AR-FAQ - #37

#37 Natural selection and Darwinism are at work in the world; doesn't that mean it's unrealistic to try to overcome such forces?

Assuming that Animal Rights concepts somehow clash with Darwinian forces, the questioner must stand accused of selective moral fatalism: our sense of morality is clearly not modeled on the laws of natural selection. Why, then, feel helpless before some of its effects and not before others? Male-dominance, xenophobia, and war-mongering are present in many human societies. Should we venture that some mysterious, universal forces must be at work behind them, and that all attempts at quelling such tendencies should be abandoned? Or, more directly, when people become sick, do we abandon them because "survival of the fittest" demands it? We do not abandon them; and we do not agonize about trying to overcome natural selection. There is no reason to believe that the practical implications of the Animal Rights philosophy are maladaptive for humans. On the contrary, and for reasons explained elsewhere in this FAQ, respecting the rights of animals would yield beneficial side-effects for humans, such as more-sustainable agricultural practices, and better environmental and health-care policies. AECW

The advent of Darwinism led to a substitution of the idea of individual organisms for the old idea of immutable species. The moral individualism implied by AR philosophy substitutes the idea that organisms should be treated according to their individual capacities for the (old) idea that it is the species of the animal that counts. Thus, moral individualism actually fits well with evolutionary theory. DG

SEE ALSO: #63-62