物种主义is the disparate treatment of individual beings, based solely on their species. It is frequently compared to racism or sexism.
Animal rights is based on the belief that treating a non-human animal differently just because the animal belongs to a different species is arbitrary and morally wrong. Of course, there are differences between human and non-human animals, but the animal rights community believes that those differences are not morally relevant. For example, many believe that humans have some cognitive abilities that are different from or higher than other animals, but, for the animal rights community, cognitive ability is not morally relevant. If it were, the smartest humans would have more moral and legal rights than other humans who were deemed intellectually inferior. Even if this difference were morally relevant, this trait does not apply to all humans. A person who is profoundly mentally retarded does not have the reasoning capabilities of an adult dog, so cognitive ability cannot be used to defend speciesism.
The traits that were once believed to be unique to humans have now been observed in non-human animals. Until other primates were observed making and using tools, it was believed that only humans could do so. It was also once believed that only humans could use language, but we now see that other species communicate verbally in their own languages and even use human-taught languages. In addition, we now know that animals have self-awareness, as demonstrated by the动物镜测试. However, even if these or other traits were unique to humans, they are not considered morally relevant by the animal rights community.
If we cannot use species to decide which beings or objects in our universe deserve our moral consideration, what trait can we use? For many animal rights activists, that trait is sentience.
Most people recognize that we should not engage in activities that cause pain and suffering to other people. Inherent in that recognition is the knowledge that other people are capable of pain and suffering. If an activity causes undue suffering to someone, the activity is morally unacceptable. If we accept that animals are capable of suffering, it is therefore morally unacceptable to cause them undue suffering. To treat animal suffering differently from human suffering would be speciesist.
What is “Undue” Suffering?
When is suffering justified? Many animal activists would argue that since humans are capable of living without动物食物, living without动物娱乐and living without cosmetics tested on animals, these forms of animal suffering have no moral justification. What aboutmedical research？不提供非动物医学研究，尽管对动物研究的科学价值与非动物研究有相当多的辩论。有些人认为动物实验结果不适用于人类，我们应该对人细胞和组织培养以及提供自愿和知情同意的人类受试者进行研究。其他人认为细胞或组织培养不能模拟整个动物，动物是最好的科学模式。无论知情同意如何，所有人都可能同意在人类上无法做出某些实验。从纯粹的动物权利的角度来看，动物不应该与人类不同地对待。Since involuntary human experimentation is universally condemned regardless of its scientific value and animals are incapable of giving voluntary consent to an experiment, animal experimentation should also be condemned.
Some might argue that animals do not suffer. A 17th century philosopher, Rene Descartes, argued that animals operated like clocks—intricate machines that have instincts, but do not suffer or feel pain. Most people who have lived with a companion animal would probably disagree with Descartes’ assertion, having observed the animal first-hand and watched how the animal reacts to hunger, pain, and fear. Animal trainers are also aware that beating an animal will often produce the desired results, because the animal quickly learns what needs to be done in order to avoid suffering.
Isn't the Use of Animals Justified?