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Matthew Scully quotes (showing 1-30 of 32)

“Animals are more than ever a test of our character, of mankind's capacity for empathy and for decent, honorable conduct and faithful stewardship. We are called to treat them with kindness, not because they have rights or power or some claim to equality, but in a sense because they don't; because they all stand unequal and powerless before us.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“When you start with a necessary evil, and then over time the necessity passes away, what's left?”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Let's just call things what they are. When a man's love of finery clouds his moral judgment, that is vanity. When he lets a demanding palate make his moral choices, that is gluttony. When he ascribes the divine will to his own whims, that is pride. And when he gets angry at being reminded of animal suffering that his own daily choices might help avoid, that is moral cowardice.”
Matthew Scully
“Wildlife, we are constantly told, would run loose across our towns and cities were it not for the sport hunters to control their population, as birds would blanket the skies without the culling services of Ducks Unlimited and other groups. Yet here they are breeding wild animals, year after year replenishing the stock, all for the sole purpose of selling and killing them, deer and bears and elephants so many products being readied for the market. Animals such as deer, we are told, have no predators in many areas, and therefore need systematic culling. Yet when attempts are made to reintroduce natural predators such as wolves and coyotes into these very areas, sport hunters themselves are the first to resist it. Weaker animals in the wild, we hear, will only die miserable deaths by starvation and exposure without sport hunters to control their population. Yet it's the bigger, stronger animals they're killing and wounding--the very opposite of natural selection--often with bows and pistols that only compound and prolong the victim's suffering.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Sometimes tradition and habit are just that, comfortable excuses to leave things be, even when they are unjust and unworthy. Sometimes--not often, but sometimes--the cranks and radicals turn out to be right. Sometimes Everyone is wrong.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Factory farming isn't just killing: It is negation, a complete denial of the animal as a living being with his or her own needs and nature. It is not the worst evil we can do, but it is the worst evil we can do to them.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“The only thing worse than cruelty is delegated cruelty.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“If we are defined by reason and morality, then reason and morality must define our choices, even when animals are concerned. When people say, for example, that they like their veal or hot dogs too much to ever give them up, and yeah it's sad about the farms but that's just the way it is, reason hears in that the voice of gluttony. We can say that what makes a human being human is precisely the ability to understand that the suffering of an animal is more important than the taste of a treat.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“It is true, as we are often reminded, that kindness to animals is among the humbler duties of human charity--though for just that reason among the more easily neglected. And it is true that there will always be enough injustice and human suffering in the world to make the wrongs done to animals seem small and secondary. The answer is that justice is not a finite commodity, nor are kindness and love. Where we find wrongs done to animals, it is no excuse to say that more important wrongs are done to human beings, and let us concentrate on those. A wrong is a wrong, and often the little ones, when they are shrugged off as nothing, spread and do the gravest harm to ourselves and others.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“My earliest recollection is of coming upon some rabbit tracks in the backyard snow. I must have been three or so, but I had never seen a rabbit and can still recall the feeling of being completely captivated by the tracks: Someone had been here. And he left these prints. And he was alive. And he lived somewhere nearby, maybe even watching me at this very moment.



Four decades later, I do not need to be reminded that rabbits are often a nuisance to farmers and gardeners. My point is that when you look at a rabbit and can see only a pest, or vermin, or a meal, or a commodity, or a laboratory subject, you aren't seeing the rabbit anymore. You are seeing only yourself and the schemes and appetites we bring to the world--seeing, come to think of it, like an animal instead of as a moral being with moral vision.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Such terrifying powers we possess, but what a sorry lot of gods some men are. And the worst of it is not the cruelty but the arrogance, the sheer hubris of those who bring only violence and fear into the animal world, as if it needed any more of either. Their lives entail enough frights and tribulations without the modern fire-makers, now armed with perfected, inescapable weapons, traipsing along for more fun and thrills at their expense even as so many of them die away. It is our fellow creatures' lot in the universe, the place assigned them in creation, to be completely at our mercy, the fiercest wolf or tiger defenseless against the most cowardly man. And to me it has always seemed not only ungenerous and shabby but a kind of supreme snobbery to deal cavalierly with them, as if their little share of the earth's happiness and grief were inconsequential, meaningless, beneath a man's attention, trumped by any and all designs he might have on them, however base, irrational, or wicked.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“I know many people far more upright and conscientous than I am who disagree, who think nothing of it. I know that vegetarianism runs against mankind's most casual assumptions about the world and our place within it. And I know that factory farming is an economic inevitability, not likely to end anytime soon.

But I don't answer to inevitabilities, and neither do you. I don't answer to the economy. I don't answer to tradition and I don't answer to Everyone. For me, it comes down to a question of whether I am a man or just a consumer. Whether to reason or just to rationalize. Whether to heed my conscience or my every craving, to assert my free will or just my will. Whether to side with the powerful and comfortable or with the weak, afflicted, and forgotten.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“When we shrink from the sight of something, when we shroud it in euphemism, that is usually a sign of inner conflict, of unsettled hearts, a sign that something has gone wrong in our moral reasoning.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“In any case I just cannot imagine attaching so much importance to any food or treat that I would grow irate or bitter at the mention of the suffering of animals. A pig to me will always seem more important than a pork rind. There is the risk here of confusing realism with cynicism, moral stoicism with moral sloth, of letting oneself become jaded and lazy and self-satisfied--what used to be called an 'appetitive' person.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Some readers will say that animals awaken fantasy, if not heresy, in those who attach moral significance to them. Yet often I think it is the more violent among us who are living out the fantasy, some delusion in which everything in nature is nothing and all is permitted.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Tradition with all its happy assumptions and necessary evils, all of its content majorities and stout killers, is not always a reliable guide.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“I know a 'crime against nature' when I see one. It is usually a sign of crimes against nature that we cannot bear to see them at all, that we recoil and hide our eyes, and no one has ever cringed at the sight of a soybean factory. I also know phony arguments when I hear them--unbridled appetite passing itself off as altruism, and human arrogance in the guise of solemn 'duty.' We must, as C.S. Lewis advises, 'reject with detestation that covert propoganda for cruelty which tries to drive mercy out of the world by calling it names such as 'Humanitarianism' and 'Sentimentality.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“I think he overlook a phase: that empathy stage in our lives when we may begin to see even the commonest animals on their own terms, fellow creatures with their own needs to meet and hardships to bear, joined with us in the mystery of life and death--and frankly, for all of our more exalted endowments, not all that much less enlightened than the sagest of naked apes about the meaning of it all.

That kinship is to me reason enough to go about my own way in the world showing each one as much courtesy as I can, refraining from things that bring animals needless harm. They all seem to have enough dangers coming at them as it is. Whenever human beings with our loftier gifts and grander calling in the world can stop to think on their well-being, if only by withdrawing to let them be, it need not be a recognition of 'rights.' It is just a gracious thing, an act of clemency only more to our credit because the animals themselves cannot ask for it, or rebuke us when we transgress against them, or even repay our kindness.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Though reason must guide us in laying down standards and laws regarding animals, and in examining the arguments of those who reject such standards, it is usually best in any moral inquiry to start with the original motivation, which in the case of animals we may without embarrassment call love. Human beings love animals as only the higher love the lower, the knowing love the innocent, and the strong love the vulnerable. When we wince at the suffering of animals, that feeling speaks well of us even when we ignore it, and those who dismiss love for our fellow creatures as mere sentimentality overlook a good and important part of our humanity.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Intellectuals are a pretty unique species all by themselves, given to advocating things out of sheer brazenness that they could not themselves stomach if they were ushered in to witness the scene.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“An author describing the methods of intensive farming, or the excesses of sport hunting, or even the harsher uses of animals in science writes with confidence that most readers will share his sense of concern and indignation. Sounding the call to action--convincing people that change is not only necessary, but actually possible--is more problematic. In protecting animals from cruelty, it is always just one step from the mainstream to the fringe. To condemn the wrong is obvious, to suggest its abolition radical.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Animals have this way of constantly confronting us with ultimate questions - about truth and falsehood, guilt and innocence, God and sanctity and the soul - forcing us to define ourselves and our relationship to the world.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“The elephants we have seen taunted and tormented and slaughtered by the likes of Safari Club do not have time to wait while the world's ethicists work out some centuries-long paradigm shift in moral thought.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“As sentimentality towards animals can be overindulged, so, too, can grim realism, seeing only the things we want in animals and not the animals themselves.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Reforms will come as all great reforms have always come in ridding us of evils against both man and animal--not as we change our moral principles but as we discern and accept the implications of principles already held.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Philosophical theories can in this way become a destructive venture, confusing matters with false choices and sterile power schemes the cruel are only too happy to accept. In hostile hands, they become a pretext for doing nothing, for brushing off real and urgent moral duties in the care of animals.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“When a man’s love of finery clouds his moral judgment, that is vanity. When he lets a demanding palate make his moral choices, that is gluttony. When he ascribes the divine will to his own whims, that is pride. And when he gets angry at being reminded of animal suffering that his own daily choices might help avoid, that is moral cowardice.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“Where we find wrongs done to animals, it is no excuse to say that more important wrongs are done to human beings, and let us concentrate on those. A wrong is a wrong, and often the little ones, when they are shrugged off as nothing, spread and do the gravest harm to ourselves and others.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“The corporate farmer is the absent farmer, the stranger on his own property, too important to worry about little details like whether a pig has room to turn or straw to sleep on. He is our modern hireling, too busy with bigger business than the care of his own animals, and we were warned about him long ago: The hired hand—who is no shepherd nor owner of the sheep— catches sight of the wolf coming and runs away, leaving the sheep to be snatched and scattered by the wolf. That is because he works for pay; he has no concern for the sheep.”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy
“at their disposal. So they assemble in protests to convey their objections. What’s wrong with that? A similar outpouring came recently from American Walter Williams, one of my favorite columnists and a conservative economist known”
Matthew Scully, Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy

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Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy Dominion
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