Been pondering the extreme end of Wild-Animal Suffering interventionist theory (= it's a moral obligation to prevent wild animal suffering, eventually by changing whole ecosystems or wiping out wild nature altogether). I disagree with it, and I've been trying to put into words why exactly.

I haven't been able to find a more fundamental and universal basis for ethics than aiming at maximum self-determination for everyone (I've previously called this concept 'free will' but  I've come to understand that's unnecessarily pompous and also an exaggeration). Right to exert one's will, obligation not to interfere with others doing the same, unless they are keeping others from doing the same. In a limited resources situation it's a constant dialogue even in the best cases, but that's how it is. We must at least try.  
'Everyone' is a flexible and porous category, and obvs it's not clear where to draw the line. Humans? Humans and smarter animals, who have some concept of mind? All mammals, all vertebrae? All animals? Also plants? Bacteria? Viruses? Do non-living things, like landscapes or fine crystal structures have anything that could be construed as right of self-determination? I really don't know, and in any case at the moment we are seriously struggling with enabling the self-determination of just our fellow humans.

There's no need to make immediate decision about wildlife's right to exist vs right to not to suffer. But it's better to discuss all this well in advance. There is a very real possibility that the wild animal suffering exceeds not only wild animal pleasure but also all sapient pleasure (physical, mental, spiritual, whatever) – rigorously following WAS thinking, wouldn't it then be a moral obligation to destroy all life as soon as possible? Cause a total nuclear war, create a mini black hole and drop it at the core of the Earth, unleash an engineered virus that kills everything? It would solve the current imbalance of suffering/pleasure in the known universe and moreover, greatly reduce the chance of more suffering occurring ever again. All life has the capacity to suffer, and the longer it's allowed to go on living, the greater the risks of suffering grow. The cleanest solution seems obvious.

I find this concerning for reasons that are too large to be expressed as anything more coherent than a loud screech.

Even if the WAS folks calculate the ethics in some way that places higher value on protecting sapience, and are not going to sterilize the whole Universe if given the chance, I'm still nervous. Going into details: Exactly what is considered to be dumbly suffering wild life? How to prove necessary capacity for thought that overrides being humanely culled to reduce suffering? If it's for example the WAS people making the decisions, who tend to be at the extreme end of mathematical competence and capability for abstract thinking, do they deeply acknowledge the sapience of for example mathematically incapable and emotive, non-systemizing personalities? I have my own cow in the ditch here. I suffer from migraines and can't really follow maths – is the decision procedure perhaps calibrated in such a way that I end up being one of the many, many creatures that get the result "just put the poor thing out of its misery".

Wild animals suffer a lot of pain, fear etc and no doubt would prefer not to suffer like that. But would they prefer it at the cost of having their entire species wiped out, even totally humanely? There's no way to have a explicit dialogue with animals. So let's look at the actions and not what they are saying: they struggle to stay alive. Life could just give up and die if it wanted, and found suffering too much in contrast to what pleasure it gains. But it does not. It just keeps on living. I consider that an indication of living things' ultimate intention – which should be respected as much as possible.

All life is statistically more suffering and less pleasure, because suffering is a steerage mechanism which has developed to keep living thing from harm, and pleasure is a mechanism to guide the living thing towards what is beneficial to it. Of these two it is more imperative to keep away from harm, so that's what features more. WAS action, if it was gradual, would work as an evolutionary carrot of species benefiting more from pleasure than from suffering – forcing pain, distress etc out from the possible responses for external stimulus. This hypothetical world ruled by "enjoy or die" feels disgusting on an emotional level, but I'm willing to admit this might be just my personal irrational squeamishness.

All my reasoning might be tainted by subconscious desire to keep things as they are even if they'd objectively better be changed. But then so might the WAS ideology be tainted with subconscious desire to re-make the world in their own image. Seemingly well-meaning ethical framework construed carefully to hide a solipsistic desire to be the only existence in the universe…


Also, when a moral standpoint forces one to the same conclusion as Judge Death, it is a reasonable indication it might benefit from an extra round of rigorous examination.