Source: Pensata Animal
Date: 25 October 2009

David Pearce

Original em inglês


PA : People who advocate the use of animals often argue that "in the nature, animals eat each other," using this "natural order" to justify acts of domination of humans over nonhuman animals. Animal advocates, in turn, often answer that, because we have the capacity for moral agency (the non-human animals presumably do not), this gives us an obligation that is not generated for them. This response is enough to put the ground that argument. However, ending the discussion with this answer avoid the debate on the problem of suffering and death caused by the existence of predation in the world. In your view, there would be a duty to inquire ways to alleviate this suffering, even though it was not caused actively (but passively) by us, and even if predators do not have guilt for what they do, similar to the duty we assume when we intervene on actions of other amoral beings, as very young children? Or the limit of animal ethics should be the abolition of the evils caused actively by humans?

DP : Yes, some animals prey on other animals. But the fact that there is a great deal of suffering in the living world doesn't morally entitle us to add to it. Consequently, we shouldn't factory-farm other sentient beings, or hunt them for fun, or painfully experiment on them. However, I'd argue that our obligation to our fellow creatures goes further. Until recently, the systematic redesign of ecosystems was humanly impossible. The cruelties of Nature were simply a fact of life. This is no longer the case. Increasingly, advances in biotechnology mean we can choose what life-forms - and what kinds of sentience - we want to exist in the world. For a start, recall how habitat-destruction means that later this century "wildlife" isn't going to exist in terrestrial ecosystems outside our so-called wildlife parks. Do we really want other sentient beings to be disemboweled, strangled or eaten alive within them? After all, we do our best to deter human predators. They cause immense suffering to innocent and vulnerable members of our own species. So why should we promote and "conserve" non-human predators? They cause immense suffering too. Yes, some carnivorous predators are beautiful. But why aestheticise serial killers? Confining our compassion solely to victims of the evils caused by members of our own species reflects our anthropocentric bias. Such bias is understandable. But it's irrational. In the long run, I predict that the spectacle of violent death in Nature will go the way of the Coliseum.

PA : What is your position on the issue and your arguments to support it?

DP: Many city-dwellers have a romanticized conception of the living world. From another perspective, some "conservation biologists" favour e.g. "Pleistocene rewilding" [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pleistocene_Rewilding] By contrast, I think any truly compassionate person should be horrified at the terrible suffering of Nature "red in tooth and claw". Why not aim for a cruelty-free world instead? [http://www.abolitionist.com/reprogramming/portugues/]

This is no longer just a pious wish. If we're morally serious about getting rid of suffering, then I think we need to do two things. The first is to abolish the horrors of factory farming and make the transition to global veganism. Sadly, moral argument alone is useless against the morally apathetic. So any such world-wide switch to cruelty-free diet will probably depend on the availability of mass-produced cultured meat later this century. [ http://www.new-harvest.org/ ] But global veganism is not enough. "Liberating" animals just means they will die of hunger, thirst or predation in the wild. Instead, I argue that we should aim at a cross-species analogue of the welfare state.

This conclusion sounds crazy to most people. But if one is a classical utilitarian or a scientifically literate Buddhist, for example, the case for using biotechnology to abolish suffering is compelling as soon as the technology matures. Likewise, if one believes in an "all-merciful" Christian or Islamic God, then are we to believe that such an all-merciful God could be more narrow in the scope and depth of His compassion than any mortal human? Admittedly, it's harder to argue with a moral subjectivist. The moral subjectivist claims that all value judgments are subjective and are therefore neither true nor false. I'd respond simply that pigs, for example, are at once functionally, intellectually and emotionally equivalent to toddlers of our own species. Animal abuse is neither more nor less immoral than child abuse. The distinction between them is morally arbitrary.

PA : Your position on this particular issue has changed over time? If yes, what arguments make you change?

DP: From a young age, I've viewed the animals we abuse and kill as akin - functionally, intellectually and emotionally - to small children. Small children are vulnerable. Typically, they don't need "liberating". Infants and toddlers in particular need looking after. The problem - when I was a teenager - was that most of interventions I could think of to alleviate wild animal suffering might easily make things worse in the long run. Thus if we sought to rescue herbivores, then obligate carnivores (and their young) would starve. If we were to phase out carnivorous predators altogether, then there would a population explosion of "prey" species. Lots of herbivores would then starve too. The food chain seemed an inexorable fact of the world - a fact as immutable as, say, the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Only after reading Eric Drexler's classic "Engines of Creation: The Coming Era of Nanotechnology" did I gradually come to realize that there were technical solutions to all these problems - notably in vitro meat, immunocontraception, neurochips to modulate behaviour, nanobots to manage marine ecosystems, and ultimately rewriting the vertebrate genome.

Yes, there are lots of technical challenges that I'm glossing over here. But if we decide we want a cruelty-free world, it's scientically feasible.

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David Pearce
dave@knightsbridge.net Este endereço de e-mail está protegido contra spambots. Você deve habilitar o JavaScript para visualizá-lo.

David Pearce é um filósofo britânico da escola de ética do utilitarismo negativo. Ele acredita e promove a idéia de que existe um forte imperativo ético para humanos trabalharem voltados para a abolição do sofrimento em toda vida senciente. Seu livro manifesto na Internet O Imperativo Hedonistico detalha como ele acredita que a supressão do sofrimento pode ser realizada através da “engenharia de paraíso”. Um transhumanista e vegano, Pearce também clama pela eliminação da crueldade contra animais. Entre os seus sites, há muitos dedicados ao dilema dos animais.

No Imperativo Hedonístico, Pearce descreve de que forma tecnologias como engenharia genética, nanotecnologia, farmacologia e neurocirurgia poderiam potencialmente convergir para eliminar todas as formas de experiências desagradáveis na vida humana e produzir uma civilização pós-humana.

Pearce é dono de nomes de domínio em grande número na área de termos científicos, especialmente aquelas relativas à psicofarmacologia e palavras-chave em matéria de drogas e vários termos relacionados a eles. Esses sites postam conteúdo original.

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Pensata Animal nº 28 - Outubro de 2009 - www.pensataanimal.net

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DP Interview
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DP plus NB Interview
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AS Society Interview
(AS, Jan. 2008)

Utopian Biology?
(Nanoaging, Dec. 2005)

DP Drug Regimen
[August 2005]

The End of Suffering?
[Philosophy Now, July-August 2006]

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