Mark Rowlands

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Rowlands in 2012

Mark Rowlands (born 1962) is a Welsh writer and philosopher. He is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Miami, and the author of several books on the philosophy of mind, the moral status of animals, and cultural criticism.


  • Humans are the animals that manufacture weakness. We take wolves and we make them into dogs. We take buffalo and we make them into cows. We take stallions and we make them into geldings. We make things weak so that we may use them.
  • Even if vegetarian dishes are less palatable than meat-based dishes, and it is not clear that they are, we have to weigh up humans' loss of certain pleasures of the palate against what the animals we eat have to give up because of our predilection for meat. Most obviously, of course, they have to give up their lives, and all the opportunities for the pursuing of interests and satisfaction of preferences that go with this. For most of the animals we eat, in fact, death may not be the greatest of evils. They are forced to live their short lives in appalling and barbaric conditions, and undergo atrocious treatment. Death for many of these animals is a welcome release. When you compare what human beings would have to 'suffer' should vegetarianism become a widespread practice with what the animals we eat have to suffer given that it is not, then if one were to make a rational and self-interested choice in the original position, it is clear what this choice would be. If one did not know whether one was going to be a human or an animal preyed on by humans, the rational choice would surely be to opt for a world where vegetarianism was a widespread human practice and where, therefore, there was no animal husbandry industry. What one stands to lose as a human is surely inconsequential compared to what one stands to lose as a cow, or pig, or lamb.
  • When he was a little boy, my father had a dog – a German shepherd named Rex. He was very fond of the dog and would ride around the garden on its back. Around the same time, the Rowlands family also had a pig. History does not record the name of this pig, and perhaps it never had a name. But, nameless or not, my father was very fond of it and would ride around the garden on its back. Rex, by all accounts, lived a long and happy life. Things went a little differently for the pig. I relate this story not only because it provided my first brush with the idea of animal rights ('What happened to the pig, Dad?') but also because, if you look closely enough, you will find the basic moral case for animals encapsulated tightly within it. Ethics is many things, but it's hardly rocket science. In the end, most of it is pretty obvious. The moral case for animals … is about as obvious as this: the differential treatment of Rex and pig is a bit strange.
  • Our modern sedentary life is one for which we have not been designed and for which, at least biologically, we are poorly equipped. It is a common misconception – pervasive and tenacious, but a misconception nonetheless – that arses are made for sitting on. It seems, instead, they are made for running.

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