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Do we have duties either to animals or to the environment if so on what basis?

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Introduction

Do we have duties either to animal or to the environment if so on what basis? Discussions on the ethical treatment of animals and the damage being inflicted on the environment by the human populace have become evermore mainstream debates. The effects and inherent dangers of global warming are already causing peoples attitudes toward the environment to change. It is widely believed that if we don't do something to prevent the current demise of the earth, there will be disastrous consequences for everyone. Although many acknowledge the damage humanity is causing to the environment and to animals, is it fair to say we have a duty to stop it, or is it necessary to continue in this way for the benefit of the human race? I believe humanity does have a duty to both the environment and to animals, and in this essay is shall be analysing why I believe this to be the case and whether there is a duty regardless as to whether or not there is a benefit or utility to humans. Firstly it is important to identify what is meant when we say a duty. According to Kant duties are appropriated through moral law, which is defined by the categorical imperative (1). ...read more.

Middle

However any duty paid to animals is only because of the utility the human gains from the animal's existence, for example a dog owner only feeds and shelters the dog because it gives them companionship. Examples like this are entirely self interested in their nature and the duty only exists so long as there is a utility to be obtained from the animal. If an animal bears no utility to the human alive, it is most likely the animal will be used for food. It is fairly common to find this hypocrisy amongst most pet owners. I would therefore argue that it is necessary to have a duty to all animals regardless of any self interested utility that can be gained from an animal. There must be a principal of equality with regards to the duty of animals to ensure that all animals receive the same basic rights. However Peter Singler argues that 'the extension of the basic principle of equality from one group to another does not imply that we must treat both groups in exactly the same way, or grant exactly the same rights to both groups. Whether we should do so will depend on the nature of the members of the two groups. ...read more.

Conclusion

So far the only duty shown to animals is only on self-interested occasions when an animal can provide some utility to the human. For humans to have a duty to animals they must now provide the same basic principles of rights to all animals. As for the environment, the repercussions of over a hundred years of mistreatment to the environment are starting to become apparent. Global warming has started to melt the polar ice caps and heat waves are causing more and more deaths. It is the moral duty of everyone to prevent habitats from being destroyed, animals killed and for the prolonged existence of humanity. Equality of humans has gradually gotten better and better with instances like the civil rights movement yet despite a much more enlightened society, animal suffering has arguably gotten worse, it is the duty of humanity towards animals to help stop this suffering. Endnotes (1) Immanuel Kant, (2004) "The groundwork of the Meta physics of Morals" (Cambridge University Press, 1998) (2) Immanuel Kant, (2004) "The groundwork of the Meta physics of Morals" (Cambridge University Press, 1998) (3) Regan and Singer (eds.), Animal Rights and Human Obligations, (New Jersey, 1989), p.4 (4) Regan and Singer (eds.), Animal Rights and Human Obligations, (New Jersey, 1989), p.5 (5) 'Environmental Ethics' Introduction in Stanford Encyclopedia of (http://plato.stanford. ...read more.

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