The Ethics of Animal Rights (and What it Means for Humans!)

The Ethics of Animal Rights (and What it Means for Humans!)

May 27, 2015
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Animallib

 

In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the concept of speciesism and exciting new insights on the scope of animal intelligence.

Fish: Smarter than the Average Human?

Swiss university professor Redouan Bshary recently conducted a fascinating study on the social behavior of fish. It was a widely held belief, even in academic circles, that only primates had the ability to exhibit human-like behaviors. However, Bshary himself was surprised to discover that fish are not only capable of signaling to each other, but can also “cheat, deceive, console or punish one another…even show concern about their personal reputations”.

If fish are capable of such meaningful interactions, just imagine what this means for the millions of other species we haven’t yet researched in such a way. This brings us to consider the significance of animal rights in a philosophical context:

Speciesism

“Speciesism” is a term that has recently become a media buzzword, used in the past week by sources such as the BBC and the New York Times, to name a few. According to Google Trends, the word wasn’t even searched for until late 2006. So what does it mean?

According to Peter Singer, bioethics professor at Princeton University, speciesism is simply “an attitude of bias against a being because of the species to which it belongs.” It’s similar to racism in that someone who is a speciesist considers the value of some living creatures to be superior to that of others.

Thinking along these lines can seem somewhat harmless, but consider the real implications in our world when speciesism happens on a much bigger scale. There are terrible crimes committed against animals every day that are justified by “us vs. them” thinking. For example, the countless exposés on slaughterhouse atrocities or violent domestic animal abuse. Parallels to racism are evident throughout history, as greed causes us to take dignity and validity away from another group’s existence by labeling them the “other.”

Some argue that non-human animals should be considered worthy of the same rights as humans under the law. Others claim that animals are far more sentient than we think, and even possess a sense of morality. Regardless of whether or not this is true, we all must keep in mind that at the very least, animals experience suffering—and that’s something we should be actively making efforts to prevent. Remember to always do what you can to help beings of any species who are suffering, especially those who cannot speak for themselves.

 

Be good to each other,

Julian Omidi

Julian Omidi is a philanthropist and the co-founder of Animal Support, a nonprofit organization that exists to further animal rights around the world.