'If you injure an insect, should you kill it or let it live?'
Saturday 05 April 2014
In my eyes, this is more about having compassion for all creatures. If the injury is serious enough to prevent the insect from normal activity, then I'd kill it to put it out of its misery.
Such questions always challenge human morality, which I would argue is relative and subjective. Witness the lion ripping apart the antelope. We, as if by reflex, wince at the antelope's pain. Easily forgetting the lion's hunger. This shows how basically our morality tends. We cannot deny the elegance of the 'food chain', but it grates against our notion of self-preservation.
My unfortunate conclusion is that it matters not at all; whether you kill it or not, or whether it has a consciousness or pain. Ethics, being a purely human construct, is irrelevant, save to assuage our own reflexive guilt. But insofar as that is true, then do as you feel you should.
If you have a philosophical objection to killing, you could place a tiny droplet of beer or wine next to the damaged insect. This will have a suitably anaesthetic effect, and ensure that the final moments of the insect are happy, if the thing is in fact capable of happiness. It's also a good excuse for opening a bottle of beer or wine, and the insect's share hardly diminishes from the total.
Looks like the philosophers and theists have made their cases. As far as entomologists are concerned, insects do not have pain receptors the way vertebrates do. They don't feel 'pain', but may feel irritation and probably can sense if they are damaged. Even so, they certainly cannot suffer because they don't have emotions. If you heavily injure an insect, it will most likely die soon: either immediately because it will be unable to escape a predator, or slowly from infection or starvation. Ultimately this crippling will be more of an inconvenience to the insect than a torturous existence, so it has no 'misery' to be put out of, but also no real purpose. If it can't breed any more it has no reason to live.
In other words, I have not answered your question because, as far as the science is concerned, neither the insect nor the world will really care either way. Personally, though, I'd avoid doing more damage than you've already done. 1) Maybe the insect will recover, depending on how damaged it is. 2) Some faiths do forbid taking animal lives, so why go out of your way to kill? 3) You'll stain your shoe.
Matan Shelomi, entomologist
These answers all come from quora.com, the popular online Q&A service. Ask any question and get real answers from people in the know
- 1 Home Office says Nigerian asylum-seeker can’t be a lesbian as she’s got children
- 2 What happens to your body when you give up sugar?
- 3 Drugs Live cannabis trial: Hash is less harmful than any other drug, expert claims
- 4 Turkish Airlines flight TK 726 crash-lands on Nepal runway amid dense fog
- 5 Apple and Google users being spied on for a decade because of 'Freak' security flaw
Durham Free School: 'Creationism taught at' free school facing closure
Nearly 100,000 of Britain's poorest children go hungry after parents' benefits are cut
Ukip would cut billions from Scottish budget to fund English tax cuts
End of the licence fee: BBC to back radical overhaul of how it is funded
Ukraine crisis: Top Chinese diplomat backs Putin and says West should 'abandon zero-sum mentality'
Boris Nemtsov shot dead: Outspoken Putin critic who had expressed fears for his life is killed near the Kremlin
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...
£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...
£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...
£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...