Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Ethics and Hunting: Are rabbits people too?

To state the obvious: no, rabbits aren't people; we - those of us reading and writing this blog - we are people. yes, killing people is wrong - and killing rabbits is not the same as killing people. To overlook or obscure the difference between killing rabbits and killing people is to do a grave disservice only to people - because meat is not murder, murder is murder. To seriously advance the view that a human life is strictly equivalent to the life, say, of a rabbit or a sparrow is to terribly misunderstand the worth of human life - for we are, indeed, worth more than many sparrows.

If we treat animals 'humanely' it is not because they are members of the set 'humans', but because we are. Certain actions are fitting to those who aspire to the description 'human' and some are not. Killing animals for food with an absolute disregard for the pain they undergo is not - to my mind - humane, which is to say, if one wants to keep becoming a human this is not the way to do so. I write 'becoming a human' because I do not - as a catholic - see 'human' as a finite identity - 'humans', since the Incarnation, are invited to take a share in the infinite life that is Christ. So a human is something to continually become - to become fully human, as Christ was fully human.

I also think it's a mistake to understand an animal as 'suffering'. I think that suffering is something that only humans can do. Pain, which animals certainly seem to 'experience', is not, I would say, the same as suffering, since suffering is an anguished thinking and not merely the unmediated 'experience' of pain (which humans, I'd also suggest, know nothing about). (Though it's possible, I suppose, that fully domesticated animals - soaked as they are in the sea of words that flows from and through human life - suffer insofar as they are within this ocean.)


  1. I came across this whilst googling rabbit hunting, and i know that this post is over 3 years old but I just want to tell you how wrong you are about this. anything with a nervous system and a brain can suffer. suffering is a result of pain. do dog's not whimper and whine if they are sick or injured? surely that is suffering.

    And killing rabbits is morally equivalent to killing people or any other animal. sure we may feel more for a deceased human compared to a dead rabbit, but that's only because we see the rabbit as a foreign being - much like a soldier would kill another soldier in war without remorse.

    you could state that rabbits do not appear as self-aware or as sentient as humans, but the same could be said for the mentally impaired or the newly born. hunting is morally wrong and you should really question your lifestyle as a hunter.

  2. In my view hunting is as wrong as eating,drinking and indeed copulating.
    It is part of a whole natural life styl that teaches us to take responsibility of our actions.