Clark- Pretext of Necessary Suffering

Clark- Pretext of Necessary Suffering - The Pretext...

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The Pretext of "Necessary Suffering" * STEPHEN R. L. CLARK Let us admit, then, that animals in varying degrees feel pain and fear, and that we have no general reason to think them less subject to these ills than we: if they have fewer forebodings, if they do, then by the same token they are buoyed by fewer hopes. A burning cat is as agonized as any burning baby. Even where we do have reason to impute a lesser pain, yet pain is painful. It has been urged, in a last desperate throw, that animals, who lack any consciousness of themselves, must find each pang of agony a new thing without past or future, so that they do not seem to themselves to suffer any long pain. Even if we grant the premises— which I do not—yet even pangs of agony are ill to be borne. To be distressed by something is to find it an evil. We are so constituted that we are inclined to make others' distress our own, the more sincerely the closer these others touch us. Our solidarity in suffering with other sentient life, so Ruland thought […], was enough to induce in us a respect for the life and dignity of non-human animals. 1 He was too sanguine. But at least it is very common now to pay lip-service to the thesis that it is wrong to cause unnecessary suffering to an animal. Necessity, of course, is often defined in terms of human activities that are simply unquestioned, so that (at most) such a rubric merely rules out technical incompetence. Such incompetency, being a symptom of inefficiency, might be left to the technicians' care were it not that a fundamental inattention to animals as beings to be taken seriously so often blinds men even to their own profit[…]. The difficulty about this slogan (that animals be spared unnecessary pains), minimal as it is, is that it already proves too much for the orthodox to stomach. I emphasized that it is a minimal principle, that it makes no mention of rights to life, and indeed allows "rights" only in the sense that animals are not reckoned mere "stocks and stones." As a radical moralizer I would go much further […]; but here for a moment I will take my stand, on the claim that one should not cause unnecessary suffering to animals. Incompetence is to be ruled out, and so also are certain ends which are merely specious, or immoral in themselves. Wanton torture, or torture to impress a
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Clark- Pretext of Necessary Suffering - The Pretext...

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