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Part 2. Against Speciesism: Why All Individuals Are Unique and Special

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

Why All Individuals Are Unique and Special

ANIMALS COME IN ALL SHAPES AND SIZES. Biologists try to organize and make sense of this variety by classifying animals as members of different phyla, classes, orders, families, genera, species, and subspecies. In this way, scientists create our “family tree,” which shows how the various types of animals are related and where they diverge. Often scientists use words like “simple” and “complex,” or “higher” and “lower,” to characterize different species based on particular traits, such as the complexity of the nervous system or the size of the brain relative to the size of the body. Within biological classification systems, these words are useful. However, they are also often translated into qualitative judgments: “higher” becomes “better” or “more valuable”; “lower” becomes “lesser” or “easily discarded.” In the essays in this part, I argue that this usage is misleading, incorrect, and inappropriate. It is “speciesism,” which serves little purpose except to justify the killing or bad treatment of certain classes of animals that humans find either useful or inconvenient. We should not use species membership to make decisions about how an animal can be treated, or more pointedly, what level of mistreatment is permissible. Rather, we should approach each animal as an individual with unique characteristics and an inherent value equal to all other beings. Individual animals do what they need to do to be card-carrying members of their respective species. Within their species, this has the most value, and no individual is “better” or “more valuable” than the rest. Just as all species count, all individuals count, and all beings are unique and special in their own ways.

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8: Trade in Horses, Cats and Dogs

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

Trade in Horses, Cats and

Dogs

8

8.1  Introduction

Horses, cats and dogs share a common usage as companion animals but they can also variously be used as racing animals (horses and dogs), for meat production

(horses mostly, sometimes dogs and very occasionally cats), milk production (horses) and fur production (cats and dogs). Because these animals supply specialist markets, not mainstream like cattle and chickens, trade is often local. The trade is often not regulated as well as the livestock trade, frequently covert and sometimes illegal.

8.2  Horses

Horse trading has a long history, with evidence of activity in central Asia around

1000 bce (Wagner et al., 2011). The close relation between owner and horse makes the transaction very reliant on the owner’s report of the characteristics of the horse. The potential for deceit in this activity has given the term ‘horse trading’ special meaning in relation to business deals.

According to the World Horse Organization (WHO, 2015), there are now approximately 58 million horses worldwide, with 16% in the USA, 13% in China,

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Part 5. Consciousness, Sentience, and Cognition: A Potpourri of Current Research on Flies, Fish, and Other Animals

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

A Potpourri of Current Research on Flies, Fish, and Other Animals

THIS IS AN INCREDIBLY EXCITING TIME to study the behavior of other animals. It seems like every day we’re learning more and more about the fascinating lives of other animals — how smart and clever they are and how they’re able to solve problems we never imagined they could. Here I consider a wide range of research on animals that shows clearly just how well-developed and amazing are their cognitive skills. A very few people continue to ignore what we really know about other animals, but they are in the vast minority. Here you can read about flies, bees, lizards, fish, a back-scratching dog, how climate change is influencing behavior, and why respected scientists are pondering the spiritual lives of animals.

However, before getting into this wonderful research on animal minds and consciousness, I start this part with an essay that tackles one of the main and enduring criticisms of such research and of my work in particular: anthropomorphism, or the attribution of human characteristics to non-human animals, objects, or events (such as when people talk about “nasty thunderstorms.” The charge of anthropomorphism is often used to bash ideas that other animals are emotional beings. Skeptics claim that dogs, for example, are merely acting “as if” they’re happy or sad, but they really aren’t; they might be feeling something we don’t know or feeling nothing at all. Skeptics propose, because we can’t know with absolute certainty the thoughts of another being, we should take the stance that we can’t know anything or even that consciousness in other animals doesn’t exist. For Psychology Today and elsewhere, I have written extensively about the “problem” of “being anthropomorphic.” For instance, see “Anthropomorphic Double-Talk” in my book The Emotional Lives of Animals (see Endnotes, page 335). In my opinion, there’s no way to avoid anthropomorphism. Even those who eschew anthropomorphism must make their arguments using anthropomorphic terms, and they often do so in self-serving ways. If a scientist says an animal is “happy,” no one questions it, but if the animal is described as sad or suffering, then charges of anthropomorphism are leveled. Scientists can accept and treat their own companion animals as if they feel love, affection, gratitude, and pain, and then deny these very emotions in the animals they use, and abuse, while conducting experiments in the lab.

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10: The Future of Animal Trade

Phillips, C.J.C. CABI PDF

The Future of Animal Trade

10

10.1  Introduction

The past has seen some dramatic changes in world trade in animals. This chapter considers what will shape the future of the animal trade and what changes in the trade are likely. Continuation of current trends does not seem to be an option. Worldwide meat and milk production have been growing, as outlined in

Chapters 4 and 5, respectively. Even taking into account increasing population, meat availability per capita has been increasing steadily over the last 50 years to approximately double what it was at the beginning of the 1960s; milk availability per capita has increased by about 20% over the last 10 years (Fig. 10.1). The increasing livestock production requires prodigious quantities of feed grain and there is still potential for meat consumption to increase in many developing regions of the world, e.g. sub-Saharan Africa. The steadily increasing trajectory for meat availability per capita has been consistent over the last 50 years (Fig. 10.1), and it will therefore take extreme measures if this is to be changed.

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Part 11. Rewilding Our Hearts: The Importance of Kindness, Empathy, and Compassion for All Beings

Marc Bekoff New World Library ePub

The Importance of Kindness, Empathy, and Compassion for All Beings

HERE IS THE BIG QUESTION: What can we do to make the world a better place for all beings, human and nonhuman, and to protect their homes? There are no easy answers. We need to move out of our comfort zones and think and act outside of the box because what we’ve been doing in the past hasn’t worked very well. We really are decimating our planet at an unprecedented rate, and we need to stop doing this now. We’ve ignored nature for far too long a time, and we can’t continue living as if what we do doesn’t really matter, as if we don’t need to make changes right now to stop plundering Earth. What we do really does matter in all arenas. Humans are very accomplished denialists. I often think we should be called Homo denialus rather than Homo sapiens.

I travel a lot, and I meet many wonderful people who are working tirelessly and selflessly for other animals, humans, and the planet as a whole. I’m an unflinching, card-carrying optimist, and that’s because I know there are many others doing all they can do. This keeps my hopes and dreams alive. Many people lose faith and burn out because the work is tedious and can be rather depressing. I always say to avoid burnout one should work hard, play hard, rest hard, and be able to step back and laugh at oneself when need be. Also, avoid being sidetracked by people who just want to waste your time as you work to make the world a better, safer, and more peaceful and compassionate place for all beings.

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