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Discussions Discussion Understanding Societies
Bedford Wells, Feb. 17, 2012

A good segment on the impact of social media on the moral decision making among teens and young adults — an area of sociological understanding that is becoming increasingly important.

Bedford Wells

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Discussions Discussion Environmental Ethics
Alex U, Dec. 2, 2011

This radical description of a call to end global suffering actually brings a very valuable, and often ignored point, to attention; suffering is necessary for the balance of our planet. Evolution, and thus the equilibrium of the natural world, relies on survival of the fittest. This means some creatures will get clobbered in order for stronger and healthier individuals to survive. This will undoubtedly lead to suffering.

I realize this article is neither incredibly scientific nor feasible enough to contemplate anytime soon, but it takes the idea behind many animal welfare campaigns to its extremist conclusion. Many advocates of animal rights proclaim animals as being undeserving of suffering for many reasons (e.g. they have innate value, they’re valuable to us as a means to an end, they provide food, transportation, modern medications, healthier lives, etc.) and so we should do whatever is in our power to minimize that for them.

For starters, in Why Zebras Don’t Get Ulcers, Robert Sapolsky discusses that wild animals experience a different stress response than people do. It’s true that death in the wild could be as physically horrible as death to humans, but humans are endowed with the capacity to worry. We can think and stress about incidents that have never happened to us and/or are not putting direct and immediate strain on us due to the presence of cortisol. Whereas wild animals don’t experience the effects of cortisol, so they only panic at the final moment when death is almost upon them. Otherwise, they just don’t care.

Temple Grandin described in her book, Animals In Translation, how dogs don’t suffer the way people do. They experience pain, but they don’t have the capacity to wallow in it. This is why it’s important to keep pets mellow and relaxed after surgeries. They won’t be able to tell you when they’re suffering because it’s not a part of their daily experience.

This isn’t to say that animals don’t suffer, but rather that “suffering” - or whatever the equivalent is to animals - is necessary and variable among all forms of life, and completely dismissing suffering because we attribute our experiences onto animals is just as arrogant as saying they can’t feel anything at all.

Alex U

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