Document Type

Conference Proceeding

Publication Date



There is an unfortunate tendency on the part of those who use animals to dismiss the new social concern with animal treatment as the irrational ravings of tofu-eating, ginseng-guzzling, urban wimps and bunny-hugging extremists.“Animal welfare is what we already do; animal rights if what they want us to do,” one animal scientist said, neatly summarizing the situation. However, what is of paramount importance is that “they” are not just a band of radicals; the new ethic for animals has taken root among society in general. As one cowboy in Kingsville, Texas put it to me:“Hell, Doc, if it were just the damn radicals, we could shoot the sons of bitches!” My first point, then, is to explain the new ethic and its conceptual roots. Although society has paid formal attention to limiting human behavior regarding animals for over 2,000 years, such attention was restricted to the prohibition of overt, intentional, willful, extraordinary, malicious, or unnecessary cruelty; deviant sadism; or outrageous neglect. For example, not providing food or water. This ethic can be found even in the Bible. For example, in the injunction not to yoke the ox and the ass to a plow together, or in the restriction against muzzling the ox when he is being used to mill grain.