Issue Report: Hunting for sport

Is hunting for sport an acceptable practice?

Hunting is the practice of pursuing animals for food, recreation, or trade. In modern use, the term refers to regulated and legal hunting, as distinguished from poaching, which is the killing, trapping or capture of animals contrary to law. Hunted animals are referred to as game animals, and are usually large or small mammals, migratory gamebirds, or non-migratory gamebirds. Hunting for sport is a very controversial topic and this debate discusses this issue.

"Sport": Is hunting a fair sport or something else?

Sport of hunting should, indeed, always be challenging

James Fenimore Cooper, The Pioneers – “The flesh is sweeter, where the creature has some chance for its life; for that reason, I always use a single ball, even if it be at a bird or a squirrel; besides, it saves lead, for, when a body knows how to shoot, one piece of lead is enough for all, except hard-lived animals.”[1] Indeed, hunting should be a challenge, and not an easy affair. As long as this is the case, hunting can be justified.

Hunting is definitely fair, because, all animals have their strengths.

All animals have their strengths. A deer has advantages over the human, such as its speed, agility, and their superior senses. Humans have the advantage of being able to creatively create tools to serve their purposes, such as firearms and camoflauge clothing to hunt. Because of this, animals and hunters are at an equal footing when it comes to hunting.

Hunting not a sport; animals don't know they're in the game

Paul Rodriguez – “Hunting is not a sport. In a sport, both sides should know they’re in the game.”[2]

Hunting is no sport; it's not a competition between equal parties

R. Lerner, letter, Sierra. March-April 1991 – “Whether hunting is right or wrong, a spiritual experience, or an outlet for the killer instinct, one thing it is not is a sport. Sport is when individuals or teams compete against each other under equal circumstances to determine who is better at a given game or endeavor. Hunting will be a sport when deer, elk, bears, and ducks are… given 12-gauge shotguns. Bet we’d see a lot fewer drunk yahoos (live ones, anyway) in the woods if that happened.”[3]

If hunting is a sport, then animal attacks are fair game

George Bernard Shaw – “When a man wants to murder a tiger he calls it sport; when the tiger wants to murder him he calls it ferocity.”[4]

Hunting is an activity not a sport.

Passion: Do humans have an inherent passion to hunt?

It is the nature of mankind to hunt

Since the beginning of time, mankind has hunted food for survival. Hunting today keeps alive one of man’s greatest tradition in the form of recreation. It also celebrates the struggles that our ancestors faced to survive.

There is an inherent human passion for hunting

Charles Dickens quotes (English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian era, 1812-1870)

“There is a passion for hunting something deeply implanted in the human breast.”[5]

"Passion" for hunting is due to callousness

Henry Salt, Animals' Rights. "Sport, or Amateur Butchery". 1892.

“The sporting instinct is due to sheer callousness and insensibility ; the sportsman, by force of habit, or by force of hereditary influence, cannot understand or sympathize with the sufferings he causes, and being, in the great majority of instances, a man of slow perception, he actually finds it much easier to follow the hounds than to follow an argument.”[6]

Morality: Is hunting consistent with human morals and dignity?

Sometimes it might be for your survival, for food.

Exploiting animals is more dignified than their living in the wild

Animals invariably experience great suffering in the wild. Removing them from this environment can be very beneficial and reassuring for animals.

It is perfectly natural to use animals for our own nutrition and pleasure.

In the wild there is much suffering as animals struggle to survive, are hunted by predators, and compete for food and resources. Human beings have been successful in this struggle for existence and do not need to feel ashamed of exploiting their position as a successful species in the evolutionary process.

Hunting is no worse than killing cows and eating their meat

"In Defense of Hunting: Cruella DeVille or Captain Planet?". 18 Apr. 2008

“the life of a cow is so much more nightmarish than that of a dear that it is hard to fathom how hunters come off as cruel next to every burger and lactose product consumer.”

Hunting is a barbaric form of torturing and killing for pleasure

Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) British author.

It is very strange, and very melancholy, that the paucity of human pleasures should persuade us ever to call hunting one of them.”[7]

When hunting is unnecessary, it is barbaric; killing for pleasure

Matthew Scully, author of Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy. In an interview with the National Review Online. "Exploring 'Dominion'". December 3, 2002

“Scully: One thing I noticed, reading articles and books by sport hunters, is that they themselves are often uneasy about the things they do. And I hope Dominion will encourage more of that self-examination among the relatively few people — about five percent of Americans — with a taste for bloodsport. Hunting, if it can be justified at all, falls into the category of the necessary evil. When the aim is just the pleasure of stalking and killing, or the pride of a “trophy,” the necessity is absent and you have to ask yourself what’s left.”

Hunters are the tyrannical, genocidal, "mass-murderers" of animals

(Soame Jenyns, Disquisitions on Several Subjects, “Cruelty to Inferior Animals,” 1782) – “What name should we bestow on a superior Being, whose whole endeavours were employed, and whose whole pleasure consisted in terrifying, ensnaring, tormenting and destroying mankind ?… I say, what name detestable enough could we find for such a Being ? Yet, if we impartially consider the case, and our intermediate situation, we must acknowledge, that, with regard to inferior animals, just such a Being is a sportsman.”

Humans have a choice and thus responsibility to do no harm to animals.

Many opponents of animal rights and supporters of testing cite the fact that animals kill each other without public outcry, and ask, why humans should be held to a higher standard? The answer is that humans have the capacity to make the choice to inflict pain on animals. Animals, having no free will, so do not have this same ability to choose. Therefore, if we determine that it is morally ethical to do no harm to animals, since we have the choice, it is our unique responsibility to do no harm.

Killing animals should be viewed as equivalent to killing humans

Leonardo Da Vinci – “The time will come when people such as I will look upon the murder of (other) animals as they no look upon the murder of human beings.”[8]

Animals should be treated as we would want to be treated

Christine Stevens – “The basis of all animal rights should be the Golden Rule: we should treat them as we would wish them to treat us, were any other species in our dominant position.”[9]

Wrong to hunt harmless, defenseless animals

Montaigne, Of Cruelty, 1575 -

“As for me, I could never so much as endure, without remorse and griefe, to see a poore, sillie, and innocent beast pursued and killed, which is harmelesse and voide of defence, and of whom we receive no offence at all.”[10]

Hunters are simply immoral, bad people

Philip Stubbes, The Anatomy of Abuses , “Hunting & Hawking,” 1583 – “I never read of any in the volume of the sacred Scriptures that was a good man, and a hunter.”[11]

Tolerance: Should people tolerate hunters and their beliefs?

Differences of opinion on killing and hunting must be tolerated

Some people believe killing is never justified. Some people believe that it can be justified. Neither group is necessarily “right”. Neither group is likely to ever change their positions. These are legitimate differences of opinion that must be respected, and no laws should be created that are intolerant of these differences.

Those that disapprove of hunting should not hunt.

For those that believe hunting is always wrong, there is a simply resolution, which is that they don’t hunt. It is impossible to go any further than this, given that there are legitimate differences of opinion on whether hunting is acceptable. Because of the differences in opinions, both groups should just leave each other alone. Those who don’t hunt should respect the choices of those that do, and visa versa.

Humans are obligated to cause animals no pain or suffering

Jeremy Bentham – “The question is not, ‘Can they reason?’ nor, ‘Can they talk?’ but rather, ‘Can they suffer?'”[12]

Hunting need not be tolerated; it is cruel and can be made unlawful

John Lawrence. A Philosophical and Practical Treatise on Horses, and on the Moral Duties of Man Towards the Brute Creation. "The Philosophy of Sports". 1798

“The baiting of animals, as it is called, that is, chaining and staking down wretched captives, to be worried and torn to pieces by other animals, purposely trained for such usless barbarity, is absolutely unlawful, contrary to the light of reason, and the dictates of humanity, the foul disgrace of common sense, and never ought to be tolerated for a moment, in a government which claims to be instituted for the protection of rights, and the advancement of morailty.”[13]

Hunting is cruel, inhumane, undignified, and uncivilized

it encourages violence and barbarism in society more generally. A society that respects animals and restrains base and violent instincts is a more civilised one. For these reasons, society is justified in viewing hunting as intolerable and banning it.

Equality: Are humans superior to animals, giving them some authority to hunt?

Human life is of greater intrinsic value than animal life

"Putting Humans First: Why We Are Nature’s Favorite". Tibor R. Machan. Rowman & Littlefield, 2004

“beings that lack a rational faculty also lack the capacity to contribute creatively to the values in nature. By contrast, human beings can create value, as a matter of our initiative, not merely exhibit it.” To the extent that animals are of lesser value than humans, it is appropriate to eat them.

There is a great moral difference between humans and animals.

Unlike animals, humans are capable of rational thought and can alter the world around them. Religious people would say that humans also have souls and a different relationship with God. Other creatures were put on this earth for mankind to use, and that includes eating meat. For all these reasons we say that men and women have rights and that animals don’t. This means that eating meat is in no way like murder.

If humans are animals, why defy our animalistic instincts?

"An Animal's Place". The New York Times Magazine. November 10, 2002

“Surely this is one of the odder paradoxes of animal rights doctrine. It asks us to recognize all that we share with animals and then demands that we act toward them in a most unanimalistic way. Whether or not this is a good idea, we should at least acknowledge that our desire to eat meat is not a trivial matter, no mere ‘gastronomic preference.’ We might as well call sex–also now technically unnecessary–a mere ‘recreational preference.’ Whatever else it is, our meat eating is something very deep indeed.” Indeed, if we consider humans to be equal to animals and a part of the animal kingdom, it is natural that we find our instincts to eat meat to be of equivalent intensity as compared to other meat-eating animals. If humans are animals too, why should we deny these instincts?

Animal life is equivalent in value to human life

Mahatma Gandhi

“To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being.”

Animals are equal to humans in science as lifeforms on Earth

"The Philosophy of Animal Rights". Retrieved May 6th, 2008

“Explanation: The philosophy of animal rights is respectful of our best science in general and evolutionary biology in particular. The latter teaches that, in Darwin’s words, humans differ from many other animals “in degree,” not in kind. Questions of line drawing to one side, it is obvious that the animals used in laboratories, raised for food, and hunted for pleasure or trapped for profit, for example, are our psychological kin. This is no fantasy, this is fact, proven by our best science.”

Animals feel and suffer in very similar ways as humans

Hunting them subjects them to the same kind of pain that we would experience if we were hunted and shot.

Modern humans have lost touch with animals and our likeness

In modernity, too many humans have lost daily contact with animals, desensitizing us to our likeness.

Animals have emotions, personalities, and souls just like humans

Henry David Thoreau – “I saw deep in the eyes of the animals the human soul look out upon me. I saw where it was born deep down under feathers and fur, or condemned for a while to roam four-footed among the brambles, I caught the clinging mute glance of the prisoner and swore that I would be faithful.”[14] Many pet-owners believe that their pets have personalities. Socially, in many countries, eating typical house pets (dogs and cats) is considered a major social taboo. However, other animals (cows, pigs, chickens) are raised as food. This conflicting and inconsistent attitude towards animals indicates how socially determined our attitudes towards meat-eating is. Vegetarianism simply extends the typical attitude towards common household pets to other animals species.

Humans can do wrong so can be morally inferior to animals

Humans are uniquely capable of acting immorally, so capable of assuming a moral inferiority to animals.

Animals are superior to humans in many of their abilities

Many of the physical abilities of animals are astonishing and far superior to the correlating abilities of humans. Eagles, for instance, have many times better eye-sight than humans. They are also better fliers. As such, it is wrong to claim that humans are, generally, superior and thus authorized to eat other animals; we’re simply different creatures of no greater or lesser value.

Human and animal differences do not justify speciism/discrimination

Similar to the Civil Rights movement, “differences” do not justify discrimination and mistreatment.

From a utilitarian perspective morality should not be based on species differences

The best moral objective is to produce the greatest good for the greatest number of humans and animals. Differences do not matter in this equation.

Dominion: Do humans have dominion over animals (and a right to hunt them)?

Humans have dominion over animals with a right to exploit them

Genesis 1:28 – “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.” This means that humans have the right to subdue and control animals for man’s own purposes.

Dominion and hunting can and should be excercised responsibly.

The notion of man’s dominion over animals need not be thought of as a blank check for man to exploit animals. Indeed, it may be appropriate to connect the notion of “dominion” to stewardship” over animals. Yet, humans can be good stewards of animals while continuing to hunt them. It is merely necessary that humans maintain balance, order, and sustainability in the animal kingdom. But, again, this does not require the abandonment of hunt.

"Dominion" makes humans stewards; no right to harm/exploit animals

Even if we apply the notion of “dominion” and deny animals rights, the principle of “dominion” should be applied in a way that requires humans to see themselves as “stewards”, not dominant exploiters. As “stewards”, inflicting suffering on animals by hunting them is unacceptable.

Evolutionary science debunks the idea of human dominion over animals

Humans have evolved from animals and from a common single cell organism. Humans did not have dominion then over other animals; in-fact, we didn’t even exist. Therefore, how is it possible to claim that we now can have dominion? At a minimum, evolution forces us to recognize that humans do not have an innate-historical claim to “dominion”.

Humans and animals are of one family like brothers and sisters

Chief Seattle – “We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumes flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle: these are our brothers. All things are connected like the blood which unites one’s family.”[15]

Hunting makes animals fearful of humans; breaches trust

John Wolcot. Ballade To a Fish of the Brooke. 1794.

WHY flyest thou away, with fear? “Trust me, there’s nought of danger near; “I have no wicked hooke, “All cover’d with a snaring bait, “Alas ! to tempt thee to thy fate, “And dragge thee from the brooke. “O harmless Tenant of the Flood, “I do not wish to spill thy blood; “For Nature unto thee “Perchance hath given a tender wife, “And children dear, to charme thy life, “As she hath done for me. Enjoy thy streame, O harmless Fish “And when an Angler, for his dish, Through gluttony’s vile sin, “Attempts, a wretch, to pull thee out; “God give thee strenght, O gentle Trout, “To pull the raskall in!

Animals are independent creatures that don't exist to serve humans

Animals lead independent lives with independent goals that typically have nothing at all to do with humans. A good example are fish living at the floor of the ocean. How can humans have “dominion” over these fully independent creatures?

Rights: Do animals have no rights protecting them from hunting?

Animals cannot possess rights because they have no moral judgement

The ability to reason and to express free will is essential to rights. This is because rights require that an individual be capable of responsibility.

Animals cannot make moral claims so cannot claim rights

"Why animals have no rights. The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research" The New England Journal of Medicine 315, no. 14 (October 2,1986): 865-69

“The differing targets, contents, and sources of rights, and their inevitable conflict, together weave a tangled web. Notwithstanding all such complications, this much is clear about rights in general: they are in every case claims, or potential claims, within a community of moral agents. Rights arise, and can be intelligibly defended, only among beings who actually do, or can, make moral claims against one another. Whatever else rights may be, therefore, they are necessarily human; their possessors are persons, human beings.”

That the retarded have rights does not justify animal rights

This is frequent argument of animal rights activists; that animals deserve rights because they have at least as much capacity to reason as do some retarded humans, who retain rights. The problem with this argument is that it fails to see rights as a thing that must be shared among a group of creatures, not something that is extended on an individual basis. Therefore, the question is not whether some humans are incapable of having rights, but rather whether human kind, as a species, is capable of having rights. They are. Non-human animals, conversely, as a class of organisms, are not capable of holding rights.

Animal rights reduce humans to mere animals, not made in God's image

David R. Carlin, professor of philosophy and sociology at the Community College of Rhode Island – “By arguing that animals are equal to humans and thus deserve the same legal protection, animal rights proponents reduce human beings to nothing more than biological entities, on par with animals. Animal rights advocates’ view of humanity negates fundamental Christian, Platonic, and Stoic claims that man was created in the image and likeness of God. Humans are clearly superior to animals. Granting animals legal rights would be dangerous and degrading to humans.”

Granting rights to animals would damage human rights

Offering animals rights impedes on many human rights. For instance, it makes it more difficult for a human to defend themselves or their crops or livestock against threatening animals.

Protecting animals from suffering by humans is a matter of animal welfare not rights.

Many supposed animal rights activists claim that they desire to see animals have a right against suffering at the hands of humans. This might be a good idea, but it is false to claim that it is a “right”. Such an idea can only be classified within the realm of animal welfare. The main reason is that it is only something that is practiced by humans unto animals, and can never be claimed or defended by animals out of their own accord. In addition, the idea only restricts humans against inflicting suffering on animals, but does restrict animals from inflicting suffering on other animals (not even animals within their own species). Because it is a one-way relationship in this sense (from human-kind onto individual animals), it can only be seen as welfare, not a right that an animal might be able to carry in all their relationships with other creatures.

Animals can't uphold human rights; we are not obligated to uphold theirs

Animals don’t respect human rights. Therefore, humans have no obligation to respect their rights either.

Animals deserve the same basic rights that humans enjoy

"The case against animal testing". Helium

“Animal testing generally occurs as a result of developing a cost-benefit model. Basically, if the benefit of the research (to humans) looks high, then it is seen as being worth the costs (to animals). For instance it is seen that if animal research is likely to save the lives of many humans that it is worthwhile. However, it can be argued that all sentient beings have the same rights, and that costs to animals are as important as costs to humans. There is no moral basis for elevating the interests of one species over another this is specieism.”

Modern humans have lost touch with animals and our likeness

A number of writers indicate that modern humans have become desensitized to animals, having lost daily contact with them in the wild. In particular, some writers indicate that there is infrequent eye-contact between wild animals and humans, and this has damaged our ability to sympathize with their likeness to us, making it easier (wrongly) for us to kill them and exploit them.

Humans must respect animal rights even if animals can't reciprocate

"10 Reasons AGAINST Animal Rights and Their Replies". Retrieved May 6th, 2008

6. Animals don’t respect our rights. Therefore, humans have no obligation to respect their rights either.

Reply: There are many situations in which an individual who has rights is unable to respect the rights of others. This is true of infants, young children, and mentally enfeebled and deranged human beings. In their case we do not say that it is perfectly all right to treat them disrespectfully because they do not honor our rights. On the contrary, we recognize that we have a duty to treat them with respect, even though they have no duty to treat us in the same way.

Animal rights can be assigned according to animal psychology

Jeremy Bentham – While critics question where the line would be drawn, fearing that animal rights activists would grant rights to single cell organisms, the general consensus in the animal rights community is that rights should be conferred only to animals that can suffer. This is a psychological distinction that is possible to make in acceptable terms. And, the main right being granted is the right to avoid suffering at the hands of humans.

Animals are like vulnerable minorities that can't vote to end abuses

Mahatma Gandhi

To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. The more helpless the creature, the more that it is entitled to protection by man from the cruelty of man.”[16]

Animals kill...: Is hunting justified on the basis that animals harm one-another too?

If animals have rights, do we criminalize animals that kill each other?

This argument simply highlights the fact that animal rights are legally untenable.

Animal rights unfairly alienate humans from the natural order.

Why should animals be free from obligations and responsibilities toward one-another in the animal kingdom, while humans might be obligated by “animal rights” to certain responsibilities toward them? Why should humans be alienated from the natural order of the animal kingdom in this way? The answer is that we should not be, and animal rights should not exist.

That animals harm/kill each other does not justify the same by humans

"An Animal's Place". The New York Times Magazine. November 10, 2002

“My first line of defense was obvious. Animals kill one another all the time. Why treat animals more ethically than they treat one another? (Ben Franklin tried this one long before me: during a fishing trip, he wondered, ‘If you eat one another, I don’t see why we may not eat you.’ He admits, however, that the rationale didn’t occur to him until the fish were in the frying pan, smelling ‘admirably well.’ The advantage of being a ‘reasonable creature,’ Franklin remarks, is that you can find a reason for whatever you want to do.) To the ‘they do it, too’ defense, the animal rightist has a devastating reply: do you really want to base your morality on the natural order? Murder and rape are natural, too. Besides, humans don’t need to kill other creatures in order to survive; animals do. (Though if my cat, Otis, is any guide, animals sometimes kill for sheer pleasure.)”

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