Thursday, March 30, 2017


Adam Shriver, "Knocking Out Pain in Livestock:  Can Technology Succeed Where Morality has Stalled?" (2009)

"....Where Morality has Stalled"--why does he think morality has stalled?
  • more vegans and vegetarians
  • more reforms
  • but higher per capita meat consumption (190 lbs/person --> 222 lbs/person)
  • population increase
  • further evidence (not in Shriver): changing minds vs. changing behavior (Schwitzgebel)

    Shriver aims to show (p. 178, second column, toward end)
    1. "genetically engineering livestock [that can't suffer pain] will produce a world with better consequences..." (utilitarian approach)
    2. "doing so will not introduce any new 'wrongs' into the world that will be offensive to other ethical theories" (besides utilitarianism)


    Genetic Engineering (GE) vs. Animal Breeding
    • Breeding: Labrador retriever mates with poodle --> labradoodle  
    • GE:  spider genes added to goat genome --> goat-spider (first one made in lab, next generation via regular reproduction)
    • How GE works:  FDA Q&A
    GE and our food supply
    •  Plants:  ~90% of food in supermarket contains some GE plant ingredients
    •  Animals:  GE animals have been created, one has been approved for food:  GE Salmon
    Other proposals as to how GE can make animal-consumption ethically better
    • cow-roo--cattle that produce less methane, so contribute less to global warming
    • enviro-pig--pigs that produce less polluting excrement, so do less damage to environment 
    • idea discussed (critically) by Gruen--could engineer animals so they have very short lifespans; thus, when they're killed they're not deprived of future life

    1. sensory component (localization and quality--sharp, dull, burning, etc.)
    2. affective component (the hurting and suffering)

    Evidence for separateness of sensory and affective components
    1. researchers found that lesions to ACC left human patients with sensory pain, but less affective pain
    2. researchers found that lesions to S1& S2 left them with affective pain, but less sensory pain
    3. morphine, which affects ACC more, leaves human patients with sensory pain
    4. behavior of rats after ACC ablation: they seem to lose affective pain but retain sensory pain (see below)

    Proposal: use GE to create animals with no ACC, but with intact S1& S2
    • peptide P311 controls formation of ACC
    • knockout mice without P311 behaved like the rats after ACC ablation
    • "P311 is likely to play a similar role in all mammals" (p. 180)
    • the knockout mice could their cages
    • knockout livestock would their limited environment
    • "This would be a good model for sows or veal calves who spend most of their lives confined in small pens where they can't do much of anything that would injure or otherwise harm themselves." (p. 181, first column, top)
    • "ablation of the anterior cingulate causes mother mammals to stop responding to the cries of their young" (p. 181, first column, middle) -- so would relieve suffering caused by separation

    Now for the argument for doing this (p. 119)--

    1. Objection: Knockout animals will acquire more bruises, so will be un-marketable. Reply:  the animals will still feel pain, so will engage in normal pain-guarding and other behaviors.
    2. Objection: GE animals are unnatural.  Reply: farmed animals are already unnatural because of breeding
    3. Objection:  people will be "more careless or cruel in their interactions with the animals" (p. 184, left column, top).  Reply: not clear

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