I think I can safely say that reading of the “beast” people in The Island of Dr. Moreau fairly disgusts most. Moreau doesn’t have a strong, valid excuse besides curiosity, and he’s just so darn creepy and cruel. However, when you move on to modern day chimeras and grafting, and then the morality of animals and science in general, things get difficult. Things get blurry. This is, of course, because there are so many different variations of to this whole subfield of science. Animals and scientific research can vary from testing mice for the sake of cancer research, seemingly pretty ethical, to the horror of operating on live animals, leaving them to be freakish half humans. Furthermore, this discourse gets trickier as we modernize. Today, we learn of so much experimentation and we assume that it’s positive because we’re living in a supposedly sane, moral world. And we’ve been hearing about things like labradoodles and zonkeys for forever and figure it’s all pretty innocent. So when it truly gets questioned, it quickly becomes obvious that there’s not one, simple answer.
I can’t help but see how eating animals fits into this discussion. Many people find it immoral to consume animals – it’s an increasingly more common belief, especially with young people. Much like animal experimentation, there are endless ethical deviations in the general world of vegetarianism. You have vegans, pescetarians, ovo-lacto vegetarians, raw foodists. But then there are those who eat meat only if they hunt and kill it themselves, if it was humanely slaughtered, if it was grass-fed, if it’s from a local farm. Some will consume dairy or animal byproducts if they’re organic. And the reasoning behind these dietary restrictions can differ as well – for many it’s because they don’t want to consume animals, but a trending belief is that of an environmental stance. And of course, there are those who just do it for health reasons.
This topic truly has to be considered if we’re going to discuss animals and science. We may never be the scientists grafting a new hybrid species. But we eat food, everyday. We make the decision, whether to consume an animal or not, and that’s eating what was once a living breathing thing. It’s a choice involving ethics. Just as we have to decide if testing mice for disease research makes us humane, we have to acknowledge whether killing and consuming an animal is acceptable, just because we need food. There’s a divide that arose in our conversation on Moreau, that between opposing the means or the end. This is entirely applicable to vegetarianism. Some may take more of an issue with the treatment of animals before eating them, while others plainly can’t eat a once-living thing.
I myself am a pescetarian of four years, and I thought of my own moral dilemmas as we mulled over these topics in class. I think everyone has that same experience where you think you have a clear and concise stance on an issue but then you encounter different situations that you can’t as easily sift out. I have decided I can’t eat meat, for various reasons, but I have held on to fish. It nags me every day though – why am I still eating fish? Why do we accept the creators of the geep but not Dr. Moreau? These questions we ask ourselves, while troubling, are extremely healthy. You can’t trust a debate if it’s too easy to find the definitive answer.
– Erin A.