In to his paper The Case for Animal Rights, Tom Regan argues that people cannot hurt animals because they have inherent morals and are closely related to humans. Therefore, people should not eat animals or harm them in any way: we will no longer interfere with the circle of life (that Regan argues we must become a part of). Essentially, this extreme attack on our culture in regards to animals is a huge contradiction.
Since animals must be on the same “playing field” as humans, this must work in the other way. Humans must partake in the circle of life, but also must not kill any other animals. All animals are immediately deemed immoral. Many proponents of Regan place children, mentally-handicapped people and animals as the same, but if they were to go and kill everything with their bare teeth, this would definitely not be considered moral.
Regan’s response is not unheard of, however. Factory farming and a vile treatment of animals is not right, and animals do have some inherent morals, possibly even as much as humans. Animals, however, can not be treated exactly the same as humans because they simply are not the same.
Why is this? Probably because we’ve chosen to separate ourselves from animals. But that’s another discussion for another post.