25 April 2005

The Pope on Animals

Here is PETA's letter to Pope Benedict XVI. If you're Catholic, please read what the pope has said about factory-farmed animals.

24 April 2005

Vegan Police

Khursh Mian Acevedo sent a link to this.

22 April 2005

For the Sake of the Animals

If you're a meat-eater and want to eliminate meat from your diet—because you care about animals, because you care about your health, because you care about the environment, or because you care about humans—see here for a vegetarian starter guide.

18 April 2005

J. J. C. Smart on Progress in Ethics

One way in which there has indeed been progress in ethics recently has been through the realization by some ethicists that animal happiness and suffering has to be considered equally with that of human beings. I should draw attention here to the remarkable book Animal Liberation by Peter Singer. Christian ethics has been deficient in this respect, since animals have been regarded as things made by God for the use of men. Even St Francis has a not too clear record on this question. If we are to believe the tradition (but perhaps we should not take this as good historical evidence), one of his disciples cut a trotter off a living pig to give to another of the brethren who was ill. St Francis told the disciple to apologize to the owner of the pig, not for his cruelty but for having damaged the property. However, utilitarianism has been mindful of animals. Unlike Kantians, who are primarily concerned with the rationality of those with whom we deal, Bentham, for example, was clear that the important question was not whether animals are rational, but was whether they can suffer. At any rate, the increased attention to the sufferings of animals is one of the most notable examples of progress in ethics over the last hundred years or so. We should, of course, be equally mindful of extra-terrestrial consciousnesses, should we come across any such and have to interact with them.

(J. J. C. Smart, Ethics, Persuasion and Truth, International Library of Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich [London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1984], 129-30 [endnotes omitted])

13 April 2005


PETA and PETCO have reached an agreement under which PETCO stops selling large birds and PETA ends its boycott of the store. See here. Wild animals should not be kept as pets. It frustrates their natural urges.


What would you say of someone who, while deliberating about what to do, either disregarded or discounted the suffering of blacks? You would say that the person is racist, right? Suffering is suffering, whether it is experienced by someone with black skin or white skin. What, then, do you say of someone who, while deliberating about what to do, either disregards or discounts the suffering of animals? Shouldn't you say that the person is speciesist—and isn't speciesism just as wrong as racism? Why should it matter, morally, what kind of being experiences suffering? If suffering is intrinsically bad, and you believe it is, then it's irrational and wrong (specifically, unjust) to count only some of it.

08 April 2005

Human-Animal Conflicts

One of the malcontents who left The Conservative Philosopher several weeks ago commented, before leaving, on one of my posts about animals. In response to my claim that animals have moral status, he asked whether I wear a face mask to keep from ingesting—and therefore killing—insects. I can only speculate about the force of this question; but let me try. Is the writer suggesting that, since it’s impossible to avoid harming all animals, we have no duty to refrain from harming any of them? But that’s a flagrant non sequitur. It’s impossible to avoid harming all humans, yet nobody thinks this precludes our having a duty (a stringent duty, in fact) to refrain from harming them, or that we have no duty of reparation when we do harm them.

Think about all the steps we take to avoid harming humans, and to minimize the harm that’s unavoidable. There are rules of the road, replete with punishment for their violation. There are norms (legal and moral) against taking human life, violating bodily integrity, inflicting pain and suffering, and depriving individuals of liberty. That it’s hard to live a life free of harm to humans doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive mightily to do it. Why is the case any different with animals? Perhaps we haven’t worked as hard at avoiding and minimizing conflicts with animals because we haven’t taken them seriously. But that’s no reason to continue doing so! At one time, the interests of blacks and women were disregarded or discounted. That was an injustice. Respect for them as individuals meant taking them fully into account in our deliberations and in our actions. This is what justice requires with respect to animals.

When the writer says (or implies) that it would be too hard to avoid harming animals, he’s simply admitting that he doesn’t take them seriously. But that’s question-begging, for I’m arguing precisely the opposite: that they must—by virtue of their capacity to be harmed—be taken seriously. Animals have interests. Equal interests must be considered equally. To disregard or discount the interests of those we affect is an injustice to them.

07 April 2005

The Prairie Progress

Here is the spring 2005 issue of The Prairie Progress, which is published by Peaceful Prairie Sanctuary.

06 April 2005

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re "Drug Makers Race to Cash In on Fight Against Fat" ("Obesity Inc." series, front page, April 3):

With all the information available these days about the benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets, I am surprised that people are still popping pills to lose weight.

I have been a vegan for eight years, and at 51 years old I am slim and extremely healthy.

A diet rich in vegetables, legumes, fruits and soy products is the way to go for weight loss. It is not a quick fix but a lifestyle change for the long run—guaranteed to keep off the weight.

Laura Frisk
Encinitas, Calif., April 5, 2005

04 April 2005

Thank You, Charlie Trotter

This is a great story. If you put your own trivial interests ahead of someone else's important interests, you're selfish, right? And that's bad. Meat-eaters are selfish.

01 April 2005


See here for my defense of Peter Singer from an attack by Roger Scruton.