Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Transcript of Prof. Oscar Horta's Live ARZone Guest Chat ~ Part 1

Transcript of Prof. Oscar Horta’s ARZone Guest Chat

19 March 2011 at:

6pm US Eastern

10pm GMT and

20 March 2011 at:

8am Australian Eastern Standard Time

 

Part 1

 

Carolyn Bailey:

ARZone would like to welcome Professor Oscar Horta as today’s Live Chat Guest.

 

Oscar Horta is a philosopher and antispeciesist activist who is currently a professor of moral philosophy at the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain. In 2009-2010 he was a visiting scholar at Rutgers University for the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology. Oscar is the author of numerous papers and articles about speciesism, bioethics, egalitarianism, and the anthropocentrism of environmentalism. He also has a website in Spanish and English, www.masalladelaespecie.wordpress.com.

 

He's a member of the Spanish animal rights group “Equanimal” which increases public awareness of animal exploitation through media campaigns, open rescues, street performances, and demonstrations.

 

Oscar's research explores issues surrounding the moral consideration of nonhuman animals by humans. His work challenges anthropocentric discrimination and other forms of speciesism. He also analyzes the ways in which future human policies would impact the wellbeing of all sentient beings.

 

He considers the most under-addressed problem in the animal rights and antispeciesist movements to be the suffering of nonhuman animals due to causes other than their use by humans as resources. Oscar disagrees with the view that our only duty towards free living animals is to "Let them be!" He believes we should intervene in the wild to help improve the wellbeing of other animals if we are able to and can do so without causing greater harm.

 

Oscar considers himself to be an antispeciesist activist. He supports the granting of legal rights to all sentient nonhumans. However, in his opinion, a rights approach does not adequately address the obligations humans have towards other human or nonhuman animals. He advocates “egalitarianism” which requires that we try to make things more fair and help those who are worse off even if their rights have not been violated.

 

Oscar welcomes the opportunity to engage ARZone members today on a broad range of topics. Would you please join with me in welcoming Oscar to ARZone today?

 

Welcome Oscar!

 

Will:

hiya!!!

 

Pauline Mcquigan:

Bienvenido Oscar!

Jason Ward:

Greetings Oscar!!

 

Paola Capponi:

Bienvenido! :-)

 

Brooke Cameron:

Hey Oscar! Welcome!

 

Luna Hughes:

Hello Oscar

 

Daniel Dorado:

hi Oscar!

 

Sergio Tarrero:

Applause...

 

Susannah:

hola

 

Roger Yates:

Hello Oscar

 

Luciano Carlos Cunha:

Olá, Oscar! Bem-vindo!

 

Arild Tornes:

Is he here now?

 

Dominique:

Hello Oscar

 

Tim Gier:

Hi Oscar!

 

Gabriel Garmendia:

Hey, Oscar! =)

 

Mangus O’Shales:

Hello Prof. Horta

 

Oscar Horta:

Hi all!

 

Monica Nilsen:

hi oscar :)

 

Sadia Rajput:

Hello Mr. Horta, a delight indeed

 

Arild Tornes:

Yeah, now I see him. Welcome!

 

Ben Hornby:

hi Oscar

 

Oscar Horta:

It’s my pleasure!

 

Pearl Lotus:

Hello Oscar.

 

Estela:

Hello Oscar

 

Oscar Horta:

Hi!

It's really nice to see y'all here.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Oscar will be responding to his pre-registered questions first, and then we’ll open the chat up for all members to engage Oscar.

 

I’d like to request that members refrain from interrupting Oscar during the chat session, and utilise the open chat, at the completion of Oscar’s pre-registered questions, for any questions or comments you have.

 

I’d now like to ask Sky to present the first question to Oscar. When you’re ready, Sky.

 

Sky:

Hi Oscar, and thanks for being here! How long have you been vegan, and what was the catalyst for you becoming vegan?

 

Oscar Horta:

Thank you!

 

I became a vegan back in 94. I had stopped eating animals some time before then, but I knew very few vegans and I didn’t know anything about speciesism then I decided to do it because I thought it wasn’t fair for the animals to exploit them. But some time afterwards I started to learn about the arguments for treating animals equally, and was amazed at how strong they were.

 

I recall having been particularly shocked by the argument that points out that if we think we should be respected more than other animals because we are more intelligent, then humans who lack our level of intelligence should be also discriminated against. This was a big discovery for me, and strongly reinforced my veganism. (Also, reading about those arguments is what drove me to study moral philosophy, in order to help animals!)

Tim Gier:

Thank you Prof. Horta, it's interesting that your concern for animals led you to study philosophy. It often works the other way 'round! Anyway, Carolyn has the next question, Carolyn.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Tim. Could you please give your opinion on the difference between anti-speciesism and animal rights?

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Carolyn!

The term ‘animal rights’ is sometimes used in philosophical debates to name the view that moral rights exist and that all sentient animals have them. It’s been mainly used, though, to mean all sentient animals should have legal rights. So you can perfectly defend animal rights, that is, legal animal rights even if you don’t believe that moral rights exist.

 

On the prevailing conception of what having rights means, a rights holder can’t be used as property. So if you’re for animal rights then you must defend that the use of animals has to be abolished, although you won’t stop here, because if animals have rights, then they should also be protected aagainst other things apart from their exploitation by humans. Human rights don’t only protect you against slavery. The same happens with animal rights.

 

However, you can respect someone’s rights yet discriminate against her. or him, of course :-)

A racist individual doesn’t violate the rights of black people if he tries to convince his daughter not to marry black men. But that’s morally unacceptable. Equally, you can respect animal rights yet discriminate against nonhuman animals.

 

For instance, a vegan speciesist wouldn’t violate the rights of animals by deciding to donate to charities that help humans rather than helping animals because he thinks that humans count for more due to his speciesist attitude. (This actually happens!)

 

Antispeciesism is the opposition (or the struggle against) the discrimination of those who don’t belong to a certain species. Antispeciesism opposes all discrimination of nonhuman animals, even if it’s carried out while respecting their rights.

 

I think we should reject speciesism, and I think speciesism is the key term to understand the current relation between humans and other animals.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Oscar! Marcela Palavecino would like to ask the next question. When you're ready, Marcela.

 

Marcela Palavecino:

Hi Oscar, What do you see as being the major differences between animal activism in the Spanish-speaking world and the English-speaking world?

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Marce. There are several ones, I think.

 

In Spanish speaking world the movement is younger, and is still developing. The public doesn’t really know about speciesism and AR. People often confuse it with environmentalism.

 

This doesn’t happen in the English speaking world, due to the work of many activists there for decades now, that's the 1st difference. Here's the 2nd one:

 

In the Spanish speaking world there are no big-budget organizations. An important reason for this (apart from the one I mentioned above) is that in the English speaking world there is a culture of donating to charities. People are quite generous in this respect. That’s great. Unfortunately, in Spain and Latin America, very few people donate to charities.

 

I think that activists coming from English speaking countries would be amazed if they learned how reduced are the budgets of Latin American and Spanish organizations.

 

and here's the 3rd difference.

 

In Spain and Latin America, the antispeciesist movement is much less focused in particular campaigns against certain companies or particular cases of animal exploitation, and it’s much more focused in questioning speciesism. If you take a look at the street events that organizations such as Especismo Cero, Animal Equality, EligeVeganismo, DefensAnimal, Equanimal and other groups typically carry out in Latinamerica and Spain, in most cases they aren’t protests against anything. They are events aimed at spreading veganism. Of course, other groups that aren’t opposed to speciesist or have a welfarist approach don’t do this.

 

Marcela Palavecino:

Very interesting! Thanks a lot

 

Oscar Horta:

My pleasure!

 

Tim Gier:

Thanks again Oscar, the next question is from Laura Briones, who is unable to be here, so Luciano Carlos Cunha will be asking in her stead, Luciano please go ahead.

 

Luciano Carlos Cunha:

Hi, Oscar! I will ask Laura´s question, because she cannot get conected. The question is: "What kinds of protests do you think are effective, both in terms of what to protest and how to protest?"

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Luciano! And thanks Laura!

 

That's a very interesting one. It'll take me a while to respond...

 

Well, rather than examining one by one each type of protest I’d like to say what is the criteria I’d use to examine them. I think that in order to end the use of nonhuman animals there are three main strategies we may follow.

 

And here are they:

 

1- Some people try to make it legally impossible to use animals. There are two ways in which they intend to do this. Some try to do it by introducing regulations in the ways in which nonhuman animals are used. Others try to do it by progressively abolishing (by law) the ways in which nonhuman animals are used.

 

2- Some try to make it impossible to actually exploit animals. They are concerned with the production of goods and services which entail the exploitation of animals, not with the law.

Those campaigns that aim at closing down certain business or sabotaging animal production are examples of this.

 

3- Others try to end the demand of animal products by spreading veganism. In my humble opinion the third strategy is the most effective one, since nonhuman animals will be exploited inasmuch as there are people who want to use animal products. Moreover, if our aim is not merely to end the use of nonhuman animals, but to end speciesism, these strategies will be insufficient. We will need to follow a different strategy: that is:

 

4- We may try to question speciesism.

 

Strategies 3 and 4 are of course fully compatible, though they aren’t the same (we might defend veganism for reasons other than antispeciesism).

 

It’s essential to note, however, that particular campaigns may be used for different purposes, and I mean it's ESSENTIAL to note this! For instance, investigations of the way in which animals are exploited have been often used in order to defend that the places in which they are exploited must be closed down. In my humble opinion, this is not the best idea. However these investigations may be used to motivate those people who see the footage to stop using animals and to question speciesism.

 

I think this is a great idea. Unfortunately I don’t have the time here to examine every kind of action but I think that my view is more or less clear: our action should be directed at questioning speciesism and, together with this, spreading veganism.

 

Luciano Carlos Cunha:

Thanks for the answer, Oscar!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Oscar!

 

Leah McKelvie would now like to address you, thanks, Leah

 

Leah:

Thanks, Carolyn! Hi, Oscar. What are the problems you see with approaches that try to combine animal rights and environmentalism?

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks a lot Leah

 

I'd say I'm glad to read you, but I'm glad to read you all here :-)

 

The ways in which animal rights activists and environmentalists consider nonhuman animals are completely opposed. Environmentalism is a family of very different positions concerned with the conservation of the environment. The environment is what surrounds individuals. Environmentalists view nonhuman animals as parts of such environment, just as plants, rocks or rivers.

 

However, nonhuman animals aren’t part of the environment, that is, of what surrounds individuals. Nonhuman animals ARE individuals, just like we are. So they should be respected just as we want to be respected.

 

Environmentalists are concerned with the conservation of ecosystems or species. In order to achieve this, they are ready to sacrifice individual, sentient animals, even when massive killings are required. This happens all the time. In the UK, environmentalists have defended the mass killing of grey squirrels for the sake of the conservation of "the red squirrel"  (not for the sake of individual red squirrel, but of the species) in this country. In the US, in California, in Santa Barbara and San Clemente islands feral goats and pigs had been exterminated in order to preserve some plant species and “restore” the previously existing ecosystem. In Spain, a terrible program for the eradication of what environmentalists call “invasive species” has been proposed. This includes the massive killing of ruddy ducks, raccoons, feral dogs and several wild sheeps, among many others. Interestingly, they almost never defend that this measures be implemented to cull humans. There are some exceptions, for instance, environmentalist Pentti Linkola supports the mass killing of humans (he actually proposes bacteriological attacks against humans). seehttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pentti_Linkola .According to this, environmentalist groups continuously support speciesist measures. As it is well known, WWF has defended hunting and animal experimentation. Greenpeace has supported fishing. Many green parties support hunting too

 

We must reject this for obvious reasons. We must also struggle to make people see the clear differences between environmental views and AR views.

 

Leah:

Thank you!

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Leah!

 

Roger Yates:

The next question comes from Kate Go Vegan who is busy transcribing so Prof Tim Gier will ask her question......

 

Oscar Horta:

Keep up the good work Kate!

 

Tim Gier:

In your paper, "Questions of Priority and Interspecies Comparisons of Happiness" you projected the outcome of four possible human policies:

 

 (i)    Policy 1 consists in helping those humans whose lives fare worse without altering the overall consumption of nonhuman animals.

 

 (ii)    Policy 2 consists in decreasing the overall consumption of nonhuman animals.

 

 (iii)    Policy 3 is twofold. It diverts the available resources to carry out two parallel efforts: helping those humans whose lives fare worse and decreasing the overall consumption of nonhuman animals.

 

 (iv) Finally, Policy 4 consists in bringing an end to the consumption of nonhuman animals.

 

Could you talk about your findings?

 

Oscar Horta:

Ok, thanks Tim, and thanks Kate!

 

Well, I have to say that's a very technical paper I mean with lots of graphics, and data and all that but it's basically about this. It considers the numbers of humans and of those nonhuman animals they kill for food and it examines the ways in which we could try to compare their happiness. It puts all those data in some graphics and then it shows how those graphics would vary if we followed each of those policies.

 

The conclusion is that if we have limited resources and used them to help both humans and nonhumans we will do far less good than if we focus on ending the harms that animals suffer, which includes stop eating them, of course. The problem is I can't reproduce the graphics here! :-) But you can check'em out here...

 

http://masalladelaespecie.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/question-of-priority-interspecies/

 

It's a heavy (and maybe heady) file

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Oscar! David Pearce would like to ask the next question, thanks, David.

 

David Pearce:

Oscar, Do you think it will be feasible to achieve global veganism through moral argument alone? Or will we also need in vitro meat?

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Dave! Glad to see you here too.

 

Ok, well, I wish in vitro meat was the solution to animal exploitation and speciesism (even though I personally wouldn’t really like to taste it). However, and setting aside the fact that at least some of the research currently carried out to develop it employs animal products, I think this won’t be so. Unfortunately, nonhuman animals are used in countless ways Meat consumption is probably the main one, but it’s not the only one. Moreover, many people have the feeling that what’s natural is good, for some reason. So I’m sure many people will think that “natural meat” will have some sort of quality that in vitro meat will lack and will still demand that animal slaughter takes place. So I think that, unfortunately, there’s no substitute, for moral argument. We need to change the minds of the public, I’m afraid there’s no shortcut for that.

 

Having said this, I hope people eat in vitro rather than animal flesh!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks again, Oscar. Your responses are insightful and very helpful! Daniel Dorado would like to ask a question next, thanks Daniel, when you're ready.

 

Daniel Dorado:

hi Oscar

 

Could you give a brief explanation of egalitarianism, and how it differs from other views such as utilitarianism or a rights approach?

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Dani!

 

Egalitarianism defends that a situation is better if there is less inequality in it and those who live in it are as better as possible. So,according to egalitarianism, we should try to improve the situation of those who are faring worse even if that means making somehow worse the situation of those who are faring better. Because of this, egalitarianism opposes, for instance, utilitarianism, rights theories, perfectionism, care ethics, etc.

 

Let me use some examples to answer this question

 

Suppose that by inflicting pain on a tiny minority of sentient individuals we can increase the happiness of the majority. Utilitarians would say it would be right to do that, because they just consider the total sum of happinesss.

 

Egalitarians would say it would be wrong. They would agree with the rights approach here. But suppose we can reduce the plight of a minority who is suffering by stealing some of the wealth of those who are better like Robin Hood did! Suppose that doing so would violate the rights of the ones who are better, so supporters of the rights approach say we shouldn’t do it. Suppose also that the ones who are better are a majority, so utilitarians would side with rights theorists here and say we shouldn’t  do it. In this case, egalitarians would oppose both utilitarians and rights supporters, and say “don’t respect that right, and help the ones who need it!”

 

If respecting someone’s rights means that someone else is in a worse situation through no fault from her, egalitarians say that respecting that right is unfair and unacceptable.

 

Egalitarians also oppose care ethicists, who claim we must be mainly concerned with those individuals we have a caring relation with, because it’s unfair for those who don’t have anyone who cares for them to be left to suffer because of that. Egalitarians think that shouldn’t be

 

Daniel Dorrado:

ok, thank you very much!

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Dani!

 

Roger Yates:

The next question comes from Brooke Cameron....

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, Roger. Hi Oscar and thanks for being here today and giving such excellent responses!

 

What are your thoughts on the alteration, by surgical or chemical means, of nonhumans in order to interfere with their reproductive cycles? Do you hold different views on this depending on whether the individuals are free-living or domesticates?

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks for this interesting question!

 

That’s something that, in principle, I think most of us would think it’s not something good to do. However, there are situations in which not doing so may have far worse effects than doing it. This is why many of us agree with spay & neuter campaigns. Regarding the second part of the question, I see  no reason to make a difference between the way we consider the interest of an animal due to the fact that s/he belongs to one species or another one.

 

Whether s/he lives in nature or is a domesticated animal makes no difference with regard to the importance of her suffering and her life. So I see no reason to prevent a huge amount of dog or cat suffering and death from occurring and not preventing a huge amount of, say, elk suffering and death from occurring, if the way in which I can avoid that suffering and death is just the same in both cases.

 

So I think we shouldn’t act differently depending of what are the animals involved.

 

Brooke Cameron:

Thanks, Oscar

 

Oscar Horta:

Thank you, Brooke!

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Next up is Prof. Roger Yates. when you're ready, Rog …

 

Roger Yates:

In a detailed examination of the concept of speciesism, you defend this definition: “Speciesism is the unjustified disadvantageous consideration or treatment of those who are not classified as belonging to one or more particular species.” In Animal Rights Human Rights: Entanglements of Oppression and Liberation, sociologist David Nibert points out that sociologists define “isms” in a more specific way than others do, and this is the case in the sociological definition of speciesism. Essentially Nibert is moving the analysis from the micro to the macro, saying that speciesism, like racism and sexism, is an ideology rather than a prejudice. He says, “an ideology is a set of socially shared beliefs that legitimates an existing or desired social order.” He suggests that various types of prejudice and discrimination are “outgrowths” of ideologies which exist to protect privilege. Nibert suggests that standard definitions of speciesism “somewhat hampers the analysis of the social structural causes of oppression of other animals.” It seems that your definition shares the same problem, as Nibert would see it, of definitions provided by Ryder, Singer and Regan. Do you agree?

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Roger!

 

Oscar Horta:

That's a very interesting one. First, let me clarify that “discrimination” is different from “prejudice”.  “Prejudice” is mainly a psychological term. It has to do with the psychological reasons why someone may discriminate against others. Discrimination is a moral term. That is, a normative one. It says one disadvantageous treatment is unjustified. This would be so even if no one had such prejudice.

 

Having said this, and more to the point, I think that speciesism is a very complex phenomenom which needs to be assessed from different approaches. I’d say that speciesism is primarily the discrimination of those who don’t belong to a certain species. But we can also use the term ‘speciesism’ to mean a certain social system based on the speciesist discrimination, or an ideology based on that discrimination. Such ideology reinforces discrimination, but that’s of course because what defines such ideology is the idea that those who don’t belong to a certain species can be disadvantageously considered, which is discriminatory because it is unjustified that's what makes a certain ideology discriminatory

 

If it wasn’t so, if such ideology wasn’t based on the idea that the interests of those who don’t belong to a certain species count for less it wouldn’t be a speciesist ideology.

 

So I’d like to use the term “speciesism” to name primarily the idea that defines what that ideology is about, but I also think that the term is aptly applied to name such ideology.

 

Oh, and I also think that it can be used as a psychological term to use a prejudice, that is, a psychological attitude which consists in considering those who don’t belong to a certain species in a way that, from a moral viewpoint, we can regard as discriminatory.

 

David Pearce:

APPLAUSE

 

Roger Yates:

can I have a follow up?

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Sure, if that's OK with Oscar

 

Oscar Horta:

I’d love it if you do!

 

Roger Yates:

Thanks

 

Roger Yates:

I agree, Oscar and I guess then that the fullest understanding comes from an appreciation of the way the sociological and the psychological intertwines?

Oscar Horta:

Well, that will provide us with an understanding of how speciesism works in practice economy, anthropology and law studies would help here too. From the viewpoint of moral philosophy we appraise something different we consider whether such or such position (in this case speciesism) is justified or not I think we need all these approaches to have a full understanding of speciesism, they are complementary, not mutually exclusive.

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks again, Oscar! Ben Hornby would like to address you next, thank you, Ben.

 

Ben Hornby:

I read your paper “The Ethics of the Ecology of Fear against the Nonspeciesist Paradigm: A Shift in the Aims of Intervention in Nature” with great interest and found your argument against the reintroduction of wolves into those environments where they were long ago removed to be persuasive. Would you have favoured the interventions that removed the wolves in the first place?

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Ben!

 

That's a very good and tricky question :-)

 

Those who firstly “removed” the wolves did so by killing them, and, as you can imagine, I don’t advocate killing animals! I reject those murders, obviously! But today, I think that the reintroduction of predators appears to be a terrible measure. Also, a main point here is that we should be very careful whenever we intervene in nature. Having said this, what I do favour is examining all these problems to see if there are ways in which animal suffering and death can be reduced. Let me put the link to the paper...

 

http://digitalcommons.calpoly.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1114&..."the+ethics+of+the+ecology+of+fear"

 

Ben Hornby:

Thank you!

 

Roger Yates:

Next we have another question from Kate and, therefore, more work for Tim......Tim...

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Ben

 

Tim Gier:

Some people say that it's speciesist to intervene in the lives of free living animals, even to make their lives better. They argue that this is a form of domination, and claim that when they intervene, humans are interfering in the lives of animals who would prefer to live on their own terms. How would you respond to that? –done-

 

Oscar Horta:

Thanks Kate-Tim. Maybe I should say thanks KATIM

 

I think the assumption on which that claim is based (that animals prefer to be let alone rather than aided) is wrong. Animals don’t prefer to be let to starve alone rather than to be given food. They don’t prefer to be killed by disease rather than to be healed.

 

They don’t prefer to suffer from hunger and thirst rather than being aided. Etc. The claim that in situations such as these ones animals prefer to suffer and die rather than to be helped... seems to me completely unbelievable. In fact, it’s quite apparent to me that animals would prefer to be helped in those situations. Therefore, I don’t think helping is domination. It just makes no sense to me to say that acting in a way in which you are making someone’s life better (or actually saving her life) is domination. If my life is ever at risk, I’d loved to be saved. If I’m in agony and you can relieve me, I’d love to be relieved my agony.  In fact... I think any of us would! If that were domination, I’d have no reason to oppose it! But I’d never call that domination

 

I think it’s speciesist to consider differently the interests of humans and animals. So I won’t ask for animals anything less than what I’d want for myself. We may refuse to help animals because we like to see them living and dying with no help from us. But let’s not deceive ourselves: it’s not what the animals would choose, if they could, in situations such as the ones I’ve described. Refusing to help them would thus be doing something in accordance to OUR preferences, not theirs.

 

Tim Gier:

Thank you Oscar, as a follow-up to the previous, I am going to present two more similar questions from Carolyn and me, which get to different aspect of this important topic.

 

Oscar Horta:

Sure, thanks!

 

Tim Gier:

The 1st question is: Hi Oscar, you write that we should intervene in the wild to help improve the well-being of other animals if we are able to and can do so without causing greater harm.

 

Could you please give an example of how and why human interference would be beneficial to free living animals, and why you believe in the necessity of human interference; do you believe that nonhumans have a right to have their suffering reduced by humans?

 

And the 2nd question is:

 

The record of humankind’s interventions in nature is not one that reflects well on our species. While I agree that a hypothetical exercise (such as your thought experiment “Disvalue in nature and intervention”) can be useful to help us clarify our duties towards other animals, isn’t it true that the unintended consequences sure to manifest in any human intervention mitigate against our meddling?

 

Oscar Horta:

Cool. Thanks for these three questions, I’ll start with the first one.

 

There are many ways in which we can imagine ourselves helping animals in the future. I mean nonhuman animals living in the wild. But there are also several ways in which we could help them now. For instance, Many animals starve in the wild. Consider this case. Five years ago, in the Czech Republic, during a period of food scarcity, deer--or deers, if we want to use a nonspeciesist terminology :-) --were so hungry they blinded themselves by eating toxic plants. They never do this, but they were forced to do it because they were starving. Here’s the link to this:http://www.radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/long-winter-creates-stress-for-wild-animals It would have been perfectly feasible to feed those animals. Another case: in her book Ethics, Biology and Animals, Rosemary Rodd explains that during the 80’s a number of foxes were vaccinated against rabies in the UK. Now, I’ve learned that they were using animals to develop such vaccines. Furthermore, those who carried it out didn’t want to help the foxes, they were just concerned with human interests. They wanted to stop this disease, which could have been transmitted to dogs and then to humans. However, any of us can see that this shows that it could be perfectly feasible to help sick animals, at least in some cases.

 

Consider also the case of myxomatosis. As it is known, this terrible disease has been spread in Australia in order to exterminate the rabbits. It’s reasonable to think that their action was completely unacceptable. Suppose that humans reflected on this and thought:  “Hey, what we did was terrible! We should now try to repair it by curing this disease”. So they introduced some antidote against it.

 

Wouldn’t that be great?

 

Of course it would!! But then, how come it would be a good thing to do it in this case and not in other cases in which the disease had a natural cause? I see no reason to assume this.

 

As for the second one, (do animals have a right to have their suffering relieved),

 

I think it would be great if we all had a legal right to have our suffering relieved whenever that is possible. If you mean moral rights, according to the egalitarian view I presented before there isn’t such thing as moral rights. However according to this egalitarian view, if you’re in need of help and I can help you, I should help you. Those who think that rights exist may think that only humans have rights (and that would be speciesist). They may also think that we have very few rights which include no positive rights (that is, rights for others to do things for us —negative rights are rights not to harmed by others). They might then think that we don’t have the right to be helped if, say, we are involved in a car crash and are agonizing on the road and can be helped without much effort.

 

Given this, they may reject that animals have a right to have their suffering relieved. But if they think we have the right to be helped in situations such as the one I’ve described and aren’t speciesist they can’t deny that animals also have the right to be aided which would be parallel to our own one.

 

As for the 3rd one..,

 

I think you and I can agree (which is great, I really enjoy reaching agreements, I hope we can do it now!) :-)

 

I have no problem to agree with you that there are few ways in which we may succeed currently when it comes to promoting public policies resulting in a long-lasting intervention that reduced the harms that animals suffer in nature.

 

 (Even though this may perfectly change in the future).

 

I’m happy to agree with you on this if you also agree with me that whenever that is feasible and we cannot reasonably assume that the consequences of doing it would be worse than not doing it, then we SHOULD do it. even if it's counterintuitive at first.

 

My main point here is this, there are many people who have environmentalist views according to which it is bad to help animals living in the wild. So if an animal is starving, or if you could cure an animal’s disease, or save her from a fire you shouldn’t do it because it would be unnatural.

 

They would prefer that those animals die because that’s natural rather than feeding them. Many people think so even among the AR community. Yet it if instead of a nonhuman animal, the victim was a human, they’d help him. I think we should strongly oppose this speciesist view, which, from my viewpoint, it’s wholly immoral.

 

Tim Gier:

I do agree with you, and I believe that small scale well controlled experiments to help better the lives of other animals may lead us one day to a world with less suffering.

 

Oscar Horta:

Hey, so we made it!

 

Tim Gier:

:)

 

Oscar Horta:

The agreement... you remember? :-)

 

Carolyn Bailey:

Thanks, Oscar. Eduardo Terrer would now like to ask a question, which will be asked in Spanish and Oscar will translate for us. Thanks, Eduardo.

 

Oscar Horta:

Fine.

 

Eduardo Terrer:

Hola

Eduardo Terrer:

Un momento porque la tenía preparada en inglés

 

Oscar Horta:

ah, ok.

 

Oscar Horta:

He says he already has it translated.

 

Eduardo Terrer:

Va la diferencia entre un individuo libre que sufre y un individuo explotado que sufre,

 

Oscar Horta:

You can put it directly in English if you want

 

Eduardo Terrer:

ah, ok ... the difference between a free individual and an individual suffers gets exploited, if it considers that the situation of living being exploited and imprisoned is more negative than to live free and can suffer, and whether, based on this, think you should defend animals suffering in nature, even though this might detract from the fight against animal exploitation. (google translator)

 

Oscar Horta:

Ok, thanks!

 

I can try to give two different answers because this question may be interpreted in different ways, If I have to choose between helping an animal who is being exploited by humans and will suffer for sure or an animal who is free and may suffer I'd obviously help the first one.

 

If the choice is between helping an animal that is being exploited and one that is not if the harm they are suffering is the same I would be indifferent.

 

Because I'm concerned with the actual animal, I want to help HER

 

Of course depending on our strategical considerations we may decide to do this or that, but that's another issue. Your worries are that if we care about animals living in the wild we might be detracted from fighting for veganism. I don't think this needs to be so Just as I don't think either that caring and acting for those who are suffering the most should make it impossible for us to help others who are in a not-so-bad situation for instance, fighting against factory farming shouldn't in any way make it a problem for us to fight with equal energy the exploitation of animals exploited in ·"free range" conditions

 

Finally, I'd also like to point out that animals living in nature find themselves in no paradise. Most of them live terrible lives. Most of them die in agony just when they've started to exist. Suffering prevails in nature over wellbeing. We usually don't see this because we tend to think of big mammals when we think of animals living in nature, but the truth is that most of them are invertebrates for each of them who survives to maturity, thousands or millions of eggs give rise to individuals who will starve or be eaten by others when they have just started to exist.

 

I'm trying to find a link to this issue hehe. Well, you can check this:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R-selection It explains the reasons why most animals die in agony at the beginning of their lives.

 

Tim Gier:

This concludes the formal session of Prof. Horta's chat, we'll now be happy to take questions from members. Please contact either Roger Yates or myself (in Carolyn's absence) if you have a question.

 

***********

 

Part 2 of Professor Horta's ARZone Guest Chat may be found at:

 

http://arzone.ning.com/profiles/blogs/transcript-of-prof-oscar

 

(Please leave comments on Part 2 of Prof. Horta's Transcript)

 

ARZone exists to promote rational discussion about our relations with other animals and about issues within the animal advocacy movement. Please continue the debate after chats by starting a forum discussion or making a point under a transcript.

 

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