Should Animals Have Human Rights? (Pokémon + Speciesism) – 8-Bit Philosophy


Fluffy McFlufferson, Pussy Meowsalot,
Turtle Turtleson, and Muffin head. In 2014, Americans spent over $56 billion
dollars on their beloved pets. But how can we reconcile this affinity with
the horrific ways in which animals are often treated? Thinkers like Rene Descartes have argued that
since animal lack consciousness, they are essentially machines, and thus do not have
moral status. A less extreme view is that animals are conscious, but their cor sentience
is so fleeting that things don’t matter to them like they do to us. But to Australian philosopher Peter Singer,
drawing moral boundaries based on species characteristics is utterly arbitrary. In his
book Animal Liberation, Singer argues that we suffer from a form of “speciesism.”
In other words, since there is a belief that animals don’t share the level of consciousness
that humans exhibit, they don’t deserve to be given similar moral consideration. Granted, it’s reasonable to suggest that animals
and humans should not share the same rights — the right to vote, for instance,
would be wasted on a Pikachu. But is it not also wasted on people who are incapable of
making rational choices? Yet, we don’t consider those individuals as altogether different
from the rest of us. Clearly, we are inconsistent
with our application of speciesism. To Singer, the principle of equality shouldn’t
be based solely on consciousness or intelligence. What’s most important is the capacity for
a being to experience pain and suffering. Recognizing animals’ capacity to suffer is as
much a moral characteristic as recognizing our own. According to at least one philosophical theory,
moral actions are those that increase pleasures and decrease pains. Initially known as hedonism,
and later popularized by Jeremy Bentham as utilitarianism, this philosophy holds that
the only intrinsically good thing is pleasure, and the only intrinsically bad thing is pain. Hence, inflicting pain — whether it be against
humans OR animals — is wrong. For Singer, the capacity to suffer is the characteristic
that qualifies any living thing to moral consideration, because pain is something that both animals
and humans alike try to avoid. Think about it like this: a stone has no interest
in avoiding being kicked, but a dog does — and therefore, deserves moral treatment. So dearest viewer, ask yourself: would you
still eat bacon if it came from Pikachus?

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