Are animals just machines? Or do they care and feel and matter?
Some who study animals say they are just machines. They also learn a lot about them by experimenting on them — for example seeing how well they see if you destroy different pieces of their brains, which helps us understand the brain, and vision, and ultimately cure blindness.
You might think that they view animals as machines and that makes it not a problem to blind them. After all, it’s not a problem to take a camera apart to see how it works.
But it might be that we want a cure for blindness, so we make some of us cut up the brains of animals, and the only way to live with yourself and get up in the morning and go to work and cut up the brain of a cat say, is to tell yourself that the cat is just a machine.
So on this view, if you love your cat, don’t be angry at the person who thinks the cat is a machine, because he has to, in order to do the work you’ve asked him to do, such as coming up with vaccines to protect your cat.
This insight generalizes.
Don’t hate the soldier who thinks life is all about who wins and loses — you asked him to defend you. Don’t hate the spy who thinks life is all about tricks and counter-tricks. You need him to make sure nobody is plotting a sneak attack on you and yours.
Needless to say, don’t hate yourself either.