Author Archives: Olubusola Osunsanya

Makes Sense to the Non Animal Rights Activist : “The Case for Animal Rights”

First and foremost I commend Regan on his piece “The Case for Animal Rights”.  Coming from one who is not an animal rights activist, I found that his argument was very compelling. Although he didn’t change my mind about animal rights; however he did open my eyes to unjust that is done when people talk about animal right. He explains why things haven’t changed and why the problems aren’t being recognized. In this text, Regan dissects other positions that one shouldn’t use as arguments for animal rights, then he gives one that he believes is suitable.

Contractarianism is one of the main positions he shuts down. Contractarianism is the idea that mortality consist of rules that one voluntarily agree to follow, as one would do when they sign a “contact”.  These set of rules are the rules that people collectively abide by and enforce. People who accept “contracts” are directly covered and thus are able provide protection for others that can’t sign the contracts themselves. Regan explains how, for example, parents who sign “contracts “have indirect duties to young children, since they obviously can’t understand the rules and regulation that the “contract” holds.  However, the case is made where the duty is only based on the sentimental interest of others. Since animals are similar to children in the case that they too can’t understand the rules of the contract, they must have someone who cares about them have indirect duties towards them. The argument is then made that people don’t have any duty towards one’s animal but instead to the owner of that animal.  Thus, one only has a duty not to hurt any animal, if they have an owner. If this animal doesn’t have an owner then one doesn’t have a duty towards that animal.  The indirect duty view, doesn’t rationally help the case for animal rights.

Similar, Regan tries to solve his problem from the Utilitarian view.  Utilitarianism is  the idea that everyone’s interest count in a situation to find the best outcome that will bring about the most satisfaction ( happiness) for everyone affected in that situation . This may sound all good since utilitarianism counts everyone interest; however, the problem is that utilitarianism doesn’t have room for equal inherent value or worth. The only thing that matter are the satisfactions that come from an individual not who the person is themselves.  For instance he uses the example of someone killing there Aunt because the results that can happen with her money after she dies are more beneficial, then having her alive. According, to the utilitarian philosophy, killing her is moral if her death will result in more satisfaction than having her alive. However, non-utilitarian would find this idea morally callous. Regan, then concludes with the argument that “a good end doesn’t justify evil means” (185); thus, utilities fails.

Regan believes that inherent value is what justifies animal rights. Inherent values are the equal rights that all individuals have. Inherent values entail the idea of being treated with respect, and not being reduced or used as resources.  Humans’ ae experiencing subjects of life. With that, Regan argues, that animals should also be seen as experiencing subjects of life just like humans; thus, having inherent value. Although some may say that animals don’t read, build things, and etc., some humans don’t express these abilities either. These humans aren’t seen with any less value the next, thus animals shouldn’t be seen with any less value either. Animals need to be treated with respect just like humans.

As stated early, I may not be an animal rights activist but I do think Regan’s argument was compelling. He found claims within outer philosophical views that were wring and justified why he believes why animal rights should be taken into consideration. He didn’t change my views on animal rights but he did open my eyes to see the reason to why people are so adamant about animal rights. What are you options about his argument?


Regan, T. (1986). A case for animal rights. In M.W. Fox & L.D. Mickley (Eds.), Advances in animal welfare science 1986/87 (pp. 179-189). Washington, DC: The Humane Society of the United States.


I Agree Rachels!

Egoism is a teleological theory of ethicist that sets its goal the benefit, pleasure, or greatest good of oneself alone. (Kay) According to James Rachels, there are two ego’s that need to be discussed and refuted: Psychological Egoism and Ethical Egoism. Within his essay, Rachel argues that both of these Egoism have no bases on which they can make sense and be justifies. This is an argument that I agree with.

Psychological Egoism is the view that all men are selfish in everything that they do and the only motive is self-interest. This theory need not describe proper behavior, instead it tells how people act for themselves. (Rachels) Throughout the article, Rachels gives a many ideas that explain why this idea just isn’t possible. One may support the idea by saying that people only do what they want, thus they’re acting selfish. However, the claim just doesn’t make sense. One has to realize that under different circumstance you “want to achieve” or in the same respect feel as though you are guilty/ obligated to do something. Obviously these are the actions of wanting, instead these are tasks that one has to complete.  To furthermore explain Rachels ideas, you have W. D. Glasgow who defines a part of Psychological Egoism, principle egoism, as:

“Everyone is so constituted by nature that insofar as he acts only on any principle, he acts, and can only act, on the principles ‘I ought to act so as to maximize  my own interest’.”

This statement basically saying that one is aware of other human beings and respects their egotist ways/wants a; yet, they still try to follow the same doctrine themselves. As you can see, this idea shows how if one has respect for someone else and there ways that obviously they aren’t just looking for self-interest.

Another idea that Rachel disagrees with, is that of Ethical Egoism. Ethical egoism is the view on how men ought to act regardless of the effect on others. Egoist don’t care about other people’s feelings, emotion, and such like things. This idea obviously, then, can’t be universal, which is what Rachel tries to tell us. Once of the most important supporters of this theory Thomas Hobbes said that ethical egoism had to be controlled in order to work, clearly supporting the claim that it couldn’t be universal. (Jennings) Ironically, although this theory, ethical egoism, is not common, some major players in the world follow this doctrine. For instance, if we were to look at this economically, you have Nike, one of the leading companies in the world that happens to follow the egoism theory. In recent years, Nike has had many child labor cases because it employs many underage children in other countries. Nike only thinks about the profit in the long run and not about the hurt and unjust that it is doing to the people of these countries. This act clearly is ethical egoism since Nike isn’t caring for these people or bringing about change. Furthermore, if every company followed in the footsteps of Nike and was an ethical egoists, then the economic system wouldn’t survive. There wouldn’t be any care for the employee, thus most things fail and there wouldn’t even be a system to call economic.

With all being said, I truly think that Rachels arguments against Psychological Egoism and Ethical Egoism are justifies and make sense. There are many others who follow these doctrines and modern examples that help explain many of his claims.




Works Cited:

Dr. Charles Kay.  “Varieties of Egoism.” » Egoism. N.p., n.d. Web. 13 Sept. 2014. <>.


Jennings, Marianne. Business Ethics: Case Studies and Selected Readings. 7th ed. Australia: South-Western, Cengage Learning, 2012. 12. Print.


“Nike Info” 12 2012. 2012. 12 2012 <>.


W. D. Glasgow.” Psychological Egoism.” American Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Jan., 1976), pp. 75-79 Published by: University of Illinois Press on behalf of the North American Philosophical Publications  Article Stable URL:


Rachels, James. “Egoism and Moral Skepticism.” The University of Morality (1971): 233-239. Blackboard. Web. 13 Sept. 2014.