I have to say it: the death of a horse on the first day of this year’s Calgary Stampede has me feeling pretty upset. Why, in this century, must we use animals for entertainment?
And yet even though this vegetarian animal lover typically recoils from the rodeo and all that it entails, I’m wise enough to know that I can’t just stand at the gates of the Stampede grounds and shout something like: Horses are people, too!
In order to sustain discussions about morality and ethics, we need to reason carefully, and with attention to nuance. Exactly what is it that’s wrong with the rodeo?
How are rodeos and circuses different from zoos? Is it acceptable for us to eat animals, or to be entertained by them? What about to hurt them? Where do the differences lie, and what makes those differences important? Do animals have rights? If so, how can we formulate and better understand them? These questions live within the realm of ethics, and if they interest you, you might want to browse our philosophy collection.
In particular, I recommend Peter Singer, a philosopher who’s written countless books about ethical thinking.