Archive-name: ar-faq
Last-modified: 95/Apr/29
Version: ar_faq.txt 2.08a

			        Animal Rights
                          Frequently Asked Questions
				   (AR FAQ)


  Welcome to the Animal Rights Frequently Asked Questions text (AR FAQ).
This FAQ is intended to satisfy two basic goals: a) to provide a source
of information and encouragement for people exploring the issues involved
in the animal rights movement, and b) to answer the common questions and
justifications offered up by AR opponents. It is unashamedly an advocacy
vehicle for animal rights. Opponents of AR are invited to create a FAQ
that codifies their views; we do not attempt to do so here.
  The FAQ restricts itself specifically to AR issues; nutrition and
other vegetarian/veganism issues are intentionally avoided because they
are already well covered in the existing vegetarianism and veganism FAQs
maintained by Michael Traub. To obtain these FAQs, contact Michael at
his e-mail address given below.
  The FAQ was created through a collaboration of authors. The answers have
been attributed via initials, as follows:

    TA		Ted Altar     
    JE		Jonathan Esterhazy
    DG		Donald Graft
    JEH		John Harrington
    DVH		Dietrich Von Haugwitz
    LJ          Leor Jacobi   
    LK		Larry Kaiser
    JK          Jeremy Keens
    BL		Brian Luke
    PM		Peggy Madison
    BRO		Brian Owen
    JSD		Janine Stanley-Dunham
    JLS		Jennifer Stephens
    MT		Michael Traub
    AECW	Allen ECW

  The current FAQ maintainer is Donald Graft (see address above). Ideas and
criticisms are actively solicited and will be very gratefully received. The
material included here is released to the public domain. We request that it
be distributed without alteration to respect the author attributions.
  This FAQ contains 96 questions. If they are not all present, then a mailer
has probably truncated it. Contact the FAQ maintainer for a set of split-up


#1   What is all this Animal Rights (AR) stuff and why should
    it concern me?

  The fundamental principle of the AR movement is that nonhuman animals
deserve to live according to their own natures, free from harm, abuse, and
exploitation. This goes further than just saying that we should treat
animals well while we exploit them, or before we kill and eat them. It
says animals have the RIGHT to be free from human cruelty and
exploitation, just as humans possess this right. The withholding of this
right from the nonhuman animals based on their species membership is
referred to as "speciesism".  
  Animal rights activists try to extend the human circle of respect and
compassion beyond our species to include other animals, who are also
capable of feeling pain, fear, hunger, thirst, loneliness, and kinship.
When we try to do this, many of us come to the conclusion that we can no
longer support factory farming, vivisection, and the exploitation of
animals for entertainment. At the same time, there are still areas of
debate among animal rights supporters, for example, whether ANY research
that harms animals is ever justified, where the line should be drawn for
enfranchising species with rights, on what occasions civil disobedience
may be appropriate, etc. However, these areas of potential disagreement do
not negate the abiding principles that join us:  compassion and concern
for the pain and suffering of nonhumans. 
  One main goal of this FAQ is to address the common justifications that
arise when we become aware of how systematically our society abuses and
exploits animals. Such "justifications" help remove the burden from our
consciences, but this FAQ attempts to show that they do not excuse the
harm we cause other animals. Beyond the scope of this FAQ, more detailed
arguments can be found in three classics of the AR literature. 

    The Case for Animal Rights, Tom Regan (ISBN 0-520-05460-1)
    In Defense of Animals, Peter Singer (ISBN 0-06-097044-8)
    Animal Liberation, Peter Singer (ISBN 0-380-71333-0, 2nd Ed.)

  While appreciating the important contributions of Regan and Singer, many
animal rights activists emphasize the role of empathetic caring as the
actual and most appropriate fuel for the animal rights movement in
contradistinction to Singer's and Regan's philosophical rationales. To the
reader who says "Why should I care?", we can point out the following

    One cares about minimizing suffering.
    One cares about promoting compassion in human affairs.
    One is concerned about improving the health of humanity.
    One is concerned about human starvation and malnutrition.
    One wants to prevent the radical disruption of our planet's ecosystem.
    One wants to preserve animal species.
    One wants to preserve wilderness.
  The connections between these issues and the AR agenda may not be obvious.
Please read on as we attempt to clarify this.

  The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those
rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand
of tyranny.
				Jeremy Bentham (philosopher)

  Life is life--whether in a cat, or dog or man. There is no difference
there between a cat or a man. The idea of difference is a human
conception for man's own advantage...
				Sri Aurobindo (poet and philosopher)

  Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all
evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still
				Thomas Edison (inventor)

  The time will come when men such as I will look upon the murder of
animals as they now look on the murder of men.
				Leonardo Da Vinci (artist and scientist)

SEE ALSO #2-#3, #26, #87-#91

#2   Is the Animal Rights movement different from the Animal Welfare
    movement? The Animal Liberation movement?

  The Animal Welfare movement acknowledges the suffering of nonhumans and
attempts to reduce that suffering through "humane" treatment, but it does
not have as a goal elimination of the use and exploitation of animals. The
Animal Rights movement goes significantly further by rejecting the
exploitation of animals and according them rights in that regard. A person
committed to animal welfare might be concerned that cows get enough space,
proper food, etc., but would not necessarily have any qualms about killing
and eating cows, so long as the rearing and slaughter are "humane".
  The Animal Welfare movement is represented by such organizations as the
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and the Humane Society.
  Having said this, it should be realized that some hold a broader
interpretation of the AR movement. They would argue that the AW groups do,
in fact, support rights for animals (e.g., a dog has the right not to be
kicked). Under this interpretation, AR is viewed as a broad umbrella
covering the AW and strict AR groups. This interpretation has the advantage
of moving AR closer to the mainstream. Nevertheless, there is a valid
distinction between the AW and AR groups, as described in the first paragraph.
  Animal Liberation (AL) is, for many people, a synonym for Animal Rights
(but see below). Some people prefer the term "liberation" because it brings
to mind images of other successful liberation movements, such as the movement
for liberation of slaves and liberation of women, whereas the term "rights"
often encounters resistance when an attempt is made to apply it to nonhumans.
The phrase "Animal Liberation" became popular with the publication of Peter
Singer's classic book of the same name.
  This use of the term liberation should be distinguished from the literal
meaning discussed in question #88, i.e., an Animal Liberationist is not
necessarily one who engages in forceful civil disobedience or unlawful
  Finally, intellectual honesty compels us to acknowledge that the account
given here is rendered in broad strokes (but is at least approximately
correct), and purposely avoids describing ongoing debate about the meaning
of the terms "Animal Rights", "Animal Liberation", and "Animal Welfare",
debate about the history of these movements, and debate about the actual
positions of the prominent thinkers. To depict the flavor of such debates,
the following text describes one coherent position. Naturally, it will be
attacked from all sides!
  Some might suggest that a subtle distinction can be made between the Animal
Liberation and Animal Rights movements. The Animal Rights movement, at least
as propounded by Regan and his adherents, is said to require total abolition
of such practices as experimentation on animals. The Animal Liberation
movement, as propounded by Singer and his adherents, is said to reject the
absolutist view and assert that in some cases, such experimentation can be
morally defensible. Because such cases could also justify some experiments
on humans, however, it is not clear that the distinction described reflects
a difference between the liberation and rights views, so much as it does a
broader difference of ethical theory, i.e., absolutism versus utilitarianism.

  Historically, animal welfare groups have attempted to improve the lot of
animals in society. They worked against the popular Western concept of
animals as lacking souls and not being at all worthy of any ethical
consideration. The animal rights movement set itself up as an abolitionist
alternative to the reform-minded animal welfarists. As the animal rights
movement has become larger and more influential, the animal exploiters have
finally been forced to respond to it. Perhaps inspired by the efforts of Tom
Regan to distinguish AR from AW, industry groups intent on maintaining the
status quo have embraced the term "animal welfare". Pro-vivisection,
hunting, trapping, agribusiness, and animal entertainment groups now refer
to themselves as "animal welfare" supporters. Several umbrella groups whose
goal is to defend these practices have also arisen.
  This classic case of public-relations doublespeak acknowledges the issue
of cruelty to animals in name only, while allowing for the continued use and
abuse of animals. The propaganda effect is to stigmatize animal rights
supporters as being extreme while attempting to portray themselves as the
reasonable moderates. Nowadays, the cause of "animal welfare" is invoked by
the animal industry at least as often as it is used by animal protection

SEE ALSO: #1, #3, #87-#88

#3   What exactly are rights and what rights can we give animals?

  Despite arguably being the foundation of the Western liberal tradition,
the concept of "rights" has been a source of controversy and confusion
in the debate over AR. A common objection to the notion that animals have
rights involves questioning the origin of those rights. One such argument
might proceed as follows:

    Where do these rights come from? Are you in special communication
    with God, and he has told you that animals have rights? Have the
    rights been granted by law? Aren't rights something that humans
    must grant?

  It is true that the concept of "rights" needs to be carefully explicated.
It is also true that the concept of "natural rights" is fraught with
philosophical difficulties. Complicating things further is the confusion
between legal rights and moral rights. 
  One attempt to avoid this objection is to accept it, but argue that
if it is not an obstacle for thinking of humans as having rights, then it
should not be an obstacle for thinking of animals as having rights. Henry
Salt wrote:

    Have the lower animals "rights?" Undoubtedly--if men have. That is
    the point I wish to make evident in this opening chapter... The
    fitness of this nomenclature is disputed, but the existence of some
    real principle of the kind can hardly be called in question; so that
    the controversy concerning "rights" is little else than an academic
    battle over words, which leads to no practical conclusion. I shall
    assume, therefore, that men are possessed of "rights," in the sense
    of Herbert Spencer's definition; and if any of my readers object to
    this qualified use of the term, I can only say that I shall be
    perfectly willing to change the word as soon as a more appropriate
    one is forthcoming. The immediate question that claims our attention
    is this--if men have rights, have animals their rights also?

  Satisfying though this argument may be, it still leaves us unable to
respond to the sceptic who disavows the notion of rights even for humans.
Fortunately, however, there is a straightforward interpretation of
"rights" that is plausible and allows us to avoid the controversial
rights rhetoric and underpinnings. It is the notion that a "right" is the
flip side of a moral imperative. If, ethically, we must
refrain from an act performed on a being, then that being can be said to
have a "right" that the act not be performed. For example, if our ethics
tells us that we must not kill another, then the other has a right not to
be killed by us. This interpretation of rights is, in fact, an intuitive
one that people both understand and readily endorse. (Of course, rights so
interpreted can be codified as legal rights through appropriate
  It is important to realize that, although there is a basis for speaking
of animals as having rights, that does not imply or require that they
possess all the rights that humans possess, or even that humans possess all
the rights that animals possess. Consider the human right to vote. (On the
view taken here, this would derive from an ethical imperative to give humans
influence over actions that influence their lives.) Since animals lack the
capacity to rationally consider actions and their implications, and to
understand the concept of democracy and voting, they lack the capacity to
vote. There is, therefore, no ethical imperative to allow them to do so,
and thus they do not possess the right to vote.
  Similarly, some fowls have a strong biological need to extend and flap
their wings; right-thinking people feel an ethical imperative to make
it possible for them to do so. Thus, it can be said that fowl have the right
to flap their wings. Obviously, such a right need not be extended to humans.
  The rights that animals and humans possess, then, are determined by their
interests and capacities. Animals have an interest in living, avoiding pain,
and even in pursuing happiness (as do humans). As a result of the ethical
imperatives, they have rights to these things (as do humans). They can
exercise these rights by living their lives free of exploitation and
abuse at the hands of humans.

SEE ALSO: #1-#2

#4   Isn't AR hypocritical, e.g., because you don't give rights to
    insects or plants?

  The general hypocrisy argument appears in many forms. A typical form
is as follows:

    "It is hypocritical to assert rights for a cow but not for a plant;
    therefore, cows cannot have rights."

  Arguments of this type are frequently used against AR. Not much
analysis is required to see that they carry little weight. First, one
can assert an hypothesis A that would carry as a corollary hypothesis
B. If one then fails to assert B, one is hypocritical, but this does
not necessarily make A false. Certainly, to assert A and not B would
call into question one's credibility, but it entails nothing about the
validity of A.
  Second, the factual assertion of hypocrisy is often unwarranted. In
the above example, there are grounds for distinguishing between cows
and plants (plants do not have a central nervous system), so the charge
of hypocrisy is unjustified. One may disagree with the criteria, but
assertion of such criteria nullifies the charge of hypocrisy.
  Finally, the charge of hypocrisy can be reduced in most cases to
simple speciesism. For example, the quote above can be recast as:

    "It is hypocritical to assert rights for a human but not for a plant;
    therefore, humans cannot have rights."

  To escape from this reductio ad absurdum of the first quote, one
must produce a crucial relevant difference between cows and humans,
in other words, one must justify the speciesist assignment of rights
to humans but not to cows. (In question #24, we apply a similar reduction
to the charge of hypocrisy related to abortion. For questions dealing
specifically with insects and plants, refer to questions #39 through #46.)
  Finally, we must ask ourselves who the real hypocrites are. The following
quotation from Michael W. Fox describes the grossly hypocritical treatment
of exploited versus companion animals.

  Farm animals can be kept five to a cage two feet square, tied up
constantly by a two-foot-long tether, castrated without anesthesia, or
branded with a hot iron. A pet owner would be no less than prosecuted for
treating a companion animal in such a manner; an American president was, in
fact, morally censured merely for pulling the ears of his two beagles.
				Michael W. Fox (Vice President of HSUS)

SEE ALSO: #24, #39-#46

#5   What right do AR people have to impose their beliefs on others?

  There is a not-so-subtle distinction between imposition of one's views
and advertising them. AR supporters are certainly not imposing their views
in the sense that, say, the Spanish Inquisition imposed its views, or the
Church imposed its views on Galileo. We do, however, feel a moral duty to
present our case to the public, and often to our friends and acquaintances.
There is ample precedent for this: protests against slavery, protests
against the Vietnam War, condemnation of racism, etc.
  One might point out that the gravest imposition is that of the exploiter
of animals upon his innocent and defenseless victims.

  If liberty means anything at all, it means the right to tell people what
they do not want to hear.
				George Orwell (author)

  I never give them hell. I just tell the truth and they think it's hell.
				Harry S. Truman (33rd U.S. President)

SEE ALSO: #11, #87-#91

#6   Isn't AR just another facet of political correctness?

  If only that were true! The term "politically correct" generally refers
to a view that is in sync with the societal mainstream but which some might
be inclined to disagree with. For example, some people might be inclined
to dismiss equal treatment for the races as mere "political correctness".
The AR agenda is, currently, far from being a mainstream idea.
  Also, it is ridiculous to suppose that a view's validity can be
overturned simply by attaching the label "politically correct" or
"politically incorrect".

#7   Isn't AR just another religion?

  No. The dictionary defines "religion" as the appeal to a supernatural
power. (An alternate definition refers to devotion to a cause; that is
a virtue that the AR movement would be happy to avow.)
  People who support Animal Rights come from many different religions
and many different philosophies. What they share is a belief in the
importance of showing compassion for other individuals, whether
human or nonhuman.

#8   Doesn't it demean humans to give rights to animals?

  A tongue-in-cheek, though valid, answer to this question is given by
David Cowles-Hamar: "Humans are animals, so animal rights are human rights!"
  In a more serious vein, we can observe that giving rights to women and
black people does not demean white males. By analogy, then, giving rights to
nonhumans does not demean humans. If anything, by being morally consistent,
and widening the circle of compassion to deserving nonhumans, we ennoble
humans. (Refer to question #26 for other relevant arguments.)

  The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way
its animals are treated.
				Mahatma Gandhi (statesman and philosopher)

  It is man's sympathy with all creatures that first makes him truly a man.
				Albert Schweitzer (statesman, Nobel 1952)

  For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he
who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.
				Pythagoras (mathematician)


#9   Weren't Hitler and Goebbels in favor of animal rights?

  This argument is absurd and almost unworthy of serious consideration.
The questioner implies that since Hitler and Goebbels allegedly held views
supportive of animal rights (e.g., Hitler was a vegetarian for some time),
the animal rights viewpoint must be wrong or dubious.
  The problem for this argument is simple: bad people and good people can
both believe things correctly. Or put in another way, just because a person
holds one bad belief (e.g., Nazism), that doesn't make all his beliefs
wrong. A few examples suffice to illustrate this. The Nazis undertook smoking
reduction campaigns. Is it therefore dubious to discourage smoking?
Early Americans withheld respect and liberty for black people. Does that
mean that they were wrong in giving respect and liberty to others?
  Technically, this argument is an "ignoratio elenchus fallacy", arguing
from irrelevance.
  Finally, many scholars are doubtful that Hitler and Goebbels supported
AR in any meaningful way.


#10   Do you really believe that "a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy"?

  Taken alone and literally, this notion is absurd. However, this
quote has been shamelessly removed from its original context and
misrepresented by AR opponents. The original context of the quote is
given below. Viewed within its context, it is clear that the quote
is neither remarkable nor absurd.

  When it comes to having a central nervous system, and the ability to
feel pain, hunger, and thirst, a rat is a pig is a dog is a boy.
				Ingrid Newkirk (AR activist)



#11  There is no correct or incorrect in morals; you have yours and I
    have mine, right?

  This position, known as moral relativism, is quite ancient but became
fashionable at the turn of the century, as reports on the customs of
societies alien to those found in Europe became available. It fell out of
fashion, after the Second World War, although it is occasionally revived.
Ethical propositions, we are asked to believe, are no more than statements
of personal opinion and, therefore, cannot carry absolute weight.
  The main problem with this position is that ethical relativists are
unable to denounce execrable ethical practices, such as racism. On what
grounds can they condemn (if at all) Hitler's ideas on racial purity?
Are we to believe that he was uttering an ethical truth when advocating
the Final Solution?
  In addition to the inability to denounce practices of other societies,
the relativists are unable to counter the arguments of even those whose
society they share. They cannot berate someone who proposes to raise
and kill infants for industrial pet food consumption, for example,
if that person sees it as morally sound. Indeed, they cannot articulate
the concept of societal moral progress, since they lack a basis for
judging progress. There is no point in turning to the relativists for
advice on ethical issues such as euthanasia, infanticide, or the use of
fetuses in research.
  Faced with such arguments, ethical relativists sometimes argue that
ethical truth is based on the beliefs of a society; ethical truth is
seen as nothing more than a reflection of societal customs and habits.
Butchering animals is acceptable in the West, they would say, because
the majority of people think it so.
  They are on no firmer ground here. Are we to accept that chattel
slavery was right before the US Civil War and wrong thereafter? Can all
ethical decisions be decided by conducting opinion polls?
  It is true that different societies have different practices that
might be seen as ethical by one and unethical by the other. However,
these differences result from differing circumstances. For example, in
a society where mere survival is key, the diversion of limited food to
an infant could detract significantly from the well-being of the
existing family members that contribute to food gathering. Given that,
infanticide may be the ethically correct course.
  The conclusion is that there is such a thing as ethical truth
(otherwise, ethics becomes vacuous and devoid of proscriptive force).
The continuity of thought, then, between those who reject the evils of
slavery, racial discrimination, and gender bias, and those who denounce
the evils of speciesism becomes striking.

  Many AR advocates (including myself) believe that morality is relative.
We believe that AR is much more cogently argued when it is argued from the
standpoint of your opponent's morality, not some mythical, hard-to-define
universal morality. In arguing against moral absolutism, there is a very
simple objection: Where does this absolute morality come from? Moral
absolutism is an argument from authority, a tautology. If there were such
a thing as "ethical truth", then there must be a way of determining it, and
obviously there isn't. In the absence of a known proof of "ethical truth",
I don't know how AECW can conclude it exists.
  An example of the method of leveraging a person's morality is to ask the
person why he has compassion for human beings. Almost always he will agree
that his compassion does not stem from the fact that: 1) humans use language,
2) humans compose symphonies, 3) humans can plan in the far future, 4) humans
have a written, technological culture, etc. Instead, he will agree that it
stems from the fact that humans can suffer, feel pain, be harmed, etc. It is
then quite easy to show that nonhuman animals can also suffer, feel pain, be
harmed, etc. The person's arbitrary inconsistency in not according moral
status to nonhumans then stands out starkly.

  There is a middle ground between the positions of AECW and JEH. One can
assert that just as mathematics is necessarily built upon a set of
unprovable axioms, so is a system of ethics. At the foundation of a system
of ethics are moral axioms, such as "unnecessary pain is wrong". Given
the set of axioms, methods of reasoning (such as deduction and induction),
and empirical facts, it is possible to derive ethical hypotheses. It is
in this sense that an ethical statement can be said to be true. Of course,
one can disagree about the axioms, and certainly such disagreement renders
ethics "relative", but the concept of ethical truth is not meaningless.
  Fortunately, the most fundamental ethical axioms seem to be nearly
universally accepted, usually because they are necessary for societies to
function. Where differences exist, they can be elucidated and discussed,
in a style similar to the "leveraging" described by JEH.

  To a man whose mind is free there is something even more intolerable
in the sufferings of animals than in the sufferings of man. For with the
latter it is at least admitted that suffering is evil and that the man
who causes it is a criminal. But thousands of animals are uselessly
butchered every day without a shadow of remorse. If any man were to
refer to it, he would be thought ridiculous. And that is the unpardonable
				Romain Rolland (author, Nobel 1915)


#12  The animals are raised to be eaten; so what is wrong with that?

  This question has always seemed to me to be a fancy version of "But
we want to do these things, so what is wrong with that?" The idea that
an act, by virtue of an intention of ours, can be exonerated morally is
totally illogical.
  But worse than that, however, is the fact that such a belief is a
dangerous position to take because it can enable one to justify some
practices that are universally condemned. To see how this is so,
consider the following restatement of the basis of the question:
"Suffering can be excused so long as we breed them for the purpose."
Now, cannot an analogous argument be used to defend a group of
slave holders who breed and enslave humans and justify it by saying "but
they're bred to be our workers"? Could not the Nazis defend their
murder of the Jews by saying "but we rounded them up to be killed"?

  Shame on such a morality that is worthy of pariahs, and that fails to
recognize the eternal essence that exists in every living thing, and
shines forth with inscrutable significance from all eyes that see
the sun!
				Arthur Schopenhauer (philosopher)

SEE ALSO: #13, #61

#13  But isn't it true that the animals wouldn't exist if we didn't raise
     them for slaughter?

  There are two ways to interpret this question. First, the questioner
may be referring to "the animals" as a species, in which case the argument
might be more accurately phrased as follows:

    "The ecological niche of cows is to be farmed; they get continued
     survival in this niche in return for our using them."

Second, the questioner may be referring to "the animals" as individuals,
in which case the phrasing might be:

    "The individual cows that we raise to eat would not have had a
     life had we not done so."

We deal first with the species interpretation and then with the
individuals interpretation. The questioner's argument applies
presumably to all species of animals; to make things more concrete,
we will take cows as an example in the following text.
  It is incorrect to assert that cows could continue to exist only if
we farm them for human consumption. First, today in many parts of India
and elsewhere, humans and cows are engaged in a reciprocal and reverential
relationship. It is only in recent human history that this relationship
has been corrupted into the one-sided exploitation that we see today.
There IS a niche for cows between slaughter/consumption and extinction.
(The interested reader may find the book Beyond Beef by Jeremy Rifkin
quite enlightening on this subject.)
  Second, several organizations have programs for saving animals
from extinction. There is no reason to suppose that cows would not
  The species argument is also flawed because, in fact, our intensive
farming of cattle results in habitat destruction and the loss of other
species. For example, clearing of rain forests for pasture has led to
the extinction of countless species. Cattle farming is destroying
habitats on six continents. Why is the questioner so concerned about
the cow species while being unconcerned about these other species?
Could it have anything to do with the fact that he wants to continue
to eat the cows?
  Finally, a strong case can be made against the species argument from
ethical theory. Arguments similar to the questioner's could be
developed that would ask us to accept practices that are universally
condemned. For example, consider a society that breeds a special race
of humans for use as slaves. They argue that the race would not exist
if they did not breed them for use as slaves. Does the reader accept
this justification?
  Now we move on to the individuals interpretation of the question. One
attempt to refute the argument is to answer as follows:

    "It is better not to be born than to be born into a life of
     misery and early death."

To many, this is sufficient. However, one could argue that the fact that the
life is miserable before death is not necessary. Suppose that the cows are
treated well before being killed painlessly and eaten. Is it not true that
the individual cows would not have enjoyed their short life had we not
raised them for consumption? Furthermore, what if we compensate the taking
of the life by bringing a new life into being?
  Peter Singer originally believed that this argument was absurd because
there are no cow souls waiting around to be born. Many people accept this
view and consider it sufficient, but Singer now rejects it because he accepts
that to bring a being to a pleasant life does confer a benefit on that being.
(There is extensive discussion of this issue in the second edition of Animal
Liberation.) How then are we to proceed?
  The key is that the AR movement asserts that humans and nonhumans have a
right to not be killed by humans. The ethical problem can be seen clearly
by applying the argument to humans. Consider the case of a couple that gives
birth to an infant and eats it at the age of nine months, just when their
next infant is born. A 9-month old baby has no more rational knowledge of
its situation or future plans than does a cow, so there is no reason to
distinguish the two cases. Yet, certainly, we would condemn the couple. We
condemn them because the infant is an individual to whom we confer the right
not to be killed. Why is this right not accorded to the cow? I think the
answer is that the questioner wants to eat it.

  It were much better that a sentient being should never have existed,
than that it should have existed only to endure unmitigated misery.
				Percy Bysshe Shelley (poet)


#14  Don't the animals we use have a happier life since they are fed and

  The questioner makes two assumptions here. First, that happiness or
contentment accrues from being fed and protected, and second, that
the animals are, in fact, fed and protected. Both of these premises can
be questioned.
  Certainly the animals are fed; after all, they must be fattened for
consumption.  It is very difficult to see any way that, say,
factory-farmed chickens are "protected".  They are not protected from
mutilation, because they are painfully debeaked. They are not protected
from psychological distress, because they are crowded together in
unnatural conditions. And finally, they are not protected from predation,
because they are slaughtered and eaten by humans.
  We can also question the notion that happiness accrues from feeding
and protection alone. The Roman galley slaves were fed and protected
from the elements; nevertheless, they would presumably trade their
condition for one of greater uncertainty to obtain happiness. The same
can be said of the slaves of earlier America.
  Finally, an ethical argument is relevant here. Consider again the
couple of question #13. They will feed and protect their infant up to
the point at which they consume it. We would not accept this as a
justification. Why should we accept it for the chicken?


#15  Is the use of service animals and beasts of burden considered

  A simple approach to this question might be to suggest that we all must
work for a living and it should be no different for animals. The problem is
that we want to look at the animals as like children, i.e., worthy of the
same protections and rights, and, like them, incapable of being morally
responsible. But we don't force children into labor! One can make a
distinction, however, that goes something like this: The animals are
permanently in their diminished state (i.e., incapable of voluntarily
assenting to work); children are not. We do not impose a choice of work for
children because they need the time to develop into their full adult and
moral selves. With the animals, we choose for them a role that allows them
to contribute; in return, we do not abuse them by eating them, etc. If this
is done with true concern that their work conditions are appropriate and not
of a sweat-shop nature, that they get enough rest and leisure time, etc.,
this would constitute a form of stewardship that is acceptable and beneficial
to both sides, and one that is not at odds with AR philosophy.

#16  Doesn't the Bible give Humanity dominion over the animals?

  It is true that the Bible contains a passage that confers on humanity
dominion over the animals. The import of this fact derives from the
assumption that the Bible is the word of God, and that God is the ultimate
moral authority. Leaving aside for the moment consideration of the meaning
of dominion, we can take issue with the idea of seeking moral authority from
the Bible. First, there are serious problems with the interpretation of
Biblical passages, with many verses contradicting one another, and with
many scholars differing dramatically over the meaning of given verses.
  Second, there are many claims to God-hood among the diverse cultures of
this world; some of these Gods implore us to respect all life and to not
kill unnecessarily. Whose God are we to take as the ultimate moral
  Finally, as Tom Regan observes, many people do not believe in a God and
so appeals to His moral authority are empty for such people. For such
people, the validity of judgments of the supposed God must be cross-checked
with other methods of determining reasonableness. What are the cross-checks
for the Biblical assertions?
  These remarks apply equally to other assertions of Biblical approval of
human practices (such as the consumption of animals).
  Even if we accept that the God of the Bible is a moral authority, we
can point out that "dominion" is a vague term, meaning "stewardship" or
"control over". It is quite easy to argue that appropriate stewardship
or control consists of respecting the life of animals and their right
to live according to their own nature. The jump from dominion to approval
of our brutal exploitation of animals is not contained in the cited
Biblical passage, either explicitly or implicitly.

#17  Morals are a purely human construction (animals don't understand
    morals); doesn't that mean it is not rational to apply our morality
    to animals?

  The fallaciousness of this argument can be easily demonstrated by making
a simple substitution: Infants and young children don't understand morals,
doesn't that mean it is not rational to apply our morality to them? Of course
not. We refrain from harming infants and children for the same reasons that
we do so for adults. That they are incapable of conceptualizing a system of
morals and its benefits is irrelevant.
  The relevant distinction is formalized in the concept of "moral agents"
versus "moral patients". A moral agent is an individual possessing the
sophisticated conceptual ability to bring moral principles to bear in
deciding what to do, and having made such a decision, having the free will
to choose to act that way. By virtue of these abilities, it is fair to hold
moral agents accountable for their acts. The paradigmatic moral agent is the
normal adult human being.
  Moral patients, in contrast, lack the capacities of moral agents and thus
cannot fairly be held accountable for their acts. They do, however, possess
the capacity to suffer harm and therefore are proper objects of consideration
for moral agents. Human infants, young children, the mentally deficient or
deranged, and nonhuman animals are instances of moral patienthood.
  Given that nonhuman animals are moral patients, they fall within the
purview of moral consideration, and therefore it is quite rational to accord
them the same moral consideration that we accord to ourselves.
SEE ALSO: #19, #23, #36

#18  If AR people are so worried about killing, why don't they become

  Killing, per se, is not the central concern of AR philosophy, which is
concerned with the avoidance of unnecessary pain and suffering. Thus, because
plants neither feel pain nor suffer, AR philosophy does not mandate
fruitarianism (a diet in which only fruits are eaten because they can be
harvested without killing the plant from which they issue).

SEE ALSO: #42-#46

#19  Animals don't care about us; why should we care about them?

  The questioner's position--that, in essence, we should give rights only
to those able to respect ours--is known as the reciprocity argument. It is
unconvincing both as an account of the way our society works and as a
prescription for the way it should work.
  Its descriptive power is undermined by the simple observation that we
give rights to a large number of individuals who cannot respect ours.
These include some elderly people, some people suffering from degenerative
diseases, some people suffering from irreversible brain damage, the
severely retarded, infants, and young children. An institution that, for
example, routinely sacrificed such individuals to test a new fertilizer
would certainly be considered to be grievously violating their rights.
  The original statement fares no better as an ethical prescription.
Future generations are unable to reciprocate our concern, for example, so
there would be no ethical harm done, under such a view, in dismissing
concerns for environmental damage that adversely impacts future
  The key failing of the questioner's position lies in the failure to
properly distinguish between the following capacities:

    The capacity to understand and respect others' rights (moral agency).
    The capacity to benefit from rights (moral patienthood).

  An individual can be a beneficiary of rights without being a moral
agent. Under this view, one justifies a difference of treatments of two
individuals (human or nonhuman) with an objective difference that is
RELEVANT to the difference of treatment. For example, if we wished to
exclude a person from an academic course of study, we could not cite the
fact that they have freckles. We could cite the fact that they lack
certain academic prerequisites. The former is irrelevant; the latter is
relevant. Similarly, when considering the right to be free of pain and
suffering, moral agency is irrelevant; moral patienthood IS relevant.

  The assumption that animals don't care about us can also be
questioned. Companion animals have been known to summon aid when
their owners are in trouble. They have been known to offer comfort
when their owners are distressed. They show grief when their human
companions die.

SEE ALSO: #17, #23, #36

#20  A house is on fire and a dog and a baby are inside. Which do you
    save first?

  The one I choose to save first tells us nothing about the ethical
decisions we face. I might decide to save my child before I saved yours,
but this certainly does not mean that I should be able to experiment on
your child, or exploit your child in some other way. We are not in an
emergency situation like a fire anyway. In everyday life, we can choose to
act in ways that protect the rights of both dogs and babies.

   Like anyone else in this situation, I would probably save the one to
which I am emotionally more attached. Most likely it would be the child.
Someone might prefer to save his own beloved dog before saving the baby
of a stranger. However, as LK states above, this tells us nothing about
any ethical principles.

#21  What if I made use of an animal that was already dead?

  There are two ways to interpret this question. First, the questioner
might really be making the excuse "but I didn't kill the animal", or
second, he could be asking about the morality of using an animal that
has died naturally (or due to a cause unassociated with the demand for
animal products, such as a road kill). For the first interpretation, we
must reject the excuse. The killing of animals for meat, for example,
is done at the request (through market demand), and with the financial
support (through payment), of the end consumers. Their complicity is
inescapable. Society does not excuse the receiver of stolen goods because
he "didn't do the burglary".
  For the second interpretation, the use of naturally killed animals,
there seems to be no moral difficulty involved. Many would, for esthetic
reasons, still not use animal products thus obtained. (Would you use the
bodies of departed humans?) Certainly, natural kills cannot satisfy the
great demand for animal products that exists today; non-animal and
synthetic sources are required.
  Other people may avoid use of naturally killed animal products because
they feel that it might encourage a demand in others for animal products,
a demand that might not be so innocently satisfied.

  This can be viewed as a question of respect for the dead. We feel
innate revulsion at the idea of grave desecration for this reason.
Naturally killed animals should, at the very least, be left alone rather
than recycled as part of an industrial process. This was commonly
practiced in the past, e.g., Egyptians used to mummify their cats.

  You have just dined, and however scrupulously the slaughterhouse is
concealed in the graceful distance of miles, there is complicity.
				Ralph Waldo Emerson (author)

#22  Where should one draw the line: animals, insects, bacteria?

  AR philosophy asserts that rights are to be accorded to creatures that
have the capacity to experience pain, to suffer, and to be a "subject of
a life". Such a capacity is definitely not found in bacteria. It is
definitely found in mammals. There is debate about such animals as molluscs
and arthropods (including insects). One should decide, based upon available
evidence and one's own conscience, where the line should be drawn to adhere
to the principle of AR described in the first sentence.
  Questions #39 and #43 discuss some of the evidence relevant to drawing
the line.

SEE ALSO: #39, #43

#23  If the killing is wrong, shouldn't you stop predators from killing
    other animals?

  This is one of the more interesting arguments against animal rights. We
prevent human moral patients from harming others, e.g., we prevent children
from hitting each other, so why shouldn't we do the same for nonhuman moral
patients (refer to question #17 for a definition of moral patienthood)? If
anything, the duty to do so might be considered more serious because
predation results in a serious harm--death.
  A first answer entails pointing out that predators must kill to survive;
to stop them from killing is, in effect, to kill them.
  Of course, we could argue that intervening on a massive scale to prevent
predation is totally impractical or impossible, but that is not morally
  Suppose we accept that we should stop a cat from killing a bird. Then we
realize that the bird is the killer of many snakes. Should we now reason
that, in fact, we shouldn't stop the cat? The point is that humans lack the
broad vision to make all these calculations and determinations.
  The real answer is that intervening to stop predation would destroy the
ecosystems upon which the biosphere depends, harming all of life on earth.
Over millions of years, the biosphere has evolved complex ecosystems that
depend upon predation for their continued functioning and stability. Massive
intervention by humans to stop predation would inflict serious and
incalculable harm on these ecosystems, with devastating results for all life.
  Even if we accept that we should prevent predation (and we don't accept
that), it does not follow that, because we do not, we are therefore justified
in exploiting moral patients ourselves. When we fail to stop widespread
slaughter of human beings in foreign countries, it does not follow that we,
ourselves, believe it appropriate to participate in such slaughter. Similarly,
our failure to prevent predation cannot be taken as justification of our
exploitation of animals.

SEE ALSO: #17, #19, #36, #64

#24  Is the AR movement against abortion? If not, isn't that hypocritical?

  Attempts are frequently made to tie Animal Rights exponents to one side
or the other of the abortion debate. Such attempts are misguided. Claims
that adherence to the ethics of AR determine one's position on embryo
rights are plainly counter-intuitive, unless one is also prepared to argue
that being a defender of human rights compels one to a particular position
on abortion. Is it the case that one cannot consistently despise torture,
serfdom, and other barbaric practices without coming to a particular
conclusion on abortion? 
  AR defenders demand that the rights currently held by humans be extended
to all creatures similar in morally relevant ways. For example, since
society does not accept that mature, sentient human moral patients (refer
to question #17 for a brief description of the distinction between patients
and agents) may be routinely annihilated in the name of science, it
logically follows that comparable nonhuman animals should be given the same
protection. On the other hand, abortion is still a moot point. It is
plainly illogical to expect the AR movement to reflect anything other than
the full spectrum of opinion found in society at large on the abortion issue. 
  Fundamentally, AR philosophers are content with submitting sufficient
conditions for the attribution of rights to individuals, conditions that
explain the noncontroversial protections afforded today to humans. They
neither encourage nor discourage attempts to widen the circle of protection
to fetuses. 

  There is a range of views among AR supporters on the issue of abortion
versus animal rights. Many people believe, as does AECW, that the issues 
of abortion and AR are unrelated, and that the question is irrelevant to the
validity of AR. Others, such as myself, feel that abortion certainly is
relevant to AR. After all, the granting of rights to animals (and humans)
is based on their capacity to suffer and to be a subject-of-a-life. It
seems clear that late-term fetuses can suffer from the abortion procedure.
Certain physiological responses, such as elevated heart rates, and the
existence of a functioning nervous system support this view.
  It also can be argued that the fetus is on a course to become a
subject-of-a-life, and that by aborting the fetus we therefore harm it.
Some counter this latter argument by claiming that the "potential" to
become subject-of-a-life is an invalid grounds for assigning rights, but
this is a fine philosophical point that is itself subject to attack. For
example, suppose a person is in a coma that, given enough time, will
dissipate--the person has the potential to be sentient again. Does the
person lose his rights while in the coma?
  While the arguments adduced may show that abortion is not irrelevant
to AR, they do not show that abortion is necessarily wrong. The reason
is that it is possible to argue that the rights of the fetus are in
conflict with the rights of the woman, and that the rights of the woman
dominate. All may not agree with this trade-off, but it is a consistent,
non-hypocritical stance that is not in conflict with AR philosophy.
  See question #4 for an analysis of hypocrisy arguments in general.


#25  Doesn't the ethical theory of contractarianism show that animals
    have no rights?

  Contractarianism is an ethical theory that attempts to account for our
morality by appealing to implicit mutually beneficial agreements, or
contracts. For example, it would explain our refusal to strike each other
by asserting that we have an implied contract: "You don't hit me and I
won't hit you." The relevance of contractarianism to AR stems from the
supposition that nonhuman animals are incapable of entering into such
contracts, coupled with the assertion that rights can be attributed only
to those individuals that can enter into such contracts. Roughly, animals
can't have rights because they lack the rational capacity to assent to a
contract requiring them to respect our rights.
  Contractarianism is perhaps the most impressive attempt to refute the AR
position; therefore, it is important to consider it in some detail. It is
easily possible to write a large volume on the subject. We must limit
ourselves to considering the basic arguments and problems with them. Those
readers finding this incomplete or nonrigorous are advised to consult the
primary literature.
  We begin by observing that contractarianism fails to offer a compelling
account of our moral behavior and motives. If the average person is asked why
they think it wrong to steal from their neighbor, they do not answer that by
refraining from it they ensure that their neighbor will not steal from them.
Nor do they answer that they have an implicit mutual contract with their
neighbor. Instead of invoking contracts, people typically assert some variant
of the harm principle; e.g., they don't steal because it would harm the
neighbor. Similarly, we do not teach children that the reason why they should
not steal is because then people will not steal from them.
  Another way to point up the mismatch between the theory of contractarianism
and our actual moral behavior is to ask if, upon risking your own life to
save my child from drowning, you have done this as a result of a contractual
obligation. Certainly, one performs such acts as a response to the distress
of another being, not as a result of contractual obligations.
  Contractarianism can thus be seen as a theory that fails to account for our
moral behavior. At best, it is a theory that its proponents would recommend
to us as preferable. (Is it seen as preferable because it denies rights to
animals, and because it seems to justify continued exploitation of animals?)
  Arguably the most serious objection to contractarianism is that it can be
used to sanction arrangements that would be almost universally condemned.
Consider a group of very rich people that assemble and create a contract
among themselves the effect of which is to ensure that wealth remains in
their control. They agree by contract that even repressive tactics can be
used to ensure that the masses remain in poverty. They argue that, by virtue
of the existence of their contract, that they do no wrong. Similar contracts
could be drawn up to exclude other races, sexes, etc.
  John Rawls attempts to overcome this problem by supposing that the
contractors must begin from an "initial position" in which they are not yet
incarnated as beings and must form the contract in ignorance of their final
incarnation. Thus, it is argued, since a given individual in the starting
position does not know whether, for example, she will be incarnated as a rich
woman or a poor woman, that individual will not form contracts that are based
on such criteria. In response, one can begin to wonder at the lengths to
which some will go in creating ad hoc adjustments to a deficient theory. But
more to the point, one can turn around this ad hoc defense to support the AR
position. For surely, if individuals in the initial position are to be truly
ignorant of their destiny, they must assume that they may be incarnated as
animals. Given that, the contract that is reached is likely to include strong
protections for animals!
  Another problem with Rawls' device is that probabilities can be such that,
even given ignorance, contracts can result that most people would see as
unjust. If the chance of being incarnated as a slave holder is 90 percent, a
contract allowing slavery could well result because most individuals would
feel they had a better chance of being incarnated as a slave holder. Thus,
Rawls' device fails even to achieve its purpose.
  It is hard to see how contractarianism can permit movement from the status
quo. How did alleged contracts that denied liberty to slaves and excluded
women from voting come to be renegotiated?
  Contractarianism also is unable to adequately account for the rights we
give to those unable to form contracts, i.e., infants, children, senile
people, mental deficients, and even animals to some extent. Various means
have been advanced to try to account for the attribution of rights to such
individuals. We have no space to deal with all of them. Instead, we briefly
address a few.
  One attempt involves appealing to the interests of true rights holders.
For example, I don't eat your baby because you have an interest in it and I
wouldn't want you violating such an interest of mine. But what if no-one
cared about a given infant? Would that make it fair game for any use or
abuse? Certainly not. Another problem here is that many people express an
interest in the protection of all animals. That would seem to require others
to refrain from using or abusing animals. While this result is attractive to
the AR community, it certainly weakens the argument that contractarianism
justifies our use of animals.
  Others want to let individuals "ride" until they are capable of respecting
the contract. But what of those that will never be capable of doing so, e.g.,
senile people? And why can we not let animals ride?
  Some argue a "reduced-rights" case. Children get a reduced rights set
designed to protect them from themselves, etc. The problem here is that with
animals the rights reduction is way out of proportion. We accept that we
cannot experiment on infants or kill and eat them due to their reduced rights
set. Why then are such extreme uses acceptable for nonhumans?
  Some argue that it is irrelevant whether a given individual can enter into
a contract; what is important is their theoretical capacity to do so. But,
future generations have the capacity but clearly cannot interact reciprocally
with us, so the basis of contractarianism is gutted (unless we assert that we
have no moral obligations to leave a habitable world for future generations).
Peter Singer asks "Why limit morality to those who have the capacity to enter
into agreements, if in fact there is no possibility of their ever doing so?"
  There are practical problems with contractarianism as well. For example,
what can be our response if an individual renounces participation in any
implied moral contracts, and states that he is therefore justified in
engaging in what others would call immoral acts? Is there any way for us to
reproach him? And what are we to do about violations of the contract? If an
individual steals from us, he has broken the contract and we should therefore
be released from it. Are we then morally justified in stealing from him? Or
  In summary, contractarianism fails because a) it fails to accurately account
for our actual, real-world moral acts and motives, b) it sanctions contractual
arrangements that most people would see as unjust, c) it fails to account for
the considerations we accord to individuals unable to enter into contracts,
and d) it has some impractical consequences. Finally, there is a better
foundation for ethics--the harm principle. It is simple, universalizable,
devoid of ad hoc devices, and matches our real moral thinking.

SEE ALSO: #11, #17, #19, #96


#26  Surely there are more pressing practical problems than AR, such
    as homelessness; haven't you got better things to do?

  Inherent in this question is an assumption that it is more important
to help humans than to help nonhumans. Some would dismiss this as a
speciesist position (see question #1). It is possible, however, to
invoke the scale-of-life notion and argue that there is greater suffering
and loss associated with cruelty and neglect of humans than with animals.
This might appear to constitute a prima-facie case for expending one's
energies for humans rather than nonhumans. However, even if we accept
the scale-of-life notion, there are sound reasons for expending time
and energy on the issue of rights for nonhuman animals.
  Many of the consequences of carrying out the AR agenda are highly
beneficial to humans. For example, stopping the production and consumption
of animal products would result in a significant improvement of the
general health of the human population, and destruction of the environment
would be greatly reduced.
  Fostering compassion for animals is likely to pay dividends in terms
of a general increase of compassion in human affairs. Tom Regan puts it
this way:

  ...the animal rights movement is a part of, not antagonistic to,
  the human rights movement. The theory that rationally grounds the
  rights of animals also grounds the rights of humans. Thus those
  involved in the animal rights movement are partners in the struggle
  to secure respect for human rights--the rights of women, for
  example, or minorities, or workers. The animal rights movement
  is cut from the same moral cloth as these.

  Finally, the behavior asked for by the AR agenda involves little
expenditure of energy. We are asking people to NOT do things: don't
eat meat, don't exploit animals for entertainment, don't wear furs.
These negative actions don't interfere with our ability to care for
humans. In some cases, they may actually make more time available for
doing so (e.g., time spent hunting or visiting zoos and circuses).

  Living cruelty-free is not a full-time job; rather, it's a way of life.
When I shop, I check ingredients and I consider if the product is tested
on animals. These things only consume a few minutes of the day. There is
ample time left for helping both humans and nonhumans.

  I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the
way of a whole human being.
				Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. President)

  To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a
human being.
				Mahatma Gandhi (statesman and philosopher)

  Our task must be to free widening our circle of compassion
to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty.
				Albert Einstein (physicist, Nobel 1921)

SEE ALSO: #1, #87, #95

#27  If everyone became vegetarian and gave up keeping pets,
    what would happen to all the animals?

  As vegetarianism grows, the number of animals bred for food gradually
will decline, since the market will no longer exist for them.
Similarly, a gradual decrease would accompany the lessening demand for
the breeding of companion animals. In both cases, those animals that
remain will be better cared for by a more compassionate society.


#28  Grazing animals on land not suited for agriculture increases the food
    supply; how can that be considered wrong?

  There are areas in the world where grazing of livestock is possible but
agriculture is not. If conditions are such that people living in these
areas cannot trade for crops and must raise livestock to survive, few
would question the practice. However, such areas are very small in
comparison to the fertile and semi-arid regions currently utilized for
intensive grazing, and they do not appreciably contribute to the world
food supply. (Some would argue that it is morally preferable not to live in
such areas.)
  The real issue is the intensive grazing in the fertile and semi-arid
regions. The use of such areas for livestock raising reduces the world
food supply. Keith Acker writes as follows in his "A Vegetarian

    Land, energy, and water resources for livestock agriculture range
    anywhere from 10 to 1000 times greater than those necessary to
    produce an equivalent amount of plant foods.  And livestock
    agriculture does not merely use these resources, it depletes them.
    This is a matter of historical record. Most of the world's soil,
    erosion, groundwater depletion, and deforestation--factors now
    threatening the very basis of our food system--are the result of this
    particularly destructive form of food production.

  Livestock agriculture is also the single greatest cause of world-wide
deforestation both historically and currently (between 1967 and 1975,
two-thirds of 70 million acres of lost forest went to grazing). Between
1950 and 1975 the area of human-created pasture land in Central America
more than doubled, almost all of it at the expense of rain forests.
Although this trend has slowed down, it still continues at an alarming and
inexorable pace.
  Grazing requires large tracts of land and the consequences of
overgrazing and soil erosion are very serious ecological problems. By
conservative estimates, 60 percent of all U.S. grasslands are overgrazed,
resulting in billions of tons of soil lost each year. The amount of U.S.
topsoil lost to date is about 75 percent, and 85 percent of that is
directly associated with livestock grazing. Overgrazing has been the
single largest cause of human-made deserts.
  One could argue that grazing is being replaced by the "feedlot
paradigm". These systems graze the livestock prior to transport to a
feedlot for final "fattening" with grains grown on crop lands. Although
this does reduce grazing somewhat, it is not eliminated, and the feedlot
part of the paradigm still constitutes a highly inefficient use of crops
(to feed a human with livestock requires 16 times the grain that would be
necessary if the grain was consumed directly). It has been estimated that
in the U.S., 80 percent of the corn and 95 percent of the oats grown are
fed to livestock.

  I grew up in cattle country--that's why I became a vegetarian. Meat stinks,
for the animals, the environment, and your health.
				k.d. lang (musician)

#29  If we try to eliminate all animals products, we'll be moving back to
    the Stone Age; who wants that?

  On the contrary! It is a dependency upon animal products that could be
seen as returning us to the technologies and mind set of the Stone Age.
For example, Stone Age people had to wear furs in Northern climates to
avoid freezing. That is no longer the case, thanks to central heating
and the ready availability of plenty of good plant and human-made fabrics.
If we are to characterize the modern age, it could be in terms of the
greater freedoms and options made possible by technological advance and
social progress. The Stone Age people had few options and so were forced
to rely upon animals for food, clothing, and materials for their implements.
Today, we have an abundance of choices for better foods, warmer clothing,
and more efficient materials, none of which need depend upon the killing
of animals.

  It seems to me that the only Stone Age we are in any danger of entering
is that constituted by the continuous destruction of animals' habitats
in favor of the Portland-cement concrete jungle!

SEE ALSO: #60, #62, #95

#30  It's virtually impossible to eliminate all animal products from one's
    consumption; what's the point if you still cause animal death without
    knowing it?

  Yes, it is very difficult to eliminate all animal products from one's
consumption, just as it is impossible to eliminate all accidental killing
and infliction of harm that results from our activities. But this cannot
justify making it "open season" for any kind of abuse of animals. The
reasonable goal, given the realities, is to minimize the harms one causes.
The point, then, is that a great deal of suffering is prevented.

SEE ALSO: #57-#58

#31  Wouldn't many customs and traditions, as well as jobs, be lost if
    we stopped using animals?

  Consider first the issue of customs and traditions. The plain truth is
that some customs and traditions deserve to die out. Examples abound
throughout history: slavery, Roman gladiatorial contests, torture, public
executions, witch burning, racism. To these the AR supporter adds animal
exploitation and enslavement.
  The human animal is an almost infinitely adaptable organism. The loss of
the customs listed above has not resulted in any lasting harm to
humankind. The same can be confidently predicted for the elimination of
animal exploitation. In fact, humankind would likely benefit from a
quantum leap of compassion in human affairs.
  As far as jobs are concerned, the economic aspects are discussed in
question #32. It remains to point out that for a human, what is at stake is
a job, which can be replaced with one less morally dubious. What is at
stake for an animal is the elimination of torture and exploitation, and
the possibility for a life of happiness, free from human oppression and

  People often say that humans have always eaten animals, as if this is a
justification for continuing the practice. According to this logic, we
should not try to prevent people from murdering other people, since this
has also been done since the earliest of times.
				Isaac Bashevis Singer (author, Nobel 1978)


#32  The animal product industries are big business; wouldn't the economy
    be crippled if they all stopped?

  One cannot justify an action based on its profitability. Many crimes and
practices that we view as repugnant have been or continue to be
profitable: the slave trade, sale of child brides, drug dealing, scams of
all sorts, prostitution, child pornography.
  A good example of this, and one that points up another key
consideration, is the tobacco industry. It is a multibillion-dollar
industry, yet vigorous efforts are proceeding on many fronts to put it out
of business. The main problem with it lies in its side-effects, i.e., the
massive health consequences and deaths that it produces, which easily
outweigh the immediate profitability. There are side effects to animal
exploitation also. Among the most significant are the pollution and
deforestation associated with large-scale animal farming. As we see in
question #28, these current practices constitute a nonsustainable use of
the planet's resources. It is more likely true that the economy will be
crippled if the practices continue!
  Finally, the profits associated with the animal industries stem from
market demand and affluence. There is no reason to suppose that this
demand cannot be gradually redirected into other industries. Instead of
prime beef, we can have prime artichokes, or prime pasta, etc. Humanity's
demand for gourmet food will not vanish with the meat. Similarly, the
jobs associated with the animal industries can be gradually redirected
into the industries that would spring up to replace the animal
industries. (Vice President Gore made a similar point in reference to
complaints concerning loss of jobs if logging was halted. He commented
that the environmental movement would open up a huge area for jobs that
had heretofore been unavailable.)

  It is my view that the vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical
effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of
				Albert Einstein (physicist, Nobel 1921)

SEE ALSO: #28, #31


#33  Humans are at the pinnacle of evolution; doesn't that give them
    the right to use animals as they wish?

  This is one of many arguments that attempt to draw ethical conclusions
from scientific observations. In this case, the science is shaky, and the
ethical conclusion is dubious. Let us first examine the science.
  The questioner's view is that evolution has created a linear ranking of
general fitness, a ladder if you will, with insects and other "lower"
species at the bottom, and humans (of course!) at the top. This idea
originated as part of a wider, now discredited evolutionary system called
Lamarckism. Charles Darwin's discovery of natural selection overturned
this system. Darwin's picture, instead, is of a "radiating bush" of
species, with each evolving to adapt more closely to its environment,
along its own radius. Under this view, the idea of a pinnacle becomes
unclear: yes, humans have adapted well to their niche (though many would
dispute this, asserting the nonsustainable nature of our use of the
planet's resources), but so have bacteria adapted well to their niche. Can
we really say that humans are better adapted to their niche than bacteria,
and would it mean anything when the niches are so different?
  Probably, what the questioner has in mind in using the word "pinnacle"
is that humans excel in some particular trait, and that a scale can be
created relative to this trait. For example, on a scale of mental
capability, humans stand well above bacteria. But a different choice of
traits can lead to very different results. Bacteria stand "at the
pinnacle" when one looks at reproductive fecundity. Birds stand "at
the pinnacle" when one looks at flight.
  Now let us examine the ethics. Leaving aside the dubious idea of a
pinnacle of evolution, let us accept that humans are ranked at the top on
a scale of intelligence. Does this give us the right to do as we please
with animals, simply on account of their being less brainy? If we say yes,
we open a Pandora's box of problems for ourselves. Does this mean that
more intelligent humans can also exploit less intelligent humans as they
wish (shall we all be slaves to the Einsteins of the world)? Considering
a different trait, can the physically superior abuse the weak? Only a
morally callous person would agree with this general principle.

SEE ALSO: #34, #37

#34  Humans are at the top of the food chain; aren't they therefore
    justified in killing and eating anything?

  No; otherwise, potential cannibals in our society could claim the same
defense for their practice. That we can do something does not mean that it
is right to do so. We have a lot of power over other creatures, but with
great powers come even greater responsibilities, as any parent will
  Humans are at the top of the food chain because they CHOOSE to eat
nonhuman animals. There is thus a suggestion of tautology in the
questioner's position. If we chose not to eat animals, we would not be
at the top of the food chain.
  The idea that superiority in a trait confers rights over the inferior is
disposed of in question #33.


#35  Animals are just machines; why worry about them?

  Centuries ago, the philosopher Rene Descartes developed the idea that
all nonhuman animals are automatons that cannot feel pain. Followers of
Descartes believed that if an animal cried out this was just a reflex,
the sort of reaction one might get from a mechanical doll. Consequently,
they saw no reason not to experiment on animals without anesthetics.
Horrified observers were admonished to pay no attention to the screams
of the animal subjects.
  This idea is now refuted by modern science. Animals are no more "mere
machines" than are human beings. Everything science has learned about
other species points out the biological similarities between humans and
nonhumans. As Charles Darwin wrote, the differences between humans and
other animals are differences of degree, not differences of kind. Since
both humans and nonhumans evolved over millions of years and share
similar nervous systems and other organs, there is no reason to think
we do not share a similar mental and emotional life with other animal
species (especially mammals).

#36  In Nature, animals kill and eat each other; so why should it be wrong
    for humans?

  Predatory animals must kill to eat. Humans, in contrast, have a choice;
they need not eat meat to survive.
  Humans differ from nonhuman animals in being capable of conceiving of, and
acting in accordance with, a system of morals; therefore, we cannot seek
moral guidance or precedent from nonhuman animals. The AR philosophy asserts
that it is just as wrong for a human to kill and eat a sentient nonhuman as
it is to kill and eat a sentient human.
  To demonstrate the absurdity of seeking moral precedents from nonhuman
animals, consider the following variants of the question:

    "In Nature, animals steal food from each other; so why should it be
    wrong for humans [to steal]?"

    "In Nature, animals kill and eat humans; so why should it be wrong for
    humans [to kill and eat humans]?"

SEE ALSO: #23, #34, #64

#37  Natural selection and Darwinism are at work in the world; doesn't
    that mean it's unrealistic to try to overcome such forces?

  Assuming that Animal Rights concepts somehow clash with Darwinian forces,
the questioner must stand accused of selective moral fatalism: our sense of
morality is clearly not modeled on the laws of natural selection. Why,
then, feel helpless before some of its effects and not before others? 
  Male-dominance, xenophobia, and war-mongering are present in many human
societies. Should we venture that some mysterious, universal forces must be
at work behind them, and that all attempts at quelling such tendencies should
be abandoned? Or, more directly, when people become sick, do we abandon them
because "survival of the fittest" demands it? We do not abandon them; and we
do not agonize about trying to overcome natural selection.
  There is no reason to believe that the practical implications of the Animal
Rights philosophy are maladaptive for humans. On the contrary, and for
reasons explained elsewhere in this FAQ, respecting the rights of animals
would yield beneficial side-effects for humans, such as more-sustainable
agricultural practices, and better environmental and health-care policies.

  The advent of Darwinism led to a substitution of the idea of individual
organisms for the old idea of immutable species. The moral individualism
implied by AR philosophy substitutes the idea that organisms should be
treated according to their individual capacities for the (old) idea that it
is the species of the animal that counts. Thus, moral individualism actually
fits well with evolutionary theory.

SEE ALSO: #63-62

#38  Isn't AR opposed to environmental philosophy (as described, for
    example, in "Deep Ecology")?

  No. It should be clear from many of the answers included in this FAQ, and
from perusal of many of the books referenced in question #92, that the
philosophy and goals of AR are complementary to the goals of the mainstream
environmental movement. Michael W. Fox sees AR and environmentalism as
two aspects of a dialectic that reconciles concerns for the rights of
individuals (human and nonhuman) with concerns for the integrity of the
  Some argue that a morality based on individual rights is necessarily
opposed to one based on holistic environmental views, e.g., the sanctity
of the biosphere. However, an environmental ethic that attributes some 
form of rights to all individuals, including inanimate ones, can be
developed. Such an ethic, by showing respect for the individuals that make
up the biosphere, would also show respect for the biosphere as a whole, thus
achieving the aims of holistic environmentalism. It is clear that a rights
view is not necessarily in conflict with a holistic view.
  In reference to the concept of deep ecology and the claim that it bears
negatively on AR, Fox believes such claims to be unfounded. The following
text is excerpted from "Inhumane Society", by Michael W. Fox.

  Deep ecologists support the philosophy of preserving the natural
abundance and diversity of plants and animals in natural ecosystems...
The deep ecologists should oppose the industrialized, nonsubsistence
exploitation of wildlife is fundamentally unsound ecologically,
because by favoring some species over others, population imbalances and
extinctions of undesired species would be inevitable.
  In their book "Deep Ecology", authors Bill Devall and George Sessions...
take to task animal rights philosopher Tom Regan, who with others of like
mind "expressed concern that a holistic ecological ethic...results in a
kind of totalitarianism or ecological fascism"...In an appendix, however,
George Sessions does suggest that philosophers need to work toward
nontotalitarian solutions...and that "in all likelihood, this will require
some kind of holistic ecological ethic in which the integrity of all
individuals (human and nonhuman) is respected".
  Ironically, while the authors are so critical of the animal rights
movement, they quote Arne Naess (...arguably the founder of the deep
ecology movement)...For instance, Naess states: "The intuition of
biocentric equality is that all things in the biosphere have an equal
right to live and blossom and to reach their own forms of unfolding and
				Michael W. Fox (Vice President of HSUS)

SEE ALSO: #28, #59


#39  What about insects? Do they have rights too?

  Before considering the issue of rights, let us first address the
question "What about insects?". Strictly speaking, insects are small
invertebrate animals of the class Insecta, having an adult stage
characterized by three pairs of legs, a segmented body with three major
divisions, and usually two pairs of wings. We'll adopt the looser
definition, which includes similar invertebrate animals such as spiders,
centipedes, and ticks.
  Insects have a ganglionic nervous system, in contrast to the central
nervous system of vertebrates. Such a system is characterized by local
aggregates of neurons, called ganglia, that are associated with, and
specialized for, the body segment with which they are co-located. There
are interconnections between ganglia but these connections function not so
much as a global integrating pathway, but rather for local segmental
coordination. For example, the waves of leg motion that propagate along
the body of a centipede are mediated by the intersegmental connections.
  In some species the cephalic ganglia are large and complex enough to
support very complex behavior (e.g., the lobster and octopus). The
cuttlefish (not an insect but another invertebrate with a ganglionic
nervous system) is claimed by some to be about as intelligent as a dog.
  Insects are capable of primitive learning and do exhibit what many would
characterize as intelligence. Spiders are known for their skills and
craftiness; whether this can all be dismissed as instinct is arguable.
Certainly, bees can learn in a limited way. When offered a reward from a
perch of a certain color, they return first to perches of that color. They
also learn the location of food and transmit that information to their
colleagues. The learning, however, tends to be highly specialized and
applicable to only limited domains.
  In addition to a primitive mental life as described above, there is some
evidence that insects can experience pain and suffering. The earthworm
nervous system, for example, secretes an opiate substance when the
earthworm is injured. Similar responses are seen in vertebrates and are
generally accepted to be a mechanism for the attenuation of pain. On the
other hand, the opiates are also implicated in functions not associated
with analgesia, such as thermoregulation and appetite control. Nevertheless,
the association of secretion with tissue injury is highly suggestive.
  Earthworms also wriggle quite vigorously when impaled on a hook. In
possible opposition to this are other observations. For example, the
abdomen of a feeding wasp can be clipped off and the head may go on
sucking (presumably in no distress?).
  Singer quotes three criteria for deciding if an organism has the
capacity to suffer from pain: 1) there are behavioral indications, 2)
there is an appropriate nervous system, and 3) there is an evolutionary
usefulness for the experience of pain. These criteria seem to satisfied
for insects, if only in a primitive way.
  Now we are equipped to tackle the issue of insect rights. First, one
might argue that the issue is not so compelling as for other animals
because industries are not built around the exploitation of insects. But
this is untrue; large industries are built around honey production, silk
production, and cochineal/carmine production, and, of course, mass insect
death results from our use of insecticides. Even if the argument were
true, it should not prevent us from attempting to be consistent in the
application of our principles to all animals. Insects are a part of the
Animal Kingdom and some special arguments would be required to exclude
them from the general AR argument.
  Some would draw a line at some level of complexity of the nervous
system, e.g., only animals capable of operant conditioning need be
enfranchised. Others may quarrel with this line and place it elsewhere.
Some may postulate a scale of life with an ascending capacity to feel pain
and suffer. They might also mark a cut-off on the scale, below which
rights are not actively asserted. Is the cut-off above insects and the
lower invertebrates? Or should there be no cut-off? This is one of the
issues still being actively debated in the AR community.
  People who strive to live without cruelty will attempt to push the line
back as far as possible, giving the benefit of the doubt where there is
doubt. Certainly, one can avoid unnecessary cruelty to insects.
  The practical issues involved in enfranchising insects are dealt with in
the following two questions.

  I want to realize brotherhood or identity not merely with the beings
called human, but I want to realize identity with all life, even with
such things as crawl upon earth.
				Mahatma Gandhi (statesman and philosopher)

  What is it that should trace the insuperable line? ...The question
is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?
				Jeremy Bentham (philosopher)

SEE ALSO: #22, #40-#41, #47

#40  Do I have to be careful not to walk on ants?

  The Jains of India would say yes! Some of their more devout members
wear gauze masks to avoid inhaling and killing small insects and
  Regardless of how careful we are, we will cause some suffering as a
side-effect of living. The goal is to avoid unnecessary suffering and
to minimize the suffering we cause. This is a far cry from wanton,
intentional infliction of cruelty. I refer here to the habit of some of
pulling off insects' wings for fun, or of torching a congregation of
ants for pleasure.
  This question is an issue for the individual conscience to decide. Perhaps
one need not walk around looking out for ants on the ground, but should one
be seen and it is easy to alter one's stride to avoid it, where is the harm
in doing so?

SEE ALSO: #39, #41

#41  There is some evidence of consciousness in insects; aren't you
    descending to absurdity to tell people not to kill insects?

  Enfranchising insects does not mean it is never justifiable to kill
them. As with all threats to a being, the rule of self-defense applies.
If insects are threatening one's well-being in a nontrivial way, AR
philosophy would not assert that it is wrong to eliminate them.
  Pesticides and herbicides are often used for mass destruction of insect
populations. While this might be defended on the self-defense principle,
one should be aware of the significant adverse impact on the environment,
on other non-threatening animals, and indeed on our own health. (Refer to
question #59 for more on the use of insecticides.)
  It is not absurd to attempt to minimize the amount of suffering
that we inflict or cause.

  We should begin to feel for the flies and other insects struggling to
be free from sticky fly paper. There are humane alternatives.
				Michael W. Fox (Vice President of HSUS)

SEE ALSO: #39-#40, #59

#42  Isn't it hypocritical to kill and eat plants?

  It would be hypocritical IF the same criteria or morally relevant
attributes that are used to justify animal rights also applied to
plants. The criteria cited by the AR movement are "pain and suffering"
and being "subjects-of-a-life". An assessment of how plants measure up
to these criteria leads to the following conclusions.
  First, our best science to date shows that plants lack any semblance
of a central nervous system or any other system design for such complex
capacities as that of conscious suffering from felt pain.
  Second, plants simply have no evolutionary need to feel pain. Animals
being mobile would benefit from the ability to sense pain; plants would
not. Nature does not gratuitously create such complex capacities as that
of feeling pain unless there is some benefit for the organism's
  The first point is dealt with in more detail in questions #43 and #44.
The general hypocrisy argument is discussed in question #4.

SEE ALSO: #4, #39-#44

#43  But how can you prove that plants don't feel pain?

  Lest we forget the ultimate point of what follows, let us not forget the
central thesis of AR. Simply stated: to the extent other animals share
with us certain morally relevant attributes, then to that extent we confer
upon them due regard and concern. The two attributes that are arguably
relevant are: a) our capacity for pain and suffering, and b) the capacity
for being the "subject-of-a-life", i.e., being such that it matters to one
whether one's life fares well or ill.
  Both of these qualities require the existence of mental states. Also
note that in order to speak of "mental states" proper, we would denote, as
common usage would dictate, that such states are marked by consciousness.
It is insufficient to mark off mental states by only the apparent presence
of purposefulness or intentionality since, as we shall see below, many
material objects possess purposeful-looking behaviors.
  So then, how do we properly attribute the existence of mental states to
other animals, or even to ourselves for that matter? We cannot infer the
presence of felt pain simply by the presence of a class of behaviors that
are functional for an organism's amelioration or avoidance of noxious
stimuli. Thermostats obviously react to thermal changes in the environment
and respond in a functionally appropriate manner to restore an initial
"preferred" state. We would be foolish, however, to attribute to
thermostats a capability to "sense" or "feel" some kind of thermal "pain".
Even placing quotes around our terms doesn't protect us from absurdity.
  Clearly, the behavioral criterion of even functional avoidance/defense
reactions is simply not sufficient nor even necessary for the proper
attribution of pain as a felt mental state.
  Science, including the biological sciences, are committed to the working
assumption of scientific materialism or physicalism (see "The Metaphysical
Foundations of Modern Science", E. A. Burtt, 1924). We must then start
with the generally accepted scientific assumption that matter is the only
existent or real primordial constituent of the universe.
  Let it be said at the outset that scientific materialism as such does
not preclude the existence of emergent or functional qualities like that
of mind, consciousness, and feeling (or even, dare I say it, free will),
but all such qualities are dependent upon the existence of organized
matter. If there is no hardware, there is nothing for the software to run
on. If there is no intact, living brain, there is no mind. It should also
be said that even contemporary versions of dualism or mind-stuff theories
will also make embodiment of mental states dependent on the presence of
sufficiently organized matter.
  To briefly state the case, cognitive functions like consciousness and
mind are seen as emergent properties of sufficiently organized matter.
Just as breathing is a function of a complex system of organs referred to
as the respiratory system, so too is consciousness a function of the
immensely complex information-processing capabilities of a central nervous
system. It is possible, in theory, that future computers, given a
sufficiently complex and orderly organization of hardware and clever
software, could exhibit the requisite emergent qualities. While such
computers do not exist, we DO know that certain living organisms on this
planet possess the requisite complexity of specialized and highly
organized structure for the emergence of mental states.
  In theory, plants could possess a mental state like pain, but if, and
only if, there were a requisite complexity of organized plant tissue that
could serve to instantiate the higher order mental states of consciousness
and felt pain.
  There is no morphological evidence that such a complexity of tissue
exists in plants. Plants lack the specialized structures required for
emergence of mental states. This is not to say that they cannot exhibit
complex reactions, but we are simply over-interpreting such reactions if
we designate them as "felt pain".
  With respect to all mammals, birds, and reptiles, we know that they
possess a sufficiently complex neural structure to enable felt pain plus
an evolutionary need for such consciously felt states. They possess
complex and specialized sense organs, they possess complex and specialized
structures for processing information and for centrally orchestrating
appropriate behaviors in accordance with mental representations,
integrations, and reorganizations of that information. The proper
attribution of felt pain in these animals is well justified. It is not for
plants, by any stretch of the imagination.

  The absurdity (and often disingenuity) of the plant-pain promoters can be
easily exposed by asking them the following two questions:

    1) Do you agree that animals like dogs and cats should receive
       pain-killing drugs prior to surgery?
    2) Do you believe that plants should receive pain-killing drugs
       prior to pruning?

SEE ALSO: #42, #44

#44  Aren't there studies that show that plants can scream, etc.?

  How can something without vocal apparatus scream? Perhaps the questioner
intends to suggest that plants somehow express feelings or emotions. This
notion is popularized in the book "The Secret Life of Plants", by Tompkins
and Bird, 1972. The book describes "experiments" in which plants are
claimed to respond to injury and even to the thoughts and emotions of
nearby humans. The responses consist of changes in the electrical
conductivity of their leaves. The truth is, however, that nothing but a
dismal failure has resulted from attempts to replicate these experiments.
For some definitive reviews, see Science, 1975, 189:478 and The Skeptical
Inquirer, 1978, 2(2):57.
  But what about plant responses to insect invasion? Does this suggest
that plants "feel" pain? No published book or paper in a scientific
journal has been cited as indeed making this claim that "plants feel
pain". There is interesting data suggesting that plants react to local
tissue damage and even emit signaling molecules serving to stimulate
chemical defenses of nearby plants. But how is this relevant to the claim
that plants feel and suffer from pain? Where are the replicated
experiments and peer-reviewed citations for this putative fact? There are
  Let us, for the sake of argument, consider the form of logic employed by
the plant-pain promoters:

    premise 1:    Plants are responsive to "sense" impressions.
    premise 2:    As defined in the dictionary, anything
                  responsive to sense impressions is sentient.
    conclusion 1: Plants are sentient.
    premise 3:    Sentient beings are conscious of sense impressions.
    conclusion 2: Plants are conscious of sense impressions.
    premise 4:    To be conscious of a noxious stimuli is unpleasant.
    conclusion 3: Noxious stimuli to plants are unpleasant, i.e., painful.

  There is a major logical sleight-of-hand here. The meaning of the term
"sentient" changes between premise 2 ("responsive to sense impressions")
and premise 3 ("conscious of sense impressions"). Thus, equivocation on
the usage of "sentient" is used to bootleg the false conclusion 3. There
is also an equivocation on the meaning of "painful" ("unpleasant" versus
the commonly understood meaning).

  If we can bring ourselves to momentarily assume (falsely) that plants
feel pain, then we can easily argue that by eliminating animal farming,
we reduce the total pain inflicted on plants, leading to the ironic
conclusion that plant pain supports the AR position. This is discussed
in more detail in question #46.

SEE ALSO: #42-#43, #46

#45  But even if plants don't feel pain, aren't you depriving them of
    their life? Why isn't that enough to accord moral status to plants?

  The philosophy of Animal Rights is generally regarded as encompassing
only sentient creatures. Plants are just one of many non-sentient, living
creatures. To remain consistent, granting moral status to plants would
lead one to grant it to all life. It may be thought that a philosophy
encompassing all life would be best, but granting moral status to all
living creatures leads to rather implausible views.
  For example, concern for life would lead one to oppose the distribution
of spermicides, even to overpopulated Third world countries. The morality
of any sexual intercourse could be questioned as well, since thousands of
sperm cells die in each act. Also, the sheer variety of life forms creates
difficulties; for example, arguments have been made to show that some
computer programs--such as computer viruses--may well be called alive.
Should one grant them moral status?
  There are questions even in the case of plants. The use of weed-killers
in a garden would need defending. And if killing plants is wrong, why
isn't merely damaging them in some other way also wrong? Is trimming
hedgerows wrong?
  The problems raised above are not attempts to discourage efforts to
develop an ethics of the environment. They simply point out that according
moral status to all living creatures is fraught with difficulties.
  Nevertheless, some people do, indeed, argue that the taking of life
should be minimized where possible; this constitutes a kind of moral
status for life. Interestingly, such a view, far from undermining the AR
view, actually supports it. To see why, refer to question #46.

SEE ALSO: #46, #59

#46  Isn't it better to eat animals, because that way you kill the least
    number of living beings.

  There are at least two problems with this question. First, there is the
assumption that killing is the factor sought to be minimized, but as
explained in question #18, killing is not the central concern of AR; rather,
it is pain and suffering, neither of which can be attributed to plants.
  Second, the questioner overlooks that livestock must be raised on a diet
of plant foods, so consumption of animals is actually a once-removed
consumption of plants. The twist, of course, is that passing plants through
animals is a very inefficient process; losses of up to 80-90 percent are
typical. Thus, it could be argued that, if one's concern is for killing,
per se, then the vegetarian diet is preferable (at least for today's
predominant feedlot paradigm).

SEE ALSO: #18, #28, #45

#47  Nature is a continuum; doesn't that mean you cannot draw a line, and
    where you draw yours is no better than where I draw mine?

  Most people will accept that the diversity of Nature is such that one is
effectively faced with a continuum. Charles Darwin was right to state that
differences are of degree, not of kind.
  One should take issue, however, with the belief that this means that a
line cannot be drawn for the purpose of granting rights. For example,
while there is a continuum in the use of force, from the gentle nudge of
the adoring mother to the hellish treatment visited upon concentration
camp prisoners, clearly, human rights are violated in one case and not the
other. People accept that the ethical buck stops somewhere between the two
  Similarly, while it is true that the qualities relevant to the
attribution of rights are found to varying extents in members of the
animal kingdom, one is entitled to draw the line somewhere. After all,
society does it as well; today, it draws the line just below humans.
  Now, such a line (below humans) cannot be logically defensible, since
some creatures are excluded that possess the relevant qualities to a
greater degree than current rights-holders (for example, a normal adult
chimpanzee has a "higher" mental life than a human in a coma, yet we still
protect only the human from medical experimentation). Therefore, any line
that is drawn must allow some nonhuman animals to qualify as
  Moreover, the difficulty of drawing a line does not by itself justify
drawing one at the wrong place. On the contrary, this difficulty means
that from an ethical point of view, the line should be drawn a) carefully,
and b) conservatively. Because the speciesist line held by AR opponents
violates moral precepts held as critical for the viability of any ethical
system, and because some mature nonhumans possess morally relevant
characteristics comparable to some human rights-bearers, one must come to
the conclusion that the status quo fails on both counts, and that the
arrow of progress points toward a moral outlook that encompasses nonhuman
as well as human creatures.
  In addition, it should be noted that when a new line is drawn that is
more in step with ethical truth (something quite easy to do), in no way
should one feel that the wanton destruction of non rights-holders is
thereby encouraged. It is desirable that a moral climate be created that
gives due consideration to the interests and welfare of all creatures,
whether they are rights-holders or not.

  The idea that a continuum makes drawing a line impossible or that one
line is therefore no better than another is easily refuted. For example,
the alcohol concentration in the blood is a continuum, but society draws
a line at 0.10 percent for drunk driving, and clearly that is a better
line than one drawn at, say, 0.00000001 percent.

SEE ALSO: #22, #39-#41


#48  The animals are killed so fast that they don't feel any pain or
    even know they're being killed; what's wrong with that?

  This view can only be maintained by those unfamiliar with modern meat
production methods. Great stress occurs during transport in which
millions die miserably each year. And the conveyor-belt approach to the
slaughtering process causes the animals to struggle for their lives as
they experience the agony of the fear of death. Only people who have never
watched the process can believe that they don't feel any pain or aren't
aware that they're being killed.
  One point that many people are unaware of is that poultry is exempted from
the requirements of the Humane Slaughter Act. Egg-laying hens are typically
not stunned before slaughter. Also exempt from the act are animals killed
under Kosher conditions (see question #49).
  But even if no suffering were involved, the killing of sensitive,
intelligent animals on a vast scale (over six billion each year in the
U.S. alone) cannot be regarded as morally correct, especially since today
it is demonstrably clear that eating animal flesh is not only unnecessary
but even harmful for people. Fellow-mammals are not like corn or carrots.
To treat them as if they were is to perpetuate an impoverished morality
which is based not on rationality but merely tradition.

  Even the climactic killing process itself is not so clean as one is led
to believe. Every method carries strong doubts about its "humaneness".
For example, consider electrocution. We routinely give anesthetics to
people receiving electro-shock therapy due to its painful effects.
Consider the pole-axe. It requires great skill to deliver a perfect,
instantly fatal blow. Few possess the skill, and many animals suffer from
the ineptness with which the process is administered. Consider Kosher
slaughter, where an animal is hoisted and bled to death without prior
stunning. Often joints are ruptured during the hoisting, and the death is
a slow, conscious one. The idea of a clean, painless kill is a fantasy
promulgated by those with a vested interest in the continuance of the

#49  What is factory farming, and what is wrong with it?

  Factory farming is an industrial process that applies the philosophy and
practices of mass production to animal farming. Animals are considered not as
individual sentient beings, but rather as a means to an end--eggs, meat,
leather, etc. The objective is to maximize output and profit. The animals
are manipulated through breeding, feeding, confinement, and chemicals to
lay eggs faster, fatten more quickly, or make leaner meat. Costs are
minimized by recycling carcasses through feed, minimizing unit space, not
providing bedding (which gets soiled and needs cleaning), and other
  Battery-hen egg production is perhaps the most publicized form. Hens are
"maintained" in cages of minimal size, allowing for little or no movement
and no expression of natural behavior patterns. Hens are painfully debeaked
and sometimes declawed to protect others in the cramped cage. There are no
floors to the cages, so that excrement can fall through onto a tray--the hens
therefore are standing on wire. Cages are stacked on top of each other in
long rows, and are kept inside a climate-controlled barn. The hens are then
used as a mechanism for turning feed into eggs. After a short, miserable life
they are processed as boiler chickens or recycled.
  Other typical factory farming techniques are used in pig production, where
animals are kept in concrete pens with no straw or earth, unable to move more
than a few inches, to ensure the "best" pork. When sows litter, piglets are
kept so the only contact between the sow and piglets is access to the teats.
The production of veal calves is a similar restraining process. The calves are
kept in narrow crates which prevent them from turning; they can only stand or
lie down. They are kept in the dark with no contact with other animals.
  Factory farming distresses people because of the treatment of the animals;
they are kept in unnatural conditions in terms of space, possible behaviors,
and interactions with other animals. Keeping animals in these circumstances
is not only cruel to the animals, but diminishes the humanity of those
involved, from production to consumption.
  In addition, the use of chemicals and hormones to maximize yields, reduce
health problems in the animals, and speed production may also be harmful to
human consumers.

SEE ALSO: #12, #14, #32, #48, #50

#50  But cattle can't be factory-farmed, so I can eat them, right?

  At this time, cattle farming has not progressed to the extremes inflicted
on some other animals--cows still have to graze. However, the proponents of
factory farming are always considering the possibilities of extending their
techniques, as the old-style small farm becomes a faded memory and farming
becomes a larger and more complex industry, competing for finance from
consumers and lenders. Cattle farming practices such as increasing cattle
densities on feedlots, diet supplementation, and controlled breeding are
already being implemented. Other developments will be introduced.
  However, as discussed in question #49, it is not only the method of
farming that is of concern. Transport to the slaughterhouse, often a long
journey in crowded conditions without access to food and water, and the wait
at the slaughterhouse followed by the slaughtering process are themselves
brutal and harmful. And the actual killing process is itself not necessarily
clean or painless (see question #48).

  We can challenge the claim that cattle cannot be factory-farmed; it just
isn't true. We can also challenge the claim that if it were true, it would
justify killing and eating cattle.
  A broad view of factory farming includes practices that force adaptations
(often through breeding) that increase the "productivity" of animal farming.
Such increases in productivity are invariably achieved at the expense of
increased suffering of the animals concerned. This broader view definitely
includes cattle, both that raised for meat and for dairy production.
  Veal production is paradigmatic factory farming. David Cowles-Hamar
describes it as follows: "Veal calves are kept in isolation in 5'x2' crates
in which they are unable even to turn around. They are kept in darkness much
of the time. They are given no bedding (in case they try to eat it) and are
fed only a liquid diet devoid of iron and fiber to keep their flesh anemic
and pale. After 3-5 months they are slaughtered."
  Dairy farming also qualifies as factory-farming. Here are some salient

    * Calves are taken away at 1-3 days causing terrible distress to both
      the cows and the calves; many calves go for veal production.

    * Over 170,000 calves die each year due to poor husbandry and appalling
      treatment at markets.

    * Cows are milked for 10 months and produce 10 times the milk a calf
      would take naturally. Mastitis (udder inflammation) frequently results.

    * Cows are fed a high-protein diet to increase yield; often even this is
      not enough and the cow is forced to break down body tissues, leading
      to acidosis and consequent lameness. About 25 percent of cows are

    * At about 5 years of age, the cow is spent and exhausted and is
      slaughtered. The normal life span is about 20 years.

  Finally, we cannot accept that even if it were not possible to factory-farm
cattle, that therefore it is morally acceptable to kill and eat them. David
Cowles-Hamar puts it this way: "The suggestion that animals should pay for
their freedom with their lives is moral nonsense."

SEE ALSO: #14, #48-#49

#51  But isn't it true that cows won't produce milk (or chickens lay
    eggs) if they are not content?

  This is simply untrue. Lactation is a physiological response that
follows giving birth. The cow cannot avoid giving milk any more than
she can avoid producing urine. The same is true of chickens and egg-laying;
the egg output is manipulated to a high level by selective breeding,
carefully regulated conditions that simulate a continuous summer season,
and a carefully controlled diet.
  To drive this point home further, consider that over the last five
decades, the conditions for egg-laying chickens have become increasingly
unnatural and confining (see question #49), yet the egg output has increased
many times over. Chickens will even continue to lay when severely injured;
they simply cannot help it.

SEE ALSO: #49, #52, #55

#52  Don't hens lay unfertilized eggs that would otherwise be wasted?

  Yes, but that is no justification for imposing barbaric and cruel regimes
on them designed to artificially boost their egg production. If the
questioner is wondering if it is OK to use eggs left by free-range chickens
"to go cold", then the answer from the AR side is that free-range egg
production is not so idyllic as one might like to think (see question #55).
Also, such a source of eggs can satisfy only a tiny fraction of the demand.

SEE ALSO: #49, #51, #55

#53  But isn't it true that the animals have never known anything better?

  If someone bred a race of humans for slavery, would you accept their
excuse that the slaves have never known anything better? The point is that
there IS something better, and they are being deprived of it.

  Not having known anything better does not alleviate the suffering of the
animal. Its fundamental desires remain and it is the frustration of those
desires that is a great part of its suffering. There are so many examples:
the dairy cow who is never allowed to raise her young, the battery hen who
can never walk or stretch her wings, the sow who can never build a nest or
root for food in the forest litter, etc. Eventually we frustrate the animal's
most fundamental desire of all--to live.
				David Cowles-Hamar

#54  Don't farmers know better than city-dwelling people about how
    to treat animals?

  This view is often put forward by farmers (and their family members).
Typically they claim that, by virtue of proximity to their farmed animals,
they possess some special knowledge. When pressed to present this
knowledge, and to show how it can justify their exploitation of animals
or discount the animals' pain and suffering, only the tired arguments
addressed in this FAQ come forth. In short, there is no "special knowledge".
  One should also remember that those farmers who exploit animals have a
strong vested interest in the continuance of their practices. Would one
assert that a logger knows best about how the forests should be treated?
  Technically, this argument is an instance of the "genetic fallacy". Ideas
should be evaluated on their own terms, not by reference to the originators.

#55  Can't we just eat free-range products?

  The term "free-range" is used to indicate a production method in which the
animals are (allegedly) not factory-farmed but, instead, are provided with
conditions that allow them to fully express their natural behavior. Some
people feel that free-range products are thus ethically acceptable. There
are two cases to be considered: first, the case where the free-range animal
itself is slaughtered for use, and second, the case where the free-range
animal provides a product (typically, hens providing eggs, or cows providing
  Common to both cases is a problem with misrepresentation of conditions as
"free-range". Much of what passes for free-range is hardly any better than
standard factory-farming; a visit to a large "free-range egg farm" makes
that obvious (and see MT's comments below).
  Nutritionally, free-range products are no better than their factory-farmed
equivalents, which are wholly or partly responsible for a list of diseases as
long as your arm.
  For the case of free-range animals slaughtered for use, we must ask why
should a free-range animal be any more deserving of an unnecessary death than
any other animal? Throughout this FAQ, we have argued that animals have a
right to live free from human brutality. Our brutality cannot be excused by
our provision of a short happy life. David Cowles-Hamar puts it this way:
"The suggestion that animals should pay for their freedom with their lives
is moral nonsense." Another thing to think about is the couple described
at the end of question #13. Their babies are free-range, so it's OK to
eat them, right?
  For the case of products from free-range animals, we can identify at least
four problems: 1) it remains an inefficient use of food resources, 2) it is
still environmentally damaging, 3) animals are killed off as soon as they
become "unproductive", and 4) the animals must be replaced; the nonproductive
males are killed or go to factory farms (the worst instance of this is the
fate of male calves born to dairy cows; many go for veal production).

  What's wrong with free-range eggs? To get laying hens you must have
fertile eggs and half of the eggs will hatch into male chicks. These are
killed at once (by gassing, crushing, suffocation, decompression, or
drowning), or raised as "table birds" (usually in broiler houses) and
slaughtered as soon as they reach an economic weight. So, for every
free-range hen scratching around the garden or farm (who, if she were able to
bargain, might pay rent with her daily infertile egg), a corresponding male
from her batch is enduring life in a broiler house or has already been
subjected to slaughter or thrown away to die. Every year in Britain alone,
more than 35 million day-old male chicks are killed. They are mainly used for
fertilizer or dumped in landfill sites.
  The hens are slaughtered as soon as their production drops (usually after
two years; their natural life span is 5-7 years). Also, be aware that many
sites classified as free-range aren't really free-range; they are just
massive barns with access to the outside. Since the food and light are
inside, the hens rarely venture outside.

SEE ALSO: #13, #49-#50, #52

#56  Anything wrong with honey?

  Bees are often killed in the production of honey, in the worst case the
whole hive may be destroyed if the keeper doesn't wish to protect them over
the winter. Not all beekeepers do this, but the general practice is one that
embodies the attitude that living things are mere material and have no
intrinsic value of their own other than what commercial value we can wrench
from them. Artificial insemination involving death of the male is now also
the norm for generation of new queen bees. The favored method of obtaining
bee sperm is by pulling off the insect's head (decapitation sends an
electrical impulse to the nervous system which causes sexual arousal). The
lower half of the headless bee is then squeezed to make it ejaculate. The
resulting liquid is collected in a hypodermic syringe.

SEE ALSO: #22, #39-#41

#57  Don't crop harvest techniques and transportation, etc., lead to the
    death of animals?

  The questioner's probable follow-up is to assert that since we perform
actions that result in the death of animals for producing crops, a form of
food, we should therefore not condemn actions (i.e., raising and slaughter)
that result in the death of animals for producing meat, another form of
food. How do we confront this argument?
  It is clear that incidental (or accidental, unintended) deaths of animals
result from crop agriculture. It is equally clear that intentional deaths of
animals result from animal agriculture. Our acceptance of acts that lead to
incidental deaths does not require the acceptance of acts that lead to
intentional deaths. (A possible measure of intentionality is to ask if the
success of the enterprise is measured by the extent of the result. In our
case, the success of crop agriculture is not measured by the number of
accidental deaths; in animal agriculture, conversely, the success of the
enterprise is directly measured by the number of animals produced for
slaughter and consumption.)
  Having shown that the movement from incidental to intentional is not
justified, we can still ask what justifies even incidental deaths. We must
realize that the question does not bear on Animal Rights specifically, but
applies to morality generally. The answer, stripped to its essentials, is
that the rights of innocents can be overridden in certain circumstances.
If rights are genuinely in conflict, a reasonable principle is to violate
the rights of the fewest.
  Nevertheless, when such an overriding of the rights of innocents is
done, there is a responsibility to ensure that the harm is minimized.
Certainly, crop agriculture is preferable to animal agriculture in this
regard. In the latter case, we have the added incidental harm due to
the much greater amount of crops needed to produce animals (versus feeding
the crops directly to people), AND the intentional deaths of the produced
animals themselves.
  Finally, many argue for organic and more labor-intensive methods of crop
agriculture that reduce incidental deaths. As one wag puts it, we have a
responsibility to survive, but we can also survive responsibly!

SEE ALSO: #58-#59

#58  Modern agriculture requires us to push animals off land to convert
    it to crops; isn't this a violation of the animals' rights?

  Pushing animals off their habitats to pursue agriculture is a less
serious instance of the actions discussed in question #57, which deals with
animal death as a result of agriculture. Refer to that question for
relevant discussion.
  An abiding theme is that vegetarianism versus meat eating, and crop
agriculture versus animal agriculture, tend to minimize the amount of
suffering. For example, more acreage is required to support animal
production than to support crop production (for the same nutritional
capability). Thus, animal production encroaches more on wildlife than does
crop agriculture. We cannot eliminate our adverse effects, but we can 
try to minimize them.

SEE ALSO: #57, #59

#59  Don't farmers have to kill pests?

  We could simply say that less pests are killed on a vegetarian diet and
that killing is not even necessary for pest management, but because the
issue is interesting, we answer more fully!
  This question is similar to question #57 in that the questioner's likely
follow-up is to ask why it is acceptable to kill pests for food but not to
kill animals for food. It differs from question #57 in that the defense
that the killing is incidental is not available because pests are killed
intentionally. We can respond to this argument in two ways. First, we can
argue that the killing is justifiable, and second, we can argue that it
is not necessary and should be avoided. Let's look at these in turn.
  Our moral systems typically allow for exceptions to the requirement that
we not harm others. One major exception is for self-defense. If we are
threatened, we have the right to use force to resist the threat. To the
extent that pests are a threat to our food supplies, our habitats, or
our health, we are justified in defending ourselves. We have the
responsibility to use appropriate force, but sometimes this requires
action fatal to the threatening creatures.
  Even if the killing of pests is seen as wrong despite the self-defense
argument, we can argue that crop agriculture should be preferred over
animal agriculture because it involves the minimization of the required
killing of pests (for reasons described in question #57).
  Possibly overshadowing these moral arguments, however, is the argument that
the use of pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, and herbicides is not only
not necessary but extremely damaging to the planet, and should therefore
be avoided. Let us first look at the issue of necessity, followed by the
issue of environmental damage.
  David Cowles-Hamar writes: "For thousands of years, peoples all over the
world have used farming methods based on natural ecosystems where potential
pest populations are self-regulating. These ideas are now being explored
in organic farming and permaculture." Michael W. Fox writes: "Integrated
pest management and better conservation of wilderness areas around crop lands
in order to provide natural predators for crop pests are more ecologically
sensible alternatives to the continuous use of pesticides." The point is
that there are effective alternatives to the agrichemical treadmill.
  In addition to the agricultural methods described above, many pest
problems can be prevented, certainly the most effective approach. For
example, some major pest threats are the result of accidental or intentional
human introduction of animals into a habitat. We need to be more careful
in this regard. Another example is the use of rodenticides. More effective
and less harmful to the environment would be an approach that relies on
maintenance of clean conditions, plugging of entry holes, and nonlethal
trapping followed by release into the wild.
  The effects of the intensive use of agrichemicals on the environment are
very serious. It results in nation-wide ground water pollution. It results
in the deaths of beneficial non-target species. The development of
resistant strains requires the use of stronger chemicals with resulting
more serious effects on the environment. Agrichemicals are generally more
highly concentrated in animal products than in vegetables. It is thus
enlightened self-interest to eschew animal consumption!
  Organic farming and related methods eschew agrichemicals in favor of
natural, sustainable methods.

SEE ALSO: #57-#58


#60  What is wrong with leather and how can we do without it?

  Most leather goods are made from the byproducts of the slaughterhouse, and
some is purpose-made, i.e., the animal is grown and slaughtered purely for
its skin. So, by buying leather products, you will be contributing to the
profits of these establishments and augmenting the economic demand for
  The Nov/Dec 1991 issue of the Vegetarian Journal has this to say about
leather: "Environmentally turning animal hides into leather is an energy
intensive and polluting practice. Production of leather basically involves
soaking (beamhouse), tanning, dyeing, drying, and finishing. Over 95 percent
of all leather produced in the U.S. is chrome-tanned. The effluent that must
be treated is primarily related to the beamhouse and tanning operations. The
most difficult to treat is effluent from the tanning process. All wastes
containing chromium are considered hazardous by the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA). Many other pollutants involved in the processing
of leather are associated with environmental and health risks. In terms of
disposal, one would think that leather products would be biodegradable, but
the primary function for a tanning agent is to stabilize the collagen or
protein fibers so that they are no longer biodegradable."

  For alternatives to leather, consult the excellent Leather Alternatives FAQ
maintained by Tom Swiss (

#61  I can accept that trapping is inhumane, but what about fur ranches?

  Leaving aside the raw fact that the animals must sacrifice their
lives for human vanity, we are left with many objections to fur ranching.
  A common misconception about fur "ranches" is that the animals do not
suffer. This is entirely untrue. These animals suffer a life of misery
and frustration, deprived of their most basic needs. They are kept in
wire-mesh cages that are tiny, overcrowded, and filthy. Here they are
malnourished, suffer contagious diseases, and endure severe stress.
  On these farms, the animals are forced to forfeit their natural
instincts. Beavers, who live in water in the wild, must exist on cement
floors. Minks in the wild, too, spend much of their time in water,
which keeps their salivation, respiration, and body temperature
stable.  They are also, by nature, solitary animals. However, on these
farms, they are forced to live in close contact with other animals.
This often leads to self-destructive behavior, such as pelt and tail
biting. They often resort to cannibalism.
  The methods used on these farms reflect not the interests and welfare
of the animals but the furriers' primary interest--profit.  The end of
the suffering of these animals comes only with death, which, in order
to preserve the quality of the fur, is inflicted with extreme cruelty
and brutality. Engine exhaust is often pumped into a box of animals.
This exhaust is not always lethal, and the animals sometimes writhe in
pain as they are skinned alive. Another common execution practice,
often used on larger animals, is anal electrocution. The farmers attach
clamps to an animal's lips and insert metal rods into its anus. The
animal is then electrocuted.  Decompression chambers, neck snapping,
and poison are also used.
  The raising of animals by humans to serve a specific purpose cannot
discount or excuse the lifetime of pain and suffering that these
animals endure.

  Cruelty is one fashion statement we can all do without.
				Rue McClanahan (actress)

  The recklessness with which we sacrifice our sense of decency to 
maximize profit in the factory farming process sets a pattern for cruelty 
to our own kind.
				Jonathan Kozol (author)

SEE ALSO: #12, #14, #48-#49

#62  Anything wrong with wool, silk, down?

  What's wrong with wool? Scientists over the years have bred a Merino sheep
which is exaggeratedly wrinkled. The more wrinkles, the more wool.
Unfortunately, greater profits are rarely in the sheep's best interests. In
Australia, more wrinkles mean more perspiration and greater susceptibility to
fly-strike, a ghastly condition resulting from maggot infestation in the
sweaty folds of the sheep's over-wrinkled skin. To counteract this, farmers
perform an operation without anesthetic called "mulesing", in which sections
of flesh around the anus are sliced away, leaving a painful, bloody wound.
  Without human interference, sheep would grow just enough wool to protect
them from the weather, but scientific breeding techniques have ensured that
these animals have become wool-producing monstrosities.
  Their unnatural overload of wool (often half their body weight) brings
added misery during summer months when they often die from heat exhaustion.
Also, one million sheep die in Australia alone each year from exposure to
cold after shearing.
  Every year, in Australia alone, about ten million lambs die before they
are more than a few days old. This is due largely to unmanageable numbers of
sheep and inadequate stockpersons.
  Of UK wool, 27 percent is "skin wool", pulled from the skins of slaughtered
sheep and lambs.
  What's wrong with silk? It is the practice to boil the cocoons that still
contain the living moth larvae in order to obtain the silk. This produces
longer silk threads than if the moth was allowed to emerge. The silkworm can
certainly feel pain and will recoil and writhe when injured.
  What's wrong with down? The process of live-plucking is widespread. The
terrified birds are lifted by their necks, with their legs tied, and then
have all their body feathers ripped out. The struggling geese sustain
injuries and after their ordeal are thrown back to join their fellow victims
until their turn comes round again. This torture, which has been described as
"extremely cruel" by veterinary surgeons, and even geese breeders, begins
when the geese are only eight weeks old. It is then repeated at eight-week
intervals for two or three more sessions. The birds are then slaughtered.
  The "lucky" birds are plucked dead, i.e., they are killed first and then


#63  Humans are natural hunter/gatherers; aren't you trying to repress
    natural human behavior?

  Yes. Failing to repress certain "natural behaviors" would create an
uncivilized society. Consider this: It would be an expression of natural
behavior to hunt anything that moves (e.g., my neighbor's dogs or horses)
and to gather anything I desire (e.g., my employer's money or furniture).
It would even be natural behavior to indulge in unrestrained sexual
appetites or to injure a person in a fit of rage or jealousy.
  In a civilized society, we restrain our natural impulses by two codes:
the written law of the land, and the unwritten law of morality. And this
also applies to hunting. It is unlawful in many places and at many times,
and the majority of Americans regard sport hunting as immoral.

  Many would question the supposition that humans are natural hunters.
In many societies, the people live quite happily without hunting. In
our own society, the majority do not hunt, not because they are repressing
their nature--they simply have no desire to do so. Those that do hunt often
show internal conflicts about it, as evidenced by the myths and rituals
that serve to legitimize hunting, cleanse the hunter, etc. This suggests
that hunting is not natural, but actually goes against a deeper part of
our nature, a desire not to do harm.

  The squirrel that you kill in jest, dies in earnest.
				Henry David Thoreau (essayist and poet)

SEE ALSO: #37, #64-#67

#64  The world is made up of predators and prey; aren't we just another

  No. Our behavior is far worse than that of "just another predator". We
kill others not just for nourishment but also for sport (recreation!), for
the satisfaction of our curiosity, for fashion, for entertainment, for
comfort, and for convenience. We also kill each other by the millions for
territory, wealth, and power. We often torture and torment others before
killing them. We conduct wholesale slaughter of vast proportions, on land
and in the oceans. No other species behaves in a comparable manner, and
only humans are destroying the balance of nature.
  At the same time, our killing of nonhuman animals is unnecessary, whereas
nonhuman predators kill and consume only what is necessary for their
survival. They have no choice: kill or starve.
  The one thing that really separates us from the other animals is our
moral capacity, and that has the potential to elevate us above the status
of "just another predator". Nonhumans lack this capacity, so we shouldn't
look to them for moral inspiration and guidance.

SEE ALSO: #37, #63, #67

#65  Doesn't hunting control wildlife populations that would otherwise get
    out of hand?

  Hunters often assert that their practices benefit their victims. A
variation on the theme is their common assertion that their actions keep
populations in check so that animals do not die of starvation ("a clean
bullet in the brain is preferable to a slow death by starvation"). Following
are some facts and questions about hunting and "wildlife management" that
reveal what is really happening.
  Game animals, such as deer, are physiologically adapted to cope with
seasonal food shortages. It is the young that bear the brunt of starvation.
Among adults, elderly and sick animals also starve. But the hunters do not
seek out and kill only these animals at risk of starvation; rather, they seek
the strongest and most beautiful animals (for maximum meat or trophy
potential). The hunters thus recruit the forces of natural selection against
the species that they claim to be defending.
  The hunters restrict their activities to only those species that are
attractive for their meat or trophy potential. If the hunters were truly
concerned with protecting species from starvation, why do they not perform
their "service" for the skunk, or the field mouse? And why is hunting not
limited to times when starvation occurs, if hunting has as a goal the
prevention of starvation? (The reason that deer aren't hunted in early spring
or late winter--when starvation occurs--is that the carcasses would contain
less fat, and hence, be far less desirable to meat consumers. Also, hunting
then would be unpopular to hunters due to the snow, mud, and insects.)
  So-called "game management" policies are actually programs designed
to eliminate predators of the game species and to artificially provide
additional habitat and resources for the game species. Why are these predator
species eliminated when they would provide a natural and ecologically sound
mechanism for controlling the population of game species? Why are such
activities as burning, clear-cutting, chemical defoliation, flooding, and
bulldozing employed to increase the populations of game animals, if hunting
has as its goal the reduction of populations to prevent starvation? The truth
is that the management agencies actually try to attain a maximum sustainable
yield, or harvest, of game animals.
  The wildlife managers and hunters preferentially kill male animals, a
policy designed to keep populations high. If overpopulation were really a
concern, they would preferentially kill females.
  Another common practice that belies the claim that wildlife management has
as a goal the reduction of populations to prevent starvation is the practice
of game stocking. For example, in the state of New York the Department of
Environmental Conservation obtains pheasants raised in captivity and then
releases them in areas frequented by hunters.
  For every animal killed by a hunter, two are seriously injured and left
to die a slow death. Given these statistics, it is clear that hunting fails
even in its proclaimed goal--the reduction of suffering.
  The species targeted by hunters, both the game animals and their predators,
have survived in balance for millions of years, yet now wildlife managers
and hunters insist they need to be "managed". The legitimate task of wildlife
management should be to preserve viable, natural wildlife populations and
  In addition to the animal toll, hunters kill hundreds of human beings
every year.
  Finally, there is an ethical argument to consider. Thousands of human
beings die from starvation each and every day. Should we assume that the
reader will one day be one of them, and dispatch him straight away?
Definitely not. AR ethics asserts that this same consideration should be
accorded to the deer.

  Unless hunting is part of a controlled culling process, it is unlikely to
be of benefit in any population maintenance. The number and distribution of
animals slaughtered is unrelated to any perceived maldistribution of species,
but is more closely related to the predilections of the hunters. 
  Indeed, hunting, whether for "pleasure" or profit, has a history more
closely associated with bringing animals close to, or into, extinction, rather
than protecting from overpopulation. Examples include the buffalo and the
passenger pigeon. With the advent of modern "wildlife management", we see
a transition to systems designed to artificially increase the populations
of certain species to sustain a yield or harvest for hunters.
  The need for population control of animals generally arises either from the
introduction of species that have become pests or from indigenous animals
that are competing for resources (such as the kangaroo, which competes with
sheep and cattle). These imbalances usually have a human base. It is more
appropriate to examine our resource uses and requirements, and to act more
responsibly in our relationship with the environment, than to seek a
"solution" to self-created problems through the morally dubious practice of

  ...the American public is footing the bill for predator-control programs
that cause the systematic slaughter of refuge animals. Raccoons and red fox,
squirrel and skunks are but a few of the many egg-eating predators trapped
and destroyed in the name of "wildlife management programs". Sea gulls are
shot, fox pups poisoned, and coyotes killed by aerial gunners in low-flying
aircraft. This wholesale destruction is taking place on the only Federal
lands set aside to protect America's wildlife!
				Humane Society of the United States

  The creed of maximum sustainable yield unmasks the rhetoric about "humane
service" to animals. It must be a perverse distortion of the ideal of humane
service to accept or engage in practices the explicit goal of which is to
insure that there will be a larger, rather than a smaller, number of animals
to kill! With "humane friends" like that, wild animals certainly do not need
any enemies.
				Tom Regan (philosopher and AR activist)

  The real cure for our environmental problems is to understand that our job
is to salvage Mother Nature...We are facing a formidable enemy in this
field. It is the hunters...and to convince them to leave their guns on the
wall is going to be very difficult.
				Jacques Cousteau (oceanographer) 


#66  Aren't hunting fees the major source of revenue for wildlife management
    and habitat restoration?

  We have seen in question #65 that practices described as "wildlife
management" are actually designed to increase the populations of game species
desirable to hunters. Viewed in this light, the connection between hunting
fees and the wildlife agencies looks more like an incestuous relationship
than a constructive one designed to protect the general public's interests.
Following are some more facts of interest in this regard.
  Only 7 percent of the population hunt, yet all pay via taxation for hunting
programs and services. Licenses account for only a fraction of the cost of
hunting programs at the national level. For example, the US Fish and Wildlife
Service programs get up to 90 percent of their revenues from general tax
revenues. At the state level, hunting fees make up the largest part, and a
significant part is obtained from Federal funds obtained from excise taxes on
guns and ammunition. These funds are distributed to the states based on the
number of hunters in the state! It is easy to see, then, how the programs are
designed to appease and satisfy hunters.
  It is important to remember that state game officials are appointed, not
elected, and their salaries are paid through the purchase of hunting fees.
This ensures that these officials regard the hunters as their constituents.
David Favre, Professor of Wildlife Law at the Detroit College of Law,
describes the situation as follows:

    The primary question asked by many within these special [state] agencies
    would be something like, "How do we provide the best hunting experience
    for the hunters of our state?" The literature is replete with surveys of
    hunter desires and preferences in an attempt to serve these constituents.
    ...Three factors support the status quo within the agency. First, as with
    most bureaucracies, individuals are hesitant to question their own
    on-going programs...Second, besides the normal bureaucratics, most state
    game agencies have a substantial group of individuals who are strong
    advocates for the hunters of the state. They are not neutral but very
    supportive of the hunting ethic and would not be expected to raise broader
    questions. Finally, and in many ways most importantly, is the funding
    mechanism...Since a large proportion of the funds which run the department
    and pay the salaries are from hunters and fishermen, there is a strong
    tendency for the agency to consider itself not as representing and working
    for the general public but that they need only serve their financial
    sponsors, the hunters and fishermen of the state. If your financial
    support is dependent on the activity of hunting, obviously very few are
    going to question the ecological or ethical problems therewith.

  Many would argue that these funding arrangements constitute a prostitution
of the public lands for the benefit of the few. We can envision possible
alternatives to these arrangements. Other users of parks and natural
resources, such as hikers, bird watchers, wildlife enthusiasts, eco-tourists,
etc., can provide access to funds necessary for real habitat restoration and
wildlife management, not the perverted brand that caters to the desires of
hunters. As far as acquisition and protection of land is concerned,
organizations such as the Nature Conservancy play an important role. They
can do much more with even a fraction of the funding currently earmarked to
subsidize hunting ($500 million per year).


#67  Isn't hunting OK as long as we eat what we kill?

  Some vegetarians accept that where farmers or small landholders breed,
maintain, and then kill their own livestock there is an argument for their
eating that meat. There would need, at all stages, to be a humane life and
death involved. Hunting seems not to fit within this argument because the
kill is often not "clean", and the hunter has not had any involvement in the
birth and growth of the animal.
  As the arguments in the FAQ demonstrate, however, there is a wider context
in which these actions have to be considered. Animals are sentient creatures
who share many of our characteristics. The question is not only whether it is
acceptable to eat an animal (which we perhaps hunted and killed), but if it
is an appropriate action to take--stalking and murdering another animal,
or eating the product of someone else's killing. Is it a proper action for
a supposedly rational and ethical man or woman?

  This question reminds one of question #12, where it is suggested that
killing and eating an animal is justified because the animal is raised for
that purpose. The process leading up to the eating is used to justify the
eating. In this question, the eating is used to justify the process leading
up to it. Both attempts are totally illogical. Imagine telling the police not
to worry that you have just stalked and killed a person because you ate the

SEE ALSO: #12, #21, #63-#64

#68  Fish are dumb like insects; what's wrong with fishing?

  Fish are not "dumb" except in the sense that they are unable to speak.
They have a complex nervous system based around a brain and spinal cord
similar to other vertebrates. They are not as intelligent as humans in
terms of functioning in our social and physical environment, but they are
very successful and effective in their own environment. Behavioral studies
indicate that they exhibit complex forms of learning, such as operant
conditioning, serial reversal learning, probability learning, and avoidance
learning. Many authorities doubt that there is a significant qualitative
difference between learning in fishes and that in rats.
  Many people who fish talk about the challenge of fishing, and the contest
between themselves and the fish (on a one-to-one basis, not in relation to
trawling or other net fishing). This implies an awareness and intelligence
in the hunted of a level at least sufficient to challenge the hunter. 
  The death inflicted by fishing--a slow asphyxiation either in a net or 
after an extended period fighting against a barbed hook wedged somewhere
in their head--is painful and distressing to a sentient animal. Those that
doubt that fish feel pain must explain why it is that their brains contain
endogenous opiates and receptors for them; these are accepted as mechanisms
for the attenuation of pain in other vertebrates.

  Some people believe that it is OK to catch fish as long as they are
returned to the water. But, when you think about it, it's as if one is
playing with the fish. Also, handling the fish wipes off an important
disease-fighting coating on their scales. The hook can be swallowed, leading
to serious complications, and even if it isn't, pulling it out of their mouth
leaves a lesion that is open to infection.

SEE ALSO: #22, #39


#69  Don't zoos contribute to the saving of species from extinction?

  Zoos often claim that they are "arks", which can preserve species whose
habitat has been destroyed, or which were wiped out in the wild for other
reasons (such as hunting). They suggest that they can maintain the species
in captivity until the cause of the creature's extirpation is remedied, and
then successfully reintroduce the animals to the wild, resulting in a healthy,
self-sustaining population. Zoos often defend their existence against
challenges from the AR movement on these grounds.
  There are several problems with this argument, however. First, the number
of animals required to maintain a viable gene pool can be quite high, and is
never known for certain. If the captive gene pool is too small, then
inbreeding can result in increased susceptibility to disease, birth defects,
and mutations; the species can be so weakened that it would never be viable
in the wild.
  Some species are extremely difficult to breed in captivity: marine mammals,
many bird species, and so on. Pandas, which have been the sustained focus of
captive breeding efforts for several decades in zoos around the world, are
notoriously difficult to breed in captivity. With such species, the zoos,
by taking animals from the wild to supply their breeding programs, constitute
a net drain on wild populations.
  The whole concept of habitat restoration is mired in serious difficulties.
Animals threatened by poaching (elephants, rhinos, pandas, bears and more)
will never be safe in the wild as long as firearms, material needs, and a
willingness to consume animal parts coincide. Species threatened by chemical
contamination (such as bird species vulnerable to pesticides and lead shot)
will not be candidates for release until we stop using the offending
substances, and enough time has passed for the toxins to be processed out of
the environment. Since heavy metals and some pesticides are both persistent
and bioaccumulative, this could mean decades or centuries before it is safe
to reintroduce the animals.
  Even if these problems can be overcome, there are still difficulties with
the process of reintroduction. Problems such as human imprinting, the need to
teach animals to fly, hunt, build dens, and raise their young are serious
obstacles, and must be solved individually for each species.
  There is a small limit to the number of species the global network of zoos
can preserve under even the most optimistic assumptions. Profound constraints
are imposed by the lack of space in zoos, their limited financial resources,
and the requirement that viable gene pools of each species be preserved. Few
zoos, for instance, ever keep more than two individuals of large mammal
species. The need to preserve scores or hundreds of a particular species
would be beyond the resources of even the largest zoos, and even the whole
world zoo community would be hard-pressed to preserve even a few dozen
species in this manner.
  Contrast this with the efficiency of large habitat preserves, which can
maintain viable populations of whole complexes of species with minimal human
intervention. Large preserves maintain every species in the ecosystem in a
predominantly self-sufficient manner, while keeping the creatures in the
natural habitat unmolested. If the financial resources (both government and
charitable), and the biological expertise currently consumed by zoos, were
redirected to habitat preservation and management, we would have far fewer
worries about habitat restoration or preserving species whose habitat is gone.
  Choosing zoos as a means for species preservation, in addition to being
expensive and of dubious effectiveness, has serious ethical problems. Keeping
animals in zoos harms them, by denying them freedom of movement and
association, which is important to social animals, and frustrates many of
their natural behavioral patterns, leaving them at least bored, and at worst
seriously neurotic. While humans may feel there is some justifying benefit
to their captivity (that the species is being preserved, and may someday
be reintroduced into the wild), this is no compensating benefit to the
individual animals. Attempts to preserve species by means of captivity have
been described as sacrificing the individual gorilla to the abstract Gorilla
(i.e., to the abstract conception of the gorilla).

#70  Don't animals live longer in zoos than they would in the wild?

  In some cases, this is true. But it is irrelevant. Suppose a zoo decides
to exhibit human beings. They snatch a peasant from a less-developed country
and put her on display. Due to the regular feedings and health care that the
zoo provides, the peasant will live longer in captivity. Is this practice
  A tradeoff of quantity of life versus quality of life is not always decided
in favor of quantity.

#71  How will people see wild animals and learn about them without zoos?

  To gain true and complete knowledge of wild animals, one must observe
them in their natural habitats. The conditions under which animals are
kept in zoos typically distorts their behavior significantly.
  There are several practical alternatives to zoos for educational
purposes. There are many nature documentaries shown regularly on
television as well as available on video cassettes. Specials on public
television networks, as well as several cable channels, such as The
Discovery Channel, provide accurate information on animals in their
natural habitats. Magazines such as National Geographic provide
superb illustrated articles, as well. And, of course, public libraries
are a gold-mine of information.
  Zoos often mistreat animals, keeping them in small pens or cages.
This is unfair and cruel. The natural instincts and behavior of these
animals are suppressed by force. How can anyone observe wild animals
under such circumstances and believe that one has been educated?

  All good things are wild, and free.
				Henry David Thoreau (essayist and poet)

SEE ALSO: #69-#70

#72  What is wrong with circuses and rodeos?

  To treat animals as objects for our amusement is to treat them without
the respect they deserve. When we degrade the most intelligent fellow
mammals in this way, we act as our ancestors acted in former centuries.
They knew nothing about the animals' intelligence, sensitivities,
emotions, and social needs; they saw only brute beasts. To continue such
ancient traditions, even if no cruelty were involved, means that we insist
on remaining ignorant and insensitive.
  But the cruelty does exist and is inherent in these spectacles. In
rodeos, there is no show unless the animal is frightened or in pain. In
circuses, animals suffer most before and after the show. They endure
punishment during training and are subjected to physical and emotional
hardships during transportation. They are forced to travel tens of
thousands of miles each year, often in extreme heat or cold, with tigers
living in cramped cages and elephants chained in filthy railroad cars. To
the entrepreneurs, animals are merely stock in trade, to be replaced when
they are used up.

  David Cowles-Hamar writes about circuses as follows in his "The Manual
of Animal Rights":

    Not surprisingly, a considerable amount of "persuasion" is required
    to achieve these performances, and to this end, circuses employ
    various techniques. These include deprivation of food, deprivation
    of company, intimidation, muzzling, drugs, punishment and reward
    systems, shackling, whips, electronic goads, sticks, and the noise
    of guns...Circus animals suffer similar mental and physical problems
    to zoo animals, displaying stereotypical behavior...Physical symptoms
    include shackle sores, herpes, liver failure, kidney disease, and
    sometimes death...Many of the animals become both physically and
    mentally ill.

  The American rodeo consists of roping, bucking, and steer wrestling
events. While the public witnesses only the 8 seconds or so that the
animals perform, there are hundreds of hours of unsupervised practice
sessions. Also, the stress of constant travel, often in improperly
ventilated vehicles, and poor enforcement of proper unloading, feeding,
and watering of animals during travel contribute to a life of misery for
these animals.
  As half a rider's score is based on the performance of the bucking horse
or bull, riders encourage a wild ride by tugging on a bucking strap that
is squeezed tightly around the animal's loins. Electric prods and raking
spurs are also used to stimulate wild behavior. Injuries range from
bruises and broken bones to paralysis, severed tracheas, and death. Spinal
cords of calves can be severed when forced to an abrupt stop while
traveling at 30 mph. The practice of slamming these animals to the ground
during these events has caused the rupture of internal organs, leading to a
slow, agonizing death.
  Dr. C. G. Haber, a veterinarian with thirty years experience as a meat
inspector for the USDA, says: "The rodeo folks send their animals to the
packing houses where...I have seen cattle so extensively bruised that the
only areas in which the skin was attached was the head, neck, legs, and
belly. I have seen animals with six to eight ribs broken from the spine
and at times puncturing the lungs. I have seen as much as two and three
gallons of free blood accumulated under the detached skin."

#73  But isn't it true that animals are well cared for and wouldn't
    perform if they weren't happy?

  Refer to questions #72 and #74 to see that entertainment animals are
generally not well cared for.
  For centuries people have known that punishment can induce animals to
perform. The criminal justice system is based on the human rationality in
connecting the act of a crime or wrongdoing with a punishment. Many
religions are also based, among other aspects, on a fear of punishment.
Fear leads most of us to act correctly, on the whole.
  The same is true for other animals. Many years of unnecessary and
repetitive psychology experiments with Skinner boxes (among other gadgets)
have demonstrated that animals will learn to do things, or act in certain
ways (that is, be conditioned) to avoid electric shocks or other punishment.
  Animals do need to have their basic food requirements met, otherwise they
sicken and die, but they don't need to be "happy" to perform certain acts;
fear or desire for a reward (such as food) will make them do it.

SEE ALSO: #14, #51, #72, #74

#74  What about horse or greyhound racing?

  Racing is an example of human abuse of animals merely for entertainment
and pleasure, regardless of the needs or condition of the animals. The
pleasure derives primarily from gambling on the outcome of the race. While
some punters express an interest in the animal side of the equation, most
people interested in racing are not interested in the animals but in betting;
attendance at race meetings has fallen dramatically as off-course betting
options became available.
  While some of the top dogs and horses may be kept in good conditions, for
the majority of animals, this is not the case. While minimum living standards
have to be met, other factors are introduced to gain the best performances
(or in some cases to fix a race by ensuring a loss): drugs, electrical
stimuli, whips, etc. While many of these practices are outlawed (including
dog blooding), there are regular reports of various illegal techniques being
used. Logic would suggest that where the volume of money being moved around
is as large as it is in racing, there are huge temptations to massage the
  For horses, especially, the track itself poses dangers; falls and fractures
are common in both flat and jump races. Often, lame horses are doped to
allow them to continue to race, with the risk of serious injury.
  And at the end of it all, if the animal is not a success, or does not
perform as brilliantly as hoped, it is disposed of. Horses are lucky in that
they occasionally go to a home where they are well treated and respected, but
the knackery is a common option (a knackery is a purveyor of products derived
from worn-out and old livestock). (Recently, a new practice has come to light:
owners of race horses sometimes murder horses that do not reach their
"potential", or which are past their "prime", and then file fraudulent
insurance claims.) The likely homes for a greyhound are few and far between.

  Race horses are prone to a disease called exercise-induced pulmonary
hemorrhage (EIPH). It is characterized by the presence of blood in the lungs
and windpipe of the horse following intense exercise. An Australian study
found 42 percent of 1,180 horses to be suffering from EIPH.
  A large percentage of race horses suffer from lameness. Fractures of the
knee are common, as are ligament sprain, joint sprain, and shin soreness.
  Steeple chasing is designed to make the horses fall which sometimes results
in the death of the horse either though a broken neck or an "incurable"
injury for which the horse is killed by a veterinarian.
				David Cowles-Hamar

SEE ALSO: #72-#73


#75  What about keeping pets?

  In a perfect world, all of our efforts would go toward protecting the
habitats of other species on the planet and we would be able to maintain a
"hands off" approach in which we did not take other species into our
family units, but allowed them to develop on their own in the wild. However,
we are far from such a Utopia and as responsible humans must deal with the
results of the domestication of animals. Since many animals domesticated
to be pets have been bred but have no homes, most AR supporters see
nothing wrong with having them as companion animals. As a matter of fact,
the AR supporter may well provide homes for more unwanted companion
animals than does the average person! Similarly, animals domesticated for
agricultural purposes should be cared for.
  However, animals in the wild should be left there and not brought into
homes as companions. A cage in someone's house is an unnatural
environment for an exotic bird, fish, or mammal. When the novelty wears
off, wild pets usually end up at shelters, zoos, or research labs. Wild
animals have the right to be treated with respect, and that includes
leaving them in their natural surroundings.

  A loving relationship with a proper companion animal, a relationship
that adequately provides for the animal's physical and psychological needs,
is not at all inconsistent with the principles and advocacy of animal rights.
  Indeed, animal rights advocates have been leaders in drawing attention to
some of the abuses and neglects of our "beloved" pets. Many of the taken for
granted practices do need to be reexamined and changed. The questions that
animal rights raises about companion animals are important questions:

    * Can we maintain animals as companions and still properly address their
      needs? Obviously, we can't do this for all animals. For example,
      keeping birds in cages denies those creatures their capacity and
      inherent need to fly.  

    * Is manipulating companion animals for our needs in the the best
      interests of the nonhuman animal as well? Tail docking would thus be
      a practice to condemn in this regard.

    * Might some of our taken-for-granted practices of pet keeping be really
      a form of exploitation? Animals in circuses or panhandlers using
      animals on the street to get money from passersby would arguably be
      cases of exploitation.

    * Which attitudes of human caretakers are truly expressions of our
      respect and love towards these animals, and which might not be?
      Exotic breeding is one example of this kind of abuse, especially when
      the breeding results in animals that are at a greater risk for
      certain diseases or biological defects.

  All that animal rights is really asking is that we consider more deeply
and authentically the practice at hand and whether or not it truly meets
the benchmark that BOTH the needs of human AND nonhuman animals be

  The following points should be considered when selecting a companion
  Get a companion animal appropriate to your situation--don't keep a big dog
in a flat or small garden. Don't get an animal that will be kept
unnecessarily confined--birds, fish, etc. However, it is a good policy to
try to keep cats inside as much as possible, especially at night, to protect
both the cat and local wildlife. Get your dog or cat from a local pound or
animal group; thousands of animals are destroyed each year by groups such as
the RSPCA. The majority are animals who are lost or dumped. Vicious animals
are not adopted out. By getting an animal from such a source you will be
saving its life and reducing the reliance on breeders.
  Finally, get your companion neutered. There is no behavioral or biological
benefit from being fertile or from having a litter. And every pup or kitten
that is produced will need to find a home.


#76  What about spaying and neutering?

  Ingrid Newkirk writes:

    "What's happening to our best friends should never happen even to our
    worst enemies. With an estimated 80 to 100 million cats and dogs in this
    country already, 3,000 to 5,000 more puppies and kittens are born every
    hour in the United States--far more than can ever find good homes.
    Unwanted animals are dumped at the local pound or abandoned in woods
    and on city streets, where they suffer from starvation, lack of shelter
    and veterinary care, and abuse. Most die from disease, starvation, and
    mistreatment, or, if they're lucky are 'put to sleep' forever at an
    animal shelter."

  The point is that the practice of neutering and spaying prevents far more
suffering and harm than it imposes on the neutered or spayed animals. The
net harm is minimized.



#77  What is wrong with experimentation on animals?

  The claimed large gains from using animals in research makes the practice
the most significant challenge to AR philosophy. While it is easy to dismiss
meat production as a trivial indulgence of the taste buds, such a dismissal
is not so easily accomplished for animal research.
  First, a definition. We refer to as "vivisection" any use of animals in
science or research that exploits and harms them. This definition acknowledges
that there is some research using animals that is morally acceptable under AR
philosophy (see question #80).
  The case against vivisection is built upon three planks. They are:

	PLANK A.  Vivisection is immoral and should be abolished.
	PLANK B.  Abolition of vivisection is not antiscience or
	PLANK C.  The consequences of abolition are acceptable.

  It is easy to misunderstand the AR philosophy regarding vivisection. Often,
scientists will debate endlessly about the scientific validity of research,
and sometimes AR people engage in those debates. Such issues are part of
PLANK C, which asserts that much research is misleading, wrong, or misguided.
However, the key to the AR position is PLANK A, which asserts an objection to
vivisection on ethical grounds. We seek to reassure people about the effects
abolition will have on future medical progress via PLANKS B and C.
  In the material that follows, each piece of text is identified with a
preceding tag such as [PLANK A]. The idea is to show how the text fragments
fit into the overall case. There is some overlap between PLANKs B and C, so
the assignment may look arbitrary in a few cases.

  Over 100 million animals are used in experiments worldwide every year.
A few of the more egregious examples of vivisection may be enlightening for
the uninformed (taken from R. Ryder's "Victims of Science"):

*   Psychologists gave electric shocks to the feet of 1042 mice. They
    then caused convulsions by giving more intense shocks through
    cup-shaped electrodes applied to the animals' eyes or through spring
    clips attached to their ears.

*   In Japan, starved rats with electrodes in their necks and electrodes
    in their eyeballs were forced to run in treadmills for four hours at
    a time.

*   A group of 64 monkeys was addicted to drugs by automatic injection in 
    their jugular veins. When the supply of drugs was abruptly withdrawn,
    some of the monkeys were observed to die in convulsions. Before dying,
    some monkeys plucked out all their hair or bit off their own fingers
    and toes.

  Basic ethical objections to this type of "science" are presented here
and in questions #79 and #85. Some technical objections are found in
questions #78 and #80. Question #92 contains a list of books on vivisection;
refer to them for further examples of the excesses of vivisection, as well
as more detailed discussion of its technical merits.
  VIVISECTION TREATS ANIMALS AS TOOLS. Vivisection effectively reduces
sentient beings to the status of disposable tools, to be used and discarded
for the benefit of others. This forgets that each animal has an inherent
value, a value that does not rise and fall depending on the interests of
others. Those doubting this should ponder the implications of their views
for humans: would they support the breeding of human slaves for the exclusive
use of experimenters?
  VIVISECTION IS SPECIESIST. Most animal experimenters would not use
nonconsenting humans in invasive research. In making this concession, they
reveal the importance they attach to species membership, a biological line
that is as morally relevant as that of race or gender, that is, not relevant
at all.
  VIVISECTION DEMEANS SCIENCE. Its barbaric practices are an insult to those
who feel that science should provide humans with the opportunity to rise
above the harsher laws of nature.
  The words of Tom Regan summarize the feelings of many AR activists: "The
laudatory achievements of science, including the many genuine benefits
obtained for both humans and animals, do not justify the unjust means used
to secure them. As in other cases, so in the present one, the rights view
does not call for the cessation of scientific research. Such research
should go on--but not at the expense of laboratory animals."

  Atrocities are not less atrocities when they occur in laboratories and
are called medical research.
				George Bernard Shaw (playwright, Nobel 1925)

  Vivisection is the blackest of all the black crimes that a man is at
present committing against God and his fair creation.
				Mahatma Gandhi (statesman and philosopher)

  What I think about vivisection is that if people admit that they have the
right to take or endanger the life of living beings for the benefit of many,
there will be no limit for their cruelty.
				Leo Tolstoy (author)

  I am not interested to know whether vivisection produces results that
are profitable to the human race or doesn't...The pain which it inflicts
upon unconsenting animals is the basis of my enmity toward it, and
it is to me sufficient justification of the enmity without looking
				Mark Twain (author)

SEE ALSO: #78-#82, #85-#86

#78  Do AR people accept that vivisection has led to valuable medical

  AR advocates generally believe that vivisection has played a contributing,
if not necessarily essential, role in some valuable medical advances.
However, AR philosophy asserts that the end does not justify the means, and
that therefore the answer cannot decide the legitimacy of the stance against

  That said, many people, including former vivisectors and medical historians,
will readily state that there is ample scientific and historical evidence
showing that most vivisection is futile, and often harmful to those it 
pretends to serve. 
  On statistical grounds, vivisection does not deliver: despite the use of
144,000,000 animals in Britain since 1950, life-expectancy in Britain for the
middle-aged has not changed since this date. Some 85 percent of the lab
animals killed between the 1890s and the 1990s died after 1950, but the fall 
in death rate during these 100 years was 92 percent complete by 1950.
  Consider, for a specific example, these figures for cancer:

              [FOR THOSE > 100 PER MILLION]
Cancer type     1971-1975       1976-1980       % change
Bladder             118             123           +  4.2
Pancreas            118             125           +  5.9
Prostate            177             199           + 12.4
Stomach             298             278           -  6.7
Colorectal          311             320           +  2.9
Lung, Trachea,      1091            1125          +  3.1
[data for women excised for space reasons]

Gains in the war against cancer are sadly lacking, despite the vast numbers of
animals sacrificed for cancer research. 
  When such analyses are performed across the spectrum of health issues, it
becomes clear that, at best, the contribution of vivisection to our health
must be considered quite modest. The dramatic declines in death rates for old
killer diseases, such as, tuberculosis, pneumonia, typhoid, whooping cough, 
and cholera, came from improvements in housing, in working conditions, in the
quantity and quality of food and water supplies, and in hygiene. Chemotherapy
and immunization cannot logically be given much credit here, since they only 
became available, chronologically, after most of the declines were achieved.
  Consider the particular example of penicillin: it was discovered
accidentally by Fleming in 1928. He tested on rabbits, and when they failed
to react (we now know that they excrete penicillin rapidly), he lost interest
in his substance. Still, two scientists followed up on his work, successfully
tried on mice and stated:

    "...mice were tried in the initial toxicity tests because of their small
    size, but what a lucky chance it was, for in this respect man is like the
    mouse and not the guinea pig. If we had used guinea pigs exclusively we
    should have said that the penicillin was toxic, and we probably should not
    have proceeded to try to overcome the difficulties of producing the
    substance for trial in man."

Vivisection generally fails because: 

    * Human medicine cannot be based on veterinary medicine. This is because
      animals are different histologically, anatomically, genetically,
      immunologically, and physiologically.

    * Animals and humans react differently to substances. For example, some
      drugs are carcinogenic in humans but not in animals, or vice-versa.

    * Naturally occurring diseases (e.g., in patients) and artificially
      induced diseases (e.g., in lab animals) often differ substantially. 

All this manifests itself in examples such as the one below:

Chemical        Teratogen (i.e., causes birth defects)
                     yes                  no

aspirin         rats, mice, monkeys,    humans
                guinea pigs, cats,      

aminopterin     humans                  monkeys

azathioprine    rabbits                 rats

caffeine        rats, mice              rabbits

cortisone       mice, rabbits           rats

thalidomide     humans                  rats, mice,
triamcilanone   mice                    humans


  There are countless examples, old and recent, of the misleading effects
of vivisection, and there are countless statements from reputable scientists
who see vivisection for what it is: bad science. Following are just a few of

  The uselessness of most of the animal models is less well-known. For
example, the discovery of chemotherapeutic agents for the treatment of human
cancer is widely heralded as a triumph due to use of animal model systems.
However, here again, these exaggerated claims are coming from or are endorsed
by the same people who get the federal dollars for animal research. There is 
little, if any, factual evidence that would support these claims. Indeed while
conflicting animal results have often delayed and hampered advances in the war
on cancer, they have never produced a single substantial advance in the
prevention or treatment of human cancer. For instance, practically all of the 
chemotherapeutic agents which are of value in the treatment of human cancer
were found in a clinical context rather than in animal studies.
				Dr. Irwin Bross
				1981 Congressional testimony

  Indeed even while these [clinical] studies were starting, warning voices
were suggesting that data from research on animals could not be used to
develop a treatment for human tumors.
				British Medical Journal, 1982

  Vivisection is barbaric, useless, and a hindrance to scientific progress.
				Dr. Werner Hartinger
				Chief Surgeon, West Germany, 1988

  ...many vivisectors still claim that what they do helps save human lives.
They are lying. The truth is that animal experiments kill people, and animal
researchers are responsible for the deaths of thousands of men, women and 
children every year.
				Dr. Vernon Coleman
				Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine, UK

#79  How can you justify losing medical advances that would save human
    lives by stopping vivisection?

  The same way we justify not performing forcible research on unwilling
humans! A lot of even more relevant information is currently foregone
owing to our strictures against human experimentation. If life-saving
medical advances are to be sought at all cost, why should nonhuman animals
be singled out for ill-treatment? We must accept that there is such a
thing as "ill-gotten gains", and that the potential fruits of vivisection
qualify as such.
  This question might be regarded as a veiled insult to the creativity
and resourcefulness of scientists. Although humans have never set foot on
Pluto, scientists have still garnered a lot of valuable scientific
information concerning it. Why couldn't such feats of ingenuity be repeated
in other fields?

  Forcible experimentation on humans is not the only alternative.  Many
humans would be glad to participate in experiments that offer the hope of
a cure for their afflictions, or for the afflictions of others. If
individual choice were allowed, there might be no need for animal
experimentation. The stumbling block is government regulations that forbid
these choices. Similarly, government regulations are the reason many
animals are sacrificed for product testing, often unnecessarily.

SEE ALSO: #77-#78, #80-#82, #85-#86

#80  Aren't there instances where there are no alternatives to the use
    of animals?

  The reply to the question here is succinct: "If so, so what?". Let us recall
that we are happy enough (today) to forego knowledge that would be acquired
at the expense of commandeering humans into service, and that we include
children, the mentally diminished and even people suffering from types of
disease for which animal models are unsatisfactory (such as AIDS). That is,
a prior ethical decision was made that rules them out from experimentation,
and that foregoes any potential knowledge so derived.
  Now the Animal Rights argument is consistent: since no morally relevant
difference can be produced that separates humans spared experimentation from
test animals (those that are subjects-of-a-life), vivisection is exposed as
immoral, and the practice must be abandoned.
  Just as the insights offered by the Nazis' experiments on concentration
camp prisoners were morally illicit, so are any and all benefits traceable to
vivisection. As Tom Regan put it:

    "Since, whatever our gains, they are ill-gotten, we must bring an end to
    [such] research, whatever our losses." 

The argument above makes the search for alternatives morally imperative, and
if it is objected that this "just isn't possible", one should reply that
belittling the ingenuity of scientists will not do. There have been cases 
where alternatives to vivisection had to be sought, and--of course--they were
found. For example, Sharpe writes in The Human Cost of Animal Experimentation:
"Historically, a classic example is the conquest of yellow fever. In 1900, no
animal was known to be susceptible, prompting studies with human volunteers
which proved that mosquitoes did indeed transmit the disease. These
observations led to improved sanitation and quarantine measures in Havana
where yellow fever, once rife, was eradicated."

  We now cite a few alternatives to animal models of human diseases. Two
traditional types are: a) Clinical studies: these are essential for a
thorough understanding of any disease. Anesthetics, artificial respiration,
the stethoscope, electrocardiographs, blood pressure measurements, etc.,
resulted from careful clinical studies. b) Epidemiology studies: i.e., the
study of diseases of whole populations. They, and not animal tests, have
identified most of the substances known to cause cancer in humans. Typical
example: Why is cancer of the colon so frequent in Europe and North America,
infrequent in Japan, but common in Japanese immigrants to North America?
  More recent technological advances now allow a host of other investigative
methods to be applied, including:

    * Tissue cultures: Human cells and tissues can be kept alive in cultures
      and used for biomedical research. Since human material is used,
      extrapolation problems are short-circuited. Such cultures have been
      used in cancer research by FDA scientists, for example, and according
      to them: "[they] offer the possibility of studying not only the biology
      of cancer cell growth and invasion into normal human tissue, but also
      provide a method for evaluating the effects of a variety of potentially
      important antitumor agents."

    * Physico-chemical methods: For example, liquid chromatographs and mass
      spectrophotometers allow researchers to identify substances in
      biological substances. For example, a bioassay for vitamin D used to
      involve inducing rickets in rats and feeding them vitamin-D-rich
      substances. Now, liquid chromatography allows such bioassays to be
      conducted quicker and at reduced cost. 

    * Computer simulations: According to Dr. Walker at the University of
      Texas: "... computer simulations offer a wide range of advantages over
      live animal experiments in the physiology and pharmacology laboratory.
      These include: savings in animal procurement and housing costs; nearly 
      unlimited availability to meet student schedules; the opportunity to
      correct errors and repeat parts of the experiment performed incorrectly
      or misinterpreted; speed of operation and efficient use of students'
      time and consistency with knowledge learned elsewhere."

    * Computer-aided drug design: Such methods have been used in cancer and
      sickle-cell anemia drug research, for example. Here, 3D computer
      graphics and the theoretical field of quantum pharmacology are combined
      to help in designing drugs according to required specifications.

    * Mechanical models: For example, an artificial neck has been developed
      by General Motors for use in car-crash simulations. Indeed, the
      well-known "crash dummies" are much more accurate and effective than
      the primates previously employed.

This list is by no means exhaustive.

  There are instances where the benefits of experimentation accrue directly
to the individual concerned; for example, the trial of a new plastic heart
may be proposed to someone suffering from heart disease, or a new surgical
technique may be attempted to save a nonhuman animal. This may qualify, in
the mind of the questioner, as an instance of use of animals. The position
here is simple: The Animal Rights position does not condemn experimentation 
where it is conducted for the benefit of the individual patient. Clinical
trials of new drugs, for example, often fall in this category, and so does
some veterinary research, such as the clinical study of already sick animals.
Another example of acceptable animal research is ethology, i.e. the study 
of animals in their natural habitat. 

  Following is a list of alternatives to much, if not all, vivisection:

    * Cell, tissue, and organ cultures
    * Clinical observation
    * Human volunteers (sick and well)
    * Autopsies
    * Material from natural deaths
    * Noninvasive imaging in clinical settings
    * Post-market surveillance
    * Statistical inference
    * Computer models
    * Substitution with plants

  These alternatives, and others not yet conceived, will ensure that
scientific research will not come to a halt upon abolition of vivisection.

#81  But what if animals also benefit, e.g., through advance of veterinary

  The Animal Rights philosophy is species-neutral, so the arguments developed
elsewhere in this section apply with equal force. The immorality of
rights-violative practices is not attenuated by claiming that the victims
and beneficiaries are of the same species.

#82  Should people refuse medical treatments obtained through vivisection?

  This is a favorite question for the defenders of vivisection. The
implication is that the AR position is inconsistent or irrational because
AR people partake of some fruits of vivisection.
  As a first answer, we can point out that for existing treatments derived
from vivisection, the damage has already been done. Nothing is gained by
refusing the treatment. Vivisectors counter that the situation is analogous
to our refusal to eat meat sold at the grocery; the damage has been done,
so why not eat the meat? But there is a crucial difference. Knowledge is
a permanent commodity; unlike meat, it is abstract, it doesn't rot. Consider
a piece of knowledge obtained through vivisection. If vivisection were
abolished, the knowledge could be used repeatedly without endorsing or
further supporting vivisection. With meat consumption, the practice of
slaughter must continue if the fruits are to continue to be enjoyed.
  Another point is that, had the vivisection not occurred, the knowledge
might well have been obtained through alternative, moral methods. Are we
to permanently foreclose the use of an abstract piece of knowledge due to the
past folly of a vivisector? The same cannot be said of meat; it cannot be
obtained without slaughter.
  If the reader finds this unpersuasive, she should consider that the AR
movement sincerely wants to abolish vivisection, eliminating ill-gotten
fruits. If this is achieved, the original question becomes moot, because
there will be no such fruits.

  This is another "where should I draw the line" question, with the added
twist that one's personal health may be on the line. As such, the right
answer is likely to depend a good deal on personal circumstances and judgment.
It is certainly beyond the call of duty to make an absolute pledge, since the
principle of self-defense may ultimately apply (particularly in life-or death
cases). Still, many people will be prepared to make statements against animal 
oppression, even at considerable cost to their well-being. For these, the
following issues might be worth considering.

OF THE TREATMENT? Most treatments owe nothing to animal experimentation at
all, or were developed in spite of animal experimentation rather than thanks
to it.
  Insulin is one good example. The really important discoveries did not
proceed from the celebrated experiments of Banting and Best on dogs but from
clinical discoveries: According to Dr. Sharpe: "The link between diabetes and
the pancreas was first demonstrated by Thomas Cawley in 1788 when he examined
a patient who had died from the disease. Further autopsies confirmed that
diabetes is indeed linked with degeneration of the pancreas but, partly
because physiologists, including the notorious Claude Bernard, had failed to
produce a diabetic state in animals...the idea was not accepted for many
years." One had to wait until 1889 for the link to be accepted, the date at
which two researchers, Mering and Minkowski, managed to induce a form of
diabetes in dogs by removing their entire pancreas. Autopsies further
revealed that some parts of the pancreas of diabetics were damaged, giving
birth to the idea that administering pancreatic extracts to patients might
  Other examples of treatments owing nothing to vivisection include the heart
drug digitalis, quinine (used against malaria), morphine (a pain killer),
ether (an anesthetic), sulfanilimide (a diuretic), cortisone (used to relieve
arthritic pains, for example), aspirin, fluoride (in toothpastes), etc.
  Incidentally, some of these indisputably useful drugs would find it hard
to pass these so-called animal safety tests. Insulin causes birth defects in
chickens, rabbits, and mice but not in man; morphine sedates man but
stimulates cats; doses of aspirin used in human therapeutics poison cats (and 
do nothing for fever in horses); the widespread use of digitalis was slowed
down by confounding results from animal studies (and legitimized by clinical
studies, as ever), and so on.
  IS THE TREATMENT REALLY SAFE? The nefarious effects of many newly-developed,
"safe" compounds often take some time to be acknowledged. For example, even
serious side-effects can sometimes go under-reported. In the UK, only a dozen
of the 3500 deaths eventually linked to the use of isoprenaline aerosol
inhalers were reported by doctors. Similarly, it took 4 years for
the side-effects of the heart drug Eraldine (which included eye damage) to be
acknowledged. The use of these drugs were, evidently, approved following
extensive animal testing.
  WILL THE TREATMENT REALLY HELP? This question is not as incongruous as it
may appear. A 1967 official enquiry suggested that one third of the most
prescribed drugs in the UK were "undesirable preparations". Many new drugs
provide no advantage over existing compounds: in 1977, the US FDA released a
study of 1,935 drugs introduced up to April 1977 which suggested that 79.4
percent of them provided "little or no [therapeutic] gain". About 80 percent
of new introductions in the UK are reformulations, or duplications of
existing drugs. A 1980 survey by the Medicines Division of UK Department for 
Health and Social Security states : "[new drugs] have largely been introduced
into therapeutic areas already heavily oversubscribed and...for conditions
which are common, largely chronic and occur principally in the affluent
Western society. Innovation is therefore largely directed toward commercial
returns rather than therapeutic needs."

  ARE THERE ALTERNATIVES TO THE TREATMENT? A better appreciation of the
benefits of "alternative" practices has developed in recent years. Often,
dietary or lifestyle changes can be effective treatments on their own. 
Adult-onset diabetes has been linked to obesity, for instance, and can often
be cured simply by weight-loss and sensible dieting. Other types of
alternative medicine, such as acupuncture, have proven useful in stress
relief, and against insomnia and back pains. 

  In modern society, I think it would be almost impossible NOT to use medical
information gained through animal research at some stage--drug testing being
the most obvious consideration--without opting out of health care altogether.
It is important, therefore, that we emphasize the need to stop now. The past
is irretrievable.

#83  Farmers have to kill pests to protect our food supply. Given that,
    what's wrong with killing a few more rats for medical research?

  First, we object to the casual attitude of the questioner to the killing
of rights holders. A nonspeciesist philosophy, such as that of Animal Rights,
sees that as no different from suggesting: 

    Humans are killed legitimately every day. Given that, what's wrong with
    killing a few more humans for medical research? 

  Hopefully, the reply is now obvious: in the original question, the fate
of pests is an irrelevant consideration (here), and the case for the
liberation of laboratory animals must be evaluated on its own. Seeking to
dilute a number of immoral killings into a greater number of arguably
defensible ones is a creative but illogical attempt at ethical reasoning.


#84  What about dissection; isn't it necessary for a complete education?

  Dissection refers to the practice of performing exploratory surgery on
animals (both killed and live) in an educational context. The average
person's experience of this practice consists of dissecting a frog in
a high-school biology class, but fetal chipmunks, mice, rabbits, dogs,
cats, pigs, and other animals are also used.
  Dissection accounts for the death of about 7 million animals per year.
Many of these animals are bred in factory-farm conditions. Others are
taken from their natural habitats. Often, strayed companion animals end
up in the hands of dissectors. These animals suffer from inhumane
confinement and transport, and are finally killed by means of gassing,
neck-snapping, and other "inexpensive" methods.
  The practice of dissection is repulsive to many students and
high-schoolers have begun to speak out against it. Some have even engaged
in litigation (and won!) to assert a right to not participate in such
unnecessary cruelty. California has a law giving students (through high
school) the right to refuse dissection. The law requires an alternative to
be offered and that the student suffer no sanctions for exercising this
  Having dealt with the sub-question "What is dissection?", let's
consider whether it is necessary for a complete education.

  There are several very effective alternatives to dissection. In some
cases, these alternatives are more effective than dissection itself.
Larger-than-life models, films and videos, and computer simulations are
all viable methods of teaching biological principles. The latter option,
computer simulation, has the advantage of offering an additional
interactive facility that has shown great value in other educational
contexts. These alternative methods are often cheaper than the traditional
practice of dissection. A computer program can be used indefinitely for
a one-time purchase cost; the practice of dissection presents an ongoing
  In view of these effective alternatives, and the economic gains associated
therewith, the practice of dissection begins to look more and more like
a rite of passage into the world of animal abuse, almost a fraternity
initiation for future vivisectors. This practice desensitizes
students to animal suffering and teaches them that animals can be
used and discarded without respect for their lives. Is this the kind of
lesson we want to teach our children?

  Dissecting animals is often described as necessary for the complete
education of surgeons. This is nonsense. Numerous surgeons have stated
that practicing on animals does not provide adequate skills for human
surgery. For example, dogs are the favorite test animal of surgery
students, yet their body shape is different, the internal arrangement of
their organs is different, the elasticity of their tissues under the scalpel
is different, and postoperative effects are different (they are less prone
to infection, for one thing). Also, many surgeons have suggested that
practicing on animals may induce in the mind of the student a casual 
attitude to suffering.
  Following are the thoughts of several prestigious surgeons on this issue.

  ...wounds of animals are so different from those of [humans] that the
conclusions of vivisection are absolutely worthless. They have done far
more harm than good in surgery. 
				Lawson Tait

  Any person who had to endure certain experiments carried out on animals
which perish slowly in the laboratories would regard death by burning at the
stake as a happy deliverance. Like every one else in my profession, I used
to be of the opinion that we owe nearly all our knowledge of medical and 
surgical science to animal experiments. Today I know that precisely the
opposite is the case. In surgery especially, they are of no help to the
practitioner, indeed he is often led astray by them. 
				Professor Bigelow

  ...the aim should be to train the surgeon using human patients by moving
gradually from stage to stage of difficulty and explicitly rejecting the
acquisition of skills by practicing on animals...which is useless and 
dangerous in the training of a thoracic surgeon.
				Professor R. J. Belcher

  Practice on dogs probably makes a good veterinarian, if that is the kind
of practitioner you want for your family. 
				William Held

[End surgeon quotes]

  Animal life, somber mystery. All nature protests against the
barbarity of man, who misapprehends, who humiliates, who tortures
his inferior brethren.
				Jules Michelet (historian)

  Mutilating animals and calling it 'science' condemns the human species
to moral and intellectual hell...this hideous Dark Age of the mindless
torture of animals must be overcome.
				Grace Slick (musician)

SEE ALSO: #77-#81, #92

#85  What is wrong with product testing on animals?

  The practice of product testing on animals treats animals as discardable
and renewable resources, as replaceable clones with no individual lives,
no interests, and no aspirations of their own. It callously enlists
hapless creatures into the service of humans. It assumes that the risks
incurred by one class of individuals can be forcibly transferred onto
  Product testing is also unbelievably cruel. One notorious method of
testing is the Draize irritancy test, in which potentially harmful
products are dripped into the eyes of test animals (usually rabbits). The
harmfulness of the product is then (subjectively) assessed depending on
the size of the area injured, the opacity of the cornea, and the degree
of redness, swelling and discharge of the conjunctivae, and in more
severe cases, on the blistering or gross destruction of the cornea.

  The use of animals in medicine is often challenged on scientific
grounds, and product tests are no exception. For example, one widely used
test is the so-called LD50 (Lethal Dose 50 percent) test. The toxicity level
of a product is assessed by force-feeding it to a number of animals until 50
percent of them die. Death may come after a few days or weeks, and is often
preceded by convulsions, vomiting, breathing difficulties, and more. Often,
this test reveals nothing at all; animals die simply because of the volume
of product administered, through the rupture of internal organs.
  How such savage practices could provide any useful data is a mystery, and
not just to AR activists. It is seen as dubious by many toxicologists, and
even by some Government advisers. Animal models often produce misleading
results, or produce no useful results at all, and product testing is no
exception. One toxicologist writes: "It is surely time, therefore, that we
ceased to use as an index of the toxic action of food additives the LD50
value, which is imprecise (varying considerably with different species, with
different strains of the same species, with sex, with nutritional status,
environmental status, and even with the concentration at which the substance
is administered) and which is valueless in the planning of further studies."

  The truth is that animal lives could be spared in many ways. For example,
duplication of experiments could be avoided by setting up databases of
results. Also, a host of humane alternatives to such tests are already
available, and the considerable sums spent on breeding or keeping test
animals could be usefully redirected into researching new ones.

  The animal rights view calls for the abolition of all animal toxicity
tests. Animals are not our tasters. We are not their kings.
				Tom Regan (philosopher and AR activist)


#86  How do I know if a product has been tested on animals?

  There are two easy ways to determine whether a product uses animal products
or is tested on animals. First, most companies provide a toll-free telephone
number for inquiring about their products. This is the most reliable method
for obtaining up-to-date information. Second, several excellent guides are
available that provide listings of companies and products. The section
entitled "Guides, Handbooks, and Reference" in question #92 lists several
excellent guides to cruelty-free shopping. For maximum convenience, you can
obtain a wallet-sized listing from PETA. Send a stamped, self-addressed
envelope with your request for the "PETA Cruelty-Free Shopping Guide" to
PETA, P.O. Box 42516, Washington, DC 20015.
  Another thing to think about is the possibility of avoiding products by
making safe, ecologically sound alternative products yourself! Several of
the guides described in question #92 explain how to do this.

SEE ALSO: #85, #92


#87  What are the forms of animal rights activism?

  Let us first adopt a broad definition of activism as the process
of acting in support of a cause, as opposed to privately lamenting
and bemoaning the current state of affairs. Given that, AR activism
spans a broad spectrum, with relatively simple and innocuous actions
at one end, and difficult and politico-legally charged actions at the
other. Each individual must make a personal decision about where
to reside on the spectrum. For some, forceful or unlawful action is
a moral imperative; others may condemn it, or it may be impractical
(for example, a lawyer may serve animals better through the legislative
process than by going on raids and possibly getting disbarred).
Following is a brief sampling of AR activism, beginning at
the low end of the spectrum.
  The spectrum of action can be divided conveniently into four zones:
personal actions, proselytizing, organizing, and civil disobedience.
Consider first personal actions. Here are some of the personal actions
you can take in support of AR:

   Learning -- Educate yourself about the issues involved.
   Vegetarianism and Veganism -- Become one.
   Cruelty-Free Shopping -- Avoid products involve testing on animals.
   Cruelty-Free Fashion -- Avoid leather and fur.
   Investing with Conscience -- Avoid companies that exploit animals.
   Animal-Friendly Habits -- Avoid pesticides, detergents, etc.
   The Golden Rule -- Apply it to all creatures and live by it.

  Proselytizing is the process of "spreading the word". Here are some of
the ways that it can be done:

   Tell your family and friends about your beliefs.
   Write letters to lawmakers, newspapers, magazines, etc.
   Write books and articles.
   Create documentary films and videos.
   Perform leafletting and "tabling".
   Give lectures at schools and other organizations.
   Speak at stockholders' meetings.
   Join Animal Review Committees that oversee research on animals.
   Picket, boycott, demonstrate, and protest.

  Organizing is a form of meta-proselytizing--helping others to spread
the word. Here are some of the ways to do it:

   Join an AR-related organization.
   Contribute time and money to an AR-related organization.
   Found an AR organization.
   Get involved in politics or law and act directly for AR.

  The last category of action, civil disobedience, is the most
contentious and the remaining questions in this section deal further
with it. Some draw the line here; others do not. It is a personal
decision. Here are some of the methods used to more forcefully assert
the rights of animals:

   Sit-ins and occupations.
   Obstruction and harassment of people in their animal-exploitation
     activities (e.g., foxhunt sabotage). The idea is to make it more
     difficult and/or embarrassing for people to continue these
   Spying and infiltration of animal-exploitation industries and
     organizations. The information and evidence gathered can be
     a powerful weapon for AR activists.
   Destruction of property related to exploitation and abuse of
     animals (laboratory equipment, meat and clothes in stores, etc.).
     The idea is to make it more costly and less profitable for these
     animal industries.
   Sabotage of the animal-exploitation industries (e.g., destruction
     of vehicles and buildings). The idea is to make the activities
   Raids on premises associated with animal exploitation (to gather
     evidence, to sabotage, to liberate animals).

  It can be seen from the foregoing material that AR activism spans a
wide range of activities that includes both actions that would be
conventionally regarded as law-abiding and non-threatening, and actions
that are unlawful and threatening to the animal-exploitation industries.
Most AR activism falls into the former category and, indeed, one can
support these actions while condemning the latter category of actions.
People who are thinking, with some trepidation, of going for the first
time to a meeting of an AR group need have no fear of finding themselves
involved with extremists, or of being coerced into extreme activism.
They would find a group of exceedingly law-abiding computer programmers,
teachers, artists, etc. (The extreme activists are essentially unorganized
and cannot afford to meet in public groups due to the unwelcome attention
of law-enforcement agencies.)

  One person can make all the difference in the world...For the first time in
recorded human history, we have the fate of the whole planet in our hands.
				Chrissie Hynde (musician)

  This is the true joy in life; being used for a purpose recognized by
yourself as a mighty one, and being a force of nature instead of a
feverish, selfish little clod.
				George Bernard Shaw (playwright, Nobel 1925)

  Nothing is more powerful than an individual acting out of his
conscience, thus helping to bring the collective conscience to life.
				Norman Cousins (author)

SEE ALSO: #5, #88-#93, #95

#88  Isn't liberation just a token action because there is no way to give
    homes to all the animals?

  If one thinks of a liberation action solely in terms of liberation goals,
there is some validity in viewing it as a token, or symbolic, action. It
is true that liberation actions could not succeed applied en masse,
because there aren't enough homes for all the animals, and even if
there were, distribution channels do not exist for relocating them.
Having said this, however, one needs to remember that for the few
animals that are liberated, the action is far from a token one. There
is a world of difference between spending one's life in a loving home
or a sanctuary and spending it imprisoned in a cage waiting for a
brutal end.
  Liberation actions need to be viewed with a less literal mind set. As
Peter Singer points out, raids are effective in obtaining evidence of
animal abuse that could not otherwise have come to light. For example,
a raid on Thomas Gennarelli's laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania
obtained videotapes that convinced the Secretary for Health and Human
Services to stop his experiments.
  One might also bear in mind that symbolic actions have been some of
the most powerful ones seen throughout history.

  All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men
to do nothing.
				Edmund Burke (statesman and author)

SEE ALSO: #89-#91

#89  Isn't AR activism terrorism because it harasses people, destroys
    property, and threatens humans with injury or death?

  The answer to question #87 should make it clear that most AR activism
cannot be described as extreme and, furthermore, that not even all
acts described as extreme could be thought of as "terrorism". For
example, a peaceful sit-in is highly unlikely to put others in a
state of intense fear. Thus, it is not correct to characterize AR
activism generally as terrorism.
  One of the fundamental guidelines of the extreme activists is that
great care must be taken not to inflict harm in carrying out the acts.
This has been borne out in practice. On the very rare occasions when
harm has occurred, the mainstream AR groups have condemned the acts.
In some cases, the authors of the acts have been suspected to be those
allied against the AR movement; their motives would not require deep
thought to decipher.
  The dictionary defines "terrorism" as the systematic use of violence
or acts that instill intense fear to achieve an end. Certainly,
harassment of fur wearers, or shouting "meat is murder" outside a
butcher shop, could not be considered to be terrorism. Even destruction
of property would not qualify under the definition if it is
done without harming others. Certainly, the Boston Tea Party raiders
did not consider themselves terrorists.
  The real terrorists are the people and industries that inflict pain
and suffering on millions of innocent animals for trivial purposes each
and every day. 

  If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behavior.
				Henry David Thoreau (essayist and poet)

  I am in earnest--I will not equivocate--I will not excuse--I will not
retreat a single inch and I will be heard.
				William Lloyd Garrison (author)

SEE ALSO: #87-#88, #90-#91

#90  Isn't extreme activism involving breaking the law (e.g., destruction
    of property) wrong?

  Great men and women have demonstrated throughout history that laws
can be immoral, and that we can be justified in breaking them. Those
who object to law-breaking under all circumstances would have to

    The Tiananmen Square demonstrators.
    The Boston Tea Party participants.
    Mahatma Gandhi and his followers.
    World War II resistance fighters.
    The Polish Solidarity Movement.
    Vietnam War draft card burners.

The list could be continued almost indefinitely. 
  Conversely, laws sometimes don't reflect our moral beliefs. After
World War II, the allies had to hastily write new laws to fully prosecute
the Nazi war criminals at Nuremburg. Dave Foreman points out that there
is a distinction to be made between morality and the statutes of a
government in power.
  It could be argued that the principle we are talking about does not apply.
Specifically, the law against destruction of property is not immoral,
and we therefore should not break it. However, a related principle can
be asserted. If a law is invoked to defend immoral practices, or to
attempt to limit or interfere with our ability to fight an immoral
situation, then justification might be claimed for breaking that law.
  In the final analysis, this is a personal decision for each person
to make in consultation with their own conscience.

  Certainly one of the highest duties of the citizen is a scrupulous
obedience to the laws of the nation. But it is not the highest duty.
				Thomas Jefferson (3rd U.S. President)

  I say, break the law.
				Henry David Thoreau (essayist and poet)

SEE ALSO: #89, #91

#91  Doesn't extreme activism give the AR movement a bad name?

  This is a significant argument that must be thoughtfully considered.
In essence, the argument says that if your actions can be characterized
as extremist, then you are besmirching the actions of those who are
moderate, and you are creating a backlash that can negate the advances
made by more moderate voices.
  The appeal to the "backlash" has historical precedent. Martin Luther
King heard such warnings when he organized civil-disobedience protests
against segregation. Had Dr. King yielded to this appeal, would the
Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts have been passed?
  Dave Foreman, writing in "Confessions of an Eco-Warrior", points out
that radicals in the anti-Vietnam War movement were blamed for prolonging
the war and for damaging the "respectable" opposition. Yet the fear of
increasingly militant demonstrations kept President Nixon from escalating
the war effort, and the stridency eventually wore down the pro-war
  The backlash argument is a standard one that will always be trotted out
by the opponents of a movement. Backlash can be expected whenever the
status quo is challenged, regardless of whether extreme actions are
employed. The real question to ask is: Does the added backlash outweigh
the gains achieved through extreme action? The answer here is not clear
and we'll leave it to the informed reader to make a judgement. Two
books that might help in assessing this are "Free the Animals" by
Ingrid Newkirk, and "In Defense of Animals" by Peter Singer.
  The following argument is paraphrased from Dave Foreman: Extreme action
is a sophisticated political tactic that dramatizes issues and places them
before the public when they otherwise would be ignored in the media,
applies pressure to corporations and government agencies that otherwise
are able to resist "legitimate" pressure from law-abiding organizations,
and broadens the spectrum of activism so that lobbying by mainstream
groups is not considered "extremist".

  My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have
the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in
the guilt.
				Anna Sewell (author)

  If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to
favour freedom, and yet deprecate agitation, are people who want rain
without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the roar of
its many waters. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did
and it never will.
				Frederick Douglass (abolitionist)

SEE ALSO: #87-#90


#92  What are appropriate books and periodicals to read for more
    information on AR issues?

  There are hundreds of books that could be recommended. We provide only
a sampling of books and periodicals below. Please refer to question #94
for further book references and reviews. Space limitations forced us to
avoid children's books. Refer to the guide books listed for full

Animal Production and Factory Farming

"Animal Factories", Jim Mason and Peter Singer, AAVS, 801 Old York Rd,
    Suite 204, Jenkintown, PA 19046-1685, $12.95. Facts and photos on farms
    that mass produce animals for meat, milk, and eggs. [1980, 1990]

"Factory Farming: The Experiment That Failed", Animal Welfare Institute,
    P.O. Box 3650, Washington, DC 20007. Fact-packed indictment of
    factory-farming on welfare and economic grounds. [1988]

"Waste of the West: Public Lands Ranching", Lynn Jacobs, P.O. Box 5784, 
    Tucson, AZ 85703.

"Do Hens Suffer in Battery Cages?", Michael Appleby, The Athene Trust,
    5a Charles St, Petersfield, Hants GU32 3EH. Scientific evidence of
    hen suffering. [1991]

"Alternative to Factory Farming", Paul Carnell, Earth Resources Research
    Publishers, London. Factory farming challenged on economic grounds.

"Chicken and Egg: Who pays the price?", Clare Druce, Green Print Publishers,
    London. A criticism of the poultry industry. [1989]

"Taking Stock: Animal Farming and The Environment", Alan Durning and
    Holly Brough, Worldwatch Paper 103, WorldWatch Institute,
    1776 Mass. Avenue N.W., Washington, DC 20036-1904. The environmental
    cost of animal farming. [1991]

"Assault and Battery", Mark Gold, Pluton Publishers, London. Effects of
    farming on animals, humans and the environment. [1983]

"Animal Machines", Ruth Harrison, Vincent Stuart Publishers, London.
    The first book on factory farming. [1964]

"Facts about Furs", G. Nilsson, et. al., Animal Welfare Institute,
    (op. cit.). On fur-farming and trapping. [1980]

"Pulling the Wool", Christine Townend, Hale and Ironmonger Publishers,
    Sydney, Australia. The Australian wool and sheep industry. [1985]

Animal Rights History

"All Heaven in a Rage", E. S. Turner. Provides a history of the animal
    protection movement up to the 1960's. [1964]

"Animal Warfare", David Henshaw, Fontana Publishers, London. The rise of
    direct action for Animal Rights. [1984]

"History of the Humane Movement", Charles D. Niven, Johnson Publishers,
    London. From antiquity to today. [1967]

"Animal Revolution", Richard Ryder, Blackwell Publishers, Oxford. Overview
    of the history of AW and AR movements. [1985]

"The Animal Liberation Movement: Its Philosophy, Its Achievements and Its
    Future", Peter Singer, Old Hammond Press Publishers, Nottingham, [1986]

"Man and the Natural World", Keith Thomas, Penguin, London. History from
    1500 AD to 1800 AD. [1991]

Animal Rights Legislation

"Animals and their Legal Rights", The Animal Welfare Institute, Washington
    D.C. [1990]

"Animal Rights, Human Wrongs", S. Jenkins, Lennard Publishings, Harpenden,
    UK. An RSPCA officer's experiences demonstrate the lack of adequate 
    animal legislation. [1992]

"Up against the Law", J. J. Roberts, Arc Print, London. 1986 Public Order
    Act and its implications for Animal Rights protests. [1987]

"Animals and Cruelty and Law", Noel Sweeney, Alibi, Bristol UK. A practicing
    barrister argues for Animal Rights from the legal standpoint. [1990]

Animal Rights Philosophy

"The Case for Animal Rights", Tom Regan, University of California Press.
"The Struggle for Animal Rights", Tom Regan, International Society for
    Animal Rights, Inc., Clarks Summit, PA. [1987]

"Animal Liberation", Peter Singer, PETA Merchandise, P.O. Box 42400,
    Washington, D.C. 20015, $3.00 post-paid. The book that popularized
    Animal Rights. [1975, 1990]

"In Defense of Animals", Peter Singer.

"Animals' Rights", Henry Salt, AAVS (op. cit.), $6.95. Written a century
    ago, a true classic, anticipates many of today's arguments.

"No Room, Save in the Heart: Poetry and Prose on Reverence for
    Life--Animals, Nature and Humankind", Ann Cottrell Free, AAVS
    (op. cit.), $8.95.

"The Unheeded Cry: Animal Consciousness, Animal Pain and Science", Bernard
    Rollin. [1989]

"Created from Animals: The Moral Implications of Darwinism", James Rachels.

"Morals, Reason and Animals, Steve Sapontzis. [1987]

"Political Theory and Animal Rights", Clarke and Lindzey (Eds.). This book
    provides interesting excepts from thinkers since Plato to Regan on the
    issue of our relations and duties towards animals. [1990]

"The Nature of the Beast: Are Animals Moral?", Stephen Clark.

"Animals, Men and Morals", Godlovitch et. al. [1971]

"Fettered Kingdoms", John Bryant, Fox Press Publishers, Winchester.
    Includes a well-known indictment of pet keeping. [1990]

"The Moral Status of Animals", Stephen Clark, Oxford University Press
    Publishers, Oxford. The roots of humans' treatment of animals in
    sentimental fantasy. [1977]

"The Savour of Salt--A Henry Salt Anthology", G. and W. Hendrick,
    Centaur Press Publishers, Fontwell. [1989]

"Animals and Why They Matter: A Journey Around the Species Barrier",
    Mary Midgley, Penguin Publishers, London. [1983]

"Beast and Man", Mary Midgley, Harvester Press Publishers, Brighton. [1979]

"Animal Rights--A Symposium", David Paterson and Richard Ryder,
    Centaur Press Publishers, Fontwell. [1979]

"Inhumane Society: The American Way of Exploiting Animals", Michael W.
    Fox, St. Martins Press, New York. [1990]

"The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory", 
    Carol J. Adams. [1990]
"Rape of the Wild: Man's Violence against Animals and the Earth", Andree
    Collard with Joyce Contrucci. [1989]

"The Dreaded Comparison: Human and Animal Slavery", Marjorie Spiegel,
    Mirror Books, NY. [1988]

Animal Rights Theology

"Christianity and the Rights of Animals", Andrew Linzey, Crossroad,
    New York. [1987]
"Animal Sacrifices -- Religious Perspectives on the Use of Animals in
    Science", Tom Regan (Ed.), Temple University Press, PA. [1986]

Circuses, Rodeos, and Zoos

"The Rose-Tinted Menagerie", William Johnson, PETA (op. cit.), $16.50.
    Describes behind-the-scenes action in circuses, aquariums, and zoos.

"Animals in Circuses and Zoos--Chiron's World?", Marthe Kiley-Worthington,
    Little Eco Farms Publishing, Basildon, UK. Investigation into the
    treatment of animals by zoos and circuses. [1990]

"The Last Great Wild Beast Show", Bill Jordan and Stefan Ormrod,
    Constable Publishers, London. How animals are snatched from the
    wild to be shipped to zoos worldwide. [1978]

"Beyond the Bars", Virginia McKenna, William Travers, Jonathan Wray (eds.),
    Thorsons Publishers, Wellingborough, UK. The immorality of animal
    captivity. [1987]

Diet Ethics

"Diet for a New America", John Robbins, PETA (op. cit.),
    $12.50 post-paid. Examines problems with animal-based food systems
    with solutions, info on the link between diet and disease.

"Compassion: The Ultimate Ethic", V. Moran, American Vegan Society, NJ,
    USA. Exploration of veganism: its roots in eastern and western 
    philosophy. [1991]

"Food: Need, Greed and Myopia", G. Yates, Earthright, Ryton UK. World food
    problem seen from a vegetarian/vegan standpoint. [1986]

"Radical Vegetarianism", Mark Braunstein, Panjandrum Books, Los Angeles.

Guides, Handbooks, and Reference

"Save the Animals! 101 Easy Things You Can Do", Ingrid Newkirk, PETA
    (op. cit.), $4.95.

"67 Ways to Save the Animals", Anna Sequoia, Harper Perennial, $4.95.
"The Animal Rights Handbook -- Everyday Ways to Save Animal Lives",
    Berkley Books, New York, $4.50. [1993]

"PETA's Shopping Guide for Caring Consumers", PETA (op. cit.), $4.95.
    A must have! Lists names and addresses of cruelty-free companies.

"Keyguide to Information Sources in Animal Rights", Charles R.Magel,
    AAVS (op. cit.), $24.95.

"A Shopper's Guide to Cruelty-Free Products", Lori Cook, Bantam Books,
    New York, $4.99. [1991]

"Animal Rights: A Beginner's Guide", Amy Achor, Writeware Inc., Yellow
    Springs, OH, $14.95. [1992]

"The PETA Guide to Action for Animals", PETA (op. cit.), $4.00.

"The Extended Circle: A Commonplace Book of Animal Rights", Wynne-Tyson
    (Ed.). Provides hundreds of quotes and short excepts from thinkers
    throughout history. [1989]

"The Animal-Free Shopper", R. Farhall, R. Lucas, and A. Rofe A. (Eds.),
    The Vegan Society, 7 Battle Road, St. Leonards on Sea, East Sussex,
    TN37 7AA, UK. [1991]

"The Animal Welfare Handbook", C. Clough and B. Kew, 4th Estate,
    London, UK [1993]

Laboratory Animals and Product Testing

"Vivisection and Dissection in the Classroom: A Guide to Conscientious
    Objection", Gary L. Francione and Anna E. Charlton, AAVS (op. cit.),
    $7.95. Legal citings, sample pleadings, and letters.

"Animals in Education: The Facts, Issues and Implications", Lisa Ann Hepner,
    Richmond Publishers, Albuquerque NM. [1994]

"Entering the Gates of Hell: Laboratory Cruelty You Were Not Meant to
    See", Brian Gunn, AAVS (op. cit.), $10.00.

"Animal Experimentation: The Consensus Changes", Gill Langley (Ed.),
    MacMillan Publishers, London. Collection of essays outlining the
    change in morality. [1991]

"Slaughter of the Innocent", Hans Ruesch, Civitas Publications, Swaine,
    NY. [1983]

"Naked Empress: The Great Medical Fraud", Hans Ruesch, CIVIS, Klosters,
    Switzerland. Why vivisection is a major cause of human disease. [1982]

"Victims of Science: The Use of Animals in Research", Richard Ryder,
    National Anti-Vivisection Society, Centaur Press Publishers, Fontwell.
    Classic denunciation of vivisection. [1983]

"The Cruel Deception: The Use of Animals in Medical Research", Robert
    Sharpe, Thorsons Publishers, Wellingborough, UK. Detailed study of
    the barbarity and uselessness of vivisection. [1989]

"Free the Animals!", Ingrid Newkirk, PETA (op. cit.), $14.00.
   Story of the Animal Liberation Front in America.


"Animals Magazine", 350 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02130.

"The Animals' Agenda", P.O. Box 6809, Syracuse, NY 13217-9953.

"Animal People", P.O. Box 205, Shushan, NY 12873.

"The Animals' Voice", P.O. Box 341-347, Los Angeles, CA 90034.

"Between the Species", P.O. Box 254, Berkeley, CA 94701.

"Bunny Hugger's Gazette", P.O. Box 601, Temple, TX 76503-0601.


"The Politics of Extinction", L. Regenstein, Collier-Macmillan, London.
    Classic denunciation of the wildlife carnage. [1975]

"Wildlife and the Atom", L. Veal, London Greenpeace, 5 Caledonian Road,
    London N1 9DX, UK. The use of animals by the nuclear industry. [1983]

SEE ALSO: #1, #94

#93  What organizations can I join to support AR?

  There are hundreds of AR-related organizations scattered around the
globe. In addition, there are many vegetarian and vegan groups. This
FAQ is already too long to list all of these groups. This FAQ gives only
AR-related groups in the United States and the United Kingdom. Later
editions of the FAQ may cover other countries. For a full listing of
vegetarian and vegan groups worldwide, refer to the excellent FAQs
maintained by Michael Traub (Internet address
  The following data on US organizations comes from the book "The Animal
Rights Handbook", Berkley Books, New York, 1993, ISBN 0-425-13762-7.


Alliance for Animals, P.O. Box 909, Boston, MA 02103

American Humane Association, 63 Inverness Drive East, Englewood,
    CO 80112-5117

American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA),
    424 E. 92nd St., New York, NY 10128

Animal Allies, P.O. Box 35063, Los Angeles, CA 90035

Animal Liberation Network, P.O. Box 983, Hunt Valley, MD 21030

Animal Protection Institute of America, P.O. Box 22505, Sacramento,
    CA 95822

Animal Rights Mobilization, P.O. Box 1553, Williamsport, PA 17703

Animal Welfare Institute, P.O. Box 3650, Washington, DC 20007

Citizens to End Animal Suffering and Exploitation (CEASE), P.O. Box 27,
    Cambridge, MA 02238

Defenders of Animals, P. O. Box 5634, Weybosset Hill Station,
    Providence, RI  02903, (401) 738-3710

Doris Day Animal League (DDAL), 227 Massachusetts Ave. NE, Suite 100,
    Washington, DC 20002

Focus on Animals, P.O. Box 150, Trumbull, CT 06611

Friends of Animals, P.O. Box 1244, Norwalk, CT 06856

The Fund for Animals, 200 West 57th St., New York, NY 10019

Humane Society of the United States, 2100 L St., NW, Washington, DC 20037

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), 501 Front Street,
    Norfolk, VA 23510

World Society for the Protection of Animals, 29 Perkins St.,
    P.O. Box 190, Boston, MA 02130

Companion Animals

The Anti-Cruelty Society, 157 W. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60616

Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (MSPCA),
    350 S. Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02130

Progressive Animal Welfare Society (PAWS), 15305 44th Ave. W,
    P.O. Box 1037, Lynnwood, WA 98046

San Francisco Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SFSPCA),
    2500 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103

Sports and Entertainment

Committee to Abolish Sport Hunting, P.O. Box 44, Tomkins Cove, NY 10986

Performing Animal Welfare Society, 11435 Simmerhorn Rd., Galt, CA 95632

Farm Animals

Food Animal Concerns Trust (FACT), P.O. Box 14599, Chicago, IL 60614

Farm Animals Reform Movement (FARM), 10101 Ashburton Lane, Bethesda,
    MD 20817

Farm Sanctuary, PO Box 150, Watkins Glen, NY 14891

Humane Farming Association, 1550 California Street, Suite 6, San
    Francisco, CA 94109

United Animal Defenders, Inc., P.O. Box 33086, Cleveland, OH 44133

United Poultry Concerns, PO Box 59367, Potomac, MD 20889

Laboratory Animals

Alternatives to Animals, P.O. Box 7177, San Jose, CA 95150

American Anti-Vivisection Society, 801 Old York Rd., Suite 204,
    Jenkintown, PA 19046

In Defense of Animals, 21 Tamal Vista Blvd., No. 140, Corte Madera,
    CA 94925

Last Chance for Animals, 18653 Venture Blvd., No. 356, Tarzana, CA 91356

National Anti-Vivisection Society, 53 W.Jackson Blvd., Suite 1550,
    Chicago, IL 60604

New England Anti-Vivisection Society, 333 Washinton St., Boston, MA 02135

Professional Organizations

Animal Legal Defense Fund (ALDF), 1363 Lincoln Ave., San Raphael, CA 94901

Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights, 15 Dutch St., Suite 500-A,
    New York, NY 10038

National Association of Nurses Against Vivisection, P.O. Box 42110,
    Washington, DC 20015

Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine, P.O. Box 6322, Washington,
    DC 20015

Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, P.O. Box 1297,
    Washington Grove, MD 20880-1297

Scientists Center for Animal Welfare, 4805 St. Elmo Ave., Bethesda,
    MD 20814 

Scientists Group for Reform of Animal Experimentation, 147-01 3rd Ave.,
    Whitestone, NY 11357

Legislative Organizations

Committee for Humane Legislation, 30 Haviland, South Norwalk, CT 06856

The National Alliance for Animal Legislation, P.O. Box 75116,
    Washington, DC 20013-5116

United Action for Animals, 205 E. 42nd St., New York, NY 10017

Marine Life Preservation

American Cetacean Society, P.O. Box 2639, San Pedro, CA 90731

Center for Marine Conservation, 1725 DeSales St., NW, Washington,
    DC 20036

Greenpeace, P.O. Box 3720, 1436 U St., NW, Washinton, DC 20007

Marine Mammal Fund, Fort Mason Center, Bldg. E, San Francisco, CA 94123


Defenders of Wildlife, 1244 19th St., NW, Washington, DC 20036

Earth Island Institute, 300 Broadway, Suite 28, San Francisco, CA 94133

International Fund for Animal Welfare, P.O. Box 193, Yarmouth Port,
    MA 02675

Rainforest Action Network, 301 Broadway, Suite A, San Francisco, CA 94133

Wildlife Information Center, Inc., 629 Green St., Allentown, PA 18102

Specific Animals

American Horse Protection Association, 1000 29th St., NW, Suite T100,
    Washington DC 20007

Bat Conservation International, P.O., Box 162603, Austin, TX 78716

The Beaver Defenders, Unexpected Wildlife Refuge, Inc., Newfield,
    NJ 08344

Friends of the Sea Otter, P.O. Box 221220, Carmel, CA 93922

Greyhound Friends, 167 Saddle Hill Rd., Hopkinton, MA 01748

International Primate Protection League, P.O. Box 766, Summerville,
    SC 29484

Mountain Lion Preservation Foundation, P.O. Box 1896, Sacramento, CA 95809

Primarily Primates, P.O. Box 15306, San Antonio, TX 78212

Save the Manatee Club, 500 N. Maitland Ave., Suite 210, Maitland, FL 32751

Special Interest

Feminists for Animal Rights. P.O. Box 16425, Chapel Hill, NC 27516

International Network for Religion and Animals, P.O. Box 1335, North
    Wales, PA 19454

Jews for Animal Rights, 255 Humphrey St., Marblehead, MA 01945

Student Action Corps for Animals (SACA), P.O. Box 15588, Washington,
    DC 20003-0588


Animal Aid, 7 Castle Street, Tonbridge, Kent TN9 1BH, UK

Animal Concern, 62 Old Dumbarton road, Glasgow G3 8RE, UK

Animal Liberation Front Supporters Group, BM 1160, London WC1N 3XX, UK

Animal Research Kills, P.O. Box 82, Kingswood, Bristol BS15 1YF, UK

Athene Trust, 5a Charles Street, Petersfield, Hants GU32 3EH, UK

Beauty Without Cruelty, 57 King Henry's Walk, London N1 4NH, UK

Blue Cross Field Centre, Home Close Farm, Shilton Road, Burford,
    Oxfordshire OX18 4PF, UK

Born Free Foundation, Cherry Tree Cottage, Coldharbour, Dorking,
    Surrey RH5 6HA, UK

British Hedgehog Preservation Society, Knowbury House, Knowbury,
    Ludlow, Shropshire SY8 3LQ, UK

British Trust For Ornithology, The Nunnery, Nunnery Place, Thetford,
    Norfolk IP24 2PU, UK

British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, 16a Crane Grove,
    Islington, London N7 8LB, UK

Campaign for the Abolition of Angling, P.O. Box 130, Sevenoaks,
    Kent TN14 5NR, UK

Campaign for the Advancement of Ruesch's Expose, 23 Dunster Gardens,
    London NW6 7NG, UK

Campaign to End Fraudulent Medical Research, P.O. Box 302, London N8 9HD, UK

Cat's Protection League, 17 King's Road, Horsham, West Sussex RH13 5PN, UK

CIVIS, P.O. Box 338, London E8 2AL, UK

Disabled Against Animal Research and Exploitation, P.O. Box 8, Daventry,
    Northamptonshire NN11 4QR, UK

Donkey Sanctuary, Slade House Farm, Salcombe Regis, Sidmouth,
    Devon EX10 0NU

Dr. Hadwen Trust for Humane Research, 6c Brand Street, Hitchin,
    Hertfortshire SG5 1HX, UK

Earthkind, Humane Education Centre, Bounds Green Road, London N22 4EU, UK

Elefriends, Cherry Tree Cottage, Coldharbour, NR Dorking, Surrey RH5 6HA, UK

Environmental Investigation Agency, 2 Pear Tree Court, London EC1R 0DS, UK

Fund for the Replacement of Animals in Medical Experiments, Eastgate House,
    34 Stoney Street, Nottingham NG1 1NB, UK

Green Party Animal Rights Working Party, 23 Highfield South, Rock Ferry,
    Wirral L42 4NA, UK

Horses and Ponies Protection Association, Happa House, 64 Station Road,
    Padiham, N. Burnley, Lancashire BB12 8EF, UK

Humane Research Trust, Brook House, 29 Bramhall Lane South, Bramhall, 
    Stockport, Cheshire SK7 2DN, UK

Hunt Saboteurs Association, P.O. Box 1, Carlton, Nottingham NG4 2JY, UK

International Association Against Painful Experiments on Animals,
    P.O. Box 215, St Albans, Herts AL3 4PU, UK

International Primate Protection League, 116 Judd Street, London WC1H 9NS, UK

League Against Cruel Sports, 83-87 Union Street, London SE1 1SG, UK

International League of Doctors for the Abolition of Vivisection,
    UK Office, Lynmouth, Devon EX35 6EE, UK

National Anti-Vivisection Society, Ravenside, 261 Goldhawk Road,
    London W12 9PE, UK

National Canine Defence League, 1 Pratt Mews, London NW1 0AD, UK

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, P.O. Box 3169,
    London NW6 2QF, UK

Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, The Lodge, Sandy,
    Bedfordshire SG19 2DL, UK

Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Causeway,
    Horsham, West Sussex RH12 1HG, UK

Student Campaign For Animal Rights, P.O. Box 155, Manchester M60 1FT, UK

Teachers For Animal Rights, 29 Lynwood Road. London SW17 8SB, UK

Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, 19A James Street, Bath,
    Avon BA1 2BT, UK

Zoocheck, Cherry Tree Cottage, Coldharbour, Dorking, Surrey CR0 2TF, UK

#94  Can you give a brief Who's Who of the AR movement?

TOM REGAN -- Professor of Philosophy at North Carolina State University.
His book "The Case For Animal Rights" is arguably the single best recent
work on animal rights. It is a demanding text but one that is well worth
the effort to read and study carefully.  Everybody that is seriously
interested in the issues should read this rigorously argued case for AR.
It starts with some core concepts of inherent value theory, the same
concepts that played an important and significant role in the progress of
human civil liberties since the 17th century and which began to be
extended to nonhumans during the 19th century. The notion of inherent
value continues to be vital and important for progress in both human and
animal rights.  A less demanding but still informative book by Regan is
"The Struggle for Animal Rights".  One might wish to first read this book
before tackling Regan's more difficult text.

PETER SINGER -- Professor of Philosophy at Monash University, Melbourne.
Singer is best known for his book "Animal Liberation", probably the most
widely read book on AR philosophy.  Singer, unlike Regan, is not an
abolitionist as many people incorrectly surmise. His utilitarian position
allows for the possibility or necessity of killing animals under certain
circumstances.  What is often lost sight of is that the obvious and patent
abuses of animals covers so much ground that both Regan and Singer share
common views on far more issues than those on which they differ.  Other
important books by Singer include "In Defense of Animals" and "Animal

MARY MIDGLEY -- Senior Lecturer of Philosophy at the University of
Midgley's book "Beast and Man" has not been given the attention that it
deserves. She deals with the contemporary facts of biology and ethology
head-on to provide an ethical argument for the respectful treatment of
animals that takes seriously scientific discoveries and thoughts about
animals. The "Humean fork" (or so-called logical divide) between facts and
values is here carefully crossed by observing that we are foremost
"animals" ourselves and that the similarities between ourselves and other
animals is more important and relevant for our ethics and
self-understanding than are the often over-inflated differences.

CAROL ADAMS -- Author.
Adams' book "The Sexual Politics of Meat" has made a valuable contribution
in combining cultural and ethical analysis by pointing out the political
implications of the metaphors we unthinkingly employ. The primary
metaphors she analyses in her book relate to meat. Such metaphors have
been applied to women, but the most insidious aspect of the metaphors is
the way that they hide the life that is killed to produce meat. Instead of
"cow", we have "beef" on our plates. Adams argues that the system that
kills animals is the same system that oppresses women; hence, there is an
important and striking connection between vegetarianism and feminism.

RICHARD RYDER -- Senior Clinical Psychologist at Warneford Hospital,
Ryder is the originator of the key term "speciesism".  Ryder's book
"Animal Revolution" provides both an historical perspective and a
critical analysis of animal welfare and attitudes towards animals.

HENRY SALT -- 1851-1939.
Salt was a remarkable social reformer who championed the humane reform of
schools, prisons, society, and our treatment of animals. He also exerted a
critical and important influence upon Gandhi. His book "Animals' Rights"
was the first to use that title and therein he gives voice to almost all
of the essential arguments for AR that we see being advanced and refined
today. The book provides an excellent biography of earlier European
writers on animal issues during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Moran's book "Compassion the Ultimate Ethic" makes a fine contribution
regarding the less discursive but perhaps more fundamental intuitive basis
for animal rights.

Spiegel's book "The Dreaded Comparison" is a slim but courageous volume
comparing the treatment of African-American slaves and the treatment of
nonhuman animals. In text and pictures, Spiegel discloses remarkable
similarities between the two systems. A picture of slaves packed into
a slave ship is matched with a photograph of battery hens. A picture
of a woman in a muzzle is paired with a picture of a dog in a muzzle.
The parallels are striking and revealing. Few other writers have been
as open or as unequivocal as Spiegel in likening cruelty to animals to
traffic in human beings.

  It is hard to keep a Who's-Who list at a reasonable length. Here are
a few other prominent people:

STEPHEN R. L. CLARK -- Professor of Philosophy at Liverpool University.
MICHAEL W. FOX -- Vice President of Humane Society of the US, nationally
                  known veterinarian, and AR activist.
RONNIE LEE -- Founder of the Animal Liberation Front (ALF).
JIM MASON -- Attorney and journalist.
INGRID NEWKIRK -- Co-founder of People for the Ethical Treatment of
                Animals (PETA); prominent activist.
ALEX PACHECO -- Co-founder of PETA; exposer of the Silver Spring monkeys
"VALERIE" -- Founder of ALF in the United States.

#95  What can I do in my daily life to help animals?

  Indeed, the buck must first stop here in our own daily lives with the
elimination or reduction of actions that contribute to the abuse and
exploitation of animals.
  Probably the single most important thing you can do to save animals,
help the ecology of the planet, and even improve your own health, is to
BECOME A VEGETARIAN. It is said that "we are what we eat". More
accurately, "we are what we do" and what we do in order to eat has a
profound consequence on our self-definition as a compassionate person. As
long as we eat meat, we share complicity in the intentional slaughter of
countless animals and destruction of the environment for clearly trivial
  Why trivial? No human has died from want of satisfying a so-called "Mac
Attack", but countless cows have died in order to satisfy our palates.
On a more positive note, vegetarians report that one's taste and enjoyment
of food is actually enhanced by eliminating animal products. Indeed, a
vegetarian diet is not a diet of deprivation; far from it. Vegetarians
actually eat a GREATER variety of foods than do meat-eaters. Maybe the
best kept culinary secret is that the really "boring" diet actually turns
out to be the traditional meat-centered diet.
of good plant and synthetic materials that serve as excellent materials
for fabrics and shoes. Indeed, all the major brands of high-quality
running shoes are now turning to the use of human-made materials. (Why?
Because they are lighter than leather and don't warp or get stiff after
getting wet.)
  There are many less obvious animal products that are being used in many
of our everyday household and personal products. After first attending to
those obvious and most visible products like leather and fur, then
consider what you can do to reduce or eliminate your dependency on
products that may contain needless animal ingredients or were brought to
market using animal testing. Two very good product guides are:

    Shopping Guide for the Caring Consumer, PETA, 1994.
    A Shopper's Guide to Cruelty-Free Products, Lori Cook, 1991.

RIGHTS.  Besides reading about animal rights from the major theorists,
also read practical guides and periodicals. Question #92 lists many
appropriate books and periodicals.
ORGANIZATION. Alternatively, if you lack the time, consider giving
donations to those organizations whose good work on behalf of
animals is something you appreciate and wish to materially support.

SEE ALSO: #87, #92-#93


#96  I have read this FAQ and I am not convinced. Humans are humans,
    animals are animals; is it so difficult to see that?

  This FAQ cannot reflect the full variety of paths which have led people
to support the concept of Animal Rights. A more complete compilation would
include, for instance, religious arguments. For example, some Eastern
religions stress the importance of the duties of humans toward animals. A
Christian case for Animal Rights has been presented. Also, legal arguments
have been put forward, by some barristers in the UK, for instance. 
  Still, some people may remain skeptical about the viability of all of these
other approaches as well. For those people, here is a short quiz: 

    What is wrong with cannibalism? 
    What is wrong with slavery? 
    What is wrong with racial prejudice? 
    What is wrong with sexual discrimination? 
    What is wrong with killing children or the mentally ill? 
    What is wrong with the Nazi experiments on humans?

Animal Rights proponents can reply instantly and consistently. Can you?
Do your answers involve qualities that, if you are objective about it, can
be seen to apply to animals? For example, were the Nazi experiments wrong
because the subjects were human, or because the subjects were harmed???

  It is not difficult to see that humans are humans and animals are animals.
What is difficult to see is how this amounts to anything more than an empty
tautology! If there are relevant differences that justify differences in
treatment, then let's hear them. AR opponents have consistently failed to
support the differences in treatment of humans versus animals with relevant
differences in capacities.
  Yes, an animal is an animal, but it can still suffer terribly from our
brutality and lack of compassion.

  I am in favor of animal rights as well as human rights. That is the
way of a whole human being.
				Abraham Lincoln (16th U.S. President)

  [The day should come when] all of the forms of life...will stand before the
court--the pileated woodpecker as well as the coyote and bear, the lemmings
as well as the trout in the streams.
				William O. Douglas (late U.S. Supreme Court