To have understood the polymorphous character of pleasure and happiness is of course to have rendered those concepts useless for utilitarian purposes; if the prospect of his or her own future pleasure or happiness cannot for reasons which I have suggested provide criteria for solving the problems of action in the case of each individual, it follows that the notion of the greatest happiness of the greatest number is a notion without any clear content at all. It is indeed a pseudo-concept available for a variety of ideological uses, but no more than that.
In my opinion, if, as the result of certain combinations, Kepler's or Newton's discoveries could become known to people in no other way than by sacrificing the lives of one, or ten, or a hundred or more people who were hindering the discovery, or standing as an obstacle in its path, then Newton would have the right, and it would even be his duty.. To those ten or a hundred people, in order to make his discoveries known to mankind. It by no means follows from this, incidentally, that Newton should have the right to kill anyone he pleases, whomever happens along, or to steal from the market every day. Further, I recall developing in my article the idea that all.. Well, let's say, the lawgivers and founders of mankind, starting from the most ancient and going on to the Lycurguses, the Solons, the Muhammads, the Napoleons, and so forth, that all of them to a man were criminals, from the fact alone that in giving a new law, they thereby violated the old one, held sacred by society and passed down from their fathers, and they certainly did not stop at shedding blood either, if it happened that blood (sometimes quite innocent and shed valiantly for the ancient law) could help them.
One of the main arguments that I make is that although almost everyone accepts that it is morally wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering and death on animals, 99% of the suffering and death that we inflict on animals can be justified only by our pleasure, amusement, or convenience. For example, the best justification that we have for killing the billions of nonhumans that we eat every year is that we enjoy the taste of animal flesh and animal products. This is not an acceptable justification if we take seriously, as we purport to, that it is wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering or death on animals, and it illustrates the confused thinking that I characterize as our moral schizophrenia when it comes to nonhumans.A follow-up question that I often get is: What about vivisection? Surely that use of animals is not merely for our pleasure, is it?Vivisection, Part One: The Necessity of Vivisection