Should Animals Have Human Rights?

Hi there and welcome to BrainStuff. I’m Josh
Clark, and you’re you, and this is the BrainStuff where we talk about animal personhood. So have you ever seen a kid torturing a small
animal and thought, 1) there’s a future serial killer. And 2) why doesn’t that animal have
the same rights that I do? That’s a very interesting question, and you can put it a different way:
are there animals out there that experience life in a way similar enough to ours, that
they deserve the same protections that humans receive? And it’s not just an academic question, and
not just for naval gazing. There are actually a lot of people fighting for this right now. The problem is, you can’t just say, “Sure,
animals deserve rights, let’s just call them all humans from now on.” Which is why we’re
about to discuss some very arcane legal stuff. Let’s start with the definition of a person,
a natural human person. Philosophers have been grappling with this idea for millenia,
but we’ll keep our definition simple. We’ll say that a person is an individual with free
will, a sound mind, and certain inalienable rights. Like not having your face smashed,
because that’s annoying to say the least. And this definition of person extends to all
human beings, regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation, and so on and so forth.
But you’ll notice that this definition doesn’t focus on things like physical attributes.
It focuses on things like mental attributes. Like the ability to think about abstract concepts,
to consider the future, to learn from the past. It doesn’t say anything about having
only two legs. But again, you can’t just say, “Alright, animals
are humans, let’s go forward.” That’s where the other definition of person comes up. This
is called ‘legal personhood.’ It’s the idea that you take the attributes of a person – their
rights, their responsibilities, the legal attributes – and bestow it on something that
is most decidedly not a person. Most frequently you run up against this with
corporations, who are able to enter into contracts and be sued and that kind of stuff. They are
considered (under the law) legal persons. So if it works for corporations, why can’t
we extend this to animals as well? The basis of that concept is that some animals are intelligent
enough and emotion enough that they experience life similar to that of a human child. And
as a result, they deserve the same protections that human children receive. Like not being
abused or tortured. The right to life, the right to freedom, things like that. This idea has been picking up steam in the
last couple decades. In 1992 the country of Switzerland amended its constitution to change
animals from ‘things’ to ‘beings.’ That was a watershed moment. In 2002 Germany followed
suit. And in 2007, Spain’s autonomous Balearic Islands decided to bestow legal rights to
great apes. In the US, a case was recently settled where
Steven Wise, the director of the Nonhuman Rights Project, sued a university in New York
for the freedom of two chimpanzees. At first, the case was going pretty well in his favor.
The judge ruled that the university needed to show why it was holding these two chimpanzees,
and actually used the term ‘habeas corpus,’ which, to that point, had only been applied
to human beings. The ruling was quickly reversed, like the
next day, but the case is still considered a watershed moment in the nonhuman rights
movement. But this new concept of animal rights has
its critics as well. Some people say, “Okay, if we did extend these same legal protections
that humans have to animals – like apes, cetaceans (dolphins), or elephants – then how do you
also accord them the same responsibilities that humans have, too? For example, if one monkey killed and ate
another monkey, do you charge that monkey with murder? And even if you do, and you try
him, who makes up his jury of peers? There are a lot of prickly legal questions that
would be opened up. But this does seem to be the way the animal
rights movement is moving. So, expect to be working alongside a chimp or a dolphin in
the next few years. That’s my prediction. What do you think? Do animals deserve the
same rights as you? Do corporations? Let us know in the comments section below. And while
you’re down there, go ahead and subscribe to BrainStuff. And if you like this kind of
thing, then head on over to, where you’ll find a treasure trove of interesting

100 thoughts on “Should Animals Have Human Rights?

  1. Animals need to be treated with respect. It's not so much a right but an obligation on our part. We cannot think we can harm them for pleasure or for poaching just because they don't have legal "rights".

    Native Americans killed animals and lived off of them. They used every ounce down to the bone literally, and with gratitude. They killed them, but yet were still able to respect their "rights" in my opinion. We can still do that today.

    People today a seem to more focused on their rights rather than their obligation to do their part to serve their fellow man.

  2. I can't answer the question because it comes down to a question of morals but you did kind of clear up the thinking behind Citizens United for me.?

  3. complicated, humans are animals too…. maybe all 2000000000 species get there own set of rights? Or maybe take away human rights and we can all proper animals again, or be happy with the way things are, I think the system works pretty good….. but nothings perfect

  4. There is no such thing as human rights or any other kind of rights. We just made that nonsense up. Just like all the rest of our cherished traditions and customs. The world of humanity is nothing more than a giant game of make-believe that has gone horribly wrong. Just as it should.

  5. Is there an intellectual thought anywhere on this comment page, NO. America is in trouble for her FUTURE!!!!!!

  6. I think that apes and monkeys should have rights similar to those afforded to humans, not the same, but similar, due to the vast evidence of their intelligence and sentience. I think all vertebrates should be afforded protections against abuse and undue suffering, even those we use for food. Livestock should be treated well and dispatched humanely. I could give a shit about insects and arachnids.

  7. Humans are not like other animals, so we should obviously not have all the same rights, but in the sense that our human rights give us freedom, and protect us from suffering and death, I don't see why other animals, who have similar needs, shouldn't also have 'human' rights. It gets a bit trickier when you put the inevitable violence of nature into the equation, though. Maybe freedom should be the main focus.

  8. 3:36 seems easy enough to answer. extend rights to them, but only humans have to abide by those rights…sort of the only option really.

  9. We don't need animal products in our diets. The only benefits we get from eating them are very temporary improvements to taste and convenience. This is at the cost of our health, the environment, and of course, the wellbeing of animals. So make the right choice, and go vegan!

    Fun fact: Animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gas emissions than all of worldwide transport combined.

  10. Animals do deserve more rights. I think that since most animals have the intelligence and emotions / mental capacity of human children, that they should receive rights that human children do. No more slaughter houses or hunting (or killing animals at all for that matter), no more Zoos or circus animals, harsher sentences for animal cruelty, no more animal testing, and acceptable standards need to be set for the care and well being of pets. However we can not expect animals to have the same legal responsibilities as people because first off, they don't speak our languages so how can we even tell them what they're expected to do, and secondly, like children, they don't understand our way of life well enough to be expected to conform to our views. However they still have complex emotions and social behaviors, as well as the ability to suffer and feel pain, so they should be protected under our laws. If we did half the things we did to animals to human children people would be appalled. We need to show animals the same level of respect we show our own species.

  11. The key to this debate is to understand what it is to be self aware. Most animal rights activists make the fundamental mistake of starting their arguments with the assumption that animal suffering and human suffering are one and the same thing. It is highly likely that they are not The animal rights debate is a philosophical debate on the nature of self awareness. Most debates on this subject are flawed because they do not start at this more fundamental level.
    An interesting point would be to determine if self awareness has degrees, (analogue), or whether it can only be there or not, (digital). A sliding scale seems more likely from simple observations but this could also imply that suffering can vary from human to human with the same "input" or even that there could be a higher level of suffering that humans are physically and/or mentally unable to experience due to their particular levels of self awareness either as individuals or as a species.
    Another mistake that is made is to "humanize" animals. We see an animal act in a certain way and equate it directly to the human equivalent. Why does our larinx vibrate when we feel pain, (screaming)? why does our nose not turn blue? We never look at a person with a very blue nose and say "oh dear! that person is really suffering"!! Nature could have gone down that route but off course other animals respond better to sound waves and are made aware of the danger around them more quickly. You could be next to another animal with a blue nose but if you are not looking at the nose at the time then you have no idea of the danger around you. Vibrating larinx's also lead to being "startled" a state where the neck muscles tense, the eyes open wide, etc, etc – the best way to gather more information about the danger around you communicated to you by the vibrating larinx, (not the blue nose). In an unconscious animal the vibrating larinx and the tense neck muscles and open eyes are an unconscious mechanism of data gathering. There is no emotion, there is no suffering. In a self aware human there is also the data gathering but their is also suffering and emotion. We must not transpose the latter to the animal. It is meaningless.
    I have no recollection of being born or indeed anything about the first years of life. Why is that? Maybe it was because that which I now know to be "me" was not there. I had not formed yet. I was also an unconscious animal at this time. If you had stuck a needle in me or subjected me to any form of pain then yes, the larinx would have vibrated due to my millions of years of animal evolution but nobody would have suffered. I know this because that baby was me and I have no recollection of anything.

  12. Sorry to rant on….

    I think the observations we can make when looking at a new born baby are interesting in this debate. (and I hope everyone can just look at these points for what they are – just a thought process).

    It does appear that self awareness in humans is something that develops with time. We are born without it and then their comes a time when we are absolutely convinced we possess it

    If you inflict pain on a new born baby then you see all the motor responses that are pre-programmed into the babies brain. The larinx vibrates to warn of danger and attract the mother/father/defender… Interestingly enough when the pain is removed, the baby quickly returns to a state of calm and could quickly laugh if entertained with a funny face. This shows the on/off nature of mechanisms at this early unconscious state, (a bit like a bag over the eagles head – day/night thing), in which in an unconscious animal their is no true understanding of time and place and certainly no imagination to ponder the future of another needle approaching!

    The animal reactions may be there when nerves are triggered but it could be argued that in this unconscious state their is no emotional suffering that goes with the conditioned reflexes. The vibrating larix does not give rise to any emotional suffering. I can assume that because that baby was me and I have no recollection of any suffering to "myself" at this time. "I" was not there at this time. "I" did not exist. Their was no conscious being there at this time to "suffer"

    It is not a question of memory because when I am 90 I will certainly be able to recall events when i was a small child. Memory no doubt is also a big part of the self conscious state as is brain "computing power"

    It does seem that we are all born unconscious and that self awareness takes time to develop in the human as it may well do to some degree in other higher order animals. It is probably the case though that in most of the animal kingdom, self awareness never develops and the animal continues through it's life in an unconscious state unaware of it's own existence as I was in the first few years of life.. A fox may well never truly know it is not a rabbit.

  13. Yes, they should have the same rights as humans, as long as they are slathered in bbq sauce and cooked to a nice golden brown.

  14. when a dog kills a human the dog is immediatley killed even when its not their fault. if a human kills a dog they dont even get half as much punishment and certainally arnet killed. Unfair.

  15. Animals beside humans don't deserve human rights. Humans do. Just because they are human. That is the main important thing about Human rights. It is given to you as soon as you are born. The other animals? Well…… I do feel sorry for that fried chicken I ate last week….

  16. One cannot have a right without responsibilities. My responsibility are to pay taxes, and not harm anybody in society, thats how I get rights. If you can have an agreement with another animal to do so as well as an average human, then they gain their rights.

  17. God created Man better than all animals, animals are made for us and our benefits,but humans are not made for animals.However it is our duty to not to hurt them , let them die due to malnutrition,if they are hurt then treat them.But they can't have equal rights as human

  18. This was such a horrible explanation as to what animal rights activists are striving for. This was so fucking bad ugh.

  19. Please recognize the difference between animal welfare and animal rights before writing them off as one in the same. If you support animal rights, you are arguing that humans shouldn't use animals for their own benefit – even in circumstances where it is humane, where there is interdependence between species, and it is for the greater good –
    that includes the very concept of owning pets. Instead, consider yourself a supporter of animal welfare, advocating for the well being of animals rather than their complete separation from humans like animal rights intends.

  20. Should They? Not the exact same rights. Like a snake killing a mouse and going to jail is like eating food and going to jail. Animals deserve the rights they deserve and what they most likely will accept. EX:
    Dog Rights
    Cat Rights
    Cow Rights
    Pig Rights
    Chicken Rights
    Horse Rights
    Rabbit Rights
    Bunny Rights
    Each animal will have a fair right, they will deserve to be treated nice and have the right to eat what they eat.
    Dogs have the right to be treated nicely and not be abandoned. If the dog bites someone and its not like on purpose or the one they bit is literally has a hole and bleeding, that dog doesn't deserve being executed. Only if they kill someone or someone's dog or cat.

    Chicken Rights:
    Chickens deserve to be raised humanely before being eaten. And if feathers are needed we will need an invention to cut the feather off without even touching the chicken's skin.
    (Alot of people probably disagree on this)

  21. Animals have rights but think this way, humans have populated so much let's remove their balls good so far right now for women let's remove the ovaries and uterus also that shark that attacked that fish let's take him to court j-just reach in the ocean and pull that fucker out, yeah not a pleasant place to live if you still agree with animal rights well we will put you on a leash and make a dog take you outside to shit.

  22. Animals are not humans. They don't need legal personhood, but better enforcement and protections of their existing legal rights such as with dogs to not be tortured.

    Animals have their own versions of natural born rights of life, liberty, and something equivalent in this context to the pursuit of happiness. These rights are things we deny, or we try to compare to ours, but these aren't humans! No sense in trying to apply the legal personhood model of law made for humans to animals. They need better enforcement and more complete protections of their rights. It is already illegal to torture animals, but only if you aren't going to eat them. We need to build on those types of laws. They need to better reflect their natural born rights.

    Why is this so hard to understand?

  23. animals should have the right to not be hurt and to live and animal abusers should be killed … not very hard to understand that fact

  24. The reason i disagree with animals having rights, is because if i kill an ant with my bare hands, i shouldn't get prison for murder, and it would be extremely ridiculous if i did. Get over it, animal rights activists.

  25. I'm going to say no, considering that animals don't and can't contribute to our society in a productive manner. If we held animals to the same standards as humans, they would be arrested for murder, not paying taxes and for fucking and shitting everywhere. Even human criminals can have their rights taken away. Rights are a human construct, it is not a universal thing.

  26. I dont believe they should have rights, but at the same time you should have enough ethical value to not go up and kick a dog or harm an animal without purpose of helping people

  27. An animal should have the right to not be mistreated and killed. There are no rational arguments against that.

  28. Anything that feels love nurtures their young and feels fear and pain should be protected. Little do we know all species have a place a job on this earth and we just destroy everything.

  29. So, if animals have the same rights, would it be like:
    If a lion was found attacking a gazelle, would that thing sent to court?

  30. Animals have rights. Yeah, we need to kill some to eat, but other than that they should not be abused/tortured..etc. I also believe in HUMANELY killing animals if necessary.

  31. The right to vote? Nah.
    The right to drive? Why should they.
    The right to live and to not be someone else's property? Of course.

  32. The arguments aren't for animals to have human rights, it is for animals to be protected against cruelty and harm. The right to life and freedom does not mean giving animals the right to vote etc. The slippery slope argument for not extending compassion to animal because they would then be treated as humans is lazy to say the least.

  33. I aint vegan but human kind have no mercy for animals like the maple leaf hatchery grinding up male chicks
    So over a million chicks die almost every day its so so sad

  34. It all depends on the scenario. I feel that certain animals we can kill for food, provided it's the right time and place. We can use animals for sports and entertainment if we can do it in such a manner that they are satisfied and they are given time off. Animals are not people, nor are they objects. The issue is having so many people and so much greed.

  35. Pet keeping is bad human behavior. Let animals live their life in their own race in their own free space (not zoo) !

  36. They do not need to be treated like humans cause they're not. The question in my opinion should be if we should keep treating them as if they were the worst criminals on earth, you know keeping them locked up in zoo's, using them for entertainment in circuses and sea worlds and not to mention the over 56 billion animals we kill just for food each year when we don't need too (in fact we would be even better off without as meat, dairy and processed foods are the main causes of the worlds biggest killers in form of diseases). We need to wake up this world and do better with the information that we are so privileged to have <3 Spread the word – go vegan for our planet, fellow beings (the animals) and our selves

  37. The question is semantically invalid. You can't say "should". They either do or they don't. So they only proper question is "Do animals have rights?". The original question is like asking "should 1 be 2?" or "Should yellow be red?". It is grammatically correct, but semantically invalid. Immutable things can't have a "should" for their attributes, they are derived by the identity of what the thing is. Animals either have rights or they don't and they do not have rights.

  38. Some of them yes, i don't want any animals to suffer , ill happly get popcorn and watch humans getting boiled alive

  39. AS long as people go to jail for kicking pets and endangered species or get the death penalty , if u can torcher an animal u can torcher a human, death fot those people

  40. I think if a monkey killed another monkey of course the monkeys couldn’t testify, or be a jury so we would have to use humans, but i feel like the humans would be biased against the monkeys, and not take it seriously so they would not say it is a monkey, and just say it is a human, and if a monkey does something bad to a human it would be the same drill, but if a human sued a monkey of course the monkey does not have money so i think he would have to pay with an alternative, but if a monkey sued a human the monkey of course would not appreciate money so the human would probably use the equivalent money to but a bunch of food, and stuff like that, but you might be asking how does a monkey sue a human because it cannot actually talk after all well i think the monkey should have a human lawyer who always takes on the case, but how do we know he is taking it seriously and is not biased well i think he would have to go to a special school, or take a special test to become a monkey lawyer, and he could only become a monkey lawyer if he went to that special school to study special monkey law, and to be a lawyer of a human he would have to go to normal law school
    Like if you agree

  41. Whist human rights have many complex issues…the main most important "right" animals should be granted is the right to live FREE of ownership by humans.

    Other issues such as "self defence" and pest control issues of human protecting their lives and environment would be the next issues regarding the "right to life" of any such animals posting threats to humans in the human environment. However the worst abuse of animals all stems from the fact humans are allowed to "own" non human animals. This means we can kill them if we please for whatever reasons.

    We forcibly breed unnatural species of animals that we then make dependant on us as no longer part of any natural ecosystem.

    Those breeds should cease…humans forcing animals to reproduce…which stems from the 1st problem of "owning" animals like property.

    I do not agree with "speciesism" favouring SOME species like apes who happen to seem more "human like" than other animals. SENTIENCE should be the only criteria.

    Humans should not interfere with non human species behaviours and morals that we humans cannot understand or necessarily share.

    Animal Ownership. Are most or just a minority of vegans against this or not ? is a valid question ….if anyone wants to reply yes or no or any other comments on this simple question. Domesticated animals…are not natural. Not vegan. Whether farm bred by humans species or pet species.

    After reading and watching various youtube talks on Veganism….having originally seen the mantra of PETA which clearly states "Animals are NOT OURS" for use entertainment food etc purposes…and read the Gary Francione Abolitionist Vegan writings also in tandem with this view that even PETS were not an ethical situation as they were "owned" prisoners of humans not living natural lives at all.

    I then was alarmed to see many "vegans" promoting the continuation of animals as "pets" and seeing animals therefore as things to "use" for our companionship needs etc as desirable.

    My that historically animals whether for food or transport etc "uses" had uses…some easy to keep species then when technology replaced the need for their "uses" were turned into "Pets" and others like shire and transport mainly horse breeds naturally went extinct. Real wild horse species bearing no resemblance to their original wild natural ancestors anymore than a modern human designed species farm pig bred for meat resembles physically a wild boar.

    Our "pet" dogs and cat breeds are also unnatural human designed breeds. None of the human designed animal breeds can now live naturally in any ecosystem in the wild they are dependant on humans and there is no space or ecosystem that they belong in out there. Therefore the extinction of these human created species is natural and desirable as part of the goal of a vegan world. Leaving only REAL natural species o wildlife.what is even left of them now wolves lions elephants hedgehogs etc are down to minimal numbers.

    The animals humans own and keep ..are all prisoners. Whether petted on their heads when chosen to live unnaturally in our homes having their testicles cut off as "pets" to never have families naturally etc of their own and be forced to behave as humans require behaviourally to fit in with our unnatural life we want from a non human animal, or a human bred "farm animal" intended to be killed for food. The only difference in STATUS of a farm animal owned by humans and a PET animal owned by humans…is their TREATMENT. Their status is exactly the same…they are prisoners…used by us and lead unnatural lives. Owned legally by us, unlike as i said protected against ownership REAL wild animal species..some not all. I look forward to the day we accept ALL ownership of any animals is accepted as unethical, and therefore possible due to public opinion changing, to be made ILLEGAL. So long as we continue to promote the idea that is GOOD and ethically RIGHT to keep PET prisoners…we cannot at the same time say we should not own and do as we please with animals we choose to TREAT differently by killing them.

    Owning animals…is not vegan. Owning pets is not vegan even if we justify keeping and "treating" some of them as well as WE think necessary and think saving "rescue" abandoned by previously owners of those pet animals is ethically better than destroying them…which half are always anyway….because pet ownership is seen as a human RIGHT so that will always continue, so long as humans think "owning" animals is ok.

    Because animals are "property" except some protected REAL wild animal species that it is illegal to "own" therefore THOSE are really free and safe from human "ownership" as "pets" we can destroy them when they serve no purpose. Which is the case for every single pet dog or cat owned. We can just destroy them if it suits us. Only cessation of pet ownership itself and allowing animals to be natural species free of human ownership will the enormous numbers of DEATHS of hundreds of millions per year of PET abandons cease.

    I share this video which discusses some of these issues well.

    Eisel Mazard known as A Bas Le Ciel on youtube


    I end saying I agree that Captive animals are NOT companion animals. We may like to use that term, like fur babies…never recognising that they are ADULT mature animals not kids …who in the human or other animal world when grown up, adult are FREE to make their own lives and decisions.

    There is nothing NATURAL about an animal of another species like a human feeding another adult animal. We do this because we OWN them and they are our prisoners and we cannot set them free to live naturally as they were human created unnatural species that should go extinct to be ethical by ceasing to adulate pet ownership as ethically right for any animal.

    Vegans should promote, encourage cessation of pet ownership. Recognise pets are unnatural prisoners of humans and should go extinct like the human created unnatural farm frankenstein breeds.

  42. I do not believe animals deserve any rights. There is no right in nature until people invented this concept. The mother nature did not give our ancestors any "rights". As a human, human should always be the priority.

  43. Can we just all agree to be nice to animals? Unless they are trying to kill you then it's ok to kill them, or food, animals are made to be eaten as well,

  44. The question is not "should animals have human rights?" The question is should we, as humans who are also animals, stop depriving other animals of their natural rights?

  45. 🙂 This video was VERYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY helpful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  46. You forgot to say what animals are similar to humans from the prospective of thinking like us and be like us and we can't charge monkey for murder because he doesn't have the capability to know what it is murder and there are birds who have the intelligence of five years old human child then what then kids don't know in that age what good and wrong they are just learning and if we give animals rights that means we can't eat them which the majority of people in our world today eat animals

  47. I don't think non-human animal rights advocacy is about having a Chimp, or a Dolphin working along side of you. I do believe that we do not have the right to cause indescribable horror on non-human animals just because we like the way they taste, or because their skins keep us warm, or how they can entertain us etc. They experience pain the same way human animals do.

  48. Just the fact that we're capable of understanding that we're different than animals shows us that we're different than animals, animals aren't self-aware like we are. Animal rights to animals, human rights to humans. The two rights can be similar but it doesn't have to be one homogenous thing.

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