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【Aeon】帮助动物,就是拯救人类自己


【Aeon】帮助动物,就是拯救人类自己


事不关己,高高挂起似乎是现代人生活的信条。只要不是自己造成的,便对他人,或是动物的苦难熟视无睹。时至今日,我们的社会所需要的是重拾悲悯的情怀,走出自己的世界,去帮助他人,去帮助每一个处于痛苦中的动物,因为它们的痛苦与人类的没有什么不同。



【Aeon】帮助动物,就是拯救人类自己

译者:郭嘉宁

校对:刘璠

策划:刘璠


We have an ethical obligation to relieve individual animal suffering

我们有道德上的义务去减轻动物个体的痛苦


Cover Picture: A starving polar bear in the Arctic. Photo by Andreas Weith/courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


Last winter, unforgettable video footage online showed a starving polar bear, struggling in its Arctic hunting grounds. Because of global warming, the ice was thin and the food supply was scarce. The video generated a wellspring of sympathy for the plight of this poor creature, and invigorated calls for stronger efforts to combat climate change – and rightly so.

去年冬天,一段令人难忘的录像片段出现在网上,一头饥饿的北极熊正在北极的猎场上苦苦挣扎。由于全球变暖,冰面变薄,食物供给出现短缺。这段录像使人们为这个可怜的生物的困境产生深深的同情,同时也激发了更加努力对抗气候变化的号召——这是理所应当的。

wellspring a large amount of a personal quality (人的品性的)源泉

plight /plaɪt/ n. a very bad situation that someone is in 困境,苦境

invigorate /ɪn’vɪgəreɪt/ v. To invigorate a situation or a process means to make it more efficient or more effective 刺激; 激励


Such advocacy on behalf of wildlife usually focuses on species and the effects of human-caused climate change on their survival and wellbeing as the ecosystems on which they depend undergo drastic changes. Thus, we should act to save the polar bear – that is, the polar bear species – by doing what we can to preserve its natural ecosystem. I am fully behind this kind of advocacy. Anybody who cares about the future of our planet and its occupants should be.

随着野生动物赖以生存的生态系统遭受巨大变化,上述为动物发声的倡议往往关注于物种,以及由人类造成的气候变化对它们的生存与健康产生的影响。因此,我们应该行动起来,通过保护北极熊的自然生态系统来拯救北极熊这个物种。我完全支持这样的倡议。任何关心我们星球及它的居住者的人都应该支持。


But I would also like to make a plea not simply for polar bears at large, but for this particular polar bear – the one in the video.

但我想要做出一个呼吁,不只是为北极熊这个物种,而是为录像里的那一只北极熊。


In his book Animal Liberation (1975), the philosopher Peter Singer argues that it is morally wrong to treat non-human animals in certain inhumane ways. To be precise, they should not be treated in ways that make them suffer. As sentient beings – beings capable of experiencing pleasure and pain – they have a defensible, prima facie interest in being spared unnecessary pain and suffering. Discussing who and what should be included within the sphere of our moral concern, Singer quotes the 19th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham to ask: ‘The question is not, Can they reason? nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer?’ Countering what he calls ‘speciesist’ assumptions, Singer argues that there can be no moral justification for regarding the pain that animals feel as less important than the same amount of pain felt by humans. There might, he concedes, be other reasons to give preference to a human life over an animal life. But in the absence of such compelling principled considerations, we must avoid causing suffering in all creatures that are capable of experiencing it.

在哲学家彼得·辛格(Peter Singer)所著的《动物解放》中,他提出,以非人道的方式对待除人以外的动物在道德上是不对的。准确来说,人们不该对它们施加痛苦。作为有感知能力的生物,它们能感受到快乐与痛苦,那么它们就有合理、初步成立的权益免遭不必要的痛苦折磨。当讨论到什么应被纳入我们道德关怀的范围时,辛格引用了19世纪哲学家杰里米·边沁(Jeremy Bentham)的问题:“问题不在于,它们是否能思考?也不在于,它们是否能说话?而在于,它们是否能感受到痛苦?”辛格反对他所称为“物种歧视者”的看法,他主张,当动物与人类遭受同等痛苦时,认为人类的痛苦更重要是毫无道德合理性的。辛格说,退一步讲,可能有其他的原因让人优先考虑人的生命而不是动物的生命。但在没有令人信服的原则性考虑因素时,我们必须防止对任何能感受到痛苦的动物加以折磨。

prima facie /‚praɪmə ‘feɪʃi/ adj. based on what seems to be true when you first consider a situation, even though it may later be proved to be untrue 初步的,表面的

counter /’kaʊntə/ v. to say something in order to try to prove that what someone said was not true or as a reply to something 反驳,反对


It seems to me clear that, in light of global warming, Singer’s arguments need to be amended. According to his application of the utilitarian doctrine to the welfare of non-human animals, their suffering must be considered when weighing the utility values of various actions and practices. But the implications of climate change mean that the scope of actions that are proscribed – and, especially, prescribed – by a consideration of animal suffering should be broadened. It would seem to follow from Singer’s use of that doctrine not only that we must not positively treat non-human animals in certain ways, but also that we are morally bound to relieve their suffering where we can do so without a comparable loss on our part. 

在我看来,鉴于全球变暖,辛格的论述明显需要修改。根据辛格将功利主义的学说对除人以外的动物福利的应用,在衡量一些行动与实践的效用价值时,动物的痛苦也必须在考虑范围中。但由于气候变化带来的影响,在考虑到动物所受的痛苦时,我们的行动范围应该要拓宽,其中包括禁止的行为,以及尤其是规定应当采取的行为。如果遵循辛格的学说,我们似乎不仅不该主动地以特定方式对待除人以外的动物,而且我们在道德上还有义务去缓解它们的痛苦,只要这么做不会对我们自己造成相当的损失。

utilitarian /jʊ,tɪlɪ’teərɪən/ a. based on the idea that the morally correct course of action is the one that produces benefit for the greatest number of people 功利主义的


As far as I know, Singer does not explicitly make this extension to non-human animals, but his principles imply it. In the essay ‘Famine, Affluence, and Morality’ (1972), he proposes that we are morally obliged to provide aid to human beings living in poverty and to the victims of natural and man-made disasters, regardless of their geographical distance from us, provided that our contribution does not entail a significant loss to ourselves (for example, you are not obliged to impoverish yourself to relieve the poverty of others).

据我所知,辛格没有明确地引申到除人以外的动物,但他的原则隐含了这点。在他的论文《饥荒,富裕与道德》(1972)中,辛格提出我们在道德上有义务去帮助穷人,和自然或人为灾难的受害者,不论他们离我们多远,只要我们的帮助不会对自身产生巨大的损失。(比如,你没有义务为了减轻他人的贫穷而使自己变得贫穷。)


If it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it. By ‘without sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance’ I mean without causing anything else comparably bad to happen, or doing something that is wrong in itself, or failing to promote some moral good, comparable in significance to the bad thing that we can prevent.

如果我们有能力阻止某件坏事的发生,又不会因此牺牲其他在道德上有同等重要性的东西,那么从道德上来说,我们就应该行动。“不会因此牺牲其他在道德上有同等重要性的东西”是指不会导致其他类似的坏事发生,或是去做一件本身就是错误的事,或是未能促成一个善举,而这个善举与我们防止的坏事一样重要。


This ‘uncontroversial’ principle of altruism, Singer says, ‘requires us only to prevent what is bad … and it requires this of us only when we can do it without sacrificing anything that is, from the moral point of view, comparably important’. Thus, all things being equal, there is no moral excuse for not doing what we can to alleviate the suffering of people who are dying from lack of food, shelter and medical care, regardless of geographical proximity or distance. Just because they might be thousands of kilometres away, for example, doesn’t mean that we are not obliged to take the money that we would have spent on a luxury item and instead donate it to an international relief agency.

对于这种“无可争议”的利他原则,辛格指出,“它要求我们去防止坏事的发生……只要这样做不会牺牲在道德上同等重要的东西。因此,在所有的事物都是平等的情况下,不论距离的远近,在道德上找不到借口不去帮助减轻那些由于没有食物、住处、医疗护理而垂死的人的痛苦。比如说,不能因为那些受苦的人在成千上万公里以外,我们就没有责任将本可能花在奢侈品上的钱捐给一个国际救援机构。

proximity /prɒk’sɪmɪtɪ/ n. nearness in distance or time (距离或时间的)接近,临近;邻近


In light of Singer’s general views on the moral consideration due to the suffering of non-human animals, the extension of the principle of altruism to such creatures – not species, but individual animals – seems to be trivial. After all, once again, there is no morally relevant difference in terms of the capacity to suffer. In other words, we are obliged to help that starving polar bear.

既然辛格认为,对于除人以外的动物的痛苦一概需要进行道德上的考虑,将利他主义的原则引申到这些生物上——不是物种,而是动物个体——好像也是顺其自然的了。毕竟,就感受痛苦的能力而言,人与其他动物是没有道德上的差别的。也就是说,我们有义务去帮助那只饥饿的北极熊。


What happened to this animal? Did the witnesses of its suffering intervene? Did the videographer and his crew take any steps to save it? Usually such efforts on behalf of this or that particular animal meet resistance, even discouragement, on the grounds that we should not intervene as nature ‘takes its course’.

那个动物后来怎么样了?目击了它的痛苦的人有没有进行干预呢?那个摄影师和他的团队是否采取了任何行动来援救它呢?这种为了救助某个动物而做出的努力通常都会遭受到反对,甚至打击,原因是我们不该干预自然“自行其道”。


Now put aside the fact that nature is taking such a course only because it has been altered, perhaps irrevocably, by irresponsible human activity, to the detriment of the members of other species (not to mention our own). Even so, how much weight should we give to this ‘leave nature alone’ argument? Here is an animal that is suffering. Should we (or the people who take such videos) do anything to help it?

现在先不谈自然如此发展,是由于人类不负责任的活动不可逆地改变了自然,使得其他物种受到了伤害(更不用说我们自己了)。即使撇开这点,“让自然自行其道”究竟有多重要呢?一个动物正在苦苦挣扎。难道我们(或是录像的人)不该尝试去帮助它吗?

detriment /’detrɪm(ə)nt/ n. harm or damage 损害,伤害,不利 to the detriment of sth =resulting in harm or damage to something


From an ethical perspective, the answer seems to me to be clear: yes, absolutely. Moreover, Singer’s brand of utilitarianism and its extension to non-human animals, demands this answer. Anyone who accepts Singer’s arguments that we are morally obliged both (a) not to treat animals in a certain way, because of their capacity to suffer (similar to ours), and (b) to relieve the suffering of human beings (as long as it does not involve a comparable loss on our part) must also grant (c) that we are morally obliged also to relieve the suffering of non-human animals when it is possible to do so and without comparable loss on our part.

从道德上来说,在我看来答案显然是:绝对应该。而且,辛格式的功利主义以及它对于人以外动物的延伸应用也要求必须坚持这个答案。如果你同意辛格以下的论述:首先,由于动物有感受痛苦的能力(与我们相似),我们在道德上有义务不以特定的方式对待它们;其次,我们有义务去减轻人类的痛苦(只要这不会使自己遭到相当的损失),那么你就必须承认,我们在道德上有义务去减轻除人以外的动物的痛苦,只要这是可行的,且不会对自己造成同样的损失。

a brand of something such as a way of thinking or behaving is a particular kind of it (思维或行为方式等的) 独特类型

grant /grɑːnt/ v. to admit that something is true although it does not make much difference to your opinion 承认〔某事属实,但该事不影响自己的看法〕


Of course, we do often acknowledge such a duty to help animals that suffer, especially when it is clear that such suffering is directly related to human activity. We typically come to the aid of waterfowl harmed by oil spills, sea mammals incapacitated by plastic floating in the oceans, and animals injured by vehicles. But here is the sticking point: why should it be any different with animals whose suffering is less obviously or directly related – and perhaps not related at all – to human activity, suffering for which we less clearly bear responsibility, or for which we bear no responsibility at all?

当然,在动物的痛苦明显是直接与人类活动相关时,我们通常会承认自己有责任去帮助它们。我们一向都会去帮助被石油泄漏伤害的水鸟、由于海里漂浮的塑料而无法正常生活海洋哺乳动物,以及被车辆撞伤的动物。但关键是,对于那些同样遭受着痛苦的动物,只是因为它们的痛苦与人类活动没有明显直接的关系,或是可能毫无关系;只是因为我们对于它们所受的折磨没有明显的责任,或是毫无责任,我们就不该帮助它们了吗?

incapacitate /,ɪnkə’pæsɪteɪt/ v. to make you too ill or weak to live and work normally 使无能力(正常生活和工作)


A failure to help that polar bear – or any individual animal in a comparable condition, regardless of our responsibility (direct or indirect) for that suffering – is callous and morally wrong. Nor can lack of action be defended by some alleged concern for the course of nature (‘We must not interfere!’) or the gene pool of the species (‘Let the weak die!’). Consider someone who would use those same arguments to justify not intervening to help relieve the suffering of particular human beings during a famine or after a tsunami, or someone who would use such arguments to say that we should not give antibiotics to a child with pneumonia. Such an attitude, reminiscent of various Charles Dickens characters, would be rejected out of hand as immoral. If the only morally relevant factor is ‘can they suffer?’, there is no relevant moral difference when animals suffer pain that we can alleviate.

不论我们是否直接造成了它们的痛苦,拒绝去帮助那只北极熊——或是相同情况下任何一个动物——都是无情且道德上错误的。所谓对自然发展(“我们绝对不能干预!”)或是基因库(“让弱者灭亡!”)的考虑都不能为这种不作为辩解。想想如果有人用相同的理由来解释为什么不去帮助那些在饥荒或是海啸受难者,或是不给患肺炎的孩子打抗生素。他们这样的态度会立即被摈弃,被认为是不道德的, 这让人想起查尔斯·狄更斯笔下的一些人物。如果唯一道德上需要考虑的因素是“他们是否能感受痛苦?”,那么当我们可以减轻动物的痛苦时,在道德上就没有理由区别对待。

callous /’kæləs/ a. not caring that other people are suffering 无情的,冷漠的

reminiscent /remɪ’nɪs(ə)nt/ a. reminding you of something 使人想起某事物

out of hand without due discussion or consideration


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【Aeon】帮助动物,就是拯救人类自己

<原文链接:https://aeon.co/ideas/we-have-an-ethical-obligation-to-relieve-individual-animal-suffering>

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