Dr. Richard Ryder would like to change how you think about the best way to help animals.
Ryder, whose animal activism résumé spans 40 years, notes that we usually weigh the goodness or badness of actions using two theories: utilitarianism (often expressed as “the greatest good for the greatest number”) and individual rights. But does “good for the greatest number” make sense? The pain a cow feels is not increased or diminished by whether there are a dozen, or a billion, other cows suffering just like her. Therefore, argues Ryder, we should always help the animals who are in the most pain, without regard to how many of them there are.
This simple notion suggests radical changes of direction for a movement where the number of animals suffering — or spared from suffering — is often emphasized. Ryder discusses it at length in his book Speciesism, Painism, and Happiness, and will chat with us about both the philosophical and practical consequences of the idea.
Incidentally, Dr. Ryder invented the term “speciesism”, and he once leafletted some guy named Peter Singer and got him interested in animal liberation. Ryder will share his reminiscences from the animal rights community in Oxford in the 1970s.
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