Abraham, Issac and Regan - Essay Example

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In the research paper “Abraham, Issac and Regan” the author analyzes the animal rights movement in the United States. Behavioral research that supports certain animals having 'comparable emotional abilities to humans' further strengthens this proposition…
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Abraham, Issac and Regan
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Abraham, Issac and Regan
Tom Regan is widely viewed as the seminal philosopher in the animal rights movement in the United States. He argues that at least certain animals—those with comparable cognitive abilities to humans – should be considered to be bearers of rights comparable to humans. Behavioral research that supports certain animals having 'comparable emotional abilities to humans' further strengthens this proposition. Regan's view, to paraphrase Kant, is, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity [and comparable species], whether in your own person or in the being of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.”
It is reasonable to assert that Regan applies that second formulation to human minors or children as well if he extends it even beyond humanity in another situation. That being the case one can only conclude that Regan would raise serious objections to Abraham's behavior.
In direct violation of the second formulation Abraham as merely 'a means to an end' and not as 'an end', in and of himself. A man who claimed a direct line to God, who saw supernatural manifestations of his power would today be treated as suffering from a mental illness. Abraham's belief that God had ordered him to kill his son may have been sincere but it was not ethical according to the basic principles of Regan's philosophy.
“Which of the two was wiser?”
Briefly, neither.
This brief vignette brings to mind the first line of Anna Karenina, “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.' Joan and Kate are both unwise 'in their own way.'
Consider the case of Joan's wasted life. Early in her career Joan took a highly ethical stand on an issue central to academia, student grading. Specifically, she refused to grade students on the basis of anything other than the work they submitted and her assessment of it. Undeniably, this decision effected the arc of her entire career. However, this is no reason to remain embittered throughout her life. Many people at the age of fifty deeply regret decisions they made with little thought half a lifetime earlier. This does not condemn them to a live of regret. Joan's academic discipline is not specified but if it were anything other than cost intensive-scientific research (history, languages, writing) she might have continued with her research.
She could easily have moved from the 'athletic factory' she could not see eye-to-eye with into teaching at smaller, private universities without a deep commitment to athletics and admiration for her academic integrity. Joan is unwise to have abandoned her personal search for fulfillment because a significant, but single aspect – her career – was unexpectedly disrupted early on in her adult life.
Kate, in a nutshell, is leading an unexamined life. She viewed her early unethical behavior as 'unfortunate'. However, nowhere does the case mention that she made use of her profile and success to address this deeply disturbing problem of student athletes that she herself encountered and recognized as unethical but necessary. Kate has abandoned any kind of social commitment and individual ethic in pursuit of personal aggrandizement and vanity. This too is unwise.
Mary, the wisest pursued another course. After attaining her graduate degree in Art History she took a position at a small, private and prestigious school in the Piedmont of North Carolina. She spent her summers in the south of France pursuing her research into Van Gogh and Gaugin, and painted year round. A modified version of her dissertation was published to positive reviews a decade after she started teaching and five years later she had her first individual gallery show in San Francisco. True to herself in terms of ethics and life story, Mary lived a rich and happy life pursuing her own star.
Cahn, Steven M. (2009). “Two Lives” in Steven M. Cahn. ed. Exploring Ethics: An Introductory Anthology Oxford University Press: 68 – 69. Read More
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