Sunday, May 20, 2012

Past Mistakes Should be a Basis for Change, Not a Justification for Their Perpetuation

My animal rights position has sometimes been challenged by friends who maintain that without our history of animal exploitation we would not be where we are today. First, I agree, but that can also be said about our history of human slavery, the persecution of Native Americans, and other practices that we no longer regard as morally justifiable. Second, the argument presupposes that "where we are today" is better than what would have otherwise come about. There is simply no way to know that. Certainly we could be in a better place or a worse place, but assuming for the moment that our present-day society represents a desirable outcome, I do not accept that the ends justify the means. Third, regardless of what we did or did not do in the past, we have the capacity to choose today to take a different path.