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Animals Are Not Our Tasters
We Are Not Their Kings
their internal organs crushed enough. in enough sessions of "practice" surgery. starved. There is a new incentive for animal exploitation being added to the already crowded agenda. their limbs severed. had their eyes blinded by enough paint stripper and face cleaners. for example. They have already been drowned enough. But such is the ingenuity of the human mind that just when a moral optimist would dare to hope that we might outgrow the sins of our fathers. blinded. been socially deprived." a technological approach to agriculture. rendered deaf and denied sleep enough. in short — as this all too brief inventory may at least suggest — have been systematically and relentlessly exploited in enough ways and in enough numbers that one would hope (for the sake of animals) that we humans would have by now exhausted our enthusiasm if not our curiosity. described by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in the following way: “biotechnology is broadly defined to include any technique that uses living 2 . had their brains scrambled. But heaven help us to stop doing these things to these animals. Animals. powerless. suffered enough in research in germ and chemical warfare. Genetic engineering (so-called) has found an uncomprehending. and apparently limitless supply of "subjects" on which to devise and perfect its young ideas. irradiated in enough nuclear explosions. induced epileptic seizures enough. induced paralysis. what do we find but the spirit of inquiry reasserting itself. ingest heroin and cocaine enough. been forcibly made to smoke cigarettes. had their bare skin exposed to enough caustic industrial and commercial chemicals and solvents. induced peptic ulcers. shocked enough. been living targets in enough tests of military weapons. in enough college laboratories. been used in enough high school science fairs. burned. The last thing animals need are new reasons for exploiting them. been made to swallow enough brake fluid and carburetor cleaner. suffered induced heart attacks.Heaven forbid that we should do to humans what now is being done to other animals. It's all part of the "biotechnological revolution. bled enough.
animals" whereby "animals" the author evidently means to exclude members of the species Homo sapiens.organisms (or parts of organisms) to make or modify products. though probably not the power to deny. The social responsibility of scientists extends not only to those humans now alive but also to those yet to come — assuming we are not the last.. assuming it bears fruit. to improve plants or animals." "It's not nice to fool Mother Nature. My interest in gauging the threats posed by biotechnology includes but goes beyond the worries over what might become of us — us humans — if or as. Through animal biotechnology. The Ohio University zoology professor. UPI story set in Athens. It is a sobering thought. industry. or to develop microorganisms for specific use. and he has planned a way to bottle genetic material for sale to farmers. You put the results of such research. New biotechnology techniques make it possible to move genes from one organism to another — a potential for mankind to alter genetic traits. What does the word "improve" mean here? Perhaps the best way to proceed is by way of example. then quicker than you can say “Adolf Hitler” you'll have the very serious threat. the blossoming forth of the most fundamentally invasive form of science we have ever known." the story begins. As the USDA description points out.” It all sounds rather exciting. the same kind of serious possibility we wince at when we think of today's nuclear weapons getting in the hands of terrorists with itchy trigger fingers and intimations of immortality. It also sounds just a bit scary.. certainly challenging.. "but Tom Wagner is doing it every day. Wagner hopes to you will double the number of hogs you 3 . one that might have the power to delay. this revolution succeeds. So allow me to quote excerpts from a January 12. Ohio. the techniques of biotechnology can be used to "improve ." the story continues. It's the same kind of serious threat. 1986. "is using 'designer' genes to make pigs grow three times faster than normal. The headline (as this appeared in The Houston Post) reads: "Genetic specialist predicts way to aid farmers.. the very serious possibility of those slumbering yearnings about a “master race” reasserting itself. who will then inject their own animals to enhance their good qualities . in the wrong hands.
we humans.. If hogs do not grow fast enough. into the research. "What's-in-it-for-these-animals?" is no more a question that gets asked in this context than is true when rabbits are blinded with paint thinner. But who are we. well. For the consumer. I think this tells us rather well what it means to talk about "improving animals" in the present context. then let us seek to discover the means to ''improve'' on lazy porcine metabolism. which has designated Wagner's project as one of six Advanced Technology Application Centers in Ohio and is pumping more than $3 million. or the dairy cattle. improved" variety) of silver polish or hair spray. guinea pigs have their internal organs burst in the wake of being force-fed the latest version (the "new. I think we understand that the question answers itself. or could produce a meat with less fat and cholesterol. to suppose that we are entitled to bypass this question about What's-in-this-for-these-animals? Who are we to claim the right to exploit animals in the ways we do. either the old ways of toxicity testing and learned helplessness experiments. Thus you can pay off debt faster on buildings and equipment. And if dairy cattle do not produce enough milk. then let us find the genetic keys to unlock their ovarian sluggishness. or Goobers (the baboon's name whose heart was transplanted into Baby Fae) becomes an all but anonymous part of medical history.can take to market in a year. or the hens. The economic implications of this 'genetic delivery' system are not lost on Ohio's state government. And if someone were to ask a researcher like Tom Wagner whether what he is doing is in the interests of the hogs. could be raised more cheaply.. the quick growth means pork with less fat and cholesterol. or do not lay them fast enough. sharply cut feed costs and make more economical use of your barns. matched by $4 million in federal funds. Considerations about what's in the interests of these animals just aren't part of what it means to improve them. then let us find the way to overcome the udder limitations of bovine nature. Or if hens do not lay enough eggs. for example. or the new ways of primate 4 .
so that (they) may not feel?” No the physiology and behavior of these animals are just too much like our own to find it reasonable to maintain that we hear and smell and see. 5 . Set fire to a cat and the cat feels nothing. that we know the comfort of pleasure and the bite of pain. cold and fear. I must assume that no otherwise sensible person would today openly advocate the Cartesian view. we humans are in. we belong to one species. not beyond it. After all. Put a child's fingers in the fire and it hurts. on the current view holds only between the members of our own species. then animals and the rest of God's creation are excluded from membership. He put animals outside the moral community on the grounds that only humans are aware of anything. Might does not make right within the human moral community. nonhumans are out. but they do not." and if the moral community excludes those whose very nature it is to be subjugated.colonies for organ transplants and the genetic "improvement" of farm animals? No one (surely) will suggest that we have the right to exploit animals as we will merely because we have the power to do so. If "dominion" is taken to mean "subjugation. these other animals belong to different ones. There are familiar religious responses that attempt to exclude animals from the moral community. Morality. not out. or that we experience hunger. Since the moral community for the Cartesian consists only of those who feel and are otherwise aware of things. I don't think this view has anything but prejudice on its side. then Tom Wagner's hogs and the other animals I've mentioned are in. animals included. The 17th century French philosopher Rene Descartes tried to dress up this prejudice in fancy rational clothes. Voltaire speaks well for all us ordinary folks when he asks the Cartesian whether “nature has arranged all the means of feeling [in the animals I've mentioned]. while they experience nothing. Why should things be any different when we consider the moral community that includes the animals I've mentioned? Perhaps some will be tempted to deny that there is such a moral community. If all who feel and are aware are members of the moral community. One rests on the dominion God is said to have given us over his creation.
surely means that we are called upon to take care of his good creation in the name of his purposes.. But suppose the case is otherwise and that we humans are the only terrestrial species with immortal souls. awaits the day of ultimate redemption — on this view. the role of his vice-regent on earth. Here. For not only do we find attributions of souls to animals in many religions of the world — in Hinduism and Buddhism." no less important members of the Anglican Church have written. according to the Genesis account. all of creation. including every animal other than the human variety.But this surely has got the message all wrong. such as the Christian entertains. What hearing could this possibly have on whether animals are members of the moral community here on earth? If Descartes was correct and animals felt nothing. In some elusive. then perhaps their cries and groans could be regarded as the morally indifferent sputterings of machines fun 6 . and controversial. if not before. first. all this is controversial at best — controversial. because it is not certain that we humans have the requisite sort of soul. Creation was good before we humans came on the scene. In terms of this theistic understanding man is custodian of the universe he inhabits with no absolute right over it. it is a mistake to suppose that all animal life exists only to serve human kind. not in unrestrained pursuit of ours. because it's uncertain that animals do not. Man's estimate of his own welfare should not be the only guideline in determining his relationship with other species. we will be told that animals lack immortal souls and that only those who have them belong to the moral community. The Anglican cleric Andrew Linzey expresses this point admirably when he states that "it is now commonly held.." "On a theistic understanding of creation. possibly mystical sense. it is an exercise that must be subordinate to the moral purposes of God. secondly. Well. or that the world was made exclusively for man's benefit. that although dominion involves the exercise of power. and the role God gave to us. for example — we also find an increasing number of Christian and other western thinkers well disposed to the view that we humans are not unique in having the wherewithal to join the celestial chorus.
not excluding the hands of the Tom Wagners of the world. But from this fact (assuming it is one). viewed from any credible theistic vantage point. something has gone wrong. the apex of the biological world. we are guilty of no wrong in using it. the species toward which all of evolution has been inexorably moving. I don't myself see how morally serious Christians (and the same applies to morally serious Jews) can avoid the conclusion that we need to get the hogs and other farm animals of the world out from under the tyranny of science. If then. are at liberty to utilize all those species below us in order to advance our own interests. broadly conceived. But if that were true (as the influential Christian theologian C. Some there are who would accept the preceding and yet still put animals beyond the moral pale. This position. our duty to make their lives good here on earth would not be lessened. We are. including the misery they experience in human hands. according to this view. Neither values nor moral principles 7 . or that we do nothing wrong if we do so. Suppose it is true that all the other species utilize species "below" them (whatever precisely that means). this duty would be increased. so we. But of course Descartes is not correct. On the contrary. The pains of animals are no less real than their eyes and ears. if they lack a soul. the application of gene-splicing technology promises to further these interests. When the very idea of "improving animals" doesn't even include any mention of how the animals themselves will benefit. and if they therefore have no possibility of life after their terrestrial death. then there is nothing that can happen to them in a future state that would possibly compensate them for their earthly travails. Lewis saw). so to speak. it does not follow that we humans ought to utilize the species below us. commits just about all the textbook fallacies in moral theory. the top-dog in the community of life. Then that is a fact. S. And just as we find that there is nothing wrong with the other species below us utilizing those species still lower than themselves.afoul. we can safely assume that. as pervasive as it is in our secularized scientific community. True. The grounds they would invoke are biological in nature.
and then goes on to answer in these words: I am a Jew! Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands. dimensions. affections. biology is not irrelevant to working our way toward some sensible ethical position concerning our sometimes terminal scientific interactions with nonhuman animals. warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer as a Christian is? If you prick us. organs. ethics is not one of the natural sciences.follow logically from facts. say. But consider how Shakespeare has Shylock. We need to ask moral questions about the scientific aspirations of the Tom Wagners of the world. Still. is in some ways analogous to such prejudices as sexism and anti-Semitism. Questions of ethics are not questions of fact — at least not facts of the sort we can discover in. a Catholic ethicist at the University of Loyola in New Orleans. not assume that their science itself provides us with the answers. do we not die? James Gaffney. or that they do nothing wrong in doing so. do we not bleed? If you poison us. Some are even offended. it would in no way follow that they ought to. Even if it were true (which of course it is not) that all human beings eat other animals. denying them full membership in the moral community. offers the following telling insights into Shakespeare's understanding of moral prejudice: . what ought to be true in it. When people hear this for the first time. they sometimes are shocked. Put another way. What is true of the world is not the same as. "What's his reason?" Shylock asks of the Christian. biology. in this savagely righteous denunciation of chronic injustice perpetrated by Christians upon Jews. but his animality. healed by the same means. not his rationality but his organicity and 8 . address those Christians of his day who were in the habit of discriminating against him. senses.. a Jew. subject to the same diseases. passions? Fed with the same food. Advocates of animal rights like myself sometimes argue that excluding animals from equal moral consideration. and does not entail. what Shylock insists upon is not the Jew's humanity.. hurt with the same weapons.
sentiency. Each is what each is. "may be drearily indicated by the fact that in most of their books. would be no less a form of moral prejudice. it would probably lead the reader to only a portion of the treatise on lust dealing with the sin of bestiality!" Gaffney goes on to add that "what for Shylock was the shrewdly chosen low ground must. if there should occur any index reference to animals. organs. who is well aware of the astonishing dimensions of neglect of animals in Catholic theology — "how far Catholic moral theologians have been from [recognizing the moral claims of animals]. and not his capacity to be offended but his susceptibility to bodily hurt. and a moral prejudice of the same sort as a Christian's attempt to exclude Shylock because he was a Jew. He strategically chooses the low ground because on that low ground even the most virulent anti-Semitism cannot obscure the justice of his complaint. We mean. Recognition of our shared animality marks the beginning of the new consciousness that underlies the 9 . or to deny them equal moral consideration because they belong to species other than our own. Gaffney. Jews and blacks and other minorities — my own Irish forebearers included — are not the less in our eyes because we see an analogy with the oppression of animals in their own oppression. Nothing more." he writes. I suppose. Each is one who has eyes. one who bleeds when pricked and dies when poisoned. affections. those of us who champion the cause of animal rights. passions. With that finding of Gaffney's I heartily concur. no insult to Jews or any other historically oppressed members of the human family when we liken the prejudice against nonhuman animals to the prejudices these humans have had to bear. and the refusal to acknowledge the legitimate place of animals within the moral community. one who knows warmth and cold. But nothing less. be considered the high ground for animals. Nor are animals the more in our eyes. then. He is thus able to make his moral point with great effectiveness without even risking his adversaries' contemptuous dismissal of any claim to human dignity. But I do not see why that should make the same sort of argument morally unpersuasive when used in their behalf.
Once we have accepted our shared animality with the hogs in Tom Wagner's care. Our shared animality is a fact. Notions about who or what has a soul are no more effective as defenses. whether on the farm or in the laboratory. But this marks the beginning only. tolerate the notion that Tom Wagner's brand of science really is "improving" human beings if he is able to get them to grow three times faster. not to live off the backs of animals. as we in this culture do. and our supposed God-given right to dominate the world should lead us. but that fact was sufficient reason to confirm the identity of the chefs as savages or barbarians. Well and good. in other times and places. As far as it goes. even the weakest among us. do not exist for the purpose of someone else's gustatory delight or as tokens in some economic game called commercial human agriculture. Permit me to work my way toward my less ambitious conclusions by the following route. and the rest of it. Human beings. We civilized folk have risen above all that. The whole challenge of adequate theory construction in ethics remains. I must profoundly hope that none today would rise to vote in favor of this modest proposal. We wouldn't dream of doing the horrible things to humans that we allow to be done to animals. may have made a practice of eating fellow Homo sapiens. we need to ask whether we would accept the same kind of exploitation we find in his barn to continue if human beings were the subjects of his research. Our supposed position at the biological apex of the world is. Other humans. And on that topic the pressures of time oblige me to say little and to attempt to prove even less. a 10 . but to try and stop those who do so. But does it go far enough? What could possibly be the defense of our savage exploitation of the animals in our care? I have explained why it cannot be any more reasonable to suppose that a difference in species could justify this than it would be to suppose that Christians were justified in exploiting Jews. that is. for example. Would we. produce cuts of meat that are lower in fat and cholesterol. But facts are not values. at best.struggle for animal rights.
and pains. If the taster became ill or died. But might does not make right Animals are not our tasters.” writes N. Not so very long ago. The fact that the taster sometimes became sick or died carried no moral weight. and are hurt. kings and members of the royal family had a handy way to discover whether an ambitious rival had poisoned their food. and appetites. not worry about the rights of those lacking royal blood. 11 . 1986 issue of Time Chicago Tribune. the story continues: early this year will unveil its trademarked Micropig — an 8-pound oinker that's billed as the perfect replacement for the hound. "Charles River Laboratories of Massachusetts is the world's largest seller of lab animals". than Jews exist for Christians. Even when it comes to how we treat pigs. to be used by us to promote our ends. and facts never yield the answers to questions of value. What we do know is this: We allow to be done to nonhuman animals what we would not tolerate in the case of human animals. It's virtually hairless and friendly and doesn't provoke emotional protests. and passions. then the food never touched royal lips. For animals no more exist for us. however important these ends might be. then the food was judged suitable for the king. improved [we know what that word means] miniature pig soon may be rooting its way into research lab. Heaven forbid that we should do to humans what now is being done to other animals.fact. But heaven help us to stop doing these things to these animals. I cannot see that we are anything but morally prejudiced and woefully inconsistent in our beliefs. and bleed. attitudes and actions here. Scott Vance in the January 2. The important thing was to protect those in power. It is time — long past time — that we recognize this elementary yet profound truth and bring consistency to our moral life. or women for men. Yet both have eyes. For pigs are destined soon to become the experimental animal of choice in the era of biotechnology. and die. and pleasures. We are not their kings. blacks for whites. If he experienced no ill effects. “A new. Some powerless serf was forced to sample the meal.
Within a week of the test's start. And the non-eating. which is jointly funded 12 . They appeal for donations on the basis of our using dogs. In fact. He stands quietly nursing his drink for an hour. Hortense and Gertrude and Wilbur are just as unrestrained. Animal protection groups. is downright piggish: at 9 a.." That much said. Charlotte. We don't eat dogs.Emotional protests from the American public. Davis. Perkins relates that she asked Tony Buffington. In case the plot isn't already obvious. one might say. the headline (“Pickled porkers on scholarly binge”) and Ms.. But perhaps he is right about America's ethical sense: Dogs are special to us. She slurps the second and clamors for a third.. Only Oscar obviously doesn't like the taste of alcohol. Swindle's care.. Or consider this story by Katherine Eaker Perkins. according to Swindle.” Ms. researchers expect the pigs to be consuming “the equivalent of 15 beers a day.m. But there will be little publicity or concern about using an animal in research . The scene is not a neighborhood bar. Pigs are not. she downs her first cocktail of the day and snorts for more.. that is. At least that's the view of Michael Swindle of the Medical University of Southern Carolina.. a veterinarian working on this project. researchers from the medical school are leading these creatures down the path — to alcoholism. It's all part of a scientific experiment to determine if alcoholics — who die by the tens of thousands each year from malnutrition-related diseases — are able to absorb and metabolize nutrients from their food. but a laboratory at the University of California. a consultant to Charles River. writing in the Sacramento Bee. What we have here is — science. "have used the dog as America's sacred cow . Perkins' next remarks remove all the mystery. She doesn't know when to stop and isn't alone. prospective clients might think for a moment or two before trusting their dog to Dr. where pigs are getting drunk.. It's purely a perception thing. The proof. which everybody eats . is in the eating. blonde and cute.
and institutionalized exploitation of animals. help that goes directly to the people who need it most and need it most immediately. without any medical assistance? Here again the questions answer themselves.” he is reported to have replied. We should do what we morally can do to help the sick — by giving greater funding to alcohol abuse centers and psychological support facilities. Those who care about the rights of animals cannot fail to care about the health of human beings. Logically and morally. the case is no different with the animals I've mentioned. It is justice we respect the more.” “You have to pretty carefully weigh what you do to animals in the interest of helping humans. and increased funding for preventive programs. for example. routinized. He would only show how much he respected the rights of Jews. Buffington may understand a good deal of science but one has to wonder about his abilities as a moral philosopher. By all means. there can be no reason to accept it as right. pigs included. then. a justice that transcends the boundaries of our own species. are animal rights activists only too happy to let them make it through their rocky life on their own. mechanized. And there is no rational defense of our systematic. A Christian who refused to support experiments on Jews would not prove how little he loved his fellow Christians. 13 . We who would have our science respect the rights of animals do not love our fellow humans the less. let us reap the gains our science can yield — provided only that they are well — not ill-gotten. not to speculative and all but hopeless research on helpless alcoholic animals. Like other animal researchers. born to be used in the name of the interest of a particular species — our species.by the National Institutes of Health and Bristol Meyers for $2 million. he seems to assume that animals are just another sort of natural or genetically designed resource. But where there is no rational defense of a practice. whether he feels bad about turning these fastidious creatures into alcoholics lolling in their waste and suffering hangovers. Does this mean that animal rights activists take delight in the suffering of human beings? In the particular case of alcoholics in our midst.
you and I are not required to raise ourselves to his ecstatic heights or to talk with our animal brethren before we can learn to recognize the massive scale of our exploitation of them for the great wrong that it is. and rightfully so. Of course. one that I.When the dust settles and the opposing sides have had their say. there is perhaps only one other massive human evil to compare with it. then we would. he says. Dr. right before our eyes. Recall his monumental words: “The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of animals as we now look upon the murder of men. There is an element of wisdom here. perhaps. a figure approaching almost $2 million dollars every hour of every day — just in the United States Historically considered. Francis. if we could reach a point of expanded consciousness where we sensed their beauty and dignity. acquired that vision. For if we could see the animals in our laboratories differently. Such depth of perception was reached by Leonardo da Vinci. 14 .000 of these animals. just in America 10 million unclaimed and unwanted companion animals "put to sleep" annually in our pounds and shelters in the United States — and some 200. too. the one about. His words and deeds are legendary. • 3 animals killed every second in laboratories in the United States. But Isaac Bashevis Singer. for example. himself a Jew has. are sold to researchers to meet their death in one lab or another. the Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist. the even less lucky ones.” St. in one experiment or another • $7 billion of federal support of animal-related research poured annually into the powerful wheels of the medical-industrial complex. “It's purely a perception thing. would not allude to on my own initiative. put an end to our own species' variation on the theme of bestiality. Swindle's remark. as a gentile. There is.” still lingers. their individual integrity and their moral kinship with us. probably twice that number worldwide • • 10 billion animals killed for food. another Holocaust occurring.
and the rest of the people who comprise the medical-industrial complex. the one whose micro-sized offspring will be filling up the cages of our laboratories in the near future — in the name of “progress. And so we look for help. For one of the animals into whose depths he saw and whose beauty he understood was a pig — a sow. it is perhaps difficult to see the evil being done to Charlotte and Hortense and the other 40-odd pigs being encouraged to consume the equivalent of 15 beers a day." And when we look. Tony Buffington's. Francis's loving perception of this animal is a vision to be compared with Tom Wagner's. not human. animals who are the victims. 15 . we find the help. with figures in the billions. Perhaps our perceptions get numbed by the sheer volumes of the abuse. Francis. I shall leave you with a reminder of his sense of this oft-misunderstood and much maligned creature. When viewed against the staggering numbers involved. Michael Swindle's. the guidance in the person of St. None are so blind as those who will not see. for guidance so that we might better see and appreciate the desperate plight of Charlotte and the other "pickled porkers.only in this one it is nonhuman.” St. if we do.
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