Experimenting on animals.

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Belial
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Postby Belial » Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:22 am UTC

But, a lack of neutrality does not necessitate a lack of correctness. The purpose of photosynthesis can be to create sugar, especially since that photosynthesis wouldn't be there if it didn't have a useful function, like creating sugar.


The process wouldn't be there if it didn't perpetuate the organism, that is. Because otherwise, the previous organism wouldn't have lived to create it.

There's no *purpose* to photosynthesis, from an objective standpoint. Sun hits chlorophyll, and it just happens, in the same way as pouring vinegar onto baking soda makes something happen. Just more complicated.

Life is just a whole bunch of chemistry. Reaction leads to reaction leads to reaction. Reactions that perpetuate themselves keep happening. Reactions that don't perpetuate themselves arise, and then disappear.

There's no "purpose" to any of it, objectively speaking.

So there's only the subjective. But when those subjective justifications appeal to the "objective" purpose of life, there's a flaw, because there *isn't* one.

Drawing *purpose* from evolution is as flawed as drawing *purpose* from god.
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Postby Vaniver » Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:31 am UTC

There's no "purpose" to any of it, objectively speaking.
If you're using a strong sense of the word purpose, disagreement here is trivial. But I don't think purpose is a strong enough word in all senses for all disagreement about this to be trivial. If we're talking "to intend; design", then purpose is inappropriate. If we're talking "practical result, effect, or advantage", I don't think we can claim there is no purpose. If we're talking "the reason for which something exists or is done, made, used, etc.", it's ambivalent.
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Postby Steve » Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:39 am UTC

Drawing *purpose* from evolution is as flawed as drawing *purpose* from god.


This is actually an interesting train of thought, as drawing 'purpose' from evolution is a fairly useful way of understanding the evolutionary model. Drawing 'purpose' from god is fruitless as there is no evidence to verify that this 'purpose' is what the model of god accomplishes.

Granted this must be used with the knowledge that it is only an analytical tool and that a process doesn't actually HAVE a purpose, only that by viewing it as such allows a better mental image of the overall process.
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Postby Belial » Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:39 am UTC

The problem is when you argue for one sense, and then, when you move to justifying your *next* argument, use it in the other sense as though it were agreed upon. If that makes any sense.

In other words, if you get people to agree to the "purpose" of evolution and life, in the sense of "the result and practical effect of" and then make an argument for why we should kill all the animals we want based on the assumption that we've all agreed to "The intent and desing of", there's a problem.

Yes, the "practical result" of self-propagating patterns (life) is to self-propagate.

Does that mean we have a moral obligation to do so? That we're somehow defying some higher purpose if we fail to self-propagate in the most efficient way possible? No. It means we have nifty chemical properties. That's all. It's up to us what we do with them.
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Postby Vaniver » Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:45 am UTC

If that makes any sense.
It does. But, I could have moved from using it from an unambiguous case (in the sense of which definition I'm using) to an ambiguous case (where I could be using several), and it's the imperfection of language that makes a flaw in the argument, instead of my deliberate choice of definitions.

But, looking back at my argument, I don't think I used the word 'purpose' before you did. And 'meaning' is fairly unambiguous. So I admit that section was technically incorrect, but I'm not sure that means it is worthless for a discussion of morality, especially if we are moving from a system without a purpose to a system with a purpose. One can talk about the 'purpose' of the system without a purpose, given the reference frame of the system with a purpose, but it is illogical without the reference frame of that second system.
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Postby Steve » Thu Mar 29, 2007 5:48 am UTC

My mistake, I probably should have clarified those two posts as being very seperate and nothing more than an exersize in viewpoints. I am very much in the 'aww cute fuzzy dog, lets feed it not kill it' camp, and I take my own arguements with a grain of salt.

I do stand by the 'purpose analogy' post however, as it is a very useful mental abstraction tool. Say for example I want to analyze the processes of my CFD software package. If I view the entire package of having a 'purpose' of taking a surface and then outputting an analysis of the flow through said surface, it allows a much easier transition to understanding the sub procceses. Purpose to me is a mental tool and nothing else.

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Purpose is useful but ultimately falsified.
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Postby Belial » Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:31 am UTC

I do stand by the 'purpose analogy' post however, as it is a very useful mental abstraction tool.


Oh, I agree. It's very useful. It's almost impossible to make your brain wrap around life and evolution *without* thinking of it in terms of goals, purposes, and so forth, and personifying the whole process a little.

That's what makes it kindof insidious. You have to keep reminding yourself that it's *just* an abstraction tool, a little shortcut you're using so *you* can conceptualize it, not a property inherent to the process itself.

And certainly not a thing to draw any *real* "purpose" from, when deciding on moral actions.
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Postby Messiah » Thu Mar 29, 2007 7:32 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:No, looks like you're the one who has been missing what other people say. I read your view, and explained why ethics is necessarily subjective. We are people, so our point of view is the human point of view. It's therefore necessarily going to place humans above some things that, in a completely "objective" analysis, aren't inferior to us.

I was actually talking to people who just kept answering "chimps can't sit around a fire and talk" and similar after we'd already mentioned that language isn't necessary. You're providing points that haven't been discussed, and I appreciate that. Yes, as I've also said myself, ethics is subjective. It's important though that we realise when we are being subjective, and consider other views as well, instead of just brushing them away because they're not ours. Perfect example.

gmalivuk wrote:You claim you don't do this, but I bet you wash your hands after taking a shit. Many of us would probably agree that, given the average respect afforded to other human beings, it would be incredibly selfish to allow (or especially to actively kill) billions of people simply so you can ensure you're not going to get a bit of an upset stomach. But clearly you, despite all your claims to the contrary, value your own life more than that of these allegedly "superior" life forms.

By what basis do you decide that your life is more important than theirs?

1) It wouldn't be billions, when comparing population ratios. 2) I'd kill anyone who was threatening my life, and harmful bacteria do that. 3) As I've said, I don't deny having different views, but they are mine personally. Ethics should look from the view of the many, not the singular, which again means understanding views apart from our own.

Belial wrote:You're personifying it again.
Evolution, reproduction, *life*, don't have *purposes*. They're chemical reactions. They just happen. Evolution isn't trying to do *anything*. It just happens.

When we say meaning of life, we mean each individual's personal goal to achieve in life. Not the abstract term life, but that particular part. The goal is actually the individual's, hence it's use is correct.

Vaniver wrote:If you are arguing that single-celled life is more advanced that multi-celled life, I'm not sure you're using a useful meaning of "advanced".

In individual terms, they are extremely simple. But looking at the entire Kingdom Bacteria, it contains far more varied and complex types than any other.

Vaniver wrote:A few molecules differ from what they should be, and the pile of flesh that spits forth from the womb is barely recognizable as the same species as its mother. It, not having lungs, can't even get in a tortured breath before it expires.
Did that life have a meaning?

And yes, it had meaning during those moments of life, but was unable to reach it's goal because it was taken early. We're only counting anything that achieves a full life obviously, or otherwise it's impossible.

Vaniver wrote:Or, to address the last point, why must the 'goal' of life be something everything can achieve? Could the entire history of evolution be species trying to "win", and some species have while other's haven't? If one wants a biological meaning of life, then it is what you said, and we're winning.

Are we winning? We're growing at a rate we cannot sustain, we are running out of resources at an alarming rate, and we are far from obtaining any ways of realistically expanding beyond the world we currently inhabit.


Note that I've never said I'm against experimenting on animals. I'm just against pathetic excuses such as "they're not human, so they're below us." And also the abuse of power, something particularly important. We have the ability to control

We'd better get on topic. If somebody wants to get a mod to split this off, that's fine, but there's not really a point of starting a new topic, we're pretty close to finished. Not particularly a win for anyone, but more a stalemate.

Oh, and going back ages now, yes those fish create their own magnetic fields. Can't find the journal article now because it's on another computer, but search and I'm sure you could find them.
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Postby Vaniver » Thu Mar 29, 2007 2:27 pm UTC

I'd kill anyone who was threatening my life, and harmful bacteria do that.
How are we defining "threatening my life" here? Must they actively intend you harm, or is all that is necessary be the condition "killing X extends my life significantly"? (To make this question a bit more palatable: must the other entity be trying to kill you for it to be their fault they didn't see you and ran you over?)

In individual terms, they are extremely simple. But looking at the entire Kingdom Bacteria, it contains far more varied and complex types than any other.
I'm not sure I agree that because there are more bacteria, the kingdom is more complex. I would contend there's more complexity in a single species of gorilla than I would in a thousand species of bacteria, because a gorilla has a significant number of cell types (and each of those cells is more complex than a bacteria).

Are we winning?
Ask the dodo :P

I'm just against pathetic excuses such as "they're not human, so they're below us."
I'm not sure this excuse is pathetic; it uses natural morality instead of a more sophisticated human one, but its basic nature does not necessarily invalidate it.
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Postby gmalivuk » Thu Mar 29, 2007 8:06 pm UTC

If anyone's interested, I made a separate post where people can debate the meaning and purpose of life. I think it's an interesting discussion worth having, but that it could potentially be more fruitful in its own thread, since it brings up all kinds of issues unrelated or only peripherally related to animal experimentation.
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