Jamieson, Chap. 5: Humans and Other Animals


1.      Moral Standing:

         a.      “Being a member of the moral community”

         b.      “Being morally considerable”

         c.      “Having intrinsic value in 2nd sense (p. 70)

         d.      Count morally (directly)

         e.      A being to whom direct duties are owed

2.      Direct and indirect duties

         a.      “Direct duties to” a being as opposed to “duties regarding” a being or “indirect duties” (or being “morally relevant”)

         b.      Even if a being does not have moral standing, it could be “morally relevant” in that one might have duties regarding it or indirect duties pertaining to it

         c.      Examples: My car, my dog


3.      Idea that all humans and no non-humans have moral standing

         a.      A version of “anthropocentrism”

4.      What makes humans different so that all and only they have moral standing?

5.      Two proposed criteria (by which humans and non-humans differ)

         a.      Linguistic competence

                   i.       Why on earth would one think that linguistic competence has anything to do with moral status?

         b.      Self-consciousness

                   i.       On mirror test for see notes on elephants and mirrors recounted by Nussbaum https://www.cofc.edu/hettinger/Environmental_Ethics_Fall_2008/Nussbaum_Facing_Animal_Complexity.htm

6.      Problems: Too demanding and not demanding enough

         a.      Two demanding (leaves out some humans)

                   i.       Some humans not self-conscious nor linguistically competent–newborns, comatose, those with advanced dementia

         b.      Not demanding enough (some non-humans are get included)

                   i.       Great-apes (e.g., chimps, gorillas) and cetaceans (e.g., dolphins) are self-conscious

7.      Sentience as a criteria

         a.      Sentience: Ability to feel pleasure and pain

         b.      Get in humans left out by self-consciousness or linguistically capable (babies, etc.)

         c.      Also includes most of animals we commonly use for food/research: cows, pigs, chickens, dogs, fish, cats, rats, monkeys


8.      Moral agents and moral patients

         a.      Moral agent: someone who has moral obligations

         b.      Moral patient: someone to whom obligations are owed (having moral standing)


9.      Moral agency as a criteria (for moral standing)

         a.      To be a moral patient (have moral standing) one must be a moral agent

                   i.       Only those beings who have moral obligations can be owed moral obligations

         b.      Since no animals are moral agents, none are moral patients (none have moral standing)

         c.      Problem: Newborn infants and severely brain-damaged humans are moral patients, but not moral agents (don’t have moral obligations to others)

         d.      “If accept the idea there are human moral patients who are not moral agents, why should we not accept idea there are non-human moral patients who are not moral agents”


10.    No morally significant criterion for membership in moral community that is satisfied by all and only humans


11.    Being human as the criterion (of moral standing or difference humans/non-humans)

         a.      Universal human rights based solely on our humanity

                   i.       Idea behind notion of universal human rights is that all humans have such rights simply in virtue of being human (and not because of some other characteristic)

12.    Mere fact that we are human is what makes us different and special and what gives us and only us moral standing

         a.      A manifestation of “speciesism”


13.    Speciesism: “A prejudice/bias in favor of interests of members of one’s own species and against those members of other species”

         a.      Like racism/sexism, speciesism is a preference for one’s own kind based on a shared characteristic that in itself has no moral relevance


14.    Speciesism based on theological dogma of special importance and dignity of human beings

         a.      Humans as crowns of creation

         b.      Humans have a special role in God’s plan

         c.      Our value far exceeds rest of creation

15.    Naturalistic worldview of modern science suggests this is an unjustified prejudice in favor of our own kind

         a.      Darwin/biology showed that humans one branch of the evolutionary tree, not the crown of creation but a small part of the story of life on earth

                   i.       Reductionistic?

         b.      What is striking is how much we share with other animals, not what distinguishes us from them


16.    Jamieson’s thought experiments to undermine speciesism (idea that merely being human justifies sole or higher moral status)

         a.      Trafalmadore species (superior life form; more intelligent, knowledgeable, compassionate, etc.)

                   i.       Since not human; Okay to destroy their civilization, cause them great suffering?

         b.      Hominid species (homo floresiensis or hobbits, as self-aware as we are, found on remote island)

                   i.       Rare hunting opportunity or creatures to whom owe respect

         c.      Remnant Neanderthals survived; different species, but find out your roommate is one of them

                   i.       Take him to local med school for vivisection?

17.    Fact they are not human not sufficient to exclude them from moral protection


18.    Three versions of speciesism

19.    One: Homo sapiens-centric speciesism: All and only humans count morally (what we’ve been talking about above)

         a.      Bizarrely implies that Trafalmadoreans (who are superior to us humans in every way) have a duty to sacrifice their most fundamental interests (in life) for the sake of the most trivial human interests (in tasting new types of food)

20.    Two: Indexical speciesism: Members of each species should hold that all and only members of their own species count morally

         a.      Implies that Trafalmadoreans should think only members of their species counts morally

         b.      But on this view if they caused us utterly gratuitous and horrific suffering, they would not be doing anything morally objectionable

21.    Three: Absolute versus moderate speciesism

         a.      Absolute: Only humans count morally and this is because they are human

         b.      Moderate: Humans are more important than non-humans, because they are human

                            (1)    Defense: Idea we own more to humans than non-humans


22.    Moderate speciesism not simply the view that we should systematically prefer humans to other animals

         a.      But also gives a reason: Simply because they are humans

23.    One might systematically prefer humans to non-humans for other reasons, such as

         a.      Some forms of conscious life are more valuable than others and these forms are manifest in humans but not in most other animals (Singer and Mill)

                   i.       J.S. Mill: Better to be Socrates (a human) dissatisfied than a pig satisfied (because anyone who experiences both would prefer the former; Socrates’ psychological state is more valuable than the pigs)

         b.      Or because we have special relations with humans (family obligations, contractual obligations, dependency)


24.    Jamieson’s two objections to moderate speciesism

         a.      Dylan & Casey have same psychologies and only differences are that Dylan is suffering much more than Casey and only one of them is human. Can only relieve the suffering of one of them

                   i.       Absurd to argue that don’t know enough about which one’s suffering to relieve; that you also need to know their species

                   ii.      Shows that species membership is not relevant.

         b.      If species matters, how much? A little or a lot? What principled reason could be given for an answer? And why does it matter?


25.    Lessons from rejection of speciesism

         a.      What has primary moral relevance is individuals and their properties, not fact that the belong to certain groups/kinds

                   i.       For moral purposes, properties like being a member of Lions Club or citizen of U.S. are not morally relevant in themselves

                   ii.      Does this mean we can’t give preference to members of endangered species over others simply because they are members of endangered species? No.

         b.      Anti-speciesist slogan: Facts about biological classification do not determine moral status

                   i.       Morally relevant properties of individuals are not things like species, race, gender, but characteristics such as sentience, capacity for desire, or self consciousness

                            (1)    Note he does not say “being alive” or “being naturally evolved”


26.    Singer is a utilitarian (right acts maximize good consequences)

27.    Singer extending the notion of equality from black, women’s and gay liberation movements to animals

28.    What kind of equality applies to animals?

29.    Not identical treatment

         a.      Women right to abortion not entail men do

30.    Not factual equality

         a.      False as people are factually very different (ability to cook souffle)

         b.      Not everyone can be an Einstein or play the piano excellently

31.    Moral equality = equal consideration of interests

         a.      Good of any one individual no more important from point of view of Universe than the good of any other individual

         b.      The significance of an interest does not depend on whose interest it is

                   i.       Interest of an octopus can’t be discounted relative to human’s interest because of the sort of creature it is

32.    Interests = something whose satisfaction makes the individual with the interests better off and its frustration makes them worse off

         a.      Pleasure and the avoidance of pain are generally in interests of sentient beings

33.    Different things cause pleasure and pain to different individuals

34.    Same pleasure (or pains) (Ned: “pleasures or pains with the same name”) may not be of equal value

         a.      Pain of losing a mother is worse for a typical human than for a typical elephant

         b.      Pain of noise pollution may be greater for a whale than for human


35.    Although difficult to calculate pleasures and pains across species (and Singer’s view requires we do this)

36.    Don’t need a sophisticated moral mathematics to see that much of what we do to animals harms them more than it benefits us

         a.      Pleasure of human eating foie gras (as opposed to eating veggie pate) is much less than the misery caused to the ducks force fed until their livers are so large can no longer move.

37.    For Singer, McDonald’s or local zoo may well be the site of a major moral outrage

         a.      Such practices exist because we don’t consider interests of animals equally–discounting or ignoring their suffering entirely

         b.      Speciesism explains pervasiveness of our moral blindness in our treatment of animals.


38.    Criticizes utilitarianism

         a.      Treats individuals as means rather than ends

         b.      Individuals only valuable in so far as contribute to making world a better place

         c.      Individuals as receptacles of value

                   i.       Not valuable in themselves

         d.      Singer’s equal consideration of interests principle takes interests as morally significant, not the individual whose interests they are.

39.    For Regain it is the individuals who are valuable

         a.      Individuals have value independently of their experiences and value to others

         b.      They have inherent value

         c.      Sanctity of such lives


40.    Inherent value does not come in degrees–all who have it have it equally

41.    Rejects perfectionist views

         a.      Creature’s value varies to the extent it exemplifies some favored quality (perfections)

         b.      Those with “imperfections” (e.g, disabilities of some sorts), have less inherent value

                   i.       And can be sacrificed for those with more inherent value

         c.      A morally pernicious view

42.    Is perfectionism so clearly wrong-headed?

         a.      Beauty a perfection; those with greater aesthetic value matter more?

                   i.       Save a beautiful species before an ugly one?

         b.      Who would you run over? Quadriplegic or full bodied person? A mentally retarded child or a mentally advanced one?

         c.      Even Regan makes discriminations in treatment based on characteristics

                   i.       Non-subjects of a life, get excluded from moral arena

                   ii.      Dog’s life worth less than humans life, because dog’s death involves less forgone opportunities


43.    Who has inherent value?

         a.      Subjects of a life (p. 117)

         b.      Beings who can have beliefs, desires and experienced well being

                   i.       Not all living things are subjects of a life (most are not!)

         c.      All mammals over the age of one

         d.      Humans and non-humans have inherent value equally

                   i.       Says Jamieson of Regan’s views “Just as wrong to kill a cow as a human”

                   ii.      But see below on why death harms humans more than it harms animals.....


44.    Subjects of life have basic moral rights to life, liberty, freedom from torture

45.    Harm principle:

         a.      Must not harm creatures with inherent value

         b.      Must come to their defense when threatened by moral agents

                   i.       Problem of rescuing wild animals from their fates (“policing nature”)

                            (1)    No duty if harm caused by other than moral agent?

                            (2)    Compatible with similar human rights–don’t humans have right to be rescued from harm caused by other than moral agents (avalanches, tree falling, grizzly bear)

46.    Rights not absolute and can be overridden

         a.      E.g., duty to not harm can be overridden

                   i.       Guilty may be punished

                   ii.      Innocent (child, lion) may be harmed in self-defense


47.    Death of a dog not as great a harm as death of a human

         a.      Because ‘the magnitude of harm that death is a function of the number and variety of opportunities for satisfaction it forecloses for the given individual”

         b.      Seems to be giving up on claims of “equal inherent worth of a humans and nonhuman subjects of a life”

                   i.       Especially, given Regan’s “worse-off principle” which say can harm the many to save the few if the few have more at stake

                            (1)    e.g., throw hundreds of dogs off a life boat before throw off one human


48.    We use animals in many (incoherent) ways

         a.      Eat pigs (who are as smart as dogs) but revolted at thought eating dogs

49.    Eating animals is our major use

         a.      45 billion animals (excludes aquatic animals) killed a year for food, 10 billion in the U.S. (9 billion chickens, 1B cattle, pigs, sheep, turkeys)--

                   i.       That’s 30 chickens per person, 300,000 by CofC students/faculty

                   ii.      Average American eats 190 pounds of meat per year (about the size of a large man or small elk)


50.    Factory farming pros

         a.      Beginning of 20th century, 40% of American labor involved in ag; now 2%

         b.      1950 Americans spend 22% of income on food, now 7%

51.    Factory farming cons

         a.      Disappearance of family farm and small rural communities

         b.      Highly concentrated ag industry

                   i.       3% of hog farms produced 50% of production

                   ii.      2% of feedlots finish off (feed and fatten) 40% of cattle

                   iii.     Top 4 companies in each industry control (over 50%) of meat packing

                            (1)    Tyson foods 2 billion chickens

         c.      Slaughterhouse jobs dangerous and low paid and use migrant workers treated as just another factor of production

52.    Env costs of factory farming

         a.      *1996 cattle, pork and poultry industries produced 1.4 billion tons of animal waste, 4 times what entire human population produced

         b.      Stored in waste lagoons, that threaten land, air, and water

                   i.       60% of U.S. rivers and streams “impaired” and ag runoff is major factor

         c.      1995-98, one billion fish killed by pollution from hog and chicken industries

         d.      Cows produce VOC that help produce smog

                   i.       Each cow produces more VOC than auto or light-truck

         e.      Cows produce 50% of world’s methane, greenhouse gas 20x more powerful than CO2

                   i.       “Livestock production a greater cause of global warming than transport”

         f.       Antibiotics to promote growth and control diseases due to crowding, get into waterways, contribute to drug-resistant strains of bacteria and this has health implications for humans


53.    *90 percent of energy lost in moving up a tropic level (from plants to animals), so growing crops to feed animals (instead of eating crops directly) is massively inefficient

         a.      80% of grain produced in U.S. is fed to animals

         b.      Some cows graze on rangelands not suitable for crop production.

54.    Takes 28 calories of energy input (e.g., fossil fuels, nitrogen fertilizer) to produce one calorie of protein for human consumption

55.    *Takes twice as much fossil fuel energy to produce a typical American diet than a pure vegetarian diet

         a.      Extra 150 gallons of fossil fuels per year for a meat-eater

         b.      Meat eaters driving an extra 11 miles a day with food consumption

56.    *Average American family would more effectively reduce greenhouse gas emission by adopting a vegan diet than by switching to a hybrid car


57.    Water use

         a.      87% of fresh water in U.S. used in ag

         b.      25 gallons to produce a pound of grain

         c.      2,500 gallons to produce a pound of meat

         d.      Cutting back on meat production save much more than not watering lawns and using low-flow shower heads

         e.      Ten pounds of steak = average household water consumption in a year


58.    Factory farming spreading to developing world!

         a.      How can earth support even its current population with these ag practices?

         b.      China, Mexico and Egypt all dramatically increasing the amount of their grain fed to animals

         c.      Meat production expected to double by 2050


59.    Treatment of animals in factory farms

         a.      www.meat.org


60.    Killing vs causing pain

         a.      Would it be permissible for use animals for food if they lived happy lives and were killed painlessly?

         b.      Regan: No

                   i.       Animal right to life as strict as human right to life and no one would think painlessly killing a human and eating her is permissible simply because she had a happy life

         c.      Singer: Perhaps

                   i.       As a utilitarian, what matters is total value of world, rather than identity or welfare of particular individuals in it

                   ii.      Replacement argument: Permissible to kill animals painlessly as long as replace them with others just as happy?


61.    Singer on self-conscious persons vs simple creatures

         a.      Persons (who are self-conscious) not only experience the world, but experience them selves as having such experiences, experience themselves through time, have desires about the future

                   i.       They can have desires about the future which can be satisfied or frustrated

                   ii.      Killing them thus frustrates their desires

         b.      Simple creatures are not self-conscious and only have experiences (of pleasure/pain, for example) and don’t see themselves as same being existing through time

                   i.       No desires about the future that can be frustrated

                   ii.      Killing them does not frustrate any of their interests

62.    Perhaps then simple creatures can be painless killed for food and replaced

63.    Jamieson’s problems with this argument

         a.      Great apes and dolphins and elephants may well be self-conscious persons (who wrong to kill)

                   i.       Of animals we eat, pigs most likely to be self-conscious

                   ii.      (Singer says all adult mammals may be persons)

         b.      New born infants and brain-damaged humans are not persons (don’t see themselves as existing through time)

                   i.       But not okay to kill and eat them!

         c.      Jamieson also thinks one could replace persons and not lose utility, but I don’t see it (p. 130)


64.    Conscientious omnivore

         a.      One who eats meat, only if ecological consequences are acceptable and animals lived good lives and had painless deaths

                   i.       See Michael Pollan: https://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/10/magazine/an-animal-s-place.html

         b.      Hunting

                   i.       Animal suffers less

                   ii.      Less ecological affects than being a supermarket vegetarian

                   iii.     Hunting a sacred way of participating in nature?

                   iv.     Aboriginal hunting?


         c.      Buying organic food

                   i.       Free-range eggs (“happy eggs”)

                   ii.      Organic meat eater (lived good lives and humanely slaughtered?)

65.    Jamieson reply

         a.      In U.S.: Quite uncertain exactly what one is buying when one buys organic meat, mild or free-range eggs

         b.      U.S. Dept of Ag has not fined or prosecuted for violations anyone since adopted its organic standards in 2002

         c.      Much organic food comes from overseas where no oversight

         d.      E.g.,

                   i.       “Livestock must have access to pasture” but don’t say how much how long or what fraction of animals life comes from grazing

         e.      Much organic agriculture is industrialized (thousands of animals produced in one farm)

         f.       Many fed grain (and thus all ecological impacts of factory farming return)

         g.      Industry that appeals to compassionate omnivores is very different from what people imagine

                   i.       See Pollan “Behind the Organic-Industrial Complex”

                            (1)    https://www.mindfully.org/Food/Organic-Industrial-Complex.htm

         h.      Devising a system of painless slaughter is hard enough for humans, much harder for animals.

                   i.       Can’t assume organic animals we eat been painlessly slaughtered


66.    Eating sea creatures better?

         a.      Fish, shrimp, etc less complex?

         b.      Bright line

         c.      Some fish have substantial memory, ability to learn and cooperate

         d.      Most scientists think fish are sentient and fell pain


         e.      Wild caught (two thirds) live better lives, but deaths not great (suffocated as pulled from water or crushed under weight of other fish)

                   i.       % wild caught rapidly declining.

                   ii.      Overfishing

                   iii.     Factory farming of sea creatures

                            (1)    Pollution from fish farms

                            (2)    Most fish are carnivores and fed fishmeal (which must be fished for)

                            (3)    *Thus eating tuna, salmon, or shrimp involves eating even higher on the food chain than eating pigs or chickens (who are fed grain)

         f.       5 pounds of wild fish to produce one pound of farmed fish

         g.      Most fish sold in NY city advertised as wild salmon were farmed salmon


67.    Vegans versus vegetarians

         a.      Dairy industry typically treats animals as badly as the meat industry

         b.      Egg chickens arguably have worse lives than chickens we eat


68.    139-140: Fallacious reasoning: little effects are not no effects at all