Tom Regan Animal Rights

Words: 1398
Pages: 6

Loyal Dog or Human Liability?
Tom Regan’s Case for Animal Rights gives a scenario in which there is a group of people and a dog floating on a raft after a shipwreck. A dilemma arises when the survivors realize the raft is sinking rapidly and cannot hold all of its occupants, lest they sink and everyone on board becomes shark bait and dies. There is one solution to save lives, but it requires one person on board to decide between a well trained hunting dog or an antisocial potentially liable human to be cast into the sea to die, lessening the stress of the sinking lifeboat. Survivors then float to a nearby island where they will live together. Who should be granted the right to live and who should be sentenced to death? Clearly the most ethical
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As a result Regan has come under the scrutiny of many other philosophers who declare his stance a contradiction of his own beliefs. Regan rebuts critics by explaining how a special circumstance justifies a change in decision without compromising his overall stance. Regan argues that animals have inherent value and rights, yet he believes that the dog should be cast from the lifeboat in the given situation. In order to justify the decision to throw the dog off of the lifeboat, he employs what he terms the worse-off principle in conjunction with the claim that death makes human beings worse off than dogs. According to Susan Finsen, utilitarianism suggests that if we can maximize the happiness of many people by severely harming a few, this is acceptable. In this case she is agreeing with Tom …show more content…
The dog would most likely suffer and die on the island without the understanding of what is happening and it would be a greater harm to the dog to keep it. “If death would be a lesser harm for the dog than it would be for any of the human survivors, then the dogs right not to be harmed would not be violated if he were cast overboard.” (Tom Regan, The Dog in the Lifeboat: An Exchange) On the contrary, others say that it is impossible to really understand what it’s like to be another type of animal or know what they feel. Thomas Nagel, author of What is it like to be a bat?, pg 197 states, “Humans inherently have the same value as any animal. Humans can’t really judge what life is like for any other animals including