Wednesday, October 4. 2017
Amia Srinavasan's critique of "Doing Good Better: Effective Altruism and a Radical New Way to Make a Difference" by William MacAskill
is excellent, pointing out how much Effective Altruism (EA) simply takes for granted (e.g., capitalism itself, and the status quo).
But the worst is that EA is psychopathic -- as psychopathic as Darwinian evolution itself: Evolution's sole criterion is maximizing (“satisficing,” really) net survival and reproduction, and EA utilitarianism’s sole criterion is maximizing net utility. Both turn a blind, "rational" eye on collateral damage, including proximal collateral damage.
That’s not morality, it’s mathematics. And treating emotion as if it were just a vice or a distraction is not a virtue. In fact, it was (ironically) Darwinian evolution itself (the origin of sentience, hence suffering, hence all moral problems) that implanted empathy and compassion in mammals and birds (at least), probably in the adaptive service of reproductive success (in altricial K-selected species, at least, of which we are one). Without those traits we’d all be psychopaths (as r-selected, precocial species may be).
In the trolley problem, any mother who would not flip the switch to save her own child rather than another’s would be a psychopath. If it was for the sake of saving two children of another instead of her own child that she failed to flip the switch then she’d be an EA utilitarian — and a psychopath.
Altruism needs to be compassionate, not just “effective.” And charity begins at home (or it never begins at all). Nor would an uncharitable world be a hospitable one to live in: It would be rather like a zombie world. Surely an (emotionally!) weighted combination of EA and proximal compassion would be better than EA alone.
Monday, August 7. 2017
voulez-vous un RODÉO à MONTRÉAL
ANNÉE après ANNÉE?
Alors que plusieurs villes et États dans le monde bannissent le rodéo en raison de la souffrance animale qui en résulte, se tiendra à Montréal, dans deux semaines, la « première édition » du nouveau rodéo urbain destinée à souligner le 375ème anniversaire de la ville…
§§§ While several cities and states worldwide are outlawing rodeos because of the suffering they cause, in Montreal, in two weeks, there will be the "first edition" of a new "urban rodeo" to celebrate the city’s 375th anniversary…
La réputation globale de Montréal en matière de bien-être animal s’en trouvera assurément entachée.
Montreal’s global reputation in matters of animal well-being will certainly find itself stained…Visiblement, le maire de Montréal ne s’en formalise pas :
Obviously the mayor of Montreal has no problem with this (video is in French):
Et qu’un cheval meurt lors d’une épreuve de monte extrême du même fournisseur de rodéos (St-Tite) trois mois avant son « rodéo urbain » ne le perturbe aucunement...
And the fact that a horse dies in a bronco-riding trial from the same rodeo producer (St-Tite) three months before his “urbain rodeo” does not trouble him either…
Grady, 6 ans, s’est fracturé la colonne vertébrale en raison d’une « zone de faiblesse » qui n’a pas été détectée au préalable, malgré les précautions que disent prendre les vétérinaires mandatés par le Rodéo de St-Tite. Si Grady n’avait pas été soumis au rodéo, il serait encore en vie aujourd’hui.
Grady, age six, broke his back because of a "weak area of his spine" which was not detected in advance, despite all the precautions that the St-Tite Rodeo's veterinarians boast of taking: If he had not been forced to perform in rodeos, Grady would still be alive today.NOUS AVONS BESOIN DE VOUS pour ramener le maire Coderre à la raison -- en démontrant que le rodéo est insoutenable et illégal !
Merci de soutenir notre campagne de financement (voir ci-dessous)
WE NEED YOU to bring mayor Coderre back to reason -- by proving the rodeo is untenable and illegal !
Sunday, July 16. 2017
Relatively speaking, decency is increasing (or deplorability is decreasing) (as Steve Pinker has noted) in the human population.
But alas the human population itself is increasing still faster, and with it the absolute amount of agony we are wreaking.
Otherwise put, we are (so far) becoming bigger faster than we are becoming better.
No solace for those being crushed under our collateral-damage footprint; not even when the only victims left on the planet will be the ones we purpose-breed, all the rest spared their fate only because we have exterminated them.
But the Trumps of this world — rich and poor — sleep soundly, whilst their own tomorrow is still well within sight…
As to climate-change-complacency:
A Chernobylesque comeback
millennia after the Fall
is hardly a consummation
devoutly to be desired
(other than by the daftly devout).
Wednesday, May 24. 2017
Mme Samson (ainsi que M Coderre) répètent depuis des mois exactement les mêmes phrases: « la santé de l’animal est prioritaire… [on nous a donné] l’assurance que les chevaux seront bien traités… les vétérinaires seront sur place »
On se demande, si la santé de l’animal est prioritaire, pourquoi on leur inflige les conditions qui nécessitent la présence des vétérinaires? Il y aura des médecins aussi, pour les cowboys, mais eux font ça volontairement. Les victimes animales n’ont pas le choix.
Et c’est qui qui a donné ses assurances que les chevaux seront « bien traités »? Ce n’est pas les vétérinaires salariés des rodéos par hasard? et/où le rodéo lui-même? ou l’organisation internationale des rodéos?
Car on sait que l’ordre des vétérinaires du Canada s’est opposé au rodéo; la SPCA de Montréal aussi. Et déjà presque 1000 vétérinaires et techniciens vétérinaires du Québec, du Canada, et de partout au monde, ont signé une lettre à M. Coderre demandant l’annulation du rodéo. Face à ces « différences d’opinion » M. Coderre et Mme Samson, étant des démocrates jusqu’au bout des doigts, ont pondéré les POUR et les CONTRE, et ils ont « tranché » contre la vaste majorité, en faveur des représentants de l’industrie du rodéo.
Voilà pour l’opinion des spécialistes vétérinaires indépendants. Il y a aussi trois pétitions en cours de route et déjà signées par plus de 20 000 citoyens qui ne sont pas convaincus que M. Coderre ait bien tranché.
Mais, grande surprise, Mme Samson semble avoir découvert un nouveau fait rassurant concernant les rodéos, pour renforcer sa confiance que les chevaux seront bien traités: « les chevaux ne seront pas obligés de performer »!
Ah oui? Alors ils ne seront pas mis dans un étal puis un cowboy ne sera pas logé sur leur dos, et un sangle autour de leur ventre, et puis une fois la porte de l'étal ouverte, les chevaux ne seront pas les bénéficiares des coups d’éperons aux épaules jusqu’à ce qu’ils ne se libèrent des coups en ruant désespérément pour déloger le cowboy et ses talons? Les victimes auront le droit de vote?
Thursday, March 30. 2017
As a scientist and fellow-vegan, I agree that doctors as individuals should be allowed to opt out of administering euthanasia if it goes against their conscience and that patients should be allowed to choose their doctor. Doctors are not obliged to perform abortions, and patients can choose a doctor who does (or doesn’t). But as surely as doctors should be free to decline to end sentient life if they wish, patients should be free to end their suffering if they wish. Vegans are against causing suffering and against ending life, but life is such that sometimes the two are in opposition. And personal belief in an afterlife is no excuse for imposing one's hypothesis on others.
Tuesday, March 14. 2017
My mother (Zsuzsa Suss/Harnad), who died in 2009, was a great admirer of yours.
She was also a Holocaust survivor, and the one to whom Gary Grill was referring when he reported that she (a Jew hiding under false papers in Rimaszecs in 1944) was threatened and driven off by the gendarmes of Rimaszecs when she (and others) tried to give water to the Rimaszecs Jews that were being loaded onto the cattle trains to Auschwitz for slaughter (“as if they were ‘just’ cattle”).
My mother and father survived, but my aunt, Rozsi (her sister) and their child (Anny) did not; nor did 25 other members of my family. When Rozsi and Anny were inspected at Auschwitz, the inspectors decided Anny was to small and weak to work, so they wanted to send her one way, and her mother another way, but Rozsi clung to her child, so they were both sent to be gassed and incinerated.
That monstrous brutality has been the defining image, for me, of the meaning of life and the meaning of heartless cruelty: anti-life. But I have no illusion that it applies only to my kin, or only to my kind. I recognize, both sides of it, very clearly, very familiarly, in all suffering victims of heartless cruelty and in all dispensers of heartless cruelty. And I find denying the evident, inherent commonality impossible. There are degrees of suffering, to be sure, but both suffering and the battle against those who inflict it are betrayed by exceptionalism.
Substitute for “pig” any innocent, suffering creature, made to suffer, heartlessly, and you have the essence of the evil of the Holocaust. Of course I know what was uniquely particularly heinous about the Holocaust: My kin and kind were being tortured and exterminated because of their race, and on a scale far beyond any genocide before or since.
That is genocide, and racial hatred. Pigs are not being brutalized and massacred because of racial hatred, but because we like to eat them. Not because we need to eat them: because we like to eat them. Not only is eating them (or any other animal) not necessary for our survival or our health (as you know), but the unspeakable amount of brutality with which we make them live and die is not necessary even for getting the taste we like.
Yet likening the fate of my kin to the fate of “pigs” is felt reflexively as an offence. I had the same reflexive reaction initially, until I realized that it is not an insult or a betrayal to recognize the commonality in all gratuitous suffering — as well as in all heartless cruelty. The offence is rather to hold it at arm’s length and say that the horrors imposed on others are somehow less unjustified than the horrors imposed on me and my kin and kind. I realized that that arm’s-length treatment of the suffering of “other kinds” puts me, if ever so slightly, in the camp of the dispensers of the suffering rather than its recipients and resistors. It is, in fact, a direct failure of the Golden Rule that Anita rightly invokes.
And the sense of insult in the analogy comes also in no small part from humanity’s shameful tendency to add insult to injury by vilifying its victims, be they “pigs” or “jews,” by turning their very name into a mocking expletive.
Enough said. I don’t know if I am able to do so, but I hope to inspire you to reflect that we are far more faithful to the memory of the suffering of our kin and kind if we do not claim that the suffering of other kinds is incommensurable with our own.
Many other survivors have had the same realization, not the least of them being Isaac Bashevis Singer who wrote of animals’ “Eternal Treblinka.”
Best wishes, Stevan
"What do they know--all these scholars, all these philosophers, all the leaders of the world--about such as you? They have convinced themselves that man, the worst transgressor of all the species, is the crown of creation. All other creatures were created merely to provide him with food, pelts, to be tormented, exterminated. In relation to them, all people are Nazis; for the animals it is an eternal Treblinka.”
Joe, if you have the courage to take a cross-species look at a mother who “do[es] not have hopes, plans for the future, romantic involvements, spiritual beliefs and attachments to relatives the way people have,” please look at this.
The point of comparison is not the quality of suffering, but the quality of brutality -- and mercy.
And it involves us all.
Best wishes, Stevan
"I am a “beast." Hath not a beast eyes? Hath not a beast hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, heal'd by the same means, warm'd and cool'd by the same winter and summer, as a “man" is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?.… If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that.” -- The quality of mercy...I am not at all arguing about the relative value of human and nonhuman (sentient) life.
I am talking about suffering: human-inflicted suffering. And not about who suffers more or less, but about the infliction of suffering in the absence of vital (life/death/health) necessity, i.e., needless suffering; gratuitous suffering.
In a choice between the welfare of my own kin and others (whether human or nonhuman), when there is a direct conflict of vital needs, I would always favour my kin; so would you; and we would be psychopaths or robots if we said “no, I would toss a coin.” Family, community, sociality would all be gone if we did not favour and help our own in case of vital need.
But to try to set aside the fundamental issue of the infliction of unnecessary suffering (which is absolutely rampant and ubiquitous when it comes to animals, and almost everyone contributes to it, for example, in eating meat) — by focusing instead on the non-issue of who suffers more, who is worth more, or whom we would favor in a conflict of vital interests -- is simply begging the (moral) question.
I hope this makes it clearer what I am actually talking about. In the analogy with the holocaust I am not saying that the suffering of pigs is identical to the suffering of Jews. I am saying that pigs, too, like the Holocaust victims, have extreme (human-inflicted) suffering: needless suffering, unjustified, unwarranted, unpardonable suffering; and it is inflicted on them with the same heartless cruelty as it was inflicted on the Holocaust victims (and all other victims of human brutality, human and nonhuman).
I will put it another way: Do you think that humans are so superior and exceptional that it is justified for humans to inflict suffering and death on animals, not out of vital necessity, but simply for the taste, or out of habit, or for profit?
This is not a religious question; it is a moral question. And I know of no higher morality. (It’s also Anita Krajnc’s Golden Rule.)
Tuesday, March 7. 2017
It's understandable that we focus first on our parents and family in trying to protect animals from their monstrous and needless fate: if our call to justice falls on deaf ears with our own kin, what hope is there for the victims when it comes to trying to persuade the rest of the world to stop hurting them?
No one knows what will work, but I have less faith in the appeal to justice than the appeal to compassion. I believe it is the realization that horrors that we would never support and sustain if they were being committed against our kin, including our family animals, are just as horrible when committed against any feeling being: that all the victims suffer, just as we would suffer, in their place. And that -- just as Emilia Leese states -- we cause their suffering just "because [we] like how they taste and [we] are used to it," not because it is necessary for our survival or our health. It is cognitive dissonance about that profound moral contradiction, of which we are all aware, that gives rise to the excuses and the discord.
But just as it is a waste of time arguing with heartless strangers who just want to debate their defence of taste over torment, and better to move on to try to reach the hearts of decent people with hearts (the majority, I believe), we should stop trying to reach the hearts of our next of kin once we see we are not making progress. The victims urgently need wider support than that. If charity fails to begin at home, go out and seek it elsewhere.
Harnad, Stevan (2016) CCTV, web-streaming and crowd-sourcing to sensitize public to animal suffering. Animal Justice UK, 2, Winter Issue
Tuesday, February 28. 2017
Yes, there are religions that prescribe the use of animals (including Judaism — and the other two Mosaic creeds too).SH: The motivation for not eating, wearing, or using animals or animal products is moral:Anon: I don't think any of the main religions insist on using animals. There are a lot of vegetarians in Israel. There is some suggestion in Judaism that the rules for dealing with animals are a compromise between the desire for meat and the ideal, which would be vegetarian.
But I was referring to a weaker moral criterion, one whose absence is already immoral enough for me to abjure a religion: the failure to proscribe the use of animals.
"in Judaism... the rules for dealing with animals are a compromise between the desire for meat and the ideal, which would be vegetarian"Then we may as well have
"rules [that] are a compromise between the desire for [stealing, raping, killing, torturing, enslaving, annihilating](as both religious and secular laws do when the victims are members of the human species) rather than to “compromise” (as both do in the case of the desire for meat, fur, blood sports, etc. when the victims are members of nonhuman species).
Humanity’s greatest and cruelest double standard, currently well-meaningly mis-labelled “speciesism” [which is incoherent, because plants are species too — almost certainly insentient, as it happens, but even if they were sentient we would have no choice but to eat them or perish], is the double standard between (1) sentient species that we are forbidden to hurt or kill except in case of vital (life-or-death) necessity (our own species) and (2) sentient species that we are allowed to hurt or kill in the absence of vital (life-or-death) necessity (all other sentient species).
Politicians and businessmen compromise. Deities decree. (And from an omnipotent deity even a no-kill decree would be a cynical and psychopathic joke -- if the very notion [so very humanoid] of an omnipotent Culprit behind it all were not already as absurd as it is morally repugnant.)
(Yes, there are a lot of vegetarians in Israel. More important, Israel (reportedly) has the world’s highest proportion of vegans in the world (5%). But 5% is still extremely tiny.)
Saturday, February 25. 2017
From: Marc Bekoff, Ph.D. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Colorado Boulder, Colorado 80302 USA
To: M. Denis Coderre, Mayor, City of Montreal
Dear Mayor Coderre:
I am writing to you concerning the proposal to bring a rodeo to Montreal to celebrate your 375th anniversary. As an evolutionary biologist and an authority on animal behavior, animal emotions, and animal mistreatment worldwide, I would like to urge you not to do this.
Consciousness of animal abuse is growing worldwide, and with it an increasing opposition to “entertainment” in the form of badger-baiting, dog-fights, cock-fights, bull-fights, trophy- hunting, rodeos, and even worse. In 2013 I reported on a particularly horrific happening at a rodeo in which a horse, to make him more agitated, was electro-shocked before being released into the arena: the terrified victim was so frightened he ran straight into a wall and died within a few moments. This sort of flagrant abuse and suffering does not happen at every rodeo, but in every single event there is always great stress and fear, and usually injury too. And, as in most if not all sport, there is cheating. In rodeos, behind the scenes and also with concealed spurs, all sorts of sadistic things are done to the animals to agitate them more, or simply because blood sports bring out people’s brutality, participant and spectator alike. To put it simply, rodeo animals do not like being treated like this and they suffer deep and enduring pain that doesn’t end when the event is over.
This is not the way to celebrate a city’s proud history — especially a city that is not even historically associated with such extreme cruelty, as is Calgary. Personally, I was shocked to learn of your plans to celebrate your anniversary with a rodeo.
Let me also say there will always be individual veterinarians who are ready to certify that rodeos are harmless fun, just as there are still doctors ready to certify that smoking or working in a coal mine are harmless. But professional veterinary associations (including Canada’s) are clear in their definitions of activities that harm animals, and all rodeo arena events fall clearly and unambiguously under those definitions. It is inarguable that rodeos are inhumane.
We all also know this in our hearts. We would never allow such things to be done to our beloved family dogs or cats. Animals who are used for unnecessary entertainment are not made of other stuff. They do not suffer less than the companion animals with whom we share our homes. They too have nervous systems that feel fear and pain. They are conscious and sentient beings.
While the crowd at a rodeo is roaring with enthusiasm at the “contest” between the human and the nonhuman animal, anyone with a heart and familiarity with the behavior of mammals can see that the unwilling animal is in a state of terror, and often injured and in pain during these “contests.” The only willing participant is the human.
I understand that international animal welfare organizations are approaching the city as well as the sponsors of this event to urge them to call it off and to replace it with something that is humane, and positive, an event that reflects well on Montreal’s heritage.
I hope you will heed them. The very fact of publicly calling off this rodeo would not only be good for Montreal’s international image, but it would also help in the efforts to put an end to such archaic barbarity elsewhere in the world. I urge you to lead the way to call off this rodeo. This really is the correct and compassionate move that would reflect well on your wonderful city. And, I would be more than happy to spread the good word globally. Thank you.
Marc Bekoff, Ph.D.
Professor Emeritus of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology University of Colorado, Boulder
Tuesday, February 21. 2017
Voici la version tronquée (90 sec) de mes questions concernant le rodéo urbain proposé. C'est adressé au Maire de Montréal, M. Coderre, 20 février 2017, et suivie d'un résumé de sa réplique (et d'un indice de ma prochaine intervention):
M. le maire, en tant que directeur d’une revue scientifique sur la sensibilité animale et directeur d’une école d’été sur la sensibilité animale à l’UQÀM: j'ai 10 points à vous adresser:1. Saint-Tite a retiré la prise au lasso à Montréal, admettant ainsi le risque de blessures;M. le maire, pourquoi insistez-vous à abimer l’image internationale de Montréal et du Québec en intégrant une telle abomination dans les célébrations de notre anniversaire?
La réplique assez mécanique de M. Coderre à toutes les questions (y compris celles posées par les deux autres intervenants contre le rodéo, Chantal Cuggia et Carl Saucier-Bouffard) était que:
(i) Les experts (vétérinaires ainsi que l'association des rodéos) nous assurent que les rodéos sont corrects et que le bien-être des animaux n'est pas en risqueProchaine intervention:
(a) Les experts. M. le Maire, nous savons tous qu'on peut toujours trouver des « experts » individuels qui témoigneront pour ou contre tout: les médecins qui témoigneront solennellement que le tabagisme ou l'amiante ne posent pas de risque aux poumons, les météorologues qui témoigneront que le changement climatique ne pose pas de risque à la terre, les politologues qui nous assureront que que les réfugiés ne sont pas vraiment des réfugiés, qu'ils ne fuient pas de véritables risques (ou que c’est plutôt les réfugiés qui posent le risque aux Montréalais). Vous êtes demeuré admirablement peu persuadé par les arguments creux de tels « experts »: Pourquoi n'êtes vous pas pareillement sceptique vis-â-vis des « experts » individuels qui nient solennellement que les victimes du rodéo sont exposées aux risques? Ils sont en minorité, ces experts individuels (ayant souvent des intérêts particuliers), tandis que l'Association canadienne des médecins vétérinaires déclare officielement que les rodéos « présentent une probabilité élevée de blessures, de détresse et de maladies » (et la SPCA de Montréal, ainsi que de plus en plus de spécialistes en bien-être animal partout au monde, font écho de la même conclusion)?
(b) Les victimes. Et est-ce que vous ne tenez pas compte, M. le Maire, du fait que -- contrairement aux fumeurs qui décident de faire face aux risques du tabagisme, ou aux cowboys qui décident de faire face aux risques du « concours » au rodéo -- les animaux n'ont pas de choix. Ils n'ont pas voulu le « concours ». Ils ne comprennent pas, et il sont dans un état de terreur tout au long du « diverstissement ».
(c) Les spectateurs. Et ce n'est en effet qu'un divertissement. Pour les victimes, c'est de la souffrance, inutile, qui leur est infligée pour plaire aux goûts des spectateurs et des cowboys. C'est un « sport » sanguinaire, exactement comme jadis lors des combats entre les gladiateurs (qui étaient souvent eux-aussi des esclaves) ou contre les animaux, ainsi que contre les criminels humains qui avait été condamnés à mort. À l'époque il y avait aussi sans doute des « experts » qui témoignaient alors que tout était correct. Et il y avait les spectateurs qui avaient et qui n'avaient pas le goût pour ça. Et les autorités qui déclaraient alors aussi, que ceux qui n'ont pas lle goût de ce spectacle, ne sont pas obligés dy'assister.
(c) Mais les victimes n'avaient pas ce choix.
Pourquoi, M. Coderre, étant le Maire de cette ville dernièrement déclarée « ville de refuge », pourquoi est-ce que vous ne la déclarez aussi une ville de refus: le refus de promouvoir les sports sanguinaires, avec leurs victimes involontaires et impuissantes? (Vous pourriez même réaliser ça d’une façon propice et digne d’admiration globale, en créant un refuge urbain pour les victimes à Montréal. Voilà la façon clémente et compatissante de célébrer le patrimoine equin du Québec.)
Intervention de Chantal Cuggia:
Intervention de Étienne Harnad:
Intervention de Carl Saucier-Bouffard:
Saturday, February 18. 2017
Q1. M. le maire, je m’adresse à vous en tant que rédacteur en chef d’une revue scientifique internationale portant sur la sensibilité animale, que professeur en sciences cognitives à l’UQÀM, et que directeur d’un institut d’été international sur la sensibilité animale qui aura lieu à Montréal, peu après les célébrations [du trois cent soixante-quinzième] anniversaire de Montréal.Q2: Vous m'avez dit l’autre fois que vous aviez assisté à un rodéo de Saint-Tite et que vous l'aviez trouvé acceptable. Lorsque je vous ai demandé si vous supporteriez un tel traitement pour vos animaux de famille, vous m’avez répondu qu'il existait tout de même une différence entre les animaux domestiques et les animaux de ferme. Vous sembliez même surpris que votre réplique n'ait pas suscité d’applaudissements.
Quelle est cette différence, M. le maire, et en quoi est-ce qu’elle justifie un tel traitement des animaux de ferme?
Il n’existe aucune horreur infligée aux animaux
que nous n'avons pas infligé aussi aux humains
—la subjugation, l’esclavage, la torture, le meurtre, le viol, le génocide--
There is no horror we inflict on animals
Mais envers les humains,
et la plupart de l’humanité s’y oppose
et ne le ferait jamais
But doing it to humans,
Tandis qu’envers les animaux
Et la plupart de l’humanité le demande
et le soutient
Whereas doing it to animals
Jusqu'à ce que ce ne soit plus vrai
comment peut-on attendre à plus de miséricorde que ce qu’on en accorde?
Until this is no longer true
Tuesday, January 31. 2017
Saturday, January 14. 2017
Why the Mainstream “Animal Movement” Promotes Peter Singer
Stevan Harnad: Such a pity -- a tragedy, actually, for the (animal) victims -- this needless, destructive, dogmatic divisiveness. So few vegans in the world, yet the "abolitionist" zealots fight with them instead of trying to reach the hearts of carnivores. This is not the way to cultivate compassion. Nor to reduce suffering. Nor, for that matter, to convert most people to veganism or abolition. -- A Non-Dogmatic Abolitionist
Gary Francione: What are you talking about? It's not a matter of being "divisive." It's a matter of criticizing an ideology which holds that, because animals (supposedly) have a qualitatively different level of self-awareness, they lack an interest in, or have a qualitatively different interest in, continuing to live. That is the basis of the welfarist movement, which holds that killing animals per se is not to harm them and that the focus should be reducing suffering. This has nothing to do abolition. One cannot be "divisive" unless there is a unitary whole that can be divided. There isn't.Stevan Harnad: Hi Gary,
Thanks for your reply. Here are a few clarifications that I think might help:
1. I too am a vegan abolitionist (activist).
2. This means that I do anything I can to help and protect animals.
3. I don't eat or wear or use animals in any way.
4. I do anything I can toward abolishing the use of animals.
5. I do anything I can to try to encourage people to become vegans as well as activists doing anything they can to help and protect animals and to abolish their use.
I realize that most people in the world are carnivores and do not (yet) share all of 1 - 5. So I think that the more people begin to do at least part of 1 - 5, the better for the animal victims, present and future.
I don't hold any part of the ideology that you attribute to the welfarist movement. I am sure that there are people who hold some or all of those views, but they are not vegan abolitionist activists.
I am an abolitionist vegan activist who is also a welfarist, and so are many others. I think that not only do I not fit the stereotype you describe as the ideology of "welfarists," but that that stereotype does not fit many other abolitionist vegan activists who are also working for animal welfare, including those who are provisionally making common cause with non-vegans who are merely trying to reduce rather than abolish animal suffering.
I would be very happy to have a public discussion with you. I admire your heart, your feelings towards animals, and all you are trying to do to help animals and to abolish the horrors. But my public discussion with you will be ecumenical, because I do not oppose the positive efforts of fellow abolitionist vegan activists to end the horrors. I just greatly regret divisiveness among abolitionist vegan activists as well as negative stereotyping. I don't think fighting with one another helps the countless animal victims that we are all fighting to help and protect from the horrors.
Best wishes, Stevan
GARY FRANCIONE: You say: "I am an abolitionist vegan activist who is also a welfarist, and so are many others."Stevan Harnad: Hi Gary,
I know your position and I know your work and I admire and value it, as I do the work of all sincere, dedicated vegan abolitionist activists.
But yes, I cannot agree with you that one cannot be working toward complete abolition while also working for immediate welfare improvements along the way. I know you hypothesize that this entrenches and reinforces animal exploitation and the industries that thrive on it.
That is a hypothesis. It might be right, it might be wrong. I believe it is sometimes right but often wrong. I also cannot bring myself to not do whatever I can to lessen the current victims’ immediate suffering on the strength of a hypothesis. I might have been able to do it (for a while) if there were overwhelming evidence to support the hypothesis, and if abolition were around the corner, but neither of these is alas the case.
One is free, of course, to define “isms” in any way one wishes. You are working toward the total abolition of animal use by humans. So am I. I would say that by the ordinary rules of nominalizing verbs in English, that makes us both “abolitionists.” On the road to abolition, I am also working toward reducing ongoing animal suffering as much and as soon as possible, by any means possible. Knowing your compassion and motivation, I am absolutely certain you are too.
It seems reasonable to say that working to reduce animal suffering is working to increase animal welfare. But the path from a noun (welfare) to an ideologized hyper-noun, “welfarism,” is more arbitrary and subjective. And I think you have projected an ideology onto those who are trying to reduce current animal suffering on the path to total abolition, describing them as people who are delaying or deterring abolition, either inadvertently, or deliberately, for their own interests.
There do indeed exist many people who are deliberately or inadvertently delaying or deterring abolition for their own interests. Such people, either knowingly or unknowingly, really aren’t abolitionists.
But that simply does not cover all the people who say, truthfully, that they are abolitionists, and act accordingly, and who also say, truthfully, that they are “welfarists” as well, trying to reduce animal suffering along the way, and act accordingly.
Nor is there any reason to believe that formulating a hypothesis or attributing an ideology makes real people fit one’s hypothesis or one’s attribution as a matter of fact. That rather exceeds the definitional power of language.
I will be directing a Summer Institute on “The Other Minds Problem: Animal Sentience and Cognition” in Montreal in June 2018. The daytime sessions will be scientific ones, focussed on sentience and biological/psychological needs, species by species, from invertebrates to fish to birds to mammals to primates. The evening sessions will be about ethics and practical activism for immediately reducing and eventually abolishing animal suffering. I hope you can come and give a talk.
With best wishes,
Thursday, December 29. 2016
Extraits du code civile du Quebec B-3.1 - Loi sur le bien-être et la sécurité de l’animalMA QUESTION: « Face à ce constat, comment est-ce que la ville de Montréal peut faire venir le rodéo de St Tite à notre festival NomadFest 2017? »
QUESTION COMPLÉMENTAIRE: « Est-ce que le maire a jamais témoigner de près ce qui ce fait au rodéo — et est-ce qu’il permettrait faire ça avec ses animaux de famille? »(Le maire répond que ça se fait ailleurs aussi (St Tite, Calgary), qu’on nous assure que les animaux ne souffrent pas, qu’il y a des vétérinaires qui sont présent, et que ce qui est important c’est que ça se fasse de façon « professionnelle ». Il promet de m’envoyer des informations supplémentaires à ce sujet.)
Le maire semble avoir attendu à ce qu'on l'applaudisse après cette réplique. C'est un indice de la direction que nous devons prendre: Le maire cherche l'applaudissement, il n'aime pas la mauvaise presse, il souhaite être re-élue. Donc il faut lui communiquer -- sans rancoeur, tout à fait sang-froid -- ce que les citoyens du québéc ont communiqué avec leur manifeste, et ce qu'ils attendent en termes de respect à la nouvelle loi B-3.1...(Le maire répond qu’il a été voir le rodéo à St Tite, qu’il était satisfait, et qu’il y a une différence entre les animaux domestiques et le animaux de rodéo.)
Il faut insister sur une consultation publique, témoignage privilégié de la SPCA de Montréal, témoignage privilégié de l'ordre de vétérinaires, témoignage privilégié des autres métropoles qui ony banni les rodéos, et beaucoup de preuves vidéos des dégâts...
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