So, what's the deal with insects?

Graeme M

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Recently I posted a question about eating insects that led to a lengthy discussion. That got me thinking that I don't honestly know how many vegans actually think about animals like insects or worms. Now, I know there is a recent thread about insects, but it was a bit more wide-ranging and had a different focus. My question here is quite specific and not meant to provoke discussion about ethical or vegan concerns; rather, I want to get a feel for how you view the experiences of insects.

None of us know whether or not cows or crickets have an inner experience like ours - that they actually feel joy, sadness, anxiety or pain or that they see or hear the outside world in the way we do. But I think most of us assume that cows do, for a variety of good reasons. But here's the question. What do you think about insects? Crickets, bees, beetles, mantids, even ants etc. Do these animals have an inner experience, are they subjects of a life?

If you think they do, would you imagine it to be of the same kind of quality as that of a cow or a sheep? Or do you think it is far less explicit?

How should vegans value the experiences and indeed the interests of insects as compared to mammals? I'm not asking in any way about what that might mean about our actions and choices, I really am just curious how you think about insects.
 
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Emma JC

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I try to think about insects in a balanced way. I don't deliberately step on ants or any other insect outside and if there is one inside that can be put outside (think spider) then I will do that or I will swat it if I can't. Insects that are where they shouldn't be for my health (kitchen) or mosquitos I do eliminate without compunction.

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Lou

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I don't think about insects very often. And when I do its probably because they are bothering me.

Their sentience or consciousness or intelligence is sort of interesting but there is more about it that we don't know than we do.

For instance bees are pretty simplistic. they have brains the sized of a pencil point. but they can navigate and communicate. One scientist even trained them to perform a task for a treat. And don't forget that bees are responsible for pollination a large number of plants. without bees we would all starve.

We can safely assume that insects experience the world differently from us. but we know they do experience the world. I don't think its a good idea to value their experience less than ours.
 
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silva

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How should vegans value the experiences and indeed the interests of insects as compared to mammals? I'm not asking in any way about what that might mean about our actions and choices, I really am just curious how you think about insects.
Leave them the fck alone

There's a lot of things I don't know, and am ok with not knowing, I'm fine with live and let live without undue interference.
I don't go out of my way to either save or kill them.
 
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Graeme M

Graeme M

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Leave them the fck alone

There's a lot of things I don't know, and am ok with not knowing, I'm fine with live and let live without undue interference.
I don't go out of my way to either save or kill them.

Maybe if you read the question and answered that rather than being so unpleasant? If you have nothing useful to contribute it would probably be best not to say anything.
 

silva

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Recently I posted a question about eating insects that led to a lengthy discussion. That got me thinking that I don't honestly know how many vegans actually think about animals like insects or worms. Now, I know there is a recent thread about insects, but it was a bit more wide-ranging and had a different focus. My question here is quite specific and not meant to provoke discussion about ethical or vegan concerns; rather, I want to get a feel for how you view the experiences of insects.

None of us know whether or not cows or crickets have an inner experience like ours - that they actually feel joy, sadness, anxiety or pain or that they see or hear the outside world in the way we do. But I think most of us assume that cows do, for a variety of good reasons. But here's the question. What do you think about insects? Crickets, bees, beetles, mantids, even ants etc. Do these animals have an inner experience, are they subjects of a life?

If you think they do, would you imagine it to be of the same kind of quality as that of a cow or a sheep? Or do you think it is far less explicit?

How should vegans value the experiences and indeed the interests of insects as compared to mammals? I'm not asking in any way about what that might mean about our actions and choices, I really am just curious how you think about insects.
Yes, and so I answered.
You seem to be starting the same roundabout way of altering your question with each answer as you have in the previous thread.

I'm not being unpleasant at all, I have no idea of their experiences, and don't feel I need to know to appreciate that they have lives of their own and I don't need to interfere.
If you only want your questions answered certain ways than why ask?
 
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Graeme M

Graeme M

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If you only want your questions answered certain ways than why ask?
Where have I done that? I am curious about how vegans in this forum think about what goes on in an insect's brain. Many animal advocates and animal rights philosophers believe that it is only by virtue of having a mental life that we have a moral duty to other animals as individuals. If an organism is not the subject of a life (eg a plant) then we don't need to care what happens to it even though there may be some larger duty to the species and its role in the ecosystem.

I am not asking anyone for an adjudication about what we need to do (hence why your exhortation is irrelevant to my question), but as vegans argue in favour of not exploiting or killing invertebrates such as insects I assume that they think that insects are subjects of a life in that way. So, do you think so? And how might it differ from that of a cow, for example?

I can offer my own thoughts on this. Other animals do not have mental lives the way that humans do. An organism may be able to perceive information about the outside world and use that information to direct behaviours, but it doesn't follow that they have a mental life. An organism that does this is not having feelings about the world or their experiences, so they are much like a plant or an AI. We would not have any moral duty to such an organism as an individual. On the other hand, if they do have feelings about their experiences, we would say they have a mental life. We tend to think that a cow would have experiences about the world - it "sees" objects, "hears" sounds, "feels pain", remembers prior events and so on. If insects can do the same, then there seems little difference in either kind or degree between the experiences of an insect and those of a cow and we owe much the same moral duty to an individual bee as to an individual cow.

I do not think this is likely - that an insect has experiences and hence is the subject of a life. However, there is evidence that I am wrong about this.

What do you think?
 

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I do seem to have some kind of weird luck with mosquitoes, I rarely get any bites from them even when they're around, maybe they somehow understand that I'm good with animals? Or my blood just smells bad and they don't understand anything? I also wonder about the bigger insects like moths, do they think about anything or do artificial light sources just completely mess up their brains? But otherwise I really don't think about it that much, I just leave them alone and let them live their lives, I can't remember the last time I actually had to hurt one.
 

Emma JC

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I do seem to have some kind of weird luck with mosquitoes, I rarely get any bites from them even when they're around, maybe they somehow understand that I'm good with animals? Or my blood just smells bad and they don't understand anything? I also wonder about the bigger insects like moths, do they think about anything or do artificial light sources just completely mess up their brains? But otherwise I really don't think about it that much, I just leave them alone and let them live their lives, I can't remember the last time I actually had to hurt one.

the mosquito thing is interesting - I am a mosquito/sand flea etc magnet and my honey is the opposite, they rarely bother him - I have met other couples where the same thing happens and sometimes it is the guy and sometimes it is the girl

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FlandersOD

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I don't think about insects very often. And when I do its probably because they are bothering me.

Their sentience or consciousness or intelligence is sort of interesting but there is more about it that we don't know than we do.

For instance bees are pretty simplistic. they have brains the sized of a pencil point. but they can navigate and communicate. One scientist even trained them to perform a task for a treat. And don't forget that bees are responsible for pollination a large number of plants. without bees we would all starve.

We can safely assume that insects experience the world differently from us. but we know they do experience the world. I don't think its a good idea to value their experience less than ours.
this is already sufficient evidene to suggest that insects should be given ethical and moral consideration.
 
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