1.  The fact that we are human makes us superior to animals.  Therefore, we have the fundamental right to use them unconditionally.

Speciesism is prejudice or discrimination based on species, particularly against animals.

Speciesism is an arbitrary distinction based on the belief that humans are the only species deserving of moral consideration.  Animals are denied rights solely based on their species.

Speciesism is often compared to racism or sexism.  Racists contend that the members of their race are superior to the members of other races, race being the sole reason. Sexists believe that their gender is superior to the other, gender being the sole reason.  Is George W. Bush more valuable than Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Is your mother less important than your father?  Both racism and sexism are pathetic models of bigotry.  There is no “superior” or “inferior” gender or race. Racial and gender differences are biological, not moral differences.

Like racism or sexism, the simple distinction between the human and non-human species, used to deprive the latter of rights, does not have a rational foundation.


Al Qaeda and Isis are terrorist groups consisting of homo -sapiens who perform heinous crimes such as beheadings and random bombings against innocent people, proudly murdering them by the most violent means.

John Wayne Gacy was convicted of murdering 33 young men and boys between 1972 and 1978.   Most of the bodies were found buried underneath the crawl space of his Chicago-area home. At the time of his arrest, Gacy confessed to at least 45 murders. He was ultimately sentenced to death and executed in 1994. His notorious last words: “Kiss my ass.”  charles manson                                               Click on Manson for notorious criminals

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh detonated a truck bomb in front of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.  The attack claimed the lives of 168 people, including 19 children. McVeigh was sentenced to death and was executed on June 11, 2001.

Oklahoma City Bombing Purple Hearts

Should these criminals be preferred over your pet dog, cat, or rabbit simply because they are technically human?

 2.  Animals lack cognitive competence: they cannot speak, have no  thoughts, feelings, desires, emotions, or interests.    Therefore, we should  dismiss animal rights.

Many individuals opposed to animal rights, regard animals as inferior to humans on the basis that they are incapable of thought, understanding, or expression.  It is common knowledge that many animals have ideas, means of communication, and feelings.  In Charles Darwin’s words, humans differ from many other animals “in degree,” not in kind.”  “There is no fundamental difference between humans and the higher mammals in their mental faculties”.[1]  Animals are our psychological kin.  This is proven by our best science.

Traits that were once believed to be exclusive to humans can be observed in animals.  Pigs are quick learners.  They are highly intelligent, curious animals who engage in complex tasks and form elaborate and cooperative social groups.  Their behavior is similar to human behavior.  “Cats look down on you; dogs look up to you; but pigs look you in the eye as equals.”  – Sir Winston Churchill

Click on Dixie for more details.

Elephants are skilled tool users and problem solvers; they are empathic and self-aware. Related elephant mothers and their children remain together during their lifetime, caring for and protecting for one another’s children.  Elephant clan members talk to one another with chirps, trumpets, and rumbles.  They also communicate by nudging, kicking, tilting their heads or flapping their ears. They make group decisions, and praise achievements of fellow clan members.   Click on Scientific American for more details.


Octopi are capable of storing both short and long-term memory.  In laboratory experiments, they can be trained to distinguish between different shapes and patterns. Additionally, they have been shown to practice observational learning.[2] Dolphins have high levels of linguistic understanding, being able to comprehend sign languages, able to ‘lie’, and able to recognize themselves in mirrors.  Human toddlers are unable to do this.  Dolphins display levels of cognitive understanding and awareness equivalent to a human kindergartener.[3]


Many homo-sapiens such as profoundly mentally challenged persons or very young children do not meet the level of reasoning capabilities of many animals. We do not use or abuse human babies or other humans who are mentally challenged or in a vegetative state.  We afford them rights and have laws in place to protect those rights.  Many animals have mental abilities that rank higher than those of humans.  If we follow this argument, depending on their cognitive level, certain animals should be entitled to more rights than humans.  We would be obligated to administer cognitive ability tests to determine who would be entitled to rights.  This would mean that certain humans would have no rights and certain animals would have rights.

In this twisted reality, the dispensation of rights would depend on the individual’s (human and non-human) ability to have thoughts, expressions.  Who would decide the level of thought or communication required to have rights?  How would cognition be measured?

Is lack of thought or limited communication an adequate argument for the use of animals?  Is it an arbitrary criterion for the establishment of rights?  Can the measurement of cognitive abilities be used to defend speciesism?


[1] Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man 105 (Princeton Univ. Press 1981)

[2] Jennifer. A. Mather, “Navigation by Spatial Memory and Use of Visual Landmarks in Octopuses,” Journal of Comparative Physiology A 168, (1991), pp.491-497

[3] Chris Parsons, Marine Mammal Biology and Conservation (Jones & Bartlett Learning, 2012)