Animal Welfare: Reviving Extinct (human) intermediate species?

post by Franziska Fischer · 2022-05-05T10:16:06.503Z · EA · GW · 2 comments

This is a question post.

Before I start working on a bigger post:

Much of EA philosophy on animal welfare attempts to dilute the difference between humans and non-human animals, which seems to be a fairly strong categorical difference for most people. That humans and non-human animals are categorically distinct seems to be based on the fairly big cognitive and communicative gap between humans and the smartest animals. Consequently it seems to me that reducing this gap by reviving intermediate species like Neandethals, Homo Erectus or similar that in these two cases are by definition human but not sapiens the ethical discussion who is included in human rights etc has to be restarted and if such a project got large enough even lawmakers might start reconsidering their foundation of this categorical distinction.

Any on thoughts on that? Ressources that completely wreck my Argument or maybe EAs/animal rights people that already studied this question to some extent?

Cheers!

Answers

answer by Derek Shiller · 2022-05-05T13:07:27.850Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

That humans and non-human animals are categorically distinct seems to be based on the fairly big cognitive and communicative gap between humans and the smartest animals.

There is already a continuum between the cognitive capacities of humans and animals. Peter Singer has pointed to cognitively disabled humals in arguing for better treatment of animals.

Do you think homo erectus would add something further? People often (arbitrarily) draw the line at species, but it seems to me that they could just as easily draw it at any clade. Growing fetuses display a similar variation between single cells and normal adults, and it seems most people don't have issues carving moral categories along arbitrary lines.

comment by Franziska Fischer · 2022-05-07T20:17:47.913Z · EA(p) · GW(p)

I think your example with fetuses being the variation between single cells and adults is very adequate here. So my claim would probably be something along the lines of "the fact that 8-month old fetuses exist (which usually may not be killed anymore) is a strong reason why in most countries 4-months-old fetuses have a lot of legal & societal protection. If there was nothing in between the 4 months fetus and the born baby, I don't think many countries would ban abortion of 4-months old fetuses, rather it is there because of the transition. Thus the existence of a smooth transition between non-human animals and sapiens would increase support for "lower" animals.

I agree that there is already a continuum with e.g. disabled sapiens as you name it. However I don't think that "commonsense" is aware of that. I think commonsense sees  mentally disabled people as something "that could have been any of us" (or could even still happen to many of us, as some mental disabilities are not from birth). However intermediate species can not be considered disabled exceptions/"misfortunes" or something like that

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