Must the predators always win?

Species and Class

By Katherine Perlo

In dark moments, I start to think: but maybe predation – the survival of the fittest – is just natural and inevitable, and it’s no use trying to stand up for poor and weak humans or animals. Many people seem, if only unconsciously, to endorse that view, as witness the use of the word “loser” as a term of abuse.

I have these thoughts only about human relations. I wouldn’t give houseroom to the naturalness, inevitability or rightness of human oppression and killing of animals. But many people would do so. Indeed, all people’s attitudes towards predation seem to vary (with sub-variations according to their politics) depending on whether the predation is human-on-human, human-on-animal, or animal-on-animal.

For each of these categories, we must ask whether, however violent our moral revulsion at the moral-darwinist claim, it’s actually true. (I’m saying moral-darwinist rather than social-darwinist, since I’m referring to…

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