I am writing this post to serve as my personal blog. The post might also interest people who are curious for an example of what topics/takeaways may arise in an EA In-depth discussion.


For the sake of conversation, our cohort avoided the subject of how hard it would be to implement animal welfare (excluding money, policy change, and cons that might come along with it). Instead, we focused on how we can individually weigh if animals deserve our moral consideration.

Here are my takeaways from the EA In-depth 4th week discussion: Animal Welfare:

  1. Intelligence. If we care for a 1-year-old baby, a being with less intellect than dolphins, dogs, or chimps, then why should we not also care for those animals? Maybe because you can argue that a baby has a way more considerable potential to develop the intelligence of an adult human than a chimp. 

    In addition, we could also argue that in longtermism view—after maybe a million years (the time it took for humans to evolve)—chimps could also develop the same intelligence as humans. Therefore, we should also care about them as they have similar potential to a human baby, just on a longer timescale.

      
  2. Suffering. Suffering is generally bad. There are indicators that animals do feel pain; therefore, we should not inflict pain on animals (i.e., abolish factory farming). 

     But a counter-argument against this (from a neuroscience perspective) is that though animals show pain indicators like crying, we cannot assume that they have the same depth of suffering as us humans. Suffering is more complex to evaluate than pain. 

      
  3. Utility Monster. Surprisingly, the majority of us agree that if there is a utility monster (an alien/god being that experiences more profound suffering and intelligence), we are more open to accepting that the being deserves more moral patience/welfare than humans (i.e., 10 human lives = 1 utility monster). Hence, we can conclude that the discussion is not motivated by speciesism but from a genuine concern to reduce suffering.

      
  4. Beneficial for humans. Caring for animal welfare, especially for sanitation or illegal hunting, could protect humans from acquiring zoonotic diseases. 
      

Below are some of the articles we have read:

 

Thanks to Jade Varias for helping me proofread this post. Also, thanks to the people I have discussed with and the organizers of the virtual program.

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