Saturday, May 27, 2006

Taking the brains out of our prey

As I'd noted earlier, it's hard to come up with an objective system of ethics that gives humans special privileges. One of those special privileges is that we're allowed to eat other animals, but we frown on them eating us. William Saletan point out that this becoming an increasingly unavoidable paradox:
It's time to stop killing meat and start growing it. By William Saletan: "The case for eating meat is like the case for other traditions: It's natural, it's necessary, and there's nothing wrong with it. But sometimes, we're mistaken. We used to think we were the only creatures that could manipulate grammar, make sophisticated plans, or recognize names out of context. In the past month, we've discovered the same skills in birds and dolphins. In recent years, we've learned that crows fashion leaves and metal into tools. Pigeons deceive each other. Rats run mazes in their dreams. Dolphins teach their young to use sponges as protection. Chimps can pick locks. Parrots can work with numbers. Dogs can learn words from context. We thought animals weren't smart enough to deserve protection. It turns out we weren't smart enough to realize they do.
I went vegetarian primarily for ethical reasons for several years, but the burden of getting food into some difficult children broke that. I do like to eat meat, no denying it.

It's wrong though. The solution, as many people have noted for several years, is to take the brains out of our prey. We could breed a chicken with purely autonomic nervous system, likewise for cattle, sheep, etc. (Ok, let's not take this to its obvious conclusion. I don't want to ruin my appetite.)

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