The issue of animal rights raises the dilemma about the new subjects of democracy. There is a growing interest in life in general, broadening the field of those who deserve attention and raising new questions about the relationship maintained with non-human animals because these links express the moral quality of contemporary societies.
Regarding animal life, it is now possible to observe discrimination against certain beings based on their belonging to species other than ours.
This discrimination is based on misconceptions about animals, among them, that they are irrational and that their life is entirely mechanical, but that today they become erroneous in the light of the evidence that science offers in its different branches of knowledge, about its skills and abilities to solve problems, socialize and have an emotional life.
When these abilities and capacities exist, the animals have a series of interests to satisfy and, therefore, rights to protect that are limited when they are mistreated, confined, isolated from their social group, and subjected to painful experimentation, leaving behind serious consequences at a physical and psychological level.
Sensitivity understood as the ability to feel pain is the starting point for a democratic ethic that considers the interests of all sentient beings as objects of legal and moral concern.
The rights of animals are based on two premises: treating equals according to their equality, and not harming any of the animals that, as confirmed by scientific ethology, are capable of feeling pain, anguish, and suffering.
Increasing legal prohibitions against abuse and enacting rights for animals is accompanied by a powerful cultural transformation of society to attack the real problem, represented by the insensitivity to cruelty and lack of respect for life, which characterizes the evolution human
The dignified treatment of animals is a citizen’s duty and is part of that democratic culture that recognizes the need to gradually expand rights.
It is about “de-costing” animals, that is, stop considering them as things, recognizing their capacity to have a life of their own, mentally and emotionally. For that reason, as the philosopher Jorge Riechmann argues, using them as a means to satisfy only human interests and needs is an act that can be considered immoral.
Democracy postulates the need for an ecological ethic that addresses the moral problems that arise in the relationship of the person with nature and the rest of living beings.
To guarantee the rights of animals, public policies are required that promote an effective culture of animal life protection, encouraging discussion about the introduction and modification of regulations that encourage fair treatment towards them, but above all, educational strategies that are necessary socialize the ethical reasons why an animal should not be mistreated, accompanied by a promotion of respect for life in all its manifestations.
In the world the raising of animals, the domestication, the sale, and the killing of many species is due to the little value that is already given to life, therefore, the mistreatment of any species is an ethical problem.
Cruelty to animals is the treatment that causes suffering or harm to animals. The definition of unacceptable suffering varies. Some consider only suffering for simple cruelty to animals, while others include suffering inflicted for other reasons, such as meat production, skin procurement, scientific experiments with animals, and egg industries. Many people consider cruelty to animals as a matter of great moral importance.