this interview with Angus Taylor, author of Animals and Ethics. Toward the end, the host talks about a point that's often made by my students.
"You can't really liberate animals like chickens and cows because they don't have an ecological place anymore, so there's not really an end point for them other than letting them die out...."
My students often assume that "liberationists" must want to throw open the doors and let the billions of animals out. How could liberating a species mean exterminating it or radically reducing its size?
Their assumption about "liberationists" is understandable, considering the way animal rights authors throw around comparisons to slavery. Abolitionists wanted a better life for slaves, not no life at all.
Angus points out that extinction is sometimes the right way to go. If some nefarious operation was genetically engineering submissive servants for majority benefit, the right thing would be to end it and phase out the servants, not keep breeding them and set them all free.
OK, but I can see my students' puzzlement. If you wanted to phase out the servants, you wouldn't call that "servant liberation"! Should people against animal farming really think of themselves as liberators?
Well, what's in a name? But there's an interesting underlying issue here. There really is some question who is the truest friend of domesticated animals. If you're really "for" them, can you really think their lives are so pitiful and worthless that it would be better if they didn't exist?
Anyhow... I need to get a hold of Angus's book. My little secret is that I have not read the entire animal ethics literature. I'm especially ignorant about recent continental writing about animals. This book looks to be the comprehensive survey that would solve all my problems.