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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/696

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

justified, therefore, in killing the animal, he is not justified in causing it pain. He is bound, in fact, to kill the animal in such a way as to cause as little pain as is consistent with his own interest. The death of a sheep in a butcher's slaughter-house is painful; but men cannot therefore be said to do wrong in killing a sheep for food. They kill it with as little pain as is under the circumstances possible. They could not make the pain less, except by the introduction of elaborate and costly methods which would probably ruin the butcher or spoil the meat, or at least, in the present state of our knowledge and of the market, do damage to the interests of mankind. The death of an ox, again, is more painful than that of a sheep; but men do not therefore feel bound to live on mutton alone. They consider that the advantages of a mixed diet of beef and mutton justify them in inflicting that additional quantity of pain which is suffered whenever an ox is felled.

In short, this, under one aspect, is a selfish world. The struggle for existence is its guiding principle. If we believe that man is to govern the world, and he must either govern or succumb, then we must be prepared to use animals selfishly, if you please to call it so—to use animals for our advantage—to kill them when we have need of their deaths—to kill them with pain when the pain is for our benefit; and, inasmuch as the greater includes the less, to inflict pain without death where their pain does us good.[1] Our good is, in fact, the rule of our conduct toward animals. Whenever an animal is killed by man, or suffers pain at the hand of man, without benefit to man, or where the same benefit could be gained without the death or without the pain, then the death or the pain can be no longer justified. The man who inflicts them is a cruel man; he no longer does good, but harm, to humanity, and humanity ought to stop his hand.

I feel that I ought almost to apologize to the reader for having spent so much of his time over what are almost truisms; but so many absurd statements are continually being made, and so many whimsical ideas broached, that it seemed desirable to have a clear understanding concerning the principles which should guide our general conduct toward animals before discussing the special subject of vivisection.

We have now to inquire whether the deaths and pains which the word vivisection implies are, or have been, wrought for the benefit of mankind, inasmuch, as they have led to knowledge and power which could not otherwise have been gained; or whether they had not been wrought for the benefit of mankind, inasmuch as they have not led to knowledge and power, or the power and knowledge might have been gained in some other way, or, being gained by many deaths and much pain, have been so small that mankind could well have done without

  1. Some writers have urged that while man is perfectly justified in killing any number of animals, he is not justified in causing pain. From the point of view of the animal this is simply a grotesque absurdity; from the point of view of man we shall have to speak of it later on.