Palmer, Ch 7

Problems & Questions


1.      Chapter topics

         a.      Does no-contact LFI rely on problematic human/nature dualism? (No)

         b.      Does no-contact LFI gives no reason to assist strange human beings with whom one has no contact?

                   i.       Humans are related in ways that give weak duties of assistance to non-contract humans

         c.      Is domestication a relation we should not create (given the vulnerable and dependent states it produces)?

                   i.       Bad kinds of animals? Crate pig?

                   ii.      Perhaps creating this relation of domination is morally problematic?

                   iii.     (No-contact LFI compatible with different views on this domestication issue)

         d.      Is painless killing a harm to the individual animals killed?

                   i.       Not clear that animals are mentally sophisticated enough to have the desire to go on living

                   ii.      Whether painless killing of animal is a loss to it of its valuable future depends not only on how valuable that future is, but also on strength of psychological continuity between animal now and in future

                   iii.     (No-contact LFI compatible with different views about the morality of painless killing)

         e.      Does contextual and relational approach of no-contact LFI require too much information thus making moral decision-making impossible? (No)



         a.      Assisting non-contact, no injustice humans?

3.      If no duties to assist no contact wild animals then no obligations to assist no contact people

         a.      If only have obligations to assist wild animal where they have suffered human inflicted harms (pre-existing injustices)

         b.      Then no obligations to assist non-contact people, where there are not preexisting injustices caused by people

4.      Palmer’s view lead to bizarre conclusion help distant starving child, but not drowning child at one’s feet?

         a.      Likely an obligation to assist the distant starving child

                   i.       As his situation plausibly due to injustice from which we are in some way benefitting

         b.      No obligation to assist the nearby drowning child because not due to an injustice, but an accident

5.      Palmer thinks do have obligations (in almost all cases) to assist domesticated animals from “natural threats” (not caused by injustice)

         a.      Because of degree of control we have over their lives

         b.      As their vulnerability is likely to be in part due to human origin

                   i.       As we are responsible for their existence, constitution, and vulnerabilities

         c.      What about an domesticated animal dying of a natural disease we could cure or threatened by falling boulder?

                   i.       Disease/boulder in no way due to humans

                   ii.      Not an injustice

                   iii.     So no assistance?

                   iv.     But we clearly have special relationships of care with them if they are our pets (but not if ag animals?)

         d.      Clearly we have obligations to our children to protect them from natural threats


6.      Palmer does want some grounds for assisting strange humans who are not threatened by injustices

         a.      For even the strongest animal rights folks argue that in lifeboat case where save human or dog, human comes first

         b.      Her view would seem to entail save the dog (for he is domesticated and his vulnerability and dependency due to domestication)

         c.      But not the human


7.      Palmer argues that moral responsibilities can emerge out of membership in some common group

         a.      And being a member of “the human community” is being a member of a morally relevant relational group

8.      Humans form a single, overall community, because of network of rich inter-human relations

         a.      Mutually recognized communication

         b.      Ability of humans to justify themselves to others

         c.      Reciprocity in economic relations

         d.      Mutual cooperation

         e.      Joint organization of political and other institutions

9.      Generate weak duties of assistance to fellow humans in need or threatened by some natural cause (e.g., the nearby unknown drowning child) not a victim of injustice (no causal responsibility for the need)

         a.      Community, not capacity generated duties to assist

10.    So no contact LFI in addition to

         a.      General duties not to harm (people or sentient animals)

         b.      Special obligations to assist animals harmed or made vulnerable by humans (all domesticated and those wild animals in contact zone)

         c.      Further obligations to assist based on social relations or global-community membership

11.    Human community relations view avoids concerns about racism/sexism to which group-oriented claims about moral significance are often vulnerable

         a.      How?

         b.      Because above criteria include all sexes and races of humans

         c.      Also notice that this is not “speciesism”–it is not there mere fact that humans are of the same species that generates the special obligation, but that they participate in these relations

         d.      Leaves marginal case humans in or out?

12.    Domesticated animals also are part of this network of relations

         a.      Some do engage in communicative relations, are deeply bound up in economic relations with humans, are part of human families, have strong social relations with humans



14.    Is it wrong to create a domesticated animal that is inescapably going to live a life of vulnerability and dependence?

15.    Is domestication in itself a harm? (No, see below)

16.    Not clear how domestication could be a harm on Palmer’s individualistic and experiential definition of harm

         a.      Domestic constitutions aren’t typically such that they cause the animal physical pain

                   i.       (Some forms of specialized breeding do...)

         b.      Psychological problems of vulnerability and dependence that would accompany humans so created, don’t apply to animals

                   i.       They do not experience humiliation about dependence

                   ii.      Resentment at their subordination

         c.      Parfit’s non-identity point shows domestication not a harm to the individual animal

                   i.       Harm makes an individual worse off that it otherwise would have been

                   ii.      “No animal is made worse off by being born domesticated, because if it had not been born domesticated, that particular individual animal would not have existed at all”

                   iii.     Domestication part of animal’s constitution; animal could not have been any other way and still be that individual

                   iv.     It would not have existed but for domestication


17.    Is domestication wrong because it creates inappropriate power relations?

         a.      Deliberate creation of vulnerable/dependent animals shaped for human needs/desires that “bear in their very bodies impression of human power”

18.    Not all vulnerability/dependence is bad

         a.      E.g., vulnerability of lovers to one another

         b.      This is a two-way vulnerability

         c.      Is creation of one way vulnerability/dependence always bad?

                   i.       And isn’t domestication a one way vulnerability?

         d.      Is creating a permanent child (permanently vulnerable to and dependent on others/parents) bad?

19.    Is creation of vulnerable/dependent domesticated animals a bad kind of vulnerability or one that is permissible, but brings with it special duties to care and support

20.    Some animal rights advocates (Francione) think creation of domesticated companion animals is wrong

         a.      “They exist forever in netherworld of vulnerability, dependent on us for everything and at risk of harm from an env that they do not really understand. We have bred them to be compliant and servile, characteristics that are harmful to them, but pleasing to us...humans have no business brining these creatures into the world

         b.      Might it depend on the kind of vulnerable and dependent being we create?

                   i.       Servile and compliant ones might be bad

                   ii.      But friendly and loving ones might be good

                   iii.     Some types of dependent beings be valuable and some disvaluable (at the very least aesthetically)

21.    Happy crate pig example

         a.      Engineer a sentient pig who is happy/satisfied to live life confined in a crate (no social desires, little desire to move)

         b.      Experiential well being is fine.

22.    How object to this?

         a.      1 Unnaturalness arguments are problematic

         b.      2 Non-experiential well being of pig is bad?

         c.      3 Forget well being, focus on human-animal relation of domination–its bad?

23.    Non-experiential well being of this pig is bad

                   i.       Palmer thinks this very problematic

         b.      Not talking about well being of already existing creature

         c.      But of creating what the well being of a creature can be

         d.      Some kinds of well being should not be created (even if they can be fully satisfied)

         e.      Naturalness and species-dignity arguments hard to defend

         f.       If claim created well beings should possess a certain number of psychological capacities, then it would be wrong to create things like shell fish (which have diminished psychological capacities)

         g.      Comparative reasons:

                   i.       You could have created this sort of beings (a better being) instead you created a less good being

         h.      Aesthetic reasons: this is just a gross ugly, pitiful kind of being!

         i.       What if instead of modifying a pig, one creating some meat growing body (with no brain, consciousness)

                   i.       Less problematic?


24.     Creating power relations of domination are evil; what kind of people would tolerate the creation of such relations?

         a.      Palmer finds this argument more persuasive, but still very problematic

25.    Our relations to crate pig and some domesticated animals is clearly domination

         a.      Must assume that one doesn’t have to be aware of being dominated in order to be dominated

         b.      So trees/plants could be dominated.....

26.    Domination involves

         a.      Imbalance of power

         b.      Dependency – not free to exist without costs, more costly, more dependent

         c.      Absence of rules: even if formal rules exist, no assurance these rules will be followed

27.    Animals in confined feeding operations and lab animals meet these conditions; crate pig even further meets them

         a.      Animals domination is most severe kind

         b.      Power imbalance is extreme

         c.      Exit is impossible

         d.      Arbitrariness high

28.    What does this say about individuals or societies willing to create and tolerate such beings: defenseless sentient beings lives entirely dominated by human interests?

29.    Virtue ethics way to fill this out

         a.      Even if no harm involved, what kind of person would do this?

                   i.       Spit on grave of grandmother whose fortune one just inherited

                   ii.      Laugh at news of plane crash

                   iii.     Create totally dominated beings

                   iv.     No harm involved true, but still wrong/vicious

30.    Creating such dominated beings manifests arrogance

         a.      Lack of humility

                   i.       Failure to appreciation of one’s place in the universe

         b.      Human hubris is manifested in drive to create such relationships

                   i.       “Where domesticated animals must wear man’s smudge and share man’s smell”




32.    Painless killing is in practice rare and hard to achieve

         a.      E.g., Death penalty in human cases controversies

         b.      Individual animals rarely killed w/o inflicting pain and distress in industrial abattoirs

         c.      So in most cases of killing, worries about pain and distress are also appropriate and make process of killing harmful, apart from the death itself

33.    One response: Nothing wrong with painless killing

         a.      As killing is not experienced or not experienced aversively

         b.      How object from experiential account of well being?

         c.      Palmer: extremely implausible (for we think painless killing of humans is wrong! And worse kind of harm.)


34.    Desire arguments against painless killing

35.    Argument

         a.      Animals (some) have a desire to go on living

         b.      What is valuable about desire satisfaction is not how it feels from inside (experienced), but that desire should be satisfied in some objective sense (even if one never feels the desire frustrated or knows that the desire had been (or will be) frustrated)

                   i.       This is not something animals could care about


36.    Four possible meanings of desire to go on living

         a.      One: Actually having the desire in that one has capacity to form relevant concepts and understand them (e.g., “I,” one is a self, “living,” one is alive and being alive can end, “future”)

         b.      Two: Having desires about the future that entail having this desire to go on living (e.g., desires to have a career, have and nurture off spring)

         c.      Palmer response to One and Two:

                   i.       Strong evidence for desire to go on living

                   ii.      Require kind of self-awareness

                   iii.      Few animals have these (Singer thinks great apes do, maybe whales and other mammals)

                            (1)    Fetuses and small infants don’t

                   iv.     Depends on one’s view of animal minds, less modest view of animal minds, greater likelihood some mammals have desire to continue to live

         d.      Three: Having any future oriented desire, even if short term (e.g., eat bowl of food under one’s nose)

                   i.       “Any intentional being with goals/wants to achieve them, is the kind of being that wants to go on living”

                   ii.      No self-awareness required

                   iii.     Response (Palmer/McMahan): Such desires don’t provide strong reason to think death is harm or misfortune

                   iv.     So for these beings the harm/misfortune of killing amounts to the harm of not finishing the bowl of food (taking away the bowl), leaving that desire unsatisfied–that’s a very minor harm.

         e.      Four: Behavioral expressions of resistance to death (e.g., struggling, fleeing, fighting)

                   i.       E.g., animals gnaw off limbs to escape traps

                   ii.      If animals only wanted to avoid short term pain, would not inflict pain on themselves in order to avoid dying

                   iii.     Palmer response: Other interpretations of why gnawing other than wants to go on living: response to pain in limb, panic at being unable to move, fear at being in particular unfamiliar place


37.    Palmer’s worries about a (objective, unexperienced) desire view of well being and its possibility with animals

         a.      One’s well being is compromised even when one experiences nothing aversive (no frustration), when one’s desires are not met

         b.      Problems

                   i.       Can be benefitted and harmed after one’s death

         c.      Easier to see how desires and experiences separate in human case than in animal case

                   i.       Human way not desire to be hooked up to an experience machine, but want the authentic experience(perhaps less pleasurable)

                   ii.      Animals are cognitively sophisticated enough to have desires about unexperienced states.

                   iii.     What matters for an animal is how the desire satisfaction feels (not that it is objectively satisfied)

         d.      Painless killing is only a harm on the desire to go on living if it makes sense to say that this is a harm to one with that desire, even if they don’t experience it’s frustration

                   i.       But this only makes sense with humans and not animals

                   ii.      As animals can’t have desires about not having their desires thwarted even without them knowing it


38.    Lost future arguments

39.    Singer’s impersonal utilitarian objection to painless killing (of being who would be happy in future) as it takes away future utility (but this can be replaced)

         a.      An “impersonal good”; a loss to world rather than to individual killed

         b.      Problem is that such good can be replaced by breeding another new individual with as good overall experience

         c.      So Singer moved to preference/desire view above that protects more psychologically sophisticated beings from being replaced

40.    Irreplaceably destroys an individual’s valuable future

         a.      Marquis argument against abortion

                   i.       “loss of a potential future of value”

                   ii.      Taking away the goods we would have experienced had we survived

                   iii.     By killing fetus/me you take away all the conscious enjoyed goods of a typical human life

                   iv.     Whether value these future goods now or not

                   v.      Explains why voluntary euthanasia is okay as they have already lost a future that they would value

         b.      So with animals; by painlessly killing them we harm them as they would have valuee the experiential goods in their future when they experienced them–whether they value them now or not


41.    Problem of lack of self-identity over time

         a.      “I will or would value those aspect of my future when I will or would experience them, whether I value them now or not”

         b.      But with fetus case the I is not the same now and in the future

         c.      The fetus is quite different from the future human person that will or would exist

         d.      Because there is no continuity of character or belief between itself now and itself as a future person

                   i.       It would remember nothing of its life as an infant

         e.      Much of the loss would be impersonal

                   i.       Loss of future good to the world

         f.       *Like the loss if one fails to conceive a child that would have a good life

42.    With non-conception, no one has been harmed; loss is purely impersonal

43.    With infant/fetus, there is a particular individual, but it is weakly related–in ways that matter–to the good that is lost

44.    Factors determine psychological continuity:

         a.      Memory, desire, intention, belief, character create psychological continuity

         b.      Only rational to care about oneself in the future if the relations between oneself now and onself in the future are strong

45.    “Where relation between oneself now and oneself in future are strong, removal of future is a serious harm”

         a.      Where they are weak, it is a lesser harm

         b.      Where no relation between onself now and oneself in future there is no personal harm at all” (may be an impersonal loss)


46.    So psychological continuity between animal now and its future self is a key factor in whether we should worry about painless killing

47.    Moment to moment being: Imagine a being that lives entirely in the present

         a.      Can’t remember more than a second from past nor anticipate more than a second into the future

         b.      Would not think life of that individual being matters

         c.      Might think it important such pleasant experiences exist

         d.      But not that it is important that this particular life continues

                   i.       For no psychological continuity over time

         e.      Although being might have a future of value

         f.       Good that is lost with painlessly killing of present moment being is impersonal

                   i.       That being is not harmed by being painlessly killed as lacks any psychological continuity over time.

         g.      Missing link between organism that is painlessly killed and future goods lost

                   i.       If not sufficient psychological continuity between being (e.g., fetus/animal) and lost future to say being was harmed by loss

                   ii.      Impersonal loss to world, not harm to that being

48.    No single answer to whether an animal harmed by being painlessly killed--depends on two factors

         a.      One: How important are the goods that will be enjoyed in future

                   i.       Goods animals can enjoy are relatively limited (compared to normal human)

         b.      Two: How strong is the psychological continuity with future selves

                   i.       With animals continuity is relatively weak (compared to normal humans)

         c.      More goods might be enjoyed and stronger psychological continuity, greater harm of being painlessly killed

         d.      Means that animal death will typically be less than harm to adult human

49.    “On this view at least some justification is needed in order to kill animals, even if that killing is painless”

50.    Implications

         a.      Less bad to kill older person who has fewer future goods

         b.      Way to justify euthanasia



52.    Objection: By saying we should assist domesticated animals but not wild animals, NC-LFI treats humans influence on “wild” nature as interference, and this assumes we are outside of or distinct from nature

53.    Reply

         a.      NC-LFI accepts degrees of wildness, so not “dualistic” (not sharp dichotomy)

         b.      Her view does not require assistance in the wild, but does not argue it is impermissible

         c.      So not claiming human influence on wild nature is interference

54.    Some argue that native people hunting is permissible because it its natural (wild) as it shares a commonality with other species and so it does not count as human influence on nature

         a.      But this suggests native people are not human, but like wild animals


55.    Palmer rejects this: “Puzzling to suggest some class of voluntary actions that because it is shared with other species is exempted from oral scrutiny in the human case” (some animals kill each other in mating fights, so parallel human killing is tolerable?)

56.    Also rejects Native peoples are wild idea


57.    Does Palmer’s idea we have prima facie duty not to harm animals (including wild ones), entails that the lifestyles of native peoples who hunt for their livelihood is unethical?

         a.      No, because the duty is prima facie only and can be outweighed by vital interests of nutrition, warmth and survival of the native peoples (or their cultures)

         b.      Eating meat and wearing fur is not a vital interest of people in industrial societies



58.    Discussion ignores killing’s affect on animals emotionally attached to or dependent on or part of a social group with the animal killed


59.    Some reject question is painless death a harm as over-intellectual

         a.      Ignores the immediate emotional response of shared vulnerability and identification with fellow creatures

         b.      A response by which we come to understand what death and killing means


         c.      Murphy: no rights violated by not assisting the drowning child at our feet, though it would reflect very negatively on our character


60.    Summary

         a.      Experiential view of animal well being can’t object to domestication per se, if the animal experienced well being is good (no pain or frustration)

         b.      No-contact LFI need not insist on this view of well being, could be supplemented with some other account of relations to animals

         c.      Open door to objecting to certain types of dominating human-animal relations even if no experiential harm

         d.      Compatible with non-contact LFI, but not view for which she’s argued.