11. Animal rights, hunting
and fishing, wearing furs, eating meat:
activist issues with an existential basis, and which are also surrounded by form.
Just as there is a question of when it is ethical to end a human life, so the
same question exists when we consider ending the lives of other species. We obviously
must take some lives, if only of plants, since our survival depends on it. But
should we take the lives of sensate organisms, and if so in what circumstances?
As an ethic, we have seen that this is acceptable only when we do it to support
ourselves personally, and also that we should seek to minimize it. Therefore,
there is a basis for an activist response to such things as wearing furs, and
sport hunting and fishing where we do not personally consume our kill,
since for the former we do not need furs (we have other options), and for the
latter we do not use what we destroy. Furthermore, activists can (and should)
strive to educate us to follow a higher ethic, such as not hunting and fishing
at all, or using animal products, but not attempt to force us to behave this way,
since that would be form.
However, this argument does not extend to the humiliation and torture of animals.
Animal rights activists are fully justified in opposing this, including through
direct action. But even still, there is a limit. The most extreme activists have
threatened physical violence against animal lab experimenters, and they justify
this with the idea of the lesser evil. Killing a vivisectionist may be
wrong, they say, but by doing it they prevent a greater wrong, i.e., it is the
lesser of two evils. But, as should be clear by now, this is the same argument
as the greater good: using an ethical end to justify an unethical means.
(Also, it assumes that we have no options other than evil ones.)
Do you threaten vivisectionists (or abortion doctors), as on internet hitlists?
No. It is unethical. It is terrorism. You do create a fear for life in the target.
Also, even if you do not act (and even never planned to), it could encourage others
to do so such that the threat is fulfilled.
In addition, we need to make a closer examination of the idea that meat is
murder. I, personally, reject this. Carnivorous consumption is part of our
evolution, and as such, while it should be opposed, it cannot be prohibited. However,
our broader actions against nature do justify such a response. Just as we are
beginning to prosecute dictators and their co-conspirators for crimes against
humanity, so too should our real environmental terrorists be punished for crimes