Case study – Stealing or Rescuing
In March of 2017, animal activists entered into a major hog raising facility in southern Utah, observed the conditions of the animals, and removed two piglets that they considered at high risk of death due to malnutrition, disease, and neglect. They took the piglets (that they named “Lily” and “Lizzie”) to an animal sanctuary to receive care.
The owner of the hog facility, Smithfield Foods, saw this as an act of theft, since the piglets were its property, and the activists did not have permission to take them.
The activists saw it as an act of rescue, similar to breaking a car window to rescue a dog trapped in a car on a hot day.
In October of 2022, two of the activists stood trial for their actions. After deliberation, the jury found the defendants not guilty. Animal advocates saw this as a vindication of the “right to rescue.”
Law professor Justin Marceau stated, “Prosecutors would have you believe this case is about burglary, but in reality, it’s a case about whether people can rescue animals in dire conditions that are now commonplace in our food system can’t think of a more significant animal law case in recent history” (Jacobs, 2022). On the contrary side, Smithfield’s vice president replied, “This verdict is verydisappointing as it may encourage anyone opposed to raising animals for food to vandalize farms” (Bolotnikova, 2022).
ETHICAL QUESTION: Is it moral to trespass onto private property in order to rescue animals at risk of dying?
Bolotnikova, M. (2022). Activists acquitted in trial for taking piglets from Smithfield Foods. The Intercept.
Jacobs, A. (2022). Animal rights activists are acquitted in Smithfield piglet case. New York Times.
Part 1: Introduction, Case Study
In this section, you will create the case study. To complete this section,
Choose a case study from the selection provided by your instructor in the Week 2 announcement titled “Week 2 Case Studies.”
Present a brief introduction to the case study.
Discuss background information provided in one of the resources.
This section should be around 300 words.
Part 2: Ethical Question
In this section, discuss one of the ethical questions provided with the case study. To complete this section,
State the ethical question you have chosen to discuss and place it at the beginning of the section in bold font.
Discuss the ethical question by considering two or more of the following:
What is the central moral controversy at the heart of the ethical question?
What ethical or societal values are at stake in the question?
Who is impacted by the issue or moral controversy?
What might it say about us as individuals or society depending on how we answer the ethical question?
Part 3: Position Statement
In this section, you will formulate a position statement that answers the ethical question, and then support the position statement. To complete this section,
Formulate a position statement that directly answers the ethical question. For example, if the ethical question is “Is it moral for public schools to use corporal punishment to discipline students?” Your position statement would be either “It is moral for schools to use corporal punishment.” or “It is not moral for schools to use corporal punishment.”
Discuss reasons that support your position statement. The reasons should be moral or value-based as opposed to statistical or other information-based reasons.
For example, the use of corporal punishment in public schools is rare, but this is fact and not a moral reason; so it would not provide much support for the position statement.
Part 4: Opposition Statement
In this section, you will provide a statement that directly opposes the position statement and discuss reasons that support it. To complete this section,
Formulate a statement that opposes your position statement. For example, if your position statement was “It is not moral for schools to use corporal punishment,” then your opposing position statement would be “It is moral for public schools to use corporal punishment.”
Discuss reasons that support your opposition statement. As in the preceding section, these reasons should also be moral or value-based as opposed to statistical or other information-based reasons.
Part 5: Application of Utilitarianism
Explain the principle of “the greatest good for the greatest number.”
Consider how this principle would support your position or opposing position statement.
This section should be around 100 words.
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