Fabian Borg from the hunters' federation (April 4) says dogs have no rights, the reason being that if they did, they would have responsibilities and the means of protecting their interests.

This argument is both fallacious and dangerous, and would deny any rights to the most vulnerable humans.

Two examples that immediately spring to mind are the rights of human infants and the rights of the severely mentally disabled. Since these have no responsibilities, Mr Borg's logic, if applied consistently, would deny these two categories of humans any rights.

The only speciesist excuse Mr Borg would have to come up with to grant these two categories of humans any rights would be simply to claim that they are humans. But this simply begs the question: Why do humans have rights?

And to stress the point once again, to claim that they do so because they have responsibilities (or intelligence, or whatever) would deny rights to the most vulnerable humans. To deny rights to non-human animals and concede them to humans who are in a relevantly similar predicament is simply speciesist and prejudiced.

Mr Borg says that since non-human animals do not have the means to protect their own interests "it is, therefore, a question of animal welfare, and definitely not of non-existent animal rights".

Once again, since human infants and the severely mentally disabled do not have the means to protect their own interests, Mr Borg, to be consistent, would have to claim that in their case, to respect them is only a matter of charity, since, according to his logic, these would also have no rights.

Mr Borg says that licensed law-abiding hunters have a right to hunt. If he is speaking of legal rights, then I will most certainly concede this. However, when opposing hunting, I am not speaking of legal rights, but of moral rights (which precede legal rights). Laws change. Moral rights don't - they are universal and are discovered, usually through philosophy and scientific understanding, and not created. Hence, changes in public opinion often precede change in laws - a case in point being the abolition of human slavery.

Since both human infants and the severely mentally disabled both have rights despite having no responsibilities, there is no unprejudiced and just reason for someone to deny rights to non-human animals who also have an interest in living and not suffering, despite, also like human infants and severely mentally disabled humans, not being capable of protecting their own interests from other humans.

Far from being null and void, the animal rights view is the only view that gives adequate protection to all beings, particularly the most vulnerable, including of course the most vulnerable humans.

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