- The Wisdom of
- Essay: The Honor Code, part 2
- This Week’s Sermon
from Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman
1. The Wisdom of Children
Regarding recent essays on nonhuman persons, Gordon writes to
recall a young girl, five years old or less, who explained, "Animals
are people. They're just not human people."
Essay: The Honor Code, part 2
Last week, I noted that, in
applying the insights of Anthony Appiah’s book The Honor Code, perhaps
what the animal protection movement needs is: 1) to demonstrate that
participating directly or indirectly in the abuse of nonhuman persons
is dishonorable and 2) to offer acceptable alternatives to practices
that involve abusing nonhuman persons directly or indirectly.
Accomplishing #1 will be difficult, because the vast majority of
people in nearly every part of the world regard abuse of nonhuman
persons for food, clothing, research, etc. as perfectly legitimate.
Indeed, at occasions of honor (family and church gatherings, award
ceremonies, etc.) flesh is routinely served. It is much easier to
eliminate an immoral practice if it is done by a minority or a
relatively weak majority. PETAs campaign to enlist celebrities can
help make veganism seem honorable and meat-eating dishonorable, though
the fickleness of celebrities (when it comes to diet as well as
partners) is a danger.
Perhaps religion can be an effective
vehicle for change. If it could be effectively shown that current
practices clearly violate the tenets of a religion, then concerns
about divine retribution might be a powerful impetus to change.
However, Appiah notes that Islam does not endorse “honor killings,”
yet the practice remains widespread in many Muslim parts of Africa and
southern Asia. So, perhaps noting that abuse of nonhuman persons
dishonors God should be one part of a broader campaign for change.
Alternatively, perhaps we need to be more forceful in the way we
speak. For example, perhaps a better title for the CVA’s DVD “Honoring
God’s Creation” would be something like “Modern Animal Agriculture
Regarding the need for alternatives, fortunately
they already exist. There are wonderful clothes made from plant and
synthetic fabrics, and we should celebrate our good fortune to have
plant-based foods that can be more nutritious, healthful, and tasty
than animal-based foods. The Physicians Committee for Responsible
Medicine is among the groups advocating effectively in this direction.
Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.
3. This Week’s Sermon from
Rev. Frank and Mary Hoffman