The ethical issues surrounding how humans handle animals has been debated for some decades. Do humans have any obligation to animals? Kent (1990) noted that one of the most common ethical vegetarianism is the predation relationship between humans and animals. From this standing, the ethical vegetarians does not acknowledge that humans as any other animals are predatory animal. Therefore, if vegetarians are against humans eating meat, they are also against all other forms of predation. He argues that,
- If it’s morally acceptable for the wild animal to be predators,
- There being no difference between wild predation and human predation,
- Therefore, it is morally right for human beings to predate other animals for food.
However, in as much as the argument above is true, there is an object in that humans are different from other animals, and as such, the other animals do not predate in a similar manner as humans. One of the striking differences noted is that human beings have the capacity to understand moral principles that guide their contact; the other animals do not have such. Therefore, from this premise, it is allowed for a wolf to kill a sheep for food. The wolf’s behavior is naturally right since the wolf lack moral understanding that is inherent in humans. However, a counter argument on such moral standing exists in that even if animals are without the moral capability, their actions can be interpreted from a moral perspective. For example, a child who is not amoral agent torturing a cat is morally wrong. The same applies in the event that a person loses his or her mind and the person ceases from being a moral agent tortures an animal, the act does not stop being immoral just because the person is not a moral agent.
Nevertheless, if it is not wrong for natural predators to kill animals, human beings, being natural predators do not act immorally by killing animals for food. One notes that this argument does not compare of humans and animals and places them at equal grounds of action. In the society, naturally the strong tend to dominate the weak and as such may mistreat them. Even though some acts are natural, they are not morally right just as the strong dominating the weak. It is, however, argued that humans have alternatives that animal do not have. Such occurs due to the fact that humans are not completely carnivores but omnivores whereby they can farm and use farm produces. But, it is impossible to stop predation among animals and stop any suffering of the animals.
It is not possible to protect non moral agents from predation since they cannot understand how morals operate. Humans have the duty to protect all other human from any harm, including predation from animals. However, one would wonder, why should the humans be protected from predation if they themselves are predators and are not on the top of the food chain? From whatever point one views it, humans are not protected from predation since they are equally vulnerable on a fair hunting ground.
In conclusion, considering the arguments brought forth, humans have no obligation to protect animals from harm. It is morally right for humans to predate whether farming or not. The end result in natural setting is that all animal must obtain food for survival. If humans or any other agent interferes with the natural course of predation, such a move would do more harm than good.
Baldner, Kent. “Realism and Respect,” Between the Species(Winter 1990: 1-7).