ANIMAL RIGHTS
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We have an ethical obligation to end INDIVIDUAL animal suffering

How much weight should we give to this 'leave nature alone' argument? Here is an animal that is suffering. Should we do anything to help? From an ethical perspective, the answer seems to me to be clear: Yes, absolutely.

STEVEN NADLER: ‘Last winter, unforgettable video footage online showed a starving polar bear, struggling in its Arctic hunting grounds… The video generated a wellspring of sympathy for the plight of this poor creature, and invigorated calls for stronger efforts to combat climate change–and rightly so. Such advocacy on behalf of wildlife usually focuses on species and the effects of human-caused climate change on their survival and well-being as the ecosystems on which they depend undergo drastic changes…

But I would also like to make a plea not simply for polar bears at large, but for this particular polar bear–the one in the video… What happened to this animal? Did the witnesses of its suffering intervene? Did the videographer and his crew take any steps to save it? Usually such efforts on behalf of this or that particular animal meet resistance, even discouragement, on the grounds that we should not intervene as nature “takes its course.”

Now put aside the fact that nature is taking such a course only because it has been altered, perhaps irrevocably, by irresponsible human activity, to the detriment of the members of other species (not to mention our own). Even so, how much weight should we give to this “leave nature alone” argument? Here is an animal that is suffering. Should we (or the people who take such videos) do anything to help it? From an ethical perspective, the answer seems to me to be clear: Yes, absolutely…

Of course, we do often acknowledge such a duty to help animals that suffer, especially when it is clear that such suffering is directly related to human activity. We typically come to the aid of waterfowl harmed by oil spills, sea mammals incapacitated by plastic floating in the oceans, and animals injured by vehicles. But here is the sticking point: why should it be any different with animals whose suffering is less obviously or directly related – and perhaps not related at all – to human activity, suffering for which we less clearly bear responsibility, or for which we bear no responsibility at all?’ SOURCE…

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