Is Saving the Whale Compassionate?
The title here refers to whales, but really I’m talking about any attempt to save a sentient; non-human animal species. As such, this article covers polar bears; rhinoceroses; manatees; tigers; and any other animals that have been the subject of campaigns to save their species from extinction. My question is this: in what way can saving a species from extinction be considered ‘compassionate’ (by which I mean the opposite of cruel) when a species qua ‘species’ is not sentient – is unconscious – and thereby is unable to suffer any cruelty to be (compassionately) saved from? Now let me explain. Any individual sentient animal can suffer cruelty – can experience pain – and (so long as you’re not a nit-picking philosopher) can suffer. As such, any individual sentient animal (including of course any individual sentient human animal) can be compassionately saved (from cruelty; or death; or whatever). Thus, they would be legitimate subjects of ‘compassionate’ campaigns to save them. However, th