3" In response to this, Singer argues that this kind of reasoning has only been used to justify inequality and discrimination. If we analyse the statement made by Judge Posner even further, the inescapability of animal rights comes out. The statement that “human beings prefer their own” should in itself be subjected to critical scrutiny. Indeed, the phrase “preferring one’s own” denotes a value choice in favour of an entity or a construct that hews closely to how one perceives him or herself and ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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