Pet the dog, eat the cow: Our confused relationship with animals

The Salt Lake Tribune has reprinted a Philadelphia Inquirer opinion piece by Crispin Sartwell that joins a tiny choir of people leveraging all of this media attention over the Michael Vick dogfighting case to point out our moral schizophrenia when it comes to animals. While the philosophy professor somewhat misunderstands animal rights, Sartwell does ask readers to consider animals’ value beyond our own interests in them:

We need to decide: (a) Do animals count? and (b) How, exactly, not as dwarfish, or four-legged, or stupid people, but as real things whose existence is, though connected to ours, profoundly external and different?

Right now the article is averaging thumbs down, so scroll down and give it a thumbs-up. Comments are taken as well. This discussion must continue, and it must grow beyond its current incarnation as “what we owe what we eat.”

You might use this as an opportunity to suggest that Sartwell is right to question our completely confused attitude toward animals, and to clarify the meaning of animal rights as a philosophy that recognizes animals have intrinsic value and seeks to protect the interests we share with them (life, liberty…) from being violated by us.



  1. It’s so illogical. People take their kids to petting farms, pet and feed the pigs and cows– and then eat them. I think the average American are so incredibly in denial about where their food come from. I somehow think they look at the old children’s books–where cows and sheep prance happily about the farm pasture–and somehow think that this is the case today. Hopefully one they will learn the truth and have enough courage to speak against it.

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