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Respecting Animal's Nature

  • Date Submitted: 04/24/2012 11:05 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 47.3 
  • Words: 439
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The twentieth century has witnessed a bewildering array of ethical revolutions, from civil rights to environmentalism to feminism. Often ignored is the rise of massive societal concern across the world regarding animal treatment. Regulation of animal research exists in virtually all western countries, and reform of “factory farming” is regnant in Europe and rapidly emerging in the United States. Opponents of concern for animals often dismiss the phenomenon as rooted in emotion and extremist lack of appreciation of how unrestricted animal use has improved human life. Such a view totally ignores the rational ethical basis for elevating legal protection for animals.

Just as our use of people is constrained by respect for the basic elements of human nature, people wish to see a similar notion applied to animals. Animals, too, have natures.   Pigs are “designed” to move about on soft loam, not to be in gestation crates. If this no longer occurs naturally, as it did in husbandry, people wish to see it legislated. This is the mainstream sense of “animal rights” .As property, strictly speaking, animals cannot have legal rights. But a functional equivalent to rights can be achieved by limiting human property rights. When I and others drafted the U.S. federal laws for laboratory animals, we did not deny that research animals were the property of researchers. We merely placed limits on their use of their property. I may own my car, but that does not mean I can drive it on the sidewalk or at any speed I choose. Similarly, our law states that if one hurts an animal in research, one must control pain and distress. Thus research animals can be said to have the right to have their pain controlled. In the case of farm animals, people wish to see their basic needs and nature, teloi, respected in the systems that they are raised. Since this no longer occurs naturally as it did in husbandry, it must be imposed by legislation or regulation. A Gallup poll conducted in 2003 shows that...


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