Temple Grandin’s Dilemma

Temple Grandin’s Dilemma

Temple Grandin’s reply to those who have identified the inherent contradiction in the statement “I design slaughter houses and I love animals,” is: “some people think death is the most terrible thing that can happen to an animal.” It follows according to Ms. Grandin that “the most important thing for an animal is the quality of its life.”

Ms. Grandin’s argument is derived from an underlying ontological worldview that assumes a dualism between “human” and “animal.” This is a factual inaccuracy. Biological “animality” exists on a continuum: a human animal is a member of a species of bipedal primates in the family Hominidae – “higher primates.” It is from this invalid assumption that Ms. Grandin’s argument tries to follow. Her claim, then, is baseless and open to the challenge of blatant selective reasoning.

If it is wrong to do A to X, then it is wrong to do A to Y if Y is similar to X in the relevant ways. For example, if causing me pain for “sport” is wrong because of the pain then the wrongness of the action is intrinsically tied to my capacity to suffer. Therefore, if A, B, and C can also suffer, and it’s wrong to cause me pain for “sport” because I can suffer, then it is wrong to cause A, B, and C pain for “sport.” This argument follows from collapsing the false duality so fundamental to Ms. Grandin’s unfounded conclusion.

On the issue of death, the following moral form takes shape: If it is wrong to kill me for a triviality such as “taste,” regardless of the “quality of my life,” then it is wrong to kill a cow for a similar reason, regardless of the “quality of his life,” if the cow is like me in the ways relevant to the situation.

Some philosophers argue that death is experientially neutral – it is neither “good” nor “bad.” Therefore, the death experience is not the worst thing that can happen; it just is. Others’ believe that death is “bad” – it is the absolute harm – because one’s opportunities for future “good” experiences are irrevocably ended. Many regard death as a harm if the being in question has certain cognitive capacities that allow for the planning of future “good” experiences. On this view, for some animals, human and nonhuman, death isn’t harmful. (This list is not exhaustive.) However one chooses to view death, a categorical dichotomy between “human” and “animal” doesn’t follow because they each assume as a necessary condition the beings’ sentience. As some animals other than human are the kinds of beings who care about what happens to them (i.e., they have interests and a welfare), the harm of death may be relevant to them.

If death is neutral for Ms. Grandin, then her logic should be extended to human animals, which would, I suppose, go to justify painlessly killing me in my sleep tonight. If death is a harm because it ends one’s chances for future “good” experiences, then Ms. Grandin has arbitrarily and self-servingly excluded a class of beings who necessarily ought to be included because they can and will experience these future “goods.” Finally, if the harm that death is relies on a cognitive function, then Ms. Grandin must include human animals in the group of beings who are only concerned with the “quality of its life,” versus death qua death. This group of humans would include, but is not limited to, every human baby ever born, some mentally handicapped individuals, and the severely senile.

Ms. Grandin’s cognitive dissonance, then, is not rectified by her reply.

Crossposted @ That Vegan Girl

23 Responses to Temple Grandin’s Dilemma

  1. “This group of humans would include, but is not limited to, every human baby ever born, some mentally handicapped individuals, and the severely senile.”

    The list might include some autistic people too…

  2. “If death is neutral for Ms. Grandin, then her logic should be extended to human animals,”

    She might extend her logic that far. Plenty of people I talk to willingly accept that idea. They say murder is a social construct and they don’t think it’s necessarily morally wrong to murder. They just don’t murder. They rationalize their lack of murder by saying it’s illegal, it’s socially unacceptable, they have no motive, etc.

    Basically, we can’t take for granted ‘human rights’ because virtually no knows what they are. Philosophers debate about them, the average person has some vague notion of what constitutes a human right, but there’s really no consensus. Example: death penalty, torture, human trafficking, human slavery, war, genocide ALL exist. And there are plenty of people willing to defend each and every one of those human rights violations.

    Personally, I think it’s all about behavior. The majority of people don’t commit murder. They don’t give the same reasons. They don’t have the same values. They don’t even respect one another, but they behave as if they believe in some basic human rights.

    I think we have to find a way to get people to behave as vegans. They don’t have to adopt the vegan philosophy or label, they just have to not eat animals (or animal products). Because once there’s a critical mass with the vegan habit, it doesn’t much matter the reason. If the habit is there, the killing will end.

  3. It is just as absurd to argue that people don’t murder because it’s against the law as it is to contend that people don’t murder because the bible says so. Obviously we would no longer exist if it took laws or bibles to keep us from killing each other. It comes from inside us and clearly is an evolutionary advantage, this sense that killing is wrong. I am sure that cave people were just as reluctant to kill each other as we are (except when threatened, same as we again).

    How do you turn that switch so the same kind of feeling of wrongness spares animals? Many of us have simply let our core instincts into the daylight. I think, in other words, that sense of moral wrong is already there, but it has been tamped down from years of training in schools and at home. Perhaps that’s reason for hope.

  4. Yes, I too tend to believe that compassion and empathy is part of our core instincts. I know that we’re born as blank slates -but there is a physical “hardwire” in our brains that is responsible for feelings of sympathy.

    And there’s further research that shows teens and young adults learn to supress this emotion:

    So as we get older we push empathy into non-accessible areas of our thinking.

    Of course culture encourages this, in schools and at home – and also by the likes of Grandin. We learn that it is more socially acceptable, easy, neat-fast-and tidy to not feel anything… It’s very sad… an emotional suicide of sorts.

    ~ Recent blog post: A Vegan’s Voice on Animal Agriculture ~

  5. Interesting links, Bea. I certainly agree that empathy is fairly “natural” in human beings. The classic example is: give a child an apple and a bunny and see which thing the child eats and which thing the child plays with.

  6. Interesting to re-visit this post a year later, as it applies more now so than it ever did… 365+ days and we still have the same war(s), poverty, injustice, human and nonhuman slavery, crime, ecological issue, ill health and the same “tributes” to slaughterhouse designers…

    But on the brighter side, I think there’s a lot more people forced to be made aware. I think there are more people who realize the issues all stem the same causes: apathy and lack of respect for Others, and GREED.

    I know the future will be better, I’m sure there is reason for hope…. (I hope).
    .-= Bea Elliott´s last blog ..IF YOU LOVE SOMETHING, YOU DON’T KILL IT. =-.

  7. Here’s a Zen-like koan for you: Temple Grandin has done more than any other single human being in world history to reduce the suffering of actual animals.

    As a human rights advocate, I always find it a bit disturbing when people deny that there are any relevant differences between human beings and animals. There are many situations in which people are justifiably angry precisely because they are being treated like animals. For example, most people think it’s a good thing to sterilize dogs and cats, but it would be a major human rights violation to sterilize human beings against their will.

    I don’t eat any meat or other animal products, but I do think that there are some differences between people and animals that result in different kinds of moral obligations to different species.

    Besides, it’s kind of silly to complain that Dr. Grandin has “cognitive dissonance.” As has been extensively documented, her thought processes are very concrete and visual. She thinks that it’s wrong to make animals suffer, and she has dedicated her career to preventing animal suffering. There’s no dissonance there.

  8. First, the claim, “don’t treat me like an animal,” seems to beg the question “Kermit’s mom”: How do you justify the treatment of nonhuman animals?

    Second, in your attempt to answer this, you argue that “there are some differences between people and animals that result in different kinds of moral obligations.” I ask, again, again, and again: WHAT ARE THOSE DIFFERENCES?

    What you’ve done is set-up a bit of a straw man. We aren’t arguing for the SAME treatment/obligations/etc. What “animal rights” does is show us that even WITHIN our own species; we don’t extend the SAME treatment to every human. Our claim is far simpler: making animals suffer because we gain from their exploitation isn’t justifiable?

    Here is where Ms. Grandin’s dissonance becomes quite clear. She tries to justify this double-standard by appealing to characteristics that many, many humans don’t have; therefore, she is confronted with the painful reality that her argument in defense of killing and eating animals logically extends to humans. But she can’t admit this because it is uncomfortable, etc. That is the definition of dissonance.
    .-= Alex´s last blog ..The Scavenger: “freedom of choice” doesn’t justify eating animals. =-.

  9. I would say that her statement “some people think death is the most terrible thing that can happen to an animal,” is relevant to all animals including humans.

    Death is just another phase of life. I do have a preference on how I die, and I hope that it will be peaceful and as painless as possible and that is what Ms. Grandin wants for every animal. A quality life and a peaceful death is what I believe all animals including humans should want.

    I think us humans have attached many negative connotations to death and some humans have applied their negative connotations to the state of mind of animals. But keep in mind that we humans complicate things more than any other creature.

    Have you ever read Lord of the Rings….what about Heart of Darkness? Humans nature is very complicated, it’s filled with empathy, love, care and compassion…sure, but also with jealousy, greed, selfishness and so on. All we have to do is look at the history of the world and turn on the news to know that without laws, humans are capable of everything—murder, lie, cheat and so on. That’s why laws have been created in the first place—if people didn’t do these things from the get go, we wouldn’t have laws. Laws are part of our social environment, environment is directly linked to our character–so of course, over time, laws change the mentality of people–but the ethics of a person in the United States in 2010 is not the same as cavemen times when there were no laws.

    To bring it closer to home— homosexuals are still not fully accepted, Opera just had a show with a group of people who rallied against this HIV positive gay guy about 20 or so years ago (I don’t remember the exact date), but now that their behavior has been classified as bigoted by popular opinion, these people were embarrassed by their behavior. During the filming of the show, most people agreed with their position—but now that their behavior is not socially accepted, it’s not okay. My point is that, our morals change due to laws and popular opinion—but the real question is, does our nature change as well? I think our nature is in direct correlation to every other living animal. However, due to all the things that makes up our environment, most humans are able to suppress or keep certain emotions at bay.

    I’m not justifying horrific crimes, but when people like you say that we shouldn’t view animals any differently than we view ourselves…I agree, but it just means something different to me. I think humans including vegans view themselves superior to animals, and that is why you’ve made the choice not to eat meat. But when you and I die, we’ll be eaten by them with out a second thought—a bear would eat us with out a second thought. When I bring this up, the answer is that we “know better”—but isn’t that admitting that we are somehow superior to animals? I don’t believe that—I believe that I am a part of a cycle and one day my body will be eaten, and my bones will disintegrate into the earth and I will become one with the universe and the cycle will continue.

    Although, I don’t agree with the vegan view, I think that Eccentric Vegan’s comment is the most beneficial out look towards your cause.
    I don’t think you’ll get anywhere with accusing most people of being inhumane or whatever comment that extremists make. I think people like Ms. Grandin have been more successful in getting others to care about the treatment of animals by bringing up an inarguable fact. Animals were and are still being tortured and that’s not right—most people will agree with that, and a while back no one would pay any attention to that.

    I spent a small period of time eating a vegan diet, and now I don’t eat that much meat, for the simple fact that food processing scares the living shit out of me. Also, studies that show that eating too much meat is bad for the health have also limited my meat intake. I think these angles are a lot more productive—I’m not sure if you’ll ever convince the world that a vegan diet is best, but I think if you gear your energy in the right direction, other great things can be accomplished: getting rid of factory farms, getting people to eat less meat, preventing the injection of hormones or whatever else in animals, better treatment of animals and so on.

  10. “Not a Vegan” wrote:

    “But when you and I die, we’ll be eaten by them with out a second thought—a bear would eat us with out a second thought. When I bring this up, the answer is that we “know better”—but isn’t that admitting that we are somehow superior to animals? I don’t believe that—I believe that I am a part of a cycle and one day my body will be eaten, and my bones will disintegrate into the earth and I will become one with the universe and the cycle will continue.”

    Let me respond. SOME human beings “know better,” if not, you could not coherently use the phrase “horrific crimes,” which is a normative statement. And only beings capable of “knowing better” can make normative statements. But the crux is in the qualifier “some” human beings “know better.” Therefore, A) no, *we* are not “better” than other animals, *some* of us are moral agents, while others (babies, the mentally handicapped, e.g.) ARE NOT. Moreover, B) this characteristic doesn’t imply that I am “better” than a bat, which has characteristics that *I don’t*. It just means that for purposes of moral discourse, moral agency is a relevant characteristic.

    And frankly, I think the majority of your comment is sophistic. Are you REALLY arguing that death, because it is “just another phase of life,” does not matter or isn’t bad, generally speaking? Why don’t you kill yourself then? Because you believe that death is a harm, that’s why.

  11. Alex,

    I don’t think death is bad. I think there are bad and painful ways of dying, but death is inevitable and if I were to believe that it was so terrible–I would not even see the point of living…but now I fear that I am entering religious territory. I suppose if you believe that this existence is the only thing that matters, then you of course would view death as the worst thing that could happen. I view death as another phase of life.

    I would not kill myself because I do not have that desire—but as you well know, there are many others who have no problems giving up their life for whatever reason. Death is more painful for those who are still living and that’s why death has a negative connotation. I’m not saying this existence is not important…I’m just saying that it’s one phase, cause really, we have no idea what’s going to happen to us tomorrow and boom, this phase might be over. Here lies the problem with your argument…and perhaps Temple’s as well, it really relies on your ideas on life and death.

    I personally do not think that other animals put as much thought to death as humans. Yes they feel fear with chaos, but they do not spend their days and nights contemplating all the bad things that may occur to them. They can be happy up to the very last breath (assuming that they‘re not being tortured by others)—I think that’s Temple’s point. Because most humans complicate everything to the hundredth degree….only a few lucky ones have the benefit of being happy to the last breath.

  12. @ “Not a Vegan”:

    You wrote, “They can be happy up to the very last breath (assuming that they‘re not being tortured by others)—I think that’s Temple’s point.”

    And this is my point: it follows, *necessarily*, as I argued in my original essay, that for many, many human animals (some mentally handicapped, babies, e.g.), whom don’t “contemplate all the bad things that may occur to them,” death is not a harm. Temple’s argument, then, is inconsistent because she refuses to extend her logic to the case of human beings.

    Moreover, as a consistency test, would you argue that the death of a baby is not bad? They lack the characteristic you argue is important, and so death is not bad to the baby, so I suppose if a baby dies, it’s just another phase of life. I would argue that you’re *clearly wrong* because, as you said, we really can’t know, so we ought to adopt the precautionary principle on this point and say: because the consequences of being wrong are so final (that is, you are dead), we ought to presuppose that death is bad and go from there.

  13. I don’t understand why we should presuppose that death is bad and go on from there…is that because that’s what you believe?

    Do I like to hear news of a baby’s death? Of course not, that’s terrible. It’s sad…but the question is, who is more sad, the baby or me? I’ll go out on a limb and say me…the parents and family of that baby are the saddest. However, the baby who did not even know what life has to promise and for all we know has landed in a better place is not crying over his/her death in the after life. And even if you don’t believe in an after life or a heaven…we for sure know that the baby is not experiencing pain and that the baby has become part of the earth. Like I said…I’m not sure how you know that Temple has not extended her thoughts to humans…but I have. I’m not denying the painful ways of dying, which I don’t wish on anyone or any animal. I’m not denying that the effects of death is often times horrible for friends and family members and I’m not denying the importance of this life. I’m simply saying that no longer being apart of this world is not the worst thing that can happen to a person and for all we know, life after death might even be more superior.

    Again, if this is the only thing that matters…then what’s the point? Now a question of you…your beef is with her statement, but what if she applies her theory to all creatures including humans? I for example have consistently applied her statement to everything and everyone…what now? Even if you do not agree with eating meat (which is not what I’m debating by the way), you can at least see the logic of her statement if it consistently applies to everyone. Quite honestly, I think anyone who claims to be religious or believes in an after life should see the logic…and if you’re not religious or believe in an afterlife then the simply fact that life continues as the body becomes apart of the earth should still make her statement logical.

  14. @ Not a Vegan: We should presuppose that death is bad because Ms. Grandin’s (and your own) reasoning implies it. To wit: any argument that posits that *quality* of life matters implies that *quantity* of life matters.

    That is, on your own reasoning: A) experiencing happiness or a good quality of life is good; B) the death state is permanently neutral, I argue, because positing an afterlife is not logically defensible; C) good is better than permanently neutral; and D) therefore when one is forced from a good state to a permanently neutral state, one is harmed. Ergo, death is a harm.

    But yes, *if* Ms. Grandin applied her logic consistently, instead of obviously in a speciesist way, *then* her position would be more coherent — still wrong, but more coherent.

    However, when using this argument to justify causing needless harm and death, say, by eating animals when non-animal sources of nutrition are widely available, one can still reasonably argue that *even if* death is not a harm, needlessly killing is prima facie wrong. Killing a baby, for example, even if death doesn’t harm that baby, just because you get some kind of pleasure from it, is prima facie immoral because that death is completely needless.

  15. Just because I admit that this life is good does not mean that whatever may be next is bad…

    You said: “any argument that posits that *quality* of life matters implies that *quantity* of life matters.”

    That is simply not true…I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase quantity over quality because there are many who have lived a long and depressing life while others had a short but fulfilling one.

    You may want to have a long life, but that is not promised…the only thing a person can really do is to do their best to have a quality life…as even some of the fittest people die young.

    You are right, there is no proof of some grand afterlife, but Temple Grandin is religious so her beliefs are consistent and logical in that sense. I’m not that religious, but I do believe that there is more to life than what we see…and for some people and animals a neutral state is better than their current existence. Do you think a neutral state is a peaceful one? How many people do you think live a peaceful life? Do you think that for some perhaps a neutral state is better than the chaotic life they currently live? Seeing how many people turn to suicide, I would answer that with a yes.

    During slavery times runaways slaves would sometimes be with their whole family. There might be five kids and if there was a baby who would risk getting everyone caught, sometimes a mother would have to make the decision to kill the baby because they A) did not want a life of slavery for that baby and B) did not want all the other kids to get caught and to have to live a life of slavery. I can’t imagine being in that position in which I’d have to make that decision, but I can only imagine how at that moment “death is not the worst thing that can happen to my baby” could have been something that came across one of those mother’s minds.

    I don’t want to get in the discussion of meat-eaters versus non-meat eaters because that part of your argument did not interest me, I’ve head it all many times before. I’m more interested in the fact that you have an issue with Temple Grandin’s statement about death not being the worst thing that can happen. I can think of about a million of other worst things which include the Ways people can die but not death itself, slavery, war, poverty (all things that only exist in the state of living). The worst thing that can happen is if the quality (which has nothing to do with quantity) of life is not a good one…I’ve found that people who have a great life (rich in the ways that matter) are less afraid to die.

    You keep saying I’m wrong…but that’s your opinion and that’s fine. But I have a feeling that my opinions have me more at peace…so if being wrong has gained me that peace of mind, I’m happy to be it…and honestly, once again—animals do not process death the way that we do. Animals are way more at peace with their nature than humans could ever be…they accept the cycle of life.

  16. @ Not a Vegan wrote, “That is simply not true…I’m sure you’re familiar with the phrase quantity over quality because there are many who have lived a long and depressing life while others had a short but fulfilling one.”

    But that misses the point. Follow along: *If* you argue, as Ms. Grandin does, that quality of life matters, then by implication, quantity of life matters. If I am happy and healthy (i.e., I have a good quality of life) then it would be unreasonable to argue that I don’t, therefore, also want to KEEP being happy and healthy. Likewise, if I have a *poor* quality of life, then it would reasonable to argue that, therefore, I *don’t* want to keep living that life.

    Re-read my syllogism: the death state is neutral so *if* you have a good quality of life *then* moving into a neutral state is a harm to you because GOOD is better than NEUTRAL. If you are suffering horrendously, on the hand, the neutral state is not a harm.

    But the first version proves that death *can be a harm* sometimes. And that sometimes includes when Ms. Grandin creates situations for “happy animals” to die “happily.” When those “happy animals” die then death is a harm to them BECAUSE they are moving from a “happy” state to a neutral state.

    I *never* argued that death is the “worst thing possible,” only that A) we should be cautious about saying death isn’t a harm, B) I think I’ve shown that *sometimes* death is a harm, and C) Ms. Grandin is a speciesist.

    But it is extremely important to note that Ms. Grandin CAN’T use this argument to justify causing needless harm and death, say, by eating animals when non-animal sources of nutrition are widely available, *as she clearly tries to do*. Again, if one can still reasonably argue that *even if* death is not a harm, needlessly killing is prima facie wrong. Killing a baby, for example, even if death doesn’t harm that baby, just because you get some kind of pleasure from it, is prima facie immoral because that death is completely needless.

  17. In your mind they move to a neutral state while I believe that the afterlife may actually offer a superior state…a person who is happy might want to continue in their happiness but will be more readily to accept circumstances…while a person who was never happy might feel cheated and while he might accept death he will not be happy at the end. So the question becomes how important is it to die happy? Temple believes an animal should die happy…I would like to be happy and I believe most would have liked to live a happy life before death. I don’t see why you see that as a negative thing….Life is about picking your battles and that’s the battle she picked and I think it was towards a positive direction. I think the more people are aware of the way animals are treated, the more inclined they will be to eat less meat. Perhaps it’s not enough for you, but the world tends to take things a step at a time.

    but never mind that because I’m at a point of agreeing to disagree.

  18. @ Not a Vegan wrote, “I believe that the afterlife may actually offer a superior state…”

    Note the *key* qualifier: “may actually.” Exactly! Maybe you are right, BUT maybe you are wrong, and the death state *is* neutral, which I think is the only position that can be logically sustained (or perhaps it is worse). We should, then, adopt the precautionary principle because, as you said, there *might* be an afterlife and that *might* be better, and so on.

    And since we DON’T know (because we CAN’T know) we ought to assume that death is a harm, especially when the person dying has a high quality of life, because *if* we are wrong, then the consequences are rather huge.

    You wrote, “Temple believes an animal should die happy…”

    But the only way Grandin can sustain her argument is by presupposing that death isn’t a harm, which I think is clearly false in most instances, especially for the animals Grandin has helped to make “happy.” Moreover, she is a speciesist *because* by parity of reasoning, Grandin can’t possibly say it is a bad thing to kill a baby or a mentally handicapped human so long as the death is painless, which she would *never* say because, in the final analysis, she is just trying to justify the status quo when it comes to our exploitation of animals.

  19. For the record…I do believe that the afterlife offers something better…I was trying not to attach personal beliefs to this so that’s why I phrased it the way I did, but the reality is…that is the major factor separating our beliefs. However, as I had to learn recently from another debate, everyone frames their opinions on their beliefs whether or not every aspect of it can be proven…and that’s a fact. Most people are not able to frame opinions outside the things they know to be true whether or not a scientist has deemed it to be the case…hence why an atheist never really understands a religious person and vice versa….but if we’re talking purely about consistency, I believe the fact that Temple believes in something greater, falls in line with her statement, which is the only thing I was willing to debate (as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not interested in a non-meat-eater versus meat eater debate)

    I wanted to let this subject go, but after having a debate with a person who was so extremely religious and would not let go of his view to have an objective debate (BTW, it was on another subject)…I came to the realization that it might be unfair to ask that of anyone. The only way of really getting through a person, is only if you’re willing to understand where they’re coming from (especially when it mimics popular views)…but finding sense in your opponent’s argument can only make your case stronger as you are forced to find another way to argue it. To briefly touch on the subject I was not wanting to discuss…I think that is why hardcore extremists have trouble relating their beliefs to the average meat eater…they believe in their position so strongly that they’re not willing to see the other side…and the same goes on the other end.

    But if your vision is to one day see a world of non-meat eaters (as far stretched as that sounds to me) this will only be accomplished by people like Temple Grandin. People who saw a part that could be fixed and went after it…after all, we’re not going to turn the world to non-meat eating people overnight, so in the meanwhile, I would think that non-meat eaters would be happy with a step towards not torturing or causing the animals excessive pain and in this case even making sure the animals are happy till the last breath. Temple took a step towards animal rights and my problem is with people criticizing that step…if the world ever stops eating meat it will be because of those first steps taken…future pupils will study her as one who took action towards this cause. And while I admire your efforts towards what you believe in, what have you done that has impacted animal treatment to the length of Temple‘s efforts? (Keep in mind that again…this is not something you can change over night…as I’m foreseeing a reply that goes along the lines of animal treatment should not be an issue in the first place as we should not be raising them to eat…and in that case my reply is. it is what it is as of now…so only comment on how it can be changed not on how you believe it should be….forgive me if my prediction is wrong.)

    I understand wanting more, but if you can’t appreciate the steps that are required to get to more, then nothing will ever get accomplished.

  20. @ Not a vegan:

    If death holds something better, kill yourself. You won’t because as you said, you don’t have that desire. nd this is most likely because you are living a good life…just like the animals Grandin makes “happy.” So it stands to reason that these animals don’t have the desire to die either. That is: death is a harm to them and Grandin (and you) are wrong.

    Moreover, your argument about Grandin’s consistency is erroneous unless she argues that killing babies and so on is okay.

    So what you call extremism is simple, straightforward logic.

  21. I think Temple Grandin’s argument about quality vs. quantity of life has some merit. It can apply equally to humans. Suppose you are forced to make the following choice about the fate of a new born child:

    Either the child is compelled to live in the same dank, dark, fetid conditions as pigs or chickens are today – never knowing love or companionship, never allowed free movement, never experiencing sunlight or comfort or freedom from suffering. And at the end the child will die a painful violent death. However, that child will live a good long 70 years.

    Or, the child will grow up in a loving family, with games in the sun, siblings and friends, fun things to discover about the world, a chance to run and play and climb, but that child will be given a lethal injection at 16.

    Which do you think would be better? If death is the worse scenario for you, then you will choose number one. Personally I’d select number two. When the choice is this extreme, quality of life does outweigh mere quantity.

    I’m not suggesting that in the real world we are compelled to make this choice on behalf of animals or humans. This is just a though experiment to see which fate you consider to be worse: Long, torturous life. Or short, happy, fulfilling life.

  22. @ Ed: To clarify, I never claimed that death is the worse scenario. I did argue that if you argue that quality of life matters, then that implies that quantity of life matters. Moreover, I offered a syllogism showing that death is a harm *sometimes*. For the person living a long, torturous life, death is not a harm. However, for the person living a short, happy, fulfilling life, because her quality of life is so great, then that implies that she wants to keep living that good life (that is a quantity of life question). Hence, death is a harm. And that is true whether or not living a short, happy life is better than a long, torturous one.

    But notice what Grandin is doing. She *justifies* exploiting animals because, she writes, “the most important thing for an animal is the quality of its life.” The question is: why is this only true for nonhuman animals? For example, in the hypothetical you offered above, could we justify bringing that happy child into the world *for the end* of killing her at 16 for biomedical testing or, say, keeping her pretty happy throughout those 16 years while we occasionally remove non-vital pieces of her body for different purposes?

  23. i agree with Alex. her justifications and excuses are bombastic and quite unreasonable.

    designing slaughterhouses to reduce suffering. that clearly makes no sense at all. the non-human animals are still marched off to a brutal, painful and sadistic death. to accommodate a pretended need for animal flesh, instead of what nature intended. there is nothing “humane” and decent about slaughterhouses, and those that design them. geeze.

    Temple Grandin has no empathy, she just like pretending that she does. there is no dilemma, she is clearly an apologist for the slaughter of innocent animals. and she wouldn’t be on a lifelong “mission” to redesign slaughterhouses.


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