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The Moral Obligations of Human Beings Towards Animals

1. Introduction

Environmental ethics is the science dealing with the issues observed in relations between the human beings and the nature. The main task of this science is to find ways to live in harmony with nature and to protect it from negative human impact.

One of the most important issues discussed by environmental ethicists is the question of animal rights. It is connected with the fact that animals are also the part of environment and they are affected by human activities as well. That is why it is important to consider their interests while making any decisions which can influence their lives.

The problem of animal rights is a very controversial one and there are different opinions concerning it. In this paper, I am going to analyze this issue from the point of view of environmental ethics and to state my own opinion concerning it. First of all, I will give the definition of environmental ethics and will explain its main principles. Then I will turn to the discussion of animal rights and will try to find out what moral obligations we have towards animals. After that, I will give my personal opinion concerning this issue.

2. Environmental Ethics

As I have already mentioned, environmental ethics is the science which deals with problems observed in relations between human beings and nature. It studies different ethical issues connected with human impact on environment and tries to find ways to improve these relations.

The development of environmental ethics began in 1970s when a number of philosophers started to pay attention to the growing problems connected with pollution and destruction of natural resources (Taylor, 2015). They started to raise questions about morality of human actions which can lead to such negative consequences and about ways to prevent them. As a result, a new branch of philosophy – environmental ethics – appeared.

Nowadays, there are different approaches to environmental ethics but all of them are based on three main principles: respect for nature, sustainable development and cooperative behavior (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2014).

The first principle – respect for nature – means that we should not use natural resources without necessity and should not pollute environment more than it is necessary for our life (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2014). We should also try to find ways to use renewable resources instead of non-renewable ones as much as possible.

The second principle – sustainable development – means that we should use natural resources in such a way that they will be enough not only for us but also for future generations (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2014). This principle is very important because now we can see that many natural resources are already running low because of human activities and if we do not change anything, they will eventually disappear completely.

The third principle – cooperative behavior – means that we should behave in such a way that it will be beneficial not only for us but also for other people and for environment (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2014). This principle implies that we should not only take into account our own interests but also think about other people and about environment when making any decision which can influence all these three spheres.
We can see that all these three principles are based on the idea that we should change our attitude towards nature and start treating it with more respect. They imply that human beings are not the only important creatures on Earth and that we should start taking into account interests of other living creatures as well. And this is exactly what I am going to talk about in the next section of this paper.

3. Concerning Animal Rights

The question of animal rights is a very controversial one and there are different opinions concerning it. Some people think that animals are just like plants and they do not have any rights because they do not have consciousness and cannot think or feel (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2014). Others believe that animals should have some rights because they are sentient creatures which means that they can feel pain and pleasure and have their own interests (Sinnott-Armstrong, 2014).

I think that the second opinion is more reasonable. I believe that animals should have some rights because they are sentient creatures and we have moral obligations towards them.

4. Human Beings and Animals

There is a big difference between human beings and animals. Human beings are rational creatures while animals are not. This means that human beings can think and make decisions while animals cannot.

However, there is one important similarity between human beings and animals – both of them are sentient creatures. This means that they can feel pain and pleasure and have their own interests. That is why I believe that we have some moral obligations towards animals.

5. Sentience

Sentience is the ability to feel pain and pleasure and to have your own interests. Some people think that only human beings are sentient creatures but this is not true. Animals are also sentient creatures which means that they can also feel pain and pleasure and have their own interests.

The fact that animals are sentient creatures means that we have some moral obligations towards them. We should not cause them pain or suffering unnecessarily and we should take into account their interests when making any decisions which can influence their lives.

6. Animal Rights

As I have already mentioned, there is a big debate concerning the question of animal rights. Some people think that animals do not have any rights because they are not rational creatures while others think that animals should have some rights because they are sentient creatures.
I believe that the second opinion is more reasonable. I think that we have some moral obligations towards animals because they are sentient creatures and we should take into account their interests when making any decisions which can influence their lives.

7. Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to say that the question of animal rights is a very controversial one but I believe that animals should have some rights because they are sentient creatures. I think that we have some moral obligations towards animals and we should take into account their interests when making any decisions which can influence their lives.

FAQ

We should take into account the interests of animals when making decisions about environmental policy in order to protect them from suffering.

The ethical principles that should guide our treatment of animals are those of respect for their autonomy and welfare.

Animal rights and environmental protection do not necessarily conflict, but can be reconciled by taking into consideration the interests of both animals and the environment.

We can reconcile our obligations to both animals and the environment by taking a holistic approach that considers the needs of both groups.

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