Wild Animal Suffering is Intractable

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 31 (2):239-260 (2018)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

Most people believe that suffering is intrinsically bad. In conjunction with facts about our world and plausible moral principles, this yields a pro tanto obligation to reduce suffering. This is the intuitive starting point for the moral argument in favor of interventions to prevent wild animal suffering. If we accept the moral principle that we ought, pro tanto, to reduce the suffering of all sentient creatures, and we recognize the prevalence of suffering in the wild, then we seem committed to the existence of such a pro tanto obligation. Of course, competing values such as the aesthetic, scientific or moral values of species, biodiversity, naturalness or wildness, might be relevant to the all-things-considered case for or against intervention. Still, many argue that, even if we were to give some weight to such values, no plausible theory could resist the conclusion that WAS is overridingly important. This article is concerned with large-scale interventions to prevent WAS and their tractability and the deep epistemic problem they raise. We concede that suffering gives us a reason to prevent it where it occurs, but we argue that the nature of ecosystems leaves us with no reason to predict that interventions would reduce, rather than exacerbate, suffering. We consider two interventions, based on gene editing technology, proposed as holding promise to prevent WAS; raise epistemic concerns about them; discuss their potential moral costs; and conclude by proposing a way forward: to justify interventions to prevent WAS, we need to develop models that predict the effects of interventions on biodiversity, ecosystem functioning, and animals’ well-being.

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 91,271

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Harm in the Wild: Facing Non-Human Suffering in Nature. [REVIEW]Beril İdemen Sözmen - 2013 - Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 16 (5):1075-1088.
Animal Suffering: An Evolutionary Approach.Gill Aitken - 2008 - Environmental Values 17 (2):165-180.
Suffering and moral responsibility.Jamie Mayerfeld - 1999 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
The wild animal as a research animal.Jac A. A. Swart - 2004 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 17 (2):181-197.
What (If Anything) Do We Owe Wild Animals?Clare A. Palmer - 2013 - Between the Species 16 (1):4.
Animal Welfare at Home and in the Wild.Kyle Johannsen - 2016 - Animal Sentience 1 (7/10).
Animal Suffering: Philosophy and Culture.Elisa Aaltola - 2012 - Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave-Macmillan.
The problem of evil and the suffering of creeping things.Dustin Crummett - 2017 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 82 (1):71-88.
Eating animals and the moral value of non-human suffering.Salim Hirèche & Sandra Villata - 2013 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 88 (1):247-256.

Analytics

Added to PP
2018-02-13

Downloads
207 (#93,280)

6 months
28 (#105,918)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author Profiles

Nicolas Delon
College of Charleston
Duncan Purves
University of Florida

Citations of this work

Positive Wild Animal Welfare.Heather Browning & Walter Veit - 2023 - Biology and Philosophy 38 (2):1-19.
Sentientist Politics: A Theory of Global Inter-Species Justice.Alasdair Cochrane - 2018 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Consequentialism and Nonhuman Animals.Tyler John & Jeff Sebo - 2020 - In Douglas W. Portmore (ed.), Oxford Handbook of Consequentialism. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 564-591.
Painlessly Killing Predators.Ben Bramble - 2020 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 38 (2):217-225.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Animal Liberation.Peter Singer (ed.) - 1977 - Avon Books.
Transformative Experience.Laurie Ann Paul - 2014 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.

View all 41 references / Add more references