Sunday, March 07, 2010

Inhumane Treatment of Animals

I read in the forums section a letter by the SPCA regarding the inhumane poisoning of pigeons (for culling purposes). The phrase "inhumane treatment" was used more than once.

To be extremely pedantic, it is obvious that pigeons are not human. To speak of treating animals like humans seems somewhat difficult to support, but I am speaking as a sophist rather than as a philosopher.

Speaking as a philosopher, there does exist a gap between how we should treat humans and how we should treat animals; only the most fanatic would dispute this. But, as with most things, the devil lies in the details; how large should this human-animal gap be? Implicit in the answer also lies the value of the human race; are we merely animals or more than just animals? If we are truly more than beasts, then what separates us from them? And, most chillingly, when we justify X as being the reason for our superiority, what stops us from using X to label those more disadvantaged amongst us as inhumans rather than humans?


Jackson Tan said...

But the problem with your challenge is that the word "humane" does not necessarily imply a "human" treatment.

Humane: people act in a kind, sympathetic way towards other people and animals, and try to do them as little harm as possible.

Of course, your question of the human-animal moral gap still holds.

The Negative Man said...

Etymologically, it is evident that the root word is "human". BUT! after a quick search regarding the etymology of the word, it seems to also be related to "having qualities befitting human beings".

Which is of course not every instructive.