Debate focused on a potential superiority of human beings against non-human animals seems to have no end. Too much ink and paper is being used to argue on behalf or against potential animal rights. The basis of the problem is not potential animal rights but real human responsibilities that we are not assuming. What we really need, and what society demands, are solutions, not empty words or theories. We will continue with nonsensical debates if laws do not clearly restrict the potential use of non-human animals at all levels.
MARTA I. SALONA BORDAS: A critical reflection, focused on our limited moral values, is currently being raised within society. Nowadays, few people question equal rights among human beings, without any limit or distinction due to race, culture, origin, sex or age. Is this the same for other human generations, past or future? Should our acts and decisions be limited -or decided- by our ancestors or the future generations’ acts? (Intergenerational ethics). How should our decisions affect other species?..
Human-beings have used non-human animals right from the start. As animals, we make use of the environment and of other organisms to our own benefit; this is inherent to our organic condition. In the same way, other organisms look for benefit in their relationships, sometimes causing prejudice (parasitism, predation) but sometimes with profit for booth (cooperation, mutualism). This is only natural. But humans have been able to go further and claim the power to control their environment and cohabitants without any correspondence. Something similar is found in antibiotic organisms. Human beings are presently acting as the main antibiotic of the biosphere and these acts are rebounding against ourselves; pollution, radiation, ozone layer depletion, «mad cows», deforestation, with consequent lost of fertile soil and desert advancing dangerously… How far have we decided to arrive through this uncontrolled run into destruction? What will our legacy to next generations be? It is our Responsibility. Are we going to assume it?…
Defending human rights, anthropocentrists usually deny any responsibility toward other species. Animals are considered as objects or, at least, they are said not to be conscious of their existence, unable to be autobiographical, not allowed to be considered as subjects, to have no rights. Only persons, not even humans in general, are allowed to be morally considered. I do not need to recall similar arguments used in too many forums through our history… This is once again chauvinism, at a different moral level but chauvinism…
From an anthropocentric point of view, the use of non-human animals as objects available in nature for our service has been assumed without premises along our evolutionary history. Nevertheless, opinions against this attitude have been frequently expressed. As the main argument, the fact that animals are sentient beings, and due to their suffering capability must be included in our moral community with the same rights as human beings… On the contrary, anthropocentrism has serious difficulties in accepting this argument, reaching an extreme that could be considered racist if the author did not insist from the beginning that he was talking about non-person animals…
Debate focused on a potential superiority of human beings against non-human animals seems to have no end. A problem derived from the orientation of the debate may be the main reason for this fruitless situation. The focus on our capability to speak as the basis of this difference asking ‘Who will speak’ for them, for nonhuman animals, assuming their incompetence. Too many anthropocentric attitudes and arguments will increase difficulties rather than contribute to effective solutions of this conflict. A serious and objective analysis of our own attitudes toward other human beings, non-human animals and the environment in general is urged as well as a critical revision of our society model, especially focused on our moral and economical values. Trying to speak for the animals, I propose a serious revision of the relationship between humans and nonhumans. We should develop renewed moral values and attitudes toward other beings, both human and non-human. Too much ink and paper is being used to argue on behalf or against potential animal rights, moral status or intrinsic values, based on this irrational conflict where humans are the first species with no interest in solving it. Too much risk to be taken; too many privileges to renounce to. Arguing that we cannot be compared to non-human animals due to our language or speaking capability is one the most naive and chauvinist arguments…
As we observe daily with human beings, we are far from a real equality in rights and legal applications, despite we accept and assume this equality for humans. This and many other questions may take years and papers of pseudo-philosophical debates without content and without solutions. What we really need, and what society demands, are solutions, not empty words or theories. We will continue with nonsensical debates if laws do not evolve and adapt to social demands, covering ways to:
1. clearly restrict the potential use of non-human animals at all levels: leisure, production, transport, research, conservation, etc.
2. draw up and apply guide-lines toward a real fulfilment of laws,
3. develop ethical committees with authority to ensure legal efficiency, with a profound revision of our moral principles, re-education of our attitudes toward other organism and personal compromise in our attitude toward nature that are urged.
Otherwise, this paper and many others will be a waste of time and a waste of lives, human and
non-human. My opinion is that the basis of the problem is not potential animal rights but real human responsibilities that we are not assuming; responsibilities as consumers of organic goods with suffering capability. Bioethics and specialists related to this field have to assume an urgent commitment to develop a new moral conscience giving adequate and impartial:
⇒ INFORMATION to the society,
⇒ EDUCATION to professionals (farmers, researchers, lawyers, journalists, etc.)
⇒ LEGISLATION according to new times and new values.
This is the least we must do if we want to go into the new century with high moral. We still have a lot of work to do, but it is our Responsibility. We may never reach an agreement about the concept of the moral community or about whether other organisms than persons have or have not similar rights. But we may reach an agreement; ethics seems to be this, reaching moral agreements and solving ethical dilemmas. We may accept a fact, that the human being is different from other organisms; neither superior nor inferior, simply different. A handicap that humans have is our inability to correctly interpret many phenomena related to Nature. One of these misinterpretations may be related to our concept of intelligence that excludes other animal species. Difference does not mean inexistence and difference is not a scientific argument, neither a legal one to exclude anybody from a potential moral level. Nevertheless, We may consider ourselves as the Only Species in this Biosphere that asks itself about its existence. But, if we already want to be «The Chosen Species», we have been chosen for the supervision of our environment, not just for its predation. Perhaps nobody will be there in the future with an invoice claiming compensation for our acts. But this is our real difference; we are here to claim it. SOURCE…