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aaronou's avatar

Is Hunting Ethical?

Asked by aaronou (735points) July 22nd, 2008

In a consumer-rich society such as the United States of America, hunting is clearly no necessity. Yet, it is certainly a favorite pasttime for many. Questions arise of whether or not we should value animal life, or how killing them affects our own psyche. So basically, what are the reasons for and against this countryside sport?

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28 Answers

aaronou's avatar

As to some things I’ve been thinking about: Hunting seems to be a cruelty when it is not a necessity. It doesn’t even have a very strong Biblical basis for those who would point to that, as Genesis speaks of more of a vegetarian approach in the perfect Garden of Eden. Sure, hunting was the way that some earlier societies existed. But many others were gatherers and lived off of nothing but nuts, fruits, and vegetables. Shoot, Thoreau went out into the woods to live simply with his fishing pole and ended up abandoning even that. But then agian, even I have to admit that I like my meat (and potatoes).

Melonking's avatar

Well I think that if you use what you catch (cooking etc) then is is ok, nothing can beat a fresh fescent.

aaronou's avatar

Sure, we can cook what we kill, but the question still remains of whether that was ethical when we had many other options of acquiring food that did not take an animal’s life. In other words, eating your catch does not solve the issue at hand. It may make you a more responsible hunter, but it does not speak about whether or not hunting is responsible.

arnbev959's avatar

so basically—is eating meat ethical?

aaronou's avatar

well, it seems that eating meat necessarily follows from the present discussion, so yes.

wildflower's avatar

Hunting as a hobby/sport is a bit twisted in my opinion. Hunting for food on the other hand, I think is perfectly ethical and valid. Personally I’d eat a freshly hunted and killed rabbit rather than a steak from an industrial slaughterhouse any day!

rockstar's avatar

I would agree with wildflower. As long as you only hunt what you eat and hunt in an ethical way then that is ok. Hunting for sport is not ok in my opinion.

syz's avatar

Managed properly, hunting can function as a useful management tool for certain animal populations (for example, to avoid entire herds of deer dying a slow death of starvation) since we humans have effectively eliminated natural predators in many environments.

Sport hunting is the least sporting thing that I can think of, though. Ditto trophy hunting.

Harp's avatar

We don’t all use the same yardstick in measuring the ethicallity of our actions, of course, and this particular question brings those differences into high relief. To those who hold the Bible to be the ultimate ethical standard, meat eating gets an unqualified pass (although Seventh Day Adventists would disagree).

On the secular side, people point to the “natural order of things” as an ethical justification, saying that by hunting and eating meat we’re simply doing what other top predators do, and that our physiology points to our destiny as omnivores.

I won’t try to counter those arguments here though it wouldn’t take much urging to get me to, but I feel drawn to a different ethical standard. I see ethics as inseparable from compassion. It’s our ability to understand the suffering of other beings, and to want to minimize that suffering, that underlies our concern for ethics.

By this measure, to violate our sense of compassion not only brings more suffering to others, but confuses our own internal sense of right and wrong. For compassion to be a reliable ethical guide, we have to be sensitive to its urgings. The more attentive we are to it, the more unambiguous it becomes. But every time we justify our way around its urgings, the voice of compassion grows fainter.

Whenever we have a choice not to make another sentient being suffer, I think we choose not to. We don’t always have that choice, granted, but we need to be honest with ourselves in deciding whether or not that choice exists. Raising and slaughtering animals for food will always cause some suffering, and can cause a great deal of suffering. At some point in that process, our natural voice of compassion has to get ignored. Sport hunting not only causes suffering, but turns the occasion of that suffering into a source of gratification for the hunter, which is doubly damaging.

PupnTaco's avatar

For “sport,” no. For survival or sustenance, I don’t have a problem with it.

Although I don’t really see the point in hunting quail.

nayeight's avatar

@ melonking: What is a fescent? Did you mean a pheasant? Am I spelling it wrong or are you?

PupnTaco's avatar

I assumed it was some bloody organ meat or entrails.

augustlan's avatar

If you NEED to hunt to survive, that’s one thing. If you hunt because you enjoy it, that’s another. Whether you eat your kill or not is irrelevent…eating it just makes you feel better about the fact that you ENJOY killing for sport. And why is this called a sport, anyway? As the animals don’t have weapons, it’s hardly a level playing field, is it? Would winning a game of tennis against an opponet without a raquet be considered any kind of victory?

scamp's avatar

I live in central New Jersey, and man has encroached on deer territory to the point where you cannot drive any distance without seeing a carcass on the side of the road. It’s sickening. I counted once on a 20 minute drive, and there were 24 dead deer. So as syz says above, thinning them out would be more humane than a slow death on the side of a road, but I am no fan of hunting.

wildflower's avatar

Pilot whale hunting back home is not considered a sport. Neither is dangling off a tall cliff to catch puffins and other birds. But all provide cherished, traditional food.

[edit]: @scamp: that’s a terrible waste! And they’re such a treat! Deer steak in Sweden is one of the best meals I’ve had.

augustlan's avatar

@wildflower I’m assuming “back home” is not, you know, New Jersey and that the grocery store doesn’t carry whale and puffin alongside the beef and chicken. As long as the species affected aren’t endangered, I could understand this type of hunting for traditional celebrations and the like.

wildflower's avatar

You assume correctly. On all fronts.

Hobbes's avatar

I would say that hunting is a more ethical way to obtain meat than buying it at the grocery store. After all, hunting (if done for food), doesn’t support the meat market, which is very unsanitary, and, moreover, is one of the main contributors to global warming. Of course, everybody hunting wouldn’t be practical, but it is a way to get meat without further jeopardizing humanity’s future.

scamp's avatar

@wildflower I have to admit, I have enjoyed venison steaks also. They are tasty! But since moving to New Jersey and seeing so many of these beautiful animals maimed and mangled on the side of the road, I’ve lost my appetite for them

wildflower's avatar

mmmm…..venison. Now you’re just making me hungry! Where’s my rifle?

scamp's avatar

@wildflower , silly girl!! From now on, I’m going to call you Fudd! ha ha!

Trance24's avatar

Well you see the difference is if they are doing it for sport or they are doing it to feed their families. Many hunters hunt their food rather then buying it because that way they know it is natural, and healthy. It was raised by nature. And game hunting for food helps keep the population down. Such as deer if people did not hunt them, they would become over populated. The same goes for things like rabbits. These are animals that are not massively produced, such as cows and chickens. I have nothing against people who hunt for their food rather then buy it. Because it isn’t endangering the animals (as in they wont go extinct), because everything is regulated such as hunting seasons and how many you can hunt. Plus most people who hunt for food also use ever part of the animal.

Now as for people who hunt for sport, and just want the fancy head of a deer over their mantel and thats all is a different story. Those are the people I hate, they do not have a purpose. They are just mad killing machines searching and finding as many animals as they can to put on their wall.

wildflower's avatar

haha scamp! Guess I should go dig out a lumberjack shirt :p

scamp's avatar

I see you have your own google search page. ha ha!!

amandaafoote's avatar

I would never hunt…

Nullo's avatar

I would say that it can be ethical.
Here in the great State of Missouri, we have a problem with the whitetail deer population. The deer don’t have enough natural predators, and so run the risk of consuming all of their resources and dying off. Meanwhile, they’re getting into residential areas and damaging property.
So each season, the Missouri Dept. of Conservation (which keeps tabs on the deer population) issues permits to hunters (and there are always hunters) specifying how many of what kind of deer they can take. This way, the population can be kept in check.

Tm1173's avatar

Hunting is both ethical and responsible, the mad killers that are refered to as trophy hunters is both biased and unfounded. Trophy hunters have been and continue to be both social and economically responsible. They donate the meat to food banks, do you donate? When you think of wildlife conversation hunters are the most responsible of all conversationists.
Hunters provide funds to the local economy, they add to the preservation of wildlife. Trophy hunters spend years learning about the animals they hunt how often do you study about the animals in your neck of the woods?
If you would just think about the people whom you have never met, and give them the benefit of the doubt you may just have a change of thought. With any group there is the right and wrong element hunting has no exception. We do have so called hunters who despite better thought just don not understand the fair chase of hunting. This would give the animal the right to flee whenbeing pursued…. Ted Nugent is not a fair chase hunter. While I applaud Uncle Ted’s willingness to promote hunting, he has taken the sport out of it.

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