Palmer, Ch 8: Puzzling Through Some Cases, &
1. CHAPTER EXPLORES CASES WHERE
a. Assistance is morally required
i. Polar bear
ii. Anthropogenic wild elk disease
iii. Squirrel (2) hit by a car
iv. Blue tit chick from cat
b. Assistance is permitted and desirable, not required
i. Squirrel (1) naturally injured
c. Assistance is not permitted
i. Non-anthropogenic wild elk disease
(1) Can’t harm some to save others
ii. Blue Tits from Magpie
2. POLAR BEAR AND CLIMATE CHANGE
a. How CC endangers polar bears
3. Should we assist them?
a. We are not intending to harm them
b. Though harm is predictable and foreseen
c. We have a duty to assist for failing in our duty of care
4. But CC is ongoing, wouldn’t our duty be (like in case of agricultural animals) to stop this harm rather than assist them?
a. But not easy to stop CC and harms are back-loaded and will continue for a while no matter what we do
5. How help?
a. Reduce hunting? (But not by native peoples who are themselves harmed by CC)
i. The process of reparation should try to avoid creating new duties of reparation
b. Slow down/stop oil extraction in their habitat or pull out existing operations (assuming it harms them)
6. Does CC shows all wild animals owed assistance?
a. If we must assist them because we harmed them, then wouldn’t this mean that all wild animals are owed assistance, since CC affects all of them?
b. No, because duties of assistance only arise from specific type of “contact” : harming or creating vulnerabilities or dependencies
c. Many animals not affected this way by CC, and some actually benefit from it
7. WILD-ELK DISEASE
8. Elk get disease that will wipe out herd unless kill some to create a buffer zone so disease does not spread to many more others
9. Utilitarian view requires that we kill some to save more others
10. Reagan’s rights view says don’t do this
a. Both because the harm is not being caused by a moral agent (so no rights violated, no injustice occurring)
i. And no duties to assist unless rights being violated
b. And this involves harming some to save others and there is duty not to infringing rights of the animals
i. Note that if case was different, if one could violate the rights of the few to prevent violation of the rights of the many, one should do this (Regan’s mini-ride principle)
ii. Regan prohibition of rights infringement is not absolutist
11. No-contact LFI
a. No duty to assist as no contact
b. Permissible to assist
c. But since there is a duty not to harm and killing some to save others is a harm
d. Assisting in this way is not permissible
12. But what if disease was human introduced, spread from domesticated animals to wild populations?
a. Then disease is an extension of human activity, a failure of duty to take care
b. No longer a case of killing some to assist others
i. Rather a case of killing more or killing less
c. Whatever happens some elk will be killed by human activity, so better to kill fewer
d. So assistance is required, we have a duty to cull the herd
i. Version of Regan’s mini-ride
13. SQUIRREL ONE
a. Wild squirrel suffering
b. Should assist by quickly killing it or find a vet for it?
14. No-contact LFI says no duty to assist, but permitted
15. Is it desirable, good, virtuous to assist?
b. What kind of a person would fail to have compassion/sympathy and simply walk by?
i. A person who is unsympathetic or insensitive to others’ pain (and that’s a vice)
16. With immediately encountered suffering, in a one-on-one case, person should feel compassion and assisting would be virtuous (but not required)
a. So this provides a weak reason for approving of assistance in this case
b. Not sure why should think of this as a weak reason
17. Objection: Why not revealing good character to feel compassion without immediate encounter with suffering?
a. Truly compassionate person would feel just as much compassion in response to distant as opposed to encountered suffering
b. This would undermine LFI (as it would lead to policy to prevent wild suffering)
18. Reply: Different disposition/virtue in response to encountered suffering versus non-encountered (distant) suffering
a. “Compassion towards nonhumans need not involve disposition to actively seek out opportunities to prevent suffering of wild animals it may involve dispositions to assist wild animals when appropriate opportunities present themselves” (Ron Sandler)
i. Help dolphins beached nearby
19. SQUIRREL 2
20. Squirrel injured by a car someone else drove
21. Do you have an obligation to assist? (Yes, weak one)
22. You benefit from system of road transportation with the known result that some innocent animals will be harmed
a. Entanglement such as this can provide weak reasons to assist
23. So morally better not to walk on by, even if only assistance is to kill the suffering animal
24. BLUE TIT, EUROPEAN MAGPIE, NEIGHBOR’S CAT
a. Magpie attacks blue tit nest under eaves and kills and eats all except one chick who is hopping frantically to try to get away from your neighbor’s cat
25. Utilitarian & Capability approach obliged to stop both magpie eating and cat attacking
26. Regan’s negative rights view, since none moral agents, no rights violated, no injustice, not duty to assist
27. Palmer’s view
a. But they are in contact zone, human interaction deeply involved here with all these creatures
b. No obligation to assist the tits from magpie
i. Is an obligation to keep feeding tits once one has started
c. Not permissible to assist tits from the magpie
i. As harm magpie
ii. Duty not to harm (magpie)
iii. No duty to assist
iv. A case of harming to assist
(1) Sometimes okay but not here
v. Virtuous person would feel compassion for tits
d. Cat and tit chick
i. Is the owner of the cat harming the tit via the cat?
(1) Like an owner of a dog who trains it to be vicious is when that dog bites a person
(2) No: Cats attack birds independently of their domestication and training
(3) So no duty to stop cat as part of making sure one doesn’t harm the tit
ii. Should owner assist the tit chick (as opposed to not harming them)?
(2) Loose sense in which owner is responsible for cat (its location and being let outside)
(3) Owner benefits from the cat and these benefits are gained at expense of tit
(4) Virtuous sense of compassion for tit further reason to assist (since not harming the cat)
28. GENERAL RULES FOR WHEN ASSIST AND WHEN NOT
29. Duty not assist
a. Where assistance not required as no a past harm or created vulnerability
b. And were assistance will risk causing harm
30. Should assist
a. Assistance not cause harm
b. Some human causal entanglement in animal suffering
c. Humans should assist
31. PALMER ON MEAT EATING
32. When animals have good lives and killed relatively painlessly, there may be good arguments justifying eating them
i. If accept the view (she rejected) that painlessly killing a sentient animal does not harm it
33. Only 1% of current meat production in U.S. fits this category
a. Few plausible arguments justifying 99 percent of U.S. meat production from perspective of almost any ethical theory
34. Even most forms of speciesism would reject factory farming
(1) Human interests generally more important than animal interests
(2) Conflicts between similar human and animal interests should always be resolved in favor of human interests
ii. Each of these versions of speciesism would reject factory farming
iii. Only a stronger version of speciesism could justify it
(1) Speciesism 3: Relatively minor human interests should trump animals’ most basic interests
Questions on Palmer, Ch 8: Puzzling Through Some Cases, & Conclusion
1. Does Palmer think we have obligations to assist polar bears due to climate change? Why or why not? What sort of assistance does she accept, if any? What sort of assistance does she not accept, if any.
2. Does she think climate change shows that we owe all wild animals assistance? Why or why not?
3. Contrast Palmer’s views (of the no-contact LFI) about what we should do in the case of a a naturally caused disease that is wiping out a herd of elk unless we kill some to create a buffer zone. How does her view differ from Regan’s view and the utilitarian view? Does Palmer’s view here change if the disease is anthropogenic (human caused/introduced)?
4. What is Regan’s miniride principle? How is violating the rights of a few rather than violating the rights of the many different from violating the rights of the few in order to assist the many? Use the elk disease case October 18, 2012to explain this distinction.
5. What does Palmer think about whether or not it is virtuous to assist a suffering wild animal that one immediately encounters? Why does she think this is different from a policy of assisting wild animals who are suffering.
6. What is Palmer’s view about assistant to a squirrel who hurt himself by falling out of a tree versus a squirrel who was hit by a car?
7. Describe the “Blue Tit, European Magpie, Cat” example and what Palmer says about the morality of assistance in this case.
8. Explain what forms of speciesism Palmer claims would reject factor farming and explain why. What form of speciesism would be needed to justify factory farming?