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Summary of “The Case for Animal Rights”

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In “The Case for Animal Rights,” Tom Regan writes about his beliefs regarding animal rights. Regan states the animal rights movement is committed to a number of goals, including: “the total abolition of the use of animals in science; the total dissolution of commercial animal agriculture; and the total elimination of commercial and sport hunting and trapping. Regan goes on and tells us the “fundamental wrong is the system that allows us to view animals as our resources, here for us–to be eaten, or surgically manipulated, or exploited for sport or money.” Once people accept this view of animals being here for our resources, they believe what harms the animal doesn’t really matter. Regan explains that in order to have this changed, people must change their beliefs. If enough people, especially people that hold a public office, change their beliefs, there can be laws made to protect the rights of animals.

Regan has two theories. The first he called “the cruelty-kindness view.” This states that people should have a “direct duty to be kind to animals and a direct duty not to be cruel to them.” He then goes on to explain the differences between kindness and cruelty and cites examples. His second theory is utilitarianism. He states that a utilitarian decides which option is most likely to bring the best results and “the best balance between satisfaction and frustration.” The author then goes on talking about utilitarianism, giving examples, an analogy, and other problems with it.

The author argues inherent value. Regan points out animals should be able to experience life with inherent value of their own. Addressing commercial animal agriculture, the author declares “The fundamental moral wrong here is not that animals are kept in stressful close confinement or in isolation, or that their pain and suffering, their needs and preferences are ignored or discounted.” Regan continues the only way to right the wrong would be to stop commercial animal agriculture, hunting and trapping for commercial and sporting purposes.

Regan’s last point is about philosophy. Being a philosopher, Regan knows that the words he has written do not change a thing by themselves. “It is what we do with the thoughts that the words express–our acts, our deeds–that changes things.” The author brings everything to a close by telling the reader that all great movements “go through three stages: ridicule, discussion, adoption.” He states the third stage requires passion and discipline. Regan declares “the fate of animals is in our hands.”

Response to “The Case for Animal Rights”

In Tom Regan’s “The Case for Animal Rights,” the author argues for the animal rights movement. Overall, the argument is effective, but there are some things that could be perfected and changed. The author clearly presents his thesis in the beginning. He definitively states how he feels about animal rights. Regan argues for the animal rights movement and uses many examples to support his opinions.

This text was originally published in one of Regan’s books, so the intended audience is obviously someone who is interested in the animal rights movement. The author judges the audience well, and doesn’t go into much background or detail about the basics of the animal rights movement.

As the text progressed, Regan tended to stray away from his thesis and went on many tangents. Although the main ideas were still related to the topic, he used too many examples and analogies, which weakened the effect of his thesis. The reader could easily get lost in the text and forget the author’s main thesis. One such example was the analogy he made about killing his Aunt to get her money before she died and he had to pay taxes on it.

Regan also took a very scholarly approach to his writing. His vocabulary was sometimes difficult to understand. He used words like “contractarianism”, “odious”, and “utilitarianism.” This also diminished the entire effect of his writing. His tone, although a little preachy, was fine considering it is an argumentative essay. The organization was somewhat hard to follow, which was in part because he tended to stray away from his main point.

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