Monday, February 28, 2011

Blind Chickens

There is a natural genetic mutation that has been found in chickens that render them blind.  This mutation, can be bred so that offsprings of the blind chickens will be blind as well.  Now, fortunately enough, blind chickens are less stressed by overcrowded conditions, since they can't see.  So these blind chickens can be raised in normal factory farm conditions without experiencing the same anxiety as normally sighted chickens do.

Should we breed blind chickens so that we can raise them in closer quarters?

Note that these chickens are born blind.  They haven't been robbed of anything.... they never had it to begin with.  If we don't breed these chickens, the alternative is that some other chicken will exist, that can see, and suffer more, than the chicken that is blind.  And as much of an optimist as I am, I don't believe that factory farming will go away any time soon, so simply appealing to eliminate factory farms is naive at best.  It would not take much to replace the chickens we have, with blind chickens, but it would take much more effort to redesign the way we farm chickens.  So from a practical perspective, this is a way we can reduce the suffering of chickens immediately.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Breeding Smarter Babies

Do we have an obligation to breed smarter babies?  Julian Savulescu says yes!

I'm not sure he's entirely wrong.  Levy, argues that we need to concentrate on helping Africa out of poverty, but that seems to me to be a red herring.  That is a separate issue, and ideally, we should do both.  If we could only do one, then perhaps Africa would be more important, since the vast amount of human suffering there is important to eliminate, as opposed to the benefits of a moderately or even greatly more intelligent population.

Often our obligations will lead us to conflicting things, but if we could do both, we should.

I'm really beginning to like the things that Savulescu is saying.  He might be my second all-time favorite philosopher!