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Is he friend or food? Or is he both? - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Jan. 21st, 2008

02:15 am - Is he friend or food? Or is he both?

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Date:January 22nd, 2008 12:15 am (UTC)
I think the main problem is that we're still killing animals for fundamentally selfish reasons

I think there's very little that people do with/for domesticated animals that isn't selfish. The very act of domesticating a species is selfish: it involves capturing some wild animals and selectively breeding them so that, over the generations, a subspecies is created that is more suited than its wild counterpart to human needs - whether it's food, labour, or just companionship.

There are some animal rights activists out there who go as far as to argue that even keeping pets is wrong (in addition to eating meat or other animal products, using animals in scientific/medical research, and keeping animals in zoos). Whilst I personally disagree with them and think they're a bit nuts, they have a point that is at least logically consistent. Keeping a pet - or any other captive/domesticated animal - almost always involves restricting its freedom of movement and freedom to mate and breed; in fact, doing otherwise is generally considered exceptionally irresponsible pet ownership.

You can argue, reasonably succesfully, that they're done with the animal's welfare in mind - unrestricted freedom of movement often leads to getting eaten or run over, and the unrestricted ability to mate and breed often leads to ill health (if the animal is female) and a population explosion. However, you can also argue that both are still fundamentally selfish acts, or that they at the very least place humans above other animals in some way: here I am telling this animal what to do because I know best.

At the end of the day, I think there are very few people indeed who completely disagree with the selfish use of animals to some degree or other. I'm fairly certain that most of the holier-than-thou veg*ns who whine about the selfishness of eating meat/eggs/dairy/whatever would happily neuter a tom cat, despite the fact that 99.99% of toms would much rather be left intact and given unrestricted access to queens in heat.

The main question, then, is not whether or not you believe various types of selfishness are justified: e.g. you might believe that using animals in medical experiments is right but eating animals is wrong, since the former saves (human and occasionally other animal) lives whereas the latter is simply because it's tasty.

Of course, there are further side questions, like whether not eating meat actually has more of an impact on animal husbandry practices than only eating (and hence actively supporting) humanely reared meat. (I strongly suspect not, which is one of the reasons I eat happy meat.)
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Date:January 22nd, 2008 08:15 am (UTC)
It's even more complicated than that. Dogs weren't domesticated by modern humans making rational selfish decisions. Since dogs were domesticated, both dogs and humans have evolved, arguably to take advantage of the partnership.

There is a plausible theory that suggests that we have such rich spoken languages because of dogs.

It seems to me that there are complex inter-woven symbiotic relationships all through nature. If you take any one species out of the food chain, it messes up a whole load of stuff. To suggest that the human species is somehow exempt from the food chain seems arrogant.
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