You Don’t Have to be a Hippy to Care About Animals…

I am a human exceptionalist for the simple reason that human beings are exceptional. It is a tragedy if an animal dies, for example, mostly if human emotions were affected. The animal had no dreams or even plans. It had crude emotional attachments. Nonetheless, if it had any cognitive complexity it could have felt pain. I agree with conservatives who deny that those convenient fictions we call “rights” should extend to beings which are not rational enough to be part of moral communities. Nonetheless, when they accept that humans should be “kind” to animals they understate the implications of this. Ambiguity allows them to slip into its cloud. But quite simply, there is nothing “kind” about confining animals which enjoy space to cramped conditions; separating protective new mothers from their children; overfeeding creatures till they grow unnaturally large or executing them in often painful procedures. These are especially unkind if they are applied to million upon million of cows, pigs, ducks, goats, sheep and chickens and this whole unpleasant business is especially unkind if the amount of other nutritious and palatable food sources available ensures that most of these practices are entirely unnecessary. To put human and animal life on an equal footing would be to radically and irrationally revise our age-old understanding of proper relations between species but to oppose the enormous expansion and industrialisation of animal agriculture, with its essential coarsening of our appreciation of natural life, not to mention is to destructive effects on the environment, is to exhibit no idealism or Jacobinism but a decent respect for animal welfare that our ancestors would feel if they time travelled into seething, stinking modern superfarms.

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About bsixsmith

I am a writer of stories and poems - published by Every Day Fiction, The London Journal of Fiction, 365 Tomorrows and Det Poetiske Bureau - and a columnist for Quillette, Areo and Bombs & Dollars.
This entry was posted in Animals, Ethics. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to You Don’t Have to be a Hippy to Care About Animals…

  1. Whyaxye says:

    Yes, I agree entirely. Part of our exceptional nature is the fact that we can feel and express emotions such as kindness and compassion. Some animals may have these qualities in rudimentary form, but if it is at all widespread outside of human sensibilities then nature is keeping it very well hidden. Feeling and expressing kindness and compassion is good for us, as well as for the recipients, if such there be. We should be kind and compassionate just as cows should moo and ducks should quack.

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