Animal Rights( Re: A few comments to the Devils Advocate)

Tue Jul 6 18:05:30 EST 1993

> To:            bioforum at
> From:          James.F.X.Wellehan at (Jim Wellehan)
> Subject:       Animal Rights(was Re: Need Safeguards for Gene-Tinkered Foods)
> Date:          6 Jul 93 19:37:25 GMT
>                <1993Jun29.214752.20181 at>
>                <C9G6J1.L76 at>
>                <C9LpsA.110 at>

> In article <C9LpsA.110 at>
> young at (Rich Young) writes:
> >          We feel animals have the same rights as a retarded human child.
> >                                 -Alex Pacheco (PETA)
> >                                  (_New_York_Times_, Jan 14, 1989)
> Time for me to play devil's advocate again >;-)
> What is the distinguishing characteristic that elevates humans above
> other animals?  It would seem to me that our main attribute would be
> intelligence.  If so, wouldn't an intelligent non-human animal (Koko,
> etc.) merit more rights than a less intelligent retarded human?

One of the problems with both questions is how do you define
intelligence? Its not as easy as one might think. For instance IQ
tests have been show to be badly flawed in that they are culturally

So lets try with a definition first. Intelligence is the ability
to solve problems and learn new tasks.

Now on to the question above. I would answer no based on evidence
from recent human history. The ranking of human beings into groups
with differing legal statuses has lead to some very horrible things.

One obvious example is slavery and its justifications based most
recently on race. Although slavery was a very old institution which
for most of its history was not based on race but was the fate of
conquered people and prisoners of war and there decendants.(Read up
on your ancient Greek and Roman history if you don't believe me).

The society that went to the greatest lengths to classify humans into
different groups based on superiority or inferiority was NAZI GERMANY.
They classified whole segments of their society as inferior and
gradually set about reducing their rights and eventually started
exterminating them. It should be noted that the Nazis eliminated
the mentally ill an the retarded before they started killing the

Thus giving humans differing legal statuses based on inherent traits
can be a very dagerous president.

Please Note I am not implying any sinister motive on the part of the
devil's advocate and mean no offence to him.

To a certain extent animals are given legal status based on
itellgence and yes cuteness. For instance you can do all sorts of
things to frogs and people won't care. Experiment on mamals and
people are up in arms. Another example you can step on a fly in front
of a large group of people and no one would protest, NOT EVEN AN
ANIMAL RIGHTS ACTIVIST. If you were to do the same thing to a puppy
dog or a kitten, you'd be lucky to escape with your life!!!

Experimental animals do have a certain amount of rights. Animal
experiments have to pass ethics committies and there are laws
regarding the treatment of lab animals.

Basically I feel that we should reduce the suffering of animals
in labs as much as possible and if we can avoid using them in
learning some information we should. This means that some experiments
which cause extreem suffering to animals perhaps should not be done.
Further we should also try to reduce our dependence on animal

But right now ending animal research would criple medical research
and deny hope to millions of suffering people. I for one find the
relief of human suffering of the highest priority.
> Also, what if we engineered super-intelligent animals?  If they were
> vastly more intelligent than ourselves, would they have a right to
> experiment on us?

No because we would be there creators and they should respect us more
than that for bringing them into being. Why should we want to creat
super-intelligent animals that would rule over us?
> Jim
>Stephen A. Pluhar
SPLUHAR at CROP.UOGUELPH.CA           Dept. Crop Science  U. of Guelph
Phone: 519-824-4120 Ext. 4865      Guelph, Ontario, Canada. N1G 2W1

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