I want to thank Tetrapod Zoology for pointing me to a few interesting philosophical issues to contemplate today. Among them: Are humans ethically obligated to stop predatory animals from killing and eating their prey?
The Abolitionist Project suggests that we do. Supporters of the project suggest that we have the moral calling to retrain predators so that they no longer eat other animals. Tigers would be refashioned so that they would munch happily on carrots. Sharks would chew on kelp. Praying mantises would hang out in people’s compost bins, eating rotten sticky buns instead of other insects.
There are several problems with this idea. What would the amoebas do? Would they be re-engineered to live on house dust? How would we cope with the lack of ecological control of herbivores, ready to defoliate the entire planet? What makes plant suffering permissible? How is it ending suffering to make kitty cats eat lettuce, when what makes them feel truly fulfilled is to hunt down little birdies and rabbits?
The Abolitionist Project also promises that we will all, in the future, be genetically pre-programmed to be constantly happy in a way that we can’t even imagine today. Does happiness mean anything if it’s predetermined, regardless of conditions? Will people have any reason to accomplish anything, if happiness is pre-guaranteed?