Research Proposal Sample: Animal Rights and Multiculturalism

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October 31, 2013

Introduction

Multiculturalism advocates for the mutual respect and tolerance for different cultures within a system. These divergent cultures either co-exist by learning and regarding each other’s uniqueness or they exist by themselves. While rights to humans are subjective, the same cannot be applied to animals. Animal rights: The notion that all nonhuman animals should be protected from suffering. It implies that animals are entitled to the same interests as human beings. The moral issue is that ethical considerations are important in protecting animal rights. Irresponsible handling of animals is unethical because they lack the capability of giving informed consent. This paper will analyse the implications of the detached type of multiculturalism and its relation to animal rights. This will be accomplished through understanding the theoretical approaches to multiculturalism and the relationship between these theories and animal rights.

The Dilemma

Some people support animal rights while others declare that animals do not have rights. There are various theorists who have publicly condemned animal activists while others have fully campaigned for human rights. The theorists who defend animal rights include Singer, Garner, Donaldson, and Cochrane. They affirm that animals have rights and hence deserve human-like treatment. For instance, Donaldson (2011, p.23) argues that animals belong to political groups. From his political theory perspective, zoologists argue that animals form part of human political systems. The theorists who assert that animals have no rights include Caspi, Reid, Kymlicka, and Nordin. They claim that it is a fallacy to believe that animals do not deserve noble treatment. They refer to the segregation as species segregation.

The Arguments

Singer (1974) argues that there is need for all animals, both human and non-human, to be treated equally. Singer argues that equality must be found on proportionate consideration. Equality is a moral idea – not based on facts alone but also on sentiments. For example, an animals’ ability to suffer necessitates the need for rights no matter the differences in our cultures. The proposition of not extending rights to non-humans is inconsistent because the notion of impartiality does not necessitate equal rights (Garner 2005, p. 158). It is a fact that not all humans have equivalent privileges. Similarly, since a dog has no right to elect, it does not mean that it does not require equal considerations (Singer 1974, p. 7).

Animals have rights that need to be respected when they are involved in any scientific experiments (Cochrane 2007, p. 295). The possession of these rights does not translate to complete eradication of animal tests. While it is true that they have a right not to be killed or made to endure suffering during experiments, they still have no rights not to be used in experiments (Weyl 2008, p. 22). This is because, unlike human beings, animals do not have major interests in independence (Caspi and Reid 2002, p. 8). Donaldson and Kymlicka (2011) expound that the majority’s concerns are supreme. Therefore, if the majority of cultures accept that using animals in scientific experiments is okay then it remains so.

Nordin (2001, p. 6-7) argues that only humans possess an absolute and inviolable right to human dignity. In as much as maltreatment and cruelty to animals do not comprise a civilised society, man is of higher value due to his ability to act and think rationally while making moral judgements. This is a trait not possessed by animals and cannot possess rights similar to those of man (Garner 2013).

Tom Regan, a prominent activist and philosopher, is among those defending animal rights. He believes that using animals for the benefit of humans cannot be justified, and thus should be stopped. He sates that animals have moral rights and they deserve to be treated with respect as humans are. He provides numerous examples to support his ideas in the book “Animal Rights, Human Wrongs”, for instance the one about a rabbit in the stock who experience strong pain and turmoil just to prove the feasibility of the use of cosmetics for humans. He claims that animals “..like us are somebodies, not somethings. They resemble us, and we them…” (Regan, 2003). Thus it can be concluded that according to Regan people should reveal as much respect to animals, as to humans, which presupposes that animals should not be killed or used in the experiments for the sake of humans interests.

J. Callicott in his work “Animal Liberation: A triangular affair” provides a point of view concerning the relation between environmental ethics and animal liberation movement. He focuses on the human/animal/environment triangle (presupposing a conflict of human welfare, animal welfare and ecological integrity) to explain his ideas (Callicott, 2000). He interpreted the land ethics maximum formulated by Aldo Leopold in the following way : “A thing is right if and only if it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.” The aim of his work was to contrast holistic environmental ethics and individualistic animal ethics, as well as to unite them for practical purposes. He emphasises that in case of vegetarian revolution, the rights of animals for life would not be violated (animal ethics) , and it would also contribute to the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community (environmental ethics). He stated that “…suppose people suddenly ceased raising, slaughtering, processing, and shipping the billions of animals now eaten each year by human omnivores, there would immediately follow significant and positive effects on the natural environment” (Callicott, 2000). Thus it can be concluded that according to Callicott animals still have rights, however, his approach to them is more practical and not such extreme as the one of Regan’s.

Rachels also provide his point o view concerning the animal rights, focusing of the question whether animals have a moral standing, similar to that of humans. He refuses to take any side in this argument. He believes that animals and humans should not be necessarily treated equally (not even all the people should be treated alike), however is convinced that animals still have moral standing. He supports the Darwinian idea that vivisection can be justified, “…but for the serious physiological investigations, not merely for detestable curiosity” (Rachels, 1999). It means that animals should be treated with respect, and a very serious ground or reason is needed to kill an animal for the sake of science.

Another point of view worth mentioning is by Carl Cohen, an opponent of animal rights. He argues that “…if both animals and humans have rights, their most fundamental right is the right to be treated with respect” (Nobis 2004, p.43-50). Thus animals have the right not to be treated as a tool to advance human interests, even if these interests are highly important for the current or future human life. Such claim presupposes that if to consider that non-human animals have moral rights, it should be forbidden to use them in biomedical researches, for example in development of polio or other vaccines. Cohen even compares this phenomenon with the analogous use of Jewish on children by Nazis during the Second World War. Carl Cohen concludes that such attitudes and approaches are inappropriate, since animals have no rights. “People have obligations in relation to animals, but that does not presuppose that animals have rights” (Nobis 2004, p.43-50) . He supports the idea that experiments involving animals should be conducted since they can extend humans life expectancy and alleviate human suffering. However, animal suffering during the experiments should not be needless and experiment conditions should be improved (Weitzman)…”

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