Thursday, March 22, 2007

Economics, Slavery, and the Humane Treatment of Animals

Wednesday’s New York Times contained a letter to the editor responding to a recent article attacking modern methods of pork production. The letter, composed by the President of the National Pork Producers Council, asserts that “America’s 67,000 pork producers treat their animals humanely. They do so because it’s the moral and ethical thing to do, and it’s in their best economic interest.”

Before even considering the merits of the claim, it is worth noting -- as I do in teaching my Evidence students about the impeachment of witnesses generally -- that the letter-writer has a bias that might render anything positive she says about the production of pork suspect. Beyond this general point, it is important to respond to the claim that those who traffic in animal flesh have an economic incentive to treat their animals humanely. For many well-meaning people who consume meat and other animal products, this argument has some appeal: why would one want to treat animals cruelly? Wouldn't such cruel treatment degrade the quality of the animals’ meat?

The flaw in this argument lies in the assumption that treating a large group of living creatures humanely increases their economic value to others. To put it most basically, those who raise animals for slaughter or other use have two separate economic goals: to produce as much meat (or cheese or eggs) as possible per dollar of investment, and to produce a high-quality product. Intensive farming methods -- which produce most of the meat and other animal products consumed in the U.S. -- emphasize the former goal over the latter. Per dollar of investment, intensive farming produces an enormous amount of meat. Even if many of the animals involved die in the process, enough survive to make the "yield," in terms of meat brought to market, more profitable than it would be at an analogous but less cruel farm in which the animals all survived until slaughter. (This calculus does not take account of externalities such as pollution, let alone the animals’ suffering, because others bear these costs.)

One farmer, quoted in the very readable The Way We Eat: Why Our Food Choices Matter, by Peter Singer and Jim Mason (2006), explained that he might pay for an anesthetic when castrating his bulls if it only cost a penny or so, but it costs more than that, so he doesn't. Just think about that for a moment: in one small part of the process of producing the beef that people eat, bulls are castrated without anesthesia. If such pain were inflicted on a human terrorist suspect, it would fall easily within the definition of "torture," even under the Bybee memo's stingy definition.

To see that economics will not generate the humane treatment of farmed animals, one need only look to a relatively recent institution in the U.S. in which sentient, intelligent and emotionally advanced human beings were bought, sold, and used involuntarily to serve the needs of other human beings, much as sentient, intelligent, emotionally advanced animals continue to be used today. I speak here of slavery. Some suggested, during the time of slavery, that slave-holders could not possibly be engaging in the sorts of brutality of which they stood accused by abolitionists. Slave-holders, they argued, had a built-in incentive to treat their slaves humanely, because a person who is beaten and injured cannot be as productive as a person who is treated well. As it turned out, however, maximizing the utility of slaves did not appear to entail their humane treatment, and brutality was a routine part of a slave's existence. Indeed, as I learned recently from Harriet A. Washington, the author of Medical Apartheid: The Dark History of Medical Experimentation on Black Americans from Colonial Times to the Present, some perpetrators of slave torture continue to be celebrated today. For example, James Marion Sims, the "Father of Gynecology" and the first doctor in the U.S. to have a statue built in his honor, made many of his important discoveries while performing unanesthetized surgeries on African-American female slaves. He could have given many of them (along with slaves whom he used in other medical experiments) ether, but he did not think it was worthwhile to do so. If one is concerned only with the cost to oneself, then, the moral difference between using anesthesia and using manual restraints becomes inconsequential.

What slavery does -- whether the slave is a human being or an animal -- is to render the subjective experience of the slave irrelevant. The reports of people outside the industry who have observed and examined feedlots, slaughterhouses, and other such places confirm the irrelevance of animal suffering to the industry.

37 comments:

egarber said...

As I read this, I'm eating a veggie burger for lunch. Which do I like better -- Boca or Morningstar? Wait, that's a different question :)

While I agree that from a production standpoint, it's a stretch to say that humane treatment is cost-effective, there is another variable that companies care about very much: public relations.

In some cases, certain manufacturers -- like make-up companies -- have made changes in how they test on animals because they know bad PR can hurt the bottom line.

In fact, here's something my wife sent me just yesterday (as if IAMS doesn't have enough trouble these days):

Shelters, Veterinarians, and Retail Stores Boycott Iams

Showing a groundswell of support for the boycott of Iams products, over 100 animal shelters, veterinarians, and companion-animal supply stores have severed their ties with Iams.

The 96 shelters, 34 veterinary clinics, and 36 retail stores across the United States, Canada, and Australia are joining PETA’s boycott of Iams products because Iams confines animals to cages to conduct cruel laboratory tests on them.
-- from iams.cruelty.com

The challenge in addressing the more general issue (illustrated in your thoughtful post) is to make people aware; they need to not so much separate the final cellophane-wrapped product in the grocery store from the living creature at its source.

Adam S. said...

As a voracious omnivore, I my moral inquiry (vel non!) is somewhat limited by biological insights; the language of "rights bearers" and the distinction between and implications of continuum v. bright line thinking in this area all turns on consciousness, subjectivity, and self-awareness. As science and the dissemination of its insights proliferates in this field, perhaps the moral arguments will be more clear and persuasive. Basically, the question of why NOT treat a cow, chicken, salmon, or scallop like a tree trunk seems to be one that, for many of us, only more science can answer. Let's say I'm with you on the cows: what's the big deal with the bivalves?
Of course, the antrhopocentric general conservation arguments are already clear, if not overpowering: it's very inefficient/costly to eat top food chain animals. Thing is, this argument is no slam dunk and only goes so far, as we might prefer to leave a smaller carbon footprint, e.g., by simply riding our bike or walking to peter lugar--I imagine this turns on the subjective utility from impact activities?

Garth said...

i don't imagine anyone would contest that slaughter houses are awful places. worse than we can imagine and enough to put you off meat forever due to the conditions, the blood... it looks like an industrial torture factory and bears no resemblance to the beautiful displayed cuts of meat we see in the grocery store.

it won't be until we start treating our fellow human beings better that we get around to seriously tackling the ethical dilemma of meat is murderd.

Michael C. Dorf said...

In response to Adam S, and with due respect, I must say that this is the sort of reasoning that makes normal people think of moral philosophers as moral idiots. If one has a moral intuition that there's something wrong about inflicting obvious suffering on animals that have obvious neurological similarities to us, then it takes a peculiar sort of obtuseness or at least self-delusion to persuade onself that this is okay after all because, well, there's no clear line down the slippery slope to trees. In this debate, it's the omnivores who are being unscientific, as when, for example, Descartes contended that non-human animal cries do not reflect their subjective feelings but were like the sounds made by inanimate objects such as clocks and springs.

Adam S. said...

Let me simplify: as far as I--a layperson--understand, clams have little or no equipment with which to "feel" (dread of) pain or remember pain. Why then, would any reasonable person worry at all about causing "suffering" to a claim when deciding whether to pursue the marginal utility offered by a steamer? To me the opposite conclusion is obviuous. Of course, the calculus shifts as we go up in neurological complexity. The moral question seems for me to be the point at which the balance tips. Maybe cows and Octopi and Giant Squid are on the far side. Chickens? New advances in the understanding of avian brains is quite relevant to my eating choice. That's all i was saying. I don't think we should be eating orangutans simply because we might slide down the slippery to amoebas.

Adam S. said...

And not all "cries" are evidence of consciousness. Many reflex actions in humans and animals do not at all involve the cerebrum or any higher thought. I don't go nearly so far as Descartes, but neither would I glibly attribute to all vertebrates the same reflective powers as we enjoy. Just consider persons in persistent vegetative states: a smile or reflex consciousness does not make. I hope this is not seen as macabre rationalization---I think serious moral advances crave scientific insights in this field and that's my only point.

Neil H. Buchanan said...
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Neil H. Buchanan said...

As an economist (and as a lawyer and a human being), I completely agree with Sherry's analysis. One of the amusing/annoying things about the popular use of economic arguments is that people make the same mistakes over and over again. (Sherry is surely also right to suggest, though, that sometimes the purveyors of these arguments are not making honest mistakes.) If you stop and think about it even for a second, it's abundantly clear that profit maximization is potentially compatible with gross cruelty. So long as the marginal cost of ending any particular practice is greater than the marginal revenues that would flow from being less cruel, an amoral profit maximizer will continue the cruel practice. As the kids say: "No duh!" The idea that free markets will automatically enforce humane practices is simply fatuous.

Egarber's point thus gets at one possible way to fight this: Make the amoral profit maximizer indirectly moral by making its customers responsive to process as well as product. Sherry's logic, though, also supports the straightforward regulation of industry practices (including outright bans on ownership of human beings, or on killing animals). Either way, though, more people need to understand just how awful meat is in every way.

If we have a chance to put in motion the major social change in attitudes that would move us in the right direction, it hardly matters whether people can agree about bivalves.

Derek said...

Adam - I think it's reasonable to appeal to science in order to decide what creatures we think are capable of suffering (e.g. dogs yes, carrots no) and, therefore, what is morally permissible to eat. But I also think that without some pretty sophisticated philosophical reasoning, the debate will be limited to scallops and clams (maybe fish), rather than chickens and cows (I don't take you to be disagreeing with any of this).

Singer touched on this continuum and biological research point last year when he spoke at Columbia. Here is a simplified version of what he said:

- Mammals and birds: science strongly suggests they are capable of suffering: so (on his view) one shouldn't eat them.

- Fish: new experiments (e.g. injecting bee poison in fish's lips and observing their frantic behavior) suggests that they are capable of suffering, so one shouldn't eat them.

- Crustaceans: evidence is inconclusive. But here he advanced a principle - if one is epistemically justified in being agnostic toward whether or not a certain creature can feel pain, then one should err on the safe side (i.e. don't do whatever it is that would cause them pain if they were capable of feeling it).

The principle seems reasonable to me. If you buy it, (along with the Singerian argument for vegetarianism) then science doesn't have to demonstrate that squids et al. are capable of suffering, just that the evidence is roughly even, or inconclusive. Although looking back at one of your comments, it sounds like you think the evidence points strongly *against* clams (and other invertebrates?) feeling pain, rather than just being inconclusive. This would change matters, I suppose.

Octopus Grigori said...

Umm, just wanted to note that studies strongly suggest that octopuses are quite intelligent and capable of problem solving. So please don't eat us!

Carl said...

Sorry, Octopus, but all that seems to matter in this debate is whether you can feel pain or not. If we can get you on our plates without causing you serious discomfort, you're fair game
(assuming you're not unfortunate enough to be caught in one of those rare cultures where live octopus is considered a delicacy). So it seems that unless you can use those problem solving skills to prove Fermat's last theorem, any of your other abilities/interests are just not worth taking into account.

Tam said...

An organism's ability to feel pain is a sufficient, but not necessary, basis for imposing a moral duty not to kill it. That is because the pain experienced while dying might not be the only evil of being killed. For subscribers to the deprivation account of why death is harmful, the fact of being dead in itself is bad because it results in a frustration of desire. Thus, an organism's ability to form proposition attitudes may be another basis on which to respect its life.

This coincides with our intuitions about death. After all, it's not like we wouldn't mind dying if only we can be guaranteed that it wouldn't be painful. Indeed, we mind it mostly because being dead keep us from fulfilling our aspirations in life.

Sobek said...

If we're looking at things in terms of the organism's relative ability to feel pain, it seems odd to me that one could oppose killing a chicken but not a human fetus.

egarber said...

Sobek said: If we're looking at things in terms of the organism's relative ability to feel pain, it seems odd to me that one could oppose killing a chicken but not a human fetus.

For me at least, I think you're blurring two different issues: moral personal choice and law. I wouldn't argue for making beef illegal, even though I avoid it for the reasons eloquently posted by commenters here.

Likewise, leaving aside the question of whether a pre-viable fetus can "feel pain", my wife and I wouldn't consider aborting an unwanted pregnancy. In such an instance, we would make the personal choice to nurture our potential human person, but we're pro-Roe on the legal question.

In other words, I think it's very possible to morally oppose "killing a chicken" AND a fetus. The question is who decides.

Don't fall into the trap of thinking people are PRO-abortion; my guess is that few are.

Carl said...

Tam, are you suggesting that factory farmed animals possess the kinds of desires, plans, and projects the frustration of which by death would be bad for them? What would these look like? Our killing an animal will prevent it from fulfilling those desires it would have had but for its death, but unless it's capable of forming a present second order desire about the fulfillment of those future desires, it's not clear to me how this constitutes an additional harm over an above any pain it might experience in its death.

By analogy, I don't think I'd suffer additional harm if I were told just prior to my death that were I to live I'd form some desire to become, say, a professional athlete or something else I presently care not one bit about. But unless animals can form second order desires about their future desires, any of their future desires we frustrate in killing them will cause no more harm to them than the frustration of my future desire to be a grown man playing children's games for a living will harm me.

Sobek said...

"Don't fall into the trap of thinking people are PRO-abortion; my guess is that few are."

The millions of people who have abortions don't seem to have such a problem with it.

"Likewise, leaving aside the question of whether a pre-viable fetus can 'feel pain'..."

Why leave that question aside? We're assuming cows feel pain, and that it is therefore immoral to kill them (not based on what the cows have to say about things, but on perfectly reasonable assumptions based on neurological structures and observing their reactions to stimuli). If we make the same reasonable assumptions about a fetus, then certainly castrating a bull without anesthetic is certainly no more cruel then vaccuming out its skull.

This seems more like a post about cruelty (and whether economics can reasonably be expected to prevent it -- and I agree with Prof. Colb's conclusions on that point) than about legal compulsion and choice.

Incidentally, would anyone object to my eating veal if it were taken from an aborted cow fetus, rather than from a slaughtered calf? Does the moral calculus change at all?

Mortimer Brezny said...

Who cares if animals can feel pain? They are tasty. And, no, that does not justify slavery. It justifies killing animals and roasting their flesh for yummy consumption. Why is that an unreasonable argument?

egarber said...
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egarber said...

Sobek said: Why leave that question aside?

I left it aside because it's irrelevant to the question of whether I and my wife would have an abortion -- we wouldn't for broader moral reasons (whatever the truth of whether a fetus can feel pain).

So to answer your original question of why one can be ok with killing / harming a fetus but not a chicken, my answer is that I'm not personally ok with either.

Sobek said...

"...my answer is that I'm not personally ok with either."

Well then it seems you and I agree (on the ethics, if not the law), and I guess I'm interested in hearing from those who disagree.

Again, this is a post that is primarily about cruelty. The argument seems to be that causing pain to things that can feel pain is cruel, and therefore should not be done. Undeniably, aborting a fetus causes excruciating pain (as demonstrated by fetuses retreating from the scalpel or other instruments), and is therefore unspeakably cruel.

The question, then, is whether other factors mitigate the cruelty and make it socially acceptable. If you believe that personal freedom from government intrusion justifies that cruelty, I disagree, but I see how the argument is made, at least.

Let's follow that line of reasoning to another topic, hinted at in Prof. Colb's post: terrorism and torture. Let's posit a form of torture that is both undoubtedly torture, and undoubtedly cruel -- amputation of digits. Those who defend the use of torture do so on the grounds that the social utility of the torture outweighs the cruelty, and is therefore justified. Those who disagree argue that there is no amount of social utility which can outweigh that kind of cruelty -- not even in the famous ticking time bomb scenario.

So why is it that no amount of social utility can justify two forms of cruelty (against animals and against terrorists) but the social utility of a woman's convenience so casually trumps the cruelty caused to a fetus?

Brian said...

Sobek,

If we make the same reasonable assumptions about a fetus, then certainly castrating a bull without anesthetic is certainly no more cruel then vaccuming out its skull.
- by the time they're vacuuming out the brain, the fetus can't feel pain. no brain = dead = no pain.

Undeniably, aborting a fetus causes excruciating pain (as demonstrated by fetuses retreating from the scalpel or other instruments), and is therefore unspeakably cruel.
- Actually this is perfectly deniable. the fact that the fetus pulls away is not evidence that the fetus feels pain. It is only evidence that the fetus is reflexively reacting to noxious stimuli. The perception of pain as we know it is carried out by higher level cortical areas of the brain. The reflex is carried out by the spinal cord and lower brain areas. (how do we know this? the reflex reaction occurs before impulses have reached the cortex and because the pathway used to relay "pain" information makes several connections in these areas.)

The brain of the human fetus is not fully developed until after birth, in contrast to the rest of the body which is fully developed before the first trimester ends. Neural synapses are constantly being reformed throughout life and science has yet to determine if a fetus can actually feel pain at the point abortions are usually performed or if its just a reflexive action. Although in some cases they definitely are not. e.g. referred pain - the brain confuses "pain" from visceral organs as coming from regions on the skin. If the visceral pain persists the brain will be able to differentiate between the two regions.

egarber said...

So why is it that no amount of social utility can justify two forms of cruelty (against animals and against terrorists) but the social utility of a woman's convenience so casually trumps the cruelty caused to a fetus?

Though I understand what you mean, I think you're using the wrong barometer. And your question goes beyond the narrow issue of what constitutes “cruelty”.

I see no contradiction in society's treatment of the pre-viable fetus and the prisoner facing potential torture. In both cases, society sees "utility" (if you want to use that word) in protecting the liberty interests of a biologically self-sufficient person: the woman is offered latitude of choice because her privacy right is implicated and a prisoner has a right to not be abused.

The same dynamic applies in the comparison to animals. If in some fantasy land, a fetus grew out of the ground and wasn't part of a woman's body, society might see things differently, because (arguably) the primitive "life" that is a fetus would have a singular independence, sort of like a cow. In other words, the liberty component would be removed.

Undeniably, aborting a fetus causes excruciating pain (as demonstrated by fetuses retreating from the scalpel or other instruments), and is therefore unspeakably cruel.

My sense is that a fetus doesn't feel pain the way a biologically self-sufficient creature can. A cow can learn and react to its surroundings; a fetus has nothing like that level of development -- especially a pre-viable one early in a pregnancy (I think I saw that 88% of abortions take place in the first trimester, and only 2% are performed past 21 weeks.)

Again, that doesn't justify abortion on a personal level for me. But keeping to the subject, I don't think the level of "cruelty" (measured by ability to feel and comprehend pain) here is equal to other instances. My sense is that a pre-viable fetus doesn't "feel" much of anything.

Carl said...

My sense is that a fetus doesn't feel pain the way a biologically self-sufficient creature can.

Seems that the Cartesians are alive and well after all....

Tam said...

Carl - Sherry Colb's post focused on pain sensation because it had to do more (or at least as much) with how animals are treated when they are alive as with how they are killed. But I was merely noting, in response to your comment, that as a matter of principle, pain need not be the only basis for opposing animal killing.

Whether particular animals can form second-order desires is an empirical question that I don't know the answer to, but I see no a priori reason to suppose that they can't.

Sobek said...

brian said: "by the time they're vacuuming out the brain, the fetus can't feel pain. no brain = dead = no pain."

That's too cute by half. From now on, whenever I murder a hobo for sport, I'll suck out his brain with a vaccum cleaner. That way he won't feel it. Because of course, it's not like the part where you stick the vacuum tube in could possibly hurt.

Or the part in a partial birth abortion, where the arms are torn from the sockets to let the baby bleed to death. Nope, no pain there.

Keep in mind that this is a thread about animal cruelty, in which it has been argued that even eating bivalves is morally wrong because of the possibility that they might feel pain, even though we have no scientific reason to believe they do. And yet those same folks tend to defend abortion -- not on the grounds that it's anything other than extraordinarily cruel to dismember a living thing, but because the social utility of the thing outweighs the cruelty of the thing.

brian also said: "The brain of the human fetus is not fully developed until after birth...

My four-year-old's brain is still not fully developed. May I abort him?

Sobek said...

egarber, keeping in mind that you are among people who will refuse to eat bivalves on ethical grounds, simply because of the possibility that they might feel pain -- erring on the side of ethical caution, as it were -- are you willing to take the risk that a fetus retreating from the knife does so be reflex rather than pain? At what stage of neurological development does the grey line between "it might feel pain" and "we know it feels pain" become so ethically certain as to flip from not-cruel to cruel?

Certainly the majority in Stenberg v. Carhart was unconcerned by the cruelty of a D&X abortion in the face of vague assertions about social utility (ignoring those doctors who testified that partial birth abortions are never medically necessary). They simply ignored the pain that a fetus who is old enough for partial birth abortion because the cruelty didn't trump the social utility.

egarber said: "A cow can learn and react to its surroundings; a fetus has nothing like that level of development..."

The baby in my wife's womb has learned to react to external stimuli. If I put too much pressure on her belly when I feel him kick, he squirms away from me. I've seen ultrasound of him playing with his fingers, and sucking on his toes. Magnificent stuff for a non-sentient being, really. Indeed, other than the fact that he's inside rather than outside, he acts just like my other two kids did right after they were born. But two of my kids are protected from cruelty (i.e. deliberately causing him pain) by the laws of the land, and one is not.

egarber said...

egarber, keeping in mind that you are among people who will refuse to eat bivalves on ethical grounds, simply because of the possibility that they might feel pain

Actually, I don't go that far. I do eat fish. My aversion to beef puts me in that category though -- you are correct there.

Certainly the majority in Stenberg v. Carhart was unconcerned by the cruelty of a D&X abortion in the face of vague assertions about social utility

I may be wrong, but I *think* the court ruled there that such a law must provide a health exception for the mother, and that the Nebraska law was too broad. In other words, there seems to be room for a revised law to pass constitutional muster. But again, I might be mixing cases up.


But two of my kids are protected from cruelty (i.e. deliberately causing him pain) by the laws of the land, and one is not.

Actually, when a fetus reaches "viability", states are permitted to ban abortion. And maybe you and I can agree on one thing -- the Courts should uphold state laws that narrowly define "health of the mother" in post-viability procedures. "Health" can't be so broad that the basic line in Roe loses its traction.

Brian said...

Sobek,

That's nice. Rather than respond to the substance of my post, you mock me. I don't know why I expected more from someone like you.

ignoring those doctors who testified that partial birth abortions are never medically necessary
- and you ignoring all of those doctors who said it was necessary sometimes and the body of research that points to the fact that in rare circumstances it is the only way to save the mother's life. Don't fool yourself, the decision to ban partial birth abortions was made on ideological grounds, not on scientific or medical reasoning.

Because of course, it's not like the part where you stick the vacuum tube in could possibly hurt.
- did you even bother to read my post? did I use too many big words or complicated concepts? perhaps you missed the part where I was referring to first trimester abortions or the part where I said science couldn't conclusively say when a fetus was able to feel pain as opposed to merely reacting reflexively to noxious stimuli.

it has been argued that even eating bivalves is morally wrong because of the possibility that they might feel pain, even though we have no scientific reason to believe they do
- where have I made this argument? where have I agreed with this argument? I should also note that your making the exact same argument with respect to the fetus. As you've so kindly conceded, neither are based on science.

The baby in my wife's womb has learned to react to external stimuli. If I put too much pressure on her belly when I feel him kick, he squirms away from me. I've seen ultrasound of him playing with his fingers, and sucking on his toes. Magnificent stuff for a non-sentient being, really
- YAY! you've described a lobster. they will try to get out of a pot of boiling water. If a fetus has the mental capacity of a lobster, why worry about killing them? afterall, we kill and eat lobster all the time. incidentally, one of the most humane ways of killing a lobster is by splitting its head in half with a sharp knife. kills it instantly. it's similar in speed and lethality of suctioning a fetus's brains out.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Whether particular animals can form second-order desires is an empirical question that I don't know the answer to, but I see no a priori reason to suppose that they can't.

And I see no reason why that should stop be from skewering and roasting them.

Sobek said...

"I may be wrong, but I *think* the court ruled there that such a law must provide a health exception for the mother, and that the Nebraska law was too broad. In other words, there seems to be room for a revised law to pass constitutional muster. But again, I might be mixing cases up."

No, you've got that right (to my recollection). Congress then passed a ban that was equally broad but with a specific finding that partial birth abortion is never medically necessary. We'll see what the Court thinks about that.

"And maybe you and I can agree on one thing..."

I think we agree on more than one thing. We only disagree on two points (at least in this thread): whether abortion (which is morally wrong) should be criminalized, and whether the abortion procedure is "cruel." I think I'm all argued out on this thread, so I'll let things go with that.

brian said: "perhaps you missed the part where I was referring to first trimester abortions..."

Actually I did miss that part, given that your quote was about vaccuuming out the brain. That's a procedure which happens in partial birth abortions, which are not in the first trimester. And considering that my point was about suctioning out a brain, I was obviously talking about a life-form that has a brain (i.e. we're not just talking about a fertilized egg or zygote). How ironic that you would criticize my reading comprehension.

brain said: "where have I made this argument?"

Where did I say you made that argument? I put my statement in the passive voice on purpose to avoid thrusting that view on anyone not willing to adopt it.

In my first comments on this thread, I offered a general challenge to a general viewpoint -- that it is immoral to cause pain to animals because it is cruel, any yet many who think that way have no problem with abortion, although it is manifestly cruel -- and anyone who wanted was free to disregard (due to lack of interest, or because they didn't subscribe to one or either of those views). You and egarber decided to respond. Egarber did so in an interesting and respectful manner.

Anyway, I'm done with this thread.

路傑 said...

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