Professor of Philosophical Study Tokyo University Masaki Ichinose
We can intuitively tell the difference between “living things”and those without life . And we can easily imagine how the living creatures may suffer. It goes without saying that we feel the pain the other living creatures might suffer even though we ourselves are not tortured. Who would not feel the pain if you witness the wild duck with his neck pierced with an arrow? The word “ individual” is misleading. The meaning of it is that we exist one by one separately, which is not true. The truth is that all living creatures are connected, sharing one world. All living things influence the other beings all the time. It is impossible to be “individual”, which means independent or alone. We are given births by our parents. So we are closely united to our parents. This way of unity can be observed in relationships between all living things large or small.
So we feel the pain of the pierced wild duck as our own. Instinctively we try to avoid pain. All living things try to avoid pain by nature. This is the basis of the morality. “ You should not do the things that you don’t want to be done to the others.” This morality is paraphrased in this expression. Or you should never say to yourself,” I don’t want to be done those kinds of bad things but it is OK to do those kinds of things to the others.” In ethics, the moral that we should not discriminate yourself and the others is called “ possible generalization.” You are supposed to live according to the morality that should be so universal as to be applied to all. You should not think you have the privilege to be morally protected only because you are human being.
The reverence for life is not exclusively bestowed to humanity. The lives of plants and animals should also be respected. Thus the morality or ethics which are originally structured based on human centered idea has come to be applied to the animals. This lead to the idea of “animal rights” and “animal liberation.” However, the instant we perceive this idea of ethics applied to the animal should be accepted and should be put into practice, we face contradiction.( Generally this may be the case with the idea of ethics in any case.) We can recognize the rights of all the creatures and respect their lives but cannot realize the world where animals are treated with due respect. We may step on aunts unintentionally and may use the products made of animal skin without noticing it. The products made after the animal experimentation might have brought you benefit unexpectedly. Hurrying up to realize the society where the rights of animals take precedence may cause counter effects. For example, people who run the stock-raising industry ( they never want to abuse animals) may be imposed a lot of burden. In addition, even if we are allowed to respect the rights of animals to some extent, we have to face the difficulty of scaling the extent how much we can give up for animals . All of us know the damage caused by wild monkeys or deer in recent years. It will take much time to put the ethics, which has the possibility of generalization, into practice. I presume it will take about 500 years. We can only keep doing things for animals step by step with trial and error.
I am not saying we have only to wait for the good days to come doing nothing. We have various approaches for the fulfillment of their welfare and have a lot of measures to be taken all the time. One urgent issue we should take up is the abolishment of the gestation crates for sows. They are confined in the narrow crates not allowed to turn around and are impregnated all the time. How painful it would be for such intelligent creatures! Stock breeders are not the only ones to be blamed. We dare not try to see the reality. We do not do anything to speak up against such cruelty. It is us, the consumers , who are to feel responsible for this issue because we owe benefits to live stock industry. What we should do is to know the truth and share the pain of the animals. Then speak out for them. We are sure to be able to make a change. We can make the crates more spacious or let them be bred in the wide open area. Not all the problems will be solved easily, of course, though. The ethics for the animals is not so easy to be realized. But we can make a difference no matter how little it may be. To make things better we have to clear the problem of cost to start with. And it will take time for us to see the society more aware of the ethics for animals. Please look at the pigs in their eyes. You can see them in the pictures. Please imagine how it would be to spend their whole lives that way. Please feel the pulse of the live beings.
Professor of Philosophical Study