Suffering and Meaning in the Lives of Wild Animals

Midwest Studies in Philosophy 46:355-371 (2022)
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This article advances some considerations that undermine the overall justification for what I call “beneficent interventions,” or interventions aimed at reducing the suffering of wild animals. I first appeal to Susan Wolf’s (2010) account of meaning in life to argue that wild animals can and do have meaning in their lives. I then argue that the meaning in animal lives can offset their suffering, making their lives more worth living. This source of positive value in the lives of wild animals undermines some of the justification for those beneficent interventions that aim to reduce wild animal suffering by reducing the numbers of wild animals who either suffer or inflict suffering upon others.

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Molly Gardner
University of Florida

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