Palmer, Chap 5

Developing a New Relational Approach


2.      Three types of reasons no duties to assist wild animals

         a.      All suffering (including wild animal suffering) generates duties to assist, but these are always outweighed by other moral concerns about the consequences of assistance

                   i.       Reason to not assist is it would cause more harm/suffering or interfere with the wildness of nature (8 below)

                   ii.      This would only support a contingent LFI

                   iii.     In those cases where would prevent more suffering, we would have duty to assist

                   iv.     That in some cases wild animals experiential well being over time is enhanced by not assisting, does not show this is true as a general principle--for it often is not true.

                            (1)    Feed hungry bear, will lead over time to disaster for the bear

                            (2)    But vaccinate infected mountain sheep (from disease kill 75%) benefits each individual sheep over time

         b.      Not assisting wild animals is best for them given their wild-animal natures

         c.      We do not have the kind of relationships to wild animals that generate duties to assist

                   i.       Palmer’s favored position; rejects other two

                   ii.      Palmer believes that our relationships with domesticated animals and animals in contact zone are such as to generate such duties



4.      Jen Everett’s view

         a.      If humans regularly assisted deer “it is questionable whether they could flourish according to their natures”

                   i.       Assisting domesticated animals is consistent with them flourishing according to their natures

         b.      Palmer says might make sense for deer as a species, but not for individual deer

5.      Deer subjectively desire to remain wild/left alone?

         a.      Unlike the human case were a person might desire to be left alone and not interfered with, even if this leads to shorter less healthy life (because the person wants climb dangerous mountains)

         b.      Not plausible deer could desire to be wild and left alone (when interference would lead to it having a longer, healthier life)

         c.      Too sophisticated mental state for deer

         d.      They will typically take food when starving and if protect them from predator will take opportunity to escape.

         e.      Not plausible that in terms of an animal’s subjective experience that it fails to flourish because human interference frustrates their desires for wildness or noninterference


6.      Wildness (being left alone, not being assisted) is part of an objective feature of wild animal flourishing

         a.      For animal to flourish is not about how it feels to an animal from the inside (not subjective experience, but objective feature)

         b.      Wildness is a kind of capability (like running or howling) that is good for animal to manifest

                   i.       Not being interfered with by humans (a lack of a certain relation) is important for the flourishing of that animal

                   ii.      And this is separate from any other of its capabilities

                   iii.     It is funny to think of this as a capability?

                   iv.     An animal might require relationship with its parents to flourish

                   v.      Here claiming an animal requires non-relations with humans to flourish

         c.      Non assistance allows an animal to manifest its objective natural capabilities w/o being inhibited by human activity      

                   i.       But in cases where they need assistance, this does not seem plausible

7.      Wild animal autonomy

         a.      Leaving wild animals alone is like wise parents who after the time of maturity let their children live their own lives

                   i.       Of course parents would assist in life/death situations

         b.      Palmer claims wild animals not capable of autonomy in conceptual, rational decision making sense

                   i.       So why an objective good for them?

         c.      Why can being self-governing, be a value in the animal’s life

                   i.       But even if it is an objective good, would it outweigh the other objective goods, specifically life/health?


8.      Value of wildness of nature in general trumps animal goods

         a.      Nature’s wild value would be compromised by human interference to assist wild animals

         b.      And this value trumps the goods of the animals that would be lost by non-interference

         c.      E.g., wildness of nature more important than lives of animals we could save

         d.      Way to justify Strong LFI (don’t harm and don’t assist)

         e.      Palmer thinks this is a hard argument to make


9.      Palmer’s libertarian move

         a.      Palmer seems to accept libertarian view that

         b.      Duties to assist only arise by agreements or special relations (while duties not to harm exist independent of such agreements)

         c.      Would support LFI:      

                   i.       No duties to assist wild animals as no special relations with them

                   ii.      Duties to assist domesticated animals as special relations with them


10.    Is distance morally significant?

         a.      Wildness might be though of as distance (bodily distance from human interaction, location distance from humans)

11.    Many argue that distance morally irrelevant

         a.      Singer: Just as should rescue child drowning at our feet, so should assist distant starving child

         b.      Crazy idea that we could morally discount the importance of the effects of our actions the father away they are (“n percentage per yard”

         c.      Palmer: not plausible that bare spacial distance is morally important


12.    Senses of distance

         a.      Spacial distance

         b.      Emotional distance

         c.      Distance in a cultural, community, or nation sense (beyond a boundary) (do not share common institutions)

                   i.       Those who have not contributed to the group

                   ii.      Who fail to share some characteristic thought to be central with other members of group

                   iii.     View of immigrants in this country?

         d.      Those whom it is more costly to help

         e.      Independence of individuals/groups from each other

                   i.       Lack of causal entanglements

                   ii.      Leads to lack of moral responsibilities

                   iii.     Greater contact, influence, greater moral responsibility

13.    Note that wild animals are (typically) distant in all these senses!

14.    Palmer: Wild animals are distant in morally relevant ways and domesticated animals are close in morally relevant ways


15.    Do we have duties to assist Venusians (community of hungry people on Venus)?

         a.      Distant in above senses; no one on earth has any causal responsibility for their plight

         b.      Singer: suffering Venusians should be taken equally into account with suffering Earthlings

         c.      Many argue that while seriously wrong to land there and torture/eat them/destroy their crops, if any duties to assist very much weaker than duties to assist comparably hungry people on earth

16.    Robin Crusoes example; No injustice that would ground duty to assist

         a.      Different island, different resources, different abilities and desires to work, have different levels of well being,

         b.      Lived totally independent of each other

         c.      Duty of better off Crusoes to assist worse-off ones?

         d.      Nozick: No;

                   i.       No question of justice raised by differential in each’s holdings

                   ii.      No one can make a claim of justice against others

                   iii.     Might one make a claim based on fairness?


17.    Similarly with wild animals

         a.      While say there is something unjust about access to health care or re-distributional effects of taxation

         b.      Not unjust if rained on picnic, baby born with cleft palate

                   i.       Fall out of realm of human intention and moral responsibility

         c.      Similarly if wild animals are hungry or suffering or being preyed upon, nothing unjust about that state of affairs

         d.      One argument for claiming duty of assistance is if find themselves in a bad situation due to an injustice


18.    Pogge-main defender of assistance to distant poor–accepts libertarian idea that causing poverty is very different from failing to reduce it

         a.      And rights and justice only ground negative duties; not duties to assist

         b.      But he argues that we have duties to assist impoverished people in world today because we have (in part) caused their poverty

                   i.       We’ve failed in negative duties not to harm

         c.      Poor on earth (unlike Venutians, or wild animals) are the victims of injustice

                   i.       Due to

                            (1)    effects of shared institutions; better off shape institutions that benefit them

                            (2)    uncompensated exclusion from use of natural resources

                            (3)    effects of a common and violent history; well off benefit from violent hisotry that gives them good start in life while depriving others

         d.      Wealth of affluent not achieved independently of relations to poor/suffering


19.    Palmer argues that duties of assistance to animals must be generated by some relationship

         a.      Human/animal entanglements

         b.      Shared institutional frameworks

         c.      Responsibility for harms to animals

         d.      Responsible for generation of particular vulnerabilities

         e.      Entrenched deprivation

         f.       History of domination

         g.      Shared oppressive institutions


20.    Wild animals outside realm of human contact are outside realm of justice

         a.      They are ‘other nations’ in Regan’s language

         b.      No duty to assist them as their situation reflects no injustice and no moral agents were involved in bringing it about

         c.      Only ways duties of assistance can be generated is due to an injustice?

21.    Problems Palmer will address later (ch 7)

         a.      No duty to rescue drowning child at one’s feet (as not due to injustice?)

         b.      More generally, no duty do help needy humans if need not matter of injustice?


22.    These considerations support no-contact LFI

         a.      Not strong LFI (for none of these arguments say impermissible to help those in need unless victims of injustice)

         b.      Nor weak LFI (for wild animals in contact zone have been made vulnerable by humans or had their negative rights violated)



24.    How humans are responsible for domesticated animals

         a.      For actual situation they find themselves in, often involving close confined spaces prevent them from find food, mates for themselves

         b.      For important aspects of their natures, including inability to be self-sufficient

         c.      For their very existence

25.    We have made domesticated animals supremely vulnerable and almost wholly dependent on people

         a.      Their dependence is permanent, enduring and lifelong (unlike humans who are dependent as infants and aged)

26.    External and internal dependence of domesticated animals

27.    External

         a.      Captive wild animals could fend for themselves in wild but can’t in confinement and circumstantially dependant on humans for food and shelter

         b.      Some domesticated animals might be able to fend for themselves in wild, but lack access to such environments and so are dependent on humans

         c.      We have responsibilities to provide care because we have denied animal access to other possible options for survival

28.    Internal

         a.      Domesticated animals deliberately shaped by humans

                   i.       Bodily form, fur, hair, susceptibility to disease, reproductive capacity, temperament

         b.      Need us to survive and flourish

                   i.       W/o us to care for them many would die and even those survive in feral state would not flourish

         c.      There is no wild env in which they could be self-sufficient

         d.      Examples

                   i.       Cows only give birth via C-section

                   ii.      Cats bred w/o fir/claws

                   iii.     Lab mice genetically bred for cancer

                   iv.     Domesticated horses released into wild often attacked by wild horses and fail to grow sufficing thick winter coat to protect themselves; not likely live long in wild


29.    Dependence is asymmetry of power

         a.      Subordinate needs resources provided by the superordinate who controls them

         b.      Cases where the superordinate part creates the subordinate party in order that they should be in the dependent situation w/o alternative arrangements

                                    i.               In human case when people are vulnerable (sick, prisoners) we give them special protection to make sure they are not manipulated

                                    ii.              But with animals we make them vulnerable for the purpose of manipulating them

30.    Bottom line: When humans deliberately create morally considerable, sentient animals who have no other ways to fulfill their needs and constitutively profoundly dependent on and permanently vulnerable to humans

         a.      Humans create special obligations toward them


31.    Parallel between humans creating vulnerable and dependent animals and choosing to have a child

         a.      Have an obligation to take care of the child, not simply (or mainly?) because vulnerable but because it is your child

         b.      Because you created it you have obligations to take care of it

         c.      Parent who creates a child but denies he has any duties to assist it is much worse than other people refusing to help the child

32.    Deep involvement in creation of very nature and capacities of sentient being creates intensified moral responsibilities for its welfare


33.    Problem of how humans in general get these responsibilities toward domesticated animals

         a.      We did not voluntarily assume them

         b.      They are group responsibilities and the responsibilities are diffuse and smeared over time and space

34.    Are vegetarians not (or less) responsible for the care of food animals than meat eaters are?