The Fellowship of Life
a Christian-based vegetarian group founded in 1973


'Catholic Herald' debate (1982)Letters

Spread of 'speciesism'

G E Moorhouse (November 5) attempts to defend the so-called 'blood-sport' of hunting on the grounds that it is simply one of the activities of the "intelligent carnivore". The enjoyment and practice of hunting is also he hints part of a divinely instituted plan for creation which it would be arrogant of man to question.

However, it would seem to an increasing number of people that Mr Moorhouse is simply giving expression to that most widespread of the discriminatory 'isms' - speciesism. The results of this speciesism cannot readily be called intelligent, and they seem to be at their worst in our present age: the numbers of defenceless animals senselessly and brutally hunted and torn limb from limb, the number of creatures captured and reared in order to be tortured and maimed often without anaesthetic for the purposes of testing new cosmetics, weedkillers or biological and chemical weapons (etc.) or simply for our children to dissect or experiment on at school, have probably never been higher.

Nor have the numbers of animals reared for eating (nor the methods been more callous) even though, quite apart from being damaging to our health, meat production - as Mr Moorhouse admits - is known to be scandalously wasteful of resources and thus to cost the lives of hundreds of thousands of our fellow human beings dying for want of food in the third world.. The time for Homo sapiens to show some of his wisdom is long overdue.

Because man's cerebral faculties and ability to shape and determine his environment are so far advanced beyond those of the other species, Western man at least, has got into the habit of thinking that the planet and the whole of the 'natural realm' exists solely for his benefit.

Unfortunately, assent to speciesism has characterised most if not all of Christian theology, which has often in its turn provided the justification for the speciesist perspective and the purely instrumental way in which we regard the world and its life.

We Catholics have perhaps been particularly guilty in this respect but there are signs that man is beginning to change his attitude (as Vivien Clifford's article, October 8, and the subsequent correspondence in your columns demonstrates). In exercising power over the rest of the species man has an obligation to consider rights, of animals.

We will have little respect for human life if we treat the lives of the other animals to which we are so biologically close, as no more than a resource and the obligation of our stewardship as simply the duty not to use up this resource too quickly - as Mr Moorhouse seems strongly to suggest.

J V Nicholson

Return to 'Catholic Herald' Debate
Return to Letters


Homepage/About Us

What's New








Your comments are welcome

This site is hosted and maintained by The Mary T. and Frank L. Hoffman Family Foundation
Thank you for visiting