Riportiamo la versione integrale dell’articolo pubblicato da Lewis Carroll nel 1875 sulla rivista Fornightly Review. Vi ricordo che potete trovare la traduzione in italiano in libreria – abbiamo parlato del libro qui.
SOME POPULAR FALLACIES ABOUT VIVISECTION
AT a time when this painful subject is engrossing so large a share of public attention, no apology, I trust, is needed for the following attempt to formulate and classify some of the many fallacies, as they seem to me, which I have met with in the writings of those who advocate the practice. No greater service can be rendered to the cause of truth, in this fiercely contested field, than to reduce these shadowy, impalpable phantoms into definite forms, which can be seen, which can be grappled with, and which, when once fairly laid, we shall not need to exorcise a second time.
I begin with two contradictory propositions, which seem to constitute the two extremes, containing between them the golden mean of truth:—
1. That the infliction of pain on animals is a right of man, needing go justification.
2. That it is in no case justifiable.
The first of these is assumed in practice by many who would hardly venture to outrage the common feelings of humanity by stating it in terms. All who recognise the difference of right and wrong must admit, if the question be closely pressed, that, the infliction of pain is in some cases wrong. Those who deny it are not likely to be amenable to argument. For what common ground have we? They must be restrained, like brute beasts, by physical force.
The second has been assumed by an Association lately formed for the total suppression of Vivisection, in whose manifesto it is placed in the same category with Slavery, as being an absolute evil, with which no terms can be made. I think I may assume that the proposition most generally accepted is an intermediate one, namely, that the infliction of pain is in some cases justifiable, but not in all.
3. That our right to inflict pain on animals is coextensive with our right to kill, or even to exterminate a race (which prevents the existence of possible animals), all being alike infringements of their rights.
This is one of the commonest and most misleading of all the fallacies. Mr. Freeman, in an article on Field Sports and Vivisection, which appeared in the Fortnightly Review for May, 1874, appears to countenance this when he classes death and pain together, as if they were admitted to be homogeneous. For example—
“By cruelty then I understand, as I have understood throughout, not all infliction of death or suffering on man or beast, but their wrongful or needless infliction.…My positions then were two. First…that certain cases of the infliction of death or suffering on brute creatures may be blameworthy. The second was, that all infliction of death or suffering for the purpose of mere sport is one of those blameworthy cases.”
But in justice to Mr. Freeman I ought also to quote the following sentence, in which he takes the opposite view: “I must in all cases draw a wide distinction between mere killing and torture.”
In discussing “the rights of animals,” I think I may pass by, as needing no remark, the so-called right of a race of animals to, be perpetuated, and the still more shadowy right of a non-existent animal to come into existence. The only question worth consideration is whether the killing of an animal is a real infringement, of right. Once grant this, and a reductio ad absurdum is imminent, unless we are illogical enough to assign rights to animals in proportion to their size. Never may we destroy, for our convenience, some of a litter of puppies—or open a score of oysters when nineteen would have sufficed—or light a candle in a summer evening for mere pleasure, lest some hapless moth should rush to an untimely end! Nay, we must not even take a walk, with the certainty of crushing many an insect in our path, unless for really important business ! Surely all this is childish. In the absolute hopelessness of drawing a line anywhere, I conclude (and I believe that many, on considering the point, will agree with me) that man has an absolute right to inflict death on animals, without assigning any reason, provided that it be a painless death, but that any infliction of pain needs its special justification.
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