What does "Animal Rights" mean?
“Animal Rights” tends to mean the rights of nonhuman animals not to be exploited for human purposes. It also means that the interests of nonhuman animals should be given the same consideration as the similar interests of human beings. Animal Liberation refers to the action of freeing nonhuman animals from exploitation by humans.
What do you do?
- Protesting to raise awareness (like outside of fur stores, the Indianapolis Zoo, pet stores, and circuses)
- Political engagement (like letter campaigns to state representatives about relevant issues)
- Leafleting to spread awareness of animal issues
- Hosting screenings of animal rights documentaries
- Encouraging local restaurants to have animal-friendly food options so compassionate diets are even easier for Hoosiers
How can I get involved?
What is "moral status"?
It means that nonhuman animals do not exist solely for human use, so they should be treated well for their own sake.
The thought experiment below might also help you understand what it means for animals to have moral status.
Reasonable people know that brutally kicking dogs for fun is wrong. Why is it wrong? Suppose Ben and Greg have different reasons for agreeing with this judgement. Ben things dog-kicking is wrong because it damages some pet-owners’ property - suggesting that the pet-owner’s interests are the relevant factor. Of course, many dogs are no one’s property. Ben might reply that kicking dogs for fun is wrong, in any case, because it is cruel - and that cruelty is a vice we should not cultivate, through cruel acts, because having this vice makes one more likely, in the long run, to mistreat humans. In short, abusing animals makes one the sort of person who is more likely to abuse humans. Here again human interests are Ben’s ultimate basis for opposing cruelty to animals. On this view, animas’ interests have no independent moral significance, meaning animals have no moral status.
Judging that animals do have moral status, Greg takes a different view. He believes it is wrong to kick dogs for fun because doing so harms them for no good reason. (In a different scenario, a good reason might be the fact that harming a dog is the only way to prevent her from savaging a child.). From Greg’s standpoint, the dog’s welfare counts in its own right; it has moral importance, independently of how human interests might be furthered by promoting the dog’s welfare. Thus, even if you could convince him that abusing the dog would have no negative impact on humans, Greg would still consider the action wrong. The dog, he thinks, has moral status.