Nature is Nasty

The last post mentioned in passing that recognising animal suffering as morally relevant usually has consequences greater than people realise. I found a good essay about something that most people don’t think about ; that most animal suffering is not directly caused by humans but is potentially relieved  by them.

Read it here.

Some thoughts:

– Conservationists think they are helping the animals whose enviroment they protect from development. They may just be locking them in a torture chamber. Clear the jungle for pasture and all that biomass locked up in variety of vicious predators and terrorized prey, can be converted to safe, happy (and useful) cattle. Would be amusing if slash and burn turned out to have this positive externality; we could subsidise the exploitation of economically unattractive wilderness for the sake of animal welfare!

– By the time we have all the technology to do all the crazy stuff suggested in the essay, I doubt making animals happy will be a moral priority. It will likely be better to just add more people. Wild animals are mostly still around because they occupy marginal land and nature is doomed so The problem of wild suffering will remain but the scale won’t be so shocking.

– The above assumes a simple kind of hedonism; reducing the suffering of animals. This is the correct measure. Utility or rights don’t work very well with animals. Diversity might also be relevent. Im not talking about its ecological or aesthetic qualities but rather the notion that types of experience matter as well as number and quality. It may be that any  zebra may be substituted for a cow save the last one.  Although the Zebra may have no better a life then a cow, the unique zebraesque nature of its experience  add extra value to the world above the pleasure it feels munching grass. I may talk more about this later.


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