|A single coin will increase in value as a collector's item once it is taken out of circulation. This also seems to apply to animals. An animal is given extra intrinsic value once it threatens to become extinct. However, the larger the number of a certain species and the more maltreatment it receives, the less intrinsic value the animal deserves, so it seems. The total of all 450 million factory animals in the Netherlands seem to have less intrinsic value than the panda in China. The intrinsic value of animals implies that they have their own value, apart from their financial, instrumental and practical value, attributed by humans. The question is whether man is able or willing to keep those issues separated.||
Intrinsic value: empty words?
Since the adoption of the Animal Protection Act in
1981, the Dutch Government has acknowledged the concept
of the intrinsic value of the individual animal. The
Health and Welfare Act describes the term in the following
|Since its inclusion
in Dutch legislation the term has been embraced by animal
rights activists. The fact that so many have accepted
the term and that conditions for animals have only deteriorated
instead of improved, should arouse suspicion in all animal
We all pretend to know what is meant by intrinsic value. It sounds interesting enough and we let it speak for itself, not really understanding what we are talking about. The term is gratefully used by the interested parties in the factory farming business and by politicians. Talking is cheap when speaking of animals in terms of their intrinsic value. Their words about intrinsic value does nothing to help improve the animals' living conditions. Their words are empty, seemingly in the interest of animals.
Value and right are unrelated
Rights of individuals (man or animal) should not decrease
or increase in relation to their value, be it in terms
of money, indispensability or intrinsic value. Even
if a person should consider their own life worth next
to nothing, this person's rights would be equal to that
of a person with a high self-esteem.
It is in our nature to focus on high priority issues and to ignore insignificant matters. Likewise people tend to consider living beings worthless that are found to have little intrinsic value. Factory farming is a situation where large numbers of animals are sure to have diminished intrinsic value.
is a better basic principle of animal
The concept of intrinsic value is beyond our powers of imagination. In other words, it is not what you think it is. Intrinsic value constitutes an impracticable basic principle of animal rights.
There is a certain analogy to religion. You cannot persuade a person to believe in God on the strength of rational arguments. People with the same faith usually succeed in reaching agreement on the practical implications. However, there is no legal consensus on faith. Likewise, there is no unequivocal definition of intrinsic value to make it legally disputable in a court of law. Intrinsic value is a vague and therefore impracticable term as a fundament of animal rights. Finally and this is a serious objection: it is a type of circular reasoning. People will always (unconsciously) object to this.
It would only be appropriate to use the term when trying to save rare or nearly extinct animal species or Nature itself.
It is a much better idea to base the interests of animals on the universal right of freedom for both man and animal. Would people accept the idea of basing human rights on their human value? Why found animal rights on other concepts than human rights?