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Thread: Let's build a coherent philosophical and ethical case for hunting.

  1. #1

    Let's build a coherent philosophical and ethical case for hunting.

    I am unashamedly going to ratchet up recent conversations on "the PR War", bringing people into stalking, driven pheasant shooting and so on by a few brow levels in an attempt to collectively develop a coherent philosophical and ethical argument in favour of hunting in general, and therefore deerstalking too. I was inspired to attempt this by a programme on Radio 4 last night around the question of whether it was morally justifiable to kill animals for meat. Towards the end, the presenter made the point that opponents of killing animals for meat had to really make their case as they were opposing the default position, and their arguments were well thought out and constructed. I think this is a very valid point: it's all well and good for we as hunters to complain that our traditions, way of life, hobby is under attack from various quarters who don't understand us or are just irrationally hostile, but I don't think I can remember seeing a single coherent case for why it's morally permissible for us to hunt animals.

    There are bits and pieces of course that all work away at making this case, often economic arguments like the BASC's "Value of Shooting" study and FACE's equivalent. But economic arguments on their own are insufficient. You can make a business case for just about anything if you set your mind to it. The obvious extreme example is that proponents of the slave trade had most of the financial arguments on their side, but in the end the moral case was just untenable. And in the forthcoming EU referendum we'll hear lost of economic arguments going both ways, but the discussion is about a lot more than P&L statements. So for now, let's park the economics.

    At the risk of sounding like I'm setting homework, may I suggest that we deconstruct this and build our case for hunting little by little. Let's start with the following question:

    "Why is it morally justifiable for you specifically to kill that particular deer"?

    There are some obvious areas for expansion here too: suppose it's a rabbit, a pigeon, a carp? Does that make any difference? Then that will lead on to "Why is it morally justifiable for humans to kill deer, as species?"

    I'm hopeful that we can develop a coherent case here that we can draw on subsequently more effectively that just by trying to lay low or hold on to the status quo, which is far from ideal anyway.

    Sorry, additional assumption: you're going to kill that deer instantly, it won't suffer. This isn't about the deer suffering or not from the act of killing, it's about bringing about its' death.
    Last edited by Pine Marten; 27-10-2015 at 12:09.

  2. #2
    I eat meat, I was given a set of canine teeth along with the others, they are designed for meat eating,I will be shooting that deer because I want to eat it, rather than settling for "Factory meat", I am descended from the "Hunter gatherer", or so I am told by those more high brow types at the Uni's, & lastly, I enjoy the chase, so maybe I am a "Throwback" to earlier times.
    (The Unspeakable In Pursuit Of The Uneatable.) " If I can help, I will help!." Former S.A.C.S. member!

  3. #3
    In terms of the morality of killing animals for meat generally I'm going to answer the question with a question - Does it have to be morally justified?

    We all watch nature documentaries (even the anti's I'm sure) and when we see a lion kill a gazelle or a shark kill a seal we all just go "Ah, well thats nature and the food chain." How is man killing for food any different? It isnt, its exactly the same.

    Foxes and domestic cats kill for fun (to name but two species), again how is it any different when we do it? Again I say its exactly the same. We've just forgotten our roots.

    The only difference between us and other animals is that we have the luxury of being well fed enough that we can agonise over the ethicality of killing something for food (most people if they were truly starving to death would kill an animal for food because at that point its a pure survival choice) and we ostensibly have other things to occupy our time like films, music and so on and therefore should "know better" than other animals which dont have the luxury of YouTube cat videos to entertain them when they are bored.

    We also tend to anthropomorphise other animals - Tom and Jerry, Fantastic Mr Fox, Free Willy, Bambi, Bugs Bunny and so on. Having recently returned from my first stalking expedition I ran out of fingers counting the number of people who told me that I had killed Bambi (in a jokey fashion rather than serious accusation, and generally whilst asking if I had any venison to spare, but the point stands). This creates an innate conditioning where people think it is wrong to kill animals that we consider cute and fluffy, though ironically this doesnt extend to spiders and the like which are generally cast as evil in films and TV shows and means that most people dont think twice before wielding a rolled up newspaper when some hapless arachnid ends up falling in the bath.

    Up until fairly recently it was common for people to have chickens in their garden and for those chickens to end up on the table, meaning that the people who killed the animal had a respect for the carcass and didnt waste anything.

    Now that the killing is generally done behind closed doors many miles away from our shiny sterile supermarkets and plastic packets so the general public doesnt have to face the reality of the fact that something died in order to be on your plate or made into clothing and therefore making us far more likely to squander the resource.

    The only people who can truly be anti-hunting are vegans and in that instance I'm fine to have the discussion around pros/cons and morals. Everyone else is in the position of effectively hiring a contract killer to do the dirty work for them - In a court of law there is very little difference between "I killed him" and "I hired the man that killed him".

    On the one hand you have a group that hunts and kills a wild animal themselves, prepares the carcass and makes use of the whole animal. On the other you have another group who pay producers to breed animals in a barn, keep them locked in cages their whole lives and then ship them off packed into a lorry to be slaughtered one by one and packed into plastic containers so they dont have to face the reality that something died. I know who I would consider to be morally superior there and its not the second group, so perhaps the question we should be asking is how can all these anti's morally justify that mass farming is the better choice?
    Last edited by stubear; 27-10-2015 at 13:41. Reason: Spelling!!

  4. #4
    There are two core reasions:

    1: In my role as a remedial company I have killed probably millions of wood booring beetle lavie in peoples homes. In the old days we used powerfull nerve poisens like Lindain and Permetherin and they were contact killers. Owing to environmental and health concerns we now use products like Flurox which is politley termed as a groth interupter. What that means is it causes birth defects so savage the insect can not survive.

    Get wood worm in your house and 99.9% of perople have no problem with me wipeing it out and they like me useing "environmentaly freindly" products like Flurox

    Same goes for rats mice slugs spiders pidgions and most other creatures that impact on the comfort of our privalaged lifestiles

    People it seems are blind to all the issues surounding deer populations in the UK and the trouble they cause. Thats probably as 75% have never even seen one in the wild and the rest may see one ocasionaly miles away from their house and office bassed job and totaly fail to see the impact they make they only see how cute they look.

    Deer populations are a problem. Scientific reserch backs this up, even anamal welfair organisations like the RSPB see the need for culling deer

    The current position is our anual deer cull is INADIQUATE to the task of controling herds in the UK

    SO in short, they are a problem and we provide a valuble service that is free to the public at large and provides income and profits for land owners and their staff,

    Want me to sort out your wood worm and you pay me 500 you want your deer sorted out ill do it for free


    REASION 2

    It doesent get much better in terms of free range than stalked venison.

    The anamal had its nateral life free from direct control by man and then one day totaly unexpectedly it was over in a matter of seconds.

    If you eat meet it doesent get much better than that for the anamal.

    No intensive farming, no eating ground up chicks or taking drugs to keep diseise away in crowded herds, no fencing keeping you in and no terifieing last trip to the abatwar

    Anyone who eats meat has no right what so ever to critisize dear stalking. If they do they are a hipocrit and or lieing to themselves

    Vegitarians who wear leather goods and use anamal tested and anamal bassed products can shut the hell up as well as sometimes I think they are worse hipocrits

    Proper full on Vegans have every right to complain and i suport their right to protest and to try and convince the rest of the world away from dependancy on anamal bassed products.

    When they get that level of comitment from the rest of the humans maybe it will be time to stop deer stalking.

    Perhaps them we will have to poisen them to keep ther herds under control?


    There is another side issue which is the public perception of people who enjoy blood sports and enjoy using firearms.

    I strugle to argue with this as i see far too many people whos attitude with firearms and shooting stuff is outside my comfort zone.

    I have nothing but respect for enuin hunters who care about the land and the welfair of the anamals on that land.

    I have nothing but contempt for those who just want to shoot something.

    ATB

    Mark
    Last edited by Chasey; 27-10-2015 at 13:06.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by stubear View Post
    In terms of the morality of killing animals for meat generally I'm going to answer the question with a question - Does it have to be morally justified?

    We all watch nature documentaries (even the anti's I'm sure) and when we see a lion kill a gazelle or a shark kill a seal we all just go "Ah, well thats nature and the food chain." How is man killing for food any different? It isnt, its exactly the same.

    Foxes and domestic cats kill for fun (to name but two species), again how is it any different when we do it? Again I say its exactly the same. We've just forgotten our roots.

    The only difference between us and other animals is that we have the luxury of being well fed enough that we can agonise over the ethicality of killing something for food (most people if they were truly starving to death would kill an animal for food because at that point its a pure survival choice) and we ostensibly have other things to occupy our time like films, music and so on and therefore should "know better" than other animals which dont have the luxury of YouTube cat videos to entertain them when they are bored.

    We also tend to anthropomorphise other animals - Tom and Jerry, Fantastic Mr Fox, Free Willy, Bambi, Bugs Bunny and so on. Having recently returned from my first stalking expedition I ran out of fingers counting the number of people who told me that I had killed Bambi (in a jokey fashion rather than serious accusation, and generally whilst asking if I had any venison to spare, but the point stands). This creates an innate conditioning where people think it is wrong to kill animals that we consider cute and fluffy, though ironically this doesnt extend to spiders and the like which are generally cast as evil in films and TV shows and means that most people dont think twice before wielding a rolled up newspaper when some hapless arachnid ends up falling in the bath.

    Up until fairly recently it was common for people to have chickens in their garden and for those chickens to end up on the table, meaning that the people who killed the animal had a respect for the carcass and didnt waste anything.

    Now that the killing is generally done behind closed doors many miles away from our shiny sterile supermarkets and plastic packets so the general public doesnt have to face the reality of the fact that something died in order to be on your plate or made into clothing, distancing us from the reality that something died to be on your plate or feet and therefore making us far more likely to squander the resource.

    The only people who can truly be anti-hunting are vegans and in that instance I'm fine to have the discussion around pros/cons and morals. Everyone else is in the position of effectively hiring a contract killer to do the dirty work for them - In a court of law there is very little difference between "I killed him" and "I hired the man that killed him".

    On the one hand you have a group that kills a hunts and kills a wild animal themselves, prepares the carcass and makes use of the whole animal. On the other you have another group who pay producers to breed animals in a barn, keep them locked in cages their whole lives and then ship them off packed into a lorry to be slaughtered one by one and packed into plastic containers so they dont have to face the reality that something died. I know who I would consider to be morally superior there and its not the second group, so perhaps the question we should be asking is how can all these anti's morally justify that mass farming is the better choice?
    I'm not sure I can do much better than Stubear, but when I have the time I'll see if there's anything I can add to it.
    See my blog for - My kindly sponsored DSC1 course and chart my progress from deer virgin to stalking veteran
    AND my new puppy progress DIARY
    Blog

  6. #6
    Who’s morals is this business case to be based upon?

    K
    The enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

  7. #7
    Not sure what philosophy has to do with it
    but ethics and morals are totally different

    Quote Originally Posted by Pine Marten View Post
    "Why is it morally justifiable for you specifically to kill that particular deer"?
    I get asked that sometimes.
    My usual response is "Who else is going to do it with the amount of care, attention and skill as me?"
    swiftly followed by ..."Would you rather it die another way? on the road, of starvation, in the lamp"

    no-one asks the slaughterman why he kills animals
    no-one asks why we kill rats and pests.

    If we don't treat these animals as a valuable part of our environment that we have in trust for generations to come they will be treated like every other commodity and harvested and/or exterminated like pests.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Klenchblaize View Post
    Who’s morals is this business case to be based upon?

    K
    I suppose it has to be the acceptable overlap between both parties in the discussion. So for instance in the radio programme I was listening to, Peter Singer who as I understand it is the main founder of the animal rights movement, said that he bought the argument that if you didn't want to kill a cow to eat it, the cow wouldn't exist in the first place, so whereas you've deprived the cow of the rest of its' life, it has arguable benefited from the part it lived in the first place. There's an example of an overlap between where I think we stand and he does. Now his is quite an extreme philosophical position, but he is intellectually honest about this. If there's acceptable common ground with him, then there's far more society at large. But if you just split into people opposed to killing any animals and those who hold that it's a morally neutral or irrelevant act, then there's no possible meaningful conversation.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by stubear View Post
    In terms of the morality of killing animals for meat generally I'm going to answer the question with a question - Does it have to be morally justified?

    We all watch nature documentaries (even the anti's I'm sure) and when we see a lion kill a gazelle or a shark kill a seal we all just go "Ah, well thats nature and the food chain." How is man killing for food any different? It isnt, its exactly the same.

    Foxes and domestic cats kill for fun (to name but two species), again how is it any different when we do it? Again I say its exactly the same. We've just forgotten our roots.

    The only difference between us and other animals is that we have the luxury of being well fed enough that we can agonise over the ethicality of killing something for food (most people if they were truly starving to death would kill an animal for food because at that point its a pure survival choice) and we ostensibly have other things to occupy our time like films, music and so on and therefore should "know better" than other animals which dont have the luxury of YouTube cat videos to entertain them when they are bored.

    We also tend to anthropomorphise other animals - Tom and Jerry, Fantastic Mr Fox, Free Willy, Bambi, Bugs Bunny and so on. Having recently returned from my first stalking expedition I ran out of fingers counting the number of people who told me that I had killed Bambi (in a jokey fashion rather than serious accusation, and generally whilst asking if I had any venison to spare, but the point stands). This creates an innate conditioning where people think it is wrong to kill animals that we consider cute and fluffy, though ironically this doesnt extend to spiders and the like which are generally cast as evil in films and TV shows and means that most people dont think twice before wielding a rolled up newspaper when some hapless arachnid ends up falling in the bath.

    Up until fairly recently it was common for people to have chickens in their garden and for those chickens to end up on the table, meaning that the people who killed the animal had a respect for the carcass and didnt waste anything.

    Now that the killing is generally done behind closed doors many miles away from our shiny sterile supermarkets and plastic packets so the general public doesnt have to face the reality of the fact that something died in order to be on your plate or made into clothing, distancing us from the reality that something died to be on your plate or feet and therefore making us far more likely to squander the resource.

    The only people who can truly be anti-hunting are vegans and in that instance I'm fine to have the discussion around pros/cons and morals. Everyone else is in the position of effectively hiring a contract killer to do the dirty work for them - In a court of law there is very little difference between "I killed him" and "I hired the man that killed him".

    On the one hand you have a group that kills a hunts and kills a wild animal themselves, prepares the carcass and makes use of the whole animal. On the other you have another group who pay producers to breed animals in a barn, keep them locked in cages their whole lives and then ship them off packed into a lorry to be slaughtered one by one and packed into plastic containers so they dont have to face the reality that something died. I know who I would consider to be morally superior there and its not the second group, so perhaps the question we should be asking is how can all these anti's morally justify that mass farming is the better choice?

    Brilliant post.....I dont think I can add to that really. You hit the nail on the head for me with "The only people who can truly be anti-hunting are vegans". My older sister hasnt spoke to me for a while now because and I quote "im a weirdo that shoots animals"....yet she is happy to wear leather and eat meat but as it is "organic" thats all fine and the animals dont suffer at all.

    Some people just cannot and/or will not see the link to what they eat and how it got there. Our country and society is so disconnected from where food comes from and we have very nearly lost our hunting culture completely. its a sad time really when you have small children who dont know that beef comes from a cow etc etc. For me its a battle to educate people and my friends and family on hunting. Is it worth it? I think it is. Is it a battle we can win?............im not too sure about that one.

  10. #10
    (Just to be clear, I'm not being a contrarian for the sake of it, I'm trying to distil arguments that are usable for society at large, hence the need to challenge them)

    Quote Originally Posted by finnbear270 View Post
    I eat meat, I was given a set of canine teeth along with the others, they are designed for meat eating,
    I don't think that one will stand up top much scrutiny, simply because although we have evolved to be omnivores, we are perfectly capable of thriving without eating meat, and unlike other animals, we are able to make informed choices and act upon them.

    Quote Originally Posted by finnbear270 View Post
    I will be shooting that deer because I want to eat it, rather than settling for "Factory meat",
    I think that's a vary valid argument and actually the crux of the matter, unless you run into the counter-argument that you don't need to eat meat at all, which is also correct. But for people who eat meat, who are still in the majority, that holds, with all the attached welfare implications.

    Quote Originally Posted by finnbear270 View Post
    [...] lastly, I enjoy the chase, so maybe I am a "Throwback" to earlier times.
    We shy away from that point quite a lot, but it's an important one and it raises the further question of how much human enjoyment and pleasure, either in the form of the chase, or in the enjoyment of eating meat, can be traded off for ending a wild animal's life. I'd say it undoubtedly comes into the equation.

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