Animal Liberation

The main question to which you should be responding is highlighted in bold print below. In developing your essay, do not simply answer the questions in order, but try to connect your answers into a coherent essay. The questions are simply intended to stimulate thought on your part, to give you some idea of the kinds of questions you should be considering in your answer.
Do you think animal liberation is a crime? If so, what makes it a crime? If not, how do you define a crime, and how does the liberation of animals fall short of that definition? Do you think the original owners of the animals have rights – for example, property rights – that are violated by their “theft”? Should the liberators have to compensate their “victim”? If the dolphin in Midgley’s essay was truly treated inhumanely, do the owners deserve compensation? Who, then, would be the true victim in that scenario? What constitutes inhumane treatment in the first place? (Notice the equivocation here: The word “inhumane” comes from the word “human.” Are animals, if they are not human beings or persons, entitled to “humane” treatment? What is your definition of “human” or “person,” and to what extent do animals fall under it?) If you do not consider animal liberation theft, explain why not. What moral principle(s) would you invoke here to defend your answer? Would you make an exception in the case of animal testing (i.e. experiments with animals) for the sake of developing life-saving medicines for human beings? How about for the sake of developing perfume, shampoos, lipstick, and other beauty products? Do you think it should play any role in determining the liberator’s guilt whether (or how well) he knew the animal? In other words, if someone off the street decides, as a matter of principle, to free a dolphin from Sea World, should he be treated in the same way as someone who knew the animal “personally”? If not, what is it about knowing the animal and its condition that changes the legal circumstances? Why should that play a role at all? Should that completely exonerate the person or only be a mitigating circumstance?

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