Re: Extropians and animal rights

Robin Hanson (
Mon, 11 Jan 1999 15:19:38 -0800

Ian Goddard wrote:
>>So unless you do something else in switching from meat to veggies, like
>>donating money to charities that raise cows which are never killed, the
>>direct effect of switching is to reduce the number of cows who ever live.
>>In order to eliminate that bad end-of-cow-life experience, you elimate
>>the entire cow life experience. If that whole cow life is "worth living"
>>in some sense, this wasn't necessarily a kind thing to do. ...
> IAN: Is a couple unkind to all the babies they
> never conceived? Is the condom a cruel preventer of life?

If a child you created would find their life worth living, you would be doing them a favor by creating them. However, I don't think failing to do someone a favor is "cruel." But I don't see how you can say you're being kind to that possible creature by such a choice.

> No, since a being that never existed is
> not harmed by nonexistence since they don't exist!

To me, it seems that if a creature would, if it existed, prefer that it existed, then that creature isn't getting what it wants if it doesn't exist. Taking things that creatures want away from them "harms" them.

> Would raising humans for food acquire any degree
> of justification because it gives humans lives?
> If so, then causing people to be born just to
> kill them is more ethical than not doing it.

If a certain group of humans were created for food, I suspect that the rest of us would fear we or someone we know might someday become members of that group. We don't have a similar fear about cows.

Robin Hanson   
RWJF Health Policy Scholar             FAX: 510-643-8614 
140 Warren Hall, UC Berkeley, CA 94720-7360 510-643-1884