3/12/10

PETA and Euthanasia

I've got to stop reading Gary Francione.  I'm going to wind up with a permanent frown.  Francione reports that PETA euthanizes 90% of the animals in its shelter.  He draws a couple of conclusions.  First, PETA must be euthanising healthy animals.  He writes, after presenting the statistic--
That is a disgrace. “Euthanasia” is death that is in the interest of the human or nonhuman euthanized. Euthanasia is never in the interests of a healthy being.
Why assume the animals were healthy?  This is what Ingrid Newkirk wrote, after an anti-animal-rights group started a campaign about how PETA kills animals (I discussed the campaign here). 

Second, he surmises that PETA accepts a theory he attributes to Peter Singer. 
PETA apparently shares Peter Singer’s view that a relatively painless death does not constitute a harm for nonhuman animals because, unlike humans, most nonhumans are not self-aware and cannot grasp what it means to “have a life.” In order to have an interest in your continued existence, you must be human. So those 2352 animals that PETA killed weren’t really harmed. They did not care about their lives anyway. Nothing was taken from them when they were killed.
But this isn't even Singer's theory,  His theory is that death harms human beings in more ways than it harms animals, not that  death doesn't harm animals at all.  For a human and an animal, death harms by taking away future satisfactions.  Death merely harms humans in an extra way, by taking away satisfactions they explicitly want.

This difference does have some practical implcations. If you could run a farm where animals are painlessly killed and bred, so that every bit of happiness lost was replaced, Singer thinks that would be different from running a people farm.  The absence of desires about the future makes animals (of most species) replaceable.  But euthanizing animals at a shelter doesn't involve the combination of killing and replacing.  So Singer's "replacement argument" has no relevance.

Frown.

4 comments:

amos said...

After a short exchange of comments with Herr Francione on your blog, I decided that he was not conducive to my mental health and I've never paid any attention to him since. I value my mental health highly, and there are several online persons, one of whom we both know, who are included in the same category. Why bother reading people who don't add to one's store of wisdom and who are not especially pleasant besides?

Jean Kazez said...

He intrigues me because of his influence on other folks around the internet. It's the influence, not the ideas, that get my attention. But it's a bit like eating potato chips. Habit forming, and not nutritious. I would say the same about other topics I've hammered away at in the past. At some point, you just have to turn yourself over to a 12 step program and hope that it works.

amos said...

In ending the addiction to at least two sites I used to frequent and where I felt persona non grata,
there were two steps. First, I stopped commenting, even though I continued to read the posts and the other comments. That took some will power, but more or less the same degree of will power that taught me to never drink more than half a bottle of wine in any one evening, given that both more wine and commenting in certain places produce unpleasant after-effects. The second step, which took no will power or effort, was that I realized neither the posts nor the comments interested me much
now that I was no longer participating, probably for much the same reasons that the results of a local election in a town one has moved away from no longer interest one at all. At that point, I simply stopped looking at both sites.

Jean Kazez said...

I don't participate at blogs where it becomes painful to participate. I have to be having fun to comment...and it's not fun when you're treated like a troll.

But here I can sometimes have some missionary zeal. On some days I have a lot of readers. Also, old posts keep being read even years later (I have ways to keep track). So if a point is worth making, it's not just me having to suffer through a alot of irritation.

I'm going back to the subject of procreative ethics very soon. That has more to do with what I am currently working on and thinking about.