Does criterion of moral standing, the idea of being “sentien,” not reason, extend to animals? Well, not most animals, but non-human animals that are able to enter social relationships or have the ability to conciously feel pain, pleasure, and have constant awareness of their surroundings are sentient beings. Which means certain non-human animals are not going to be qualified to fit this criteria, unfortunately.
Who is state that our well being is worth more than the well being of an elephant or a dog? Lets discuss an idea, Moral Egalitarianism –not hierarchism, states that we cannot rank human lives over other non-human lives. This become relevant in times of trade-off situations, like when you are willing to kill an animal, or human, over the other. Therefore, neither a human’s life or an elephants life takes precendence. We are all equal.
However, abolitionists have some policies and rules dealing with this equality. If you want to eat animals, that is fine, but it has to be done humanely. Which means you cannot slaughter an animal inhumanely; by reducing your consumption of wrongly slaughtered animals the number of them slaughtered inhumanely will be lessened. This can also be done by reducing one’s consumption of meat products. Refining what meat you at to only farm-raised, humanely killed meat.
One organization which follows these guidelines is PETA, and it stands for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. It is an organization or political wing of the animal ethical movement, and holds a strong opinion abou the animal rights movement. Besides PETA, there are two other animal rights activists whose main goals are obtaining animal rights, albeit in two different ways. Peter Singer and Tom Regan take their beliefs from either Mill or Kant.
Peter Singer is a controversial guy. He uses the utilitarian framework of betham and mill. Believing that sentients is a traditional concept used in animal behavior or philosophy: means some kind of conciousness, and on some level an awareness of the environment. Singer states that if a non-human animal would be able to follow his framework of utilitarianism then it should lead to moral extensionism. Principles of utilitarianism should apply to all non-human animals. Whereas Tom Regan bases is beliefs on Kantian structures. Therefore, we all have an innate duty to respect others and the alienable rights of others.
However, are all animals really sentient? Well, in a sense… maybe not. Because it is scientifically unclear whether or not lower animals are sentient enough or how much sentience they have, if they have it. Yet there is some slight primative awareness within animals. But what they do on a daily basis does not mean they are aware of what is going on; deep down their primative instincts are based on primative awareness of their surroundings.
Can extensionism really cover animal sentience? Are animals really capable of receiving full moral worth? I believe they are. I mean some animals, like fish, might seem like a stretch but every animal has an extensive network of nerves, and perception of their environment to which give them the right to receive full moral membership. Which means that millions of species across the globe should receive full sentience membership. In essence, I agree with Singer, but more so with Regan. Regan believes that we all have this duty to fulfill which tells us to extend respect and alienable rights to other species, besides us.