Some might be surprised to learn that an organization devoted to space colonization is dedicated to the cause of animal welfare. But those people overlook the fact that space colonization is for us not an end on itself, but rather a mean towards the end of creating a new society based on humanist values.
You might wonder is humanism not concerned with the well-being of humans? Yes, it is. Nevertheless, this does not mean that humanists should not be concerned with the well-being of animals. In fact many, if not all, humanists do take the interests of non-human animals seriously.
The idea that animal welfare and human well-being are mutually exclusive, is in our opinion a false dichotomy. We believe that the opposite is true, that animal welfare and human well-being are complementary, that both are strengthening each other.
Several reasons exist why humanists should be concerned with animal welfare. From an anthropocentric perspective one could point at what is known as the cruelty link. Proposed by Immanuel Kant, among others, is that we should not allow cruelty towards animals because it will lead to cruel behavior towards humans.
There is plenty of scientific evidence for the existence of the cruelty link. There is a strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence. Also many criminals convicted for violence inflicted upon humans, have started with abusing animals.
From a more zoocentric perspective we could wonder why compassion for others, the very core of humanism, should be limited to members of our own species? According to Jeremy Bentham animals deserve our compassion because their ability to suffer. If we despise the suffering of our fellow humans, why should we not equally despise the suffering of animals?
We could refer to this expansion of humanism to include animal welfare as posthumanism (not to be confused with the silly fantasy of transhumanism). In short posthumanists question the “superiority” of humans, without denying the value of human life.
We will return to the relation between space colonization and animal welfare. The establishment of space settlement might be a good opportunity to reconsider human-animal relations.
Earlier we discussed the topic of vegetarianism and space colonization. There we looked upon the issue from an anthropocentric perspective. Raising livestock in space settlements severely limits the number of humans in those settlements, in particular during the early stages of space colonization.
We concluded that vegetarianism would be logical choice for the first generation of space settler, possibly with the addition of in vitro meat. Though this is purely based upon anthropocentric arguments, once vegetarianism has become the general social norm, there will be a momentum to rethink are attitude towards nonhuman animals.