This Independent Study thesis is a response to and examination of Ole Moen Martin’s piece “The Ethics of Wild Animal Suffering.” The examination of such a piece begins with an exploration of the background ethic, in this case utilitarianism. To do this, we consider earlier utilitarian thinkers, such as Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. Then, we use the contemporary utilitarian Peter Singer to better define how we are to think about the suffering of animals, both domesticated and wild.

The second section focuses on presenting Moen’s ideas clearly. Moen says that, within utilitarianism, we must consider all suffering and ought to deal with such suffering. After presenting us with enough evidence that suggests wild animals suffer greatly in the current state of nature, Moen concludes that we ought to do something about this suffering. While some of the actions presented are outlandish now, the mere existence of a statement that says we ought significantly to alter our environment in order to cure animal suffering presents a troubling problem for environmentalists.

We argue in the third section that, because of our unique relationship to nature, we cannot move back and forth between a natural state and an unnatural state. If there is at least some potential for nature to provide us utility in the future, any utility gained from nature in the future would be forfeit if we were to destroy and later try and restore nature. Environmentalists, which generate utility if there is a preserved nature, cannot be satisfied by a nature ‘restored’ after Moen’s plans take shape.


Schiltz, Elizabeth






Environmentalism, Utilitarianism, Animal Suffering

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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