How can some animal rights activists believe that other animals are our equals?

Before answering this, I need to first emphasize that this is a view which is not shared by many animal rights activists. For example, there are some animal rights activists who hold the view that only human beings are made in the image of God.

However, I myself do believe that other animals are our equals in some sense, and I would like to explain the reasoning behind this.

We often like to say that all human beings are created equal, and this is a statement I strongly agree with. However, we need to stop and ask ourselves what we mean by the phrase "all human beings are created equal." Do we mean that all human beings have equal intelligence, equal creativity, and equal physical abilities? If this is what we mean, then we are clearly in trouble, since we are not all equal in these regards. For example, a severely mentally retarded human clearly has less intelligence than you or I do.

However, I still believe that it is accurate to say that all human beings are created equal in the sense that all human beings deserve equal compassion, and equal ethical consideration, in spite of their inequalities in these other areas. If we extend this type of "equality" to severely mentally retarded humans, then we must also extend it to other species. This is because the animals which we kill for food, clothing, and experimentation have a considerably higher level of intelligence, and capacity for social interaction, than do many severally mentally retarded humans who we correctly recognize as our equals.

Most importantly, other animals feel pain and suffering just as we do, and they value their lives just as we value ours.


Follow up questions:

What about insects?

Aren't only humans self aware?

What about killing plants?

Would you rather save your child or your dog?

Isn't it insulting to compare human beings with animals?

Don't only human beings have a soul?

Doesn't duty to our own kind come first?


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