Animal Studies Bibliography

Luke, Brian. 1997. A Critical Analysis of Hunters' Ethics. Environmental Ethics v. 19, Spring.

In this article, Luke analyzes the Sportsman's Code and argues, that several of its rules presuppose a respect for animals that renders hunting a prima facie wrong (page 25). The primary rules of the Sportsman's Code include the following: (1) put safety first, (2) obey the law, (3) give fair chase, (4) harvest the game, (5) aim for quick kills, and (6) retrieve the wounded.

In his analysis, Luke concludes that the first three rules regarding safety, obeying the law, and giving fair chase are anthropocentric because these laws are really about the hunters' interest in safety, sustainability, and preserving the hunting experience. Conversely, he argues that last three rules regarding harvesting the game, obtaining quick kills, and retrieving the wounded are based upon two nonanthropocentric rules: an awareness of the value of individual animal's lives and limiting animal suffering. Specifically, he asserts, Rule SC4 [harvesting the game] represents the hunters' recognition that they must have a good reason for committing the prima facie wrong act of ending a healthy animal's life (page 30). Further, he argues that the fifth rule (aim for quick kills), although open to anthropocentric interpretations, is really about minimizing the suffering of individual animals, which he supports with quotes from hunters. Finally, the sixth rule about retrieving the wounded also demonstrates the hunters' responsibility to the individual animal. He concludes, these principles also put into question the acceptability of hunting itself. The intrinsic value of animal life implies that we should avoid unnecessary killing altogether (pages 32-33).

Next, Luke examines the four major defenses of hunting and relates them to the Code as follows: (1) Meat procurement: Luke argues that because the Code suggests that hunters are committed to minimizing animal suffering, they must consider vegetarianism as an alternative; (2) Atavism: according to this argument, it is instinctual for men to hunt. However, Luke argues, Even if sport hunting is an expression of some kind of predatory instinct, the sportsman's code indicates that human hunters are also disposed against killing and inflicting pain. Thus, humans are not natural predators ; rather, they are conflicted predators (page 35); (3) Conservation: in response to the defense of hunting on the grounds of conservation, Luke argues that if there are other ways to raise funds for conservation efforts that produces less suffering, such as general taxation, then hunting is unnecessary; (4) Wildlife management: Luke points out several problems with this defense. First of all, this popular defense of hunting is only actually applied to very few animal populations, specifically deer, which only comprise 2% of the animals hunters kill each year in North America . Overpopulation is never proposed for the other 98% of the animals killed (such as doves, rabbits, squirrel, pheasants, etc.). Further, hunters tend to kill the largest and healthiest animals, which surely is an inadequate form of wildlife management. Finally, it is because of hunting that the deer population is so large, because wildlife managers feed the deer, manipulate plants, and kill off predators for the benefit of hunters.

Finally, Luke proposes three responses to this paradox whereby hunters are ethical if they pay heed to animals' interests in avoiding pain, yet this respect for animals points out that hunting itself is not justifiable. The first response is to embrace the paradox, which Luke asserts is most common in hunters' literature. They claim that life and nature are violent. Luke concludes, It makes no sense to suggest that because some bloodshed in nature is inescapable, we might as well just wade right in and add to it (page 41). The second response is to renounce the nonanthropocntric rules of the Code. Luke argues that these elements could not be renounced because of the hunters' concern about public opinion and because (most) hunters' actually do want to minimize animal suffering. The final response is to renounce hunting. Luke argues that this is the best response Because (1) the sportsman's code raises an unmet moral case against hunting, (2) embracing animal exploitation as a law of nature is a self-deceptive position, (3) the sportsman's code cannot be renounced because the respect for animal well-being it expresses arises from the practice of hunting itself, it follows that sport hunting is an unethical institution (page 43). Thus, as an unethical institution, sport hunting must be renounced.



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