Welcome to the only utilitarianism forum!
You raised a couple of good points in offline discussion, so I thought I would source those for you, as a starting point to discussion. The idea of speciesism was popularised, although not invented, by Peter Singer:
And the idea that we should be concerned only about the extent of creatures to suffer was written by Jeremy Bentham back in 1789!Peter Singer said:Racists violate the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interests of members of their own race when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of another race. White racists do not accept that pain is as bad when it is felt by blacks as when it is felt by whites. Similarly those I would call 'speciesists' give greater weight to the interests of members of their own species when there is a clash between their interests and the interests of those of other species. Human speciesists do not accept that pain is as bad when it is felt by pigs or mice as when it is felt by humans.
If you're looking for further reading re utilitarianism, here are some possible readings, and you're also welcome to borrow Sam Harris's The Moral Landscape or Peter Singer's The Life You Can Save from me if you'd like. Phew, that's a lot of utilitarianism reading! I guess the main thing I should say that I hope you enjoy your stay at Felicifia!Jeremy Bentham said:The day has been, I grieve to say in many places it is not yet past, in which the greater part of the species, under the denomination of slaves, have been treated by the law exactly upon the same footing as, in England for example, the inferior races of animals are still. The day may come when the rest of the animal creation may acquire those rights which never could have been withholden from them but by the hand of tyranny. The French have already discovered that the blackness of the skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may one day come to be recognized that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate. What else is it that should trace the insuperable line? Is it the faculty of reason, or perhaps the faculty of discourse? But a full-grown horse or dog is beyond comparison a more rational, as well as a more conversable animal, than an infant of a day or a week or even a month, old. But suppose they were otherwise, what would it avail? The question is not Can they reason?, nor Can they talk?, but Can they suffer?