animal ethics

Biocentric Environmental Ethics, What is it?

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What is Biocentric Environmental Ethcis? Breaking it down, Biocentrism is the theory that all living things have equal and inherent worth, relating to the concept “deep ecology.” Take, for instance Matthew Hall, he believes plants are sentient beings. Hall argues that plants should be considered sentient beings, just like Paul Taylor.

Taylor is a philosophy professor at Brooklyn College, and he wrote on biocentric egalitarianism in his book Respect for Nature (1986). Stating that all things, including plants, have equal and inherent worth, Taylor wrote 10 lessons for respecting nature. First, humans centered and life centered systems of environmental ethics, second, the good of a being and the concept of inherent worth, third, the attitude of respect for nature, fourth, the justifiabiliy of the attitude of respect for nature, fifth, the biocentric outlook on nature, sixth, humans as members of the Earth’s community of life, seventh, the natural world as an organic system, eighth, individual organisms as teleological centers of life, ninth, denial of human superiority, and tenth, moral rights and the matter of competing claims. These are the ten sets of advice Taylor gives, he believes that non-humans have an inherent value just as humans do. Therefore, humans have five priority principles which help deal with the conflicts between non-human animals and humans, and each other’s values. The five principles are: self defense, proportionality, minimum wrong, distributive justice, and finally restitutive 27.1

However, if any situation is too complicated to use one of the five presented principles then on should use ethical ideals. The overall aim is to live in harmony with all non-humans on Earth, and therefore any decision should keep that idea in mind. However, don’t we as humans have the right to fulfill our own interests? Yet, if our interests intertwine with what is best with non-human animals what do we do then? Most humans believe that it is the non-basic interests which are worth seeking out, but because some of our non-basic interests are not compatible with respect to nature’s interests. An example includes hunting for sport, and in this case, it does not infringe on human rights; it does not harm other humans.

But, if we apply environmental ethics, then these actions seem wrong because that would be saying that basic interests of non-human animals are not on par with the non-basic needs of humans. Thus, no one with respect for nature, including Taylor, would agree to non-basic interests which harm the interests of non-human animals. Then can we say that the pursuit for development has not only harmed us but the non-basic interests of non-human organisms as well?

Using Taylor’s five principles, one sees that basic interests should always be given priority regardless of species. Therefore, we should be more aware of our surroundings, and how our non-basic needs affect other species which surround us. Take, for example a zoo, it is a place for education and awareness; yet it harms the interests of non-human animals. Animals are not meant to be caged. Although it is beneficial for human kind, animals do not thrive in these “exhibits.” In fact, these exhibits limit cognitive growth, reduce a species interactions with other species, and reduces its environment down to the very basics; but how are they supposed to grow, figuratively and literally. We should think about what is best for the animals, as well as ourselves. Are there alternative programs than zoos? Maybe zoos with larger, life-like exhibits which allow the animals space, as well as interactions amongst species its would normally interact with in nature.

That is my belief. Animals, plants and humans live together on this big rock. Lets live cohesively  amongst each other, keeping each others basic and non-basic interests in mind.

Categories: animal ethics, animal rights, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Policy, ethics | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

The Wake Up Call

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VanDe Veer and Callicot are two critical modifcators of animal rights ethics and the hierarchical positions. The former, believes that there is this “internal,” critical modification, in some degree, of the sentience which is morally relevant. The latter, believes in a modified version of leoplodian critical modification. To some degree, the importance of ecosystems and their goods and services are morally relevant.

Basically, “VanDeVeer argues that the ‘species egalitarianism’ of Singer and Regan goes too far in acknowledging the moral standing of nonhuman animals and leaves us in a state of paralysis when it comes to those ethical conflicts in which we must make hard choices between human and nonhuman interests” (Diagrams of Environmental Ethics Theories). Instead, VanDe Veer takes a two-factor position. His two-factor position claims that, “in weighing our duty to sentient beings in ethical conflicts, it is ‘morally relevant’ to consider the first “factor” of what types of conflicting interests are in conflict.” First, we must evaluate our basic interests, which without a being cannot function satisfactory. Second, we must evaluate our serious interests, which still allows the being to function, albeit with difficulty and a cost to its well-being. This second factor can also include differing levels of psychological capacity, like self-awareness, memory, foresight, social-consciousness, and life-span. VanDe Veer sees a difficulty in measuring the sentience of human and non-human animals. How do we take each of their sentience into account during times of great conflict? (look at the chart to see his resolution).

On the other hand there is Callicott, and he takes on Leopoldian land ethics. Callicott believes that to a certain degree, ecosystems, its good and services, are morally relevant. He believes in strong reformism. Meaning, we has human beings have a duty torwards animals because virtually all human beings are sentient beings; thus a plethora of animals are sentient creatures. Respecting the community, and each other, us sentient beings need to make sure, in times of conflict, that we are not letting the other sentient creature suffer. Of those animals who are capable of suffering, we can assume they have at least on interest, which is not to suffer.

However, there is another viewpoint. Although the above seem to be reaching for the middle-of-the-road, Radical Speciecism takes the far right. It believes that it is morally permissible to treat animals in any fashion one so chooses. Because animals are not sentient beings, therefore they have no intrinsic values. Yet, if we acknowledge that animals suffer, which they do, then radical speciesism is mistaken, and false.

From my perspective, I would rather take the middle-of-the-road agrument than take the radical speciecism route. Yes, I do admit that there are tons of radical beliefs out in this world, but I do not believe that all of them are right. I mean, if you cannot admit to yourself that animals are sentient, just like us, then you are fooling yourself; causing an injustice with not only yourself, your environment, but to your world as well. Although that might seem like a harsh slap in the face, it is a much needed, rude wake-up call. Listen people, we need to change our ways, because most animals are sentient creatures who can feel pain and perceive danger, they are like us. The only different between us and non-human animals is our ability to rationalize situations; but I do not believe that puts us on top of the prymaid.

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Sentient? Huh, Come Again….

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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 blog 25.1times 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 blog 25.2environment. 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.

Categories: animal ethics, animal rights, Corporate, ethics | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

The Fake, Disgusting, World.

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“As long as there are slaughterhouses ….there will always be battlefields.”

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Animal welfare is a difficult subject for most Americans, because some Americans believe that animals and humans are not created equal in the eyes of God. According to some believers, non-human animals are not sentian creatures. Because of this ignorance, there are some staggering statistics, “approximately 11 billion animals are killed annually in the United States, 86% are birds–98% of land animals in agriculture–and the overwhelming majority are “broiler” chickens raised for meat, aproximately 1 million killed each hour” (Humane Society).

The average citizen in the United States is unaware of the doings of the food industry; the mega food corporations rather veil their processes in deep secrecy than make them public. Publicizing these secrets would create immense hatred amongst consumers, and they will direct their anger torwards these corporations, and the U.S. government. The government has not been able to maintain the food industry, and without regulation it has turned into one giant slaughterhouse, literally. Take birds for instance, “on factory farms, birds raised for meat are confined by the tens of thousands in grower houses, which are commonly artificially lit, force-ventilated, and completely barren except for litter material on the floor and long rows of feeders and drinkers” (Humane Society). Yet, it is not just birds, “more than 116 million pigs, intelligent and highly social animals are slaughtered annually in the United States” (Humane Society). These animals are killed without a single extra thought given, and it happens daily. We need to change. This system needs to change.

First things first, all of us need to consider non-human animals as sentient beings. Sentient meaning, “able to perceive or feel things;” most animals, if not all, are able to think for themselves, feel for themselves, and perceive incidents for themselves ( Therefore animals shall be considered sentient beings. They deserve to possess their own will and to control their own lives, yet we do not let them.

There are many acts out there which try to protect non-human animals by speaking up for them. Abolitionists believet that no animals should be used for any human purpose, referring to animal testing, and inhumane slaughter. Slaughtering sentient creatures goes against every moral rights and ethical codes built into our DNA. How can we kill our brothers and sisters? Take, for example the film, “Earthlings: Make the Connection,” which concentrates on chaos of the human world versus the non-human animal world. Focusing on the slaughtering of animals through various sectors: the food industry, the clothing industry (including leather and fur), and the entertainment industry. This film disgusts me; but not the actual film, instead I am referring to the content of the film.

Containing a multitude of segments, “Earthlings” is one giant vomit inducing pill. It takes the audience on a journey through th various treatments of animals across a plethora of industries. Take, for instance the clothing industry, cattle in India are purchased from peasant farmers and take on long, brutal journey to a destination where the cattle’s skin is torn off. Tearing the skin right off the wriggling bodies of the still alive cattle, workers poke and prode these cattles to death. All of this is done in the name of obtaining an important commodity: leather. If that is not gruesome enough, lets look at the process of obtaining fur -yes fur is still a hot commodity amongst consumers. Consumers love fur. Obtaining fur is an interesting, albeit heinous. First, wild animals, dogs, cats, and various other species are capture and then caged. Then, the animals are taken by the workers who either rip the animals fur, along with their skin, right off their bodies, or they will stick a metal rod in the animals mouth and put an electrical prod up the animal’s anus, electricuting it to death. Beautiful proceedure, isn’t it?

Combatting these wrongdoings are acts such as: the Animals Cruelty Act of 2015, proposition two, or the Humane Slaughter Act; all acts are vying to prevent further atrocities to  non-human animals. The Animal cruelty act deals with the prevention of animals being transported and shown publicly, inhumanely. Where the Humane Slaughter Act states all animals shall be humanely slaughtered, which means the animal must be unconscious in time for the slaughter; yet most slaughterhouses slit the animals’ carotid artery which happens while the animal is still alive. Alive and inhumane slaughter will only be stopped by future acts, such as the ones above, but also from a push from American citizens. We can stop this.

Animal welfare has an abundance of contributors, including: Charles Darwin and Jane Goodall. They started from observations; strong examinations allowing them to see how non-human animals have evolved, and how animals truely feel, perceive, and

I believe, if an non-human animal can understand their surrounding then they must be sentient beings. Yet this viewpoint is not commonplace; however it seems to be growing rapidly. “We are all animals of this planet,” so lets share what has been given to us, evenly (Earthlings). Distributing welfare evenly would be most fair, and a good start. We are rational creatures, so lets start acting like ones. Stopping the inhumane slaughter, stopping the injustice, and stopping the mass murders of animals shall creater a greater, fairer, just world.

“Like us, first and foremost, they are earthlings”

Categories: animal ethics, animal rights, Corporate, Egoism, Environmental Ethics, Environmental Policy, sentian beings | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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