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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: https://doi.org/10.7358/rela-2015-002-toma

Copyright (©) 2018 Brian Tomasik – Editorial format and Graphical layout: copyright (©) LED Edizioni Universitarie

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

Executive Editor: Francesco Allegri
Associate Editor: Matteo Andreozzi 
Review Editors: Sofia Bonicalzi - Eleonora Adorni
Editorial Board:
Ralph R. Acampora - Carol J. Adams - Vilma Baricalla - Luisella Battaglia - Rod Bennison - Matthew R. Calarco - Piergiorgio Donatelli - William Grove-Fanning - Serenella Iovino - Luigi Lombardi Vallauri - Christoph Lumer - Joel MacClellan - Dario Martinelli - Roberto Marchesini - Alma Massaro - Serpil Oppermann - Simone Pollo - Paola Sobbrio - Kim Stallwood - Sabrina Tonutti - Jessica Ullrich - Federico Zuolo

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