Today animal law is taught in many law schools, animal rights is the topic of university courses, and there are several organizations for the protection of animals. Yet more animals than ever are being treated as if they were mere things for food, clothing, research: intensive farming breeds and kills millions of animals with industrial efficiency and indifference, while millions of others are used for scientific experiments.
We live in an age when we can no longer afford to behave as If we owned the world. Global warming is an outcome of our actions, and it is partly caused by our use of animals. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), the livestock sector generates more greenhouse gas emission than transport.
Many philosophers have taken animal rights into consideration. Consider these three positions:
- Descartes claimed that animals are machines without the ability to think or feel. Hence a dog yelping is no different from a clock chiming. Therefore, animals have no intrinsic rights.
- Rousseau argued that animals might not be rational, but they sure are sentient and so should not be made to suffer. Bentham agreed, adding that cruelty to animals is analogous to racism.
These two philosophers believed that animals have right that umans need to recognize and respect.