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Sport and Commercial Hunting – Animal hunting ethics

Updated on August 24, 2012

Animal Hunting – Do animals have pain ?

Do animals have feelings? We are not sure. People who really care about animals are of the belief that they do really have mind, feelings and emotions. But for others with ‘we don’t care approach’ animals are beings with no feelings, pain or attitudes just like a non-living thing. The ethics of sport and commercial hunting has been in question for centuries, but hunting of rare varieties of animals is still a popular sport in many countries. I think it’s safe to say that most of us are supportive of protecting endangered species, but what about the present strength of gorillas? Shouldn’t they be protected as well? Are they deprived of the right to exist in this earth? Is it not the responsibility of humans to protect animals who are the friendliest beings?

Commercial hunting – cause of animal extinction

As far as the early cultures were concerned hunting has been a part of life. But for present man, hunting is not a way of life, but a thirst for blood. Is thirst for blood a necessity? Supporters of hunting are of the opinion that the ever increasing population of deer and other animals could be environmentally devastating. According to them hunting would sustain animal populations and would control the trouble of overpopulation it seems. Hunters with animal blood thirst justify their action with this strange idea.

Hunting is definitely an unnecessary activity in the modern world. This indiscriminate assault on animals is senseless and highly disastrous. This cruel recreation is both undesirable and harmful because of various reasons. It would decrease the number of areas available for tracking animals and also would upsets the natural balance, resulting in the drastic decrease of counts of various species that are expected to be extinct in few years. Moreover, hunting is an unnecessary cruelty to animals. Animals are killed for material gains and other benefits. They are even slaughtered for fun. Numerous varieties of wild animals have already become extinct because of the senseless activity of human beings. Commercial hunting is found to be the chief cause of animal population decrease and extinction in various ecosystems around the world. Innumerable animals have become extinct because of animal hunting. Passenger Pigeon, Quagga, English wolf, Caspian Tiger, Great Auk, Cave Lion, Turanian Tiger and Steller's Sea Cow are some of the extinct animals that would have still existed if we carefully preserved them. Deer hunting and lion hunting have increased considerably, leading to the decrease in the number of deer and lion. Human beings rather blindly kill animals, being least bothered about nature and its resources.

Cruelty to animals – Wild animal hunting - Ethics in hunting -Why animals should not be hunted – Utilitarianism and animal rights

People who argue for better treatment of animals consider utilitarianism as their foundation. According to Bentham's utilitarianism, is its treatment of animals: if the only thing that matters is pain and pleasure, and as is clear that many animals experience pain and pleasure, then their pain and pleasure should be considered when calculating the right action using the utilitarian calculus. According to Bentham if all pain is evil the pain of animals (even though they can just feel the pain) also should be seriously considered in the moral decision of man (Bentham, 1789). Even though the pain of animals is not much severe compared to the pain felt by man and does not include the pains of anticipation, pain of animals should not be ignored in man’s moral decisions. Bentham’s Principle of Utility recognizes the fundamental role of pain and pleasure in living beings.

Bentham thought that the principle of utility could be applied to our treatment of animals. Even though animals cannot talk or reason, they suffer and undergo pain as human beings do. This suffering should be taken into account in our treatment of animals. This is the moral ground for all laws that cry for the stoppage of cruelty against animals. Bentham argued that animal pain is very similar to human pain and that "the day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been witholden from them but by the hand of tyranny (Bentham, 1789)." Bentham opines that the ability to suffer, not the ability to reason, must be used as the criteria for the way human beings deal with animals. The ‘ability to reason’ should not used as the basis of how we treat human beings and animals (Bentham, 1789). If the ability to reason was the benchmark for the treatment, babies and disabled people could be considered as mere objects without any feelings. If a human being or animal is able to feel pain, they must be carefully dealt with as all pain is evil.

Laws to protect animals

Laws must ensure the protection of every sensitive being. If we imply utilitarianism in the treatment of animals we must include their pleasure and pain in the calculation as ‘pain and pleasure’ constitute the basis of how we treat living beings. Animals as well as humans owe moral treatment and moral consideration. The suffering and enjoyment of animals does count much. For Bentham, the pleasure or pain of anyone was to count no more or less than the same amount of pleasure and pain of anyone else (Bentham, 1789). Bentham’s point is quite radical in this case. He aims to place our understanding of our relations with animals on a new moral stand. Animals have the basic interest not to suffer (like human beings) and it therefore it is a mistake on the part of human being to inflict pain and suffering on them. Animals should never be excluded from the moral community because they are not able to reason. Animals, on the other hand, should be given more consideration that human beings as they are unable to speak out their pain and suffering. Animals should not be used in ‘circuses’ and similar entertainments where they are made to suffer.

Rights of animals – pain and pleasure – protection of animals

According to them the pain and suffering of the animals considerably outweigh the pleasure of the human beings who persecute them for different purposes like eating meat (Bentham, 1789). The advocates of utilitarianism demand a better treatment for animals and want people to give due consideration to the sufferings of animals. This approach forbids killing of animals in any case. An exception to this arises as human beings are permitted to kill animals when they suffer unnecessarily. Human beings can decide to kill these suffering animals if they find no other way to rescue them. This is however optional. Inducing suffering on animals is, however, wrong in all cases. Protecting animals is a responsibility entrusted on human beings as they are intellectually and mentally superior to animals. However it is not always right to protect animals from killing each other unless they are domestic animals. Food chain and survival of animals will be affected if human beings try to protect every animal. Human beings however should protect the animal if the animal is not attacked by its predator for eating purpose. Keeping domestic animals however is the responsibility of human beings.


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      JM 5 years ago

      So for those of us who know that we are omnivorous, and have only developed into (and will continue to develop into) the advanced animal we are is from hunting and eating meat.... what meat are we supposed to eat? A product from a over-engineered and industrialized food system that thinks red meat should taste like the pale, flavorless, fat-infused, grain-fed trash that they mash into a paste? Or birds that don't taste like anything at all except whatever spices and saline solutions that processors pump into them in order to make every single one taste exactly the same way? I prefer my food be healthy, and that is why I have a garden and I hunt for my own food.

      I don't know where you get your "facts"...but in the U.S., hunter management organizations and conservation organizations are making sure there isn't any threat of extinction or over-population of game animals.

      Try not to let your emotions get in the way of facts. Please don't attack the responsible hunters.