Animal Rights?  

Friday, August 24, 2007

I recently came across a couple of posts (here* and here) by Jason Kuznicki of Positive Liberty on animal rights as supposed under a Libertarian form of government.

Ask yourself: How would we treat a human male who behaved toward other people in the same way that a tomcat behaves toward rodents — or toward the females of his own species? The tomcat should feel lucky that he is usually only confined and castrated. By the logic of individual rights, we’re doing him a favor. Not that this logic necessarily applies, but this would certainly be the result if it did.

I disagree with his conclusion, but I think he makes some interesting points. Comparing raising animals for food and raising animals for dogfights does make all of us meat eaters seem pretty hypocritical. And maybe we are. But I still think there's a distinction between an activity that is intentionally cruel and sadistic (like dog fighting) and raising animals for food.

Jim Henley of Unqualified Offerings has put together a list of post on animal rights, property rights and animal cruelty from a Libertarian perspective. They're all worthwhile reading, but I think Libertarianism and Animal Cruelty from I Think ^(Link) Therefore I Err is the best (and by that, of course I mean the closest to how I feel about the issue).
Same for animals. Like babies, they don’t know we essentially “own” them. They know who butters their bread and what choices they have within the confines (word corrected) of their “homes”. And they make do. Slaughter isn’t inherently “cruel” and any of Temple Grandin’s books will have you seeing that. (designer of about 1/2 the slaughter houses in the US)

Is there a libertarian argument against animal cruelty? Only if there is one against child cruelty. And I suspect there is.

*And I have to agree, the best title ever.

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7 comments: to “ Animal Rights?

  • John - Evolutionary Middleman
    Friday, August 24, 2007 at 11:17:00 PM CDT  

    "But I still think there's a distinction between an activity that is intentionally cruel and sadistic (like dog fighting) and raising animals for food."

    Rational thinking can lead us to no other conclusion. Of course there is a difference. And this is coming from one who has been a vegetarian in the past and, even now, tries to keep the meat eating to a minimum. If I had a stronger will, stronger incentive and fewer co-dependents, I would be one again.

    I really DO see the hypocrisy, but there is a DISTINCT difference in the two. If one can not see that, then one is being DOGmatic!

  • PBS
    Saturday, August 25, 2007 at 1:42:00 AM CDT  

    There are many horror stories about how animals are raised and killed for food. I have been a vegetarian at different points in my life because of that but I'm not one now.

    Your argument seems to be that it's OK to kill if it's for a useful purpose? As opposed to just killing for killing's sake, like for a cockfight or a dogfight. That it isn't the end result, but rather, the REASON for killing. That's an interesting distinction to me, but then since I now eat some meat, it's rather hypocritical of me to point that out, I guess!

  • ordinarygirl
    Saturday, August 25, 2007 at 9:17:00 AM CDT  

    I think my point was that we as humans seem to think killing is OK if it has a purpose. I'm torn on it though.

    I think from one perspective it's natural that we kill other animals for food. But are humans really natural? We constantly fight nature and we've pushed nature back to such a point that many of us don't have a daily fight to survive like most animals.

    And what about the argument that domesticated animals have benefited from their domestication. But that makes me think too much about slaves and how people used to say the same thing about them.

    It comes down to how much different we think we are than other animals in most cases. We're more familiar with dogs and cats. We see them as part of humanity in many cases. We imagine traits in them we possess and perhaps they do have those same traits. I know my cat feels emotions, is self-aware, and has intelligence. If I was just as familiar with a pig or a cow would I feel the same?

  • Nita
    Monday, August 27, 2007 at 3:27:00 AM CDT  

    The fact is that we humans exploit and kill other species...and frankly it doesn't matter what the reason...whether its to make perfumes, for fights or for food, its the same thing. I am a meat eater but I feel no guilt about it as I have accepted that man is not a noble being. In fact I find vegetarians who don't eat meat but use leather products for example are the hypocritical ones.
    I admit I belong to a ravaging species and frankly I am glad I am up there in the food chain. But no, I don't think deer are morally superior to lions because they are meat eaters.
    If we do conservation its to ensure that species do not become extinct, and that too has a selfish motive.
    Ofcourse cruelty to animals is disgusting, and in fact cruelty in all forms is repugnant. So I guess dog-fights could fall into that category...I personally detest seeing even wrestling. But well, we belong to a cruel species.
    So do I think I am superior to those who enjoy dog-fights and other cruel sports? Maybe I am, but I am not sure about it. I do abhor cruelty.

  • John - Evolutionary Middleman
    Monday, August 27, 2007 at 5:48:00 PM CDT  

    Nita said: "I have accepted that man is not a noble being."

    I agree. However, we are the only species of animal that has evolved morals. Like it or not, we have evolved a certain amount of dominion over the earth and, hopefully, we'll use it wisely.

    Does this mean being a vegetartian? I don't know. I would guess that, should our species survive that long, our decendants will look back on our meat eating as being roughly analogous to how we look back at our own ancestor's outlawed practices (such as slavery). But I'm playing at seer on that.

  • Anonymous
    Tuesday, September 4, 2007 at 10:45:00 AM CDT  

    Thanks for the link!
    All of this train of thought has actually led me on a path that I believe will be vegetarianism. (but only the kind the doesn't screw up other people. ie if invited over for dinner and lasagna is served I won't ask for just noodles! That steer is already dead)
    Am reading Matthew Skully's book Dominion recommended by a commenter.

  • ordinarygirl
    Tuesday, September 4, 2007 at 10:59:00 AM CDT  


    I'm really glad you enjoyed the post. The internet is great for finding conversations like those in the links that make you think about and sometimes re-evaluate your viewpoints.


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