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Striking a blow against the predatory guilds



Doctor of Philosophy Jeff McMahan, of Rutger's University has penned what has to be one of the most absurd opinion pieces ever published in the New York Times. In this on-line commentary, entitled The Meat Eaters, Dr. McMahan argues that there is a case to be made for guiding all carnivorous species to extinction and replacing them with herbivorous ones. While a bit long, the last paragraph serves as a useful summary of his "thoughts":

"Here then is where the matter stands thus far. It would be good to prevent the the vast suffering and countless violent deaths caused by predation. There is therefore one reason to think that it would be instrumentally good if predatory animal species were to become extinct and replaced by new herbivorous species, provided that this could occur without ecological upheaval involving more harm than would be prevented by the end of predation. The claim that existing animal species are sacred or irreplaceable is subverted by the moral irrelevance of the criteria for individuating animal species. I am therefore inclined to embrace the heretical conclusion that we have reason to desire the extinction of all carnivorous species, and I await the usual fate of heretics when this article is open to comment."

The full fairy tale can be read at <http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/the-meat-eaters/?hp> It does not appear to be a very clever piece of satire.

And what about the children? Presumably we should also get rid of exhibits of fossil carnivores, ranging from Smilodon to Tyrannosaurus, because such exhibits merely exalt the carnivorous lifestyle and are among the most popular of museum exhibits. What if the kids see them?

Dan