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Animals Without Pain, Humans Without Conscience?

February 19, 2010

It’s an idea that we saw and heard floated last year: animals “engineered” not to feel pain. And yesterday, Adam Shriver of Washington University, of my own city of St. Louis, explored in the New York Times his solution to the physical suffering we impose on farmed animals; he plainly states that we are “stuck with factory farms, given that they produce most of the beef and pork Americans consume,” and thus, his solution is apparently some kind of necessary, moral, noble one (and for this article, my hat tips once again to my expert link-providing friend on Twitter).

I’m left wondering whether they teach critical thinking in that doctoral “philosophy-neuroscience-psychology” program in which Mr. Shriver is enrolled, while hoping that people in the general public see the wrongness of this and stop to consider whether, if this is where we’ve finally arrived, they’re really willing to go this far to continue doing something that already contradicts the values that most hold deep down.

First, let’s just look at what Shriver and those in his camp are advocating — that we damage animals’ brains, so that we can damage the rest of their bodies with less guilt, so that we can continue treating them like inanimate objects rather than, oh, I don’t know, rethink what despicable things we’re doing in the first place. The idea that the solution to treating them as objects is to treat them even more like objects (and experiment on who-knows-how-many animals to achieve this non-solution) boggles the mind.

When Shriver published these thoughts in Neuroethics last year, Marji responded at the Animal Place blog, and Philosophia and Animal Liberation crafted a thoughtful response as well, so I recommend visits there. [Edit: Unbeknownst to either one of us, Mary and I were writing on this topic at the same time this morning; check out her post at Animal Person as well.] Both are smart, thoughtful posts with excellent points about what eliminating animals’ ability to sense their own pain would do and not do, including in the “not” column eliminate their ability to suffer in general. We human animals know well that some of the worst suffering we experience can sometimes be not related to physical injury and pain at all — and we human animals know well that a great deal of the suffering we impose on our fellow animals is also outside the realm of physical pain. Oh yes, the physical pain we cause them is massive, but the mental and emotional anguish we cause? Equally unimaginable. And were we to suddenly not have to worry (as if our society worries so much now) about their feeling the physical pain we’re causing them, I suspect the ways in which we cause them concurrent mental and emotional distress would only increase.

But put aside the discussion of what this horrid practice would and would not entail, and the very premise of Shriver’s argument is incredible. Self-serving and dishonest, it relies on an outright lie: that “we cannot avoid factory farms altogether.” I want to ask Mr. Shriver, “Are you serious?” But clearly he is. He’s been pushing this for a while. Yet surely someone who’s smart enough to work his way into a doctoral program knows that not only can we “avoid factory farms”; we can avoid animal farming altogether. We are not required as a society or as individuals to keep eating animals. And one of the remarkable aspects of Mr. Shriver’s so-called solution, among all the many proposals and justifications offered by people who want to continue eating animals, is that most other people at least pretend to care enough to call for a reduction in the consumption of animals. But Shriver is so ultimately uncritical of what humans are doing and so unwilling to suggest that we just take responsibility and live ethically that he’d rather insist, boldly and with utter dishonesty, that not only the eating of animals but even the intensive farming of animals is impossible to stop, and we should just embrace it and go to extraordinary scientific lengths to make sure we can keep doing it.

Apparently, the vastly simpler, kinder, more logical, and more economical solution — that if we want to be kinder to animals and not impose suffering on them, we stop eating them – is just too simple. It’s not the kind of simple solution that propels you into journals and the New York Times or that creates opportunities for loads of research money to come your way, I guess.

“The least we can do,” Shriver says, “is eliminate the unpleasantness of pain in the animals that must live and die on [farms]. It would be far better than doing nothing at all.” Talk about a false dichotomy. Our options are not limited to “change nothing; continue on the current path” and “cause brain damage to every one of the tens of billions of farmed animals in the nation.” The least we can do, Mr. Shriver, is first acknowledge that there is no “must” here and then behave as if we have a conscience and not cause them the “unpleasantness of pain” in the first place. The least we can do, if we believe in nonviolence and not killing and causing suffering for nothing more than our own pleasure, is not eat animals or what comes from them, not turn them into units of production, in the first place.

Shriver assures readers that “the people who consumed meat [and dairy and eggs, I presume?] from such genetically engineered livestock would also be safe.” Maybe their physical bodies would be safe. But moral integrity would have no chance of coming out of such a “solution” intact.

I refuse to believe that this is what we’ve come to, that we are so selfish a society that when faced with the horrors, crises, and injustices of our own making, we would devote ourselves to finding out how we can continue rather than how we can stop — that we would do this, that we would go this far, before simply living our values, before making a far more logical change. Animal agriculture is unsustainable (a problem not addressed at all by Shriver’s plan) and cruel and unjust. But we don’t need nauseating, elaborate schemes such as Shriver’s so that we can continue it. We just need to stop it.


Photo by Elias Bröms retrieved from Wikimedia Commons

27 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2010 9:04 am

    I don’t know if I wrote this in my old response but it’s also funny to me that he is proposing factory farming must stay due to affordability and production levels, when the only way to accurately perform lesions like this in the brain (assuming- wrongly- that they would actually meet his goals) would be to do open head surgeries on other animals- which would cost load of money. This idea is just so ass-backwards I am surprised and embarrassed it is being called science.

    • February 20, 2010 12:18 am

      Read the op-ed again–he’s proposing genetic engineering, not surgery.

      • February 20, 2010 12:09 pm

        Yes but the research that will go into creating such engineering costs billions.

  2. Lauren permalink
    February 19, 2010 9:09 am

    Even if I agreed with Shriver (and I don’t) and were of “meat-eating stock” (which I am not), suppose they actually did this. If animals cannot feel pain, how would anyone know when they were sick? If they can’t feel it, I seriously doubt they would manifest any outward signs of illness, thus further threatening other creatures and the already fragile ecosystem in which they live. Beyond the terrible moral ramifications, it seems a completely impractical method of ensuring guilt-free meat eating.

    I wish, instead, of this, Shriver would work on installing stronger empathetic nodes in the brain so that humans can actually feel what other animals must endure, rather than postulate how to remove guilt.

  3. February 19, 2010 10:27 am

    Shriver isn’t suggesting anything new that hasn’t been discussed about “zombie livestock” for a long time within the meat industry. Even before these neuroscience-related alterations were being considered, lesser mad scientists were suggesting modifying the bodies of animals to evade “humane” regulations. For instance, if there’s a new law about tail docking, then breed sheep to have smaller tails or no tails. That little example comes straight out of the USDA’s own records. This is yet another reason that so-called “compassionate animal standards” is a dead-end. Change the laws, and the meat industry just changes the animals.

    It is incredible how terrified humans are of change and will do anything to cling to what’s familiar. But as usual this is really about money, as suggested in Mary’s post and the post at Philosophia and Animal Liberation. The pseudo-science of vivisection continues for only one reason: it’s a trillion dollar mega-industry when you count everyone who’s involved, from the “researchers” on down to the cage and lab animal food manufacturers. Folks who stand with Shriver on this issue can make tremendous profits. Spend countless years “researching” and when that fails, come up with more excuses and methods to further exploit the animals.

    Even if the technology was possible, do we as a species really want to do this? Obviously, the lives of the animals are at stake but so is our human compassion.

    Never does Shriver once question what gives humans the right to do what he proposes. If this wasn’t about nonhuman animals, we know none of these demented discussions would even be taking place—at least not publicly.

  4. February 19, 2010 11:45 am

    Very nice post, Stephanie. But Mr. Shriver is NOT “lying.” He is making a pessimistic judgement, and he no doubt believes he is being realistic. He MAY even be right. We might not be able to eliminate factory farming. The obstacles are enormous. But we shall keep fighting the good fight, and not settle.

    • February 19, 2010 12:22 pm

      I disagree. I realize that “lie” is a strong word, but when I referred to lies and dishonesty, I was referring to, for example, his bold, preposterous remark that “we cannot avoid factory farms altogether,” and thus our only option apparently, except “do nothing,” is to implement his grotesque plan. We are not “stuck” with the way things are. We can avoid animal ag in general as well as “factory farming.” We can individually, and we can as a society. Individuals may choose not to, and society may choose not to. But “cannot” is crap.

  5. Marji permalink
    February 19, 2010 1:11 pm

    I’m so tired of people thinking pain is the gold-marker of suffering. That’s so old school! Our welfare is so more than the mere sum of our pain sensors.

    And, the absence of pain would not excuse the egregiously inhumane treatment inflicted upon nonhumans and humans alike.

  6. February 20, 2010 3:58 am

    It’s a wiser option to recreate an animal than to stop eating her?
    We humans are an absurd creature. We need to drop the “great” from our ape description and add defective.

    Thanks Stephanie!

  7. February 20, 2010 9:26 am

    Adam Shriver responded to my post and I welcome anyone so inclined to come on over and respond to him. He doesn’t say anything surprising, but here it is . . .
    http://www.animalperson.net/animal_person/2010/02/on-knockout-animals.html

    • February 20, 2010 9:30 am

      Interesting. I wonder if he’s planning on coming over here too. He saw a link to my post on Facebook, and we had an exchange of Facebook comments there.

  8. Adam Shriver permalink
    February 20, 2010 11:05 am

    Despite the hostility directed at me in this post, I think it raises some interesting points. Here are a few responses:

    1) First, I do have to say that I think the personalized nature of some of this article really detracts from your writing. Not because I think personal attacks are always wrong or because my feelings are hurt, but because you really know very little about me and ignore things I’ve written in the past. Claiming that someone lacks critical thinking because they’re “unaware” of some point, when in fact they specifically acknowledge that point in previously published work, is a pretty big mistake, at least for anyone interested in a meaningful discussion. You are much too intelligent and caring of a person to fall into those kinds of mistakes.

    2) A little context: I’m a vegan and have been vegetarian since the age of five. I’m volunteering on the Missouri ballot initiative to end puppy mill cruelty. My first published paper argued that we have a moral obligation to get rid of factory farming, a position I still agree with (see below). I say this only to point out that any suggestion that I wrote this article as a way to “get myself off the hook” or “justify bad behavior” is completely off base. I am simply someone coming at this from a utilitarian (right actions are those that maximize the well-being for the greatest number) sentientist (all and only sentient beings have intrinsic moral worth) perspective. This is the same basic moral framework of Peter Singer, and you can hear thoughts on the proposal here: http://soundofscience.wordpress.com/2010/01/12/we-will-be-back-as-usual-on-15th-january-2010/ .

    3) You write: “we human animals know well that a great deal of the suffering we impose on our fellow animals is also outside the realm of physical pain.” This is explicitly acknowledged in the original Neuroethics article (which you indicate you are aware of). I wrote: “The anterior cingulate is involved in a wide range of experiences associated with suffering, implicated in everything from social pain to anxiety to depression. If the activity diminished by the gene knockouts turns out to be activity that covers a wide range of things that might be described as ‘suffering,’ then the possibility of additional modifications causing more suffering will be greatly reduced.” Furthermore, since there are all kinds of knockouts of negative emotional states that have already been done, there is no in principle reason to suppose that similar knockouts couldn’t be done if in fact the ACC does underly other forms of suffering.

    4) You write that I believe that “factory farming is impossible to stop.” It’s true that the NYT article states, “We are most likely stuck with factory farms.” As you might imagine, quite a bit of content is lost when you try to condense an academic paper into a short op-ed piece. When I specifically mean, and what I think is undeniably true, is that we are stuck with factory farms in the near future. However, if you bothered to read the Neuroethics paper, you would see that I’m not proposing this as an alternative to becoming vegetarian or fighting for the elimination of factory farms. A couple quotes from that paper: “Given that the animal liberation movement’s growth has failed to outpace increases in human population and per capita meat consumption, those who are concerned with the reduction of unnecessary suffering of animals may need to consider additional approaches.” Notice that I said *additional* rather than *alternative*. Later: “My argument is not an argument against vegetarianism; it simply an argument that if we are going to eat meat from factory farms, the animals that provide the meat should be engineered to have a reduced capacity to suffer.” So you are misrepresenting my view when you suggest that I’m somehow implying that we should just give up on the goal of eliminating factory farming.

    5) Finally, the following is what I think is really at the heart of our disagreement. Please forgive me for using part of a comment that I posted on Mary’s blog, but I think the comment is still applicable here: “I start from the assumption that whether or not people will be willing to change their eating patterns is, at least in part, an empirical question. Your position seems to be that it is a moral choice and everyone can make the right choice and therefore we should focus entirely on convincing people to make the right choice. Thinking that there’s some fact of the matter as to how everyone will act and thinking that it’s a personal choice for everyone are, of course, two different ways of looking at the same issue.

    I should start by saying that I completely agree that it’s a personal decision and that we all should be encouraging others to stop eating meat and especially to stop supporting the factory farming industry. Nothing in my proposal bars us from doing that. However, as I think anyone who has been involved in a campaign with a goal of actually winning reform rather than just being right knows, there has to be some sort of realistic assessment of where people are at and how likely they will be to support your position. You start from how the world is, not from how you want it to be, as the famous expression goes. If you’re trying to pass healthcare reform, you can’t just say I’m only going to advocate for a universal single-payer system and will refuse to compromise to get lesser reforms that save people’s lives because that’s the right thing to do and anyone who opposes it is wrong. If you’re trying to decide whether to run a congressional campaign, you can’t just say, “well this is the candidate that all good people will vote for so obviously she will win.” You have to take into account facts about the population. So, sadly from my perspective, the reality is that per capita meat consumption has actually increased in the U.S. over the past 30 years. Likewise, China’s meat consumption is increasing at a rapid rate. I hope we can eventually get rid of factory farming, but there is no realistic possibility that we will get rid of it in the near future. So, given that we’re not going to get rid of it in the near future, is it really fair to cause billions of animals to suffer while we’re waiting (or, better, working towards) for a more ideal solution that may or may not ever actually happen? My answer is no, it’s not fair; we should eliminate unnecessary suffering wherever possible. But even if we do genetically engineer animals who don’t suffer, there’ no reason to stop advocating for the elimination of factory farms altogether.”

    I think I’ll leave it at that for now. I don’t expect that you will suddenly agree with me, but I know you are intelligent enough to take this nuance into account in your future discussions.

    • February 20, 2010 11:12 am

      Adam, an hour or so before you submitted this comment, I commented twice on Mary’s post. And I apologized for the angry tone I took and explored that a bit. I guess I’ll paste my comments from there here too, to keep this fluid:

      First comment:

      I’m holding to the same position I stated when we had our exchange on Facebook after you saw my own post and the comments there responding to your editorial, Adam. Your proposal has the effect of helping humans eat animals far more than it has the potential to truly help animals. And I’m disturbed that anyone who considers himself an advocate for animals thinks this is the best use of his (and our) resources –time, money, and so on. Quotations such as this from you in the media speak volumes: “I’m offering a solution where you could still eat meat but avoid animal suffering.” The goal and end result of a plan such as yours is not to end the myriad forms of animal suffering and the injustices of animal agriculture, but to reinforce them and appease people’s guilt.

      And I find myself not entirely understanding your reasoning in point 3 [see the comments on Mary's post]. Your proposal “allows [people] to consider the suffering caused without directly feeling like their eating habits are being challenged” because they *aren’t* being challenged. You just told people that the way things are is the way they’re going to stay, and all they have to do is get behind this disturbing plan to genetically mess with the animals, so that people can continue doing what they’re doing. If you truly believe in advocating that people stop eating animals, and you find yourself with a mainstream NYT platform, why not *say* that in your editorial, briefly at the very least, rather than only claim that we have to just accept “factory farming” and that this engineer-the-animals idea is the best solution? Your approach seems completely backward to me. It doesn’t provide a way for people to start examing their eating of animals. It provides them hope for another way to justify it.

      And you’re also throwing your support to experimentation on lab-confined animals with this obscene proposal. But hey, institutions such as Wash U and their researchers stand to gain a whole lot financially from this idea, so screw the caged animals who have to suffer and die so that we can further justify eating other animals?

      Second comment:
      @Adam, also:

      I feel like maybe I owe apologies for some of my tone here and in my own post. Sometimes I write well while angry. And sometimes I write, well, too angrily while angry. And I recognize that had I known you were a vegan yourself, I probably would have taken a different approach/tone, but that’s another thing that troubles me: your NYT op-ed didn’t come across at all as from a vegan animal advocate, as from someone who wants to encourage people to stop eating animals; it came across as from someone within the system who more or less accepts the system and merely wants to modify it so that it can continue. I actually find myself more horrified by the piece now that I know a vegan wrote it. With remarks such as others I’ve previously quoted here and elsewhere and this one — “The people who consumed meat from such genetically engineered livestock would also be safe” — you’re really not encouraging people to stop eating animals, at all. You’re just encouraging them to support this plan to *maintain* the system with some adjustments. And I find this so very disturbing. And I find your reasoning for it defeatist; I’m not a fan of self-fulfilling prophecies.

      • Adam Shriver permalink
        February 20, 2010 11:34 am

        Thanks Stephanie, sorry I didn’t see your comments over there earlier. I appreciate the advocacy you’re doing, and knew that the comments were coming from good intentions (after all, sometimes righteous anger is completely justified).

        In regards to your pasted comments above, I see your point. Please understand, particularly with the quote “I’m offering a solution where you could still eat meat but avoid animal suffering.” (from New Scientist magazine) that journalists often have their own slant on what they’re trying to convey. They generally don’t have space for nuance, and so try to boil down issues to the thing that they think will be most interesting to their readers. Likewise, editors (such as at the NYT) generally try to cut out the nuance (statements like, “of course, the best solution is to eliminate factory farming entirely) because of space constraints. Now, this might be a bit of a cop-out on my part, because I suppose I could have stomped my foot and refused the edits, but I really do believe that this is a good way to get people to start thinking about the suffering caused in factory farms. If you hear any of my radio interviews, you’ll see that I’m quite explicit about the fact that I think we should get rid of factory farming. In fact, in my opinion, an interviewer at BBC radio cut me off early in an interview because I was saying so much about all of the problems with factory farming. So anyway, I take your point, but hope you will understand where I’m coming from.

      • February 20, 2010 1:11 pm

        Thanks for continuing the discussion, Adam. I do understand what happens in the editorial departments of publications, and I understand that what a writer can or can’t tolerate having cut has to be her or his own decision. Indeed, I’m painfully and personally familiar with what happens when what you want to write and what someone wants to publish contradict. I personally would have gone a different direction if they did cut some anti-animal ag material, but of course, I personally would have written an entirely different editorial too.

        But I continue to be bothered by your seemingly exclusive focus on “factory farming” anyway; I have a feeling that you were writing this preceding comment at the same time I was writing my next, separate comment in which I briefly addressed that [edit: which now appears below this one]. Even if your concern is only suffering and pain and not exploitation and slaughter generally, “factory farms” are not the problem; there is plenty of suffering and pain in/on farms not considered industrial too.

    • February 20, 2010 11:23 am

      And in new response to your point 1 above, I’ll agree that, yes, I was perhaps too hostile, but the vast majority of people reading your op-ed would have known “very little about [you].” And that relates to what I said in the preceding comments that I previously posted over at Mary’s place. It wasn’t a piece published in the context of your being an animal advocate, and I didn’t see much real animal advocacy in it. And I don’t understand that strategy (in this case or in many others) of withholding what we really believe and hope for for the sake of seeming “mainstream” or not wanting to detract from a current argument, an argument for what in reality would be a win not for animals’ interests, but for humans’.

      I have to run, so I’ll not say more right at this moment beyond that, yes, I think we fundamentally disagree on many issues. I do understand that you’re coming from a Singer/utilitarian POV. And that’s a POV I consider deeply flawed. As for your repeated focus on “factory farming,” rather than get into all my thoughts on that here, I’ll just link to something else I wrote on that recently: http://challengeoppression.com/2010/01/14/stop-the-fight-against-factory-farming-save-the-animal-rights-movement/

  9. February 20, 2010 11:48 am

    Mr Shriver:

    Please hop over to Mary’s site to see my response to your proposal. Though seeing that you agree with Peter Singer’s ideology makes me realize we are both coming from very different perspectives, I’m still opposed to your proposal–which to me reeks of the idea of submission to a “necessary lesser evil.” Whether you’re vegan or not is irrelevant to the proposal itself. Except perhaps that it muddies up the waters when you say you are an animal advocate. I think an animal advocate is any individual seeking justice for the animals. In other words, working *only* on behalf of the animals. I’m not being idealistic but only using common sense. I don’t see how anyone can truly advocate for the animals as long as they continue to rationalize “less murder or less torture” is okay in certain circumstances.

    It’s unfortunate that a vegan has used critical thinking to design such a proposal to help justify exploitation rather than to take a strong stand against exploitation.

    • Adam Shriver permalink
      February 20, 2010 1:51 pm

      MJ, I’ve responded over there.

  10. February 20, 2010 1:39 pm

    Mr. Shriver,

    It must be “utilitarian sentientist” premises that accounts for the inherent contradiction in performing painful biomedical experiments on one set of animals OUT OF A CONCERN for the suffering experienced by another set of animals. It would be blatantly speciesist if Mr. Shriver didn’t reason similarly in the case of human animals.

    This statement is logically problematic: “Thinking that there’s some fact of the matter as to how everyone will act…” It assumes the answer to the question, “How will people act?,” by reasoning from the contextual framework that would NECESSARILY have to change for Mr. Shriver’s proposal to be adopted, or given serious consideration.

    One might ask: Why would we care about the “pain-less” option given that the “fact of the matter” is that we DO NOT? If Mr. Shriver assumes that people would choose otherwise and advocate painlessness then it seems equally reasonable that those same people would accept the logical conclusion that any suffering we cause animals for the purpose of eating them is by definition unnecessary (or outweighs the “benefit” in utilitarian logic) and should be ended.

  11. veganprimate permalink
    February 21, 2010 10:25 am

    Engineering animals so that they don’t feel pain isn’t going to solve all the problems of factory farming. FF’s are wrecking the environment. They might be efficient and cheap, but they are costing us a lot. They are making our air and water toxic, and they are making our souls toxic.

  12. February 21, 2010 1:25 pm

    This might be a simple solution! Why don’t we genetically modify humans so we don’t feel empathy? Sounds reasonable enough. This way we can continue to abuse any and all who are weaker than us without a single bit of remorse.

    Sorry for the sarcasm… It’s just that I don’t believe in using any animal for any purpose under any “conditions”. Guess I’m just a party pooper. :(

  13. ethix view permalink
    February 22, 2010 12:21 am

    Adam Shriver,

    In your original article “Knocking Out Pain in Livestock: Can Technology Succeed where Morality has Stalled?” http://www.abolitionist.com/reprogramming/pain-reduction.pdf, you assert that the merit of your argument for the genetic modification of farm animals hinges on the premises that it will produce a world with better consequences *and* that it will not introduce new “wrongs” into the world. I think that you fail on both counts.

    Your utilitarian/welfare argument, while championing the removal of affective pain, conveniently ignores all other consequences that result from breeding and slaughtering billions of sentient nonhumans for human pleasure, profit, or benefit. Your proposal, most certainly, introduces new wrongs in that more nonhuman animals will be bred, created, harmed, tortured, and killed in laboratories before genetic modification would be ultimately applied to farm animals. How can that possibly be seen as producing “better consequences”? For whom?

    If, as you state, we ought to give equal moral weight to the interests of all affected by an action, how do you defend the fact that it is nonhumans, who cannot protest or give consent, who will continue to be harmed? How can you advance as true the premise that the interest in eliminating affective pain is more important to farm animals than the interest in continuing to live? Why is there no consideration given to options that modify humans? Equal moral consideration does not seem to be so equal after all.

    In an interview with David Silverberg (Digital Journal, September 2009), when asked about the lack of general support for knocking out pain receptors in nonhuman animals, you responded: “there’s a lot of room for people’s opinions to change”. I am confused. You assert in your article that factory farms are here to stay because not enough people are willing to change their eating habits. Why is there room for people’s opinions to change when it comes to your proposal, but not when it comes to raising people’s awareness about the injustice done to nonhuman animals and changing opinions about killing other sentient beings for their flesh?

    It is nonsense to assert, as you have in your posts, that your proposal to eliminate affective pain in farm animals does not preclude parallel advocacy to stop factory farms. It is ill logic indeed to state that it would be better if we did not farm animals intensively, but then go on to develop a proposal that will absorb huge resources to genetically modify sentient beings, so that we can continue farming them intensively. If successful in knocking out pain receptors in nonhuman animals, will the next project seek to remove terror and fear by knocking out the receptors in their amygdalae? Will you promote the piece-by-piece elimination of the uniqueness that makes up who cows and pigs are until they are reduced to flesh and secretion machines?

    Your proposal to genetically modify nonhuman animals in intensive factory farms, to do so in a way, so as not to impose “too much of a burden on people’s lives”, and your support for Missouri’s “Puppy Mill Cruelty Prevention Act”, which does nothing to protect dogs, but serves to legitimize and perpetuate the existence of puppy mills (intensive factory farms for dogs), make it clear that the exploitation of animals, in and of itself, is acceptable to you. It’s just that we should do it in a way that makes us feel less guilty.

    Your argument is filled with contradictory and disingenuous statements. It is untenable; but the fact that you even attempt to defend as ethical the use of nonhuman animals as tools for human pleasure is frightening.

  14. February 22, 2010 12:17 pm

    Speciesism is the same underlying irrational prejudice as racism, sexism, and heterosexism, each in a superficially different form. The irrational prejudice is favoring morally irrelevant characteristics over morally relevant characteristics in deciding whether or not to respect another sentient being’s important interests.

    While animals-as-food makes up over 97% in number of nonhuman animals exploited, it is still merely a symptom of the disease of speciesism.

    I find Adam Shriver’s article and general approach to be speciesist. Alas, I expect such an article and approach in such a deeply speciesist society, but I don’t expect such an article to come from someone who self-identifies as a vegan. (Albeit, I very likely have a more restricted definition than Adam of what a vegan is.)

    We ought to educate others about what speciesism is and why it is wrong; not nurture speciesism by assuming that animal exploitation is an “empirical given”. If we would speak out strongly against creating “knockout humans” who enjoyed various forms of exploitation and pain, we ought to speak out strongly when the same is done to nonhumans. Anything else is speciesist.

  15. Lexi permalink
    May 13, 2010 11:40 am

    Can this help me with how different are we from caged animals????im really trapped:(

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  1. Weekly Round up, Feb. 21st, 2010 « The Inhumanities
  2. Burying Factory Farms with Faint Praise? « Animal Blawg
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