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Textbook: Louis Pojman and Paul Pojman, Environmental Ethics: Readings in Theory and Application. Seventh Edition. Cengage Learning.
Animal Rights (continued) and Intrinsic Objective Value in Nature
Please read the introduction to Chapters 3 and 4 and the following 3 readings. You should also read the file(s) I put up on Value Concepts. See the folder containing all the extra readings at the top of the assignment page.
(A) Tom Regan, “The Radical Egalitarian Case for Animal Rights.”
Please watch this video of Regan presenting his ideas on animal rights.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5RRLBC1S3w (about 8 minutes)
(B) Dale Jamieson, “Against Zoos.”
(C) Holmes Rolston, III, “Naturalizing Values: Organisms and Species” (and check out Ned Hettinger: “Comments on Holmes Rolston’s ‘Naturalizing Values’”)
Answer the following questions about Tom Regan’s paper.
Question 1: What are the 3 main goals of the animal rights movement, as Regan puts it? (Read carefully.)
Question 2: Regan rejects Singer’s utilitarian basis for animal rights. Singer relies on the utilitarian principle of equality, according to which, as Regan puts it, “everyone’s interests count, and similar interests must be counted as having similar weight or importance.” Rejecting this as a basis for animal rights, Regan says, “Utilitarianism has no room for the equal moral rights of different individuals because it has no room for their equal inherent value or worth.” According to Regan, why doesn’t utilitarianism give different individuals equal inherent moral value?
Question 3: Regan wants to base animal rights on the ideas that individuals have “inherent value” (not their pleasure and pain) and that those who have it “have it equally.” This means that individuals having inherent value are equally valuable as individuals, independently of their usefulness for anyone else. Each individual has an equal right to have others respect their independent value. Explain Regan’s account of violations of individuals’ right to respect.
Question 4: On Regan’s view, what is the basic similarity that all animals with inherent worth have in common and gives them inherent value equally? (It’s not that they feel pleasure and pain. That’s Singer’s view.)
Question 5: Is Regan correct? Do animals have a right to equal respect as individuals, so that we must put in place the three goals he argues for? Please explain your views on Regan’s argument.
Please answer the following two Questions on Dale Jamieson’s, “Against Zoos.”
Question 1: Jamieson explains the 4 arguments commonly cited for justifying zoos. What are these arguments? Briefly explain them.
Question 2: What are your views on Jamieson’s arguments on the 4 main reasons for keeping zoos? (Are his arguments challenging the defense of zoos good or not? Is there a sufficient justification for having zoos or not?) Explain and defend your answers.
Please answer the following questions on Holmes Rolston, III, “Naturalizing Values: Organisms and Species” (and Ned Hettinger: “Comments on Holmes Rolston’s ‘Naturalizing Values’”)
Question 1: Imagine the existence of two different possible universes, A and B. (Imagine that our universe wouldn’t exist, and that you wouldn’t exist.) Imagine that universe A would never have any life in it at all – no plants, animals, fish, bacteria, etc., and it’s very ugly. Now imagine that universe B would be exactly the same as universe A in all relevant respects, except universe B would have thriving basic non-conscious plant life in it — and that is all the life that would ever exist. Would it be better (have more value) if universe B existed, because of its thriving plant life, rather than universe A? Explain and defend your response. Remember that no people or any other conscious creature will ever exist. Consider also that you may like it more if universe B existed, but do you think
the addition of plant life itself makes universe B better than universe A?
Question 2: (If you haven’t already done so, you should read my comments on value concepts that is on the assignment page.) Contrary to the typical view, Rolston argues for nonanthropogenic intrinsic value in nature. He rejects the view that all value is connected to human “valuers.” He rejects the idea that if no humans were around to value things, then there would be no value connected to nature. He also rejects the view that the existence of a nonhuman sentient valuer is necessary to create value in nature. In defense of his view, he argues that plants, for instance, have a good of their own, and they have things that are good for them. So, according to him, there is value in nature independent of any valuers, especially human valuers. He believes that certain things are extrinsically good for trees, like water, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide. But the ultimate intrinsic good of the tree, he thinks, is its flourishing and living. There are things that a tree does to promote and defend its life. He argues that if there were never sentient beings in existence, there still would be these tree-related objective extrinsic and intrinsic values in nature. (Objective because no subjective conscious valuer is needed to produce the value.) Is Rolston correct with these claims or is he mistaken? Is there objective intrinsic value in nature that is totally independent of any conscious valuers, like humans, or not? Explain and argue for your views.
Question 3: Assume that nature has objective intrinsic value (nonanthropogenic intrinsic value). This means that value is in nature regardless of whether humans value nature or not. In practice, if everyone believed this idea – that nature has its own objective value independent of humans — would it tend to motivate people to defend nature against harm — more than believing in anthropogenic value? (See the last paragraph in Hettinger’s paper.) What possible practical effects could it have on people’s attitude toward nature? Explain and defend
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