Research paper on Gender Studies: Animal Human Culture

“Who are we to say that the suffering of a human being is more terrible than the suffering of a nonhuman being, or that it matters more?”¯ (Goodall, 15).Ā  Discuss.

It is known that animals have always played an important role in the life of human beings. Today they are “part and parcel of our present day culture”¯ (De Jonge & Bos, 2005:1). Animals are used by human beings in different ways, both in positive and negative. Human beings manage the lives of animals when they conserve or destroy them. Ā My goal in this paper is to discuss Jane Goodall’s statement on the nature of animals in human world. She says, “Who are we to say that the suffering of a human being is more terrible than the suffering of a nonhuman being, or that it matters more?”¯ (Goodall, 1993, p.15) Ā Jane Goodall tries to attract attention of the readers by such a simple question which, at the same time, is a philosophic question. It is known that many people in this world do not realize that “nonhuman beings”¯ can think and feel. However, animals as “nonhuman beings”¯ cannot speak human language, and they cannot express their opinions on this or that issue, and they cannot get into an argument. That is why they have no opportunity to tell people about their sufferings and about their pain. The issue discussed in this paper is an important one in our society, because today many people ignore the rights of animals. They treat animals badly and cause intense sufferings to them.

Goodall’s question is closely connected with speciesism. Speciesism is focused on assigning some values or rights, or even special consideration to human beings on the basis of their species membership in the society (Appleton, 2006:1). The term speciesism was first represented by the famous British psychologist Richard D. Ryder (1971) who defined it as any form of prejudice against nonhuman beings based on morally invalid physical differences. Josie Appleton discusses the issue concerning the battle over the new Oxford animal research lab hangs. The major question is whether it is moral or immoral to use animals to our ends. Some people consider that it is immoral to make animals suffer and to use their lives for the needs of human beings, while others believe that animals should be used in testing for saving human rights. It is found that today many advocates of the animal rights claim that it is “mere speciesism to prioritize human ends over those of mice, cats or primates”¯ (Appleton, 2006:1).

One of the animal rights activists Peter Singer, discusses the nature of human animal relationships in his works. He defines the term speciesism as an example of prejudice or negative attitude towards the interests of members of one species and against the members of other species. Some experts argue that fighting speciesism in our society is to extend struggles for human equality and human morality. It is clear that if human beings have negative attitude to other human beings on the basis of their race, ethnicity or sex, the issue concerning the role of animals in today’s society becomes more significant, because animals are below human beings. It is possible to conclude that racism, sexism and speciesism, are true examples of the so called “exclusionary attitudes”¯ (Appleton, 2006:1).

Richard Ryder, as an animal advocate, writes in his article In The Political Animal: The Conquest of Speciesism that Aristotle thought that animals exist in this world for the sake of men who also look down on women and slaves. According to Richard Ryder, “either you are a caring person who recognizes the value of other beings, or you are selfish and care only for yourself”¯(Appleton, 2006:1). He finds a link between caring for human beings and caring for animals. It is found that the opponents of the animal rights are those people who have prejudices against homosexuals and who exhibit racial prejudice towards people of different skin color.

Besides the above mentioned advocates of animals, there is one more person who is ready to discuss this issue in his book. Tjard de Cock Buning, tries to define the nature of human-animal relations in our society. He investigates the moral values that play a key role in the relationships between human beings and animals, paying special attention to ethics and morality. According to Tjard de Cock Buning, “morality is a joint collection of norms, values, do’s and don’ts used by society”¯ (De Jonge & Bos, 2005: 215). Of course, morality depends on a number of factors, such as historical facts, traditions and subculture, while ethics analyzes the constants in these diverse issues. However, it is impossible to find any ethical theory that will discuss human – animal relationship, because there is no such a theory. Many scientists describe either justification or lack of justification of animal use for humans.

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