Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The term, "animal rights"

Personally, I particularly love the way that the Catechism addresses how we should treat animals and all of God's creation:
    "2415 The seventh commandment enjoins respect for the integrity of creation. Animals, like plants and inanimate beings, are by nature destined for the common good of past, present, and future humanity. Use of the mineral, vegetable, and animal resources of the universe cannot be divorced from respect for moral imperatives. Man's dominion over inanimate and other living beings granted by the Creator is not absolute; it is limited by concern for the quality of life of his neighbor, including generations to come; it requires a religious respect for the integrity of creation."
In contrast to the Church's clear teaching that humans come first, the term "animal rights" has always struck me as odd.  I am certain that some people use it very innocently, but to what does it refer?  The right to remain silent?  The right to a writ of habeas corpus?  Unfortunately, it is a term most closely associated with Princeton University's Peter Singer....
    "[Singer] is currently the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University, and a Laureate Professor at the Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the University of Melbourne. He specialises in applied ethics and approaches ethical issues from a secular, preference utilitarian perspective. He is known in particular for his book, Animal Liberation (1975), a canonical text in animal rights[emphasis added]/liberation theory....

    "The central argument of the book is an expansion of the utilitarian idea that 'the greatest good of the greatest number' is the only measure of good or ethical behaviour. Singer argues that there is no reason not to apply this to other animals. He popularized the term 'speciesism', ...to describe the practice of privileging humans over other animals.[15]....

    "Similar to his argument for abortion, Singer argues that newborns lack the essential characteristics of personhood—'rationality, autonomy, and self-consciousness'[23]—and therefore 'killing a newborn baby is never equivalent to killing a person, that is, a being who wants to go on living.'[24]....
    "Religious critics have argued that Singer's ethic ignores and undermines the traditional notion of the sanctity of life. Singer agrees and believes the notion of the sanctity of life ought to be discarded as outdated, unscientific and irrelevant to understanding problems in contemporary bioethics.[25] [emphasis added]....

    "Singer argues that sexual activities between humans and animals that result in harm to the animal should remain illegal, but that 'sex with animals does not always involve cruelty' and that 'mutually satisfying activities'....
    "Singer's positions have been criticised by groups, such as advocates for disabled people and right-to-life supporters, concerned with what they see as his attacks upon human dignity" (Wikepedia).

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About Me

I am an enormously blessed husband and dad. In regard to my Catholic theological background, I have a certificate in social ministry & a master's degree (moral theology concentration), as well as a catechetical diploma from the Vatican's Sacred Congregation for the Clergy (Nope, I am not now - nor have I have ever been - a seminarian, deacon, or priest.). I feel particularly proud to have a mandatum. I also have a doctorate in Christian counseling psychology.

And yup, that's me!

And yup, that's me!
(from page 1 of the NY Sun, 3/22/04)

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12/12/08 Interview with Rev. Tad Pacholczyk, Ph.D. of the National Catholic Bioethics Center

March for Life 2010