They emphasize those qualities which separate human beings from animals, implying that these qualities prove moral significance and thus that the absence of these qualities would deny such significance. Inherent in the discussion of the moral significance of animals is that human actions will be determined by the outcome of the argument. Human beings tend to view animals as a resource that exists for human use:
Since animals exist for us, to benefit us in one way or another, what harms them really doesn't matter--or matters only if it starts to bother us, makes us feel a trifle uneasy. (Regan 47)
If animals have moral significance, we have to think beyond our personal needs and beyond the idea of animals as a resource.
As noted, the argument often centers on what attributes separate human beings from animals. Among the uniquely human attributes usually evoked in such discussions are reasoning ability, complex language, and self-consciousness (or our awareness of our own existence). Sentience is also discussed but is, of course, not a uniquely human attribute, since the ability to feel pain is possessed by animals as well. Schopenhauer considered the matter and compared human beings to animals. He noted that abstract concepts are possessed only by human beings, while intuitive presentations are common to both human beings and higher animals:
There is a phenomenal world not only for man but also for animals. For the conditions of its possibility are present also in the latter, these conditions being the a priori forms of sensibility, namely space and time, and the category of the understanding, namely causality. (Copleston 267)
For Schopenhauer, understanding is found in animals as well as in human beings. Animals do not possess reason, or the faculty of abstract concepts:
A dog perceives things in space and time, and it can perceive concrete causal relations. But it does not follow that a dog can reflect abstrac...
The Issue of Animal Testing. (1969, December 31). In LotsofEssays.com. Retrieved 23:03, February 26, 2015, from http://www.collegetermpapers.com/viewpaper/1304190873.html