Do animals have the right to life? In her new book, Lesser Brothers: Our Commitment to Animals, Harvard philosophy professor Christine Korsgiard says that humans are inherently no more important than other animals.
A lecturer at Harvard since 1981, Korsgiard specializes in issues related to moral philosophy and its history, agency, and the relationship between man and animal. Korsgiard has long believed that humanity should treat animals better than it does. She has been a vegetarian for over 40 years and has recently gone vegan.
“Some people think that people are just more important than other animals. I ask: for whom is more important? We may be more important to ourselves, but that doesn’t justify treating animals as if they were less important to us, as well as other families compared to our own family,” Korsgiard said.
Korsgiard wanted to make the topic of animal morality accessible to everyday reading in her new book. Despite the rise of the vegan meat market and the rise of cellular meat, Korsgiard says she is not optimistic that more people are choosing to care for animals. However, concerns about climate change and biodiversity loss may still benefit animals raised for food.
“Many people are concerned about the conservation of species, but this is not the same as treating individual animals ethically. But thinking about these questions has drawn attention to how we treat animals, and it is hoped that people will think more about these things,” the professor said.
Korsgiard is not alone in thinking that plant foods created a movement separate from animal rights. Nina Geilman, Ph.D. in Sociology at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, is a researcher in the field of veganism, the main causes of which have been transformed into the field of healthy and sustainable nutrition: “Especially over the past 3-5 years, veganism has really turned from an animal rights movement life. With the advent of social media and documentaries, more people are getting more information about what they put into their bodies, both in terms of health, as well as in terms of animals and the environment.”
The right to live
Animal rights activist Ed Winters, better known online as Earthman Ed, recently visited Harvard to interview campus students about the moral value of animals.
“What does the right to life mean for people?” he asked in the video. Many answered that it is the intellect, emotions and the ability to suffer that give people the right to life. Winters then asked if our moral considerations should be about animals.
Some were confused during the interview, but there were also students who felt that animals should be included in moral consideration, explaining that this is because they experience social connections, joy, sadness and pain. Winters also asked whether animals should be treated as individuals rather than property, and whether there is an ethical way to slaughter and use other living beings as a non-exploitable commodity.
Winters then shifted his focus to contemporary society and asked what “humane slaughter” meant. The student said it was a matter of “personal opinion”. Winters concluded the discussion by asking students to look at online slaughterhouses to see if they were in line with their morality, adding that “the more we know, the more we are able to make informed decisions.”