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Compassion and Ethics.
Regardless of what religious view you hold to, whatever your philosophical leanings, the basic principle in accepted ethical conduct is to try to be as compassionate as possible to others, as opposed to as cruel as possible.
If you believe in human rights you must, therefore, as a matter of ethical consistency, believe in animal rights.
The burden for the human supremacist (or lets say animal exploitation proponent) is that he wants to have his cake and eat it too. He
wants to be able to say that it is ethically justifiable to exploit non human animals in ways that would be immoral if done to humans. The problem
is--how do you bring forth an argument that shuns racism/sexism etc but condones
All the criteria used--"reason," " free will," "a soul," "deity says so," are subject to doubt, not only in how it applies to all humans vs all
non-humans, but also in its absolute objective significance. There is no absolutes
here (or rather, if there are--they are still subject to questioning --
and how can an absolute be questioned?). If every human possesses some faculty x that other species lack, why then
would this "faculty x " make them superior in value--and then free to do what they want to those outside that circle?
It's a purely human value and claim. (i.e. reason. This criteria is subjective. Its worth is a value
judgment. It only has discernable value to humans (just as skin color only has value to racists, or a
certain interpretation of the Bible only has value to Christian fanatics). The universe itself cannot be shown to "favor" humans over non-humans since we are subject to the elements, diseases, and mortality just as other species are. Where then is this "objective superiority" demonstrated? No where. We say it is so, so it is so.
But a racist or sexist or religious fanatic can make the very same claim--using a criteria that is non objective, non absolute and say it
is okay for their perceived group(s) to discriminate against those humans who don't meet the special standard of value.
How can the speciesist say, using ethics, that what he says is so, is superior to what the racist says is so?
The only choice that an animal exploitation proponent has, to preserve some moral integrity, is to allow anyone to do what
they want and discriminate against whomever they want (this would allow both animal experiments and human experiments), or to
expand the circle of compassion to include those that were left out.
Now--it doesn't mean the line is drawn at animals--you can very well say that it is wrong to exploit trees and other plants...the
problem is implementing such a policy. No ethical view--no matter how consistent, can take into account the interests of everyone at
all times--especially when you come down to a microscopic level. No one can be perfect, either in compassion or cruelty. BUT the failure to be morally perfect does not then mean one has to fall back to some safe line like species. If one argues for that--then there is no reason why the line cannot be drawn at race, or religion, or family also. So the same problem for the speciesist still applies. He or she is shackled to it.
All you can do as a compassionate person is to try your best according to each situation, following a moral standard that endeavors to be fair and just--allowing you to be as compassionate as possible, as opposed to the alternative.