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The Importance of Wild-Animal Suffering

Brian Tomasik


Wild animals are vastly more numerous than animals on factory farms, in laboratories, or kept as pets. Most of these animals endure intense suffering during their lives, such as from disease, hunger, cold, injury, and chronic fear of predators. Many wild animals give birth to tens or hundreds of offspring at a time, most of which die young, often in painful ways. This suggests that suffering plausibly dominates happiness in nature. Humans are not helpless to reduce wild-animal suffering. Indeed, humans already influence ecosystems in substantial ways, so the question is often not whether to intervene but how to intervene. Because ecology is so complex, we should study carefully how to reduce wild-animal suffering, giving due consideration to unintended long-run consequences. We should also promote concern for wild animals and challenge environmentalist assumptions among activists, academics, and other sympathetic groups. Finally, we should ensure that our descendants think twice before spreading ecosystems to areas where they do not yet exist.


wild animal suffering; natural harms; population dynamics; predation; death; intervention in nature; sentience; ecology; terraforming; unforeseen consequences

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7358/rela-2015-002-toma


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Relations. Beyond Anthropocentrism
Registered by Tribunale di Milano (04/05/2012 n. 211)
Online ISSN 2280-9643 - Print ISSN 2283-3196

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