Animal research, non-vegetarianism, and the moral status of animals - understanding the impasse of the animal rights problem

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 27 (5):589 – 615 (2002)


I offer some reasons for the theory that, compared with human beings, non-human animals have some but lesser intrinsic value. On the basis of this theory, I first argue that we do not know how to compare an animal's claim to be free from a more serious type of harm, and a human's claim to be free from some lesser type of harm. For we need to take account of these parties' intrinsic value, and their competing types of claim. Yet, there exists no known way for making such comparison, when a human's intrinsic value is higher than that of an animal, whereas the type of claim an animal has is morally weightier than the type of claim a human has. Second, I explain why utilitarianism is unhelpful in making such comparison. Third, in the case where some animals can be sacrificed for saving a larger number of humans, it is crucial to ask whether animals have the right to life, and I argue that this question is more perplexing than we might think. My conclusion is that the various difficulties mentioned above have a deeper source than we have so far acknowledged, and that this reflects that the moral reality is less tidy and more complex than many theories portray

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Hon-Lam Li
Chinese University of Hong Kong

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A Sampling of Engineering Ethics Conundrums Intended for Classroom Discussion.D. John Doyle - 2021 - Ethics in Biology, Engineering and Medicine: An International Journal 12 (1):97-111.

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