Below is my brief response to Rhys Southan’s “The Enigma of Animal Suffering”
"[B]ut when the animals are knocked insensible first, the discomfort is our own — not theirs."
Doesn’t this knocking insensible follow a series of industrial farming events already recognized as cruel?
"Our perception of the external, of disturbing images or scenes, is sometimes a projection of our own feelings as observers; it does not match what the subjects of such treatment actually experience."
I’d suggest that there is projection in every instance of perception. It does not necessarily follow that our perceptions and feelings do “not match what the subjects of such treatment actually experience.” The author’s assumption could be sourced in theistic and capitalist ideology that define interspecies experience as unbridgeable.
“For human analogies to animal farming to have force, the experience of being a farmed animal should be equivalent to the human experience in superficially similar circumstances.”
Not true. Analogy needn’t suggest absolute equivalence to draw clarity, commonality, and compassion—to have force.
"Even though animals feel physical and emotional pain, it is possible to raise them for food and kill them without causing them any more suffering than what we might expect a well-off human to experience."
Maybe. But why not eat humans who don’t suffer more than well-off non-human animals?
"If we can take animals to their deaths without their ever connecting the dots, then with the best animal farming the existential angst over their being exploited and doomed is almost certainly in our heads, not in theirs."
The rhetoric of “If” is a powerful elixir.
The Holocaust analogy could be helpful if only to illuminate the author’s own anthropocentrism and that awareness or “existential angst” falls short as a category or reason for or against factory meat. Individuals taken to concentration camps were often not aware of their fate. Does this not-knowing make genocide humane? Why should it for non-human animals? Perhaps more to the point: Southan seems to assume that with “best animal farming,” whatever that farming may be, there is no non-human animal suffering apart from existential angst (“connecting the dots”).
The moment one agrees to some sentiential commonality between human and non-human animals (if not all that comes with the more obvious phylogenetic), one must then also agree that meat from the latter is murder, too. We’re all animals now.