People dressed in costumes take part in a demonstration against the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), a proposed free trade agreement between the European Union and the United States, in Munich April 18, 2015. The posters (L-R) read: "No genetic engineering, chloral chicken, genetic modified meat", "Thats how they cage me, poor pig" and "Stop TTIP partnership for transnational companies."
Michael Dalder / Reuters

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, articulates the idea that it is wrong to exclude any member of the human species from the circle of moral concern. This enlightened vision was a tremendous advance over earlier, more restricted views about who matters morally; yet it still excludes a far larger number of beings who can both enjoy life and suffer: nonhuman animals. They, or at least those capable of feeling pain, which at a minimum includes all vertebrates, are also entitled to concern. Pain is pain, irrespective of the species of the being that experiences it.

Concern for the welfare of animals is not a new idea. In the fourth century BC, the Chinese Taoist philosopher Zhuangzi said that compassion should permeate relations not only between humans but also between all sentient beings. Buddhist teachings consider caring for all sentient beings a central ethical precept. The Indian emperor Ashoka, who ruled in the third century BC, issued edicts against the unnecessary killing and mutilation of animals, including hunting for sport. He also established animal hospitals and promoted, but did not require, a vegetarian diet. In seventeenth-century Japan, Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, the so-called Dog Shogun, enacted various rules protecting animals,

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  • MIYUN PARK is Executive Director of Global Animal Partnership. PETER SINGER is Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and Laureate Professor at the University of Melbourne. He is the author of Animal Liberation, among other books.
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