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ETpro's avatar

Do animals have rights?

Asked by ETpro (34208 points ) April 12th, 2012

What do you think of animals’ rights?

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28 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

I think they have the right to not be abused.

syz's avatar

We are animals. We just happen to have relatively large brains. Why does that make us so special?

tom_g's avatar

If “rights” are informed at all by our ethics, and if our ethics are at all informed by suffering/well-being, then I think it’s pretty clear that human animals should consider granting certain “rights” to non-human animals.

poisonedantidote's avatar

Nop and neither do we, but that is not really what you are asking.

I think they should have rights, mainly when it comes to pet ownership and breeding for meat. However if you are a deer in the woods that has had a good life, and I need to eat and I have a gun and I see you there, I’m going to shoot you and eat you.

I’m ok with animals being kept as pets, as long as they are treated like one of the family and not a thing you own, and I’m ok with farming them for meat, so long as they don’t have too much of a shit time before they are killed, otherwise it just turns in to a kind of misery factory and it is not cool.

marinelife's avatar

I definitely think they should be granted rights by the human who are their overlords.

Blackberry's avatar

They do, but they can be improved upon, just like human rights.

Sunny2's avatar

Minimum wages and 2 week yearly vacations. Health insurance is still being debated.

picante's avatar

I think we have a responsibility to the animals that we bring into our sphere (domestic pets, zoos, etc.). Not sure I’d use the word “rights” to describe what we’ve given animals—for me, it’s more about being accountable for what we’ve subjected them to.

elbanditoroso's avatar

I’m going to take the radically unpopular and politically uncorrrect point of view and say, “no”. Certainly no more than a rock or a tree or a river. One can argue that such things, and even animals, are valuable in one way or another, but they have no inherent rights, and certainly no ‘rights’ in a legal sense that could be defended in a court of law.

Giving animals rights starts going down a very shaky road. Dogs are relatively smart animals. But how far down the animal kingdom do you go in assigning rights? Does a rabbit have rights? Does a mouse? Does a rat? Does a domesticated rat have more rights than a wild one? What about ants and cockroaches? Do fire ants have inherent rights? I don’t see that.

What about fish? Does a shark have rights that a guppy doesn’t?

Now, that doesn’t mean that we should treat them badly – certainly not. Man, in order to be humane and decent, should treat animals well. I have no issue with that at all. Just because we can act like shits doesn’t mean we have to.

But the animals themselves do not have rights.

wundayatta's avatar

No. Rights are things we agree to protect for each other. Animals can not enter into any agreements because they can’t communicated complex or abstract ideas. We might want to give animals rights, but they can do nothing to protect themselves, so they have no rights. You can only have rights if you can protect those rights.

This is why children have limited rights. They can not yet protect their own rights. People in comas, while we give them rights, don’t really have them because they are completely dependent on others to grant those rights. At best they are provisional rights.

Animals have rights to the extent they can protect them. That isn’t very far. So I’d have to say they have no rights.

saint's avatar

No. A right is a moral prerogative to act rationally in your own interests. Animals, far as anybody can tell, do not possess reason, nor do they act predictably by volition. They are cancelled out of the notion of rights.
Having said that, animals are clearly a different type of thing than a rock or a balloon. And higher level vertebrates are clearly different than sponges and spiders. To that extent, they deserve a particular level of respect and empathy, if not some legal protection.

Which may be what you are talking about anyway. I have noticed that lots of people on this site equivocate frequently on the concept right as a moral principle (which is how the Founders defined it) , and right as a legal privilege granted in return for a vote (which is how people who crave to spend somebody else’s money define it). Big difference.

ucme's avatar

Sure we do, if I feel the need to give a monkey a piggy back ride whilst riding my bicycle, then gawd-dammit, i’m gonna do just that.

MilkyWay's avatar

Of course they do.
Every living thing has rights.

elbanditoroso's avatar

What rights, @MilkyWay , does a rabbit have?

MilkyWay's avatar

@elbanditoroso For it’s home and habitat not to be destroyed for example.
Or the right not to be killed for absolutley no reason at all, whether it is a fox that kills it or a human.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@MilkyWay , who granted it those rights and who will enforce them?

MilkyWay's avatar

Rights do not need to be given, as no one has or should have the power to endow rights to anyone, as if they were superior.
As for who will enforce them, it is upto each individual to first acknowledge a living thing’s rights, and then to respect them.

wundayatta's avatar

You’re not describing rights, @MilkyWay. You’re describing a wish. A fantasy.

flutherother's avatar

I don’t think they have rights so much as we have responsibility for them as @picante says.

MilkyWay's avatar

@wundayatta Maybe in some individuals eyes, yes.

Blondesjon's avatar

Yes, and they have lefts too.

The animals that only have rights just walk around in circles. :(

YARNLADY's avatar

The rights are conferred by the human who chooses to do the humane thing.

Sunny2's avatar

@MilkyWay “Every living thing has rights.” You mean I have to give way to that insistent dandelion? And the mold that forms on food I leave too long in the frig? I can’t believe you believe that. Really?

Dutchess_III's avatar

“Rights” come about due to humanity. I don’t think humanity draws any lines. Well. Except maybe for brown recluse spiders.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Dutchess_III—Southern Fire ants are in the same category as brown recluse spiders

Symbeline's avatar

I agree with @wundayatta and @saint. We give animals rights, but it’s not really a right, because they’re not conscious of it, and can’t do or say anything about it. Basically, we just decide shit for them, and that’s that. It’s all just rules and regulations, although that’s better than nothing. even if animals suffer constantly anyway As for, does this animal have the right to live here, and do what it does? Well, probably. Whether God put the animal there or the Big Bang did though, the rights we give them don’t really relate to that natural right of existence, since the rights we give them wouldn’t need to be established if we weren’t there.
I guess there’s like, the natural right for an animal to be, which has no known source of confirmation that can be contacted (lol), and then there’s the laws and stuff we create for them. Both are pretty different though, I’d think.

ratboy's avatar

Animals with the foresight to incorporate themselves have the same rights as you and I.

ETpro's avatar

You guys are awesome. It’s nearly 2 AM. My brain is in no shape to respond to all the nuanced answers above, but after a good night’s sleep, I hope it restarts and lets me answer each comment cogently.

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