QUOTE(amlord @ Apr 15 2003, 04:21 PM)
I don't think animals have rights. However, humans also do not have the right to be cruel to animals.
Cruelty could be defined by doing things that are not "natural". Would an animal in nature maul another animal for fun? I don't think so.
I'd like also to refer back to another quote...
What separates man from animal? We as humans have the ability to rationalize and most importantly, we don't have to act on our instincts. We generally know inheritably right from wrong and good from evil.
As I see it we do still have to act on our instincts, though we have the ability at times to suppress our instincts in the interest of logic. Unfortunately, this can also lead us to suppressing our instincts for other things as well. And while some may view instincts as some kind of primal trait that should be left in the jungles of our ancestry, I see instincts as being very important and something we can learn a valuable lesson from.
astutely noted, other animals don't typically maul each other just for the heck of it. They kill prey only when they are hungry and only combat with rival animals when in the interest of self preservation. Since our current knowledge says other animals don't rationalize, we're left to assume they do this on instinct.
Humans, on the other hand, are more than capable of mauling each other for little or no reason at all. We kill animals whether we are hungry or not because of the size of our population and the methods we have at our disposal to mass produce food. And furthermore, we as humans can go to war... and war is almost entirely a byproduct of the two previous traits.
I don't want to go into it too much here, but I would recommend the book Ishmael
for a better understanding of this idea. It's a quick read and pretty informative.
At any rate, what I'm getting at is that while we like to think we're civilized and much greater than other animals, the truth of the matter is that we're much, much worse in some respects. We have a significantly greater propensity for violence -- often times unnecessary violence. In trying to separate ourselves from other animals we shouldn't seek to abandon our instincts. After all, we are animals, too.
I think we could shape the laws pertaining to animals much around the natural laws that already seem to govern them. Killing out of necessity certainly seems acceptable, while abuse or cruelty is not natural, is not necessary and is completely uncalled for.