My goal with this post is to see opinions, thoughts, and perspectives of others, not to argue for or against the topic. I also want to see any mistakes, assumptions, or just bad logic called out so that I can avoid making them in the future, assuming they are a clear cut case.

Context for the interested. Recently I have been thinking about the “End justifies the means” saying, and how viable it is because of the FTX topic. I am conflicted in that area because saying that the end justifies the means feels cheap, is an excuse to put in less effort, and a slippery slope with a vague limit of where to stop. At the same time however, my belief is that the world was not created with justice in mind, and if human survival is at stake, how dare we take the high horse by saying that we don't need the “dirty” practices to succeed. Will we die because of our pride? I have also seen this short report about using monkeys as forced labor to collect coconuts. Nothing new I guess, but I have not been aware of it before.

I find the following topic hard to assess. Forced labor of primates is, for me, obviously animal cruelty. It is a restriction of freedom, with occasional physical punishment. The businesses exploit them because they are cheaper, and perhaps even more efficient in terms of collecting coconuts.

It starts to get tricky for me when I consider that humans would have to do this job otherwise. If I am trying to minimize human suffering, and ideally suffering in general, doesn't that make humans suffer less? Perhaps the monkeys suffer even less at that work, thus less suffering in general, although I doubt that in this case. If I have the opportunity to use another species for work, while that species would otherwise be doing “nothing useful” or even seen as pests to humans, would it make sense to use that species for forced labor? If Macaques are a bad example, in the highly theoretical example, what if cockroaches were more sentient, and capable of complex tasks? How okay would we be with forced labor of invasive species, which are considered pests, while they would be suffering less than humans at the given job?

Even more confusing thought for me is the following. The “natural” evolution of Macaques does not give them a desire to help humans, or to work for them. If humans however crossbreed this species up to a moment when Macaques become intrinsically rewarded by cooperating with humans, and therefore they gain joy from it, does that no longer make it an animal cruelty? I would still consider forcefully breeding Macaques, basically into a slave species, fairly unethical. However, is the work ethical now because they enjoy it? Sorry for the term, but that sounds like slavery with extra steps.

With this in mind, I am at a loss of where I am supposed to draw the line. Were dogs or other domesticated species just bred into slavery? Does that make owning pets, or even putting any animal into a restricted area unethical? What if we bred the species into slaves indirectly by rewarding the behavior of collecting coconuts with food, and they would “naturally” become the dominant species because now you can call it a symbiotic relationship. Technically we have still forced part of the species into extinction by rewarding the Macaques with preference towards work. Do the “extra steps” make unethical areas ethical? Perhaps, the human mind is no longer capable of perceiving ethics after a certain “mental distance”, or “extra steps”, in which case, how can we say that distance of 1 is unethical, but distance of 8 is just “natural”?

The question I have is what mistakes or incorrect conclusions did I make, and what are your perspectives? I believe that it is simply a very complex situation, but I feel conflicted, especially even towards people who prefer the “ends justifies the means”, and I would simply like to have someone else's views as well.





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I actually don't think it would be morally wrong, at least not intuitively! I care about actual suffering, factually experienced by a being capable of experiencing suffering, not of hypothetical suffering which another being of a different species would experience under the same circumstances. Having a working dog doing a job it enjoys and is bred to do seems no more wrong than having a penguin exist in conditions that would be unpleasantly cold for some other species. The biggest problem, I think, would come in in the likely event that breeding animals to do their job would result in them having conflicting values, like that they want to please humans or want to collect coconuts, but also want to be free to explore and lounge around all day, so that they're experiencing frustration and unhappiness because of an artificially induced inability to fulfill all of their desires.  Or if the breeding takes the form of inducing some kind of internal suffering when they disobey humans etc. The physical punishment, obviously, has to go as well-- if they have to be forced into it, they obviously don't actually want to do it. But a border collie doesn't have to be forced into herding sheep, and indeed, they seem to be perfectly happy and I would not have an ethical problem with creating more animals like border collies.

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