Peter Singer on Whaling

Peter Singer “High seas hypocrisy over harpooners” Shanghai Daily 17 January 2008(Via )


Instead, I argued that whales are social mammals with big brains, capable of enjoying life and of feeling pain –and not only physical pain, but very likely also distress at the loss of one of their group.
Whales cannot be humanely killed –they are too large, and even with an explosive harpoon, it is difficult to hit the whale in the right spot.
Moreover, whalers do not want to use a large amount of explosive, because that would blow the whales to pieces, while the whole point is to recover valuable oil or flesh.
So harpooned whales typically die slowly and painfully.
Causing suffering to innocent beings without an extremely weighty reason for doing so is wrong.

If there were some life-or-death need that humans could meet only by killing whales, perhaps the ethical case against it could be countered.
But there is no essential human need that requires us to kill whales. Everything we get from whales can be obtained without cruelty elsewhere. Thus, whaling is unethical.

They[the Japanese] claim that Western countries object to whaling because, for them, whales are a special kind of animal, as cows are for Hindus.
Western nations, the Japanese say, should not try to impose their cultural beliefs on them. The best response to this argument is that wrongness of causing needless suffering to sentient beings is not culturally specific.
It is, for example, one of the first percepts of one of Japan's major ethical traditions, Buddhism.
しかし、西側諸国はこのように言い返すには「弱い立場」にある。何故なら、西側諸国もまた動物に対して不必要な苦痛を与えているからだ。例えば、(日本の捕鯨に反対する)濠太剌利政府は毎年100万頭以上のカンガルーを殺すことを許可している――”against the Japanese charge of cultural bias, Western countries will have little defense until they address the needless animal suffering in their own backyards.”