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Tom Regan's "Animal Rights, Human Wrongs" and Stephen Rose's "Proud to be Speciesist"

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Dec 2, 2010   #1
An Analytical Comparison of Tom Regan's "Animal Rights, Human Wrongs"
and Stephen Rose's "Proud to be Speciesist"

The use of animals for human benefits has always been a controversial topic. It is still unanswered whether the use of animals for human advantages is valid. Animal activists think that using animals for human advantages can never be good, whereas few researchers and scientists think that animals are necessary for human welfare. The two essays, "Animal Rights, Human Wrongs" by Tom Regan and "Proud to be Speciesist" by Stephen Rose, talk about the issue of animal rights but present a totally contrasting viewpoints toward use of animals. Both authors talk about using animals for human benefits in different approach. Regan's essay takes a wider approach to the issue whereas Rose's essay looks at a specific, personal view on the topic. Regan argues that use of animal for human benefits is not justified, and hence it should be stopped. Rose, on the other hand, contradicts Regan's idea saying that human welfare and survival is more important than animal rights and argues that using animals for research is acceptable. Regan is more logical, credible and fair with real life examples from various fields giving complete picture of the issue while Rose falls behind as his text is based on evidences only from science and research. Regan is more credible as he appears more logical and fairer with the topic.

Regan says that animals bear moral rights, and hence he thinks that they should be treated with respect by rational human beings. Regan talks about one man's account (336) about the whaling process to show how few rational humans killed a whale for their ravenousness. Regan is a professor of philosophy, so he is more credible with his arguments. Regan has been arguing for animal rights for a long time, so he has backed his claims with strong reasoning cited from different fields including science and people. He says that killing animals for self-indulgence is not justified, so it should not be done. He claims that whatever done should be justifiable, and it should not be done if it cannot be justified. Since, most of the areas that use animals cannot justify what they do, he ask them to stop using animals or to provide appropriate justification.

On the other hand, Rose talks about the importance of animals in research for human survival. He cites an example of Alzheimer's disease (342) from his personal experience to explain the importance of animals in research to find a treatment to it. Rose's arguments about importance of animals in research are incontestable as his arguments are totally scientific and logical. Since Rose is a professor of biology and a researcher himself, his arguments are valid and credible. He says, "The first statement is plain wrong; the second, the claim that animal have "rights", is sheer cant" (342, 343). In addition, he talks about "speciesism" and says that animal activists are also speciesists because they prefer animals to humans. Though Rose's arguments are strong, his credibility weakens as his reasons and examples are solely from science. Moreover there can be a hint of him being biased about the topic since he is a researcher himself. Though use of animals in research is necessary, his arguments are weak due to the limited scope of his research.

Regan has talked about the way science has ignored the issue of animal rights. He says that the researches carried out on animals are not justified enough, and he thinks that using animals for human benefits is irrational. Regan talked about a rabbit in stock (337) to show how a rabbit is put through a great turmoil and pains just to find out the feasibility of use of a cosmetic or such on humans. Though this example of rabbit in stock supports the idea of the essay, it does not cover whole idea of research. Some researches about fatal diseases are inevitable since they are vital to human life. Regan's argument is weakened since he is not able to explain why this research cannot be avoided. Overall, Regan sounds convincing, and his ideas are effective despite of few drawbacks.

Rose explains how researchers have been able to find cure for diseases like diabetes, Epilepsy, Parkinsonism (343), and he also talks about how pivotal were animals in these researches. He says, "How far the concept of right can be extended-to not swatting a mosquito that is sucking your blood? To prevent your cat from hunting and killing a rat? Does an ant have as many rights as a gorilla?" (343). Rose further- states that some species of animals are privileged over other species just for the reason that former one is more important. He talks about animal rights being a relative term, which means that animals in greater proximity with human have more rights and vice versa. He had shown that animal activist are Speciesist themselves, so he thinks it is not wrong if anti-activists are also speciesist. He says, "Just because we are humans, any discussion of rights must begin with human rights." (343). Rose is proud to be Speciesist in favor of human because he thinks that we should privilege human over animals since we are a human. Rose's arguments and examples are factual and convincing, but they are weakened with a doubt that about its limitation. Rose's Logics and reasoning can be flawed by appropriate arguments from other fields rather than science. Hence, Rose's idea gives a room for a doubt though his facts, reasoning and ideas about research are very watertight.

Regan's approach to the topic is fair. He has started slightly aggressive, then considerate and finally suggestive. He says, "Possibly the rights of animals must sometimes give a way to human interests" (339). He knows that use of animals for human happiness, sometimes, cannot be discarded, but he still asks for a logical reason for doing that. He says everything done to the animals should be justifiable, otherwise they cannot be considered valid. Then, he has suggested relative approach how a deed can be justified with an example of "racism and sexism" (339). He has asked people to reduce animal use as much as they can, and justify it every time they kill an animal.His idea of relative approach appeals the reader's conscience and is able to leave an impact on reader's mind.

Rose, on the other hand, says that no other rights should be privileged over human rights. His idea of human rights being more important than any other animal rights appeals the conscience of readers. He mentions that animal activists are, in a way, speciesist themselves, so we, human, too can be speciesist in favor of human. Rose says that animal activists would not refuse to take, for example, insulin for diabetes, L-dopa for Parkinsonism and such though they know that those medicines and treatment procedures were experimented on animals before. Rose's reasons are impeccable, but it cannot be forgotten that it is a typical human behavior to take medicine in illness. Any living creature would do anything for survival, so Rose's argument can be faulted in this case. In same section, Rose talks about "Declaration of Animals in Medical Research" (344) signed only by doctors, not by people from other fields. That's why, though Rose's arguments about "speciesism" in favor of human are logical and convincing, his ideas has been weaken by the limitation of his scope and with a possible doubt of his biasness.

Regan has presented his ideas effectively, supported by proper facts and evidences, addressing to all possible aspects, whereas Rose has constructed his ideas on examples and facts only from science and research field that has made his scope narrow and him less credible. Rose's arguments can easily be weakened than those of Regan's since there are possible doubts about him being biased, and moreover his arguments are narrow and limited. Though Rose had made a strong point with his essay, he has not been as effective as he should have been, whereas Regan essay almost includes everything and talks about something that we cannot ignore.

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