31 December 2011

From Today's New York Times

To the Editor:
In “Hunting Deer With My Flintlock” (Op-Ed, Dec. 26), Seamus McGraw says he has a responsibility to kill deer because there are too many. He has volunteered to kill a deer cruelly, ineptly and with an outdated weapon that causes additional suffering to the deer. I assume that the use of the flintlock is to enhance his self-image as a master of the woodland.

He says he hunts out of a need to take responsibility for his family, who evidently live where the supermarkets offer no meat. He says meat tastes more precious when you’ve watched it die. May I recommend a trip to a slaughterhouse?

I’m tired of hearing people who enjoy killing justify it with specious moral platitudes. Animals suffer when killed. No pearly phrases can make that any better.

Baldwin, N.Y., Dec. 26, 2011

To the Editor:
Seamus McGraw mounts all the standard defenses: I am feeding my family; there are too many deer; I kill as mercifully as possible.

But whether with a flintlock or a modern rifle, hunting cruelly takes the life of a living, sentient being that has as much right to live as any hunter or writer. It is only the prejudice of our species that justifies culling the deer population while protecting our own.

Highland Park, Ill., Dec. 26, 2011

To the Editor:
I don’t have all the answers concerning Pennsylvania’s burgeoning deer population (most of it caused by the burgeoning human population), but I want to comment on the self-serving tone of Seamus McGraw’s article.

For a man who claims not to enjoy killing, he takes considerable pride in his bloodletting. That his flintlock rifle failed him, and more important, the doe, because he flinched is reason enough to put down his antiquated weapon. It ought to be reason enough for such a firearm to be banned entirely.

Beyond that, though, is the tragedy of the doe’s sole contact with a human: a moment that could have initiated a communion between the two was instead reduced to carnage. Nothing noble there. No art in it either.

President, Make Peace With Animals
New Hope, Pa., Dec. 26, 2011

To the Editor:
Please give me a break. Seamus McGraw tells us he has to kill deer in his section of Pennsylvania because “with no predators to speak of—the wolves were wiped out centuries ago and the last mountain lion in the state was killed more than 70 years ago—the responsibility for trying to restore a part of that balance fell to me.”

Who wiped out the wolves and mountain lions? Hunters like him.

Boston, Dec. 26, 2011

27 December 2011

The Great Climate Hoax

Suppose, for the sake of argument, that the globe is warming. What follows, as a normative matter? Nothing. As David Hume (1711-1776) pointed out long ago, you can't validly deduce an evaluative proposition from a set of factual propositions. (Put differently, there has to be at least one evaluative premise in order for there to be an evaluative conclusion.) What we should do about global warming (again, assuming it exists) depends on the consequences of global warming. Few if any changes have only good consequences or only bad consequences. Almost always, there are both good and bad consequences. Whether we should do something to stop the change, therefore, depends on which type of consequence—good or bad—predominates.

How often have you heard a dispassionate discussion of the good consequences of climate change? All you hear, day after day, is a depressing litany of bad consequences. This alone shows that global warmists are biased. They want intervention to stop climate change, so they mention only the bad consequences of climate change. A rational person with no ideological axe to grind would attend to good consequences as well as to bad consequences. For example, how many people around the world die of extreme cold as opposed to extreme heat, and how would that change if the globe warmed? What is the optimal temperature for the alleviation of suffering, for both humans and sentient nonhuman animals? How many different species of animal or plant would there be if the globe warmed, as opposed to how many there are today? What is the optimal temperature for food production? Would there be more food rather than less if the globe warmed?

Change per se is neither good nor bad. Whether a given change is good or bad, all things considered, depends on its consequences (and how these are evaluated). I wish scientists would inform the public of all the consequences of global warming, so that the public can decide for itself whether to expend its scarce resources in preventing it. That scientists have not done this is the best evidence yet that they are advocates rather than, as they purport to be, disinterested observers. Is it any wonder that they are not trusted? Do you trust people who are hell-bent on selling you something to the point where they omit relevant information? In law, this is called fraud.

01 December 2011


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