01 December 2013
28 November 2013
I began this blog 10 years ago today. The time has gone fast. Although I rarely post anything substantive, I did so for many years, so the blog still serves a useful purpose. Here are the posts from November 2003. On the first day of each month, from now on, I will link to the posts for that month 10 years earlier. I hope you enjoy the flashback.
Posted by Keith Burgess-Jackson at 7:02 PM
24 November 2013
Nor is it true that the worth of an animal's life, any more than of a man's, can be measured simply by the amount of "agreeable sensation," a fallacy often put forward by those who cage animals in menageries, on the plea that they are there well tended and saved from the struggle for existence. To live one's own natural life, to realize one's self, is the true moral purpose of man and animal equally, and the wrong done by the unnecessary cramping and thwarting of animal individuality, as in the turning of an active intelligent being into a prisoner or pet, cannot really be compensated by the gift of any material "comforts." Compare the life of the wild bison with that of the stall-fed ox, or that of the sheepdog with the pampered pug, and the moral can hardly be overlooked. An animal has his proper work to do in the world, his own life to live, as surely as a man; and those who scoff at this idea, and deny individuality to animals, should remember that there was a time, under the Greek and Roman civilization, when it was held to be doubtful whether a slave, in like manner, had any claim to be regarded as a person.
(Henry S. Salt, "The Rights of Animals," International Journal of Ethics 10 [January 1900]: 206-22, at 209 [italics in original])
Posted by Keith Burgess-Jackson at 10:14 PM
01 November 2013
01 October 2013
03 September 2013
My friend Mylan linked to an op-ed column by Nicholas D. Kristof of the New York Times. Let me make a few comments.
- Kristof says that "SeaWorld [marine park] denies the claims [of mistreatment], which isn't surprising since it earns millions [of dollars] from orcas." This is cynicism. Kristof should address SeaWorld's argument, not question its motives. How would he like it if his readers questioned (or speculated about) his motives? (For example: Does Kristof own stock in a rival company?) Charity requires that good (or at least benign) motives be imputed to arguers. Cynicism is the imputation of bad motives. Cynicism is not argumentation; it is the evasion of argumentation.
- Kristof writes: "The juxtaposition of the two reviews made me wonder: Some day, will our descendants be mystified by how good and decent people in the early 21st century—that's us—could have been so oblivious to the unethical treatment of animals?" Good question! I would replace "animals" with "fetuses."
- Kristof writes, by way of apology for his "hypocrisy," that he eats meat ("albeit with misgivings") and has "no compunctions about using mousetraps." Eating meat and using mousetraps are as different (morally speaking) as night and day. Using a mousetrap can be justified by defense of self or property (though there are more humane ways of getting rid of pests). Eating meat cannot be so justified. Nobody needs to eat meat in order to survive or flourish. This shows that Kristof has not given much serious thought to the topic of the moral status of animals. He knows just enough about the topic to be dangerous (since he has a large audience).
Now you see why I don't read Kristof. Had Mylan not linked to his column, I would not have read it.
Posted by Keith Burgess-Jackson at 9:14 PM