Animal rights and the problem of biomedical research
LE3 .A278 2010
Bachelor of Arts
The following thesis compares the views on the rights of animals of three philosophers, Carl Cohen, Tom Regan, and Peter Singer, with the goal of discerning whether rights should be attributed to non- human animals. I conclude that the rights of non- human animals must be acknowledged if one wishes to avoid the charge of speciesism while still protecting the moral rights of individuals against the benefits of the larger group. I begin with an examination of the views of Carl Cohen, who denies that animals could be rights bearers because they do not lead moral lives, are not the kind of being that could have rights, and are not part of the human moral community. I argue that the arguments advanced by Cohen are inadequate because they seek to exclude animals from the category of rights bearers while seeking nonetheless to include “ marginal” humans in this category without offering satisfactory reasons for excluding one group but not the other. In the final chapter, I examine Tom Regan’s rights view against Peter Singer’s Preference Utilitarianism. I conclude that utilitarianism is an inadequate moral theory because it does not offer sufficient protection to individuals, preferring instead to maximize group benefits. The best way to offer protection to individuals is to acknowledge their basic moral rights; of course, if this is done in the case of humans, it must also be done in the case of animals in order to avoid speciesism.
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