Up@dawn 2.0

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Sacrificing goats

We had our first Bioethics final report presentation yesterday, from Komron, on The Efficacy of Live Tissue Trauma Training for Combat Life Support Applications. He warned the images would be graphic, of live (sedated) pigs and goats in surgical demonstrations. The guy in the 100K “cut suit” was hard to watch too.

Maybe Komron can provide a postscript, updating us on the disposition of this February Congressional order:
…the Pentagon must present lawmakers with a written plan to phase out “live tissue training,” military speak for slaying animals to teach combat medics how to treat severed limbs and gunshot wounds.

Andrew also put up a post on Italian animal rights activists who released animal subjects and allegedly set autism and schizophrenia research “decades” back.

The hard question, perhaps not so hard for confirmed utilitarians: is the prospect of saving even a single human life worth the sacrifice of a goat?
And for those not quite so confirmed: is there a humane and ethically-superior way of going about the sacrifice?

What would Peter Singer say?
  • “All the arguments to prove man’s superiority cannot shatter this hard fact: in suffering the animals are our equals.”
  • “The notion that human life is sacred just because it is human life is medieval.”
  • “If possessing a higher degree of intelligence does not entitle one human to use another for his or her own ends, how can it entitle humans to exploit non-humans?”
  • “To give preference to the life of a being simply because that being is a member of our species would put us in the same position as racists who give preference to those who are members of their race.”

I suppose I am a little bit speciesist, along with just about every non-self-loathing human. Forced to choose, I’ll almost always choose the human over the goat.
“If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it.”

Most of us rightly place a great deal more “moral importance” on saving humans than on leaving goats alone. (Notice I’ve stopped talking about pigs. I’ve read Charlotte’s Web. “Some pig.”)

But if we revere life, we must also insist on preventing gratuitous animal suffering. Further, we must insist on giving those sacrificial animals as much life, of quality, as possible.

Singer has also said, of researchers deliberately inducing Parkinsonism in monkeys:
“I do not think you should reproach yourself for doing it, provided there was no other way of discovering this knowledge. I could see this as justifiable research.”

Me too. Still wondering, though, about genetic screening for happiness.


  1. Be prepared for my euthanasia presentation sometime next week.. mwuahaha

  2. nature is cruel why do we have to pretend that everything has to be equal? we treat these goats with respect and take precautions to ensure the animals feel no pain. we are the only ones that have the ability to be caretakers of this planet. we have to be able to make the difficult decisions and some times end of life choices are necessary, think old yeller.