To the editor,
Benjamin Franklin, a Founding Father, gave up his vegetarianism for the same reason LPN columnist Joe Hackett recently justified hunting. Because animals kill other animals, we can too.
Franklin admitted the logic didn’t occur to him until faced with an especially tempting bit of flesh, writing, “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do.”
One wishes Hackett were so honest.
Normal, adult humans are capable of understanding ethical boundaries. This makes them moral actors. Animals, on the other hand, because they are incapable of understanding ethical boundaries, are moral patients. It should be mentioned that young human children, and humans with severe mental retardation fall into the category of moral patients as well. Despite the fact they cannot enter social contracts, we do not systemically exploit human moral patients. In the same way, we should not exploit animal moral patients.
Furthermore, as Angus Taylor points out, “most of the animals we hunt, eat and experiment on do not kill and eat other animals. If we were to apply a rule that says our treatment of animals should depend on how they themselves act, then it would sometimes be acceptable for us to kill dogs, cats, lions, or eagles, but it would hardly ever be all right to kill cattle, rabbits, deer, or baboons.”
Finally, I’d remind Hackett that, contrary to what he may believe, “natural” is not synonymous with “ethical.” That certain behavior has taken place in the past, or that we might be instinctually predisposed to it, is not an ethical argument. As Bruce Friedrich writes, “The entirety of human society and moral progress represents an explicit transcendance of what’s ‘natural.’”
For information regarding local vegan advocacy, visit adirondackanimalrights.org.