02 December 2012
28 November 2012
01 November 2012
24 October 2012
I'm a great admirer of your animal ethics blog, which I've found to be an invaluable resource. I just wanted to share a link to Gary Francione's recent philosophy bites podcast. An interesting debate has taken place in the comments section regarding Francione's (mis)interpretation of Peter Singer—hope it will be of interest!
01 October 2012
17 September 2012
In “Where Cows Are Happy and Food Is Healthy” (column, Sept. 9), Nicholas D. Kristof describes “happy” cows that are loved “like children” by an organic dairy farmer. I applaud his recognition that cows are individual feeling beings that share with us the ability to experience happiness and contentment, fear and pain.
The article does, however, gloss over the undeniable fact that even cows with names produce milk only because they have recently given birth to calves who, if male, have been taken away from them. Consumers should consider that cows like Edie or Sophia are often fiercely protective, grieving mothers whose anguished cries the farmer undoubtedly heard as he removed their young.
The article also doesn’t mention the common practices of castrating male calves and amputating the horns of cows and calves, typically without any pain relief. Most cows are also forcibly impregnated, and the closely spaced pregnancies impose significant metabolic stress on cows.
Even at Bob Bansen’s dairy, food comes at the cost of animal welfare. It’s a safe bet that any glass of milk is from a grieving mother, named or unnamed, that will end up dying at the slaughterhouse.
INGRID E. NEWKIRK
President, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals
Norfolk, Va., Sept. 10, 2012
14 September 2012
09 September 2012
08 September 2012
Jeju, South Korea, Sept. 4, 2012
06 September 2012
01 September 2012
24 August 2012
21 August 2012
“Some in California Skirt a Ban on Foie Gras” (news article, Aug. 13) might give readers the impression that California chefs are free to serve foie gras as a complimentary side dish and so evade the state ban on sales.
Not so. When a diner pays money to a restaurant with the expectation that he or she will receive foie gras and then is served the dish, that constitutes a sale. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals applauds the efforts of those district attorneys and animal control officers who are enforcing the law against those few chefs who continue to flout it.
Foie gras is the diseased liver of ducks or geese that have been force-fed through pipes shoved down their throats. PETA urges everyone to avoid this product of cruelty to animals.
Counsel, PETA Foundation
Norfolk, Va., Aug. 13, 2012
15 August 2012
(Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights, updated with a new preface [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004], 360 [italics in original] [first edition published in 1983])
01 August 2012
24 July 2012
The initial attractiveness of utilitarianism as a moral theory on which to rest the call for the better treatment of animals was noted in an earlier context. . . . Because animals are sentient (i.e., can experience pleasure and pain) and because they not only have but can act on their preferences, any view that holds that pleasures or pains, or preference-satisfactions or frustrations matter morally is bound to seem attractive to those in search of the moral basis for the animal rights movement. Especially because animals are made to suffer in the pursuit of human purposes—in the name of "efficient" factory farming, for example, or in pursuit of scientific knowledge—the utilitarian injunction to count their suffering and to count it equitably must strike a responsive moral chord. But utilitarianism is not the theory its initial reception by the animal rights movement may have suggested. It provides no basis for the rights of animals and instead contains within itself the grounds for perpetuating the very speciesist practices it was supposed to overthrow. To secure the philosophical foundation for animal rights requires abandoning utilitarianism.
(Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights, updated with a new preface [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004], 315 [italics in original; ellipsis added] [first edition published in 1983])
14 July 2012
Whether individuals have legal rights depends on the laws and other legal background (e.g., the constitution) of the society in which they live. In some countries (e.g., the United States) citizens meeting certain requirements have the legal right to vote or run for elected office; in other countries (e.g., Libya) citizens do not have these rights. Moreover, even in those countries that give this right to its citizens, the requirements are not always the same and are subject to change. In the United States, for example, citizens once had to be twenty-one years of age to vote in federal elections; now they must be eighteen. At one time one could not vote if one were black or female or illiterate; now one has this right regardless of race or sex or educational achievement. Legal rights thus are subject to great variation, not only among different countries at the same time but also in the same country at different times. When it comes to legal rights, not all individuals are equal. This should not be surprising. The legal rights individuals have arise as the result of the creative activity of human beings. Those rights set forth in the Bill of Rights, for example, were not rights that citizens of the United States could claim as legal rights before these rights were drawn up and the legal machinery necessary for their enforcement was in place.
The concept of moral rights differs in important ways from that of legal rights. First, moral rights, if there are any, are universal. This means that if any individual (A) has such a right, then any other individual like A in the relevant respects also has this right. What counts as the relevant respects is controversial. . . . What is not controversial is the exclusion of some characteristics as relevant. An individual's race, sex, religion, place of birth, or country of domicile are not relevant characteristics for the possession of moral rights. We cannot deny that individuals possess moral rights, as we can in the case of the possession of legal rights, because of, for example, where they live.
A second feature of moral rights is that they are equal. This means that if any two individuals have the same moral right (e.g., the right to liberty), then they have this right equally. Possession of moral rights does not come in degrees. All who possess them possess them equally, whether they are, say, white or black, male or female, Americans or Iranians.
Third, moral rights, unlike legal rights, do not arise as a result of the creative acts of any one individual (e.g., a despot) or any group (e.g., a legislative assembly). Theoretically, one could, it is true, create legal rights that accord with or protect moral rights, but that is not the same as creating these moral rights in the first place. If there are moral rights, they do not "come to be" in the way legal rights do.
09 July 2012
08 July 2012
Not all cruel people are cruel in this sense. Some cruel people do not feel pleasure in making others suffer. Indeed, they seem not to feel anything. Their cruelty is manifested by a lack of what is judged appropriate feeling, as pity or mercy, for the plight of the individual whose suffering they cause, rather than pleasure in causing it; they are, as we say, insensitive to the suffering they inflict, unmoved by it, as if they were unaware of it or failed to appreciate it as suffering, in the way that, for example, lions appear to be unaware of, and thus are not sensitive to, the pain they cause their prey. Indeed, precisely because one expects indifference from animals but pity or mercy from human beings, people who are cruel by being insensitive to the suffering they cause often are called "animals" or "brutes," and their character or behavior, "brutal" or "inhuman." Thus, for example, particularly ghastly murders are said to be "the work of animals," the implication being that these are acts that no one moved by the human feelings of pity or mercy could bring themselves [sic] to perform. The sense of cruelty that involves indifference to, rather than enjoyment of, suffering caused to others we shall call brutal cruelty.
Cruelty of either kind, sadistic or brutal, can be manifested in active or passive behavior. Passive behavior includes acts of omission and negligence; active, acts of commission. A man who, without provocation, beats a dog into unconsciousness is actively cruel, whereas one who, through negligence, fails to feed his dog to the point where the dog's health is impoverished is passively cruel, not because of what he does but because of what he fails to do. Both active and passive cruelty have fuzzy borders. For example, a woman is not cruel if she occasionally fails to feed her cat. She is cruel if she fails to do so most of the time. But while there is no exact number of times, no fixed percentage, such that, once it is realized, cruelty is present, otherwise not, there are paradigms nonetheless.
We have, then, at least two kinds of cruelty (or two senses of the word cruelty) and two different ways in which cruelty can be manifested. Theoretically, therefore, cruelty admits of at least four possible classifications: (1) active sadistic cruelty; (2) passive sadistic cruelty; (3) active brutal cruelty; and (4) passive brutal cruelty.
(Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights, updated with a new preface [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004], 197-8 [italics in original; endnote omitted] [first edition published in 1983])
01 July 2012
27 June 2012
Unlike [John] Rawls, whose considered views on our duties regarding animals are unclear at best, [Immanuel] Kant provides us with an explicit statement of an indirect duty view. That Kant should hold such a view should not be surprising; it is a direct consequence of his moral theory, the main outlines of which may be briefly, albeit crudely, summarized. . . . On Kant's view, rational beings, by which he means moral agents, are ends in themselves (have, that is, independent value, or worth, in their own right, quite apart from how useful they happen to be to others). As such, no moral agent is ever to be treated merely as a means. This is not to say that we may never make use of the skills or services of moral agents in their capacities as, say, mechanics, plumbers, or surgeons. It is to say that we must never impose our will, by force, coercion, or deceit, on any moral agent to do what we want them [sic] to do just because we stand to benefit as a result. To treat moral agents in this way is to treat them as if they had no value in their own right or, alternatively, as if they were things. As Kant remarks, "beings whose existence depends, not on our will, but on nature, have nonetheless, if they are non-rational only a relative value and are consequently called things." Moral agents are not nonrational, do not have "only a relative value," and are not things. Moral agents (rational beings) are ends in themselves.
(Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights, updated with a new preface [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004], 174-5 [italics in original; ellipsis added; endnote omitted] [first edition published in 1983])
12 June 2012
01 June 2012
28 May 2012
(Tom Regan, The Case for Animal Rights, updated with a new preface [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 2004], 31 [italics in original; endnote omitted] [first edition published in 1983])
17 May 2012
01 May 2012
16 April 2012
13 April 2012
10 April 2012
03 April 2012
01 April 2012
12 March 2012
08 March 2012
01 March 2012
27 February 2012
Norfolk, Va., Feb. 21, 2012
Chief Executive, Bon Appétit
Palo Alto, Calif., Feb. 20, 2012
Dir., Farm Animal Welfare, ASPCA
New York, Feb. 22, 2012
Baltimore, Feb. 20, 2012
Cabin John, Md., Feb. 20, 2012