Animal Rights Zone

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Professor Gullone thinks animal cruelty makes 'a morally unsafe world for human beings'

Professor Eleonora Gullone, Associate Professor in Psychology at Monash University, Australia, believes that “Almost without exception, the perpetrators of animal cruelty crimes are the same individuals who carry out aggressive and violent acts including assault, partner and child abuse. Thus, animal cruelty crimes should be treated with the same seriousness as crimes against humans. Moreover, the punishments should reflect their severity." For more details on her new book, Animal Cruelty, Antisocial Behavior, and Agression: More Than A Link, visit

There is doubtless much psychological validity to Professor Gullone’s thesis. From a philosophical standpoint, this echoes Immanuel Kant’s opinion that one should be kind to his dog because it would model and (presumably) ensure kind behavior toward fellow humans. But Kant believed that only ‘free, rational moral agents’ deserved to be treated as “ends” rather than “means.” So his view of animals was still instrumental. So for animal rights advocates, Kant’s rationale for kindness to animals is not robust enough, since he did not countenance respecting animals for their own sake.

While I agree with Gullone’s thesis that there is a link between cruelty to animals and cruelty to humans, I question her claim that “by enacting adequate animal cruelty laws that properly indicate the seriousness of the animal cruelty crime committed, future violence toward both human and animal victims can be prevented.” I’m all in favor of animal cruelty laws that indicate the seriousness of crimes, but will mere laws actually prevent such behavior among those who are already so inclined? I think ‘prevent’ may be too strong a claim. If laws against violence do not prevent crimes against humans, why would laws against cruelty prevent crimes against animals?

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