The Simple Animal Rights Argument

Humans think they are superior to other species and this is used to justify the exploitation of them. But since we don’t accept human supremacy claims when they are intended to justify discrimination based on race, gender, religion etc then by fairness and consistency we cannot accept it when claimed according to species.
One cannot show that Nature or an invisible deity alters the laws of gravity, physics, weather etc to ensure preferential treatment for humans anymore than one could assert the same for humans defined by race, gender, political beliefs etc. In fact, it is the reality of human predation upon other humans that debunks the concept of human supremacy most directly. If humans were truly superior, the first evidence of this should be in how humans treat other humans. Yet humans have and do prey upon other humans despite laws intended to prevent this.
This reality is of vital importance in exposing the flawed logic of those who wish to dismiss animal rights beliefs. Any argument put forth to justify the exploitation (i.e. survival of the fittest) can be turned around and applied to how humans can and do treat other humans (nothing says the “fittest” must be drawn at a species line when humans have and do exploit weaker humans as a historical fact). Ultimately one cannot have a consistent and fair concept of human rights without extending that belief in principle to nonhumans, if only to close a loophole that would technically allow for behavior against humans that one disapproves of. The obligation to be ethical only applies to humans since they are the ones trying to govern their behavior, but nonhumans benefit for the same reason that children or the mentally impaired do. To penalize one for not being capable of performing an act you know they cannot is as unfair and unreasonable as expecting a man you know to be blind to read road signs.
The inconvenience or impossibility of moral perfection in one’s dealing with nonhumans does not invalidate the concept since the same would have to hold true for humans. I.e. If the accidental killing of insects or microbes means that factory farms or laboratories are justified, then an accidental traffic death or homicide would mean concentration camps are justified.
A belief in human supremacy is assumed to be true without examining its validity (since it has none) and it is the foundation for all objections raised against a policy extending rights to nonhumans even when it is denied. If you focus on this and answer any objection by highlighting the natural permissibility of human predation upon other humans (i.e. “We should put humans first!” “Then we can put our race/gender/religion first!”) you can never lose an animal rights discussion or end in a stalemate.

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One Response to The Simple Animal Rights Argument

  1. Heather says:

    Words of wisdom.

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