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Animal Welfare / Rights

The question of whether non-human animals have rights, and if so how extensive those are, turns on the issue of what gives a subject ‘moral standing’. One view is that it relates to rationality, another is that it has to do with the capacity for suffering, a third that it is either of these, and/or other features (such as being created by God) that require moral consideration. The general idea is that some characteristic confers value on a being such that to harm it, without justification, is wrong. Until the 19th century most ethical thinking about animals tended to assume, or argue, that their lives were of very little or no intrinsic moral value but sometimes held that it was nevertheless wrong to treat them cruelly because this showed bad character and made it more likely than such a person would act cruelly to human beings also. With the rise of utilitarianism, however, especially in the work of Jeremy Bentham, which connected right and wrong to the cause or avoidance of suffering, people began to be concerned that harming animals is directly wrong. More precisely the idea is that in considering how to treat animals one has to take their welfare into account along with that of human beings. This would still allow for harm to be done to them, e.g. in scientific and medical experimentation, if it produced a greater overall benefit. Animal rights advocates counter that the right not to be harmed is inviolable.

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    Charles Camosy’s new book argues that we should treat animals with the same Christian justice that underlies our treatment of other people. But human beings and other animals are not fundamentally equal in the way that all human beings are, as free and rational beings created in the image of God.

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    } The Wrongs of Animal Rights Renée Mirkes, O.S.F. A signature theme of the new vision of ethics proposed by Peter Singer, DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, is the principle of equal consider- ation. In brief, the principle states that based on their shared capacity to feel pain and/or pleasure and their associated interest in avoiding suffering, both human and nonhuman animals have “the right to equal consideration"¹ or protection. Singer contends that, were governments to award rights to animals, in particular, to the 'Animal Liberation, 2d ed. (New York: The New York Review of Books/Random House, 1990), 1, 7. In Practical Ethics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979), Singer defines the principle succinctly: "If a being suffers, there can be no moral justification for refusing to take that suffering into consideration. No matter what the nature of the being, the principle of equality requires that its suffering be counted equally with the like suffering-in so far as rough comparisons can be made of any other being,” 50. In a rather inconsistent fashion, Singer sometimes expands the grounds for applying the principle of equal consideration by arguing that, besides the sentient capacity to feel pain, animals and humans, especially TGAs, also share the intellectual/volitional abilities to act intentionally, to solve problems, to commu- nicate with and relate to other beings, self-awareness, a sense of one's own existence over time, concern for other beings, and curiosity. See Helga Kuhse, ed., Unsanctifying Human Life (Oxford: Blackwell Publisher, 2002), 220. 287 T $ 4 1. # 1 THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC BIOETHICS QUARTERLY SUMMER 2003 great apes (hereafter TGAs), humans as well as apes would benefit.² For the first time, human society would understand accurately the rights and therefore the na- tures of both apes and humans.³ TGAs (chimpanzees, gorillas, orangutans), or as Singer prefers to call them, nonhuman persons, would finally enjoy their due as beings who share the same "substance and structure” as humans.4 Human persons, on the other hand, by eschewing discriminatory behavior against intelligent beings who are members of species other than Homo sapiens, would demonstrate a realigned understanding that humans are, by nature, "one with the 2As of June 2002, Germany's Upper House of Parliament, the Bundesrat, became the first country of the EU to enshrine animal rights in a national constitution. The change "and animals" to the constitutional clause that requires the state to protect human life now reads: "The state takes responsibility for protecting the natural foundations of life and animals in the interest of future generations." Just how this constitutional change will affect the legal status of animals is uncertain, but both scientists and farmers have opined that the ruling bodes ominously for them. See "Animal Rights and Wrongs," Zenit, June 29, 2002. [http:// www.zenit.org/english/visualizza.phtml?sid=22813] (February 14, 2003) Singer argues that, when humans use the word "animal" to mean "animals other than themselves," they reinforce prejudice against nonhuman animals by setting them apart from humans, and they contradict the elementary biological truth that humans are animals. Ani- mal Liberation, 6. According to Singer, the verdict is still out on whether the interests of "whales, dol- phins, elephants, monkeys, dogs, pigs and other animals" deserve the same kind of equal consideration as TGAs (P. Singer, Rethinking Life and Death [Melbourne, Australia: The Text Publishing Co., 1994], 182). However, he makes no bones about his conviction that humans ought to consider the interest of all animals based on every animal's ability to feel pain and/or pleasure. “[W]hen the United States Defense Department finds that its use of beagles to test lethal gases has evoked a howl of protest and offers to use rats instead, I am not appeased." Singer, Animal Liberation, preface, iii. ³Singer, Rethinking, 182. 4An idea set down in an 1860 speech by Thomas Huxley, Darwin's contemporary defender, quoted by Singer in Rethinking, 172. 'In Animal Liberation, Singer confines his examination to what he considers the most egregious forms of discrimination against intelligent animals: raising them for food and their experimental use in research. However, only lack of space kept him from examining the unethical nature of eating, hunting, and trapping animals; killing them for their fur, or confin- ing/enslaving them in rodeos, zoos, and circuses (preface, x). 'Only if we grasp the import of the error of Singer's theory that animals and humans are essentially or naturally the same and that only functional (as opposed to natural or radical) capacities determine human personhood are we also able to properly critique his negative evaluation of any or all experimental use of animals: “Would the experimenters be prepared to carry out their experiment on a human orphan under six months old if that were the only way to save thousands of lives? If the experimenters would not be prepared to use a human infant then their readiness to use nonhuman animals reveals an unjustifiable form of discrimination on the basis of species, since adult apes, monkeys, dogs, cats, rats, and other animals are more aware of what is happening to them, more self-directing, and, so far as we can tell, at least as sensitive to pain as a human infant." Singer, Animal Liberation, 81–82. 288 MIRKES THE WRONGS OF ANIMAL RIGHTS brutes.” In sum, the liberation accompanying implementation of animal rights would accrue to more than just nonhuman animals.³ All who reject speciesism, the belief that humans are "superior to any other being," would, ipso facto, be free of their self-imposed isolation from the rest of nature.¹ 10 In the minds of some, Singer's professional credentials have lent intellectual ballast and hence credibility to the animal liberation movement.¹¹ Singer himself maintains that, thanks to the rigorous argumentation of its academic supporters (no doubt including himself), only the animal liberation movement, of all the contempo- rary political causes, enjoys a solid philosophical base. ¹2 While I agree that a definite philosophy grounds the animal rights movement, I take exception to the description of it as solid and to Singer's defense of it as rigor- ous. An adjudication of Singer's worldview and how it shapes his standard of equal protection leads me to conclude that both his philosophy and his case for animal rights are confuséd. And as I will show, what emerges from the confused “parts”- Singer's self-contradictions and mischaracterizations―is, not surprisingly, an inco- 'Huxley's 1860 speech, quoted by Singer in Rethinking, 172. As Singer puts it: “Animal Liberation is Human Liberation too." Animal Liberation, preface, vii. 'Peter Singer, phone interview with Joyce Howard Price following the June 2002 Ani- mal Rights Convention in Bethesda, MD, “Princeton Bioethicist Argues Christianity Hurts Animals." Washington Times, July 4, 2002. I think Anne Marie Collopy's definition of speciesism more accurately reflects its meaning: "the belief that animals are in any respect unequal to or even very different from human beings” (A.M. Collopy, “Animal Rights: A Catholic Re- sponse to a Growing Movement,” Fidelity [January 1989]: 24). The latter homogenization of all animal and human life is the commonality linking the strange bedfellows of animal activ- ists and ametaphysical mainstream biologists. ¹⁰Put another way, Singer argues that human liberation is freedom from the notion that, just by virtue of our greater intelligence, we humans can “exploit nonhuman animals.” Ani- mal Liberation, 6. ¹¹Although the animal rights cause might have been considered fringe and even "kooky" as recently as the 1980s, it is curiously paradoxical how many anthropologists and biologists are singing some themes-the unity of life, the nonuniqueness of humans in the same key as the antivivisectionists whose claims of no essential differences between primates are central to winning their case against using animals for research. See Thomas R. Cech, fore- word to the booklet The Genes We Share with Yeast, Flies, and Mice (Chevy Chase, MD: Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2001), 1. In 1990, Frederick Goodwin, then director of the Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration regretted to report that the general public, rather than rejecting the "extreme views of the animal activists," has become much more accepting of the idea of animal rights (Jeffrey Mervis, “U.S. Officials Defend Animal Research," Scientist 4.1 [January 8, 1990]: 4). That trend toward acceptance, although prob- ably not reflective of the majoritarian opinion in the U.S., and certainly at odds with that of the research community, has continued unabated right up to the twenty-first century with its most conspicuous manifestation in the June 2002 vote of the German Bundesrat to amend their constitution to include rights for animals. (See note 2 above.) ¹²Singer, Rethinking, 174. 289 "₂ THE NATIONAL CATHOLIC BIOETHICS QUARTERLY SUMMER 2003 herent "whole." With its rank sophistry, Singer's campaign for animal rights sub- verts and trivializes the very notion that he attempts to champion. I. SINGER'S CASE: THE CONFUSED PARTS Self-Contradictions Evolutionary Continuity As a proponent of the Darwinian theory of evolution, Singer would necessarily accept its seminal teaching that living things evolved continuously, progressing in- crementally by means of very small genetic mutations.¹³ However, while Singer draws a line between plants and animals (conceding that plant life lacks the natural prerequisite for rights that animals possess),¹4 he rejects any essential distinctions at the high end of the developmental spectrum, between TGAs and humans for ex- ample. So, on the one hand, Singer recognizes that specific differences between plants and animals are natural or essential, that is, absolute, while on the other, he denies that there are any such essential heterogeneity between animal and humar species. The core of this inconsistency is Singer's failure to see that evolutionary con- tinuity of bios does not result in homogeneity of organismic life. The truth demon- strated by evolutionary theory—that the highest of a lower species is similar to the lowest of a higher species is not precluded by the evidence of absolute specific differences, those critical junctures¹5 on the bioevolutionary continuum which signal 1³The ongoing debate among paleontologists about whether the gradual evolutionary process is of the microevolutionary type (“natural selection among individuals of the same species") or macroevolutionary type ("the entire species compete for advantage") does not change, it seems to me, the Darwinian principle of the continuity of evolution by means of very small genetic changes. See Jerry Adler, “Evolution's Revolutionary: Stephen Jay Gould, Paleontologist: 1941–2002,” Newsweek 139.22 (June 3, 2002): 59. ¹4Singer, Animal Liberation, 235. ¹5Theodosius Dobzhansky, in The Biology of Ultimate Concern (New York: World Publishing, 1971), explains that we ought to guard against two oversimplifications: “One assumes complete breaks in the evolutionary continuity between life and nonlife, and be- tween humanity and animality. The other overlooks the differences between the cosmic, biological, and human evolutions, and thus loses sight of the origin of novelty. The best hope of making the problem manageable lies ... in using the concept of levels, or dimensions of existence, developed by dialectical Marxists on the one side and by the great theologian Paul Tillich on the other" (43). These different dimensions are "connected by feedback relationship"; arriving at a new level constitutes transcendence: "biological evolution tran- scended itself when it gave rise to man. There obviously exist phenomena and processes, ranging from self-awareness to the human forms of society and of history, which occur exclusively, or almost exclusively, on the human level. It seems unnecessary to labor the point that the great range of potentialities are open to man only” (45). With the human revolution, a new level or dimension has been reached. "The humanum is born." But this transcendence does "not mean that a new force or energy has arrived from nowhere; it does mean that a new form of unity has come into existence. At all events, no component of the humanum can any longer be denied to animals, although the human constellation of these components certainly can” (58, emphasis added). Therefore, birds and mammals can master 290 MIRKES THE WRONGS OF ANIMAL RIGHTS essential distinctions between closely related species. Just as water continues to be water even though it can be in distinct states (frozen or boiling), so the continuity of biological evolution is not at all negated by the recognition of absolute specific differ- ences. Singer's difference-of-degree argument is begging the question since "dif- ferences in degree grow large enough to become differences in kind.' **16 To avoid contradicting himself, then, either Singer ought to apply his principle of equal protection to organic life across the board, including plants, or to abandon the cause of animal rights altogether, having logically recognized that the same kind of absolute differences that exist between plants and animals exist, in equal degree, between animals and humans. Singer might, in response to this critique, argue that his admittance of a spe- cific line of demarcation between plants and animals and his rejection of the same between animals and humans is not contradictory since the dividing line is predi- cated on sentience. Singer could suggest that he is arguing consistently in reasoning that plants do not possess the relevant characteristic for inclusion in the moral com- munity of organic life the capacity for suffering, to feel pain and/or pleasure that presupposes consciousness; while animals, human and nonhuman, do. Hence, plants are of a different kind (or type or class) of animate life than animals, and lack moral standing and its associated rights, particularly the right to life. But even when Singer's argument for the classification of animals and hu- mans is presented in terms of sentience, it is still insupportable. First, he makes a nonrational capacity, a sentient power (the ability to feel pain and pleasure), the requirement for the right to life and protection from pain and suffering for both human and nonhuman animals. But the very concept of rights and its corresponding requirement of moral responsibility presuppose what animals lack: the presence of rationality or the powers of intelligent freedom. The subjects of rights must be beings who have the capacity (radical or func- tional) to be free agents, to morally determine or define themselves and the larger society of which they are a part. Since rights point to the autonomous, self-deter- mining personhood of those who possess them, there immediately arises the cor- relative duty for every possessor of rights to recognize the self-determination and corresponding rights of every other person. In other words, although rights are rooted in the nature of human beings- intelligent, free persons and thus exist independent of another's duty, it is also true that, practically speaking, the "significance of a right is its prescription of how others should behave.”¹7 Thus, for example, my right to life is grounded in the duty of others not to deliberately destroy my life. Both the possession of rights and the nonverbal concepts such as number; symbolic “dance language” is seen in bees; true play occurs in animals; but what is not found in any one infra-human species such as TGAs is "the novelty of the pattern of human characteristics, not of its components” (58). 16Ibid., 48. ¹7Lloyd L. Weinreb, "Natural Law and Rights," in Natural Law Theory: Contemporary Essays, ed. Robert P. George (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 281. 291 use

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    Catholic Social Teaching on Care for Creation and Stewardship of the Earth The Catholic Church has a well-documented tradition of Care for Creation and Stewardship of the Earth. This resource includes elements of Catholic teaching that highlight this tradition. This resource is intended to serve as an introduction on this issue; it is not comprehensive. Audience with Representatives of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities of the Different Religions Pope Francis, March 2013 "The Church is likewise conscious of the responsibility which all of us have for our world, for the whole of creation, which we must love and protect. There is much that we can do to benefit the poor, the needy and those who suffer, and to favor justice, promote reconciliation and build peace." Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching, 1991 (no. 2) "Our mistreatment of the natural world diminishes our own dignity and sacred- ness, not only because we are destroying resources that future generations of hu- mans need, but because we are engaging in actions that contradict what it means to be human. Our tradition calls us to protect the life and dignity of the human person, and it is increasingly clear that this task cannot be separated from the care and de- fense of all creation." World Environment Day, Pope Francis, June 2013 "We are losing the attitude of wonder, contemplation, listening to creation. The implications of living in a horizontal manner [is that] we have moved away from God, we no longer read His signs." DSTARENCE CATHOLIC Renewing the Earth: An Invitation to Reflection and Action on Environment in Light of Catholic Social Teaching, 1991 (no. 8) "Created things belong not to the few, but to the entire human family.” BISHOPS The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2005 (no. 466) "Care for the environment represents a challenge for all of hu- manity. It is a matter of a common and universal duty, that of respecting a common good, destined for all, by preventing any- one from using 'with impunity the different categories of beings, whether living or inanimate—animals, plants, the natural ele- ments simply as one wishes, according to one's own economic needs.' It is a responsibility that must mature on the basis of the global dimension of the present ecological crisis and the conse- quent necessity to meet it on a worldwide level, since all beings are interdependent in the universal order established by the Crea- tor. ‘One must take into account the nature of each being and of its mutual connection in an ordered system, which is precisely the 'cosmos". World Day of Peace, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 2007 "Alongside the ecology of nature, there exists what can be called a 'human' ecology, which in turn demands a 'social' ecology. All this means that humani- ty, if it truly desires peace, must be increasingly conscious of the links between natural ecology, or respect for nature, and human ecology. Experience shows that disregard for the environment always harms human coexistence, and vice versa. It becomes more and more evident that there is an inseparable link be- tween peace with creation and peace among men. Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development 3211 4th St. NE Washington, DC 20017 (202)541-3160 usccb.org/jphd • The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2005 "There is a need to break with the logic of mere consumption and promote forms of agricultural and industrial production that respect the order of creation and satisfy the basic human needs of all. These attitudes, sustained by a renewed awareness of the interde- pendence of all the inhabitants of the earth, will contribute to elimi- nating the numerous causes of ecological disasters as well as guaranteeing the ability to re- spond quickly when such disas- ters strike people and territories. The ecological question must not be faced solely because of the frightening prospects that envi- ronmental destruction represents: rather it must above all become a strong motivation for an authen- tic solidarity of worldwide di- mensions" (no. 486). The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, 2005 (no. 462) Charity in Truth (Caritas in Veritate) Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, 2009 Address to Diplomatic Corps, January 2010 Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI "The protection of the environment, of resources and of the climate obliges all international leaders to act justly and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet." (no. 50) "With the progress of science and technology, questions as to their meaning increase and give rise to an ever greater need to respect the transcendent dimension of the hu- man person and creation itself." CATHOLIC "[T]his concern and commitment for the environment should be situat- ed within the larger framework of the great challenges now facing man- kind. If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn? It is in man's respect for himself that his sense of responsibility for creation is shown." On the Development of Peoples (Populorum Progressio), Pope Paul VI, 1967 "Already on the first page of Sacred Scripture we read these words: Fill the earth and subdue (Gn 1:28). By these words we are taught that all things of the world have been created for man, and that this task has been entrust- ed to him to enhance their value by the resources of his intellect, and by his toil to complete and perfect them for his own use. Now if the earth has been created for the purpose of furnishing individuals either with the ne- cessities of a livelihood or the means for progress, it follows that each man has the right to get from it what is necessary for him. The Second Ecumen- ical Vatican Council has reminded us of this in these words: 'God destined the earth with all that it contains for the use of all men and nations, in such a way that created things in fair share should accrue to all men under the leadership of justice with charity as a companion.” (no. 22) BISHOPS "How can we forget, for that matter the struggle for access to natural resources is one of the causes of a number of conflicts, not the least in Africa, as well as a continuing threat elsewhere? For this reason too, I forcefully repeat that to cultivate peace, one must protect creation!" Economic Justice for All, 1997 (no. 34) citing St. Cyprian "From the patristic period to the present, the Church has affirmed that misuse of the world's resources or appropriation of them by a mi- nority of the world's population be- trays the gift of creation since 'whatever belongs to God belongs to all." Global Climate Change: A Plea for Dialogue, Prudence and the Common Good, 2001 "At its core, global climate change is not about economic theory or political platforms, nor about partisan advantage or interest group pressures. It is about the future of God's creation and the one human family. It is about protecting both 'the human environ- ment' and the natural envi- ronment. It is about our hu- man stewardship of God's creation and our responsibil- ity to those who come after us." Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development 3211 4th St. NE .Washington, DC 20017 (202)541-3160 usccb.org/jphd

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    On Animals: Theological Ethics

    Join CreatureKind’s co-founder Professor David Clough to discuss his book, On Animals Volume 2: Theological Ethics. This volume surveys and assesses the use humans make of other animals for food, for clothing, for labour, as research subjects, for sport and entertainment, as pets or companions, and human impacts on wild animals. We’ll discuss how Christians in: particular have strong faith-based reasons to acknowledge the significance of these issues and change their practice in response.

  • On Animals: Volume II: Theological Ethics

    This book presents an authoritative and comprehensive survey of human practice in relation to other animals, together with a Christian ethical analysis building on the theological account of animals which David Clough developed in On Animals Volume I: Systematic Theology (2012). It argues that a Christian understanding of other animals has radical implications for their treatment by humans, with the human use and abuse of non-human animals for food the most urgent immediate priority. Following an introduction examining the task of theological ethics in relation to non-human animals and the way it relates to other accounts of animal ethics, this book surveys and assess the use humans make of other animals for food, for clothing, for labour, as research subjects, for sport and entertainment, as pets or companions, and human impacts on wild animals. The result is both a state-of-the-art account of what humans are doing to other animals, and a persuasive argument that Christians in particular have strong faith-based reasons to acknowledge the significance of the issues raised and change their practice in response.

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    Animal Ethics

    Philosopher Jeff McMahan sits down with Ben Sachs to talk about whether animals are the moral equals of humans, how we ought to treat humans with severe cognitive limitations, and whether there is anything wrong with eating lab-grown meat Jeff McMahan http://jeffersonmcmahan.com Ben Sachs https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/philosophy/dept/staffprofiles/?staffid=216 The Centre for Ethics, Philosophy and Public Affairs (CEPPA) promotes exploration into important ethical issues arising in public life. Its field of interest comprises ethics, social and political philosophy, and the philosophical dimensions of public affairs. The Centre houses research projects, outreach projects, seminars, conferences, academic visits, fellowships, publishing, and public discussion on topics within its field of interest. https://ceppa.wp.st-andrews.ac.uk www.st-andrews.ac.uk

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    Roger Scruton Non-Moral Beings The account of moral reasoning that I have just sketched offers an answer, even if not a fully reasoned answer, to the question of animals. In developing this answer,…

  • https://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu

    It is the contention of this paper that animal liberationists have misconstrued and misused Bentham’s “famous footnote” as an advocacy of species equivalency of interests, as though he were an incipient opponent of what has come to be known as “speciesism.” The context of Bentham’s footnote was of mistreatment of others that are capable of feeling pain. He was advocating in the footnote for laws that would end what he viewed as instances of cruelty toward animals. He was not advocating for vegetarianism or an end to killing animals where they can be of benefit to human beings, where “we are the better for it.” Humans are not “the better” for wanton cruelty or tormenting others for “sport.” We should treat others with the respect they deserve. That also includes how we handle others’ views, written or spoken.