Mill for Animals?
Today my class was talking about Mill and his views on harm. In lecture and in the readings Mil only discussed human harm. How did he view animal harm? I mean, animals today are “harmed” in many ways.
First, there are animal fights such as Michael Vick’s story (fighting bulldogs). Today, animal fighting is illegal, but back in the mid-1800’s, when John Stuart Mill wrote On Liberty it was not yet. Animal fighting is when people put animals together and battle one against the other, usually for money. Today, people are sent to jail when convicted with this crime. For example, Michael Vick was sent to jail for 23 months when convicted.
I want to know what else is constituted animal cruelty? Does this include when herders “beef up” their cattle to kill them for meat? Does it include killing a mouse with a mouse trap? Or a bear with a bear trap? Or is just personal and unnecessary pain inflicted on a helpless animal (such as animal abuse, animal fights, etc)?
When Mill talked about “harm” he was saying that it is ok to do something as long as you do not hurt someone or affect them in a negative way. He does not say anything about doing “harm” to animals however?
Do you know what they do to kill the cattle at the slaughter house? They slit their throats, let their blood run out until they bleed to death, and sometimes even shoot air between their eyes (which feels like a hammer is hitting them). After they do this, take the skin off, take out the intestines (and so on), they butcher the meat. Should this process be entitled as cruelty, doing harm to the animal? I believe it is NOT. These animals are killed to help feed people all over the world (however, meat killed near Ann Arbor is not sold to butchers in England however). The meat is eaten as nutrients, which is essential to life; this includes protein and fat (though you can get different proportion of fat and actual meat)
I also do not consider animal traps harmful. Mouse traps get rid of nuisances, and bear traps help people capture bears (but only if they legally hunt for them). However, some people harm animals just for their enjoyment. As said a few times above, a good example of this would be dog fighting rings. People always seem to find joy in violence and pain (as we see in the popularity in video games and movies). In dog fights, dogs are ripped to shreds and killed if they loose a fight. They are put into fights until they are killed, or they become too old to fight.
Would Mill agree with this? This is “harm” done to animals, not humans. Do his laws and ideas apply to this? I would think he would feel his ideas do but I don’t know for sure. Today, we say animal cruelty not humane. What would he consider this un-humane in the mid-1800’s? I would like to know what he thinks.