Friday night topic: Animals, rights, and dominion

— 6:22 PM on January 24, 2003

A Bush speechwriter, Matthew Scully, has made something of a splash with his book about, well, not exactly animal rights, but a call for human beings to be better caretakers for animals:

Scully says that he is not an animal rights activist: "For Scully, it's precisely because animals don't have the same rights as humans--because they are unequal and powerless--that we have a special responsibility to be good shepherds. The goal of Dominion is to turn the debate over the treatment of animals into a debate about mercy, to save it from the secular left through an explicitly theological appeal."
Even a hardened carnivore like me can be moved by Scully's accounts of factory farming practices and de-beaked chickens living their entire lives confined to small boxes. Surely we ought to reconsider some of these practices.

So what do you think? Should animals have rights? If so, what rights? If not, should we not still be constrained by mercy or a sense of responsibility? And what happens when bioscience will allow us to grow all our meat in a dish?


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