31 March 2008


Here is a New York Times story about animal-based drugs.

30 March 2008

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “With More News of Abuse, a Harder Search for Homes for Pit Bulls” (Westchester and the Region, March 16):

As a member of the League of Humane Voters of Westchester, I thank you for covering the efforts by the police and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to stop the dog fighting and animal cruelty in Westchester County.

The Westchester chapter of the league is calling on the county executive, Andrew J. Spano, and the mayor of Yonkers, Philip A. Amicone, to establish a task force dedicated to ending the dog-fighting in Westchester, and specifically in the City of Yonkers, site of most of the fights.

Yonkers prides itself on its gentrification and revitalization efforts. It is a blight on Westchester to have a city consistently in the news for such an odious activity.

The Michael Vick case shed light on the disgrace of those who cause dogs to fight each other, an event often accompanied by drug sales and prostitution. The animals are forced to fight through beatings, starvation, being thrown at each other, being made to attack smaller animals thrown at them, and worse.

We are tired of our dogs being bloodied, broken, scarred, crippled, killed and thrown into garbage cans. We are tired of our Westchester community being shown on TV in such an ugly light.

Let’s send a message to dog fighters: You are not welcome here.

Julie Serenson
Yonkers, March 23, 2008

29 March 2008

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Thinning Yellowstone’s Bison Herd” (news article, March 23):

Yellowstone National Park bison, executed when they migrate outside the boundaries of the park, have plenty of company. Around the world, animal migrations are disappearing because of conflicts with development, agriculture and other human activities.

In the greater Yellowstone ecosystem alone, over half of the elk migratory routes and three-quarters of the antelope routes have been destroyed by sprawl, oil and gas development, and farming.

Earlier this month, NASA released new satellite photographs showing continued illegal cutting of the Mexican fir forests where virtually all of eastern North America’s monarch butterflies spend the winter.

And bird watchers across the United States and Canada face the prospect of a quieter, less colorful spring as a combination of climate change, tropical deforestation, mountaintop mining in the Appalachians and other activities destroys key wintering, breeding and stopover habitats.

The loss of migration is of more than aesthetic importance. Migratory birds protect forests and crops from insect pests; butterflies, bats and other migratory species are important pollinators.

Indeed, migratory animals are useful indicators of the health of the global environment; their safe passage is in our best interest.

David S. Wilcove
Princeton, N.J., March 24, 2008
The writer is the author of a book about the decline of the world’s great animal migrations.

27 March 2008

From the Mailbag

I wanted to let you know about a website called AnimalAttraction.com where animal lovers come together to meet and oftentimes find love. We have many great stories from all over the country where folks had given up on having any romance in their life until they met at AnimalAttraction—everyone says it is much easier to get to know someone with your dog on the date too!

I was just contacted by a new couple who emailed me pictures of their wedding at the American Kennel Club where they tied the knot in the Best in Show ring. Where else? The bride was walked down the aisle by her standard poodle, John.

Also Animal Attraction is donating at least $100,000 to various animal charities next month (April is animal cruelty prevention month) to give back to the community we all adore—our pets!

Thanks for your time and please feel free to contact me with any questions!

Joanne Poesch

Recipe Idea!

For those of you who think that vegetarian cuisine must be bland and boring, think again. You'll find the recipe for Spaghetti con Rucola e Ricotta here. There's even an alleged aphrodisiac effect associated with arugula. That should inspire all but the most hardened meat-eaters to give it a try!

Bon Appetit!

Note: This dish will be much more healthful and just as tasty if you omit the ricotta cheese or replace it with crumbled firm tofu.

26 March 2008

From the Mailbag

Hi there :)

I was hoping that we could do a link swap! I run a store called CutiePaws. I make animal plushies and donate 60% from each sale to AnimalsAsia's China Bear Rescue. :) My goal is to raise at least $1,000 this year, and you would be really helping me out by swapping links with me. :)

Let me know if you're interested!

Thank you very much,

Jenn Hartnoll
60% of each sale is donated to AnimalsAsia's China Bear Rescue!

Global Warming

According to Yahoo! News, recent satellite pictures reveal that a chunk of Antarctic ice 7 times the size of Manhattan has collapsed and broken apart. The 160-square-mile chunk broke apart in Western Antarctica in what is called the Wilkins Ice Shelf. See here for video footage of the event.

Note from KBJ: I have a question for you, Mylan. Do you believe that a warmer globe would be bad for animals, all things considered? If so, what is the basis of your belief? Before answering, read this.

24 March 2008


Here is a New York Times story about bullfighting.

22 March 2008

Bison Bison

Here is a New York Times story about Yellowstone National Park's bison herd.

21 March 2008


Somebody explain to me how this helps animals.

20 March 2008

A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes

In 1792, Englishman Thomas Taylor (1758-1835), a prominent translator of Plato and other Greek philosophers, published a satirical pamphlet entitled A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes. His aim in this anonymous work was to mock Mary Wollstonecraft's books A Vindication of the Rights of Men (1790) and Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), as well as Thomas Paine's Rights of Man (1791). Taylor's argument may be reconstructed as follows:

1. If women have rights, then animals have rights.
2. Animals do not have rights.
3. Women do not have rights.
In effect, Taylor is claiming (correctly) that the following three propositions are inconsistent:

A. If women have rights, then animals have rights.
B. Animals do not have rights.
C. Women have rights.
To say that these propositions are inconsistent is to say that not all of them can be true. At least one, therefore, is false. Taylor thinks C is the false proposition. I think B is the false proposition. What do you think?

Addendum: Here's another way to look at it. As between B and C, Taylor thinks B more likely to be true. Indeed, he thinks B is obviously true and that its denial is laughable. I think C more likely to be true. Indeed, I think C is obviously true and that its denial is laughable. One person's modus ponens is another's modus tollens.

Addendum 2: To give you a taste of Taylor's wicked prose, I quote the final paragraph:

And thus much may suffice, for an historical proof, that brutes are equal to men. It only now remains (and this must be the province of some abler hand) to demonstrate the same great truth in a similar manner, of vegetables, minerals, and even the most apparently contemptible clod of earth; that thus this sublime theory being copiously and accurately discussed, and its truth established by an indisputable series of facts, government may be entirely subverted, subordination abolished, and all things every where, and in every respect, be common to all.
It's a good thing Taylor didn't live to see Paul W. Taylor's book Respect for Nature: A Theory of Environmental Ethics (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986), in which his namesake defends biocentrism (a life-centered, as opposed to human-centered, ethic). Four beliefs form "the core of the biocentric outlook" (99):

(a) The belief that humans are members of the Earth's Community of Life in the same sense and on the same terms in which other living things are members of that Community.

(b) The belief that the human species, along with all other species, are integral elements in a system of interdependence such that the survival of each living thing, as well as its chances of faring well or poorly, is determined not only by the physical conditions of its environment but also by its relations to other living things.

(c) The belief that all organisms are teleological centers of life in the sense that each is a unique individual pursuing its own good in its own way.

(d) The belief that humans are not inherently superior to other living things.
Ibid., 99-100. Sadly, most of what is being published in environmental ethics (in periodicals such as Environmental Ethics) is rubbish. Some of it is obscure to the point of incomprehensibility. Much of it is progressive politics masquerading as philosophy. I highly recommend Paul Taylor's book.

Between the Species

Here is an online journal that should be of interest to readers of this blog. I will add a link to the blogroll.

19 March 2008

From the Mailbag

Hi Keith,

Below is a calendar listing for Farm Sanctuary's annual Country Hoe Down at our Orland, California Shelter. We would be very appreciative if you would please list and help us raise awareness about this inspirational and educational event for farm animal advocates.

Please let me know if you would like more information.

Warm Regards,

Natalie Bowman
Communications Coordinator
Farm Sanctuary
P.O. Box 150, Watkins Glen, NY 14891

18 March 2008

From the Mailbag

Hi! I am a long time vegetarian, now vegan for 10 years, and animal lover.

I wanted to pass on these amazing groups I'm a part of for possible features/links on your blog:
I run Etsy for Animals: Artists Helping Animals, a group of artists and
artisans helping animals, many are veg/vegan and donate to animal charities thru
sales: http://etsyforanimals.com/

Our shop w/100% to animal charity: http://etsyforanimals.etsy.com/

Vegan Etsy: Creating Without Cruelty: http://veganetsy.blogspot.com/

Cruelty Free Etsy: http://crueltyfreeetsy.blogspot.com/

Etsy Veg: http://etsyveg.blogspot.com/

My own vegan friendly shop giving 10% to animal charities: http://mvegan5.etsy.com/
Please let me know if you feature any of the above,

Thank you,
Michele Glick

17 March 2008

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Thank you for publicizing the plight of satos—street dogs—in Puerto Rico in “Scrutiny for Puerto Rico Over Animal Treatment” (news article, March 9).

Sadly, the situation in Puerto Rico is replicated in countries around the world where hundreds of millions of dogs live as strays, abandoned by the humans they have come to depend on for food, shelter and companionship.

Change will take place only when governments work with local and international animal welfare groups and concerned individuals to address the root of the problem through education and humane methods of population control, such as spaying and neutering.

As one animal advocate put it, “we need to work together and keep the finger in the side of government.”

Thank you for doing just that, by telling the American public what’s happening in Puerto Rico through your compelling article and photographs.

Allan Kornberg
Boston, March 11, 2008
The writer is executive director of the World Society for the Protection of Animals.

16 March 2008

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Oceans at Risk” (editorial, March 9): We are in danger of ruining the world’s oceans and endangering marine ecosystems. You are right that what is needed is “a sustained effort by world governments and other institutions to do something about it” and that “the problems are global and so, in the end, are the solutions.”

One key solution, as you note, rests with the United States Senate: the Law of the Sea Convention. But without the political muscle of President Bush to illustrate the importance of this treaty to holdouts in his own party, the treaty will languish and our oceans will continue to be degraded.

As a nation, we value responsibility and cooperation. Ratification of the Law of the Sea would send an important message to the more than 150 countries that have already joined the treaty, including all of our allies, that we are committed partners in protecting the planet and its people.

Howard Salter
Director of External Relations, Citizens for Global Solutions
Washington, March 10, 2008

15 March 2008

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “A Case of Abuse, Heightened,” by Joe Nocera (Talking Business column, March 8):

Mr. Nocera tells us that most slaughterhouses don’t mistreat animals or funnel sick downer cows into the food chain. Oh, really?

If Mr. Nocera actually had such clairvoyant powers over the meat-packing industry, why didn’t he put them to use last autumn and blow the whistle on the Westland/Hallmark slaughter plant? He would have saved us the necessity of sending an undercover investigator to film the shocking mistreatment of animals. He might have prevented the recall of 143 million pounds of beef.

Mr. Nocera is anything but a soothsayer. He has simply rehashed the party line from the slaughterhouse industry. Most Americans, by contrast, join with us in demanding better regulations to safeguard farm animals and more credible inspections of our food.

Wayne Pacelle
President and Chief Executive
The Humane Society of the United States
Washington, March 8, 2008

14 March 2008

Thwarting Progress

Here is a New York Times story about the short-eared owl.

Global Warmism

Bad news for animals: The globe is cooling.

13 March 2008


As unbelievable as it may sound, I still get comments without full names. Can you people read? Here is what it says on the editorial page of my local newspaper, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram:


Verification: Letters must have a printed full name, address and daytime phone number.

Frequency: Writers are limited to one letter a month.

Content: Be concise, to the point and original. Length is subject to editorial judgment, and letters will be edited to comply with Star-Telegram style and standards.
Think of this blog as a newspaper. Full names only. When a comment comes in without a full name, I reject it without reading it.

From the Mailbag

Dear Keith, Mylan, and Jonathan,

My name is Miry and I’m from Potomac, Maryland. First of all, I want to tell you how much I enjoy Animal Ethics. It is beautifully written with wonderful perspective. I read it all the time. I especially liked your posting from Gardner Williams’ “The Moral Insignificance of the Total of All Value.” I found this very inspiring, and would have never have seen it if not for your blog, so thank you for that.

I want to tell you about a website I just launched, called AnimalWork.org. It’s a job-matching site for all jobs related to animals, like training, grooming, veterinary medicine, caretaking, zoo positions, and much, much more. What makes the site special is that a portion of every sale is donated to animal rights and rescue organizations. If the majority of your blog readers are animal lovers like me, then I know they’d love my site.

I would love if you could mention AnimalWork.org on Animal Ethics to let your readers know about it. The link would be really helpful for spreading the word, and supporting the fantastic organizations that work endlessly to make this world a more animal-friendly place. I would also be happy to post a link to Animal Ethics on the AnimalWork.org blog.

Feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions about AnimalWork.org, just want to say hello, or to recommend an animal-friendly non-profit that you think we should support. I am attaching our “Blog Pawsitive” newsletter that will give you more information about why AnimalWork.org is so awesome. Thank you!

Be Pawsitive!

Miry Whitehill
Director, AnimalWork.org

12 March 2008


Here is a New York Times story about animal-rights activists.

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “To Revive Hunting, States Turn to the Classroom” (front page, March 8):

Shame on West Virginia if it approves a bill that allows hunting education classes in public schools to become law.

We should not use public schools to try to reverse the inexorable decline in the “sport” of hunting.

The killing and maiming of animals for sport is a cruel and violent activity that is the antithesis of what schools should be teaching. Furthermore, in the context of a dramatic increase in school violence in recent years, to teach hunting is ludicrous.

We should be teaching our children how to be better citizens of the community, and that certainly does not include taking up arms against other living beings.

Brad Goldberg
President, Animal Welfare Advocacy
Mamaroneck, N.Y., March 8, 2008

11 March 2008

From the Mailbag

I just wanted to pass on a link to a recent national geographic article on Animal Minds. Some of the material may be of interest.


Water Worries—How We're Drugging Other Species

People used to worry that water fluoridation programs were part of a Communist plot. Today, people have to worry about much more than fluoride in their water. Traces of analgesics, antidepressants, antibiotics, antihistamines, anti-hypertension drugs, anti-seizure medications, and birth control hormones are turning up in the Nation's municipally-delivered drinking water and also in our rivers, lakes, and streams. While many city water departments are aware of the problem, most of them aren't sharing that information with their customers. See this AP story for details.

Pharmaceutically-laced water isn't just a problem for humans. It's a problem for animals, particularly aquatic animals, as well. Here is an AP story highlighting the impact these pharmaceutical substances are having on aquatic and avian species. For example, exposure to these substances is negatively impacting the reproductive abilities of some fish species, threatening their extinction. According to the column, more than 100 different pharmaceutical compounds have turned up in surface water around the world. Closer to home, the AP story reports that:
fish collected in waterways near or in Chicago; West Chester, Pa.; Orlando; Dallas; and Phoenix have tested positive for an array of pharmaceuticals — analgesics, antibiotics, antidepressants, antihistamines, anti-hypertension drugs and anti-seizure medications.
When one eats these fish, one is not only being exposed to these substances from one's drinking supply, but also from one's food supply. Since it's a good idea to limit one's exposure to these substances, you might want to rethink eating fish. We already know that tuna is turning up with unsafe levels of mercury residues. Now, we're learning that other fish species have residues of the above array of pharmaceutical substances in their tissues.

Play it safe. Switch to a plant-based diet. You'll spare the fish, and you'll reduce your exposure to these unwanted pharmaceutical compounds.

Back to water. With drugs turning up in tap water, you might think that purchasing bottled water is a safer bet. But think again. Much of the bottled water available for purchase comes from municipal sources at a cost 100 times greater than tap water. Plus, all those plastic bottles are an environmental nightmare. More information on bottled water is available here.

It would be better for all if we could simply trust our local water departments to provide safe affordable drinking water with full disclosure of all contaminants contained therein. Here's an organization working to ensure the safety and affordability of our water supply.

Till then, you might want to switch to biodynamic organic wine. Cheers!

10 March 2008

Global Warming Is Good for Animals (Including Humans)

See here. (Sorry, Mylan.)

Global Warming

Global warming is an animal ethics issue. As the planet warms, fragile habitats that countless animal species depend on for survival will be destroyed. We have already witnessed radical changes in the polar icecap, changes that threaten numerous arctic species. Recently published research suggests that the situation is even more dire than previously predicted. This Washington Post column highlights the gravity of the situation [Also available here.].

Most scientists agree that a 3.6°F (2.0°C) increase in global average temperature could have serious negative environmental consequences. According to the Post story, computer modeling conducted by Andreas Schmittner (College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, Oregon State University) indicates if we continue "business as usual" and do nothing to curb greenhouse gas emissions, average temperatures are likely to increase 7.0°F by the year 2100. This increase in temperature is likely to last hundreds (if not thousands) of years, threatening to dry up sources of water worldwide. Loss of potable water threatens countless animal species including Homo sapiens.

In independent research published in Geophysical Research Letters 35, Damon Matthews (Department of Geography, Planning and Environment, Concordia University) and Ken Caldeira (Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution of Washington) have found that:
a single pulse of carbon released into the atmosphere increases globally averaged surface temperature by an amount that remains approximately constant for several centuries, even in the absence of additional emissions.
Matthews and Caldeira also find that:
to hold climate constant at a given global temperature requires near-zero future carbon emissions.
They conclude:
Our results suggest that future anthropogenic [human-generated] emissions would need to be eliminated in order to stabilize global-mean temperatures. As a consequence, any future anthropogenic emissions will commit the climate system to warming that is essentially irreversible on centennial timescales.
Matthews and Caldeira's findings suggest that the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's recommendation that industrialized nations need to cut emissions 80 to 95 percent by 2050 (limiting CO2 emissions to 450 ppm) to prevent severe climate change may not go far enough.

Meanwhile, Republican Presidential candidate John McCain is only calling for a 60% reduction by 2050. Lucky for him, he won't be around to witness environmental damage caused by his proposal, though he will have kept his current constituents happy. The Democratic Presidential candidates' proposals are only somewhat better where global warming is concerned. Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are calling for 80% reductions by mid-century, which, while better than the 70% reduction plan currently before the Senate, is still at the low end of the IPCC's recommendations.

As the World's leading contributor of greenhouse gases, the United States should be taking the lead in the charge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The U.S.'s per capita greenhouse gas emissions are twice that of Europe and nearly 8 times that of China. As such, it is incumbent upon the U.S. to make radical reductions in CO2 emissions.

Fortunately, we don't have to wait for our elected officials to implement federal legislation curbing greenhouse gas emissions to start reducing our own contributions to global warming. Here are some simple things you can do to reduce your carbon footprint. When it comes time to replace your current vehicle, buy a hybrid. Until then, keep your current car tuned up, keep your tires inflated to the maximum safe level as specified on the tires, and avoid jackrabbit starts. [Switching to a fuel-efficient vehicle is in your self-interest anyway with average gas prices in the U.S. at their all-time highs and projected to increase 20-30 cents per gallon next month!] Take public transportation when possible. Walk or ride a bike for short errands [Doing so will improve your fitness level and waistline to boot.]. Turn off electrical appliances, including computers, when not in use. Turn down the thermostat in winter to 68°F or even 66°F and turn up the thermostat in summer to 80°F or even 82°F. When lightbulbs burn out, replace them with compact florescent bulbs.

I'll be discussing other ways to reduce your carbon footprint in subsequent posts. In the meantime, you can measure the size of your ecological footprint by taking the ecological footprint quiz. Think you're "green"? You might be surprised by how brown your footprint is. This quiz is interactive and will explain steps you can take to reduce the size of your footprint on planet earth.

Note: The quotes from Matthews and Caldeira were taken from the abstract of their article "Stabilizing climate requires near-zero emissions." The complete abstract of their article is available here. The abstract of Schmittner's article can be found here.

09 March 2008

Latest Dot Earth Post on Current Whaling Wars

Here is Andrew Revkin's latest post on the current whaling controversy near Antarctica.

06 March 2008

Golf with Malicious Intent

Thanks to Adrian Seeley for calling to my attention this story about PGA Tour golfer Tripp Isenhour, who allegedly intentionally killed a red-shouldered hawk with a golf shot. According to the report, Isenhour repeatedly hit balls directly in the hawk's direction until he hit the hawk. After impact, the hawk, a protected migratory bird, fell to the ground bleeding from the nostrils. The bird was buried on the golf course—perhaps in an effort to hide the evidence—but was later dug up by Florida investigators.

Now, an ever so remorseful Isenhour wants you to be respectful of his privacy and leave him alone. Ironic, isn't it, since Isenhour wasn't willing to respect the hawk's privacy. Far from leaving the hawk alone, Isenhour (allegedly) took it upon himself to take repeated potentially-lethal potshots at the innocent bird, apparently thinking it funny at the time (according to Jethro Senger as quoted in the story).

Isenhour is charged with cruelty to animals and killing a migratory bird. The charges carry a maximum penalty of 14 months in jail and $1,500 in fines.

Weigh in: Should Isenhour receive the maximum penalty allowable by law? Is the maximum penalty too light? Should Isenhour be banned from the PGA Tour for a period of years the way Michael Vick was banned from the NFL? What say you?

Would you feel differently if Isenhour had driven golf balls at your cat or dog until he succeeded in killing your pet? If so, why? If Isenhour had killed your cat or dog with the same kind of wanton disregard for your pet's life that he allegedly displayed toward the hawk's life, what kind of penalty would you want imposed on him?

As for myself, I hope that Isenhour receives the maximum penalty allowed by law. I would also like to see the PGA ban him from the Tour for a period of years. As a society, we should not tolerate such wanton acts of cruelty. We should make an example of Isenhour the way we made an example of Vick. Sadly, I suspect that Isenhour will receive no penalty at all. I hope I'm wrong.


Here is another take on Isenhour.


People are still trying to post comments on this blog without using their full names. I reject those comments. Once again, you know who Mylan and I are. We want to know who you are. If you don't like this policy, go elsewhere.

05 March 2008

Ends and Means

How do actions such as this promote the cause of those who performed them? I can't think of anything more self-defeating. There are, in general, four ways to achieve an end. The first is to use force. The second is to use coercion (i.e., the threat of harm). The third is to use manipulation (e.g., deception). The fourth is to use rational persuasion. Only the fourth is respectful of persons, which is a moral imperative. I would argue, from a consequentialist point of view, that only change brought about in the fourth way has any chance of long-term success. The first three means generate resentment, alienation, and backlash. Many people who accept the ends reject the means. Eventually, they come to identify the end with the means and reject the end itself. When that happens, what has been accomplished? Precisely nothing. Indeed, things are worse at that point than they were at the outset.

Everyone who cares about the environment must emphatically denounce these actions. Everyone who cares about animals must emphatically denounce (as well as renounce) the use of force, coercion, or manipulation to improve the lot of animals. I hate it when someone refuses to denounce extremists. When someone from PETA, for example, refuses to denounce those who use violent means to pursue their ends, it links PETA with those means. Why would someone even hesitate to denounce those who use violent means, other than misplaced solidarity? I am not in solidarity with thugs. Anyone who cares about the environment or about animals will be judicious in the selection of means, and will not hesitate to condemn those who use inappropriate means. How often does it have to be said that the end does not justify the means?

03 March 2008

Shooting Oneself in the Foot

Somebody explain how this helps animals.

Gardner Williams (1895-1972) on Wronging Animals

Love demands, as every interest demands, that it should dominate life completely. And, in a world where there is too much hate, the judgment of many earnest moralists is overwhelmed by the charms of love; and there are those who come to accept it at its own valuation and are thus led to assert that people have an obligation to increase the collective total of all value in the universe. But sound reason denies that love is the whole duty of man. Its validity is limited by other moral imperatives. Two of these are the interests in nourishment and in gustatory pleasure. These are selfish; but they are, within reason, legitimate, important, and usually essential elements in a good life. That is, they contribute to increasing, in the long run, the quantity of satisfaction which an individual experiences.

The interests in nourishment and in gustatory pleasure lead man to kill and eat cattle, fish, and fowl. This cuts down on the long-range satisfactions of the cattle, the fish, and the fowl. But enlightened public opinion in human society approves of man's carnivorous behavior. And I believe that in most cases man is morally justified in thus reducing the satisfactions of the food animals. Anyone who loves little lambs in a personal way more than he loves lamb chops in a gustatory way ought to forego the latter delicacies. But few people do this. The moral issue, when a man eats lamb chops, is not: Does he gain more value than the lambs have lost by dying so young? The issue is: Does he gain more value than he would experience if he let them live? Letting them live will satisfy whatever personal affection he has for them. And eating them will frustrate this love. An accurate quantitative comparison of the value he gains with that which the lamb loses is really impossible. If a man's duty depended on that, he never would know what his duty was. But an accurate quantitative comparison of how he feels about eating them and about letting them live is made every time he chooses between these alternatives. And his choice is right from his point of view, in case it and its consequences are more satisfactory to him in the long run than the alternative would be.

Most people eat lamb chops, and their consciences are clear on this score when they demand that slaughter-houses shall kill food animals as painlessly as possible. Moreover, very few ever feel the need of taking active steps to enforce this demand.

Some will say that all true values which have any moral significance are confined to humanity and that reducing the satisfactions of food animals is not really evil. But such an argument is just another expression of man's ruthlessness toward lower organisms which he has in his power. He often ignores their values and rides roughshod over them. If an animal's foot is crushed, that is bad for the animal, just as, if a man's foot is crushed, that is bad for the man. Good and bad, value and disvalue, apply to all conscious organisms which experience satisfaction and dissatisfaction. Whoever deliberately lowers the long-range satisfaction in another conscious being does a wrong to it. Man commits many wrongs against the food animals, but he is usually right, from his own point of view, in doing so.

(Gardner Williams, "The Moral Insignificance of the Total of All Value," Ethics 55 [April 1945]: 216-21, at 219-20 [italics in original])

01 March 2008


There were 3,689 visits to this blog during February. That's an average of 127.2 visits per day. The best month, in terms of both overall visits (3,836) and average visits per day (127.8), was November 2007. So February just missed being the best month ever. Thanks for visiting. What would you like Mylan and me to write about?