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Severinian

The value of preventing others' suffering

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In this podcast, Peikoff says that animals in slaughterhouse should be treated as humane as is economically viable:

 

Doesn't this imply that it's irrational to care about the suffering of others, unless preventing it is a means to another end? (A premise I don't agree with) What if it's more economically feasible to slaughter them in painful ways, but you don't want to inflict such suffering on others, so you're willing to go home with a slightly lower paycheck? I don't see anything irrational about that. 

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The thinking here seems to be that money is the only rational motivator and that a rational actor would consider this and nothing else. This looks like a good case where this would not be true. Being kind to animals is also a motive.

The question would rarely come up anyway; gratuitously painful slaughtering methods would probably not be economically prudent. On the other hand, people hold snails to starve in order to empty out their digestive tracts. The Japanese (I've read) appreciate sashimi from fish butchered live at the table; feeling the reflexive death twitches on the tongue is part of the experience.

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That's about the suffering of animals, not just "others". Since that statement is about killing animals for some end, such as medical research, or food, or anything really, the only issue is economic viability. Their suffering would be not ever be of equal worth to human suffering. Animals have no rights, or and no inherent moral status, at least not more than an autonomous car. For sure, pets and wild animals may be worth different treatment than animals you plan to eat.

I like animals in general and I enjoy treating them well, but that doesn't change my answer.

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11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

That's about the suffering of animals, not just "others". Since that statement is about killing animals for some end, such as medical research, or food, or anything really, the only issue is economic viability. Their suffering would be not ever be of equal worth to human suffering. Animals have no rights, or and no inherent moral status, at least not more than an autonomous car. For sure, pets and wild animals may be worth different treatment than animals you plan to eat.

I agree that animals have no rights and no inherent moral status. Also that an animal's suffering is not of equal worth to a human's suffering. But that does not mean that, in the treatment of animals, "the only issue is economic viability."

You yourself make the case here:

11 hours ago, Eiuol said:

I like animals in general and I enjoy treating them well, but that doesn't change my answer.

It should change your answer. If you like animals in general and enjoy treating them well, then your enjoyment of treating them well is another issue to take into account when deciding on how you're going to treat them. Not simply how much money you'll make based on your treatment of them.

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45 minutes ago, DonAthos said:

It should change your answer. If you like animals in general and enjoy treating them well, then your enjoyment of treating them well is another issue to take into account when deciding on how you're going to treat them. Not simply how much money you'll make based on your treatment of them.

The main idea is that if an animal is used for an instrumental end, animal suffering should be disregarded. Instrumental here means for particular needs like food. Since morality is for human purposes, considering what to do when deciding how to use animals shouldn't include their suffering. Regarding food, there is no rational consideration other than economic viability, and taste (chickens raised in obscenely crowded environments won't taste as good). Pets and wild animals aren't used for instrumental ends, rather, they serve a spiritual end of comfort or perhaps curiosity.

On a wider note, one shouldn't make decisions by taking into account suffering. What counts is flourishing as determined by what humans need by nature.

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