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  • Writer's pictureCrone

Wood or horse?

One area of my essay that I have had to hack is a section about the way that laboratory workers deal with the moral ambiguities of both harming and caring for the animals. It's an interesting area. It led me to think about how we determine what we owe to animals not by who or what they are in themselves but but who or what they are for us.

So, a rat might be vermin that we poison; a model for a disease that we cut into or a pet whom we love. A horse might be food; competition for scarce resources needed for cattle in the Australian outback; an investment; a sporting partner; a friend. How we treat the animal depends on how we frame it. Of course, we do this with people: we will behave very differently with the taxi driver and the Formula One driver; the post man and the Prime Minister; the unemployable and the entrepreneurial. Yet we tend to honour those who treat all with respect. And we certainly can't kill some of them but not others.

What matters though is surely not how we see something in a give context, but what that being is and what is good or bad for it. It is never good for a person to be humiliated and it is never good for a rat to be cut up.

As I have been thinking about this and can't write it up for the essay, I took an opportunity to fill in a slot in a Work in Progress seminar next week and present my ideas before my peers to launch a discussion. I had to quickly (in a day) write a brief paper, which will be passed around, and then prepare a Power Point presentation.

Here is the brief paper:

Download DOCX • 41KB

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