Abstract Summary version Essay: The Anti-Human Supremacy Animal Rights Argument Notes Abstract This essay is intended to offer a stronger alternative argument in accessible language for extending ethical regard and rights to nonhuman life forms than the "speciesism equals racism" and sentience/suffering criteria approach that is widely used in the animal rights debate. It is an examination of what secular and spiritual beliefs motivate human discrimination against non humans, and the arguments employed to defend it.
The basic animal righton position is that moral regard should not be based on any characteristic alleged to be uniquely human but instead be a general compassion principle using sentience - a basic interest in living, avoiding pain, maximizing pleasure - as the standard by which we determine the moral worth of others. This effort to extend moral concern beyond humans rests upon the other person sharing the same sense of compassion and agreeing that the uniquely human traits (real or imagined) that are often considered praise-worthy are in fact insignificant when compared to this alternative criteria.
All arguments are not created equal. There are differences in their intent and the degree to which they impact an audience's psyche. If you wish to make the strongest case for justice and respect towards nonhuman beings, then destroying human arrogance is crucial and human nature is your greatest ally in the cause. Why is it acceptable to routinely treat nonhumans in ways that would be considered atrocities if done to the most hated criminals?