Select one of the articles from this week’s reading and do the following: Summarize the actual argument the philosopher is making and then analyze the argument itself in terms of strength and whether you believe that the subject (animals or land) has rights that should be protected, or whether there’s a better basis for the appropriate treatment of them. Also state, briefly, if you believe this might be accomplished through a utilitarian approach.
Submissions should be between 500 and 750 words (3 pages) in length and meet the standards for upper-division undergraduate content, insight, and writing.
The Case for Animal Rights*
I regard myself as an advocate of animal rights — as a part of the animal rights movement. That
movement, as I conceive it, is committed to a number of goals, including:
• the total abolition of the use of animals in science;
• the total dissolution of commercial animal agriculture;
• the total elimination of commercial and sport hunting and trapping.
There are, I know, people who profess to believe in animal rights but do not avow these goals.
Factory farming, they say, is wrong – it violates animals’ rights – but traditional animal
agriculture is all right. Toxicity tests of cosmetics on animals violates their rights, but
important medical research — cancer research, for example — does not. The clubbing of baby
seals is abhorrent, but not the harvesting of adult seals. I used to think I understood this
reasoning. Not any more. You don’t change unjust institutions by tidying them up.
What’s wrong — fundamentally wrong — with the way animals are treated isn’t the details that
vary from case to case. It’s the whole system. The forlornness of the veal calf is pathetic, heart
wrenching; the pulsing pain of the chimp with electrodes planted deep in her brain is repulsive;
the slow, tortuous death of the racoon caught in the leg-hold trap is agonizing. But what is
wrong isn’t the pain, isn’t the suffering, isn’t the deprivation. These compound what’s wrong.
Sometimes – often – they make it much, much worse. But they are not the fundamental wrong.
The fundamental wrong is the system that allows us to view animals as our resources, here for
us — to be eaten, or surgically manipulated, or exploited for sport or money. Once we accept
this view of animals – as our resources – the rest is as predictable as it is regrettable. Why
worry about their loneliness, their pain, their death? Since animals exist for us, to benefit us in
one way or another, what harms them really doesn’t matter — or matters only if it starts to
bother us, makes us feel a trifle uneasy when we eat our veal escalope, for example. So, yes,
let us get veal calves out of solitary confinement, give them more space, a little straw, a few
companions. But let us keep our veal escalope.
But a little straw, more space and a few companions won’t eliminate – won’t even touch – the
basic wrong that attaches to our viewing and treating these animals as our resources. A veal
calf killed to be eaten after living in close confinement is viewed and treated in this way: but
so, too, is another who is raised (as they say) ‘more humanely’. To right the wrong of our
treatment of farm animals requires more than making rearing methods ‘more humane’; it
requires the total dissolution of commercial animal agriculture.
How we do this, whether we do it or, as in the case of animals in science, whether and how we
abolish their use – these are to a large extent political questions. People must change their
beliefs before they change their habits. Enough people, especially those elected to public
office, must believe in change – must want it – before we will have laws that protect the rights
of animals. This process of change is very complicated, very demanding, very exhausting,
calling for the efforts of many hands in education, publicity, political organization and activity,
down to the licking of envelopes and stamps. As a trained and practising philosopher, the sort
of contribution I can make is limited but, I like to think, important. The currency of philosophy
is ideas – their meaning and rational foundation – not the nuts and bolts of the legislative
process, say, or the mechanics of community organization. That’s what I have been exploring
over the past ten years or so in my essays and talks and, most recently, in my book, The Case
In PETER SINGER (ed), In Defense of Animals, New York: Basil Blackwell, 1985, pp. 13-26.
for Animal Rights. I believe the major conclusions I reach in the book are true because they are
supported by the weight of the best arguments. I believe the idea of animal rights has reason,
not just emotion, on its side.
In the space I have at my disposal here I can only sketch, in the barest outline, some of the
main features of the book. It’s main themes – and we should not be surprised by this – involve
asking and answering deep, foundational moral questions about what morality is, how it should
be understood and what is the best moral theory, all considered. I hope I can convey something
of the shape I think this theory takes. The attempt to do this will be (to use a word a friendly
critic once used to describe my work) cerebral, perhaps too cerebral. But this is misleading. My
feelings about how animals are sometimes treated run just as deep and just as strong as those
of my more volatile compatriots. Philosophers do — to use the jargon of the day — have a right
side to their brains. If it’s the left side we contribute (or mainly should), that’s because what
talents we have reside there.
How to proceed? We begin by asking how the moral status of animals has been understood by
thinkers who deny that animals have rights. Then we test the mettle of their ideas by seeing
how well they stand up under the heat of fair criticism. If we start our thinking in this way, we
soon find that some people believe that we have no duties directly to animals, that we owe
nothing to them, that we can do nothing that wrongs them. Rather, we can do wrong acts that
involve animals, and so we have duties regarding them, though none to them. Such views may
be called indirect duty views. By way of illustration: suppose your neighbour kicks your dog.
Then your neighbour has done something wrong. But not to your dog. The wrong that has been
done is a wrong to you. After all, it is wrong to upset people, and your neighbour’s kicking your
dog upsets you. So you are the one who is wronged, not your dog. Or again: by kicking your dog
your neighbour damages your property. And since it is wrong to damage another person’s
property, your neighbour has done something wrong – to you, of course, not to your dog. Your
neighbour no more wrongs your dog than your car would be wronged if the windshield were
smashed. Your neighbour’s duties involving your dog are indirect duties to you. More generally,
all of our duties regarding animals are indirect duties to one another — to humanity.
How could someone try to justify such a view? Someone might say that your dog doesn’t feel
anything and so isn’t hurt by your neighbour’s kick, doesn’t care about the pain since none is
felt, is as unaware of anything as is your windshield. Someone might say this, but no rational
person will, since, among other considerations, such a view will commit anyone who holds it to
the position that no human being feels pain either – that human beings also don’t care about
what happens to them. A second possibility is that though both humans and your dog are hurt
when kicked, it is only human pain that matters. But, again, no rational person can believe
this. Pain is pain wherever it occurs. If your neighbour’s causing you pain is wrong because of
the pain that is caused, we cannot rationally ignore or dismiss the moral relevance of the pain
that your dog feels.
Philosophers who hold indirect duty views — and many still do — have come to understand that
they must avoid the two defects just noted: that is, both the view that animals don’t feel
anything as well as the idea that only human pain can be morally relevant. Among such thinkers
the sort of view now favoured is one or other form of what is called contractarianism.
Here, very crudely, is the root idea: morality consists of a set of rules that individuals
voluntarily agree to abide by, as we do when we sign a contract (hence the name
contractarianism). Those who understand and accept the terms of the contract are covered
directly; they have rights created and recognized by, and protected in, the contract. And these
contractors can also have protection spelled out for others who, though they lack the ability to
understand morality and so cannot sign the contract themselves, are loved or cherished by
those who can. Thus young children, for example, are unable to sign contracts and lack rights.
But they are protected by the contract none the less because of the sentimental interests of
others, most notably their parents. So we have, then, duties involving these children, duties
regarding them, but no duties to them. Our duties in their case are indirect duties to other
human beings, usually their parents.
As for animals, since they cannot understand contracts, they obviously cannot sign; and since
they cannot sign, they have no rights. Like children, however, some animals are the objects of
the sentimental interest of others. You, for example, love your dog or cat. So those animals
that enough people care about (companion animals, whales, baby seals, the American bald
eagle), though they lack rights themselves, will be protected because of the sentimental
interests of people. I have, then, according to contractarianism, no duty directly to your dog or
any other animal, not even the duty not to cause them pain or suffering; my duty not to hurt
them is a duty I have to those people who care about what happens to them. As for other
animals, where no or little sentimental interest is present – in the case of farm animals, for
example, or laboratory rats – what duties we have grow weaker and weaker, perhaps to
vanishing point. The pain and death they endure, though real, are not wrong if no one cares
When it comes to the moral status of animals’ contractarianism could be a hard view to refute
if it were an adequate theoretical approach to the moral status of human beings. It is not
adequate in this latter respect, however, which makes the question of its adequacy in the
former case, regarding animals, utterly moot. For consider: morality, according to the (crude)
contractarian position before us, consists of rules that people agree to abide by. What people?
Well, enough to make a difference – enough, that is, collectively to have the power to enforce
the rules that are drawn up in the contract. That is very well and good for the signatories but
not so good for anyone who is not asked to sign. And there is nothing in contractarianism of the
sort we are discussing that guarantees or requires that everyone will have a chance to
participate equally in framing the rules of morality. The result is that this approach to ethics
could sanction the most blatant forms of social, economic, moral and political injustice,
ranging from a repressive caste system to systematic racial or sexual discrimination. Might,
according to this theory, does make right. Let those who are the victims of injustice suffer as
they will. It matters not so long as no one else — no contractor, or too few of them — cares
about it. Such a theory takes one’s moral breath away … as if, for example, there would be
nothing wrong with apartheid in South Africa if few white South Africans were upset by it. A
theory with so little to recommend it at the level of the ethics of our treatment of our fellow
humans cannot have anything more to recommend it when it comes to the ethics of how we
treat our fellow animals.
The version of contractarianism just examined is, as I have noted, a crude variety, and in
fairness to those of a contractarian persuasion it must be noted that much more refined, subtle
and ingenious varieties are possible. For example, John Rawls, in his A Theory of Justice, sets
forth a version of contractarianism that forces contractors to ignore the accidental features of
being a human being – for example, whether one is white or black, male or female, a genius or
of modest intellect. Only by ignoring such features, Rawls believes, can we ensure that the
principles of justice that contractors would agree upon are not based on bias or prejudice.
Despite the improvement a view such as Rawls’s represents over the cruder forms of
contractarianism, it remains deficient: it systematically denies that we have direct duties to
those human beings who do not have a sense of justice – young children, for instance, and
many mentally retarded humans. And yet it seems reasonably certain that, were we to torture
a young child or a retarded elder, we would be doing something that wronged him or her, not
something that would be wrong if (and only if) other humans with a sense ofjustice were upset.
And since this is true in the case of these humans, we cannot rationally deny the same in the
case of animals.
Indirect duty views, then, including the best among them, fail to command our rational assent.
Whatever ethical theory we should accept rationally, therefore, it must at least recognize that
we have some duties directly to animals, just as we have some duties directly to each other.
The next two theories I’ll sketch attempt to meet this requirement.
The first I call the cruelty-kindness view. Simply stated, this says that we have a direct duty to
be kind to animals and a direct duty not to be cruel to them. Despite the familiar, reassuring
ring of these ideas, I do not believe that this view offers an adequate theory. To make this
clearer, consider kindness. A kind person acts from a certain kind of motive – compassion or
concern, for example. And that is a virtue. But there is no guarantee that a kind act is a right
act. If I am a generous racist, for example, I will be inclined to act kindly towards members of
my own race, favouring their interests above those of others. My kindness would be real and,
so far as it goes, good. But I trust it is too obvious to require argument that my kind acts may
not be above moral reproach – may, in fact, be positively wrong because rooted in injustice. So
kindness, notwithstanding its status as a virtue to be encouraged, simply will not carry the
weight of a theory of right action.
Cruelty fares no better. People or their acts are cruel if they display either a lack of sympathy
for or, worse, the presence of enjoyment in another’s suffering. Cruelty in all its guises is a bad
thing, a tragic human failing. But just as a person’s being motivated by kindness does not
guarantee that he or she does what is right, so the absence of cruelty does not ensure that he
or she avoids doing what is wrong. Many people who perform abortions, for example, are not
cruel, sadistic people. But that fact alone does not settle the terribly difficult question of the
morality of abortion. The case is no different when we examine the ethics of our treatment of
animals. So, yes, let us be for kindness and against cruelty. But let us not suppose that being
for the one and against the other answers questions about moral right and wrong.
Some people think that the theory we are looking for is utilitarianism. A utilitarian accepts two
moral principles. The first is that of equality: everyone’s interests count, and similar interests
must be counted as having similar weight or importance. White or black, American or Iranian,
human or animal – everyone’s pain or frustration matter, and matter just as much as the
equivalent pain or frustration of anyone else. The second principle a utilitarian accepts is that
of utility: do the act that will bring about the best balance between satisfaction and frustration
for everyone affected by the outcome.
As a utilitarian, then, here is how I am to approach the task of deciding what I morally ought to
do: I must ask who will be affected if I choose to do one thing rather than another, how much
each individual will be affected, and where the best results are most likely to lie – which
option, in other words, is most likely to bring about the best results, the best balance between
satisfaction and frustration. That option, whatever it may be, is the one I ought to choose.
That is where my moral duty lies.
The great appeal of utilitarianism rests with its uncompromising egalitarianism: everyone’s
interests count and count as much as the like interests of everyone else. The kind of odious
discrimination that some forms of contractarianism can justify – discrimination based on race or
sex, for example – seems disallowed in principle by utilitarianism, as is speciesism, systematic
discrimination based on species membership.
The equality we find in utilitarianism, however, is not the sort an advocate of animal or human
rights should have in mind. Utilitarianism has no room for the equal moral rights of different
individuals because it has no room for their equal inherent value or worth. What has value for
the utilitarian is the satisfaction of an individual’s interests, not the individual whose interests
they are. A universe in which you satisfy your desire for water, food and warmth is, other
things being equal, better than a universe in which these desires are frustrated. And the same
is true in the case of an animal with similar desires. But neither you nor the animal have any
value in your own right. Only your feelings do.
Here is an analogy to help make the philosophical point clearer: a cup contains different
liquids, sometimes sweet, sometimes bitter, sometimes a mix of the two. What has value are
the liquids: the sweeter the better, the bitterer the worse. The cup, the container, has no
value. It is what goes into it, not what they go into, that has value. For the utilitarian you and I
are like the cup; we have no value as individuals and thus no equal value. What has value is
what goes into us, what we serve as receptacles for; our feelings of satisfaction have positive
value, our feelings of frustration negative value.
Serious problems arise for utilitarianism when we remind ourselves that it enjoins us to bring
about the best consequences. What does this mean? It doesn’t mean the best consequences for
me alone, or for my family or friends, or any other person taken individually. No, what we must
do is, roughly, as follows: we must add up (somehow!) the separate satisfactions and
frustrations of everyone likely to be affected by our choice, the satisfactions in one column,
the frustrations in the other. We must total each column for each of the options before us.
That is what it means to say the theory is aggregative. And then we must choose that option
which is most likely to bring about the best balance of totalled satisfactions over totalled
frustrations. Whatever act would lead to this outcome is the one we ought morally to perform
— it is where our moral duty lies. And that act quite clearly might not be the same one that
would bring about the best results for me personally, or for my family or friends, or for a lab
animal. The best aggregated consequences for everyone concerned are not necessarily the best
for each individual.
That utilitarianism is an aggregative theory — different individuals’ satisfactions or frustrations
are added, or summed, or totalled – is the key objection to this theory. My Aunt Bea is old,
inactive, a cranky, sour person, though not physically ill. She prefers to go on living. She is also
rather rich. I could make a fortune if I could get my hands on her money, money she intends to
give me in any event, after she dies, but which she refuses to give me now. In order to avoid a
huge tax bite, I plan to donate a handsome sum of my profits to a local children’s hospital.
Many, many children will benefit from my generosity, and much joy will be brought to their
parents, relatives and friends. If I don’t get the money rather soon, all these ambitions will
come to naught. The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a real killing will be gone. Why,
then, not kill my Aunt Bea? Oh, of course I might get caught. But I’m no fool and, besides, her
doctor can be counted on to co-operate (he has an eye for the same investment and I happen
to know a good deal about his shady past). The deed can be done . . . professionally, shall we
say. There is very little chance of getting caught. And as for my conscience being guilt-ridden, I
am a resourceful sort of fellow and will take more than sufficient comfort – as I lie on the
beach at Acapulco – in contemplating the joy and health I have brought to so many others.
Suppose Aunt Bea is killed and the rest of the story comes out as told. Would I have done
anything wrong? Anything immoral? One would have thought that I had. Not according to
utilitarianism. Since what I have done has brought about the best balance between totalled
satisfaction and frustration for all those affected by the outcome, my action is not wrong.
Indeed, in killing Aunt Bea the physician and I did what duty required.
This same kind of argument can be repeated in all sorts of cases, illustrating, time after time,
how the utilitarian’s position leads to results that impartial people find morally callous. It is
wrong to kill my Aunt Bea in the name of bringing about the best results for others. A good end
does not justify an evil means. Any adequate moral theory will have to explain why this is so.
Utilitarianism fails in this respect and so cannot be the theory we seek.
What to do? Where to begin anew? The place to begin, I think, is with the utilitarian’s view of
the value of the individual — or, rather, lack of value. In its place, suppose we consider that
you and I, for example, do have value as individuals — what we’ll call inherent value. To say we
have such value is to say that we are something more than, something different from, mere
receptacles. Moreover, to ensure that we do not pave the way for such injustices as slavery or
sexual discrimination, we must believe that all who have inherent value have it equally,
regardless of their sex, race, religion, birthplace and so on. Similarly to be discarded as
irrelevant are one’s talents or skills, intelligence and wealth, personality or pathology, whether
one is loved and admired or despised and loathed. The genius and the retarded child, the
prince and the pauper, the brain surgeon and the fruit vendor, Mother Teresa and the most
unscrupulous used-car salesman — all have inherent value, all possess it equally, and all have
an equal right to be treated with respect, to be treated in ways that do not reduce them to the
status of things, as if they existed as resources for others. My value as an individual is
independent of my usefulness to you. Yours is not dependent on your usefulness to me. For
either of us to treat the other in ways that fail to show respect for the other’s independent
value is to act immorally, to violate the individual’s rights.
Some of the rational virtues of this view – what I call the rights view – should be evident. Unlike
(crude) contractarianism, for example, the rights view in principle denies the moral tolerability
of any and all forms of racial, sexual or social discrimination; and unlike utilitarianism, this
view in principle denies that we can justify good results by using evil means that violate an
individual’s rights -denies, for example, that it could be moral to kill my Aunt Bea to harvest
beneficial consequences for others. That would be to sanction the disrespectful treatment of
the individual in the name of the social good, something the rights view will not — categorically
will not —ever allow.
The rights view, I believe, is rationally the most satisfactory moral theory. It surpasses all other
theories in the degree to which it illuminates and explains the foundation of our duties to one
another – the domain of human morality. On this score it has the best reasons, the best
arguments, on its side. Of course, if it were possible to show that only human beings are
included within its scope, then a person like myself, who believes in animal rights, would be
obliged to look elsewhere.
But attempts to limit its scope to humans only can be shown to be rationally defective.
Animals, it is true, lack many of the abilities humans possess. They can’t read, do higher
mathematics, build a bookcase or make baba ghanoush. Neither can many human beings,
however, and yet we don’t (and shouldn’t) say that they (these humans) therefore have less
inherent value, less of a right to be treated with respect, than do others. It is the similarities
between those human beings who most clearly, most non-controversially have such value (the
people reading this, for example), not our differences, that matter most. And the really
crucial, the basic similarity is simply this: we are each of us the experiencing subject of a life,
a conscious creature having an individual welfare that has importance to us whatever our
usefulness to others. We want and prefer things, believe and feel things, recall and expect
things. And all these dimensions of our life, including our pleasure and pain, our enjoyment and
suffering, our satisfaction and frustration, our continued existence or our untimely death – all
make a difference to the quality of our life as lived, as experienced, by us as individuals. As
the same is true of those animals that concern us (the ones that are eaten and trapped, for
example), they too must be viewed as the experiencing subjects of a life, with inherent value
of their own.
Some there are who resist the idea that animals have inherent value. ‘Only humans have such
value,’ they profess. How might this narrow view be defended? Shall we say that only humans
have the requisite intelligence, or autonomy, or reason? But there are many, many humans who
fail to meet these standards and yet are reasonably viewed as having value above and beyond
their usefulness to others. Shall we claim that only humans belong to the right species, the
species Homo sapiens? But this is blatant speciesism. Will it be said, then, that all – and only –
humans have immortal souls? Then our opponents have their work cut out for them. I am myself
not ill-disposed to the proposition that there are immortal souls. Personally, I profoundly hope I
have one. But I would not want to rest my position on a controversial ethical issue on the even
more controversial question about who or what has an immortal soul. That is to dig one’s hole
deeper, not to climb out. Rationally, it is better to resolve moral issues without making more
controversial assumptions than are needed. The question of who has inherent value is such a
question, one that is resolved more rationally without the introduction of the idea of immortal
souls than by its use.
Well, perhaps some will say that animals have some inherent value, only less than we have.
Once again, however, attempts to defend this view can be shown to lack rational justification.
What could be the basis of our having more inherent value than animals? Their lack of reason,
or autonomy, or intellect? Only if we are willing to make the same judgment in the case of
humans who are similarly deficient. But it is not true that such humans — the retarded child,
for example, or the mentally deranged – have less inherent value than you or I. Neither, then,
can we rationally sustain the view that animals like them in being the experiencing subjects of
a life have less inherent value. All who have inherent value have it equally, whether they be
human animals or not.
Inherent value, then, belongs equally to those who are the experiencing subjects of a
life/Whether it belongs to others – to rocks and rivers, trees and glaciers, for example — we do
not know and may never know. But neither do we need to know, if we are to make the case for
animal rights. We do not need to know, for example, how many people are eligible to vote in
the next presidential election before we can know whether I am. Similarly, we do not need to
know how many individuals have inherent value before we can know that some do. When it
comes to the case for animal rights, then, what we need to know is whether the animals that,
in our culture, are routinely eaten, hunted and used in our laboratories, for example, are like
us in being subjects of a life. And we do know this. We do know that many – literally, billions
and billions – of these animals are the subjects of a life in the sense explained and so have
inherent value if we do. And since, in order to arrive at the best theory of our duties to one
another, we must recognize our equal inherent value as individuals, reason – not sentiment,
not emotion – reason compels us to recognize the equal inherent value of these animals and,
with this, their equal right to be treated with respect.
That, very roughly, is the shape and feel of the case for animal rights. Most of the details of
the supporting argument are missing. They are to be found in the book to which I alluded
earlier. Here, the details go begging, and I must, in closing, limit myself to four final points.
The first is how the theory that underlies the case for animal rights shows that 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.
Second, having set out the broad outlines of the rights view, I can now say why its implications
for farming and science, among other fields, are both clear and uncompromising. In the case of
the use of animals in science, the rights view is categorically abolitionist. Lab animals are not
our tasters; we are not their kings. Because these animals are treated routinely, systematically
as if their value were reducible to their usefulness to others, they are routinely, systematically
treated with a lack of respect, and thus are their rights routinely, systematically violated. This
is just as true when they are used in trivial, duplicative, unnecessary or unwise research as it is
when they are used in studies that hold out real promise of human benefits. We can’t justify
harming or killing a human being (my Aunt Bea, for example) just for these sorts of reason.
Neither can we do so even in the case of so lowly a creature as a laboratory rat. It is not just
refinement or reduction that is called for, not just larger, cleaner cages, not just more
generous use of anaesthetic or the elimination of multiple surgery, not just tidying up the
system. It is complete replacement. The best we can do when it comes to using animals in
science is – not to use them. That is where our duty lies, according to the rights view.
As for commercial animal agriculture, the rights view takes a similar abolitionist position. The
fundamental moral wrong here is not that animals are kept in stressful close confinement or in
isolation, or that their pain and suffering, their needs and preferences are ignored or
discounted. All these are wrong, of course, but they are not the fundamental wrong. They are
symptoms and effects of the deeper, systematic wrong that allows these animals to be viewed
and treated as lacking independent value, as resources for us – as, indeed, a renewable
resource. Giving farm animals more space, more natural environments, more companions does
not right the fundamental wrong, any more than giving lab animals more anaesthesia or bigger,
cleaner cages would right the fundamental wrong in their case. Nothing less than the total
dissolution of commercial animal agriculture will do this, just as, for similar reasons I won’t
develop at length here, morality requires nothing less than the total elimination of hunting and
trapping for commercial and sporting ends. The rights view’s implications, then, as I have said,
are clear and uncompromising.
My last two points are about philosophy, my profession. It is, most obviously, no substitute for
political action. The words I have written here and in other places by themselves don’t change
a thing. It is what we do with the thoughts that the words express — our acts, our deeds – that
changes things. All that philosophy can do, and all I have attempted, is to offer a vision of what
our deeds should aim at. And the why. But not the how.
Finally, I am reminded of my thoughtful critic, the one I mentioned earlier, who chastised me
for being too cerebral. Well, cerebral I have been: indirect duty views, utilitarianism,
contractarianism – hardly the stuff deep passions are made of. I am also reminded, however, of
the image another friend once set before me — the image of the ballerina as expressive of
disciplined passion. Long hours of sweat and toil, of loneliness and practice, of doubt and
fatigue: those are the discipline of her craft. But the passion is there too, the fierce drive to
excel, to speak through her body, to do it right, to pierce our minds. That is the image of
philosophy I would leave with you, not ‘too cerebral’ but disciplined passion. Of the discipline
enough has been seen. As for the passion: there are times, and these not infrequent, when
tears come to my eyes when I see, or read, or hear of the wretched plight of animals in the
hands of humans. Their pain, their suffering, their loneliness, their innocence, their death.
Anger. Rage. Pity. Sorrow. Disgust. The whole creation groans under the weight of the evil we
humans visit upon these mute, powerless creatures. It is our hearts, not just our heads, that
call for an end to it all, that demand of us that we overcome, for them, the habits and forces
behind their systematic oppression. All great movements, it is written, go through three stages:
ridicule, discussion, adoption. It is the realization of this third stage, adoption, that requires
both our passion and our discipline, our hearts and our heads. The fate of animals is in our
hands. God grant we are equal to the task.