Recent Issues about Animal Rights Essay

There are different schools of thought and philosophies on how the animals whether wild or domesticated should be treated. There are several movements that advocate for the rights of animals all over the world.

However, not everybody supports such movements because some people believe that animals do not deserve any rights and can be treated with any form of cruelty (Legge 19). This study will evaluate the philosophies of Zhuangzi and the Analects and come up with the findings on their views, beliefs, and practices about the welfare of animals more especially regarding using them for experiments and entertainment.

In Daoism, the place of the imagined and actual animals is so complex and is one of the topics that has not been given much focus by the researchers. In the Chinese traditional culture, the sacrifices that involved animals as well as offering their blood was a common occurrence. As a history of the Chinese people animals were mainly used for slaughtering and offerings for rituals. It is not very clear on the kind of treatment that the animals used to get and the types of slaughtering which were practiced. The animals reared in the Pre-modern China were chickens, goats, pigs, and horses. (Legge 21). In the traditional China pork meat was the preferred type of food. Traditionally, the Chinese kept pigs which became part and parcel of a home. During that period the wild animals were also present and they were given the best treatment by the Chinese. Different types of wild animals such as the monkeys, the bear, the turtles, the deer and the tigers were available and were regarded as part of nature. The information is based on the historical sources. The Chinese used to hunt and kill these animals for human consumption. Some other animals were used for making imperial sacrifices, as well as, the Chinese medicine that was for the treatment of diverse diseases and ailments (Jacobsson 12). However, the information concerning the way they were treated is very little in the modern and pre-modern China. Daoism was the only original traditional religion that grew in the Chinese culture and was practiced by the Han ethnic group before emergence of globalization. Therefore, the Daoists practiced the Chinese traditional values as well as the beliefs and practices which included the traditions of the diet to be taken. Anybody who deviated from or tried to alter the traditions they found themselves in an awkward position because of the reprimand they got from the society which was dominant (Mou et al. 54). Any form of change of the traditions had to get a justification from the value systems that are alternative such as theology.

According to the philosophy of Zhuangzi, there would be no problem using animals for experiments and for entertainment because based on his teaching which became part of the Chinese culture animals were not given such a special place in nature. According to Zhuang, there is information on the engagement of animals with human beings (c370-c.290 BCE). The book an anthology that is multi-vocal and has different layers of history beginning 4th to the 2nd century BCE. The information in the book contains crucial texts of the Daoism classical and is mostly referred to as the philosophy of Daoism (Mou et al. 54). Within Zhuang’s contours, there are different views on the animals however there is a consistent mention of their innate link with Dao.

The Zhuangzi teachings say that all animals should be accorded equal respect and treated humanely but the surprise is that when the animals are treated with cruelty they cannot intervene. The following is a quote from Chuang Tzu:

” …the real is originally there in things, and the sufficient is originally there in things. There’s nothing that is not real and nothing that is not sufficient.

Hence, the blade of grass and the pillar, the leper and the ravishing beauty, the noble, the sniveling, the disingenuous, the strange – it Tao they all move as one and the same. Indifference in the whole; in wholeness is the broken. Once they are neither whole nor broken, all things move freely as one and the same again. (23),

Based on the above sentiments, the animals should be given the best respect like the one that the human beings enjoy. They also show that the treatment that human beings would get would not be different from the ones accorded to the animals. However, the idea of equal treatment of animals as humans does not specify how it should be achieved (Mou et al. 60). The following is an excerpt from Tao Te Ching on page 5 to show that

“Heaven and earth are Inhumane:
they use the ten thousand things like straw dogs.
And the sage to is Inhumane:
he uses the hundred-fold people like straw dogs.,

This is a free sample essay you cannot use as your own academic paper. If you are looking for a high-quality custom-written essay about animal rights, hire professional essay writers on

The author of the text is trying to say that sometimes the world does not work in a manner that Confucians want it to work. The pursuing of humanity that is ideal sometimes becomes an illusion because sometimes tragedies face all the species of the animals. The teachings of Taoism rejects any form of cruelty that is inflicted on the animals. Though he regards the animals as being lower than the human beings he does not vouch for any form of mistreatment and cruelty on the animals and will totally be uncomfortable with such form of mistreatment (Mou et al. 56). On the classical Taoism, there are three major views on the way the animals should be treated:

  • It is important that animals are given the opportunity to flourish whether they are domesticated or wild
  • The habit of people to interfere with the ecosystem in which the animals are living is criticized because it completely interferes with their inner power and nature
  • The animals should be considered and recognized as ones who have the potential of becoming the teachers of human beings
  • In the expression of their innate nature, people are the ones who are least realized. Therefore, for the purpose of reconnecting with Tao, they should have close observance of the animals as well as other creatures for guidance.

The Classical Daoism emphasizes that animals such as the horses and oxen which has four feet should not be treated with cruelty. Zhuangzi also discourages the habit of changing the objects of divination for the sea turtles. He says,

“So I say: do not let what is human wipe out what is celestial; do not let what is purposeful wipe out what is fated; do not let [the desire for] gain lead you after fame. Be cautious, guard it, and do not lose it—this is what I mean by returning to authenticity.” The Zhuangzi also criticizes the ancient Chinese practice of changing sea turtles into divination objects, specifically through ritual sacrifice involving plastromancy (divination through turtle plastrons) and pyromancy (divination through fire).”

To show a total commitment to the welfare of the animals Zhuangzi, in the medieval Daoism came up with a pattern of the different diets for different categories of people. He said that deities should be divine vegetarians, the leaders of communities and the priests should be ritual vegetarians meaning occasional vegetarians and the immortality seekers should be total vegetarians. He went further to say that vegetarians mean no taking of meat and veganism means no taking of any products from animals (Jacobsson 66). This classification and instruction was the highest indication of the commitment that he had towards the preservation of the lives of the animals.

It is therefore obvious that Zhuangzi would at all costs accept any cruelty of the animals because considered them as important as human beings. The animals being used for experiments or entertainment would tantamount to the violation of their rights (Legge 25). Currently, monastics of Quanzhen must vow that they will practice vegetarianism as one of their religious commitments. Every year more than a hundred million animals which include the frogs, rabbits, rats, mice, pigs, birds, fish and monkeys lose their lives in the United States so that they can be used in laboratories for experiments some of which are driven for curiosity purposes. Other reasons why some of these animals are killed include for medical training, testing for cosmetic purposes and drug purposes. Some of these animals are killed by being forced to inhale drugs that are toxic, digging holes terminate others in their skulls, and others get immobilized through the use of immobilized devices which take several hours hence torturing them.

Currently in the US, experiments are being conducted using mice on the treatment of cancer. These animals are tortured in the laboratory by being deprived of their natural environment. This information is based on the National Cancer Institute. Currently, there are several experiments going on in several European countries and the US on finding the cure for HIV/AIDS and the scientists are using primates because their bodies function like those of human beings. This kind of cruelty that is exposed to animals is regarded as unethical by made organizations that fight for the rights of the animals. Though the scientist Argue that the benefits of using the animals outweigh the disadvantages these animals are exposed to untold told yet other alternatives can be used when experiments for medical reasons are being conducted. This would be against Zhuangzi but would get the support of the Analects.

The practices ok keeping animals for entertainment like the dog fighting, horse racing, and fishing and bullfighting is one way of making the animals do things out of their will. It is very common for bulls to be used for entertainment in Spain in the form of bullfighting. In the process of the show, the cows get injured, and some end up dying. Before they start fighting, these bulls get intoxicated by being given drugs so that they can be aggressive in the fighting. It is considered unethical for the animals to be treated that way because it is morally wrong to do so and the rights of the animals are violated, it addresses the animals as a means to achieve the human end. Additionally, it does not give the pet the respect that it deserves. It also violates the rights of the animals to live in freedom. The use of animals for circus also denies them the respect which they deserve as well as their freedom.
In most cases, the way the animals are handled involves a lot of cruelty. It also dislocates them from their natural habitats hence making them uncomfortable. The animals are also included in activities that are not natural to their behaviors. Countries such as Australia, Bolivia, Columbia, Croatia, Cyprus, and Bosnia have banned the use of animals for entertainment. However, other like Britain and Spain continue using them. The Analects will support this form of entertainment but not the Zhuangzi.

The Analects
Confucius had different views from those of Zhuangzi on the way the animals are supposed to be treated. According to him, it is as if the animals did not exist and were not much registered on his compass of morality. He said, “One cannot herd with birds and beasts. If I am not to be a man among other men, then what am I to be?” (Analects 18:6, trans. Arthur Waley). The statement was anchored on his long-held principle that being not able to bear other people and animals tribulations was the major feature of human beings that distinguishes him from the rest of the animals (Confucius and Lionel 154). Confucianism had a very good system of self-moral cultivation on civilization more especially the social civilization but it is very hard to find a text that clearly endorses an ethic that is animal-friendly.

However, the movements that are commonly referred to a neo-Confucian of medieval China appears somehow animal-centric. This is a complete contrast with the way Daoism treated the animals because there are so many quotations on how the animals should be treated even prescribing the vegetarian diet. Amongst one of the collected sayings that are attributed to Confucius gives an illustration that when the fire burned down a stable his first and last question would be how many people had escaped but he never made any reference to the horses. During the time of Confucius, the horses were considered as a valuable property while those who took care of them were not, yet he never mentioned them (Confucius et al. 17). This is an indication of his callousness to the animals in general. Therefore, under the Analects, there would be the issue if animals are used for experiments for study purposes because he never valued the animals at all. He did not believe that the rights which people enjoy should be extended to animals (Fennell 5). He believed in humanity whereby human beings were to be treated to humane but not the animals.

The following are the arguments he put forward to justify his disregard for the animals:

  • If the human beings are obligated to extend the human rights to the animals that are not human, then human beings can be regarded as an extension of the family.
  • The animals are not able to be part of the same extended family where a human being belongs
  • The animals cannot have an internalization of the cultural practices as human beings do
  • The human beings are not obligated to extend the human rights to the animals.
    (Make ham 111).The Zhuangzi and the Analects have totally divergent views on the treatment and welfare of the animals

The Strengths and Weaknesses
The Analects philosophy on the treatment of animals has various weaknesses. Firstly, it lacks ethics more especially the care ethics which are supposed the guiding principle in any society that can regard itself as being morally sound. The fact that the animals are non-human does not make them lack feelings when they are exposed to unfavorable conditions. Or it does not mean they do not have rights to life. However, non-human they are, they should be cared for. On the other hand, the Zhuangzi philosophy is very strong because it has inculcated ethics of care (Evans 81). Therefore, it values animals and gives them utmost care that they require because they deserve to live too and live in a conducive environment.

The Animal Ethics
The term animal ethics refers to the kind of relationship that should exist between the animals and human beings. Under the subject issues like the welfare of the animals, their rights, their recognition, the animal laws, the theories of justice on the animals, the moral status of the animals that are not human and the animal conservation (Eisenman 39). The countries in Europe have always been taking a leadership role in the ethics of the animals. There are several organizations that fight for the protection of animals. Some governments in Europe and America have passed legislation that gives animals the rights ranging from good health, reproduction, and killing (Eisenman 40). The animal rights groups, as well as, the legislation apart from addressing the issue of cruelty against animals and also address the following issues:

  • Using animals to conduct experiments
  • Rearing of animals and then killing them for food
  • The keeping of animals with the aim of getting some goods from them such as leather
  • The hunting of animals
  • Using animals for entertainment
  • The keeping animals in Zoos where their movements are restricted
  • The keeping of pets
  • The bunny-hugging

The above stated are some of the actions that curtail the rights of the animals. Though some people argue that the animals do not deserve rights but human beings do. The reasons for the protection of animals outweigh the ones that advocate for their cruelty based on the ethics (Eisenman 43).

The Sources of Knowledge
Human beings face two major problems related to epistemology. Firstly making a determination of which facts are true and making a decision on the facts that are important. Everything that human beings know has its origin on the following four sources: The senses (the most important), the authority which is the knowledge gained from other sources, reasoning, and intuition (Porada 144). When knowledge is obtained from the four sources then one can be sure that the type of information got is authentic.

Care Ethics and Political Theory
There has always been an interconnection between political theory and ethics. The intertwining between the two arises from the argument whether ethics is understood as the basis for organizing the institutions that are political in nature or is the instituting of those institutions under the service of ethics. The care ethics has a lot of influence on the politics and the political theory. The foundation for the care ethics is the interdependency and dependency and it is about the ideas of caring about one another. As human beings, we get support and help from one another which might be in the form of the needs of the body or the sense of self. The relationships in human beings are pivotal for our survival and flourishing. Since human beings have their foundations of care and relations then the same can be extended to animals though they are non-human. Ethics of care means that the ones who are vulnerable and are not able to protect themselves should be taken care (Waldron 188). The ethics can influence the political institutions which are governments to come up with legislation that protects the animals against cruelty and other forms of injustices that are inflicted on them when their rights are trampled upon

Works Cited
Confucius and Lionel Giles. The Sayings of Confucius: A New Translation of the Greater Part of the Confucian Analects. 2016.
Confucius, et al. The Analects: The Simon Leys Translation, Interpretations. 2014.
Eisenman, Stephen. The Cry of Nature: Art and the Making of Animal Rights. 2013.
Evans, Kim M. Animal Rights. 2016.
Fennell, David A. Tourism, and Animal Ethics. 2017.
Jacobsson, Kerstin, and Jonas Lindblom. Animal Rights Activism: A Moral-Sociological Perspective on Social Movements. 2016.
Legge, James. Texts of Taoism. Dover Publications, 2013.
Make ham, John. Transmitters and Creators: Chinese Commentators and Commentaries on the Analects. Harvard U Asia Center, 2003.
Mou, Zhongjian, and Junliang Pan. Taoism. Brill, 2012
Porada, Aleksandra. "Sources of Knowledge, Sources of Doubts: The Emergence of Modern Religious Studies and the French Enlightenment." The Sources of Secularism, 2017, pp. 141-167
Robson, James. Daoism. Norton, 2015.
Waldron, Jeremy. Political Theory: Essays on Institutions. 2016.