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Re: Striking a blow against the predatory guilds

I'm sorry, but I work directly with animal welfare NGOs and I think this whole 
op-ed is ignorant nonsense. Does the author realize he is calling for the 
extinction of, for instance, almost all marine life?  Of most birds?  Of all 
whales, dolphins and porpoises? Of chimpanzees?  I could go on....

Sent from my iPhone

On 2010-09-20, at 12:24 PM, John Conway <john.a.conway@gmail.com> wrote:

> I get the negative reaction to this from scientists (and, well, just about 
> everyone), and I don't agree with it either, but I think it's only fair to 
> point out that it rests on two commonly held assumptions:
> a. reducing suffering is a moral good or obligation
>   and
> b. animals suffer
> If we believe that both these fairly reasonable assumptions are true, it 
> seems entirely logical to me that we should be attempting to reduce the 
> suffering of animals, wherever they may be. This is just a natural fleshing 
> out of utilitarian ethics with a modern understanding of animal's mental 
> states. The practicaities of doing that could be debated, but you'd still end 
> up with something like it being good to eliminate predation and parasitism 
> wherever possible.
> Now, I think the problem lies with the assumption that reducing suffering is 
> a moral good, and I personally believe that morality is more of a social 
> contract (and I have no tacit agreement with some zebra for mutual protection 
> from lions). However, this has it's own problems and might give up something 
> about morality which we feel is important.
> I don't think anything about any of the positions would argue that we have to 
> hide the _fact_ of predation and suffering, and I don't think Jeff McMahan is 
> arguing that either.
> ...
> Cheers
> John
> --
> Ontograph Studios: http://ontographstudios.com
> Palaeontography: http://palaeo.jconway.co.uk
> On 20/09/2010 13:27, Dan Chure wrote:
>> Doctor of Philosophy Jeff McMahan, of Rutger's University has penned
>> what has to be one of the most absurd opinion pieces ever published in
>> the New York Times. In this on-line commentary, entitled The Meat
>> Eaters, Dr. McMahan argues that there is a case to be made for guiding
>> all carnivorous species to extinction and replacing them with
>> herbivorous ones. While a bit long, the last paragraph serves as a
>> useful summary of his "thoughts":
>> "Here then is where the matter stands thus far. It would be good to
>> prevent the the vast suffering and countless violent deaths caused by
>> predation. There is therefore one reason to think that it would be
>> instrumentally good if predatory animal species were to become extinct
>> and replaced by new herbivorous species, provided that this could occur
>> without ecological upheaval involving more harm than would be prevented
>> by the end of predation. The claim that existing animal species are
>> sacred or irreplaceable is subverted by the moral irrelevance of the
>> criteria for individuating animal species. I am therefore inclined to
>> embrace the heretical conclusion that we have reason to desire the
>> extinction of all carnivorous species, and I await the usual fate of
>> heretics when this article is open to comment."
>> The full fairy tale can be read at
>> <http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/09/19/the-meat-eaters/?hp> It
>> does not appear to be a very clever piece of satire.
>> And what about the children? Presumably we should also get rid of
>> exhibits of fossil carnivores, ranging from Smilodon to Tyrannosaurus,
>> because such exhibits merely exalt the carnivorous lifestyle and are
>> among the most popular of museum exhibits. What if the kids see them?
>> Dan