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Whether animals have the capacity to reason or talk is irrelevant to how we should treat them

Whether animals have the capacity to reason or talk is irrelevant to how we should treat them Whether animals have the capacity to reason or talk is irrelevant to how we should treat them
Source: La cascade - Henri Julien Félix Rousseau
An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
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An Introduction to the Principles of Morals and Legislation
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The day may come when the rest of animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate.

What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month old.

But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?

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