How Should We Treat Animals?

Martha Nussbaum and Frans de Waal discussed the ethicality of the way in which our society treats animals – both in the lab and in farm factories. This issue has been debated time and time again. The majority of the time, the animals are exploited and put through immense pain all for the sake of profit, especially in the factory farm industry. The science lab is no better, the helpless creatures are experimented on, a lot of the time with dire effects. None of this information is some hard hitting reveal – most people are aware of the horrors.

One thing that the speakers, who were vegetarians themselves, brought up was the prospect of painless meat – meat that came from an animal that felt no pain, was not in any way mentally harmed, before it was killed. They also brought up the prospect of petri-dish made meat, and if that would ever make a good substitute to the actual thing. As a vegetarian myself, I thought this was a very interesting point to bring up. There are many reasons that a person may choose enter the vegetarian lifestyle, the inhumaneness of the treatment of the animals being a huge one. Animals don’t dread death the way humans do, but they are capable of feeling pain (and also love). So the question of “if factory farming was transformed into a humane, respectful process, would vegetarians not be vegetarians anymore” was very great thing to bring up – I will definitely be contemplating this more.

The discussion then went into a whole slew of what-if scenarios. Nussbaum and de Waal brought up some very thought-provoking topics. Should animal contraception be used to keep population size under control? Should we use computer simulations instead of life subjects to study animal behavior? If we can factory farm animals for meat, could we farm, on a mass scale, humans for organs? Should we, and how can we, stop animal-animal conflicts? What do we do if an animal destroys something belonging to a human? That brought up the whole debate of who has more rights: humans or animals. Even though detrimental to animals, factory farming is a very profitable business. And if it’s stopped, human rights are put under animal rights. We need to find a balance between the two – neither one should be superior to the other. As was stated by the speakers: “we all have a right to leisure and play, and a right to a clean habitat.” And we all have a right to life.

The last point of the lecture, and the most enthralling: are we mentally capable of killing others? If we were, there would be no PTSD after wars, there would be no remorse after taking, even by accident, the life of another person, there would be no need of humane experimentation in science labs, there would be no need to try to cover up the factory farming industry and make it into this removed process that is completely distant from your mind as you are sitting and eating that hamburger.                                                               So why do we still do it?

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