Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. Many of us bought our beloved “pets” at pet shops, had guinea pigs, and kept beautiful birds in cages. We wore wool and silk, ate McDonald’s burgers, and fished. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?
“In his book Animal Liberation, Peter Singer states that the basic principle of equality does not require equal or identical treatment; it requires equal consideration. This is an important distinction when talking about animal rights. People often ask if animals should have rights, and quite simply, the answer is “Yes!” Animals surely deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation.
“Jeremy Bentham, the founder of the reforming utilitarian school of moral philosophy, stated that when deciding on a being’s rights, “The question is not ‘Can they reason?’ nor ‘Can they talk?’ but ‘Can they suffer?’” In that passage, Bentham points to the capacity for suffering as the vital characteristic that gives a being the right to equal consideration. The capacity for suffering is not just another characteristic like the capacity for language or higher mathematics. All animals have the ability to suffer in the same way and to the same degree that humans do. They feel pain, pleasure, fear, frustration, loneliness, and motherly love. Whenever we consider doing something that would interfere with their needs, we are morally obligated to take them into account.”
GR: PETA’s Practical Guide to Animal Rights is a bargain at $8.49. Go to PETA (http://bit.ly/1k8f6es) to place your order.