Essay: Arguments for Animal Rights

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This is an essay on animal rights. It puts forth arguments of Peter Singer related to the animal rights. Peter Singer demands that we examine such easy (and sloppy) distinctions between human and other animals. Americans argue that there is a fundamental distinction between humans and other species, but in fact we do not really mean this. We believe that it is acceptable to eat cows, but not horses.

Where do we draw the line?

This is a question that we ask, and answer whenever we eat a meal, although few of us (at least few of us who are not vegetarians) have probably ever asked ourselves this question as we sit down to the table. But most of us have decided, as we eat a hamburger or a pork chop or a chicken salad that we draw the line of full moral status between ourselves and other animals. We – we humans – are moral agents. We understand the distinctions of right and wrong, and we know the difference between life and death; we may also be possessed of a soul (if we adhere to a religious paradigm). Because of all of these things, human life is sacrosanct. It is not acceptable to kill other humans to eat them for dinner. But it is perfectly acceptable to kill a cow or a pig or a dog.

Peter Singer demands that we examine such easy (and sloppy) distinctions between human and other animals. Americans argue that there is a fundamental distinction between humans and other species, but in fact we do not really mean this. We believe that it is acceptable to eat cows, but not horses – and certainly not dogs or cats. We are inconsistent in how and where we draw that line of moral status in large measure because we have never really considered how this status is granted. Singer argues that is it possible to define and assign moral status in a consistent and unambiguous way, but only if we do so with philosophical care:

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