Why not Kill All Sharks?

Posted on Posted in Philosophy


In honor of shark week 2015 I suggest that we actively pursue eradicating sharks from the face of the Earth. Okay, well maybe that’s hyperbole but I think the question of whether we ought to or not raises some interesting questions.

The first thing that strikes me is that I really wouldn’t mind it if there were no more sharks. Especially after the recent spate of shark attacks in North Carolina. I don’t feel the same way about lions and tigers but I literally have no emotional response that would make me want to preserve their existence. If I could push a button and instantly kill all sharks I think I would, although I’m willing to give it some more thought.

Is the difference between sharks and lions simply that lions don’t exist in the United States and hence I don’t have to worry about getting maimed or eaten them? I don’t think that is it, although I’m not totally discounting the possibility. It would certainly be interesting to Africans or Indians the question to see their response.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the impulse to conserve species and fight extinction is broadly good. I’m glad we’ve prevented the many species we have prevented from going extinct. I just wonder if there are some we shouldn’t bother with saving.

In doing a bit of research sharks kill five people per year. Although there are more attacks than that per year. (New Smyra Beach is the shark attack capital of the world so probably not a good vacation spot.)

Snakes kill about 50,000 people per year and crocodiles kill around 2,000 people per year. The top mammals that are killers are Hippos, Elephants, Buffalo, Domestic Dogs, Deer (by causing traffic accidents), Lions, Cows, and Horses.

Lo0king at the list I’m definitely okay with killing all wild crocodiles and snakes. Good riddance.

Alright, time for some philosophy!

We will now consider in detail the follow five ethical principles that might offer some guidance:

1) Nature is good and shouldn’t be interfered with.

2) Preserving bio-diversity is good (this could be a sort of good in itself for it could be a utilitarian principle whereby biodiversity is a means to greater overall happiness.

3) We shouldn’t kill animals. / Sharks have a right to life.

4) We should seek to maximize happiness (without violating anyone’s rights)

Just kidding! I’m not writing a book here so I’m going with (4) as a reason to work towards eliminating animals like snakes, sharks, and crocodiles. Other dangerous animals like lions and tigers and hippos buffalo, and elephants should also be kept with large nature preserves (with fences). I like lions and tigers but really they shouldn’t be roaming free.

Of course we’ve got much bigger problems in the world that we need to work on but I do suspect that some day large predatory animals capable of killing humans running wild will be a thing of the past.

ps. A total no brainer is that dog breeds like pit bulls that are responsible for the vast vast majority of deaths should also be illegal.

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