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“The Tango of Ethics: Intuition, Rationality and the Prevention of Suffering,” by Dr. Jonathan Leighton (vegan), Part 1 of 2

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Dr. Jonathan Leighton is a Canadian ethics strategist, writer, and public speaker who advocates for social change and a more compassionate world. His latest work, “The Tango of Ethics: Intuition, Rationality and the Prevention of Suffering,” published in 2023, offers a profound and rigorous reevaluation of ethical thought. Dr. Leighton talks about his first book, “The Battle for Compassion.” “And one of the key ideas is that we live in a world of cause and effect, and if we want to change things, we need to change the environment in which people find themselves. We need to think about how to change the system that we find ourselves in, rather than just falling back on our human intuitions to blame others.”

Dr. Leighton speaks about his vegan journey. “Because I knew that it was the only way to live that was consistent with my ethics, so I couldn’t defend eating animal products. And I’ve now been vegan for 10 years.” Dr. Leighton explains some basic principles for establishing a solid ethical framework. “So, the whole idea of something, of anything, mattering depends on sentient beings. We have other strong intuitions to preserve our existence, or the idea that it feels wrong to harm another sentient being, or that it’s wrong to concentrate suffering, or to infringe on people’s personal autonomy.” “It’s really irrelevant what a creature, or sentient being, looks like on the outside. The only thing that matters, ethically, is their ability to suffer. I think one of the worst and most irrational forms of speciesism is to say that the suffering of non-human animals matters less, even if the intensity is the same. And so, from that perspective, any animal human or non-human that suffers should have their suffering treated identically.” Dr. Leighton mentions how the documentary “Earthlings” is raising awareness of animal-people suffering at the hands of humans. “And I think the more eating animals and eating animal products is seen as something taboo, the greater the number of people that move away from eating animal products, I think the easier it will be for more people to make the switch.”
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