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Animal rights not human rights, and the importance of emotion

By Ruth Hatten - posted Monday, 16 May 2016

Some people might be persuaded by the argument that animal rights mean no more lattes.[1] Putting aside the comparison of the human interest in enjoying a latte vs a cow having her calf taken from her within the first few days of birth, the health concerns associated with continuous breeding (for example, mastitis), and the ensuing fate of the calf (for example, veal production, slaughter), technology and knowledge today mean there are many plant based milk options - we can all continue to enjoy our lattes!

Following the IQ2 Debate, some said the 'for' team spoke too "emotionally" compared to the 'against' team who were regarded as more "factual".

As a lawyer, I acknowledge that facts and logic are important and I always rely upon these aspects. However, when one discusses the lives and inherent value of sentient beings, facts and logic are not the only matters of relevance.


As mentioned above, animals are sentient beings. The use of animals for human benefit inflicts suffering upon those animals. Thus, when one talks about animal use for human benefit, one must talk about how these animals suffer. Facts are important to demonstrate and prove how animals suffer. Emotion is just as important - an emotive response is a valid response to suffering. Human beings are governed by both logic and emotion. For a balanced and valid argument to be had, it is my view that one must incorporate both logic and emotion. For an argument to be had by someone who cares, speaking from an emotional space comes naturally.

The IQ2 Debate enabled necessary discussion on the important topic of animal rights vis a vis human interests. I'm confident the discussion provided food for thought for many. The debate has certainly demonstrated where further discussion is needed in the continuing fight for the deserved recognition of animal rights.

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About the Author

Ruth Hatten is a member of the Voiceless Legal Advisory Council; a senior policy officer for the Animal Law Institute; an associate academic at the Centre for Compassionate Conservation, UTS; a board member of Minding Animals International; and a member of the Australian Animal Protection Law Journal Editorial Advisory Panel.

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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