Jasmin Singer and Mariann Sullivan of Our Hen House were in Basel, Switzerland recently for “The Animal Turn and the Law” conference. While they were there they met with Ruairí Donnelly to discuss Animal Ethics, our duties to wild animals, and antispeciesism.
The discussion touched on several issues related to how we can help wild animals. Among other topics, Ruairí explained his view on the debate over whether we should focus our efforts at the level of individual sentient organisms or at the level of things such as natural processes and species.
“[A]s anti-speciesist activists, we should always be focusing on animals at the individual level. It’s the individual animals who we can benefit and who are going to suffer without our help.
“The focus on species when you really look at it closely can even seem a bit strange sometimes. When we talk about benefiting humans, we wouldn’t talk about benefiting a certain group of humans. Rather, we’d talk about benefiting the individual humans. So the focus on species certainly seems strange. A species in itself can’t actually be harmed or benefited. It’s the individuals who can be harmed or benefited.
“I think we really need to apply this reasoning when we think about animals in the wild. Instead of having an approach where we might think that it’s vitally important that certain numbers of individuals exist in certain places, instead we should just look at the individual animals, how well their lives are going and how we can improve their lives.[…]
“[W]e simply need to focus at the individual lives of the individual animals and just work on doing whatever we can to prevent their suffering and to make their lives as good as possible.”
You can read more about why an antispeciest view entails caring for sentient individuals here.