Animal "Cruelty"

And most alcoholics start off drinking beer…

No, because I don’t believe that the death penalty is morally acceptable. But I do believe eating meat is.

I’ll play devil’s advocate against my own position for a bit: Sure, these animals will suffer. But they are hardly likely to establish long term “suffering poultry colonies”.

What is the difference? Aside from your torturing humans link? With regard to the latter, I don’t see this as a good reason to penalise animal cruelty - for the same reason I don’t support restricting, say, simulated rape videos from legal adults.

**Crypto, ** just to summarize your logic as I see it:

A. I promote or commit x
B. If I believe x is unethical, then I am a hypocrite.
C. I don’t want to be a hypocrite.
D. Therefore x is ethical.

Most people would be with you up until D. But at D most people would say:

D. If x is unethical, then I must either stop x or acknowledge my hypocrisy.

Not quite… more like:

A. I promote or commit x
B. I believe that x is ethical
C. I don’t want to be a hypocrite
D. If x is ethical, then y is ethical (and visa versa)
E. Therefore, y is ethical.

I’ve already stated that eating meat is ethical. Can anyone show me a way that eating meat being ethical does not imply animal “cruelty” is not ethical?

P.S. I quite like this Crypto name thing :smiley:

Cryptoderk, you’ve said that vegetarianism is "better for the earth"and that meat is “detrimental to society.”

Can you support those assertions at all? Preferably with peer-reviewed research?

Show you? No. You seem to be under the impression that ethics are purely and objectively quantifiable, black and white, hard and fast.

It is my belief that ethics are no such thing. A line must be drawn, in nearly all things. Most arguments and conflicts about ethics derive from where to draw a line.

I believe that corporal punishment is acceptable under some circumstances. Am I a hypocrite for not considering it acceptable under all circumstances? Nope. There’s a difference between a spanking and a beating.

Similarly, I believe that some animal cruelty is acceptable. That is, I believe that some degree of cruelty is worth the benefits.

You don’t, that’s fine. You seem to believe that if some cruelty is acceptable, all must be. Please forgive me for finding that an extremely untenable philosophical and ethical position.

By your logic if an otherwise ethical act promotes an unethical one, then not only is the first act still ethical, but somehow the unethical act is magically purified and becomes ethical too.

Look, I might be in dangerously-easy-to-misunderstand territory here, but that’s parallel to one of the classic objections slaveholders gave about ending slavery: “If we just turn them loose they won’t know what to do withthemselevs and will probably die or turn to crime. They are better off slaves.”

Fortunately, enough people realized that was a self-interested rationalization that were were able to get some amendments passed eventually.

OF COURSE the number of animals now being raised on farms would present a problem if something different was done with them. OF COURSE that doesn’t at all affect whether or not we should or should not stop; merely HOW we stop if we do.


Permit me to poke you in the ribs for prefacing your argument for eating other beings with this request. :slight_smile:


That’s actually a fair argument.
The major difference in the two (Although lots of people didn’t realize it or care at the time.) is that slaves were human and could be absorbed into society. (Most of the absorbing they had to fight to do.)
Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to see a million cow march, but I think it unlikely. :wink:

Yes. I don’t hunt deer because I need it as a source of nourishment I do it because I enjoy the taste and I enjoy the whole process of hunting.


I understand the need for shades of grey when it comes to the subject of the wilful slaughter of other animals. Animals are not people. I can see no reason to assume they must be treated as if they were.

However, I do think the ability to empathize is one of those characteristics of intelligent animals that makes human survival possible. Given that abject abuse of a human being can lead to sociopathy, the capacity for empathy, while innate, does need to be nurtured, and that ability can be ruined by trauma.

I know it’s difficult to prove, but scientifically rigorous evidence is mounting that many animals have the sorts of emotional experiences that a well-adjusted human ought to be able to empathize with. Our subjective experience of animals and their behavior is, for some, at least, consistent with the more rigorously-studied picture that’s emerging: Animals really do seem to have feelings, sometimes uncannily resembling our own.

It’s long been observed that the desire to inflict acts of cruelty on animals is a troubling sign of antisocial tendencies. Discouraging such behavior, especially in young children who are testing boundaries, is generally thought to be an essential part of raising a responsible and empathetic person. I don’t think it’s at all strange that we are repelled by the thought of someone committing sadistic acts against another living, feeling creature, especially if those acts are for gratification. Such behavior is an indicator of something maladaptive, even dangerous psychopathology.

So, at the heart, I think, of the standard moral objections to cruelty against animals is a recognition of something deeply troubling about a person who would be interested in such behavior. Anyone who could derive pleasure from the signs of distress and pain evident in an animal being tortured is a person who might lack a healthy capacity for empathy, because animal suffering tends to spark recognition of our own human fears of abuse, and rightly so.

Hence, it’s not at all OK to be cruel animals. Such behavior is destructive of what I’ll call a human sense of decency, for lack of a better way of putting it. It’s both a cause of erosion of that sense of decency in the impressionable, and a sign of a dangerous level of such erosion in those who have exited their formative years.

My second sentence in the last post really should have said “other animals are not people”.

The difference between killing an animal for nourishment and the difference between killing an animal for fun? It’s pretty straightforward.

Some things are prima facie unethical. That is, everything else being equal, they’re unethical acts. However, if you can come up with a stronger reason to state that they’re ethical, then that’s okay.

For example, punching you in the nose is prima facie unethical. However, if I’m punching you in the nose to distract you from shooting a baby, then my act is ethical: my reasons for committing the act, and the good that will be done by my act, outweighs the harm done by my act. If I’m punching you in the nose because I want to watch you bleed, that’s not a good enough reason.

Killing an animal is unethical, and any entity capable of making ethical decisions should not do it. (Read that as many times as you need to so that you don’t come back with, “But tigers kill other animals!”) However, if you’re killing another animal in order to sustain your own life, then that’s a strong enough reason to do so that killing the animal is not unethical. If I’m killing an animal because I want to watch the animal die, that’s not a good enough reason.

I reject the comparison to collateral damage in war. Partly I reject it because I reject that concept: it doesn’t matter to the dead whether they were deliberately or accidentally targeted, and the motive of the targeter matters not a whit to the harm done. However, that concept can be buttressed by pointing out that accidental targeting of civilians results (in theory at least) in fewer dead civilians, and that IS a tangible benefit.

That benefit doesn’t exist in plowing fields. Indeed, if you’re comparing MGibson’s venison-based diet to a vegan’s soy-based diet, there’s a pretty good chance that MGibson’s is the diet resulting in less suffering. The collateral damage, in other words, may well result in more deaths than the specific targeting.

cryptoderk, if you’re really interested in this question, the most rigorous treatise on the subject is The Case for Animal Rights, by Tom Regan. I won’t claim that it’ll convince everyone who reads it–that’d be ridiculous, of course–but I will say that it’s a closely-argued, well-reasoned argument in favor of extending rights to certain groups of animals.


While I would very much like to see people eat less meat (and treat farming animals better, which is why I buy ethical eggs etc.), we can’t all go vegetarian willy-nilly. Not everyone can survive solely on plant foods.

I do tend to think that people who eat meat should be willing to kill and dress the animals themselves, though that’s not in the least feasible in our modern world. Since I’m willing to do that, I have no problem eating meat. But I would never condone animal cruelty or torture; I see that as something entirely different.

One reason I find hunting tolerable is, quite simply, the deer herd needs to be culled. Either we bring back millions of wolves, or we hunt big pretty herbivores. The alternative to predation is overpopulation, starvation, and disease.

Another reason is, there really are people out there who could use the meat, and aren’t in it just for kicks. A good source of protein is important for kids growing up, and when money is tight, the benefits derived from a couple meals a week of red meat shouldn’t be underestimated. My folks grew up in a rural part of Maine with lots of people of modest means, and seeing dead deer hanging in the garage was something you took for granted. For many of them, a gun and a big freezer in the basement were as important to have as a furnace in the winter.

Frankly, I’m uninterested in this debate. I’ve seen every argument six was from Sunday, so I’ll concern myself only with a factual question here.

Incorrect. This looks at raw energy pyramids and ignores the fact that human energy consumption pays little heed to it. In short, climactic regional differences make pastoralism far more efficient in many areas. In fact, pastoralism is the only sustainable farming method possible over much of the world.