Rutgers University law professors Gary Francone and Anna Charlton have authored an essay making the case against pet ownership for Aeon magazine. The two professors make the case against not only pet ownership, but having zoos, no barns or even fields of animals such as sheep or cattle.
Charlton and Francone state very clearly from the outset they oppose animal domestication and ownership because they violate they violate the rights of animals. They equate any such arrangements as being tantamount to human slavery and equate animal ownership as such since, in their view, rights belong to beings and are not specifically for human beings.
If, for example, animals that are used for medical testing are given the same legal protections as humans, then any animal used used for that purpose, under the scheme proposed by Doctors Charlton and Francone, would put human lives in jeopardy. That would also apply to animals used circuses, zoos and other forms of domesticated animal ownership (like pets). To animal rights philosophers and organizations, any form of animal ownership is considered cruel.
For either author or proponent of animal rights to state humans have no right to use animals for their or our own betterment is tantamount to stating people should have no control over our own lives. The result is human well being must be sacrificed for the welfare of creatures who not only lack any capacity of rational thought but also have no sense of human morality.
The ethics of animal rights is based on a theory devised by French philosopher Renee Descartes that essentially states: I feel pain, therefore I have rights. However, as John Locke later clarified, rights are not based on a being’s ability to feel pain, but on a being’s ability to think.
Individual rights are are ethical principles drawn from reality that are applicable to beings with the capacity of deliberation and choice. The only fundamental right is the right to one’s life and it is only human beings use their reason in order to sustain and enhance their own lives. Only humans have the ability to deal with other members of our own species by rational, voluntary means. Animals are devoid of any such capability and survive mainly by instinct and sensory perception. They cannot learn any other way.
The emotional appeal of the strong coming to the aid of the weak is such that people who subscribe to animal rights will oft times act out of some perverse sense of justice either by direct action (such as participating in an group such as PETA) or (in this case) advocacy of ideas. In reality what such activities are grounded in is nothing more than nihilistic destruction since to seek to act on behalf of animals, either directly or indirectly, is to seek to ultimately act to the demise of human life itself.
It is because of the civilization we have but that humans are nature’s favored species, and that animals are like any other resource on the Earth that human beings can exploit for our own betterment. The consequence of establishing rights for animals is to embrace the savagery of the animal kingdom over the rationality of human civilization.