Animals Essay

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The Predominance of Wild-Animal Suffering over Happiness: An Open Problem Abstract “The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is beyond all decent contemplation,” to quote Richard Dawkins [23]. In particular, I find it plausible that the aggregate amount of pain endured by wild animals exceeds the aggregate amount of happiness, especially in view of the fact that most offspring die soon after birth. If small creatures like insects, other arthropods, and perhaps even zooplankton can suffer, this conclusion seems especially likely, since these organisms live very short lives before dying in often-painful ways, and they preponderate over larger animals by many orders of magnitude. What can be done about the problem? Probably the best we can do right now is promote concern about the issue among animal-welfare activists, academics, and the general public. This will help spur research on important topics like whether insects feel pain, what are the day-to-day hedonic experiences of animals in the wild, and what practical steps can be taken to alleviate their suffering (whether or not their lives involve, on balance, more pain than pleasure). If and when such approaches to improving wild-animal welfare become available, a larger base of concern about the issue will allow for faster and more widespread adoption. In addition, if people are more cognizant of the extraordinary acts of cruelty that occur daily in nature, they will give sober consideration to the consequences of possible future technological endeavors like terraforming, directed panspermia, or even creating new universes. See “The Importance of Wild-Animal Suffering” ( suffering-nature.html) for further details and references. 1 Introduction The fact that in nature one creature may cause pain to another, and even deal with it instinctively in the most cruel

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