Entries by vguihan@gmail.com

Doesn’t the animal rights position represent a “religious” view?

No, not necessarily, although the idea that we should not treat animals as things is certainly present in some primarily non-Western religious systems, such as Jainism, Buddhism, and Hinduism. The irony is that the notion of human superiority used to justify animal agriculture, vivisection, and other practices often does represent a religious position. For the […]

Isn’t the matter of whether animals ought to be accorded the basic right not to be treated as our resources a matter of opinion? What right does anyone have to say that another should not eat meat or other animal products or how they should otherwise use or treat animals?

Animal rights are no more a matter of opinion than is any other moral matter. This question is logically and morally indistinguishable from asking whether the morality of human slavery is a matter of opinion. We have decided that slavery is morally reprehensible not as a matter of mere opinion, but because slavery treats humans […]

If animals have rights, doesn’t that mean we have to intervene to stop animals from killing other animals, or that we must otherwise act affirmatively to prevent harm from coming to animals from any source?

No. the basic right not to be treated as a thing means that we cannot treat animals exclusively as means to human ends–just as we cannot treat other humans exclusively as means to the ends of other humans. Even though we have laws that prevent people from owning other humans, or using them as unconsenting […]

If animals have rights, does that not mean that we would have to punish the killing of animals in the same way we do the killing of humans?

No, of course not. It is certainly true that if we as a society ever really accorded moral significance to animal interests and recognized our obligation to abolish and not merely regulate animal exploitation, we would very probably incorporate such a view in criminal laws that formally prohibit and punish the treatment of animals as […]

Don’t laws like the Endangered Species Act, which prohibits the killing of certain species of animals facing extinction, effectively change the property status of animals?

No. The Endangered Species Act and similar measures protect only certain species that are valued by humans for human purposes; such laws do not recognize that animals have value other than that which humans bestow. Some people have argued–erroneously, in my view–that these laws actually provide “rights” for animals. In reality, these laws are no […]

Is it likely that the pursuit of more “humane” animal treatment will eventually lead to the recognition that animals have the basic right not to be treated as things, and the consequent abolition of institutionalized animal use?

No, it is not likely. Anticruelty laws requiring the humane treatment of animals have been popular in the United States and Great Britain for well over a hundred years, and we are using more animals in more horrific ways than ever before. Sure, there have been some changes. In some places, like Britain, veal calves […]

Isn’t taking advantage of medications or procedures developed through the use of animals inconsistent with taking an animal rights position?

No, it is not. Those who support animal exploitation often argue that accepting the “benefits” of animal use is inconsistent with criticizing the use of animals. This position, of course, makes no sense. Most of us are opposed to racial discrimination, and yet we live in a society in which white middle-class people enjoy the […]

If we adopt a vegan diet, animals will inevitably be harmed when we plant vegetables, and what is the difference between raising and killing animals for food and unintentionally killing them as part of a plant-based agriculture?

When we plant crops, we will inevitably displace and possibly kill sentient animals when we plant vegetables. Surely, however, there is a significant difference between raising and killing animals for food and unintentionally doing them harm in the course of planting vegetables, an activity that is itself intended to prevent the killing of sentient beings. […]

If we want to treat similar interests similarly, does our recognition that animals have a basic right not to be property mean that abortion should also be prohibited?

Abortion raises a number of difficult issues, particularly because of the religious dimension of the controversy. Many who oppose abortion believe that ensoulment occurs at the moment of conception. This belief leads some abortion opponents to oppose any measure that will interfere with the subsequent development of the fetus, including the use of intrauterine devices […]

How do I know a product is plant-only?

Reading the list of ingredients is not always enough to determine whether a product is plant-only: Many food, cosmetic, and clothing ingredients use names that do not make it clear that they are animal-derived. Many micro-ingredients can be made from either plant or animal sources. Glycerides, l-cysteine, lecithin and similar ingredients for example, can be […]