Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Justice and Animal Rights?

Debate, debate, debate. Oh, how I've missed you. I have no idea what I'm going to do if there's no L-D in college. Probably drop out. And go back to high school. (HA! Just kidding. I'll never go back to high school for the world.)

So the resolution for this month (and next month) is Resolved: Justice requires the recognition of animal rights. Connor and I just could not figure this resolution out for at least twenty minutes. Justice? Animal rights? What do those have in common?

But the more I worked on my cases, the more in love with this resolution I fell. This is awesome. Literally. Awesome. I'm so excited to debate this. It's gonna be great.

So what are your thoughts? Since my followers were so pitiful last time with the discussion of humanitarian intervention, I'll offer an incentive. If you leave a comment, and it's relatively intelligent and topical, I'll repost it and discuss it. With a link to your blog attached. Free advertising. In exchange for words. (So I guess advertising is a penny for your thoughts--haha get it?? No. You don't.)

Just to be fair, I'll start the conversation. Cause it's a pretty confusing topic. L-D is highly philosophical, so this resolution deals with what should exist. Should animals be given rights? Is that the just thing to do? At first glance, of course, the answer is yes. But quickly, several questions arise. What rights are we talking about? If we discuss the right to life, what about hamburgers? It's not like the lions will give up eating us. And what about animal research? One of the most valuable things we do (and, contrary to poopular belief, 94% of all animal research is painless) would be sacrificed for the happiness of beings who cannot even feel happiness. Is that truly the just thing to do?

And another thing. If justice hinges on the concept of animal rights (which it would, if we affirmed the resolution), wouldn't that incorporate animals into our justice system? Can a cat use a crosswalk? Can an armadillo pay taxes? Wouldn't we have to dole out the death penalty to a dog charged with battery or manslaughter? The obligations associated with rights could not be fulfilled by animals. And what about all of the justice for the past hundreds of years that did not hinge on animal rights. Was all of that unjust? Do we have to go back to slavery and tyrannical rule? No.

My final idea is that this resolution is inherently speciest. If justice is required to recognize animal rights, i.e. humans have to extend rights to animals. They have no concept of justice. And this in itself creates an instant hierarchy with humans as superior to animals. Is that just? Even if we as humans represent moral agents, doesn't that destroy the necessity of arguing whether or not animals should have rights? With the resolution being so obviously speciest, there is no way to debate why animals should or should not have rights. Instead, we should argue about inherent rights--whether animals already have rights outside of humans. And...they do not. As proven by the obligations argument. If a lion steals a carcass from the hyenas, can they sue said lion? No. Justice does not exist in the animal kingdom, and neither does life. You do not get handed life in the animal kingdom. You fight for it. Handing out free life would stall the evolutionary process.

And that's only the ideas for the negative case. Isn't this an awesome resolution?

Again, comment. I'll give you free advertising!! I just want a discussion about this. I want to know what other people think about the resolution/my responses to it. I want a debate without a debate (if that makes sense.)

Hope to hear from you soon!


  1. It's an interesting debate. I'm crap when it comes to counter arguments, but I'll give this a shot any way!

    You mention that 94% of animal testing is painless, but what about the other four percent? Do we have furry figments of our imagination running all over the place? No. They're creatures that maneuver this earth same as the rest of the human population.

    While I agree that hyenas can't sue lions and animals basically cannot participate in the way humans can in the criminal justice system, animals are still biological creatures and deserve to be defended in the event of an accident or abuse.

    Take the BP Oil Spill for example. Ecosystems were destroyed or severely damaged. In those ecosystems were fish-- fish that we depend on for food. Hundreds of thousands of animals die in the event of any oil spill. If they don't die, maybe they're poisoned and rendered inedible. In other words, why wouldn't we want to legally protect animals' rights if it meant that that's one more fish sandwich that we could put on the table (which in economic terms would mean more revenue for the state or country). Selfishly thinking, why not protect animal rights so that we can protect and help ourselves?

    Just something to chew on. Make of it what you will. This was a very interesting topic to think about! Thanks for sharing your debates with us!


  2. And obviously my math skills are completely shot for the night... I meant "the other six percent." Sorry...

  3. Jude, why aren't you in debate? Get in it before you graduate. I'll definitely be blogging this tomorrow (or tonight if I'm good). But your BP argument's pretty awesome. I might steal it for my case, even.


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