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Lecture

(10) Gary Varner.docx

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Department
Philosophy
Course
PHI2396
Professor
All Professors
Semester
Fall

Description
10 Gary Varner The prospects for consensus and convergence in the animal rights debatep1091120532010Gary Varners thesis is that in the debate between the animal rights movement and science which uses animal rights for various experiments there might be room for disagreement at the level of moral theory however it is less often the case then we might think but there is also a surprising potential for convergence and consensus at the policy levelVarner offers a critical point of view toward Peter Singers Animal Liberation criticism which helps him make his own point that animal rightists and researchers are not really standing on the opposite sides of the animal rights debateVarner thinks that Singer failed to define or draw a distinction between the basic concepts of harm and right What Singer intended according to Varner was to show that animals have and should have some moral standing and that there are right and wrong ways of treating themHowever as Varner comments when we talk about human rights we imply more than just that the human individual should have some moral standing What we usually imply with regard to a human right is that there is a special moral dignity and because of it certain things cannot justifiably be done to the human individual for the benefit of othersIn other words there are things which regardless of the circumstances and consequences cannot justifiably be done to human individuals And moral rights describe these thingsSo Varners claim is that when we talk about rights in general we are Deontologists and that is why he calls the concept of moral right a philosophical trump card against a Utilitarian point of view and not Utilitarians who argue that the right moral actions maximize happiness for a maximum amount of peopleExpressed as a commonsense view on moral rights it would read as follows there are limits to what we can justifiably do to an individual force them to do or inflict harm upon them for the benefit of society in generalTo apply this understanding of the concept of right to animals is to claim that certain treatments of animals cannot be justified even on Utilitarian grounds the Utilitarian stand is that depending on the circumstances and the consequences anything could be justified there is essentially no right or wrong way of treating animalsThus if Singer was an animal rightist as he is celebrated he should have defended a position similar to the deontological position or the commonsense position on animal rightsHowever according to Varner both in Animal Liberation and his later work Practical Ethics Singer adopts a Utilitarian approach to treating animals according to which not all animal lives are of equal value and that is why killing certain animals could be justifiedTherefore Varner concludes the father of the animal rights movement is not a rightist after all which becomes clear in his argument about killing animals The later Singer Varner
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