Predators at the negotiating table

October 11, 1996

I was as heartened by the article in support of Roger Scruton by another distinguished philosopher, David Wiggins (THES, October 4), as I was dismayed by the condemnation from the animal rights lobby.

Both Scruton and Wiggins are approaching the problem as philosophers, from the standpoint of moral philosophy. However, there are also practical, pragmatic considerations that must be taken into account, considerations which reinforce Scruton's conclusions.

Even if we human beings considered it desirable to grant rights to animals, and only we can do that, we would have to face the practical problem of the irreconcilabity of the interests of individuals in some groups of species, predators and preyed-on.

We cannot grant rights to all animals since the preyed-on have no forum for negotiating with the predators on this question and if they had it could not be resolved. We should be faced with nominating favoured species (the lovable and furry?), a situation that would contradict Dr Ryder's thinking and be no help to the feelings of those who love both foxes and rabbits, as I do myself.

The answer that two such species are mutually supportive, the rabbit the food source for the fox and the fox controlling the rabbit population, is beside the point as it addresses a different question in the environmental debate. The rights argument is about the rights of individuals.

ARTHUR SUDDABY Godshill Wood, Fordingbridge, Hants

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