Re: Extropians and animal rights

Michael S. Lorrey (
Mon, 11 Jan 1999 10:54:07 -0500

"E. Shaun Russell" wrote:

> Samael wrote:
> >The majority of extropians on this list are in favour of perfect human
> >inviolability (ie people never have the right to affect another person
> >without their permission - except in self defence).
> >
> >I'd be interested to hear peoples opinions on the rights of animals. Do you
> >believe that animals have no rights and can be ignored, that animals have a
> >sliding scale of rights based upon their intelligence, or some other system?
> That is a tough question. I think that domestic animals such as
> dogs, cats, cattle etc. could be considered "property" of a sort. As a
> general rule, domestic animals are bought for a price and treated in
> whatever way the owner wishes to treat them. Most of the time it is in a
> decent and humane fashion, though there are certainly exceptions. If the
> animal is treated well, it will provide years of enjoyment --a good
> investment. And, like any kind of "property," if it is treated poorly,
> then it will have less usefulness --poor return value.
> It seems that, compared to humans, most animals have only a minimal
> ability to reason with and comprehend events, and are ultimately unable to
> assert themselves in any non-physical way. Furthermore, animals are either
> dependent on humans (domestic) or are predators or prey. If they are
> predators and they attack, there is little choice for a human but to defend
> his life...if this means killing the animal, so be it (many on this list
> would not hesitate to kill another human in the same situation.) But that
> is the nature of *any* animal --humans included. Survival of the fittest.
> By attacking, the animal has temporarily revoked its basic right to
> has exposed itself to the (often necessary) risk of being killed
> to survive. As for prey such as cattle etc., the same is true. A cow has
> the ability to kill a human if provoked, though a cow's disposition is
> usually placid.
> The crux of the matter is that there is no real need for a human to
> kill an animal unless it is for food, or out of protection. Animals have
> their own "rights" which are shades of those possessed by humans: territories,
> nourishment, procreation, survival. Unless an animal is domestic
> --property-- or game --prey-- then the way they deal with their "rights"
> should be within the species and not on a human scale.

I just had a debate on hunting with a person the other day so I'm primed for this topic. Here is a rough synopsis of the debate: Other Person:"While I think that its OK for people to hunt for food if they need to to survive, anything else is just for sport and is wrong." Mike: "Well, I think than anyone who eats meat at all but does not participate at some point in their life in the killing of the animal and preparing the carcass is a hypocrite. Moreover, I think that hunting is far more humane and respectful of animal's rights than a slaughterhouse, which I associate with Nazi death camps. All animals should be shot on the run and given a sporting chance to escape." We were having a bite to eat, and the girl was eating some french fries, she held one up and said,"Does that mean that since I have never picked a potato that I should not eat french fries?"
Mike:"Have you ever picked a flower?"
Other person:"Yes, of course."
Mike:"well, then you can eat plants, can't you then?" Other Person:"ok, thanks"
Mike:"No problem, and by the way, picking flowers is just for sport, too....."

Mike Lorrey