1. After reading the from renowned anthropologist Clifford Geertz, who wrote Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight, he was my inspiration to visit a foreign country where this blood sport is legal but has not been studied previously. As a Ph.D. student, I know that I must establish a presence with the locals in this country since this country has been unheard from foreigners. To identify three roles that cockfighting may play in this community could be the symbolic representation of these cocks as an extension to the man who participates in this pastime. Cockfighting in this new society could be similar to Balinese culture because a cock indicates to a man as “hero,” “warrior,” or even “tough guy.” Before reading Geertz’s article, as a Ph.D. student I understood just the basics of what is happening during a cockfight, but I need to find out why this is done in this foreign country. Is it similar to what I know about cockfighting in Bali and the United States?
One academic reason why my anthropology Ph.D. advisor would encourage me to attend a cockfight in this country is to study the human society and culture of gamecock breeding and also answer the question, don’t these cocks fight naturally? If it is true that game fowl are a breed of chicken that has a fighting instinct specifically bred for aggressiveness, but a more natural instinct is to establish a “pecking order”. It is known that this kind fowl is known for their gameness – their fighting spirit that the fighting instincts are exaggerated by selective breeding and what goes into consideration of a rooster that makes him a cockfighter? Within this foreign country do the cockfighters also follow a regimen of breeding, feeding, training, and if their roosters are given steroids and vitamins as well?
Although cockfighting is forbidden in the Western country I currently live in, I have always wondered and wanted to do a study on whether or not if it is true that these roosters have been selectively bred for such high aggression where they would still indeed kill each other in more naturalistic conditions, in a controlled free-ranging environment, instead of being in a fighting pit. Because in nature, fights between roosters to the death, are often rare. In a pit there are a no means of escape from the more aggressive, more dominant rooster and these fights are probably a result of a pecking order not being settled, because there is not a chance to, so the roosters might think they must continue fighting. Unlike free-range birds, they cannot escape from each other within the pit are forced to fight with deadly gaff attached until one of them backs down, is injured and or even dies from the fight.
Cockfighting is still a widespread and highly popular phenomenon and the opportunity to study this foreign country that has its own specific landrace breed of gamefowl is equally exciting as well. Interestingly, in this foreign country, they do not attach any of the deadly gaffs to their fighting roosters. The locals have told me that you cannot tell if a rooster is promising when it hatches from the egg, you have to watch it grow over time and these birds are hard to work with and which one is going to fight in the pit. The severity of the gameness of this breed is extraordinary and, in the end, I am excited to understand this culture of breeding fighting cocks!
2. There are two main arguments put into place that the philosophy of animal rights comes from Peter Singer and Tom Regan. Animal rights are defined by the dictionary as “rights believed to belong to animals to live free from use in medical research, hunting, and other services to humans.” This part of philosophy that considers extending traditional boundaries of ethics from humans to include nonhuman animals. Both Singer and Regan would argue for the same conclusion is to radically change the way humans treat non-human animals, such as wide-ranging legal protections for some. Arguing that animals need more of a say or a voice in their own situation in regards to the debate of their ethical treatment and wellbeing. The two have come up with each a moral conclusion and by taking into account of the comparison of Singer versus Regan present to their related argument. Singer’s logic is mainly based on the philosophical moral lens of utilitarianism focusing on a concern about equality for nonhuman animals. The approach by Regan, on the other hand, is about the values that both humans and animals have. Based on their philosophical views in which their views regarding the use of animals as food would diverge along the lines of something like this.
Singer maintains the fact that sentient beings, such as animals used for food, have a right to life and the concept of eating meat is bad since it is associated with animal exploitation. Since he follows an ideology principle which is Utilitarian and to sum it up is that humans might justify their meat-eating habits might be justified, if it causes a relative amount of harm for few animals by minimizing the greater harm for more animals. For example, someone might harm some animals for food production, but it would be wrong to cause severe pain to the many that may prevent distress of the few. Basically, eating more humane meat in “moderate quantity” and other animal products can be a good thing morally. In chapter 4 Practical Ethics, he calls out for a boycott of the meat industry.
However, Regan would claim that the way we treat farm animals does not need more ‘humane’ ways, requires a change in an individual’s belief to change their dietary habits. In his essay, The Case for Animal Rights would defend the view that the human moral concern shouldn’t put forward the suffering on an animal by treating them in a certain way. In other words, by torturing animals it also tortures humans as well. By harming them is an unjustifiable act and also maintains that animals have a “subject to life” and should have rights that are similar to humans. “What happens to them matters to them” and Ragan’s position diverges from Singers position on biomedical research. Singer would say that animal research is acceptable if it a small number of animal lives suffer that benefit to humans or animals that outweigh the harm caused to those animals in a biomedical setting. Ragan, on the other hand, would agree to disagree that biomedical testing is morally wrong with the answer being to empty the cages and needs to end.
These two philosophers may differ in their views, but the common message the two of them want a similar result when dealing with animal rights as it relates within the society of today. Animals clearly do not have rights, yet it is one of the things that sets humans apart from the animal world and makes us think about it.
Regan, Tom. Chapter 1. “The Case for Animal Rights.” 2008
Singer, Peter. Chapter 4. “Practical Ethics.”. 2008
Geertz, Clifford. (1973). Deep Play: Notes on the Balinese Cockfight. Daedalus. 134. 412-453. 10.1162/001152605774431563.
“Cockfighting.” ASPCA, www.aspca.org/animal-cruelty/other-animal-issues/cockfighting.