Overview: If dogs are protected under the law, then the same law should protect pigs. Under animal rights laws, a dog owner may not treat their pet dog, however, he or she wants. A person who abuses a dog could face criminal charges. From an ethical perspective, the same should apply to pigs.
Peter Senger discusses the reason in Speciesism and the Equality of Animals. He uses the term Speciesism as a bias towards one’s own breed. This can cause a person to over look an animal’s sentience. Is the animal capable of suffering? This should be the question we ask to guide our legal system as to what rights should be afforded an animal.
Sentience is the only gauge to determine if an entity is worth ethical consideration. Citing research ABC news reports that pigs are “perhaps the smartest, cleanest, domestic animals down – more so than cats and dogs” (ABC News, 2014). Many pigs raised for human consumption are kept in conditions hostile to intelligence. Many will spend their lives in a very small pen. Since pigs have the ability to suffer, and have it perhaps to a higher degree than dogs, the protection the law affords them should be equal to greater that it affords dogs.
A Socratic dialogue is a dialogue in which a philosophical or ethical position is advanced through a conversation that employs the Socratic method. The Socratic method asks a number of questions to expose all angles of inquiry in order for the participants to come to the truth behind what they are discussing. What follows is a Socratic dialogue related to the issue of why pigs should be afforded at least the same amount of rights that dogs are afforded.
Socratic Dialogue between Socrates and Chef Howard
Chef Howard: This is going to be some amazing pulled pork sandwiches.
Socrates: Very well, but I hope that the pork comes from a farm where it was treated ethically.
Chef Howard: That doesn’t matter to me so long as it tastes delicious.
Socrates: But you would not want to perpetuate a violation of another animal’s ethics would you?
Chef Howard: No, of course not. Socrates: Well then it seems worth you while making sure that the farm that raises the pork you use is such a farm where pigs are able to experience life as a joy and not a burden.
Chef Howard: Well, it’s not like pigs are as smart as dogs.
Socrates: So you agree then that a dog should not be left locked in a small cage his whole life.
Chef Howard: Of course not. Why, if someone did that to my toy poodle Jasper, I’d be devastated.
Socrates: Well then, what if you found out that the same qualities that you value in Jasper, the very same intelligence that causes you to believe he should not be locked in a small cage his whole life, exists in pigs.
Chef Howard: That would seem suspect, since pigs are so delicious.
Socrates: No one is asking you to give up bacon. But consider that scientific research has shown pigs to be on one of the most intelligent animals in the world. They are smarter than dogs. So if dogs have our ethical consideration, and you admit that they should not be locked in a cage their whole life, would it not seem rational to afford this same protection to pigs?
Chef Howard: Yes, I guess it would. Shall we eat?
Senger, Peter. Specisism and the Equality of Animals Print.
"The 10 smartest animals." msnbc.com. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2014. <http://www.nbcnews.com/id/24628983/ns/technology_and_science-science/t/smartest-animals/#.UwTIH0JdWOo>.