What Living Together With Animals Means

Animals have long endured cruelty from us, humans. In fact, the most diabolical genocide in the history is not of humanity; but by humanity to animals. But the most morally horrifying part isn’t about the beatings nor violence they endure; Rather, those who consume and inflict them with pain are justifying their inhumane acts by their crooked reasoning that animals are ineligible of any legal entitlement. Thus, such devious belief can make animals forever vulnerable to human injustices. For example, the stance of the University of Michigan Philosophy Professor Carl Cohen, who in Page 420 of Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus 4th Edition contends that rights are only for humans. Apparently, Cohen is talking about the statutory definition of rights, which of course, will automatically disqualify animals in most situations. However, in utilitarian ethics, we learn that there is a kind of right that leads us to common good. And that’s the kind of entitlement animals deserve.

Hence, I believe there’s a rationale behind naming state funded animal rights advocates as Humane Societies versus Commission on Animal Rights. Because with the first, it’s clear: We should regard animals with care as we co-exist with them. In fact, we domesticated some of them; and we even give our pets names. Having said this, it means we consider them part of our households, which makes them entitled to rights against violence.

On animal farming and agriculture, I agree with Tom Regan (p. 414) “what’s fundamentally wrong, is the entire system,” (p. 414) which views “animals as our resources” (p. 414). Regan has been out all over the world for his advocacy against animal abuse and exploitation. (Hinman, 1996, p. 413) He’s not attacking anyone, but he hopes to correct the system. I agree with most of his arguments; because animal farming is indeed unhealthy for the environment and our body. Although they are the best sources of protein, they are main contributors of major diseases (e.g. consumption of their fats increases our cholesterol levels, which could lead to heart attack, high blood pressure, athritis, thyroidism and etcetera).

Nonetheless, I am truly with Regan in his war against animal abuse and exploitation. However, I am also realistic that the horrors of animal farming are too ingrained in our ways of living. That I hear the task to correct, is larger than life. But it doesn’t mean that we cannot do anything. We can if we will. For there’s a tiny step that we can do as consumers, that is to ensure that animal farming and agriculture leading to food production are processed or handled with care, which is for our own safety too. 

Thus, if we are to synthesize the lessons of deontology (ethics based on duty) and utilitarian perspectives (ethics based on common good), and if we apply them in our ways of living with animals, it will lead us to the just understanding and conviction: We should treat animals like how we wanted to be treated. We do this for our happiness and peace of mind; so we treat them with dignity.

Therefore, in the case of domestic ones, having them as part of our household; they’re but entitled to our affection and care. Perhaps that’s how we show them our emotional ways.  What’s even better, given time: They can reciprocate endearment:

In regards to livestock, although they’re safe for human consumption, it’s for our own sake as consumers, to ensure sound and sanitary food production. Sadly, that’s not the case most of the time, for many agricultural farmers have even resorted to GMO (genetically modified organism) for artificial and asexual reproduction, and for profit. As a result of genetic engineering, animal offsprings are born inflicted of deformities.

Bottom line, if it’s okay for animals to attack us, bite us, inflict us of rabies, perhaps we are warranted to deprive them of rights. But in reality, we do not condone their jungle ways. We even sue their handlers for their predatory behaviors. We expect them to learn our human ways, and yet we treat them inhumane–why?

Finally, it’s implausible to legislate The Jellyfishes Bill of Rights, and Crime Against Arachnids, and to grant crabs of their Freedom of Speech–but we’re humans. We’re capable of intellect, morals and compassion.Hence, it’s but common sense, to live in accordance to normative human behaviors. It requires us to think and put ethics into action for that will always lead us to the common good. That even in the midst of complicated societal dilemmas, our moral compasses built from our understanding of virtue, duty, and care, we will arrive in a just destination that is fair and equitable be among humans and animals, and be on living or non-living things. Because living together with animals means, we live with them our human ways.

Reference

Hinman, Lawrence M. Contemporary Moral Issues: Diversity and Consensus. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996. Print.

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