From Animal Rights to Animal Liberation: An Anarchistic Approach to Inter-Species Morality

Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh (1992)
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Animal liberationists oppose the institutionalized exploitation of animals, in such industries as animal farming and animal vivisection. Theories of animal rights are the most common philosophical defenses of animal liberation. ;Animal rights theorists take ethics to be the use of general rules of conduct to check unacceptable behavior. Such social control can be authorized, they believe, by establishing the truth of these moral rules. Thus animal rights theorists, such as Tom Regan and Peter Singer, attempt to prove that animals have rights, arguing that we are inconsistent to recognize human rights while denying rights to relevantly similar non-human animals. However, they have failed to show any inconsistency in withholding rights from animals by taking rationality as a condition of moral considerability. ;Motivating the attempt to control human behavior toward animals are the beliefs that people are naturally lacking in sympathy for animals, and that the major institutions of animal exploitation are large-scale manifestations of these sympathetic deficiencies. But in fact humans generally sympathize with animals, and institutionalized animal exploitation continues only through the operation of social mechanisms which forestall and override these sympathies. ;By challenging these mechanisms, animal liberation breaks our heteronomous complicity with animal exploitation. Thus rather than as restricting behavior through the imposition of new controls , animal liberation might better be understood as our capacity for moral action, by creating new possibilities for compassionate agency



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