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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/359

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THE ETHICS OF VIVISECTION.

matter? or how does the ethical question apply here? Was the morality of the business discussed when nearly the whole family of whales was exterminated for the sake of their oil, or whenever troops of horses have been exported to engage in our quarrels and perish on the battlefield? If a horse could define his rights, would he admit the necessity of his going round and round in a mill the live-long day, or dragging a tram-car with the never-ceasing jangle of bells in his ears? Would the thousands of God's creatures in India approve of being called "vermin," and exterminated at so much a head? It is clear that, as regards food, clothing, mutilation, or work, there seems to be no other rule guiding us than "might is right." We have exercised the dominion given us over the beasts of the earth and fowls of the air as tyrants.

Now, when all this is said and admitted, we recognize over and above our animal instincts a higher nature within us—pity, love, compassion, and duty toward other objects; sentiments, indeed, which seem almost antagonistic to our lower life and to the proclivities of our fleshly body. This higher aspiration has ever been regarded as one of the best evidences of man's spiritual nature. We observe that a cultivated man is obliged to find a substitute to kill the sheep for his dinner, or to employ the necessary cunning to catch his game, since he could not practice deceit himself, nor nerve his arm to strip the Arctic animals of their skins to clothe himself. But although he does not imbrue his hands in blood, and although he dismisses from his mind the question of the animal's "right" to its own skin, he can not discard his own animal nature by appointing a substitute to perform actions in the result of which he participates. When, therefore, the question of the relationship between man and animals is considered, the fact that man is a killing and hunting animal himself lies at the very foundation of this relationship. Where, then, it may be asked, do the higher sentiments of which I have spoken come in? A ready answer is, that all these practices toward the lower animals are admissible and necessary for man's existence, but that cruelty should be avoided. This word, in common use of late, appears to signify the giving of unnecessary pain, but it still remains ambiguous unless the word "necessary" is defined. One may gather from various writings that "necessary" is equivalent to "advantageous to man"; for example, the word "cruelty" would be applicable to the case where a half-starved horse is made to drag a cart too ponderous for his strength, but it would not apply to the case of the same horse dragging a heavy cannon over a mountain for the safety and glory of the nation. What, then, is necessary pain, and what unnecessary pain or cruelty? If necessity is construed, as it is at present, to include not only the procuring of food, but man's enjoyment and general advantages, it is obvious that the question must have ever-varying answers. There are a few persons, vegetarians on principle, who would not kill animals for food under any consideration;