[LETTERS TO THE EDITOR]Terminology is important in animal treatment debateAbout “Animal rights bill proposed by ministry” on Oct. 7:
For what it’s worth, there is a fundamental distinction between “animal rights” and “animal welfare,” though the two may overlap (both an AR person and an AW person would condemn lighting animals on fire).
The changes to the animal protection laws that you describe in your article are “animal welfare” changes, not “animal rights” changes (though some AR people would support them, others would not).
The animal rights “philosophy” holds that it is unethical for humans to exploit or exercise dominion over animals.
This is an AR moral absolute, and it means that AR people are against meat eating, pet ownership (it’s slavery, they say), hunting, the use of animals in biomedical research, the eating of eggs and the drinking of milk, rodeos, zoos, racing, etc.
In short, if it is unethical to do something to a human, it is unethical to do it to an animal. As you can imagine, this “philosophy” is rife with contradictions.
Animal welfare is much different. It accepts that humans do exercise dominion over animals, and that such dominion is ethical.
AW supports responsible use of animals, meaning that it is not unethical to own pets, operate zoos, eat meat or fish, raise dairy cows, etc. Many animal rights advocates like to blur the distinction between AR and AW, because it allows them to inch towards their goal unnoticed.
But government agencies and news organs such as yours should not.
by Brian O