Philosophy of Animal Rights

Animals exist at the border line of the human moral perception due to many reasons. At times they are assigned a rational moral status, while sometimes animals are denied decent handling and are beyond the ethic frames. The animal philosophy is concerned with the best place for the animals in contemporary anthropocentric world where they eventually lack care and attention.  This paper will discuss this serious issue taking into consideration the opinions of such specialists as William F Baxter, Peter Singer, as well as followers of Ahimsa, a teaching of non-violence.

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William Baxter considers preservation of the wilderness as a means rather than the ends (Baxter, 1974). Baxter’s argument on the anthropocentric position is that there is no other position that can correspond to how most people think and act. According to Gaughen (2005), it is only the human-centered that acts correspondingly to the reality. In his opinion, the ethnocentric cannot result in massive destruction of any non-human nature. This is because the people always have to depend on nature in different ways and nature has its own means of avenging the wrongs people do. Therefore, nature can only be protected to the extent of the people’s benefits and this gives rise to the required environmental ethics.

Besides, Baxter asserts that humans should be surrogate to other non-human factors on the earth. This is because, what is good for any human is equally good for non-human life. Anthropocentrism is indirectly related to the protection of nature and is the only position that can be administered practically. The acts of feeding birds and animals are the actions that are useful for non-humans. This is based on the basic principle that the force that makes people to respect the interest of others may also be interesting to non-human life as well.

Thus, for Baxter, a human is the apex of creation, and all the actions that are taken are to serve people’s goals rather than the interest of nature. The scientist supposes that the purposes of humanity are of top-priority, and upon handling those, the entire outside world, namely, the animal kingdom, will benefit.

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According to the information collected at Wilderness Ranch and Sanctuary in Colorado, the followers of Ahimsa doctrine paint a different picture of human-animals relations (von Schlemmer, 2010). The farm management maintains a close relationship between the farm animals and the people there. These people maintain the philosophy of ‘no harm, no violence’ that adhered Mahatma Gandhi and his followers. In Colorado, this concept is widely used and referred to as Ahimsa. The attitude and relationship between humans and animals affect the way people dress, eat and treat their environment. Thus, the choices people make doing their activities affect the world in different ways.

Here the totally different point of view has shown as compared with the ideas of Baxter. Ahimsa followers regard animals their friends and the creatures equal to people. Therefore, the concept of Ahimsa includes empowering of the animals with human rights.

Finally, the position of Singer should be considered. In his interview, Peter Singer attests to the fact that he does not like to be an accomplice of animal suffering (Veggie, 2008). He avoids anything that has animal origin, may it be in food, clothing, or ornaments. He uses plastic shoes and believes that obtaining such kinds of products causes a lot of pain and sufferings to the animals. His main goal is to ensure that he has the least negative impact on the other people and animals. This attitude is a reflection of the popular prejudice that is directed towards the animals (Singer, 1998). The argument is extended to the principle of equality beyond the human species. It lies in the clear understanding of the rules of equal interest consideration. Following this concept people are to observe not only their actions themselves, but also the consequences of these actions that affect other creatures.

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Thus, Peter Singer’s ideas do not correspond with those of Baxter. The latter has globalist, business view on the world where a human is a centre of the nature, while Singer supposes that people’s actions could harm other creatures and the environment of the Earth. The views of Ahimsa followers generally correspond to the Singer’s theory – these people try to be closer to the origins and nature and not damage any living creature in the world.  They live in harmony with nature and see it as the only possible way to exist. Recently, naturalistic ideas prevail in the world as people can see to what extent the industrialization and total indifference to the animals can lead the humankind. It is important to find the golden mean between urbanization and avoiding the civilized world with the help of downshifting. The ideal society would care about every living creature and environment itself, using the natural resources wisely and applying high technologies for the saving of animals.

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