To the editor:
The Latin phrase reductio ad absurdum is used to describe the logical technique of taking a point to its extreme conclusion in order to reveal its weak or contradictory foundations. George Gurley's essay on how humans inadvertently cause pain to other species (Journal-World, Jan. 13) is an example of this technique. But to what end? The reason for using a reductio ad absurdum argument is wasted if the essay only tears down and does not take the time to find a more valid foundation on which to build a position.
And what is Gurley's position? We don't ever need to worry about inflicting pain on other species? It's OK to anthropomorphize in our everyday speech? Since Gurley's piece is a shotgun deconstruction of the issue, we are left with precious few clues as to where or whether he thinks there is a balance point when it comes to ethical interactions between species.
Personally, I find such a balance point in the writings of Thomas Berry who, in his book "Evening Thoughts" finds a solid foundation by stating that all rights have an existential basis in the existence of a common universe and that rights are species-specific, so that human rights are of no use for an insect, and vice versa. This means that in a bio-diverse ecosystem, human rights do not cancel out the rights of other species and that the proper context for examining the rights of both lies in the larger community of existence.