From the Daily Mail we have a tug-of-war zoo story.
A 'moronic' zoo has been blasted for letting children as young as eight play a tug-of-war with lions and tigers in a £15-a-ticket 'human v beast challenge'.
In a tweet to Datmoor Zoo, The Born Free Foundation said: '@.DartmoorZoo to offer 'Human vs Beast Experience' this February half-term. Is a tug of war game with a lion or tiger really the way to inspire respect for these animals? RT to urge the zoo to rethink this! #Don'tBuyCaptivity #KeepWildlifeinTheWild.'
This is while other activists said: 'Is this for real? What moron thought that this was a good idea'.
One Twitter user @paulwrites said: 'Are they living in medieval times? Whoever thought of this and backed it should think very carefully about demonising animals as commodities for profit.'
Meat is attached to a rope to bait the animals and when it picks it up the participants, which are on the other side of the fence, take up the other end of rope for a tug-of-war.
Suppose the zoo had built a machine which did the same thing as this tug-of-war game, it made the lions and tigers fight for their meat in the same way. The public would not be allowed to watch the machine in operation at feeding time.
Or suppose the public are allowed to watch the machine in operation at feeding time.
Or suppose the zoo had built a similar machine but members of the public could operate it from outside the animal enclosure.
I'm sure there was a time when such counterfactual arguments were fairly common as a way to analyse arguments, dilemmas and social problems. They require a modicum of imagination but that's all. Simple counterfactual arguments are powerful and interesting do not seem to be nearly as common in the public arena as they could be.
Of course we know this dispute has nothing to do with animal welfare in zoos, its driver is an implacable opposition to zoos. I'm not that keen on them but it is perfectly conceivable that they are more useful than their detractors claim.