In a fascinating Reuters news articled dated December 30, 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami did not kill any animals according to H.D. Ratnayake, deputy director of Sri Lanka’s Wildlife department: “No elephants are dead, not even a dead hare or rabbit. I think animals can sense disaster.”
In the December 31, 2004 issue of The Jakarta Post, two twins were saved when their rescuer, Riza, who was also caught in the rushing water, said: “A large snake as long as a telephone pole approached me. The twins and I rested on the python and we all drifted down the river to safety together.”
In an ABC News report on the tsunami on January 1, 2005, an entire village was saved in Indonesia when the villagers “heard the birds screaming in a way we had never felt before. They were warning us. We followed them to safety in the mountains.”
It is curious so many people believe animals are dumb and worthy of not only killing but of eating. Does one not believe the Sixth Animal Sense sounds as the butcher’s cleaver falls against their throats?
In 1909 Count Leo Tolstoy placed the dependent relationship between animals and humans in perfect juxtaposition against our shared greater need when he said: “As long as there are slaughterhouses, there will always be war.”

5 Comments

  1. I don’t know if I’ve replied at the right place. This is a response to the ‘Dog Food’ photo and remarks.
    I’m very wary of the line of thought that suggests that buying pre-packaged animal products from a supermarket (or wherever) is of a piece with the disgraceful practice of some human cultures (as depicted in that photo).
    Actually, I’m offended. I understand the sentiment, but it exploits a version of the Sorites Paradox, which I’ll presume familiarity with (my remarks should still be comprehensible).
    I don’t call myself an ‘animal lover’ (because of possible associations with extremists). I respect animals. I think that they make very real ethical demands upon us. I also think that a particular animal can have more ethical value than a particular human. (I’m not even sure that that is controversial ~ to me it’s obvious.)
    Do they have rights? Intrinsic value? I’m unsure, and couldn’t go into that here. But if WE have those things (and, again, I’m not sure about intrinsic value) then I think we’ll have duties and responsibilities too. Rights and responsibilities are interdependent concepts if they’re to be at all meaningful (worth having).
    OK. My point, you’ll be relieved to learn, is this. If we could appoint a neutral advocate for animals, such an advocate would commend some of our meat-eating practices as the best available life for certain species (not dogs I hasten to add).
    I’m not sure whether I’ve said enough here to get the position home. But the position I’m trying to rebut is a very general one (not just about dogs). It suggests that the difference between what you see in the photo and what you see on Western supermarket meat counters is a matter of degree.
    The position I would defend (and have gestured at here) is, I guess, continuous with contractarianism (I hope I’ve not overdone it on the syllables!) in ethics.
    In case it’s not abundantly clear: I condemn the practices depicted in that picture (along with fox-hunting, horse-racing, and so forth).
    Thanks

  2. Postscript to last Reply:
    Sorry. I should have said that the independent agency acting on behalf of animals would commend back to their client (i.e. TO ANIMALS) some of our meat-eating practices, &c. Commending such practices to us, the perpetrators, would accomplish nothing. Hopefully, this could be worked up into a substantive philosophical position in animal ethics (if it hasn’t already)
    Ralph Brooker
    (Somewhere in England:
    home of Isaac Newton ~ you owe us,
    home of fox-hunting ~ OK, we’re quits)

  3. Hi Ralph!
    You’re not in the right article for the piece you are discussing but it’s good to have comments here for this article and the link with the picture you mention can be found at the end of the comments here with the trackback to the “Dog Food” link.
    You bring up many interesting ideas that deserve further expression and analysis. For those who may not know, “Sorites Paradox” is explained here:

    The sorites paradox is the name given to a class of paradoxical arguments, also known as little-by-little arguments, which arise as a result of the indeterminacy surrounding limits of application of the predicates involved. For example, the concept of a heap appears to lack sharp boundaries and, as a consequence of the subsequent indeterminacy surrounding the extension of the predicate ‘is a heap’, no one grain of wheat can be identified as making the difference between being a heap and not being a heap. Given then that one grain of wheat does not make a heap, it would seem to follow that two do not, thus three do not, and so on. In the end it would appear that no amount of wheat can make a heap. We are faced with paradox since from apparently true premises by seemingly uncontroversial reasoning we arrive at an apparently false conclusion.
    This phenomenon at the heart of the paradox is now recognised as the phenomenon of vagueness (see the entry on vagueness). Once identified, vagueness can be seen to be a feature of syntactic categories other than predicates, nonetheless one speaks primarily of the vagueness of predicates. Names, adjectives, adverbs and so on are only susceptible to paradoxical sorites reasoning in a derivative sense.
    Sorites arguments of the paradoxical form are to be distinguished from multi-premise syllogisms (polysyllogisms) which are sometimes also referred to as sorites arguments. Whilst both polysyllogisms and sorites paradoxes are chain-arguments, the former need not be paradoxical in nature and the latter need not be syllogistic in form.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/sorites-paradox
    I take your tender and delicate points to heart. I value animals and I believe they are underused on an ethereal and sense level. Animals see and feel and smell what are unable to sense so the horrors and deaths we provide them might go better unperpetuated. We might instead dare to turn to exploring the human unknown in the world of the living on an animal sense level.
    I also get a lot of pressure from Bible pundits who claim God gave man “dominion” over animals. I then explain “dominion” does not translate into “eat” as they try to claim in their argument. “Dominion” means the task of tending, responsibility for lesser beings and caring for those who are unable to wholly claim themselves in the world.