Readers' reactions

June 29, 2001

Last week in The THES: Richard Ryder argued that the prejudice in favour of the human species is looking ever more irrational.

I have no great difficulty with the notion that it is "irrational" to prefer one's own species to something else's, in that this preference seems instinctive. But whether it is irrational in any other sense, I take leave to doubt.

If speciesism is morally wrong, Richard Ryder is extraordinarily tolerant. By analogy with human beings, not only is it wrong to cause animals pain purely for amusement or for medical research, but it must be equally wrong to eat them, turn them into shoes, enslave them, deny them a normal sex life, control their numbers, and breed in and out of them useful or curious characteristics. The only reason we think it worse to bait animals for sport than to imprison, sterilise and breed them to give us pleasure as pets is that we expect higher moral standards of humans than of, say, cats. Speciesist, or what?

It is a luxury we fat western cats can allow ourselves to spend more of our money on sanctuaries for Spanish donkeys and other fluffy animals than on our needy but unfluffy human beings. I would immediately abolish all chairs for professors of animal rights and donate the money to charities for suffering human beings, on the grounds that in the former case the money is being wasted on donkeys and in the latter it is not.

Penny Tucker
Hartley Wintney

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