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Ethics / Legal
Posted by Michael Strahan on Apr 23 2006
I agree. Nowhere are our somewhat arbitrary ethical views of these things better expressed than through our hunting laws. It's somewhat strange that these two, ethics and law, are often put in juxtaposition to each other, when are laws are a RESULT of our ethics! For example, it's my belief that our current meat salvage laws may make no sense at all outside the bounds of ethics. Certainly from a strictly environmental perspective it makes more sense to leave the meat in the field, so that biological material can return to the soil from whence it came, than it does to haul the whole thing to Anchorage, or Seattle or New York where it is eventually processed through the sewage system and back into the environment there. But for most of us it would be unconscionable to leave it in the field. I believe this is because we've inherited a meat salvage ethic from a time when meat salvage was a condition of survival.
With the shift from hunting for survival to hunting for enjoyment, ego or what have you, one can't help but measure these motives against each other and speculate whether our former motives didn't make a stronger case for hunting than our present values. If in the measuring of these things we conclude that survival was a stronger, "better" motive, can the decline of hunting be far behind? Will our case for hunting as a purely recreational venture be strong enough to ensure the same opportunities for our sons and daughters? I believe one reason we are seeing the present decreasing interest in hunting is precisely because of this. In many circles, hunting is no longer seen as a relevant activity. Even more, it is perceived as a destructive waste of resources. I don't agree with that perspective though, and I'm a strong defender of recreational use. But we must be honest with ourselves and with each other about our reasons for doing this. There are very few among us who really MUST do this in order to survive. Therefore it is up to us to come up with a reasonable defense. That will require a thoughtful, insightful approach that goes beyond simply insisting on our "rights" to do as we please. It will certainly go beyond assumptions that a thing is morally acceptable simply because the law allows it.
I know we're a little off topic here, but it's an interesting discussion.
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