The Corner

Krauthammer a Human Exceptionalist on Animals

There is a vast and profound difference between “animal rights”–an ideology that sees humans and animals as moral equivalents–and “animal welfare,” that embraces human exceptionalism’s duty to treat animals humanely.

Of course, there is much room for debate about what constitutes “humane,” since there is also the question of human benefit involved in animal husbandry. Such questions, it seems to me, can only be discussed on a case-by-case basis.

Charles Krauthammer (The Great) writes a piece on the home page strongly favoring greater levels of animal welfare, as opposed to espousing animal rights. For me, here is the money quote:

No. I’m not joining PETA. Indeed, I firmly believe that man is the measure of all things. Sometimes you have to choose. I cringe at medical experimentation, but if you need to study cats’ eyes in order to spare some humans from blindness, do it. (Though not to test cosmetics.)

If the Delta smelt has to die to conserve 1.4 trillion gallons of water for the parched humans of California, so be it. If the mating habits of the Arctic caribou have to be disturbed so we can produce 1 million barrels of oil a day — on a drilling footprint the size of Dulles Airport in a refuge the size of Ireland — I say: Apologize to the amorous herd, then drill.

That is the correct approach that starts with the unique value of humans and our duties to ourselves, while concomitantly prodding us to recognize our obligations toward animals, i.e., the human exceptionalist approach.

Proceeding from that understanding, we can debate proper practices and methods, issues about which reasonable people will often disagree.

Humans have duties, animals don’t have rights. We won’t go wrong continuing to keep that distinction sharp and clear.

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