For all creatures great and small

July 26, 1996

Roger Scruton's views will be unpersuasive to all who accept their moral responsibilities in relation to animals. Professor Scruton gets himself into an almighty tangle in his efforts to justify such activities as fox hunting and ritual slaughter.

To him it is nonsensical to bestow rights on those "insensible of the benefit"; so, presumably, we should turn our faces away from the suffering child or the severely mentally disabled adult? The similarity between our duties towards children and those towards animals is again relevant when we consider the professor's argument that sheep and poultry may be eaten with moral impunity because they have been bred to be eaten.

This grotesque logic leads us with Swiftian inevitability to a moral position which would justify the farming and eating of humans.

The truth of the matter is that it is wrong to kill or cause pain to any creature which has the capacity to suffer. The bestowing of rights on animals is essential in order to determine the behaviour of human beings. It is not, as Professor Scruton seems to think, part of a bargaining process between one species and another but the exercise of conscience on the part of homo sapiens, the most powerful of all species.

FRANK MORGAN Newton St Loe, Bath

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