Vamos dar início a uma pequena série sobre este tema, em que vamos publicar os trabalhos desenvolvidos pelos alunos da Pós-Graduação em Comportamento e Bem-Estar Animal do ISPA. Mas antes de começar a publicar estes textos, queria partilhar uma comunicação muito diferente, que nos chegou pelas mãos de uma colaboradora que esteve no congresso Minding Animals.
Agradecemos a Orsolya Varga pela foto e Monique Janssens pelo próprio poster. Quem preferir ver a comunicação em formato de texto pode encontrar o resumo (em inglês) no primeiro comentário abaixo.
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The animal’s view on pleasure and painBy Monique Janssens, communications consultant on ethical and societal questionsMain question: When an animal is suffering, do rights, responsibilities or relationships matter?Conclusion: No. To the animal, suffering is suffering. It wants wellbeing and relief from pain. What counts is the animal’s perspective.Utilitarianism plays an important role in ethical decision-making about issues such as animal experiments, euthanasia of pets, and genetic modification. A crucial factor in ethical decision-making is the weighing of pain and discomfort (of animals and humans) against wellbeing (of animals and humans). This importance of utilitarianism is well-deserved, as it is a well grounded ethical view. In short: What is morally good? We don’t know. But we do know what we ourselves strive for. This is apparently what we judge as good for ourselves; otherwise, we would not be striving for it. I pursue a nice and warm place to live; love and affection; safety; health; being able to take care of my child; a fulfilling job; the freedom to make personal choices; etc. These elements constitute my wellbeing. A sow does not want my job but some mud to grub and wallow in. It wants to take care of its piglets and to keep them safe in a nice and warm home. Looking around us, we see all sentient beings striving for their own wellbeing and species-bound interests. This is why we can assume that all sentient beings want to maximize their wellbeing and interests. So, in order to be moral animals, we must help maximize the wellbeing and interest of as many sentient beings as possible and to minimize their suffering, each counting equal because all sentient beings want it. Philosophers have defended other theories, introducing moral concepts such as rights, responsibilities and relationships. These views are wrong because they ignore the following: what is good for a sentient being, is what is good for it from its own perspective. The perspective of the ethical decision-maker is irrelevant. It all about my interests from my perspective against the other’s interests from his, her or its perspective.To make this clear I will discuss the case of a dog in three different roles: a pet in its owner’s house, a pet lost in the streets, and a stray dog in the woods. Apart from slight differences in interests, in every role it is in the dog’s interest to feel well and not to be in pain. We will soon see that from the animal’s perspective it is irrelevant who causes its suffering or who is responsible. For as long as we are talking about the dog’s interests, it’s the dog’s perspective that counts, which is: I want to feel better. The only relevant issue for ethical decision-making is which option of action has the best cumulative result.The far-reaching consequence of this reasoning is that we should also view the wellbeing of wild animals from their perspective. This complicates matters, because it is extremely difficult to decide where and when to intervene between natural predator and prey. But we should accept that the suffering of wild animals is equally bad as the suffering of kept animals. The only legitimate reason for giving priority to changing industrial farming and not to changing nature is that by doing the first a much more positive result can be achieved, without disintegrating society, morality and nature at the same time.