The boundary between species is not and cannot be a moral one: our society must therefore evolve so as to include animals within the circle of our moral consideration. Below you will find proposals that aim at achieving this goal.
A new legal status – Abolition of animal property institution
Ethology shows that animals feel emotions and that they are individuals. However, because of their status as property, they can be bought and sold as though they were goods or produce and the more frivolous interests of the owner tend to be deemed more important than the fundamental interests of the animal, who is, after all, just a possession. This is an unjust state of affairs: animals are not mere objects and must not be considered as the property of others.
Abstract and artificial entities such as businesses are deemed to be legal persons, whilst animals, actual real sentient beings with preferences, desires and their own personalities, do not yet benefit from this status. A step forward is therefore essential.
Furthermore animals’ interests must be represented before the law by animal defence societies, prosecutors specializing in animal issues or guardians other than their owners.
We urge parliaments and the courts to create and enforce a new legal status for animals that stops them from being considered as property and recognising them as sentient beings whose interests must be protected by the law.
Spreading kindness to animals through education – Prevention of speciesism
Many countries are already making concerted efforts to stamp out sexism and racism and the same must be done in the case of speciesism. At this time of ecological crisis it is all the more important to recognise publicly that humans share the planet with other inhabitants who are also capable of feeling emotions and worthy of respect. The common morality of all civilized societies is that we cannot inflict violence upon other beings simply because they are different. And teaching children in schools to respect the lives of animals would simply prepare them for putting this idea into practice.
We are asking for the introduction of global information campaigns against speciesism in order to raise awareness among all citizens of respect for the life of animals. As part of this we are asking teaching establishments and the relevant bodies to include a module on respect for animals and prevention of speciesism in their training programmes.
A non-violent dietary culture – The end of fishing and the closure of slaughterhouses
Most animals killed in the world are killed for food: approximately 64 billion land animals meet their end in slaughterhouses every year and some 1000 billion aquatic animals die from suffocation in fishing nets. In the egg industry male chicks are ground up alive or gassed whilst in the dairy industry cows are separated from their calves and end up in the slaughterhouse once their milk production becomes less profitable. However most people believe that it is wrong to kill animals unnecessarily and the existence of millions of vegetarians and vegans shows that such practices are not necessary. Common morality also condemns violence, and yet slaughterhouses actually condone it.
It is high time for our societies to do away with fishing and farming animals for food and to turn to a non-violent and plant-based dietary culture. The latter, in addition to respecting the life of animals, is also more beneficial to the environment and wastes fewer resources.
Ethical research – Animals are not scientific equipment
Everyone is aware of the injustice of the ‘law of the strongest’ and of the fact that one should not take advantage of the weaknesses of others in order to exploit them or subject them to violence. Yet that is exactly what is done in experiments on animals to test detergents, medicines and even weapons. In fundamental research animals are experimented on simply to satisfy scientists’ intellectual curiosity. This behaviour would be completely unacceptable if the victims were human and by putting ourselves in the place of the animals used we realize that these practices are just as unacceptable when the victims are of a different species. No researcher who uses sentient beings would allow more intelligent beings to do to them what they do to animals.
We are asking for an end to the use of animals as ‘scientific equipment’ in laboratories. We are also asking that public investment in non-animal research be considerably increased.
Consideration for individuals – Animals are not a resource
Speciesism has sometimes allowed us to think that there is no problem in industries discharging liquids into lakes, causing distress to the animals living in them, if it does not disrupt the ecosystem and cause a species to become extinct. Nevertheless animals are neither basic functions of an ecosystem nor a ‘natural resource’ but, like humans, have a personal interest in avoiding pain and having an environment that allows them to enjoy their lives. They are therefore individuals whose real interests must be respected even if they do not belong to a threatened species.
Humans are not the only sentient inhabitants of the Earth. We must therefore stop despising the interests of ‘wild animals’ and progress towards a society that cares about looking after our planet in the interests all of its sentient inhabitants.
We are asking for every decision concerning the environment to take account of the interests of animals, in particular their interest in enjoying their lives and in flourishing in a suitable environment.