Post 1 wrz 2009, o 15:04

Klasyczna obrona new welfare - Peter Singer [ENG]

Zapraszam do lektury napisanego przez Petera Singera wstępu do wydanej w 2008 roku przez Blackwell Publishing książki "The Future of Animal Farming: Renewing the Ancient Contract". Książka jest zbiorem wielu tekstów, których autorów częściowo pewnie znacie (np. Marian Stamp Dawkins, Bernie Rollin, Mary Midgley, Temple Grandin). Tekst Singera nie jest dla jego sposobu myślenia jakiś wyjątkowy, ale jest dobrze sformułowaną obroną podejścia new welfare, więc go wklejam. W pliku pdf dostępny jest na stronach wydawnictwa.

Warto jest umieć racjonalnie odpowiedzieć na argumenty zwolenników new welfare, więc zachęcam do komentowania, wytykania gdzie trzeba i przytakiwania gdzie należy.


Those who know my views from Animal Liberation may be surprised to find me
writing a foreword to a book entitled The Future of Animal Farming. Doesn’t the
animal liberation movement do its very best to ensure that animal farming has no
future? If the correct moral principle for guiding our conduct towards nonhuman
animals is to give their interests equal consideration with our own, at least where
our interests are similar, should we be farming them at all? Shouldn’t we all be

Then there is the book’s subtitle: Renewing the Ancient Contract. How could
there really be a contract between humans and animals? The idea of a contract
presupposes that both parties choose to enter it. Cows, pigs, and chickens don’t
have the capacity to make an informed choice about whether or not to associate
with humans – to mention just one critical fact, they cannot know that their premature
death is part of the bargain. The reality is that domestic animals have
always been captured, bred, reared, and killed for the benefit of humans, and
rarely, if ever, given the opportunity to break free and live on their own. The slave
trade is a closer parallel to this than the modern idea of an agreement between
freely contracting parties. No doubt traditional farmers were more likely to care
for their animals as individuals than the people who manage today’s vast factory
farms, but the fact that some slave-owners had a genuine, if paternalistic, concern
for the welfare of their slaves was not enough to make the slave trade a contract
between Europeans and Africans.

I do not resile from the position I took in Animal Liberation. I see the rearing of
animals for food as a manifestation of speciesism, that is, a human prejudice
against giving proper consideration to the interests of beings of other species.
Commercial animal raising is inherently likely to sacrifice the interests of the animals
to our own convenience. Refusing to buy animal products is the surest way
to avoid supporting the unethical treatment of animals. But I also recognize that
while the number of vegetarians and vegans has grown, at least in developed
countries, during the past three decades, the number of animals raised and killed
for food, worldwide, has grown even faster. This is in large part because of greater
prosperity, both in the developed world and in countries like China, and the higher
demand for animal products that this prosperity brings. That demand has in turn
led to a staggering increase in the number of animals spending miserable lives in
the close confinement of factory farms.

In the face of this vast universe of animal suffering – which is also an ecological
catastrophe on many different levels, from local water pollution to the acceleration
of climate change – should the animal movement confine itself to promoting
veganism? Over the next 10 or 20 years that strategy may, with luck, increase the
percentage of vegans to 5% or even 10% of the population, but on the basis of
what we have seen so far, the chances of it succeeding in persuading the majority
of meat-eaters to abandon all animal products are remote. (At least, unless the
development of in vitro meat offers a more economical but otherwise indistinguishable
alternative to meat derived from animals.) This means that during the
next decade or two, billions of animals will live and die in factory farms, their
numbers barely diminished by the slowly growing number of vegans, and their
sufferings entirely unaffected by it.

It therefore seems better to pursue a different strategy. We should do our
utmost to reduce the suffering of those billions of animals. This is not an either/or
choice. The animal movement should continue to promote a cruelty-free vegan
lifestyle, and to encourage those who are not vegans to eat less meat and dairy
products. Recognizing that not everyone is ready to make such changes, however,
the movement should also be involved in improving the welfare of animals used in
commercial farming.

This strategy can succeed. While I was writing this foreword Oregon became the
third state in the US to ban sow stalls – known in America as gestation crates –
which are commonly used to confine pregnant sows in metal crates too small for
them even to turn around or walk a few steps. Earlier, Florida and Arizona had
passed similar bans as a result of referenda initiated by the signatures of large
numbers of voters. Significantly, the law in Oregon was the first in the US to come
about through the normal process of representative democracy at the state level.
The European Union and Australia have also agreed to prohibit sow stalls for most
of the sow’s pregnancy. In addition to these legal changes, the suffering of an
even larger number of pigs will in future be reduced by the decisions of Smithfield
Foods and Maple Leaf Foods – the largest pork producers in the US and Canada,
respectively – to phase out sow stalls.

Of course, getting rid of sow stalls is only the beginning. It doesn’t mean
that pigs will be able to go outside, to roam around a pasture, or to have straw
rather than bare concrete to lie down on. Even when sow stalls have gone
entirely, there will still be a long way to go. But the readiness of voters, legislatures,
and big corporate animal producers to make changes shows that
animal suffering can be reduced, on a very large scale, by democratic, nonviolent
processes. Obviously, as long as most people continue to want to eat
animal products, a key role in these decisions is the demonstrated viability of
alternative ways of meeting that demand. That is what the Food Animal
Initiative is trying to achieve. When I toured their facilities at Wytham a few
years ago, I was impressed by the significantly better quality of lives for the
animals kept there than in the more conventional commercial operations I have
seen over the years. Yet the farm at Wytham is a viable commercial operation,
paying its own way without the assistance of sponsorships or research susbidies.
Many people will ask how we can really know what good animal welfare is.
Marian Dawkins’ aptly defines it as a situation in which “animals are healthy and
have what they want.” That raises the further question “How can we know what
animals want?” The defenders of corporate agribusiness often say that their critics
are responding “emotionally” to the sight of, say, six hens crammed into a small
wire cage. A proper scientific approach, they say, indicates that, since the birds are
laying eggs, their welfare is satisfactory. Here Dawkins has been a pioneer, finding
ingenious ways of enabling the animals themselves to tell us what they want, and
thereby showing that the science of animal behavior supports the critics of factory
farming, and not its defenders.

This book is dedicated to two other pioneers in the struggle to give farm animals
at least a minimally decent life: Ruth Harrison and David Wood-Gush. I would
like therefore to take this opportunity to say that Ruth Harrison’s Animal Machines
had a huge influence on me when, as a graduate student in philosophy, I first
began to think about the ethics of how we ought to treat animals. In 1970 Animal
Machines was the only book to tell how animals were treated in the – then still
relatively novel – factory farms that were increasingly providing more of the
chicken, pork, and eggs I had unwittingly been eating. Ruth Harrison’s powerful
and well-documented attack on factory farming persuaded me that there could
be no ethical justification for the way we were treating animals, and that if I
wanted to have any respect at all for myself as an ethical person, I could not continue
to eat animal products from factory farms. That set me on the path that led
to Animal Liberation.

In an important sense, this book is continuing the work started by Ruth Harrison
and David Wood-Gush, and bridging the gaps between science, farming, and the
ethically concerned consumer. May this work continue to thrive.

Peter Singer
Princeton University