Lions discuss... Animal ethics!

Dear readers, we hope you enjoy this new format of the Lions column! We're going to try out some different articles once a month to fill the gaps left by our new schedule, and this month we're trying a discussion.

Also, we're happy to announce two new additions to the roster of Lions: Torryk and Sio! You can learn more about them by reading their profiles on the right-hand side of the page, and starting next week, you can expect to hear more from them when we're back to regular reader questions!

Introduction

Halite Rocksalt (Mediator) asks:


Welcome, all of you. In this discussion we're going to take a closer look at animals and some of the ethical challenges we face around them. But before we go into the meat of the debate, let's introduce our panel.


Answers


Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
I am professor Rathmir Fallowweald, I have no pets, nor have I had any in a long time. And my favourite pet was a dog.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Bal'a dash my.. name is Lylìth Dustcloud and personally.. it.. depends on the animal.. like cats and dogs.. even most striders were domesticated.. and thus many are unable to once more live a life outside of certain societies.. personally I.. do not have a pet.. but my Ann'da has a small foxy.. which.. is just adorable...
Deedi
I am Deedi and as you all see, I do have a furry companion, Belomi. I do dislike the term pet though as it implies animals need to be subservient to humanoids. She is my fluffy companion and friend.

How do pets fit into modern society?

Halite Rocksalt (mediator) asks:


Our first topic to discuss tonight is all about pets. Lions, would you please discuss how pets fit into our modern society, what kind of challenges do we face on this front?


Answers


Deedi
As Lyli already said, there is a distinction to be made between domesticated species and wildlife. I feel it is wrong to take wildlife and insert it into urban living or keep such species in captivity.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
As Personally.. what Deedi said is true... they are companions.. but seeing as a companion is also a term for a follower of sorts.. most often sentient with whom you can have actual conversation it's.. an iffy name.. but so is pet.. especially in the modern society where it is often used in.. certain ways.. most often the.. sexual one.. Thus in my opinion.. neither of these terms really fi-.. don't look at me like that...
Deedi
What do you mean by that last bit?
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Alright well, erm.. in.. certain.. erm, how do I put it in the lightest of ways.. in certain groups.. amongst society.. especially so the more erotic orientation.. making someone your.. pet.. or being the pet for someone is.. a bit like a much softer term then.. a slave for the moment… You.. enjoy being used.. or you use that other individual… at times with.. a leash and such.. Anyway.. and seeing as these too are named.. pets.. it.. underlines that.. calling an animal friend.. or companion as pet is as if you were to.. push a certain sllavery onto them.. that their life is now yours..
Halite Rocksalt
Right, we should move on from that.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Myes, or we'll be sitting here discussing whether or not a dog walker is actually a pimp.
Deedi
I do agree on the possessive nature of the term pet.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Yes, yes, animals are slaves, prisoners. We can go from there. It's always been like that. That's why we've domesticated them in the first place, isn't it. They're hard workers, and not intelligent enough to ask for payment or worker's rights.
Deedi
But isn't it wrong to exploit other living and feeling beings? Shouldn't we do our best to treat them right even if they plow our fields or pull our carts?
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
In a way.. sadly yeah tho in other times.. the people domesticating them.. saw a use in their skills.. of being a hunter or able to carry a lot.. in a way.. society has enslaved the animals around them.. but one would never ask something of them that they can't do.. like.. you wouldn't ask for your dog's milk.. whilst with a cow it's a lot easier… Of course.. but same as with Belomi.. she probably came from a long family line of domestication… Perhaps at one time her.. ancestors were large dogs or even wolves.. with whom others hunted...
Deedi
I am not saying that using animals for specific purposes is wrong but that we should treat them right for services rendered.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Seems like an obvious stance to take. But this doesn't even work perfectly for people. Sentient people, who we are not so good at taking care of.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Well of course… but imagine.. a hunter and their companion.. they.. perhaps managed to defeat a large warlord.. would you ask for both of them to receive the same rewards.. and gratitudes?...
Deedi
I do agree, Professor. We could do a lot better in taking care of those down on their luck and facing hardships, be they humanoids or animals. And no, an animal has no use for coins but the hunter has and could and should use part of the coins to treat the companion. But this goes too deep already, I am just advocating to not treat animals as slaves or subservient employees but as living beings with their own mind and feelings.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Of course.. but then again.. the animal would be down on it's luck to hope for the other's mercy.. and once more.. we have an imbalance.. in how they were treated for their services.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Indeed. How can we treat them fairly as equals, if they have no agency of their own. We're left with guesswork as to what is in their best interest.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
It's a hard topic.. and one I.. could personally not answer.. as I am not in the position that some of these animals are.. for me it's.. in a way natural.. as harsh as it may sound..
Deedi
Well, accepting their wishes and also letting them have their way at times, respecting them as living beings and forming a mutual respectful relationship.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Scratch them behind the ear, telling them they're a good girl, giving them a bone to gnaw on. That's about what they expect from us.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
But without understanding it's hard.. and when they are already domesticated.. perhaps this is.. what they wish for?.. to have some snuggles.. food.. and a cozy place to sleep.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
And I shan't say I disagree with your stance that animals should be treated with a modicum of respect. But they are still animals, simple in function.
Deedi
I only state how Belomi and myself interact with each other. I do not claim to have the best way or a recipe on how to do it but I see that she is happy and I am happy, both our sentiments are important in this equation.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Then again.. she is domesticated.. perhaps she was.. trained to be happy with what you give her..
Deedi
And yes, Lily, due to the fact dogs are domesticated they already have a high compatibility with us.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
And that sort of owner-pet relationship is simple enough to make right.
Deedi
I do not own her, I am her friend and she is mine. If she decides she wants to leave, I will be very sad but I will respect her decision.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Well she knows that she is being treated right by you, thus she stays~.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Yet, she remains in your care, and not the other way around. Thus you are still her owner. Or caretaker, let's use that word.
Deedi
In a legal and humanoid society way, yes. I will pick up her poop she made on the streets since she doesn't know it is not okay to do that and I need to make it right as her representative in the humanoid world.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
A-ha, so is it truly you who are the subservient one in this scenario.
Deedi
I pick it up because I know the issue it creates and thus as a gesture of friendship will take care of the problem for her.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
I jest, of course.
Deedi
Just because it is an asymmetrical relationship doesn't mean it has to be hierarchical.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
And hierarchical is what we trend towards, regardless.
Deedi
I do not, Professor. Maybe I am the odd one out in this but I prefer it that way.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Oh, I quite admire that. Would be that everyone shared that line of thought.
Halite Rocksalt
I think we have covered a lot of ground. One topic that often comes up, at least here in Stormwind, is the question of whether or not leashes and cages are necessary. What are your thoughts on this?
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Well some are still not domesticated.. or domesticated enough.. Hence why for some this is still a necessity.. same as with Dogs not knowing scientific advancements.. so how should they know.. not to just run from one side of Ironforge to the other..
Deedi
Leashes are a tool and when used when necessary can be valuable, cages on the other hand are a bit too severe. If you have to keep an animal in a cage so it doesn't run away, people shouldn't keep them in the first place.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Leashes are a necessity in civilised society. It's not quite as bad here in Stormwind as it was on the other side of the divide... but I have seen bears roam free. Madness, that is.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
It's.. sadly proven that the brain of most animal kinds is a lot smaller than those of sentient humanoid beings...certain thoughts just aren't possible.. As most things an animal does or does not boil down to experience.. which is why certain predators in the animal kingdom never even once changed their tactics.. as it always worked.. there will always be that other animal fallin' for it..
Deedi
I agree on the leashes, some animals are not well behaved and need to be under control when walking around the city. I trust Belomi, since she never ran away or harmed another living being, so I feel confident without a leash and would mourn the day I would have to use one due to laws imposing it on us.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
I wouldn't mind a law imposing such in the city. Perhaps with a limitation on size... or classification. A little dog like yours won't maim anyone, but these bears and what not, certainly will.
Deedi
But would a leash help there? No one is strong enough to hold back a bear on a leash.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Let's include a muzzle. And a harness. How about magical bindings. Or shall we simply stop letting bears into our cities.
Deedi
I agree that this is a severe issue, a muzzle may help with it but also could irritate the animal enough to make it angry in the first place.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Well.. certain animals should not be allowed in cities.. but even then.. a gryphon can potentially cause more harm then a bear...and still they are widely used.. BUT.. a bear is rarely to never domesticated... and those that are.. lived a tragic life.
Deedi
Plus I am sure there are nice bears and then there are bear jerks, painting bears with a broad brush is not helpful.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
We wouldn't want to seem bear-ist, would we. Be they good or bad bears, they shouldn't walk the streets. Neither should gryphons. Those that fly above our heads can stay, they have riders to keep them in tow. Let's remember that we keep animals in pens for a reason. We have stables, for a reason. And if that's too small space for them, let's convert Goldshire into a massive animal care center. Ridding the world of two problems at once.
Deedi
I would wager that a stable compartment is the horse's equivalent to your bedroom.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
We have stables to make it logistically easier.. And [Goldshire] is.. already an.. animal care center with.. lots of ridin'..
Halite Rocksalt
Moving on…!

Ethical challenges with wildlife?

Halite Rocksalt (mediator) asks:


We've already touched briefly on the topic of wildlife, with domestication. There's more to discuss here, so why don't we start with hunting?


Answers


Lady Lylith Dustcloud
So long as it has a use.. other than doing it for sports and prestige.. it's alright.. if one has to feed their family.. or to reduce a certain species population who otherwise would bring the whole ecosystem into an imbalance..
Deedi
I did try hunting twice... With very mixed results, which led me to become a vegetarian. I do see the need in hunting and when done as to minimize the suffering and without impacting the ecological balance, I have no issue with it.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
It's mostly a pastime, isn't it, these days. There's less need to hunt for food now that we live in an organised society fueled by the economy.
Deedi
Not everyone lives in a big city, some societies still need to hunt to sustain themselves.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
In the far-off reaches of the world, perhaps. Even the trolls are largely sustained by farming these days.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Many tribes in the horde still do so.. for tradition.. rituals and to sustain themselves.
Deedi
Farming implies giving up a nomadic lifestyle, which still exists.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Ritual hunting, now that is a strange beast.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Yeah it is.. but it occurs.. be it to prove that one is now an adult can slay.. beast X.. or brin' beasts Y's head...
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Now imagine substituting beasts with people in that ritual, suddenly it's not so appetising, is it.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
It also wasn't before..
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
I didn't mean to imply it was. I believe certain rites in society are quite barbaric, and we can live without them.
Deedi
While the practice in itself seems useless to us, societies with ritualised hunting do have a keen eye on the ecological balance and pay attention to it, since it is their primary source of sustenance.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
And perhaps they do have good reasons for doing what they do. Culling the flock if it grows unsustainably large. Take out a sick and aggressive animal before it causes harm. But they may just as well be contributing to the downfall of these animals themselves. Nomads and such, that is. Overhunting, overfishing, all that jazz. We mortals are all quite fallible.
Deedi
I feel neither of us lack the sufficient insight to really judge nomadic societies as a whole.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Perhaps so. Treating them under a blanket definition won't do them much good. But we can at least agree that there are good, and unfortunate outcomes.
Deedi
Indeed, the ecological balance is hard to ascertain and keep.
Halite Rocksalt
Any further opinions on hunting?
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Just one. Game hunters are garish, vain and- let me redact the rest, myself: [Redacted]!

Should we eat animals?

Halite Rocksalt (mediator) asks:


We're running a little short on time, so we're doing one last topic for tonight. Animals as food. Is it ethically sound to eat animals?


Answers


Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
There's not enough bread and greens to feed everyone. So yes. Obviously.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Personally.. even tho I am a vegetarian myself.. it is less so for the belief in it then just.. that I do not like the taste of meat.. anyway.. for my opinion.. Animals as.. food is a natural part of the cycle of life.. if an animal's flesh or rather muscle tissue.. is what keeps you alive.. then so be it.. as the other way around if you do not stay alive.. you too will be eaten by something else.. and even if it's not a wolf.. even the smallest of ants may slowly take you apart..
Deedi
I took the personal decision on not eating meat, but I do not begrudge anyone for doing so. Meat has its place in every culture and most dishes. I would advocate for restricting the consumption of meat for some people as it can lead to some health concerns.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Yes, you wouldn't want to have to buy a new pair of trousers because they don't fit anymore. Eating all that fatty meat will add to your thighs.
Deedi
The problem with most meat is that perfectly good food is used to feed livestock to gain meat, which is a rather wasteful cycle.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Really, now. We are growing food, to serve other food, so that it can be grown to become another's food. I hadn't thought of it like that. Curious, and almost amusing.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
It's.. ridiculous.
Deedi
It is, and the grain used to raise a chicken would feed more people than that one chicken would.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
And it only happens because society has livestock that only lives.. to end as food...
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Ridiculous indeed, my dear. It's as if somewhere along the way, whoever organised society stopped caring about the system.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Now they didn't stop to care.. they opted for.. the strongest survives.. and they did not mean the individual.. but the races...
Deedi
While I agree with you, Professor. I would not want to be the person to forbid the group of hungry dwarves from their beer basted boar... Which is probably why most rulers did not dare to.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
I'm sure this problem long precedes the wars we're constantly looped in, as I’m sure denying dwarves anything related to food - especially if it also involves beer - is a disastrous idea.
Deedi
Mhm, I have seen riots in Stormwind taverns where it was said they had enough for one evening. Winding it back to the topic, I do feel eating meat is a wonderful culinary experience... Which I miss quite a bit... But for some people a teansy bit of effort could be made to reduce their meat consumption.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
If only to stabilise the economy, I would concur with that idea. I'm not one to say what one should or shouldn't eat. That's up to each and every one themselves.
Halite Rocksalt
Part of the ethical dilemma is, animals are living beings themselves, so the question is: is it bad to take the life of a living creature to eat it?
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Are we likening eating meat to cannibalism now?
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Meat has just gotten too cheap.. and people do not value it anymore the way they should.. and yes.. like Halite said.. they were once alive.. and yet.. people buy a kilogram of certain meat for a ridiculously low price.
Deedi
I do agree with that sentiment, Halite, but then again we also depend on other animal parts.... Leather for example for boots and backpacks. I would love to switch over to other materials if there were viable alternatives, so I could have sturdy boots and armor without relying on animal products. While I don't eat meat, I too am reliant on animal products to clothe and equip myself. I can't be a hypocrite and condemn eating meat, nor do I want to but some measure of restraint could be taken.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
The least ethical side of this... cycle, would surely be the industrialisation of the meat industry, then. But I see no qualms with the actual consumption of meat in the first place. First and foremost: it is delicious. Secondly: why waste a resource we're already getting, like my esteemed colleague pointed out: we still need leather and other goods.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
And then we have.. animals like pigs.. what do we get from them?.. They do not produce milk like cows do.. their skin is not as useful as that of cows.. they lay no eggs and do not help with plowing fields..
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
A pig's hide is still a usable material. Can't say I've ever worn any myself, though.
Deedi
Didnt you need pig bellies to test your new medical technique, Lyli?
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Well.. for suturing methods.. as it's the closest to other sentient beings' skin.. but does that justify along with the meat consumption that they are mass bred?
Deedi
So we have a use... Pig skin is used to make sturdy appliances too, like balls. Part of them is used to make jelly.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
You can use pigs to hunt truffles. And since they're omnivores, well. They're practically living trash cans. But the real reason they're mass-bred is that they're cheap to keep, isn't it.
Deedi
And there is a demand for their meat and other parts, I would assume.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
One can't fault anyone for being enticed by the allure of bacon, can one.
Deedi
I did enjoy that quite a bit previous to my decision to refrain from meat.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Indeed. So we can easily conclude that they are so popular among farmers, because they're popular with the people. Whether that's ethical or not, is another matter entirely.
Lady Lylith Dustcloud
Never saw it from that side..
Deedi
Animals are often kept to dispose of surplus food too, like pigs or to eat leftover farmer produce, like cows and goats.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
Quite, as living trash cans, as mentioned before. They're quite easy to keep, compared to cattle and the like, I would imagine.
Deedi
And they help to not waste food or other things.

Conclusion

Halite Rocksalt (mediator) asks:


That's all the time we have for tonight, thank you all for coming and participating in the discussion. Could I have a closing statement from each of you, please?


Answers


Lady Lylith Dustcloud
All life is cherishable and worth something.. even when society diminished lots of it.. one should never forget where it comes from.. what animals do for us.. be it happiness, being satiated.. or even comfort through easy travelling...
Deedi
Indeed, we should not take what animals do for us for granted and should thank them by treating them with kindness and respect, may I even say friendship.
Professor Rathmir Fallowweald
And at the very least, even if they're quite profitable, or very enticing to mount on your wall: don't be crude in your treatment of the creatures. You can eat them if you want to, but you don't have to make their lives any worse in doing so.

Halite Rocksalt (mediator) asks:


Thank you for coming, and we hope you readers have enjoyed the printing of this discussion!


Answers


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