"Planes would fly just as well, given a fixed design, if birds had never existed; they are not kept aloft by analogies."
You can grab your carry-on baggage while staying out of the aisle entirely. It's not hard.
It makes sense to say that rabbits and foxes have interests in a way that rocks and air don't. To be sure, they don't have the competence to represent these interests within a moral framework. Perhaps, though, they have something proto-normative about them. (In a slogan: Interests precede oughts.)
"it feels like I'm telling philosophers that their life's work has been a waste of time."
If my immediate interest is to trigger a subject's saliva reflex, it would be a much better use of my time to vividly describe to the subject the sensations of biting into a lemon than it would to inquire after the algorithms that give rise to lemony sensations.
I am reductionist, but I can't quite imagine an intellectual life that abstracted away all conscious interest in phenomenological structure in favor of monomaniacal attention to the base structure. Then again, there's no accounting for taste. (Or is there?)