Suffering Abolitionism: for compassionate and thoughtful interventions against the horrors of suffering in the near and distant future



The main inspiration of the suffering abolition group is David Pearce’s work on the topic. For many years he has been writing about and advocating for strategies to eradicate suffering in all sentient life. The abolition of suffering, he argues, is ambitious, but technically feasible. He continues: “Genetic engineering and nanotechnology allow Homo sapiens to discard the legacy-wetware of our evolutionary past. Our post-human successors will rewrite the vertebrate genome, redesign the global ecosystem, and abolish suffering throughout the living world.” (Pearce 1995)

David Pearce’s work:

The Hedonistic Imperative 

The Antispeciesist Revolution

The Abolitionist Project

Brave New World? A Defence Of Paradise-Engineering

and more

Initiatives aiming to facilitate the eventual abolition of suffering can aim towards the goal directly or indirectly. Indirect initiatives would be such that build a scientific, educational and cultural foundation to help getting more direct interventions off the ground. Initiatives therefore can be very diverse, but they should fulfill multiple effectiveness and safety criteria such as the criteria of Scope/Importance, Tractability, and Neglectedness from Effective Altruism, the OECD DAC criteria: Relevance, Coherence, Effectiveness, Efficiency, Impact, Sustainability (will the desired effects last), and reversibility criteria for particular innovative interventions in very complex systems, argued by the Wild Animal Initiative.

Further readings on why to care for suffering the most:

On the seriousness of suffering by Brian Tomasik (one of the most influential activist/writers in the broader community) 

The veil of ignorance considerations by John Rawls

On the relevance of sentience and antispeciesism see Effective Altruism Foundation 
or Animal Ethics

The Ethics of Wild Animal Suffering by Ole Martin Moen

General resource page on suffering-focused ethics

Recommended readings to get started and work towards the abolition of suffering:

1) Compassionate Biology: How CRISPR-based “gene drives” could cheaply, rapidly and sustainably reduce suffering throughout the living world  (or Can Biotechnology Abolish Suffering?)

2) Medicine vs. Deep Ecology

This page was first published on 04 Mar 2022.