IN MEMORY OF TOM REGAN
Yesterday, 17th February, Tom Regan passed away. This is a great loss for all those who care about animal rights, but also for all those who care about human rights: The Case for Animal Rights is fundamental reading for anyone who values a system of ethics that does not differentiate between individuals, regardless of the species to which they belong.
For Tom Regan taught us, among other things, that if we want human rights to be founded on equality, then we must also recognise the rights of animals. For both we and they, regardless of the differences between us, are ‘subjects-of-a-life’:
“…Like us, these animals are in the world, aware of the world, and aware of what happens to them. And, like us, what happens to these animals matters to them, whether anyone else cares about this or not. Despite our many differences, humans and other mammals are the same in this crucial, fundamental respect: we, and they, are subjects-of-a-life. …” (from Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights by Tom Regan)
Just like us, animals not only suffer but also have desires, motivations, preferences, emotions, and memory. Just like us, they are entitled to respect as such and for who they are.
Tom Regan’s vision of a world in which animal rights are recognised also led him to express himself clearly on greyhound racing:
“The real solution to the “greyhound problem” is to stop making greyhounds race. Animal rights activists will not be satisfied with anything less.” (from Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights by Tom Regan)
Tom Regan is no longer among us, but he is still with us, and it is up to us to continue pursuing his dream of a world which is more civilised and respectful of the rights of all.
By Massimo Greco
Translated by Isobel Deeley