Saturday, February 27, 2010

Humane Watch Really Likes A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy

Humane Watch has raved about my new book. Not surprising, you might say, since a blog dedicated to being a watchdog over the stealth animal rights organization, the Humane Society of the United States, is hardly likely to turn thumbs down. But still: If I had gotten it wrong, the writers of the blog would know. So, since I like good reviews much better than bad, here's a sampling from "Rats, Pigs and Dogs: Oh Boy!":
A Rat Is a Pig Is a Dog Is a Boy is a winner. (I hope he doesn't have to pay Ingrid Newkirk a royalty for that book title.) It's meticulously footnoted, full of thoughtfully told stories, and uncompromising in defense of the premise that the "boy" in its title is exceptional—that is, unlike those other three species in the ways that matter most. This book also makes a compelling case—the best I have read anywhere— for the idea that "animal rights" is a system of ideological belief as rigid (and vulnerable to unreasoning abuse) as any religion.

Since this blog is principally concerned with the Humane Society of the United States, I'll share (with his permission) some of what Wesley writes about that organization; but know that A Rat Is a Pig is a near-encyclopedic examination of the 95 percent or so of the animal rights movement industry that Americans encounter on a regular basis. It's a must-own volume for farmers, ranchers, dairymen, chefs, sportsmen, pet breeders, reptile hobbyists, biomedical researchers, college students, and well-meaning donors to all kinds of animal charities.
Wow. Thank you very much.

Hey! If Matthew Scully--the animal rights movement's favorite conservative--can hysterically shred me (What next? Ingrid Newkirk reviewing my book in the New York Times?), Humane Watch can laud me. Which reminds me: I will soon have a, shall we say, robust response to Scully's diatribe published for your consideration. Stay tuned.

Killer Whale Tragedy Illustrates Human Exceptionalism

When an orca drowned one of his trainers at Orlando's Sea World, nobody discussed "punishing" or otherwise holding him morally accountable. Indeed, the very notion is nonsensical, as a consequence of which, the question about "what to do" has properly revolved around how to best promote animal welfare and protect human safety. From the story:
Brancheau's death has reignited calls for Tillikum and other captive killer whales to be released or put in ocean pens where they could communicate in normal whale fashion, something that's impossible in a concrete tank. However, SeaWorld officials say Tillikum could not manage in the wild and even advocates for whale freedom believe it would be difficult to return him to Iceland. "We don't know who his family is and it would be far too expensive to retire him to Iceland," said Michael Harris, president of Seattle-based Orca Conservancy.

However, it could be possible to retire him to a sea pen at Neah Bay, Wash., and then partner with academic institutions to create long-term study opportunities, Harris said. "He would still be a huge safety concern for his caretakers," he said. "Then again, perhaps he'd become far less dangerous if introduced to the natural seawater and ocean walks."
Imagine if a human had done the same thing: Arrests, trials, perhaps life in prison or the death penalty would be the outcome for the murderer. But animals are not moral agents, and therefore, they cannot commit murder.

That is a distinction between us and animals that makes a real difference. Regardless of the grandeur of any animal--and killer whales, actually dolphins, are both awesome and intelligent--human exceptionalism can't be denied. Our moral agency distinguishes us from all other known life forms in the history of the universe. That matters from an ethical standpoint, both justifying uniquely human rights and imposing distinct duties that only can be required of human beings.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Matt Scully's Mendacity About A Rat is a Pig, etc.

I knew Matthew Scully, the animal rights movement's favorite conservative, would attack A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy. When he did, I expected him to respect readers sufficiently to disclose that I criticized (and praised) his book Dominion. He didn't. I didn't expect that he would mount his attack in the National Review. He did. Oh well, that's public advocacy.

In due time, I will be responding at length to Scully's harsh criticisms (about which I alluded the other day), so I won't belabor the matter now. But there is a nasty canard in Scully's review that is so unhinged and provocative that I can't let it lie on the table until my full reply is prepared. From his review, "The Cause of Humanity" (no link):
Smith keeps going on about [human 'moral distinctiveness'], and the euphemisms only get worse in his treatment of animal experimentation. He offers soothing descriptions of violent experiments (chimps are 'seated quietly, not struggling' as their limbs are about to be broken).
That is wholly and outrageously false. I never wrote about a chimp experiment that involved breaking their limbs. Indeed, I have never heard of such an experiment. Scully can rail all he wants against my book. But he has no right to fictionalize what I wrote to score cheap emotional points. It lacks integrity.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Temple Grandin: Animal Welfare Exceptionalist

In my now (finally!) out new book, I have an admiring chapter on the work of Dr. Temple Grandin, whose insights have greatly improved methods of animal husbandry--including the slaughtering process. Grandin is autistic, and she believes that the wiring of her brain (if you will) gives her the ability to "see" things in the way animals do, visually as opposed to intellectually. This talent allows her to design improved methods of raising animals from their perspective, rather than anthropomorphizing these techniques to conform to the way we might react in the same circumstances.

Grandin was interviewed yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, mostly about autism issues. But I thought it would be good to share some of what she said about her animal welfare work here. From the interview:
These days, Ms. Grandin is known as much for her professional work—she revolutionized livestock handling equipment—as for her expertise on autism. "I've always thought of myself as a cattle handling specialist, a college professor first; autism is secondary," she says. But she does credit her autism for her unique ability to relate to cattle. Ms. Grandin wondered what made the animals moo and balk. Kneeling down to see things from a cow's eye view, she took pictures from within the chutes.

She found cattle were highly sensitive to the same sensory stimulants that might set off a person with autism, but were inconsequential to the average handler. They were shockingly simple revelations: light and shadow would stress the animals, as would grated metal drains. Prodding and hollering from cowboys, intended to move cattle along, only alarmed them further.

Her designs reflected these insights. A curved, single-file chute mimicked the cattle's natural tendency to follow each other. She replaced slated walls with solid ones to prevent cattle from seeing the handlers and cut down on light and shadow. Today, half of the cattle in this country pass through the slaughter systems that Ms. Grandin invented. She's a consultant to companies like McDonalds and Burger King. Yet—and she might well be the only person with these two associations—she's also been honored as a "visionary" by PETA for making slaughterhouses more humane.
Well, good for PETA, although I am sure Gary Francione's head is exploding. He believes that supporting animal welfarism of any kind only legitimizes animal husbandry in the public's mind, making it more difficult to eradicate all animal domestication, the ultimate goal of the animal rights movement (including PETA).

At the end of the interview, Grandin is asked an interesting question by the WSJ interviewer that only a human being could formulate--or answer:
How about meaning, I ask. What's the picture for that word? "Ok, now I'm seeing a mother saying your book helped my kid go to college—that's meaning. Or my kid got a job because of one of your lectures—that's meaning. Or a rancher comes up and says that piece of equipment works really well—that's meaning. Concrete, real stuff. On. The. Ground."
Temple Grandin: Human exceptionalism in action.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Dolphins Have Much to Teach us About Type 2 Diabetes

Once again a story breaks indicating the tremendous value that can be derived from animal research. It turns out that dolphins contract Type 2 diabetes, and that they have the capacity to turn it on and off at will. From the story:
Dolphins are the only animals apart from humans to develop a natural form of type 2 diabetes, according to new research. The discovery offers important insights into a disease that is linked to one in 20 deaths.

American scientists have discovered that bottlenosed dolphins show a form of insulin resistance very similar to that seen in human diabetes. Unlike patients with the condition, the marine mammals can turn this state on and off when appropriate, so it is not normally harmful. The findings indicate that dolphins could provide a valuable animal model for investigating type 2 diabetes, which promises to advance research into new therapies. If researchers can learn how the animals switch off their insulin resistance before it becomes damaging, it could be possible to develop a cure.
So, do we pursue this knowledge? That's an ethical issue that I think depends on what it would take to obtain it. Ah, that has been considered already by those "heartless" scientists.
She emphasised that the research did not mean that dolphins should be used as laboratory animals, as their large brains and high intelligence would make this unethical. Studies of their genetic code and physiology, revealed by blood and urine samples, could nevertheless provide important clues to the biology of diabetes.
That's a classic form of animal welfare analysis of the kind I support in A Rat is a Pig, etc. In this case, scientists will desist from an all out pursuit of knowledge for ethical reasons (as opposed to naked science without moral parameters around it). But pursuing the research does mean using captive dolphins, which animal rights types think is intrinsicly evil.

So, is the information these dolphins can provide worth pursuing? The usual animal rights scripts says no, all animal research is wrong. Moreover, many will argue, because the information won't be 100% the same as in people, it is thus of no human benefit. But total applicability isn't at all necessary to obtain very important and valuable information in basic biology that can then be applied in researching human disease. I say we have a duty to those patients with diabetes (now and in the future), to obtain this information in the humane ways described.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Humane Watch Launches to Keep "Eye" on HSUS

HSUS--Humane Society of the United States--is an interesting organization, what I call a "stealth" animal rights group. Unlike PETA, it doesn't pitch the animal rights dogma of human/animal moral equality, nor does it explicitly call for an end to all animal domestication. Its leaders talk instead about animal "protection," not animal "rights."

Nonetheless, it is an animal rights group--as distinct from animal welfare, which accepts the humane use of animals by people. Here is how I put it in A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy (citations omitted):
Still, there is abundant cause to believe that, as least in the hearts of its leaders, animal rights rather than protection or welfare, is the real name of the game. HSUS president, the always professional Wayne Pacelle, has stated—quite aptly—that HSUS is "the NRA [National Rifle Association] of the animal rights movement," meaning that its public advocacy on behalf of animals is on a par with the NRA’s support of gun rights. Sounding very much like the abolitionist Gary Francione, Pacelle, who like Francione is a vegan, once told a publication called Animal People, "We have no ethical obligation to preserve different breeds of livestock produced through selective breeding…One generation and out. We have no problem with the extinction of domestic animals. They are creations of human selective breeding." J.P. Goodwin, once the executive director of the Coalition to Abolish the Fur Trade and a self-described (as reported by the Dallas Morning News) former member of the terrorist Animal Liberation Front (ALF), is now HSUS's grass roots coordinator. He has stated, "My goal is to abolish all animal agriculture." Adding fire to this plume of smoke, in the published proceeds of a 1980 conference in which HSUS apparently determined to pursue a more radical course than theretofore, HSUS stated, "There is no rational basis for maintaining the moral distinction between the treatment of humans and other animals."
In other words, HSUS is not to be confused with local humane societies or SPCAs, that generally follow animal welfare models.

So far, HSUS has had a pretty free ride. But now, Humane Watch has launched, aimed at reporting about the activities of HSUS, from a pro animal industry perspective. If you are interested in a take on this powerful organization from the critical side, check it out.

Animal Research Helps Find Cause of Aging

I keep bringing stories like this up because the animal rights movement's propaganda has seriously eroded the public's support for animal research--not to the point that a majority oppose it--but the numbers should be limited to strict animal rightists, and it's not. In any event, using genetically altered mice, scientists think they have found the cause of aging. From the story:
The Newcastle team, working with the University of Ulm in Germany, used a comprehensive "systems biology" approach, involving computer modelling and experiments with cell cultures and genetically modified mice, to investigate why cells become senescent. In this aged state, cells stop dividing and the tissues they make up show physical signs of deterioration, from wrinkling skin to a failing heart.

The research, published by the journal Molecular Systems Biology, shows that when an ageing cell detects serious damage to its DNA – caused by the wear and tear of life – it sends out specific internal signals. These distress signals trigger the cell's mitochondria, its tiny energy-producing power packs, to make oxidising "free radical" molecules, which in turn tell the cell either to destroy itself or to stop dividing. The aim is to avoid the damaged DNA that causes cancer.
Huh, I thought this stuff never had an "aim." But I digress. It seems from this story that aging is a by product of a fail safe process by which cells destroy themselves in order to prevent cancer, and eventually the "cure" produces the same result as the avoided disease--only much later.

Without animal research as part of the usual integrated scientific approach, this potentially crucial information just could not have been found, nor the beneficial medical products likely to flow from this basic life science discovery, ever developed.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Olympian Threatened by Animal Rights Fanatics Over Wearing a Little Fur

Animal rights is such a peaceable movement--at least that is what its adherents insist. Yet, personal threats by animal rights fanatics have so unnerved an American Olympian, he is afraid to stay at a hotel. From the story:
U.S. figure skater Johnny Weir says he received threats from anti-fur activists that made him fear for his safety, causing him to scrub any plans to stay at a hotel while in Vancouver for the Olympics. "I felt very threatened," he said Saturday. "I'm not allowed to say how everything got through, but my agent got letters and faxes and e-mails. I got letters at the ice rink, somebody found my phone number. "All these crazy fur people. Security-wise, to stay in a hotel would be very difficult. There have been threats against me. I didn't want to get hurt."
Weir almost acquiesced to the threat but then realized there was no reason for him to yield to their values rather than follow his own:
Weir was criticized by animal-rights activists after he donned a costume in nationals with white fox fur on the shoulder. He said after the event that he would wear faux fur in the Games, but has since changed his mind. "It was not because I was pressured to change it, but because I don't like faux fur," Weir explained. "I didn't change the costume, I'm just switching back to another costume."
A nice bit of courage that. Giving in to intimidation would only increase the brown shirtism that too often is a hallmark of animal rights advocacy.

What could drive people to threaten safety of a human being over fur? A belief in the moral equality between animals and humans, to the point that rightists believe that wearing fur is as evil as wearing human skin. For more details, see my about to be released book--shipping to stores as I write this--A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy: The Human Cost of the Animal Rights Movement.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Tofu Worse Than Meat for UK Environment

Oh, the animal rightists are not going to like this. Seizing on the claim that meat eating causes global warming, rightists have pushed vegetarianism as an environmental fix. Now, a study has concluded, that eating meat might actually be better for the environment--at least in the UK. From the story:
Becoming a vegetarian can do more harm to the environment than continuing to eat red meat, according to a study of the impacts of meat substitutes such as tofu. The findings undermine claims by vegetarians that giving up meat automatically results in lower emissions and that less land is needed to produce food. The study by Cranfield University, commissioned by the environmental group WWF, found that many meat substitutes were produced from soy, chickpeas and lentils that were grown overseas and imported into Britain. It found that switching from beef and lamb reared in Britain to meat substitutes would result in more foreign land being cultivated and raise the risk of forests being destroyed to create farmland. Meat substitutes also tended to be highly processed and involved energy-intensive production methods.
Besides, a vegan diet is "murder" too, as I have discussed before:
Plant agriculture results each year in the mass slaughter of countless animals, including rabbits, gophers, mice, birds, snakes, and other field creatures. These animals are killed during harvesting, and in the various mechanized farming processes that produce wheat, corn, rice, soybeans, and other staples of vegan diets. And that doesn't include the countless rats and mice poisoned in grain elevators, or the animals that die from loss of habitat cleared for agricultural use.

Animal-rights activists certainly don’t mention this inconvenient fact in their advocacy materials. But if the matter comes up in debate, they have a problem: They believe it is "speciesist" to grant some sentient animals — including humans — greater value than others; as PETA's Ingrid Newkirk so famously put it, "a rat, is a fish, is a dog, is a boy." [Hey, that's a great title for a book!] Thus, they cannot contend that it is more wrong to kill a pig than a rabbit. Nor can they argue that field animals experience less-agonizing deaths from plant agriculture than food animals do from food-animal slaughtering. Field animals may flee in panic as the great rumbling harvest combines approach, only to be shredded to bits within their merciless blades; they may be burned to death when field leavings are burned; they may be poisoned by pesticides; they may die from predation when their plant cover has been removed.
This is all nonsense. What you eat will not cause warming, whether it is meat or tofu. Veganism is fine for those who want it, but it still comes at the cost of mass animal killing. Let's lighten up.

Friday, February 5, 2010

A Rat is a Pig is a Dog is a Boy: Dean Koontz Preface

I received an advance copy of my new book by mail today. This is my 12th, and it never ceases to be a thrill to hold in your hands the product of countless hours of research, thinking, and writing. Thanks to all who helped bring years of effort to this fruition.

The issue of our relationship to animals is extremely emotional and important. I obviously hope that everyone will read the whole book. But I know some can't or won't. So, from time to time, I will post some short excerpts here, to give a nutshell overview of what I write and advocate over 249 pages of text. Let's start with the writing of someone else--the conclusion to the brilliant, almost mystical preface, by novelist Dean Koontz:
When we self-blind ourselves to the Truth of the world's magnificent complexity and mystery--of which we are a fundamental part --we do not only cut a thin wedge from the roundness of existence and convince ourselves that this one theory or ideology is the whole Truth. In our narcissism, we also insist that those who refuse to wear our blinders are villainous and depraved and corrupt. In this regard, an ideologue is no different from a member of a religious cult who has carved a sliver off the body of Christian theology and has made it his end-all and be-all. But the entire truth of a vast forest is not embodied in a single leaf.

A recognition of the world's complexity requires an acceptance of the truth that intentions and nuance matter. Puppy mills are an outrage and should be shut down because they horribly abuse breeder dogs for no purpose but profit. This isn't the same as a scientist, following merciful protocols (as most do), using lab rats in search of cures for disabling diseases. A sound argument might be made for the cruelty of denying a wide-ranging and undomesticable animal like an elephant the freedom to roam, keeping it chained to a stake for no purpose but to entertain us with clever tricks in the circus; though a well-designed zoo park might not be cruel at all. Training a dog to do tricks is not cruel, because dogs are pack animals and consider us members of their pack, because they would rather be with us than elsewhere, and because their natural inclination to play makes learning tricks a joy for them.

Among other things, this book is a rational, reasonable argument for the need to accept the nuanced complexity of the world and to resist the dangerous simplifications of antihuman ideologies. Wesley J. Smith knows too well that if the activists ever succeeded in their goals, if they established through culture or law that human beings have no intrinsic dignity greater than that of any animal, the world would not be a better place for either humankind or animals. Instead, it would be a utilitarian nightmare in which the strong would destroy the weak, in which power-crazed leaders would destroy everyone who loved peace, in which the wealth of the world would be concentrated in the hands of a murderous few, in which mercy would be unknown and the only virtue would be the ability to survive, in which the only right would be the right to die.
Yes, animal rights is inextricably connected to the importance of human exceptionalism, and with it, human freedom and dignity. Grazie mille di cuore to Dean for his contribution, friendship, and support.
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is the richest animal rights organization, I think, in the world, with assets of more than $200 million. Unlike the SPCAs around the country and other humane societies that have no connection to HSUS, it is not an animal welfare organization that merely seeks to improve the treatment of animals. It is animal rights all the way.

But it is also very cleverly hides its true goals. HSUS's leader, Wayne Pacelle, is very professional. He wears suits, he speaks softly, and unlike PETA's alpha wolf Ingrid Newkirk, he doesn't openly spout the animal rights dogma. But he is a true believer, and HSUS--which owns no shelters--is in a cold war of attrition against all animal industries, albeit one that employs legitimate tools of democracy, such as the lawsuit and public democratic initiative, to make life difficult for animal industries. (This isn't to say HSUS is always wrong. Sometimes, it is right, such as when it exposed the abuse of "down" cattle by a stockyard, although even then, it may have allowed its animal rights agenda to interfere with its duty to protect public safety. Businesses that don't meet the highest standards of legal treatment for their animals, not only act in a morally odious manner, but play into the hands of implacable enemies who seek their destruction.)

HSUS representatives don't spout advocacy terms such as, "A rat, is a pig, is a dog, is a boy"--the title of my about to be released book, which I took from a famous Newkirk quote--striving to appear as benign as the local SPCA. But its raison d'etre is ultimately animal rights. And here's some evidence. HSUS is producing dog food with no meat products, allowing owners to turn carnivores into vegans. From the story:
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) has entered the pet food market with the launch of its Humane Choice dog food. The non-profit organization is marketing the product as a cruelty-free, all-natural dog food that does not contain animal-based proteins or support the factory farming industry. "Americans are concerned about the food we eat, and it just makes sense that we’d be concerned about the food we provide to our pets," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the HSUS. "Humane Choice is a nutritious, environmentally friendly and ethically responsible food for our best friends. Every bag of Humane Choice helps us celebrate the pets we love, and provides us with additional resources to help animals through our programs."
Here's the thing: Dogs are natural carnivores and, were they capable of choice, would never choose a meat free diet. Unlike cats however, they can survive on specially blended vegetarian fare--cats go blind--but it isn't natural to them. And it strikes me: HSUS providing a product to help make dogs vegans has nothing to do with the welfare of canines, which thrive on dog food containing meat. Rather, the product reveals Pacelle and company's true inner Newkirk. Ironically, since animal rights ideology holds that there should be no domesticated animals, if HSUS, PETA, and their fellow travelers ultimately prevailed in remaking society, there would be no dogs left to be made into vegans.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Pig Lungs May Soon Save Human Lives

Here's some news about which only animal rights believers will be upset: Scientists have developed a technique for maintaining pig lungs that could permit them to be used in human transplantation within five years. From the story:
Scientists in Melbourne, Australia, used a ventilator and pump to keep the animal lungs alive and "breathing" while human blood flowed in them. Experts estimated the work could lead to the first animal-human transplants within five years. Dr Glenn Westall, who helped conduct the experiment, said: “The blood went into the lungs without oxygen and came out with oxygen, which is the exact function of the lungs. "It showed that these lungs were working perfectly well and doing as we were expecting them to do. “This is a significant advance compared to experiments that have been performed over the past 20 years." The breakthrough came after scientists were able to remove a section of pig DNA, which had made the pig organs incompatible with human blood.
Obviously, there is much work left to do. But if this works, it will save many lives. Question, what about the worry of porcine viruses crossing the species barrier?

That point aside, yet again we see the tremendous value of animal research. While one can make the moral argument that it is wrong to sacrifice pigs for humans--I disagree but respect the argument--I don't think one can say with intellectual integrity that such experiments do not provide significant real and potential human benefit.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Oscar the nursing home cat apparently knows who is about to die. More remarkably, he stays with them as they reach their end. From the story:

A cat with an uncanny ability to detect when nursing home patients are about to die has proven itself in around 50 cases by curling up with them in their final hours, according to a new book. Dr David Dosa, a geriatrician and assistant professor at Brown University, said that five years of records showed Oscar rarely erring, sometimes proving medical staff at the New England nursing home wrong in their predictions over which patients were close to death…

The tortoiseshell and white cat spends its days pacing from room to room, rarely spending any time with patients except those with just hours to live. If kept outside the room of a dying patient, Oscar will scratch on the door trying to get in. When nurses once placed the cat on the bed of a patient they thought close to death, Oscar "charged out" and went to sit beside someone in another room. The cat's judgment was better than that of the nurses: the second patient died that evening, while the first lived for two more days. Dr Dosa and other staff are so confident in Oscar's accuracy that they will alert family members when the cat jumps on to a bed and stretches out beside its occupant. "It's not like he dawdles. He'll slip out for two minutes, grab some kibble and then he’s back at the patient's side. It’s like he's literally on a vigil," Dr Dosa wrote.

I have no doubt that animals can smell or otherwise sense impending death. Several years ago, my now late cat went outside to meet his good friend, the kitty next door. Usually, they hung out together happily. That day, he walked up to her in his usual friendly way, but then, suddenly hissed, swiped at her face, and ran back into the house. I was very perplexed. First, he was a very docile cat. And second, he had just turned on his best pal for no apparent reason. Two hours later I went outside and discovered that she had crawled underneath a car and died. That raised an eyebrow, I will tell you. It would appear that my cat had smelled or sensed her impending demise and found whatever it was to be extremely unpleasant.

I bring this up because some might say that Oscar’s wonderful story undercuts human exceptionalism. There is no doubt that Oscar appears to be showing empathy. If so, the reason it might be morally relevant is that empathy is a distinctly human attribute, the lack of which in us is a symptom of mental illness, such as in sociopathology. But that could be because domesticated cats–who run us, we don’t run them–have been changed as a species by their intense and continual contact with us. Not as much as the wolves we turned into dogs, but still changed nonetheless. More to the point, Oscar is remarkable because he is acting in a way that is not inherent in the feline species. Note in the story that the five other cats in the nursing home don’t exhibit the same tendency. Moreover, Oscar is not duty bound to hang with the dying or treat humans or other cats well at all. This is because as an animal, he is not a moral being and cannot have any enforceable moral or ethical duties imposed upon him.

So what we have is a remarkable individual cat. This does not raise the species to the level of moral exceptionalism possessed by all human beings. Indeed, the fact that we might be chagrined that Oscar treats nursing home residents better than a lot of people do tells us that we have a right to expect moral actions from people that we never would from any animal.