17 Comments
Jul 26, 2023Liked by Bentham's Bulldog

Thank you for bringing our attention to the horrific treatment of fish. I didn't know fish farming was so inhumane.

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Thank you!

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I believe the 3-8 billion / year figure refers to all killed fishes (mostly wild caught). To know if fish farming is the worst crime, one would need to know how many fishes live and die in farms specifically.

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About half of fish killed are farmed. Here though I wasn’t just talking about farms but also wild caught fish.

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I think you underplay the “fish are dumb” argument a bit. The dumbness of a fish isn’t like a dumb human, not even a mentally disabled human. It is, or might be, like lacking basic capacities which are relevant to the ability to suffer. (Memory, anticipation, self-evaluation...)

Pushing this to an extreme case - what about ants? There are maybe 20 million billion of them... My intuition is that ant suffering doesn’t matter much. I sure hope not.

Or maybe fish are smarter than I think? More information would be valuable here.

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If there was a human who couldn't remember things, anticipate, or self-evaluate, would their pain be bad? Seems to me it would be. I give an explanation of this in the article--the badness of pain has to do with how it feels. But how pain feels has nothing to do with any mental capacity you possess other than mere ability to feel pain. I think insects probably can't feel pain, but if they can, then yes, their suffering matters. And fish are smarter than you think, I'd guess--some of them have impressive memories and can solve mazes.

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I see the force of that perspective, but the context of pain might matter too. (Pain while you run your first marathon versus pain from a meaningless accident. Pain which you can look beyond versus pain which stretches out before you.)

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Pain might be valuable if it brings more pleasure. Additionally, marathon pain might not be pain in the relevant sense if it's not unpleasant--the person experiencing it doesn't want it to end. But fish do want their pain to end--they try to avoid it.

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True, but they might still be lacking some of the things around it that make it bad for a human, for example, dreading it in the (not immediate) future, or it changing how you feel about your whole life. Or not, I don't know.

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If you feel pain but don't dread future pain, your pain is still bad. It doesn't matter how you feel about your whole life--your pain is still bad. Think about how it feels to have someone, for example, beat you severely. Very little of that has to do with future dreading or reflections on your life as a whole.

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At least some species are fairly intelligent. "In many areas, such as memory, their cognitive powers match or exceed those of ‘higher’ vertebrates including non-human primates." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fish_intelligence

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Reagrding fishing, I don't do it, but are you sure it's net bad? I mean the fish would probably over-reproduce anyway, no?

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Net bad :).

I'm not sure, but I think probably. Tomasik has a good article about this. https://reducing-suffering.org/wild-caught-fishing-affects-wild-animal-suffering/

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What do you think of exterminators? Literally their entire job is to get rid of things considered pests, which they usually do by killing them.

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Jul 25, 2023·edited Jul 25, 2023Author

Seems bad, maybe. Depends on the details.

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They don't usually eat them, but they do injure, poison, and drown them.

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Jul 25, 2023·edited Jul 25, 2023

There's also the consideration that in the absence of extermination, most pest species will reproduce very fast, either creating more pressure for even more extermination later, or exhausting all of the resources and then painfully starving. By contrast, fish farms -- like other farms -- create lives of net suffering that otherwise would not have existed.

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