Animal Rights Essays: Arguments For and Against Animal Rights


The controversy surrounding animal rights arises from how humans perceive they should co-exist with animals. Ideally, humans and animals share significant similarities that make them uniquely different from other living things such as plants. For instance, humans and animals are able to move freely, communicate with one another, sleep, and develop feelings like pain, pleasure, hunger, and anger. It follows that animals too have similar experiences with life as humans, only on a different level. People generally have varied opinions on animal rights with some arguing that they should be treated the same as humans and some claiming they do not deserve to be treated as humans. The arguments for and against this debate are explained below:

Arguments For Animal Rights

Human beings should allow animals to enjoy their rights because they were naturally meant to move freely and interact with the environment. Animals have the capacity to develop feelings depending on how they are treated. Notably, these feelings are strikingly similar to those experienced by humans. For example, when an animal is caned, it feels pain just like a human would feel if the same situation applies. Therefore, animals do not enjoy being put in cages and confined there for long periods of time. Any free animal strives to move and explore its surrounding in search of survival resources as well as fulfillment. This means that caging the animals even when they are given basic needs rids them of the fulfillment they ought to enjoy by moving around.

The existence of animals does not rest upon humans, but nature. Humans have a perception that animals are here to be treated as a resource that can be used to fulfill human needs. As such, the worth of animals generally depends on the benefits they provide to humans. Even though this is partially true, it makes it unfair for the animals because they are left with no option but to be an instrument that help humans accomplish their selfish desires. In many instances, animals undergo cruel murders just because humans have to celebrate by eating them. Successful events to humans turn out to be tragedy to animals, yet they do not have anything to do with human success. Additionally, humans forcefully torture and kill animals for experimental purposes. This is usually done for human interest and fully disregards the welfare of animals. Humans should understand that animals have the right to life. Animals too should have the right to live to see their young ones grow and their lives should not be cut short at any instance man dictates.

Animals should be granted their rights because they experience pain and suffering the same way humans do. Humans feel entitled to hit animals without any consequences even when the animals get injuries or die afterwards. Hurting animals amounts to violation of their rights since it causes undue pain and suffering. It is also common for people to make animals do things against their will and condition the animals to believe it as part of their lives. For example, the beasts of burden live all their lives carrying heavy loads only for the benefit of humans. These animals have no other option and humans keep them solely because they help in carrying loads. Such kind of suffering is not fit for any living thing that can experience it.

The rights of animals should not be equated to their intellectual capacity but rather to the idea that the experience of being denied rights is not causing them good. As such, whether or not they belong to the same moral domain as humans should not be the basis for denying animals what is good for them. Humans likely see animals as less important because they do not talk or reason like us. However, this does not prevent them from experiencing life at their level. Just because an animal cannot talk does not mean it should be neglected or killed. In fact, humans should strive to protect and uphold the rights of animals instead of denying them since they have a high moral capacity and can reason on behalf of animals.

Arguments Against Animal Rights

Predators kill and eat their prey for survival, therefore, the idea of humans killing and eating animals for food is more less the same as predators hunting their prey. Animals like lions are powerful and have a great advantage over many other animals in the jungle. They can kill as they wish for food, just the same way humans kill animals for food. The less powerful animals always have no choice when they are targeted. This is a somewhat natural way that animals co-exist. Going by this premise, humans are the most powerful kind of animals and should be in control. Therefore, humans being powerful means that they are above other animals naturally and can eat them when need be.

According to Roger Scruton’s philosophy, animals have no rights as they do not belong to the same moral domain as humans. Ideally, humans consider themselves moral beings and hence can establish a principle of authorizing themselves with moral status. Also, because animals lack personal privileges, they cannot be bound to the moral community where they are ruled by duty and protected by rights. This implies that animals have no rights because they possess no potential of being included in a moral community as they have no sovereignty in respecting others. However, despite animals having no rights, humans have the obligation of treating animals in a caring way by applying the principles of charity.

Animals should neither be bound by duty nor protected by rights since they do not think independently and lack a conscious. There is a bright line separating animals from persons, which limits granting privileges to animals as members of the human moral domain. As such, the relationship between a person and an animal can only be founded on the needs and affections. Humans relate with animals in three distinct situations depending on the animal responsibilities which are categorized into groups of pets, domestic and wild. Therefore, it is the moral obligation of all human beings to take care of these animals for their survival and wellbeing. Thus, animal rights will have meaning if only if they are within the moral community.

Indeed, if animals really are equal and share the same rights, why then are animal rights advocators keener on protecting the rights of some animals like bears and foxes while overlooking the rights of others like mice and rats? This proves that there is an existing gap between animal species themselves and the same is true for animals and humans. If animals were like human beings, there should be no difference as to how humans should treat them because then they will be already members of the moral community.


The moral concerns regarding animal rights only apply to human species and not to the animals themselves because they do not satisfy the threshold of belonging to a moral community. The distinct human capacities have obligated humans to have a moral status which other animals don’t have. Therefore, the sole obligation of humans is to ensure the wellbeing of those animals but not to treat them as their equals.