What's Good for the Goose Is Good for the Farmer?

Today in the special "eating well while eating green" edition of the New York Times food section, discussion of a new kind of more ethical foie gras.

One company even claims to have figured out the circumstances in which geese conveniently turn their own livers into foie gras voluntarily when let to "roam freely and gorge on grass, acorns, figs and lupines in the Extremadura region of Spain." Industry experts are skeptical.

But many producers are turning to more humane 6-inch flexible rubber tubes (instead of the traditional 8 to 10 inch steel tube) to make force-feeding less uncomfortable and less damaging to the health of the geese overall:

Using the new machine and his version of the feeding method, [foie gras farmer Tom] Brock raised more than 642 geese last fall. He said that not a single bird was sickened or injured during force-feeding. He plans to raise 12,000 this year.

As usual, animal cruelty activists refuse to give more than ultra-grudging credit for small but significant advances:

“Is a soft rubber tube better than a hard tube?” said Paul Shapiro, director of the factory farming campaign of the Humane Society of the United States, one of the groups that pushed for the California bill [banning foie gras]. “Maybe, but you are missing the point. You are still forcing them to eat more than they would ever eat voluntarily and inducing a state of disease.”

More on foie gras bans in Chicago and California here.

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  • ||

    roam freely and gorge on grass, acorns, figs and lupines...

    Look, my friends. I happen to know that this is the Lupin Express.

    In a bunch! In a bunch!

  • ||

    Do we file this under proof that the AnimalRightsActivists will not quit until we are SubsistingOnRawVegetables?

  • ||

    highnumber,

    What's up with the TLW-ese?

  • Jennifer||

    You are still forcing them to eat more than they would ever eat voluntarily and inducing a state of disease

    So now we can't eat animals unless they voluntarily agree to be slaughtered for our consumption? Just what we need--our food supply contaminated by the flesh of suicidal cows.

  • VM||

    like zees hier?

    (The Deerpath Inn in Lake Forest, IL has a good, if not interesting foie gras, BTW)

    de stijl - he got his pinkies stuck in one of those chinese pinky trap thingy doohicky

  • ||

    I am to foie gras bans as the Lonely Whacker is to illegal immigrants.

  • Chucklehead||

    Someone clever will genetically modify geese to willingly overeat (the way the "fat mice" in obesity research do) and market the resultant fois gras as produced through humane methods.

    Animal rights folks will still bitch.

  • ||

    I may try foie gras someday, once they figure how to make it without liver.

    Kevin

  • ||

    Chucklehead - Then HighNumber will go after the anti-GM folks instead of the animal rights folks.

    CB

  • Anonymous||

    So now we can't eat animals unless they voluntarily agree to be slaughtered for our consumption?

    No, that's both a false choice and a reductio ad absurdum.

  • ||

    Kerry, you should be ultra-thankful that you are very unlikely to ever be treated in even this more "humane" way.

  • ||

    As long as the goose isn't in physical pain, I'm fine with it.

  • Jennifer||

    No, that's both a false choice and a reductio ad absurdum.

    Not necessarily, when said in response to this: "You are still forcing them to eat more than they would ever eat voluntarily and inducing a state of disease."

    How, exactly, is making them involuntarily eat worse than making them involuntarily die? How is inducing a state of disease worse than inducing a state of death? "Kill me if you must, but please don't make me eat too much first!"

  • Jennifer||

    Kerry, you should be ultra-thankful that you are very unlikely to ever be treated in even this more "humane" way.

    Yeah, but the minute she slips and falls a few links lower on the food chain, she'd better watch the hell out.

  • ed||

    From the time they hatch the goslings should be forced to watch a film loop
    that shows how natural it is for geese to live their lives with a feeding tube
    down their throats. Too bad Leni Riefenstahl is dead.

  • ||

    Foie gras is not cruel.

    Shut yer yaps, you haters, before I concoct a quiz that proves you are all monkeys!

  • ||

    Is it just me or is there an unusual number of puns in today's Hit and Run headlines?

  • ||

    Would you expect someone with a principled opposition to torture to applaud if electrodes were applied to a dissident's testicles using plush leather ties instead of uncomfortably cold alligator clips?

    Of course not, and you don't need to support the underlying cause to realize what a patently absurd complaint this is. People oppose the force-feeding itself, not the methodology. Ms. Mangu-Ward should be more intellectually honest than this.

  • ||

    Anonymous, SeeingI, Bill Pope,
    No matter what they do to these Geese or how cruel it seems, it doesn't justify making it illegal. You shouldn't advocate restricting people's and businesses rights. I'm all for these company's coming up with more humane methods because the market wants it or for their own personal reasons.
    by the way, i'm a vegetarian.

  • Highnumber\'s Quizmaster||

    Question 1: Do you have an opposing digit?
    Question 2: Did you know a banana is a berry?
    Question 3: Describe the use of the BLUS residual.

    YOU'RE A MONKEY! ALL OF YOU!

  • ||

    Foie gras without the forced feeding is like tuna salad without the dophin.

  • ||

    "Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I am the Dish of the Day. May I interest you in parts of my body?"

    "May I urge you to try my liver, it must be very rich and tender by now, I have been force feeding it for months?"

    Arthur, still disgusted asks, "Is there any reason why I shouldn't have a green salad?"

    The cow replies, "I know many vegetables who are very clear on that point sir, which was why it was decided to cut through that whole problem by breeding an animal that actually wanted to be eaten."

    http://www.generationv.org/2005/03/

  • ||

    What I want to know is who on earth came up with the idea of foie gras in the first place?

    "Hey, I'm going to stuff a goose with extra food and see what the liver tastes like."

    Have we tried eating other organs on stuffed geese? Perhaps their eyeballs are succulent, or their pituatary glands are subtle yet robust?

  • ktc2||

    bigbigslacker,

    Awesome a hitchhiker quote! Gotta love that.

  • ||

    Jennifer: How is it worse? The same way torture is worse than killing.

    You may argue that it's OK to to both to animals, but it's not unreasonable to morally rank them in that way.

  • ||

    Yes, confinement and force feeding is inhumane and quick painless slaughter is humane. What I can't understand about the foie gras bans is that if they are intended to stop cruelty, why not enforce the laws that already exist against animal cruelty and allow people to figure out how to make foie gras humanely?

    My dog's vet rehabbed some adult ducks that were stolen from a plant and they were pathetic. They couldn't walk or swim. Their feet were turned in from lack of use. One of them eventually learned how to walk with some difficulty.

  • ||

    Geese's lawyer fucked up way back in the day and didn't check all the fine print in the Domestication Agreement of BCE 12,467.

    But in his defense he was a caveman goose lawyer.

  • ||

    I love foie gras, but I have to admit that the way it's made (whether it's done with a rubber hose or a steel tube) troubles me.

    When it comes to food animals (for lack of a better term), I don't think the "greater includes the lesser" argument really works. I.e., the argument that, since killing is worse than non-lethal pain, and non-vegetarians are OK with killing animals, then non-vegetarians should be OK with causing non-lethal pain to animals. Food animals have enough of a brain to know when they're in pain and when they're not. I doubt, however, that any of them can foresee their lives or distinguish between an "early" death and a death after a long "fulfilling" life. In this instance, then, killing (if as quick and humane as possible) is not worse than painful treatment short of killing.

  • ||

    Curious,

    Foie gras dates back to ancient Egypt.

    The technique of gavage dates as far back as 2500 BC, when the ancient Egyptians began keeping birds for food and deliberately fattened the birds through force-feeding.


    I didn't see it in a very quick scan of the Wikipedia article, but I believe the Egyptians ate the migratory birds that had fattened themselves up for the season and adopted the practice of making the birds fatten up year round when they realized how tasty they were.

  • ||

    Anon
    There's nothing wrong with reductio ad absurdum in and of itself. If you are basing your argument on a flawed, illogical or irrelevant premise it's actually a great way to point that out.

  • ||

    jp,

    Relax. It is not cruel. Read what the VAMA thinks about it in the link I provided at 1:17. Believe it or not, but water fowl's gullets are constructed quite differently than humans'.

  • ||

    Also, my 2 cents on foie gras; first of all, I could care less about the supposed "pain" it puts the goose through. As long as we are not torturing animals unneccesarily I think they are fair game. One could argue these geese get much better treatment from us then from a feral cat that catches them.
    That said, if a locality wants to ban the production of foie gras or force feeding animals I generally don't have a problem with that unless I happen to live there. It's when people ban it's SALE that there is a problem in my opinion.

  • ||

    I only eat animals that signed a food chain agreement.

  • Timothy||

    You're just going to kill the thing and eat its liver...I kind of don't see how one tube or another makes a difference.

    In fact, because I hate geese (bad experience as a kid) I say use a 12 inch tube covered in spikes!

  • ||

    I only eat animals that signed a food chain agreement.

    The placement of your modifier makes me worry what else you do to animals who don't sign.

  • ||

    highnumber -- Thanks for the link.

  • ||

    One company even claims to have figured out the circumstances in which geese conveniently turn their own livers into foie gras voluntarily when let to "roam freely and gorge on grass, acorns, figs and lupines in the Extremadura region of Spain."


    No love for wolves in Spain, apparently.

    That just seems wrong to me. One minute, you're an intimidating pack predator, the next you're being beaked to death by ducks. There's just no dignity, there.

  • ||

    highnumber,

    The big bad wolf pays those animals a visit. He's never failed me yet and I get pork chop kickbacks. I've never asked how he got the signature...

  • ||

    It appears that the meat-eaters among us are invoking the "we will eat meat because we can" argument.

    You would think libertarians would not employ that line of thinking, but here it is.

  • ||

    Duck, duck, Geese!

    Sorry.

  • ||

    How, exactly, is making them involuntarily eat worse than making them involuntarily die? How is inducing a state of disease worse than inducing a state of death?

    Because the former is painful and the latter is not (necessarily). Under the general assumption that it is okay to eat animals as long as they are treating humanely during "processing," a forced gorging is worse than killing, because the killing is necessary (again, given the assumption).

  • ||

    treating = treated

  • Jennifer||

    Because the former is painful and the latter is not (necessarily).

    Except that it isn't, due to various difference between human and bird anatomy. You may as well call me cruel because when I had a parakeet* I made it sleep on a horizontal stick rather than a bed. It would be cruel indeed to make a human sleep standing on a stick, but birds are--and I cannot overemphasize this point--different.
    .
    .
    .
    *I never actually did. But my parents did when I was little.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    I made my parakeet sleep in a bed. Wearing adorable little "Tweety Bird" pajamas, too. Then the people came and took me to the home.

  • ||

    Except that it isn't, due to various difference between human and bird anatomy.

    I have noticed that birds differ from humans anatomically. I don't see how this implies that they do not feel pain from the gorging process. In fact, the tube was changed from metal to rubber to lessen the pain. Right?

    I am not saying the practice is wrong--I am merely pointing out that the comparison you made between "not volunteering to die" and "not volunteering to eat that much" was, as another put it, a false choice.

  • ||

    QBD,

    Have you ever contributed anything of any value to anything?

    In other words, are you not now or have you ever not been a waste of space?

    Just asking.

  • D.A. Ridgely||

    It appears that the meat-eaters among us are invoking the "we will eat meat because we can" argument.

    We meat eaters at least prefer a form of food that in principle has the opportunity to escape or fight back. What chance do you vegetarians give those helpless, trapped tomatoes?

  • ||

    Someone clever will genetically modify geese to willingly overeat...

    I think they could just make these geese single mothers and then give them desk jobs in the insurance industry. By my experience, the massive overeating would start immediately thereafter.

  • Ashish George||

    Jennifer writes: "Except that it isn't, due to various difference between human and bird anatomy."

    Pointing out that A is different from B is not the same as pointing out that A is relevantly different from B.

    "Also, my 2 cents on foie gras; first of all, I could care less about the supposed 'pain' it puts the goose through. As long as we are not torturing animals unneccesarily I think they are fair game. One could argue these geese get much better treatment from us then from a feral cat that catches them.
    That said, if a locality wants to ban the production of foie gras or force feeding animals I generally don't have a problem with that unless I happen to live there. It's when people ban it's SALE that there is a problem in my opinion."

    Why the scare quotes around pain? And again, your "unnecessarily" begs the question. What is at issue is precisely whether or not what is inflicted--and yes, inflicted is the right word here--on the animals is justified.

    "We might try looking at comparable cases, extending whatever judgments we make on those cases to the one before us. For ex­ample, we might look at the case of hunting, where I assume that it's not all right to hunt and kill animals merely for the fun of it. Is hunting a special case, because its object and what provides the fun is the chasing and maiming and death of animals? Suppose then that I enjoy swinging a baseball bat. It happens that in front of the only place to swing it stands a cow. Swinging the bat unfor­tunately would involve smashing the cow's head. But I wouldn't get fun from doing that; the pleasure comes from exercising my muscles, swinging well, and so on. It's unfortunate that as a side effect (not a means) of my doing this, the animal's skull gets smashed. To be sure, I could forego swinging the bat, and instead bend down and touch my toes or do some other exercise. But this wouldn't be as enjoyable as swinging the bat; I won't get as much fun, pleasure, or delight out of it. So the question is: would it be all right for me to swing the bat in order to get the extra pleasure of swinging it as compared to the best available alternative activity that does not involve harming the animal? Suppose that it is not merely a question of foregoing today's special pleasures of bat swinging; suppose that each day the same situation arises with a different animal. Is there some principle that would allow killing and eating animals for the additional pleasure this brings, yet would not allow swinging the bat for the extra pleasure it brings?"-- loony lefty Robert Nozick...Can you guess what his answer is?

    http://www.animal-rights-library.com/texts-m/nozick01.htm

  • ||

    Whoopsie!

    I meant to address that that to QGD (Queen's Gambit Declined), not QBD (Queen's Butthole Dingleberry)

    Never mind. I'll let it stand.

  • ||

    So... is it foie gras because of the lipidosis? Or is it just that the lipidosis enlarges the liver, making it more-servings-per-bird-killed? Seems like, if it started in ancient Egypt, it's probably the latter. And if that's the case, it really does seem like modern technology might find a way (do it the old fashioned way, by careful breeding, since the Euros don't want to GM anything) to produce a line of geese with big livers.

    Hell, my liver is huge. Not from forced feeding. Maybe they should just keep the geese drunk. Would that be cruel?

    CB

  • ||

    "As usual"?

    Katharine, so uh, you're saying those of concerned with humane treatment of animals should be celebrating that the force feeding is with softer tubes?

    You might actually wish to talk to human beings that are occasionally fed with soft rubber tubes in hospitals. Ask them if their experience, necessary though it is is painful.

    I know my mother thought it so painful and horrible, that that was a large reason she eventually requested feedings stop.

    And that is on people that they are trying to treat humanely.

    Are you libertarian, or just an asshole?

  • anotheranon||

    anon, did the feeding hurt, or was the pain caused by whatever medical condition required her tube feeding?

  • ||

    Eric the .5b wins the thread. Poor wolves. Beaked to death!?!

    As to vegetarians, the Arrogant Worms said it best:

    Listen up, brothers and sisters
    Come hear my desperate tale
    I speak of our friends of nature
    Trapped in the dirt like a jail

    / G D Em / C D G / :

    Vegetables live in oppression
    Served on our tables each night
    This killing of veggies is madness
    I say we take up the fight

    Salads are only for murderers
    Cole slaw's a fascist regime
    Don't think that they don't have feelings
    Just 'cause a radish can't scream

    / D - G / / / C - D /

    {Refrain}
    I've heard the screams of the vegetables, scream scream scream
    Watching their skins being peeled, having their insides revealed
    Grated and steamed with no mercy, burning off calories
    How do you think that feels, bet it hurts really bad
    Carrot juice constitutes murder, and that's a real crime
    Greenhouses prisons for slaves, let my vegetables grow
    It's time to stop all this gardening, it's dirty as hell
    Let's call a spade a spade, it's a spade it's a spade it's a spade

    / G D Em - / C G D - / 1st / C D G - / :

    I saw a man eating celery
    So I beat him black and blue
    If he ever touches a sprout again
    I'll bite him clean in two

    I'm a political prisoner
    Trapped in a windowless cage
    'Cause I stopped the slaughter of turnips
    By killing five men in a rage

    I told the judge when he sentenced me
    "This is my finest hour
    I'll kill those farmers again
    Just to save one more cauliflower"

    {Refrain}

    How low as people do we dare to stoop
    Making young broccolis bleed in the soup
    Untie your beans, uncage your tomatoes
    Set potted plants free, don't mash that potato, ah

    / Am - Em - / C - G - / 1st / C - D - /

    I've heard the screams of the vegetables scream scream scream
    Watching their skins being peeled fates in the stir fry are sealed
    Grated and steamed with no mercy you fat gourmet scum
    How do you think that feels leave them out in the fields
    Carrot juice constitutes murder V8's genocide
    Greenhouses prisons for slaves yes your compost's a grave
    It's time to stop all this gardening take up macramé
    Let's call a spade a spade it's a spade it's a spade it's a spade

  • ||

    You might actually wish to talk to human beings that are occasionally fed with soft rubber tubes in hospitals.

    No, she won't be wasting her time talking to humans about being fed through tubes any more than you have taken the time to read how birds' and humans' anatomies are quite different.

    Are you an idiot or just a twat?

  • Ashish George||

    Enlighten us, highnumber. Which differences do you have in mind?

  • ||

    She wasn't in good shape, but the tube definitely hurt.

  • ||

    Ashish George,

    Read the article I linked to at 1:17, please.

  • Jennifer||

    You might actually wish to talk to human beings that are occasionally fed with soft rubber tubes in hospitals.

    Not to mention those poor humans forced to sleep standing up.

  • ||

    "Would you expect someone with a principled opposition to torture to applaud if electrodes were applied to a dissident's testicles using plush leather ties instead of uncomfortably cold alligator clips?"

    Works for me.

  • ||

    Which part of that article appeals to you the most. The part where they say they have little scientific evidence? The part where a vet says it doesn't seem harmful? Or the part where that same vet says that it is not a "good" use of the animal?

    Am I right to think you would be against it if there were some sort of proof it made the animal feel pain?

    And is that your test? Solely based on whether an animal feels pain or not? So assuming the animal did feel pain, but that we could give the animal enough painkillers so it didn't seem to feel the pain anymore, would that be okay with you?

    Say we gave the animal enough painkillers and then also decided there was no reason to keep the animals head on. So we cut it off because the painkillers let us and that made the process more efficient. I assume that's okay with you too?

    You are very pragmatic and not emotional and science based and I applaud you for that.

  • ||

    You have made your incoherent point of view ironically quite clear, anon. I applaud you for that.

  • Kevin Parker||

    Man, does the infantile, "humorous" conflating of mammals/birds (with brains and pain receptors) and plants (no nerves) never get old? "What about 'save the vegetables,' huh?" ZING!

    I still can't figure out why it's surprising that some people would try to minimize unnecessary suffering. I can understand being too lazy, self-indulgent, or stuck in one's ways to do so. But incensed that others are not? Shall we repeal all laws against animal cruelty? Or just not pass any new ones?

  • VM||

    "And is that your test? Solely based on whether an animal feels pain or not? "


    Of course not. That and "is it crazy delicious?" is the other threshold.

    jeez.

  • Anonymous||

    Good post, Kevin. I'm continually puzzled why so many otherwise reasonable people seem completely oblivious to animal suffering.

    I suspect the explanation may be knee-jerk politics since animal rights are often associated with the loony (feeling, not thinking) left.

    There is little middle-ground on this issue.

    FTR, "anon" is not me.

  • ||

    Shall we repeal all laws against animal cruelty? Or just not pass any new ones?

    I think animals pose a problem for libertarian thought because there isn't a basis for prohibiting abuse to animals unless you give them rights. If animals are property (as they are under current law), then libertarian theory would appear to require that the state not interfere with what an owner can do with or to his property, regardless of the fact that the property may be a relatively intelligent being. If you can't live with the idea that people should be allowed to do whatever they want to animals they own, then the only purely libertarian option is to give animals rights that need to be protected. In that scheme, animals would be like children and incompetent adults -- unable to assert their rights on their own but nevertheless entitled to have those rights honored.

    I'm sure some libertarian thinkers way smarter than I am have thought this problem through and come up with a way square the circle here.

  • ||

    We meat eaters at least prefer a form of food that in principle has the opportunity to escape or fight back. What chance do you vegetarians give those helpless, trapped tomatoes?

    I long for the days of yore, when men were men and chased down their vegetables on horseback. It were more of a sport then.

  • ||

    VM,

    Nuts to these nutters!
    I wouldn't bother with 'em if they hadn't already taken away most of my foie gras choices. (I still have Hemmingway's Bistro) Should I give up? Let them wallow in their misguided self-righteousness? I can't. They accuse foie gras lovers of cruelty. They have no idea. Have they been to see how foie gras is produced? No, but they have seen the propaganda videos from PETA. It doesn't matter how much evidence you show them that the process does not cause undue suffering in the bird. It's like arguing about abortion, but much yummier.

  • VM||

    mmmm. Hemingway's... (not been there yet)

    mmmmm.

    Didja see how "anon" tried speaking to the other character he had here today - and tried bringing out a conservative stereotype about "liberal - loonie - feeling"? That got a chuckle.

    There's no middle ground, because you end up dividing up the yummy, tasty treat into half. And then another half. You get distracted by singing "C is for Cookie", and divide in half again... etc.

    Then Stevo comes galloping through on his manly steed chasing a stubborn, yet wily rutabaga, and he manages to knock the table over. But he's graciously invited to sup (as his company is legendary for how pleasant it is).

    Oh look. Something shiny.

    Like that. That's why there's no. um. whatever he said.

  • ||

    I still can't figure out why it's surprising that some people would try to minimize unnecessary suffering.


    It's not. It's the readiness to use force on other human beings to reduce the suffering of animals being raised for slaughter that's a bit surprising.

  • ||

    It's "Hemmingway's."

    Two "m"s.

    Cozy place. I like their Armagnac selection. (I have no idea how extensive it is, and I don't know a heck of a lot about the stuff, but I like to finish meals with a fine brandy and I had one there recently that I loved.)

  • ||

    'If you can't live with the idea that people should be allowed to do whatever they want to animals they own, then the only purely libertarian option is to give animals rights that need to be protected.'

    I wonder how that would be argued?

  • VM||

    hemmingway's

    stoopid, stoopid mmoose.

    hrumph.

    kicks self in taint.

    Actually, Anonymous - my flippant response to this topic (and your post) ignored a larger, well-taken point you raise:
    "I suspect the explanation may be knee-jerk politics since [insert various topics here] are often associated with the loony (feeling, not thinking) left."

    I think you outline a definite knee jerk reaction by the "conservatarian" elements here. They might be more likely to identify socially conservative (or at least their default answers support several socially-conservative status quo positions) or at least conservative with selective limited government talking points.

    We see that exact reaction in climate change threads, minimum wage (that's where the "MATT DAMON DEMAND KURV" came from) threads, and probably others.

    We also see that in the keyboard tough guys - we saw a few, not to be confused with genuine posters, during the early posts after VT. Please do not confuse them with the actual gun afficionado types who definitely are not "internet tough guy" types.

    Maybe you're right that this is rather like abortion... Those who assign a value of life after a certain point. Those who would assign a level of cruelty, in this case, that is beyond a threshold.

    Have you ever been to a goose farm and saw the foie gras geese get fed? Have you ever seen a veal hut for a calf? Is there a difference?

    Who knows. I draw the line at what I perceive to be crueltly to mammals (with the double m for High#. That's three Ms!). How some veal is raised is too much for me. I simply do not purchase (although I do find it very tasty and don't mind it being on the menu).

    I did not think the foie gras geese were treated cruelly when I saw them. Would their treatment have changed my attitudes? Maybe. The first time I saw such a farm was long before I ever wanted to try it...

    (example - I can't hunt and shoot a mammal, but have no problems with birds and with fishing (non mammal).)

    So, flippant response aside, I don't think High# and others are arguing from a conservatarian (knee jerk cuz leftie opposition) point of view. It could be from a different assignment of cruelty - for you and others, foie gras is beyond a threshold. For others it's not.

    Maybe that's why there's no middle ground. What is the attitude towards "cruelty" towards fish, mammals, farm animals, domesticated animals, pets (including birds, here - for Sandy) - it's probably a continuum, and the marker for "what is cruel" for geese is at a different spot.

    There definitely is a difference in assigning of property rights for herd animals for food than for pets. Why? What are the cultural mechanisms? I don't know. Maybe some of the answer lies there......

  • ||

    I eat a lot of foie gras, but I also purchase foie gras offsets, so my lifestyle is strictly foie gras neutral.

  • Single Issue Voter||

    Meat- the perfect food- it's what we're made of!

  • ||

    It's not. It's the readiness to use force on other human beings to reduce the suffering of animals being raised for slaughter that's a bit surprising.

    So is that the deal? Libertarians don't believe in using "force" against other humans? Since I don't see anyone here calling for anything other than laws, I can see you think "enforcing" laws can be done with out a police force.

    Cool. I guess Libertarians really are for gun control.

  • ||

    It's not. It's the readiness to use force on other human beings to reduce the suffering of animals being raised for slaughter that's a bit surprising.

    "So is that the deal?"

    Apparently.

    "Libertarians don't believe in using "force" against other humans?"

    Actually, libertarians don't believe in initiating force against other humans.

    "Since I don't see anyone here calling for anything other than laws, I can see you think "enforcing" laws can be done with out a police force."

    You do indeed need some kind of police force, or other means of applying force, to enforce laws. I do not understand what you are saying here.

    PS: I personally feel that animals should be protected in some way from wanton cruelty. I don't have a good formulation of guiding principles for this, however. I think libertarianism has some holes to be filled in when it comes to determining what rights, if any, animals might have, and protecting those rights. Defninign and protecting the rights of children too, for that matter.

  • ||

    In answer to this:

    ....animals would be like children and incompetent adults -- unable to assert their rights on their own but nevertheless entitled to have those rights honored. - jp



    I offer my standard response:

    Rights belong to persons, so when some scientists develop a Federation Universal Translator™ or discover the Babel Fish, and dolphins and primates can speak up for themselves, I'm going to go right along assuming that rights belong to sapient, not just sentient animals. Go ahead and oppose animal cruelty, and define it as widely as you care to. There are plenty of good reasons to favor humane treatment, not the least of which is that casual cruelty toward animals is a training ground for the same treatment of your fellow humans. Just don't clothe your sympathy for lesser beings in rights-talk. Animals aren't persons, and only persons have rights.

    Kevin

  • ||

    'Animals aren't persons, and only persons have rights.'

    In your opinion.

  • Fluffy||

    Did someone really offer the statement that torture is worse than death?

    That's poetry with absolutely no rational basis.

    Death is indisputably worse than torture, unless you irrationally believe in some sort of afterlife.

    If given a choice between torture and death, I would choose torture without hesitation. You might escape; the torturer might get bored; the torturer might change their mind; anything can happen. If you're dead that's it.

    Being killed and eaten is infinitely worse than being forcefed with a tube. I honestly can't think of a way to systematically argue for the moral right to do the former and not the latter.

    There can be no question of "rights" between a tiger and a man or between a man and a goose. If the tiger catches me, he can eat me - and I can't argue that it's "immoral" or "evil" for him to do so. And that would be true even if tigers somehow gained reason, so it's not like it's just a matter of tigers not knowing any better.

    This creates a moral void around the issue of the mistreatment of animals, which we all want to agree is a Bad Thing. But I think we're forced to conclude that it's bad because taking pleasure from the purposeless infliction of pain reveals a disturbed mentality, and not because it violates some identifiable moral precept that makes sense in the context of a natural world where animals [including man] kill and eat each other.

  • ||

    'This creates a moral void around the issue of the mistreatment of animals, which we all want to agree is a Bad Thing. But I think we're forced to conclude that it's bad because taking pleasure from the purposeless infliction of pain reveals a disturbed mentality, and not because it violates some identifiable moral precept that makes sense in the context of a natural world where animals [including man] kill and eat each other.'
    -Fluffy

    I don't think the issue is taking pleasure in animals' pain for no purpose, but disregarding suffering while using the animal to serve a purpose.

    The tiger kills without reasoning. I don't think we have that excuse.

  • ||

    I offer my standard question-begging response:

    Rights belong to persons, so when some scientists develop a Federation Universal Translator™ or discover the Babel Fish, and dolphins and primates can speak up for themselves, I'm going to go right along assuming that rights belong to sapient, not just sentient animals. Go ahead and oppose animal cruelty, and define it as widely as you care to. There are plenty of good reasons to favor humane treatment, not the least of which is that casual cruelty toward animals is a training ground for the same treatment of your fellow humans. Just don't clothe your sympathy for lesser beings in rights-talk. Animals aren't persons, and only persons have rights.

    [Emphasis on "question-begging" added. Oh, and "question-begging" itself added.]

  • Fluffy||

    Mackie, the point is that the tiger doesn't need an excuse.

    It's a tiger.

    Tigers aren't acting the way they are because of a species-wide moral lapse brought on by their inability to reason. They're acting that way because they're tigers.

    To say otherwise is to set yourself up as the moral judge of nature itself, which has made the tiger the way it is. And you can only do that if your morality is arising from some transcendental source. It's frankly a bit immature, like the child watching a video of a lion eating an antelope and demanding to know why the film crew didn't stop the lion. What the lion is doing isn't wrong, and it doesn't become wrong if one day you can have a conversation with a lion about it.

  • ||

    Whoa, there, Fluffy. I wasn't implying in any way the tiger was 'wrong'. My point was that the tiger has no reasoning ability. We do, and in my opinion it is morally incumbent upon us to prevent the suffering of animals that we use to our benefit.

  • Xanthippas||

    As usual, animal cruelty activists refuse to give more than ultra-grudging credit for small but significant advances.

    Well actually, I think the whole point is that they don't regard changing the type of tube as a "significant" advance.

  • Kevin Parker||

    > 'Animals aren't persons, and only persons have rights.'

    > In your opinion.

    Exactly, Mackie.

    More generally, natural rights libertarians seem to often forget (or ignore) the fact that there are plenty of libertarians who don't buy objectivism or any other philosophy claiming to prove a moral basis for rights. As one of them, I think people have whatever rights other people actually defend. Namely, legal ones. And, in fact, animals already have some legal rights--that's what animal welfare laws create. Some of us want these laws to be extended to better prevent inhumane treatment in agriculture and elsewhere. Others would go no farther than to decline to patronize companies that don't use humane methods. Besides: when has a natural right ever protected anybody from anything? A goose waiting for such a miracle would be a stuffed goose indeed.

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