Author Archives: Saahil Papar

Animal Rights- Inherent Value

In Regan’s book ‘The Case for Animal Rights’ he argues that all ‘normal mammals over a year of age have the same basic moral rights’ than humans. This basically means that the same ethical standards that apply to humans should apply to animals as well. Even though I feel animals and in particular mammals do deserve to have a level of ethical standards, putting them on same level as humans in my opinion is wrong. Regan uses the term inherent value to express why he feels this way, inherent value in the case of animal ethics can be described as the value an animal possesses in its own right, as an end-in-itself, the opposite of this is instrumental value which means that an animal only has a value to other animals such as human beings.

As the article says, Regan’s theory requires us to divide all living things into two categories. Firstly, those that have inherent value have the same basic rights that humans have and secondly those do not have inherent value have no moral right. Personally, I disagree quite strongly with this notion, I feel that all animals, including humans have a combination of inherent value and instrumental value and that this combination is largely dependent on where the animals lies on the food chain. I say food chain because I strongly disagree with using animals for other reasons such as for fur and carpets as I feel it is immoral to gain utility from animals for decorative purposes. For example, a human would have close to 100% inherent value and 0% instrumental value, as humans are top of the food chain whereas an animal such as a cow would have a more balanced ratio between inherent and instrumental value as their meat is widely eaten by humans and it is morally accepted by humans to do so.

In Regan’s argument he places a lot of importance on the distinction of mammals and other species making the argument that animals are primarily the most important type of animal. In addition he also says that the mammals have to be ‘normal’ and over one year old, I find all three of his statements slightly unjust. Firstly, what makes a mammal more special than a reptile or bird? Secondly, why does the animal have to be of a certain age to be classified to have a certain level of inherent value? I don’t think there should be any correlation between age and inherent value especially if a theory states that there can be no middle ground in regards to inherent value. However one aspect of Regan’s argument is that non living entities can have inherent values, largely because many of these non sentient objects such as rocks and rivers have very important roles in an ecosystems, they can be habitats or can serve as protection for animals, making them crucial to the survival of the animals itself.

All in all, I agree with some aspects Regan’s explanation of animal’s rights however the main part of his theory that I do not agree with is the idea that a mammal either has or does not have inherited value. I feel that value differs from animal to animal and just because an animal has inherited value it shouldn’t mean that they are allowed to have the same rights as humans.



Warren, M. A. (1978). Difficulties with the strong animals rights positions. Nedlands, Austrailia: Warren.








In John Stuart Mill’s essay ‘Selections from Utilitarianism’, Mill provides a compelling argument for his theory in normative ethics called Utilitarianism. Utility can be defined as pleasure itself, and the absence of pain; therefore the main principle of utilitarianism is that “actions are right if they tend to stimulate happiness (pleasure) whereas actions can be classified as wrong if they produce pain.

What I found most interesting in Mill’s passage in chapter 2 was the discussion of the higher and lower pleasures. Mill argues that there are different qualities of pleasure, and only agents that have a wide array of experiences are able to dictate which pleasure are of a higher quality and which are not. However, what I didn’t really agree with was how someone’s experiences should have an affect on what consists of pleasure.  For example, if someone with a vast range experience carries out an action of what I would define as low quality pleasure such as washing cars free of charge and then told me he committing a high quality pleasure action I would disagree. Secondly, at what point in their life is someone considered having a wide range of experiences, therefore I find the whole technique of measuring pleasure and pain with utility implausible as I feel utility can be thought of as quite a subjective term in that quality of pleasure differs from individual to individual. Additionally, another flaw with measuring by utility is that what actually consists of higher quality pleasure. Does higher quality pleasure mean that it is more educationally beneficial or does it mean that it is more beneficial to someone other than the individual, such as an altruistic action? In chapter 2, Mill addresses the thought that the most righteous agents are those give up their own happiness to provide happiness for other people, however I feel that if this is true someone has to lose pleasure for others to gain pleasure and that in net effect there may not always be an increase in pleasure. For example if someone has to go through pain without any monetary reward in order to make someone else have increased pleasure should that still be considered as an increase in pleasure? Therefore I agree that people who sacrifice in order to make others happy can be considered as an increase in pleasure but only if the person going through the pain feels a form of reward from the recipient’s increase in pleasure.  If going by the theory of utilitarianism, should morals play a part in deciding ones actions or should it only be on whether the action creates high quality pleasure. For example, drugs such as cocaine increases the ability for the brain to reuptake dopamine, a neurotransmitter that increases pleasure and reward, but is highly illegal and not deemed morally permissible in various cultures, but by the law of utilitarianism the use of cocaine promotes pleasure so by that definition there should be nothing wrong with it. So I feel that utilitarianism doesn’t really look at the morals behind the action just the reward that comes with the action, which I feel wrong because many negative actions have positive rewards, a lot of them associated with crime and corruptions.

To conclude, I feel that utilitarianism can be quite a plausible normative ethical and I personally feel that positive outcomes from actions should be the mindset one has before committing an action however there are some criticism of utilitarianism that also makes me think twice about fully believing that this framework is completely sound.


Bennet, C. (2010). What is this thing called Ethics? NY: Saxon Graphics.

Mill. (1869). Utilitarianism. Mill.