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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Animal Biscuit

There’s a fella, right, called Stephen Clark, who is apparently a professor of philosophy at the University of Liverpool. It seems he has also advised the government on animal testing. Jesus. I read an article by him today (http://education.independent.co.uk/higher/article2005413.ece) and given that I found it in the Independent I’m not convinced that it’s a joke, but I’d bloody hope it is. Otherwise I’m fairly sure Liverpool Uni isn’t becoming a leading centre of excellence in the world of philosophy any time soon…

“People disapprove of causing animals pain, but they think killing animals is OK. We're not remotely consistent about this. If killing animals was morally neutral we wouldn't disapprove of someone killing their pets, but we do.”

Uh huh. Not exactly an earth shattering statement of controversy, that, but fair enough, a valid point…

“We don't need to kill animals for meat. All that is unnecessary suffering. We only do it on the assumption that animals are there for us, material for not just our needs but our wishes, because of a superstitious belief that human life is radically different from animal life.”

Yeah, you’re right there, Stephen. I remember David Attenborough telling me only the other night that, in the animal world, creatures don’t kill each other for meat. His commentary was accompanied by a cute shot of a lion enjoying a banana smoothie on the Serangeti, as I recall.

“The place where there are difficult problems is in the field of medical experimentation.”

Ooh, hello, we’re getting to the heart of the matter now.

“Of course, as members of the first world we've gained enormously from trying things out on creatures. That doesn't mean it's OK. We shouldn't expect disease-free lives. It's a mirage. It's part of a fantasy of immortality. Struggling to get it at the expense of other creatures is silly. As soon as we solve some problems other problems come up… We have to accept that part of living in this fascinating cosmos means having a limited stay. Demanding more is a mistake.”

Erm…eh?

While I don’t have a problem with people’s right to object to vivisection (to be specific, I don’t want to be attacked by the caring, sharing, peace-and-furry-creature-lovin’ grave-robbing, petrol-bombing animal liberation front), but attacking animal testing on the grounds that we have NO RIGHT to attempt to find cures for killer diseases? That's 'killer', as opposed to exclusively 'first world' diseases, by the way. That’s….well, it’s certainly a new one on me.

“Some tests are not necessary, some are dubious. And even if human beings are saved it's still probably wrong. These tests would be done much more effectively on a human. Would you do that? There are plenty of human creatures around that we could forcibly experiment on.”

See, this is where I began to suspect spoofery. Or alternatively, the beyond-the-grave voice of Josef Mengele.

“There are human creatures who are less reasonable than a beagle,” rambles Stephen.

Yep. After reading this gibberish, I’d say that’s true. And you know what? It’s a comfort that, in 500-odd words, I found at least one statement I could bring myself to agree with.

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