A philosophical analysis of the term “animal rights” by the well-known Austrian philosopher and animal ethicist Helmut.F. Kaplan.
The prerequisite for the realization of animal rights is that one first has a concept of animal rights. Namely, a comprehensible and workable concept of animal rights.
That is not the case until now.
There is only something like raw versions of the concept of animal rights embedded in different theoretical contexts. In my book “Animal Rights: Contrary to Speciesism”, I am now working out what I believe is a comprehensible and practicable basic concept of animal rights. It is based on the principle of equality proposed by Peter Singer.
People and animals: Not equal but comparable interests.
No rational man asserts that humans and animals are equal in a factual sense. People and animals have – as well as the people among themselves – different interests.
Therefore, it would be completely wrong to treat people and animals alike, because different interests justify and require different treatment.
For example, dogs and cats, unlike humans, do not need religious freedom or the right to vote – because they could do nothing with it. And men, unlike women, do not need a pregnancy holiday because they cannot get pregnant.
Animal rights according to the principle of equality
What the principle of equality requires is simply this: Where humans and animals have the same or similar interests, we should take these same or similar interests into account:
Because all people have an interest in adequate food and shelter, we should take this interest equally into account for all people – and not allow arbitrary discrimination based on race or gender. So, no racism and sexism.
And because both humans and animals have a tremendous interest in not suffering, we should take equal account of this interest in humans and animals – and not allow arbitrary discrimination based on the species. So, no speciesism.
We said the same or similar interests of humans and animals should be considered equally. In other words, animals have the right to have their interests considered in the same way as comparable human interests. Animal rights are then the sum of the claims resulting from this same consideration. The decisive sentence that characterizes this concept of animal rights is thus:
Animals have the right to have their interests taken into account as well as comparable human interests.
(Translation Venus, with my best regards to all)