Saturday, 31 March 2007

'Moral equivalence' of humans and animals?

Ed: Just when you thought the next problem was the uniqueness of Christ.

[...] Human history shows little sign of progress. We are, in most respects, as stupid and cruel as ever. But we have, at least, expanded our moral community, bit by bit, forsaking prejudice of kin, race and class, until today, when we have come to include the whole human species in a single embrace.

Once we admit that non-human ancestors are morally equivalent to ourselves, it becomes logically impossible to hold the line against other kindred species. New Zealand, Spain and Norway are among nations that have encoded ape rights in their laws. If the theory of evolution is correct, all species are linked, for all creatures are part of a single continuum and have common ancestors. If apes are admitted to our moral community on the ground of their similarity to humans, then other creatures will have to be admitted on the ground of their similarity to apes, and so on until all creation is encompassed. We should then be morally self-disqualified from eating or exploiting any species. As Bertrand Russell once said, there is no logical conclusion “short of votes for oysters”. Read more

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