Tom Regan puts forth the case for animal rights by exploring different views in ethics and philosophy. He introduces, defines and weighs them in the light of his personal belief that animals must be treated with kindness. He starts off with a category of people who believe animals have no rights. He allows criticism to past through their verdict and informs us about the variations of this belief. The “indirect duty views” does not care about the rights of the animals, but professes to be kind to them because cruelty towards them will be unjust to the person interested in the welfare of those animals. In this view, the animal itself has no importance but the person possessing them is important, thus rendering the animal as a property not a living thing. The writer feels this view to be unjustifiable based on two points. One being that, animals as living beings does feel pain unlike some people who believe otherwise, totally forgetting that they are also living beings and can feel pain. Secondly even if they do feel pain, their pain is not as important as human pain. The writer negates both these points on the basis of rationality. Philosophers holding the “indirect duty views” try to avoid the above given two defects, thus forming a new view called “contractarianism”. As the name says, it is a morality contract, on accepting it the individual becomes the receiver of rights and protection and can insure the same for those for whom he has “sentimental interest”, who are unable to understand the contract like children and animals. But this theory is not the perfect answer to the writer’s question. It is inadequate even in the case of human beings as it does not guarantee the participation of each and every individual and the concern for any cause depends on the collective concern of signatories, if there is any otherwise the issue might get ignored, leading to systematic racial and sexual discrimination, professing that “might according to this theory does make right”. Even the version of contractarianism introduced by John Rawls in a “theory of justice” falls deficient. Though it promotes the equality of man beyond race, colour and ability, it is still based upon the collective concern theory and fails to cover kids and retards.
The writer then comes up with his “cruelty kindness views” simply stating that we have a direct duty of being kind and not being cruel towards animals. But he judges his theory to be incomplete, as kind or cruel behavior does not insure the moral right or wrong. Sometimes moral righteousness demands apparent cruelty and apparent kindness can be rooted in injustice.
“Equality” and “Utility” being the two rules of utilitarianism, this view might work if the decisions are made keeping in mind that everyone’s pain matters and the best equilibrium between frustration and satisfaction must be kept. In this way moral duty is done. Egalitarianism preaches equality of interests, but the writer feels that these theories value the interests and not the individual. It is an aggregative theory not catering the individual. By citing the example of killing Aunt Bea for money but also giving a handsome amount to children hospital, the writer proves that utilitarianism is not the theory required as “ a good and does not justify an evil means”.
“The rights views” allows everyone to possess and “inherent value” , the idea that all human beings are born equal and are valuable. They are not resources or things and their usefulness is not the key to their value. The writer believes that both humans and animals have inherent value as both are experiencing subjects of life, which should be the only criteria for having value. Even the lab rats and the animals subjected to experimentation and reared for meat production have inherent value because they are alive.
The writer closes the article with two final points. One, that animal’s right movement, is a part of human rights movement in fact it supports the idea of giving rights to minorities and workers. The second point of the writer regarding the “rights view” is that, its ideas are both “clear and uncompromising”. Everyone needs to be valued and respected even lab rats, especially when they are unnecessarily experimented up on. If a human’s murder cannot be justified according to the rights view, use of animals for research cannot be justified as well. As for the commercial production of animals is concerned, giving them comfort, food or companions does not justify the fact that they will be killed for food or support.
The writer very strongly asserts and proves his point that animals need to be treated with compassion and kindness. He evolves the whole article towards a culminating point when he seeks to device the best attitude to the issue in question. I personally agree with the writer as cruelty towards beast or man is wrong and it breeds this negative attitude. The writer is very thorough in this informative article as he does not stress up on his personal ideas but introduces different others sifting through their weaknesses, so very strategically he proves his point.