Ethical Dealings with Fellow Animals


“The truth of the matter is we cannot escape from the reality of our physicality. We are here and now in flesh and bone and blood. It is only the arrogance of our well-achieved evolution that has given us the illusion and the delusion that there is nothing animal in us anymore. In recognition of this incontrovertible fact and to turn the table around, it might be rather more meaningful to say that there is something human in our animality. What makes sense at this point is not the animal in us but rather the human in us who are actually animal.” — Ruel F. Pepa, “The Animal in Us”  []

I. “A Clearing House”

Let me initially establish the parameters of the matter at hand. About “animals,” there are seven main taxonomic ranks to consider: kingdom, division, class, order, family, genus, and species. The Animal Kingdom is a vast domain with myriad species ranging from the microscopic to the gigantic. I don’t intend to get into a comprehensive and lengthy discussion covering the entire animal kingdom for it will surely be one herculean task to accomplish. With all the limitations considered, I’d rather focus particularly on Class Mammalia and Class Aves specifically on both categories of wild and domesticated species where pet animals and farm livestock are included in the latter category.

Furthermore, it is important to take note of the term, “fellow animals,” for it implies that in the present discussion, the discussant who belongs to the human species–homo sapiens sapiens–is the point of reference in the discussion topic. Simply put, the issue is on how the human species–which is scientifically classified as an animal–ethically deals with its fellow animals.

Regarding the term “ethical,” my fundamental presupposition is the humanistic framework where the main emphasis is the primacy of human flourishing through (1) amelioration of suffering, (2) resolution of conflict, and (3) promotion of happiness. This particular ethical framework shouldn’t, however, be misconstrued as an exclusivist position that lacks environmental/ecological concern. The truth of the matter is, the humanistic ethical framework is an all-encompassing principle which is cognizant of the fact that the destruction of the environment is tantamount to the destruction of humanity. Nevertheless, this general ethical framework shouldn’t collide with the institutionalized morals of society as long as such morals do not deviate or assault the cardinal principle of human flourishing.

II. Being Responsible Stewards of Nature Protection and Preservation

Taking this issue from the perspectives of both primitive and modern western socio-cultural orientations, there’s nothing irresponsible, immoral and thus unethical in killing animals for food. Even in the context of wildlife hunting, the same principle applies: Hunt for food, i.e., when shooting and killing an animal in the wild, let it sink in the mind that such is done with a useful, beneficial and constructive purpose. It is obviously a serious problem among vegetarians but they appeal to a totally different set of ethical criteria which have always been posing the question, “Why is it wrong to eat animal meat?”

The truth of the matter is, it is not wrong. Human beings of variegated cultures in diverse societies have been consuming socially accepted and approved animal meat cooked in various ways since time immemorial and nobody has ever reacted vehemently negatively to that practice and call it immoral. In fact, in modern societies where such is common, livestock is raised on the farm to provide food for the people. In this sense, animal meat is useful, beneficial and constructive (in the sense of physico-biological nourishment). Among these farm livestock, no animal species is destroyed in the process, much less pushed to extinction. Raising them for food requires all the technicalities involved to continually improve their quality. Animal meat consumption, therefore, serves well the basic ethical principle of human flourishing for such contributes to the health and well-being of the human consumer.

Ethics doesn’t even really have the role and obligation to infringe on the socio-cultural practice of animal meat consumption since the practice goes back to the ancient primitive period when nomadic bands of families roamed around to look and hunt for food, both vegetation and animals that they deemed edible and harmless to the human physico-biological constitution. And it was how hunting was inaugurated as a food-procurement practice. Besides, such practice is considered natural in the animal world as other non-human animals take the role of predators to their common preys and the whole circumstance is not recreational but a fundamental aspect of survival. Ethics blends well within this natural system of predator-prey chains as the undercurrent of events aim for the continuation of every species in the animal world despite the unending series of deaths which in the final analysis is considered and accepted as normal, common and of course, natural. Within this natural survival network, the human animal is no exception since, under normal circumstances, s/he is basically a hunting predator her/himself.

III. The Human Animal is More Than a Natural Survival Predator

There is however a serious problem in the case of the human animal for s/he is way more than a natural survival predator hunting for food. S/he is an abusive perpetrator of immoral activities that violate the universal ethical standards of human flourishing. It is a known fact that non-human animals kill for food and such activity is not committed within the sphere of their own species. In contrast, human animals kill their own kind for different motives like anger and hatred, jealousy and envy, among others. But the most barbaric and diabolical is when a human animal kills one of his kind just for fun and entertainment. This is “recreational murder”. Nowadays, a blatantly prominent example of this kind of heinous and barbaric crime is unscrupulously carried out by Zionist Israeli murderers in Gaza Strip against the hapless Palestinians, regardless of whether they are old men and women, teenage boys and girls, young children, even babies. These are flagrant cases of human beings’ inhumanity towards their fellow human beings.

Moving down to the issue of how the human animal viciously and brutally deals with her/his fellow non-human animal in the context of wildlife hunting activity, the human animal traverses the “hunting-for-food” frontier as s/he finds extreme feelings of thrill and exhilaration in “murdering” conventionally considered non-edible wild animals like wolves and foxes, tigers and lions, elephants and giraffes, among others. This is the height of flagrant idiocy just to show to the whole world the ridiculous feat of the destructive ego of an adult who has never overcome her/his childish proclivities.

IV. Certain Exceptional Cases When Some Non-Human Predators Have to be Eliminated

There are, however, certain “non-hunting” instances when some non-human predators like wolves and foxes have to be necessarily dealt with as they get aggressively destructive and damaging to livestock farms. Yes, it is their carnivorous nature to obtain food for themselves but attacking a corral of livestock is uncalled for and they have to be stopped drastically.

Perhaps the same retribution could also be applied to human animals doing similar disastrous acts towards their fellow human animals. In their context, these acts are more accurately known as homicide (and could even be called murder when premeditated). Although, taking the law in one’s hand is not the standard norm in the human justice system.

(c) Ruel F. Pepa, 13 March 2019


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