Ethics Professor Discusses Dog Fighting And Hunting

Peter Singer, is an ethicist and the Ira W. DeCamp Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University. His book Animal Liberation, first published in 1975, is considered the foundational text of the animal rights movement. In an interview with The New Republic, he discussed the ethical difference between hunting and dog fighting, and why both of those are minor cruelties in the scale of things.

In response to the public reaction to Michael Vick’s involvement in dog fighting, Singer said that the public outrage seems fair. Vick did horrible things to dogs, and if it is true, people should be angry and disgusted by it. But Singer added that if this had been done with pigs or chickens, the public reaction would not have been so strong.

Singer stated: “That seems to me to be wrong. I think pigs suffer just as much as dogs, and, in terms of what we do to pigs in this country in general, they suffer a lot more cruelty than dogs do because there are so many of them in factory farms in appalling conditions. That’s the incongruity. It’s not that there’s an overreaction to the Vick business, it’s rather that there’s an underreaction to what’s happening elsewhere.”

Some people, including NBA player Stephon Marbury, have compared dog fighting to hunting. In response to the comparison between dog fighting and hunting, Singer said the focus and the ethics of a sport hunter is to kill the animal with as little pain as possible. A good hunter will shot the animal in a place where it will die immediately and will not suffer. In dog fighting, the dogs that didn’t perform well were not killed instantly. The dogs were drowned and this is more of a painful death than being shot through the brain or in the heart, Singer stated.

Singer added: “That comparison that you just asked me to make between dog fighting and sport-hunting is interesting in itself because these are both really very minor cruelties in the terms of the scale of things. The big thing that is going undiscussed here is the industrial raising of animals for food. Just in terms of the numbers, it’s so vastly greater than sport-hunting, which in turn is a lot bigger than dog fighting. We’re talking literally about billions of animals each year being reared in conditions that don’t enable them to have a minimally decent life and then being killed in mass-production factory ways that again often are not painless. So that’s the schizophrenia, that all of this hidden suffering that’s engaged in by supposedly respectable corporations and that people then buy in their supermarkets is the thing that is unspoken. It’s not the recreational activities that we should be focusing on.”

Source: The New Republic

(Thanks Lynn)

9 Responses to “Ethics Professor Discusses Dog Fighting And Hunting”

  1. Donna says:

    Dog fighting ,hunting for sport and animals raised for food are all three heinous and barbaric. Violence does not make humans superior to any thing.If it violence one craves…………..go for hand to fang combat with a tiger.Thrill of a very short life time,…………………for the human. Violence on all levels must stop.

  2. catmom5 says:

    I agree that we need to focus on cruelty to animals in all areas ~ and factory farming is horrendous and cruel. Yet how many people “want” to know where their meat comes from? Education into factory farming needs to be ramped up, but it is so disturbing that I’m guessing a lot of folks simply will not be willing to face the sad facts.
    With that said, just because not as many animals are hurt, killed or maimed during dog fighting (or other animal “blood sports”) or “sport” hunting doesn’t mean that we can just look the other way.
    I believe that we have to address the violence toward other living beings wherever it occurs.

  3. Lynne says:

    I’ve long admired Peter Singer and agree with him. Meet your meat:

  4. Bridgett says:

    If a person is a meat eater but is concerned about factory farming, check out local butcher shops or coops. The meat will either be labeled humanely raised and butchered or you can ask.

  5. Gindy says:

    Where I live you can meet your meat if you wish. Sure, just drive out to the farm, pick the cow or chicken you want, and next week it will be delivered to your door. Wrapped in plastic.
    I am a vegetarian so this does not apply to me, but Bridgett is correct, there are plenty of alternatives to store bought, factory farm, garbage meat. You just have to think out side the box (grocery store) and do some homework.

  6. Stefani says:

    As I have said before, I DO think that companion animals, by virtue of the fact that they have been bred by us to share our lives, deserve a special consideration under the law. And clearly, because we share our lives with primarily cats and dogs, our emotions over cruelty done to them are stronger than our emotions over cruelty to other animals. I am not saying that is ethically justifiable, just that it is a probable explanation.

    Having said that, I believe the average person could NOT inflict the cruelty on a chicken, pig, or cow that is routinely inflicted on them in factory farm situations. The people who do that I believe have deadened their souls in order to be able to do it. Most of us, if we had to confront the choice between doing to the animal what is done to them in the factory production system, and not eating meat, would probably not eat meat. We couldn’t bear to do it. But we pay others to do it. I realize that is hypocritical.

    I have twice gone veggie, for periods as long as 2 years. Because I do love the taste of chicken, it’s usually been chicken that has tempted me off. Since falling off the vegetarian wagon a few years ago, I have eaten only chicken and wild caught salmon and no other meats/flesh, but it does bother my conscience, because chickens suffer horribly in factory farming conditions, and I am not ignorant of that fact. Which, makes me a bigger hypocrite.

    Last night I saw a program on PBS called the natural history of the chicken. It had me in tears. Both at the beauty of the chickens living in happy situations, and at the horrible treatment of the mass produced chickens. It was a FABULOUS hour of TV, I highly recommend it. (

    So far today, no chicken for me. We will see how long I make it this time. I will take it a day at a time.

    I don’t think it’s wrong to kill animals for food. But I DO think it is wrong how we raise them and mass-produce them, how we make them live before we kill them. That suffering is on a whole other level than the suffering of a chicken on a family farm who has lived in the sun and then one day just gets its head chopped off — like they used to do when my mom was a kid.

    To underwrite the cruelty of factory farming IS hypocritical for me and others who love animals. I do realize that.

    It’s been 24 hours since my last bite of chicken. Can I get a chip for that?

    The Toonces Project
    “Is Your Pet Safe at the Vet?”

  7. Mary says:

    Now where the heck is Brad? This is exactly the point I made in the Idaho/Wyoming comments. Hunters are not cowards. It takes alot of bravery and skill to hunt.

    The problem is that there is such a disconnect between what we eat and where it comes from — we do not have that connection to the Earth any more, and so we lose respect for the source out of ignorance and fear. It’s little wonder we treat the Earth the way we do. There is no honor in Spam.

    My niece went to a farm on a school field trip, saw live chickens, and said to her mom “Isn’t that funny, chickens have the same name as chicken nuggets?” She did not understand that chickens = nuggets. My sister didn’t explain b/c she didn’t want to upset her child.

  8. MilesandBen says:

    I have been meat-free since I was fourteen. While I had always felt that it was wrong to eat meat it was not until I watched a current events piece on factory farming in the eighth grade that I completely understood. The disconnect between consumers and the consumed is ever-widening and will not change until something even worse than Mad Cow and Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease emerges into the mass populace.

    Eat local, fee-range, organically raised livestock if you can’t quit the meat habit. Otherwise, there are some great chicken substitutes out on the market now. Boca and Amy’s do not use GMOs, Morningstar does.

  9. Casey says:

    You guys are all stupid. Everyone(me too) is gonna keep eating meat and keep loving meat. Who cares how the animals are killed. Its the food chain. I saw a coyote kill a rabbit once(with his teeth) and it looked to be a very painful death but the coyote got his family something to eat. Thats pretty much what humans are doing with animals

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