Cannibalism is so repugnant to us that for years even anthropologists failed to admit that it was common in prehistory. It is easy to think: could other human beings really be capable of such a depraved act? But of course animal rights activists have a similarly low opinion of meat eaters, who not only cause millions of preventable deaths but do so with utter callousness: castrating and branding cattle without an anesthetic, impaling fish by the mouth and letting them suffocate in the hold of a boat, boiling lobsters alive. My point is not to make a moral case for vegetarianism but to shed light on the mindset of human violence and cruelty. History and ethnography suggest that people can treat strangers the way we now treat lobsters, and our incomprehension of such deeds may be compared with animal rights activists’ incomprehension of ours. It is no coincidence that Peter Singer, the author of The Expanding Circle, is also the author of Animal Liberation.
Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, New York, 2002, p. 320
Many believers in animal rights and the relevance of animal welfare do not critically examine their basic assumptions […]. Typically these individuals hold two conflicting views. The first view is that animal welfare counts, and that people should treat animals as decently as possible. The second view is a presumption of human non0interference with nature, as much as possible. […] [T]he two views are less compatible than is commonly supposed. If we care about the welfare and rights of individual animals, we may be led to interfere with nature whenever the costs of doing so are sufficiently low.
Tyler Cowen, ‘Policing Nature’, Environmental Ethics, vol. 25, no. 2 (Summer, 2003)
I find it ironic that vivisectors, and others who exploit animals, call people like me irrational or emotional and then they hold themselves up as rational. They’re not rational. They’re, in fact, defending a world view that is part and parcel of virgin births and holy spirits and all that stuff. Which is fine if they want to believe that. But they hold up the basis of their views as scientific. It’s not scientific at all. It’s based totally on religious views.
Gary Francione, ‘Do Animals Have Rights?’ Interview with Kate Kempton
Par ce moyen, on termine aussi les anciennes disputes sur la participation des animaux à la loi naturelle ; car il est clair que, dépourvus de lumières et de liberté, ils ne peuvent reconnoître cette loi ; mais, tenant en quelque chose à notre nature par la sensibilité dont ils sont doués, on jugera qu’ils doivent aussi participer au droit naturel, et que l’homme est assujetti envers eux à quelque espèce de devoirs. Il semble en effet que si je suis obligé de ne faire aucun mal à mon semblable, c’est moins parce qu il est un être raisonnable que parce qu’il est un être sensible, qualité qui, étant commune à la bête et à l’homme, doit au moins donner à l’une le droit de n’être point maltraitée inutilement par l’autre.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine de l’inégalité parmi les hommes, 1755, préface
When a Benjamin Franklin or a Jeremy Bentham suggested that we look at animals in a radically different way, the suggestion was probably greeted not with a refutation but with a laugh or sneer. Until animals are taken seriously enough that this possibility is clearly in mind, intelligent discussion of the reasons for and against equal consideration is impossible.
David DeGrazia, Taking Animals Seriously: Mental Life and Moral Status, Cambridge, 1996, p. 49