Mary Anne Warren refutes Tom Regan’s essay on animal rights “The case for Animal Rights” through her essay “Difficulties with the Strong Animal Rights Position.” Warren clearly states in the beginning of her synopsis of what made Regan’s argument for Animal rights so weak by laying out 3 stages of Regan’s argument. Warren starts put by mentioning “Moral, mature mammals are not only sentient but have mental capacities, as well. These include the capacities for belief, emotion, memory, desires…” (Warren 164) Warren basically states that these animals have the ability to feel pain and pleasure and we have the ability to make things better or worse off for them in the long run. Warren next says that Regan’s second stage of his argument opposes utilitarianism because he states “Individuals are like mere receptacles, in that harm to one individual may be justified by the production of a greater net benefit to other individuals” (Warren 164) Warren points out that Regan says that we should reject the perfectionist theory and conclude that all subjects-of-a-life have equal inherent value. Warren refutes Regan’s final stage of his argument by stating that “Rights are not absolute and can be overridden in certain circumstances” (Warren 164) and that the term inherent value is very unclear and does more harm than good to Regan’s point.
Warren defines Inherent value as “The bridge between the plausible claim that all is normal, mature mammals, humans and otherwise claim to have basic moral rights of the same strength.” (Warren 165) The idea of inherent value is highly obscure and it is ill-suited for the role to defend animal rights because it cannot attach to anything other than an individual, species or eco-system. Warren states that wherever we draw the sharp line between same inherent value and same basic moral rights, we have and no inherent value and no moral rights seems to be implausible because there are no degrees in inherent value. Basically she says that it is up to the gods to draw the line between who or what gets moral rights and inherent value.
Warren gives many examples about what we do not know or trivialities that refute the idea of Inherent Value. “It is still unclear what we say about insects, spiders, octopi, and other invertible animals which have sensory organs but whose minds out alien to us.” (Warren 166) Warren gives many more examples like how mice are seen as trivial to human children and cannot really be compared given the example of the rodent’s vs human children invading and eating what is in the kitchen of a house. Warren says that we are justified to killing rodents because they threaten our well-being. Warren wraps up her refutation against Regan’s argument by stating that human rights are stronger than animals rights because people are at least sometimes capable of being moved to action or inaction by the force of reasoned argument and we also listen to reason which gives more possibility for cooperation and nonviolent resolution.
Warren, Mary Anne, “Difficulties With the Strong Animal Rights Position”, Between the Species (No. 4, Fall 1987). Nedlands, Australia.