Domestic Animals and the Land Ethic: A Response to J. Baird Callicott
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Domestic Animals and the Land Ethic: A Response to J. Baird Callicott Preface Both “Animal Liberation and Environmental Ethics: Bad Marriage, Quick Divorce” by Mark Sagoff and “All Animals Are Equal” by Peter Singer seem to ignore a fundamental defining characteristic of animals, namely their level of domestication. These two essays’ assumptions and exclusions inspired me to think more about domestication. Partially through the process of brainstorming and outlining my arguments, I read “Animal Liberation: A Triangular Affair” by J. Baird Callicott, which at the very least dealt with domestication, but I found that his version of the land ethic dealt with wild animals better than with domesticated animals.
Abstract…show more content… Pre-historically, there was a natural order of life where species and ecosystems operated on competition, adaptation, and natural selection, which caused evolution on multiple scales. In many cases, these species or systems co-evolved, that is, were symbiotically related through competition, parasitism, mutualism, or predation. It’s important to note that individuals’ characteristics were selected by natural conditions and by other species. However, these actions as a whole can be considered natural selection, a more abstract generalization surely, but observed nonetheless. Human hunting fell into this class of relationships (however technologically advanced it became, which is another matter entirely). Humans hunted much like other predators, whom we have no doubt learned from over a long time scale. So when a human chased down a deer and killed it for food, this was still natural selection, but humans didn’t remain content to hunt and gather food. At the evolutionary point when humans started to domesticate animals, things all changed. Domestication: A New Science
Humans started a process of domestication sometime in our evolutionary history, not only of animals, but also of plants and the landscape. This process took these animals out of the control of nature to a lesser or greater extent. Before going any further, I should probably make clear what I mean by domestication or artificial selection (in addition