Introduction

The social demand for a comprehensive ethic governing all areas of human use of animals did not appear until the 1960s. Historically, although society did have some ethical prescriptions for animal use, they were extremely minimalistic, focusing on forbidding deviant, willful, extraordinary, purposeless, sadistic infliction of pain and suffering on animals or outrageous neglect, such as not feeding or watering. Although this ethic of forbidding overt cruelty was incorporated into the legal system (i.e., into the visible articulation of social ethics) in most countries beginning in about 1800, it is in fact readily evidenced in the Old Testament, for example, in the injunction not to muzzle the ox when the animal is being used to mill grain or in the commandment to avoid yoking together an ox and an ass to a plow because of those animals' inherent inequality in size and strength. The Rabbinical tradition explained this ethic in terms of respecting animals' capability of suffering. In Catholic theology, as articulated by Thomas Aquinas, on the other hand, cruelty is forbidden not for the sake of the animals, but because people who perpetrate cruelty on animals are likely to graduate to perpetrating cruelty on people, an insight confirmed by modern psychological research.

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