Animal Rights have a Kuznets Curve, too

By skepticlawyer

It’s commonly observed that wealthy countries do more to protect the environment than poor ones, which seems fair enough – poor countries are poor, and probably have other priorities. However, even when those poor countries start to become rich, they still don’t do much for the environment. Indeed, they have to become ‘almost rich’ before environmental issues even start to register (or they have to host the Olympic Games, although that – I suspect – is something of an economic ‘black swan’).

There’s a technical term for this phenomenon – the Environmental Kuznets Curve. Economists have tried to establish the level per capita income would need to reach before environmental arguments (especially about air pollution) would be taken seriously. One suggestion is USD$8000, although that was a while ago and is certainly open to debate. Tim Harford (being his usual contrary self) argues that there is no evidence that environmental quality deteriorates steadily with economic growth, while – and this is my interest here – Arik Levinson thinks that other ‘desirable goods’ that generate undesirable side-effects also show the same inverse U-shaped path.

Levinson’s insight came to mind when I was reading some bloggy commentary at Inside-Out China, Catallaxy and Harry Clarke on animal rights issues. The level of disagreement escalated, with some large claims being made.

At Inside-Out China, Aaron Gardiner notes the vast difference between attitudes to animals in China (where he lives) and Australia (where he grew up). After pointing out that he remains basically western in outlook, he notes one area where his values have shifted, becoming closer to those of the Chinese people with whom he interacts on a daily basis. I’ll let him speak in his own words, because while his ideas are challenging, he couches them thoughtfully:

Western folk, to a greater or lesser degree, believe animals have rights. They are rarely specific about what these rights are, but they are sure animals have them. Few of the Australians, Americans, or Europeans I went to college with think it is okay to kill gorillas for sport. A sizable minority of them would not think it permissible to kill a gorilla to provide food for people. They empathize with animals. They value animals as contributing something to our environment greater than their immediate utility to humans.

I don’t. I feel the same way about gorillas as most Westerners feel about chickens. Dolphins? Yum. Dogs? Can’t eat my fill. And don’t even get me started on minke whales, the cockroaches of the ocean.

Feminist theorists talk about the “unconscious aspects of privilege”. I think this is very much what has happened to Westerners with animals. I can recall being a young boy, loving animals, and believing it was okay to shoot rabbits for food (we have lots of rabbits in Australia) but evil for Americans to shoot black bears for food (so noble, so anthropomorphic). I think this was an aspect of privilege. After I had lived in Hanoi for a year or so, I had become thoroughly alienated from the idea of animals being anything other than property or food – because there was far too much human suffering going on for me to give up any of my concern or empathy for animals.

Jason merely recommended Aaron’s post for Catallaxy’s readers, which then led to this denunciation from environmental economist Harry Clarke:

I am not surprised that libertarians oppose criticisms of people’s rights to do with non-human life what they like. It accords with their ‘anything goes’ philosophy – to do otherwise would be interfering with their precious individual rights and to offer what are essentially paternalistically imposed moral restrictions on such rights. Libertarians see themselves as having the right to bear arms and to kill and maim provided they do not offend Pigou – who only considered human suffering in his analysis of external costs. Who could criticise?

But yes obviously I do criticise. I am not a vegetarian but a carnivore. However I resolutely oppose cruelty to animals and find despicable the killing of sentient beings for sport and the casual disregard of animal suffering and death. I assert the almost universally agreed on proposition that animals do have rights.

There are a couple of things going on here, both philosophical rather than (strickly speaking) economic. First, there is nothing in libertarian philosophy that is inherently hostile to animal rights. Indeed, Robert Nozick – as an adjunct to his Kantian argument that people are ends in themselves, and own themselves – makes animal rights an important component of his larger position. Recall that Nozick argues that unless one accepts the thesis of self-ownership, one has no way of explaining why slavery is evil. After all, it cannot be merely because slaveholders often treat their slaves badly, since a kind-hearted slaveholder would still be a slaveholder, and thus morally blameworthy. The reason slavery is immoral must be because it involves a kind of stealing – the stealing of a person from himself.

He then considers the possibility (without making a definitive conclusion) of extending Kantian ‘ends-in-themselves’ ideas to animals, pointing out the awkwardness of being utilitarian in one’s treatment of animals and Kantian in one’s treatment of people. In some of his later work, he notes that humans have imposed a particular cost on those animals we have domesticated – the ruminants, dogs, horses and cats. Domestication produces not only passivity, but makes the animal more ‘human-like’ and appealing. In doing this, we extend some of our ‘humanness’ to the animals we have made most like ourselves: we have used at least some animals as a means to an end, and in a sense, we ‘owe’ them.

As is always the case, trying to attribute a substantive moral position to libertarians becomes an exercise in herding cats. Both Nozick and many members of your local Sporting Shooters Club are likely to be libertarian. And animal rights certainly won’t be something on which they share common ground. I don’t accept Nozick’s argument for vegetarianism, for a start, although I do think his point about the ends-directed character of domestication is a fair one. For me (like many libertarians) half the battle is exposing people’s suppositions to the disinfecting light of day, if only because it lays bare the choice architecture behind many individual decisions (as well as much government policy).

The second (philosophical) issue is Harry’s assertion that it’s ‘almost universally agreed’ that animals have rights. The thing is, there is no such agreement, although – as with caring about the environment – there is more agreement in rich Western countries. The very presence of Halal and Kosher butchery beside the exaggerated Hindu respect for cows indicates a vast religious gulf, if nothing else. Pythagoras abjured meat, while Seneca and Lucretius didn’t. Poor people can also be expected to care more about other poor people unless the animal is somehow economically useful (a hunting dog, a wool-producing sheep).

In economic terms, Tim Harford points out that there is a direct correlation between low (or no) agricultural subsidies and less use of fertilizers, pesticides and the signature characteristics of ‘intensive farming’. Those agriculturally unsubsidized countries, I suspect, also have the greatest respect for animal rights. I don’t think you’ll convince a heavily subsidized French farmer that the national passion for foie gras is a bad thing, but you’d stand a fair chance of doing so in other places. An echo of the priority debates afflicting both environmentalism and animal rights in developing countries emerges even in the rich USA – in the linked article, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley commented:

“We have children getting killed by gang leaders and dope dealers. We have real issues here in this city,” said Daley, the Chicago Sun-Times reported on its Web site. “Let’s get some priorities.”

Part of being Western may well be a greater concern for both animal rights and environmental issues. We care because we’re rich enough to care. Indeed, it’s possible to argue (in light of DeusExMacintosh’s piece on assistance dogs) that one of the ‘costs’ of migration to a rich country for a person from a poor country may well be adopting that rich country’s enhanced view of animal rights. That said, for those of us who enjoy touristing in developing countries, then we probably have to accept that their priorities will flow in different directions. It may well be that China’s intransigence during the Olympics is indicative of their response to any environmental posturing on Australia’s part over AGW, and that Cantonese cooks will continue cooking and eating anything with four legs that isn’t a table.

45 Comments

  1. DeusExMacintosh
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 2:02 am | Permalink

    For she IS the Kuznets Haderach!

  2. conrad
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    “One suggestion is USD$8000”

    Actually, if you consider the Chinese Yuan somewhat undervalued, then they are basically at this point. They also have serious in-your-face style environmental problems, so I guess one can only hope they have reached the ability to care about this (and the government has a fair bit of spare cash floating around to do something, and there are obvious places where they might save more than they will lose by doing something).

    Personally, the other thing that worries me about this debate is the distinction between caring about the environment, and the quantitative amount of destruction caused. Many people would argue that richer countries do more damage per head to the world than poorer ones (think e.g., eating large amounts of meat, driving cars, living in huge houses etc.). If that is true, then all “caring for environment” happens to be is a slogan designed to make people feel good, rather than do anything. An obvious examples of this is the plastic bag debate. Another good example is game shooting, which seems to get many people hot under the collar. Personally, I’ve no particular love of it, but surely the amount of damage it causes is magnitudes upon magnitudes less than the destruction of native habitats, which hardly even registers with most people.

  3. jc
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 10:22 am | Permalink

    A lot of what harry was saying and keeps saying is to do with personal preferences and what he wants to world around him to look like.

    Harry says he eats meat, which I presume to mean he eats beef.

    Killing a cow is very offensive to Indians.

    And I presume Harry would also eat fois gras without a care in the world.

    In fact I could well imagine someone like Harry filling up on fois gras and hoeing into a tasty fillet on his way to protesting Japanese whaling.

    This is why I pay very little head to people like Harry as most of his stuff are personal preferences.

  4. jc
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    ummm heed

  5. jc
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    LE

    By definition we can be eating animals on the brink of extinction because there simply wouldn’t enough of them.

    I find the whole whale thing distasteful (pun intended) pushed by shallow thinking westerners.

  6. conrad
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    “It is arguable (as I’ve discussed in a previous post) that some chimpanzees might show more understanding then some humans.”

    Well, they don’t show sunk cost effects, so they must be smarter than my management :).

  7. John Hasenkam
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    Personally, the other thing that worries me about this debate is the distinction between caring about the environment, and the quantitative amount of destruction caused. Many people would argue that richer countries do more damage per head to the world than poorer ones (think e.g., eating large amounts of meat, driving cars, living in huge houses etc.). If that is true, then all “caring for environment” happens to be is a slogan designed to make people feel good, rather than do anything.

    That’s a very good point Conrad, people are often more concerned about their conscience than the environment.

    We can carry on all we like about animal rights but the current trend of research clearly indicates we have grossly under-estimated how conscious animals are. A convenient rationalisation that allows us to eat with joy. We are animals and like all animals we will kill and maim to eat.

    It might be interesting to compare cultures where disregard for animal welfare is prevalent and see how generally violent these cultures are in relation to more ‘caring for animals’ cultures. For example, it is now recognised that a warning sign of sociopathy can be cruelty towards animals during childhood. See, at some level we all have a little sociopathy in us!

  8. Posted August 22, 2008 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

    Re LE’s comment about levels of conciousness and animal rights.

    An interesting recent paper in PLoS Biology discusses animals (in particular magpies, the subject of another recent paper) that (a) recognize themselves in a mirror and (b) have a lifestyle (lots of “theiving”) that requires them to be able to guess the intentions of others.

    doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0060201 – “The Thief in the Mirror”

    doi=10.1371/journal.pbio.0060202 – Mirror-Induced Behavior in the Magpie (Pica pica): Evidence of Self-Recognition

    Of course, lots of apes (not just we humans) self-recognize in mirrors, model others, and chimps have even shown good evidence of
    spontaneous non-reciprocal altruism

    Thus, I reckon it /IS/ fair to say “Some animals are more equal than others”.

    As to LE’s specific comments about carnivores, it depends on how difficult it is to acquire food by yourself : if you are faster and stronger than your prey, you don’t need to think…. just notice the prey is there.

    And to Conrad: management might not be carnivores, they could be classified as parasites.

  9. jc
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    jc, is your argument that one can eat endangered species because they’re going to die off anyway?

    No, no at all. I’m just making the case that if these animals are truly endangered its arguable whether there is enough to make frequent meals of them.

    Look I agree with you on a personal level, I’m really starting to hate the idea of eating meat and try to limit it as much as I can simply because the idea keeps hitting me that i am eating an animal that was slaughtered. It never used to effect me before but these days it does for some reason.

    However it ends there.

    I don’t make judgment if other people want to eat a live cow at one sitting. This gets me back to harry’s comments.

    Harry is quite willing to eat a barbecued pig on the spit (is my bet) but recoils at Chinese eating the flesh of animals that he thinks are cute.

    Maybe it’s just the company of the animal rights groups (some, not all) that repels me.

  10. Posted August 22, 2008 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    For those thinking about what rights animals should be given, a good starting point is thinking about why you give humans rights.

    My own view is based on sentience, as Legal Eagle alluded to first and Dave Bath expanded on. Thus I eat pork and beef, etc, quite happily, but would baulk at chimpanzees, for example.

    If we meet a sentient alien species, I wouldn’t eat it. Would you? cue Popplers reference

  11. jc
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

    If we meet a sentient alien species, I wouldn’t eat it. Would you?

    LE. have you thought of limiting stupid comments at the site as fathead tends to have that effect.

  12. Posted August 22, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    Don’t be a wuss, JC. Engage with the argument, or be quiet.

    And don’t be a stalker here too, it’s gone beyond boring.

  13. jc
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Fat head , Don’t make stupid accusations equal to your stupid comments.

    This, fathead,
    If we meet a sentient alien species, I wouldn’t eat it. Would you?
    is a stupid comment and it’s oppressive.

    I wasn’t directing my comment to you fathead. It was to the site owner appealing to her to stop this oppression.

  14. John Hasenkam
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 4:42 pm | Permalink

    And, nope, I couldn’t eat a sentient alien. Dare I hope that it felt the same way about humans?

    If sentience is the determining criterion, and according to Peter Singer it is, we can’t eat any mammal and there might even be a few reptiles that are sentient. As for fish, I can only adopt the crude position: they don’t have a neocortex so they lack awareness where’s that fishing line … .

  15. jc
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

    Not ban him, LE. Perhaps moderate him so you can at least edit the most stupid parts of his comments.

  16. Posted August 22, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    The jc/fatfingers dance is not happening on this blog – we’re not quite in Troppo’s league when it comes to expecting civility, but we’re pretty close.

    On topic, please.

  17. conrad
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

    “fish…they don’t have a neocortex”

    If you really want to worry, I think you’ll find that if you stick an insect on a hot-plate (or break their legs off, or whatever), they’ll run off and appear in distress, so presumably even they don’t want to die.

  18. John Hasenkam
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Sychronicity?

    In my younger days I did a short stint at the local abattoir. The cattle would obediently roll up for the bullet to the head, one after the other without an apparent care in the world. The pigs though would go berserk, you had to hit them with a big electric bolt to knock ém down. To this day I can still see those pigs leaping everywhere but in the direction of the man with the big stick.

    Many years ago there was a story about a pig that won the animal bravery award. It was a pet pig whose stood in the middle of the road until someone pulled over and followed it into the house. Why? The pig’s owner had a heart attack and this little piggie knew something had to be done quickly, risking its own life blah blah blah …. .

    So a few days after reading this story I’m visiting some friends who own a take away and order a pork sandwich with the mandatory crackling. Broke a tooth wide open, first dental treatment since leaving school 20 years ago. When that happened I even recalled that piggie story above and thought to myself: got what you deserved you bastard, your conscience was speaking to you about eating pork but you didn’t listen.

  19. Posted August 22, 2008 at 9:11 pm | Permalink

    Where do I draw the line?

    * I don’t eat placental mammals.

    * I won’t eat patently intelligent animals who seem capable of dealing with abstractions (like parrots) or reasonable at modelling the internal minds of others.

    * Other animals: Only if I’ve killed members of the genus in the past for food – so birds, fish and reptiles are generally on the menu.

    * Cuteness don’t enter into it. If I was to eat a mammal, especially in Oz, it would be roo, because roos impact the land less than cattle.

    * Mind you, feral anything can be killed and left to rot. Rabbits, cats, pigs…. whatever.

    * Does anyone remember the “Watership Down” (adaptable to “Babe”) joke: “Read the book, seen the movie, heard the song, ate the pie”.

  20. DeusExMacintosh
    Posted August 22, 2008 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (stupid name, clever man) get 100% value for every life claimed and don’t eat what you wouldn’t kill. Only problem there is I rather like beef and bacon but chickens are about the limits of my slaughterhouse dexterity. If that.

    If I only ate what it was possible to physically raise for myself I’d starve to death.

  21. Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:04 pm | Permalink

    Dave, LOL at the Babe line, haven’t heard that in a while.

    The benefit of reading Nozick’s arguments on animal rights (which I do recommend – the Kantian stuff is in the early part of Anarchy, State and Utopia, while the material on domesticity is in Socratic Puzzles) is the way it forces you to examine your suppositions.

    Following that up with Levinson’s ‘desirable goods, undesirable side-effects’ and it’s suddenly a rather uncomfortable forked stick. There are also different environmental perspectives, too – as Melaleuca often points out, feral animals have a disproportionate impact on native wildlife in a ‘continent-ark’ like Australia – such that the only reasonable option is shooting them in large numbers. So back to the sporting shooters again.

    All very conundrum-like 😉

  22. Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:34 pm | Permalink

    “If sentience is the determining criterion, and according to Peter Singer it is, we can’t eat any mammal ”

    Not necessarily. Obviously there are degrees of sentience, it’s not a binary concept. And one person’s dividing line will (reasonably) differ from another’s, so there’s no universal law about what’s moral to kill and eat and what’s not – it’s a personal decision.

    I don’t want to go off topic, but “The jc/fatfingers dance is not happening on this blog” implies equivalence, when clearly JC is the provocateur. Not to mention in the wrong, and being abusive when I’m not.

  23. Posted August 22, 2008 at 11:46 pm | Permalink

    FF, last comment from me on this. You needle, JC abuses. I’ve always found needling just as irritating as outright abuse, so in terms of what I want to achieve on this blog, both behaviours have to go.

    Singer is interesting because he arrives at a similar destination to Nozick but starts as an out-and-out utilitarian. Mind you, the utilitarian in Singer shows when he makes his arguments about severely disabled children. Nozick would still be arguing from a Kantian position.

  24. conrad
    Posted August 23, 2008 at 6:15 am | Permalink

    “get 100% value for every life claimed”

    I completely agree with this. I think everyone in rich countries should take a trip to almost any other country and find out that eating all of the animal you happen to kill is just fine. Once you are used to it, eyeballs, brains, bones, etc. are fine. People might also think about eating animals that are ecologically less damaging, rather than those that are (squid, for example, are far better than some other types of fish due to the way they breed and populate areas).

    “feral animals have a disproportionate impact on native wildlife in a ‘continent-ark’ like Australia”

    I’ve been told (I’ve no evidence for this, perhaps someone else does) that if you reforest places, some animals, like rabbits can’t exist. If that’s true, then the situation is more complex since the imported animals are only living in some places because of unnatural farming-style environments.

  25. John Hasenkam
    Posted August 23, 2008 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Mind you, the utilitarian in Singer shows when he makes his arguments about severely disabled children.

    Definitely and that is a worrying aspect. SL, isn’t he referring to decisions made at the birth of the child?

    It is rather strange how our values shift hither and thither over such issues. Infanticide was a rather common practice not so long ago and this was mainly for practical reasons. We may well scream “Murder!” at such acts while merrily bombing the bejesus out of some civilians or leave depleted uranium lying around for inflict harm for decades, not to mention Agent Orange or … . Sometimes I wonder just how much moral consistency we can ever hope to achieve.

  26. Posted August 23, 2008 at 9:52 pm | Permalink

    I actually really like offal – and yet the number of people who have a go at me over it is amazing. Maybe I should put up my gun recipe for chicken liver pate?

    When it comes to the difference between allowing a disabled baby to die and aerial bombardment, the law only cares if there is an intention to kill (in this case, civilians). The distinction may be a fine one (and is difficult to apply in the case of WWII-era bombings, when airforces had difficulty hitting anything smaller than a city), but it is important.

    Deliberate killing of civilians (or the disabled child), even if for a good purpose (shortening the war, preventing suffering, facilitating progress – whatever) will fall on the ‘murder’ side of the ledger simply because of its deliberateness.

  27. Posted August 23, 2008 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, SL, #13 was really needling to the extreme, as Poochie would say. /sarcasm

    You could argue that I needled in response to abuse, but is that bad blog behaviour? I think not. (Shorter FF: “He started it, as usual.” 🙂 )

    Then again, this is your blog so you can apply whatever rules you see fit, even unfair or inconsistent ones.

    However, in the interest of blogosphere peace, I hereby pledge to ignore JC (aka Poodle aka Andrea Harris Lite) here and everywhere else from now on. Happy now?

    I bet you any money he doesn’t (can’t?) do the same. See below 😉

  28. jc
    Posted August 24, 2008 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    Legal E:

    What’s your advice in terms of ignoring/not ignoring patently stupid comments like Fathead’s such as the one about not eating ET?

    Should that be ignored or dealt with in the harshest possible way in order to fight oppression.

    Oppression can also be the result of stupid comments by the way.

  29. Posted August 24, 2008 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I suspect they would be murder, but then I think murder is sometimes justified – although it can be a close run thing. My argument in favour of abortion, for example, involves conceding that it is murder, but that it is justified in all the circumstances (using a similar chain of reasoning to that employed in self-defence cases – not an excuse, not an authorization).

    It is clear that making abortion illegal produces more harmful effects than making it legal (consider the wider costs, in terms of maternal death, higher crime rates, unwanted children etc). Likewise with Hiroshima: the choice was between killing x many or y many where y was an order of magnitude greater than x. Y, of course, would come about through an invasion of Japan.

    For a comparable military conundrum, recall Churchill’s foreknowledge of the bombing of Coventry. Evacuating the city meant that the Germans would have known that the British had cracked their codes, so Churchill abandoned Coventry to its fate. In certain respects, Coventry is worse, because at that point, a possible German invasion of Britain was still on. Had things turned out differently, the deaths may have been truly in vain.

  30. conrad
    Posted August 25, 2008 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    I don’t want to get off track, but it’s not clear to me that the chain of reasoning for abortion based on self defence works. Obviously having kids can do bad things for your life in various circumstances, but the situations when you are allowed to kill people are exceedingly strict (think of how much fuss some of the police shootings have caused), and I’m not sure that having an abortion even gets near to them in many circumstances. For example, let’s say you had a neighbor who was making you stressed and ill via annoyance over a long period of time, and was completely responsible for that — there would be no way you go and kill him and get away with it.
    I think it is safer to assume that no foetus constitutes life as we know it, which is basically what is assumed now up to some point in time.

  31. Posted August 25, 2008 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    Remember, we kill in wars with the requisite intent for murder, and even grant the label ‘just war’ to those conflicts where we are attacked. I’ve always thought that war hovers uncomfortably between ‘self-defence’ (which requires justification) and authorization (which requires nothing). It also involves a great deal of killing, hence the analogy with abortion.

    To be fair, however, I usually play the ‘well, even if abortion is murder, it can still be justified’ card only when I’m dealing with a particularly intransigent opponent. As a rhetorical, lawyerly trick (Legal Eagle and Pete M are allowed to hit me now – lawyers do this kind of casuistic shit all the time) it paints the religious opponent of abortion into an untenable corner, as he is forced to do an economist’s CBA, and on very unfamiliar ground.

  32. Posted August 25, 2008 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

    My own personal line is to draw the line at eating carnivores.

    That’s quite aristo when you think about it. We’re the rulers of the world (us killers) after all. Well not us. We are only second in command.

    While back, I had quite a long and productive stoush at LP about this animal rights business. My opponent SG was a thoughtful advocate and my opposition to his argument was grounded in what I think’s a pretty plain fact.

    Animals can’t really have rights because they’re not able to wield entitlements from the State. They don’t even know there is a State. Ever seen a labrador hire a lawyer? Ever seen a warthog in parliament…

    Stupid question.

    Except in Kazakhstan where Borat tells me horses vote and women don’t, animals have not yet demonstrated the capacity for political agency. I suspect cats have this capacity but why should they bother.

    So it’s really about mores and laws for the welfare of animals and the attendant prevention of cruelty as a mark of a more enlightened society. I abhor people who enjoy hurting animals, I think it is ‘nobler’ to be vegetarian (tho’ I’m not personally) but it’s obviously not morally wrong. It’s natural right?

    Rape can be considered natural; that doesn’t mean it’s right. Sometime maybe the human race (like Vulcans) will regard their carnivorous heritage as a vestige of a barbarian past. Well and good. However it’s worth noting that meat-eating was probably essential to the development of bigger brains amongst us monkeys enabling us to develop higher culture.

    ‘Animal rights’ is part of that avalanche of (mostly leftwing) bullshit that uses ‘rights’ so broadly as to lose meaning. Animals don’t have rights. I don’t think it’s even arguable that in the event of the State making the killing of an animal ‘murder’ they’d posses rights. So it’s moot.

    John H’s point viz a less sociopathological society is a good one however. It’s more humane not to kill animals especially those with higher levels of sentience (which include pigs). I couldn’t eat dogs, cats or horses ’cause I’ve had many friends that’re dogs, cats and horses. Likewise chimps and gorillas. Not friends but they’re family.

    I do eat pig because, well, they’re pigs. (Not too often the Jews are right.) Rabbits are fine too, they’re cute but they’re boring.

    And if anyone thinks that you shouldn’t eat chicken for some animal rights bollocks – that is proof of stupidity. What else is a chicken for? Come on.

    Yep. It’s all about the human perspective. And us rotten humans are so rotten that, instead of acting like every cat I’ve known and automatically killing whatever’s handy, we consider the consequences of our behaviour. We find fellow feeling with the critters we find fellow feeling with. And then we scold ourselves for not being as nice to the warthogs. (Except GMB).

    Great post Skeptic.

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