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Home Issue Index Issue: Animal Rights

Animal Rights

Issue Overview: The modern world has largely accepted the concept of universal human rights—that all humans deserve certain basic freedoms and dignities. In recent decades, some philosophers and activists have argued that animals also deserve basic rights. They further contend that much of humanity's interaction with the animal world regularly violates those rights. View Issue Overview and Video

Pro/Con Articles

SUPPORTERS ARGUE

Affirmative action allows universities and other organizations to maintain diversity, which helps break down racial barriers and better reflects an integrated world. Affirmative action is also necessary to "level the playing field" for minority groups following centuries of discrimination. Ending affirmative action programs would halt some of the advances that minorities have made.

OPPONENTS ARGUE

Affirmative action merely turns the tide of discrimination against nonminorities and worsens race relations in the country. It is unfair and unconstitutional to give people systematic preference based on the color of their skin or their gender. Furthermore, affirmative action actually threatens to hurt minorities, by leaving their academic and professional achievements open to question.

SUPPORTERS ARGUE

As living beings capable of feeling pain and suffering just as humans do, animals deserve better treatment and more consideration from humans. Though animals may not be able to communicate or reason as humans can, they have inherent value and the right to live their lives in an environment free from torture. Practices such as raising and killing animals simply for their fur, keeping animals in cruel living conditions on factory farms, or using animals for painful scientific research are clear violations of those rights.

OPPONENTS ARGUE

It is absurd to suggest that animals have rights in the same way that human beings have rights. Rights can be afforded only to those capable of grasping the moral laws and obligations that come with living in a structured community, and animals clearly do not have that reasoning ability. Though humans may have a duty or obligation to look after animals and protect them from wanton cruelty, that is far different from animals having rights. Human interests should always come first.