Jamieson on (pp. 127-131)
KILLING VS CAUSING PAIN AND REPLACING SIMPLE CREATURES
1. Killing vs causing pain
a. Would it be permissible to use animals for food if they lived happy lives and were killed painlessly?
b. Regan: No
i. Animal right to life as strict as human right to life and no one would think painlessly killing a human and eating her is permissible simply because she had a happy life
c. Singer: Perhaps
i. As a utilitarian, what matters is total value in world, rather than identity or welfare of particular individuals in it
ii. Perhaps we could replace them
2. Replacement argument
a. Permissible to kill animals painlessly as long as replace them with others just as happy?
i. This would presumably not lower the total amount of happiness in the world
b. Singer thinks this argument might work for simple creatures but not for self-conscious persons
3. Singer on self-conscious persons versus simple creatures
a. Persons (who are self-conscious) not only experience the world, but experience themselves as having such experiences, experience themselves through time and have desires about the future
i. They can have desires about the future which can be satisfied or frustrated
ii. Killing them thus frustrates their desires
b. Simple creatures are not self-conscious and only have experiences (of pleasure/pain, for example) and don’t see themselves as the same being existing through time
i. No desires about the future that can be frustrated
ii. Killing them does not frustrate any of their interests
4. Conclusion of replacement argument: Perhaps then simple creatures can be painless killed for food and replaced (and total amount of pleasure in world not decreased)
5. Jamieson’s problems with this argument (1-Would allow raising and killing some “marginal humans” for food and 2-Why can’t self-conscious creatures also be replaced?)
a. Great apes and dolphins and elephants may well be self-conscious persons (who are wrong to kill)
i. Of animals we eat, pigs most likely to be self-conscious
ii. (Singer says all adult mammals may be persons)
b. New born infants and brain-damaged humans are not persons (don’t see themselves as existing through time)
i. But not okay to kill and eat them!
c. Jamieson also thinks one could replace persons and not lose utility, for though we frustrate one individual’s desire to live, we create another individual in whom this desire exists (no-net loss) (p. 130)
Study Questions on Jamieson on Killing vs Causing Pain and Replacing Simple Creatures
1. How are the views of Regan and Singer different concerning painlessly raising and killing animals for food?
2. What is the difference between a simple creature and a self-conscious one?
3. Why might it be preferable to kill a simple creature (painlessly) than a self-conscious one?
4. Why might a utilitarian like Singer allow that painless killing and replacing simple creatures is morally permissible?
5. How does Jamieson criticize this “replacement argument” for eating animals that are painless raised and killed?