Humans have and should have rights, but what about the rest of the animal kingdom? Whether animals naturally have rights?
I think that humans should have a guaranteed set of rights including no one is allowed to take away your freedom to live as you want to without hurting anyone. I'm not convinced that animals and plants have the same rights as humans.
Humans experience more because of our intelligence, science has proven that. Human beings perceive that we should have rights on an individual level. Each human has the right to exist and live their lives as they see fit provided they don’t harm other humans. Animals should have rights on a population level. That population has a right to exist undisturbed by humans unless the humans selfishly have a good enough reason. Rights are a human construct and nothing more. Nature doesn’t give a damn about rights. Nature never creates rights. The notion that animal rights are a matter of opinion is directly related to the status of animals as human property.
In the case of animals, their rights would concern their treatment by humans, such as humans are not allowed to cause unnecessary suffering to other animals. Animals cannot be expected to follow laws because they don’t understand them. Humans can understand the consequences of their actions and change their behaviour. Animals cannot. It is realistic to expect humans to follow laws, animals cannot be expected to do so.
When a lion kills a man, because the lion doesn’t understand that it’s wrong. That’s just what lions do, and the only thing you can do is stay out of their way. Animals murder all the time. Simply planning a kill would constitute murder and animals do that all the time. Any number of pack animals not only plan out kills but conspire with one another to carry the victim out.
Goes for humans. We could legally protect everyone without calling it rights. But rights are a way to assure people they are safe and also guard against changing circumstances. Giving animals rights would be a way to give a concrete reason why you can’t just kill them because you want to. Which is more convincing and simple if someone asks why they can’t kill a dolphin. It’s just not ok, or that it has a right not to be killed?
What I’m saying is, rights are a human invention and occur nowhere else in nature. Rights are created by us, but so what? We can choose what governs our behaviour, and if it takes an arbitrary idea that actually works to guarantee the welfare of humans and animals, I say it’s okay if we go for it. But it guarantees nothing! Rights that can be granted, can be taken away, or violated at will. It’s a concept and about as permanent as a fart in the wind. It’s a mental tool to placate the frightened.
And yet animals can’t be punished for violating the rights of other animals. I would safely assume that humans give an attribution of rights to animals to not be tortured by humans. We give rights to people independent of their understanding of laws. People who are unable to understand laws like children or the mentally disabled don’t have their rights taken away, they simply have fewer responsibilities. I don’t see why animals are a separate case.
What responsibilities do animals have outside of nature? Rights without responsibility is a twisted form of charity. It has no worth because there is no exchange. So how can we justify the fact that we kill many billions of animals and fish every year for food? The same way a lion does… we have to eat. Whether the animals (or plants) that we eat have rights too? Then why do we make an exception for them?
My justification relies on the fact that animals can’t conceptualize and reciprocate rights as a species and as such cannot have rights attributed to them. When some portion of that species can conceptualize and reciprocate those rights, then it may be justified in advocating for rights being granted to their species.
Can animals violate each other rights since it is not able to owe obligations? Exactly. So when people talk about animal rights, what they actually mean is the right for one human to control how another human may interact with animals. Animals can’t do anything with rights--their conduct cannot be just or unjust--only humans can. In other words; we have the right to survive, not the right to cause unnecessary suffering to animals. It’s all about we, we, and we. Yes, animals “have” rights, but our right to eat them is more important on some double-standard-level.
Everything that is wrong with this world stems from the belief that humans are a superior species. From the way we behave towards each other, to animals, and to the world. If humans disappeared from this planet tomorrow, not only would it would be no loss to the rest of the universe, it would be to the benefit.