Animal Rights?

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PeterCai
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:35 pm UTC

jules.lt wrote:
PeterCai wrote:Also, in the modern world, there's no more uses for dogs and cats beside amusement and companionship. We know that morality is fluid, so why should we have animal rights now, when there's no reason to include them in our group identity?

It's not that we should care, we just do care for evolutionary reasons. The more we can identify with the animal, the more we care. Hence the Human>Ape>Mammal>Vertebrate>multicellular>monocellular...
The simple fact that it hurts the feelings of human beings makes needlessly hurting animals immoral in most moral systems.

That I agree, but it seems silly to codify it into law. There's no law to prevent us from cheating on our girlfriends, for instance, even though the behavior would hurt them deeply.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:38 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:That I agree, but it seems silly to codify it into law. There's no law to prevent us from cheating on our girlfriends, for instance, even though the behavior would hurt them deeply.


Right, because emotional pain is not sufficient criteria to pass a law. Physical pain generally is.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:42 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Yeah, the point of those laws is clearly to protect animals.
Also this.

Thank you, that was very informative. Still, morality is fluid, why should there still the need to care for animals in the modern time? As an atheist, religious reasons such as souls and divine punishment don't work for me.
sourmìlk wrote:Right, because emotional pain is not sufficient criteria to pass a law. Physical pain generally is.

I was responding to jules. it's post, which suggests that hurting the feelings of other human is ground enough for animal abuse to be immoral.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:46 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_status_of_animals_in_the_ancient_world


Interestingly enough, this article also points out many, many examples of animal rights in the ancient world.
-Jainism is the oldest religious philosophy which has advocated complete non-violence towards animals of all forms.
-Psychologist Richard Ryder, former Mellon Professor at Tulane University and chairman of the RSPCA in 1977, writes that it is in 6th century BCE Greek philosophy that we first find concern for the treatment of animals.
-The philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras ( c. 580–c. 500 BCE), who has been called the first animal rights philosopher,[3] was the central figure within animism. He urged respect for animals, because he believed that humans and non-humans had the same kind of soul, one spirit that pervades the universe and makes us one with animals.[5] The souls were indestructible, made of fire and air, and were reincarnated from human to animal, or vice versa, the so-called transmigration of the soul. He was a vegetarian, and was reportedly the first animal "liberationist," buying animals from the market in order to set them free.[4][6]
-One of Aristotle's pupils, Theophrastus, disagreed with him, arguing against eating meat on the grounds that it robbed animals of life and was therefore unjust. He argued that non-human animals can reason, sense, and feel just as human beings do.[11]
-Both Hindu and Buddhist societies saw widespread vegetarianism from the 3rd century BCE, in line with ahimsa, the doctrine of non-violence. Ryder writes that animals were thought to possess the same feelings as human beings, and several kings of ancient India built hospitals for sick animals. To kill a cow in Hinduism was as serious as killing a high-caste man[citation needed], and the killing of a dog equivalent to killing an untouchable[citation needed]. Human souls could be reborn as animals if they had behaved badly, with all souls regarded as part of the Supreme Being. Failing to observe the duty to care could lead to bad karma, which increased the likelihood of returning as an animal next time round.[28]


PeterCai wrote:Also, in the modern world, there's no more uses for dogs and cats beside amusement and companionship. We know that morality is fluid, so why should we have animal rights now, when there's no reason to include them in our group identity?


Why are amusement and companionship not appropriate reasons to include them in our group identity? I mean, one could easily argue that marriage, for example, has been completely divorced (no pun intended) from its original purpose or roots, and its function now is entirely for the amusement and companionship of the parties involved. Yet marriage remains an important part of our cultural identity, and marital rights are considered very important.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby savanik » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:47 pm UTC

It's pretty trivial to find the moral rule in American society of 'you are not allowed to kill things that are cute.' Is this really the standard we should be using, though? I think a good ethical rule would be, 'you are not allowed to kill anything sentient, or with the capability of developing sentience.'

Then the question is defining, 'What has sentience?' Quite a few animals are able to exhibit self-recognition - does this count as sentient, even if they're typically unable to meaningfully communicate with humans?

Let's take pigs. 7 out of 8 pigs are able to recognize that a mirror shows a reflection of themselves and not another pig. Are pigs sentient? Should we not eat pork at all? Or should it be a case-by-case basis - is it okay to eat that 1 pig that failed the self-awareness test?

From that standpoint, let's say we adopted these rules that you can't kill animals that are reasonably intelligent. In the lack of other guidelines, it seems inevitable that meat producers would deliberately breed meat animals to be very stupid. Is that ethical?
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:49 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Yeah, the point of those laws is clearly to protect animals.
Also this.

Thank you, that was very informative. Still, morality is fluid, why should there still the need to care for animals in the modern time? As an atheist, religious reasons such as souls and divine punishment don't work for me.

At least in the Jewish religion, laws are often considered to have morality not necessarily dependent on God's will. And there isn't a need to care for animals (unless you are a farmer), but I think that's beside the point. If something is capable of harmed, the rule is generally to try to avoid harming it.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Mokele » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:58 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:Thank you, that was very informative. Still, morality is fluid, why should there still the need to care for animals in the modern time? As an atheist, religious reasons such as souls and divine punishment don't work for me.


Why should we care for other humans? A fluke of genetics? Some sort of pre-arranged group identity? That's no different from white folks saying "Why should we care about those with darker skin? There've never been laws before now about it, and in spite of various qualities, they aren't part of our group."

Seriously, if group inclusion is the primary determinant of morality, why is species any less arbitrary than race or nationality? And if we accept the premise that such arbitrary groupings are legitimate moral criteria, what's to stop me using a grouping that doesn't included all members of the species and exterminating those outside of the grouping?

Also, consider for a moment what would happen if you wound up with something that didn't fit your arbitrary grouping. Suppose, for example, some twisted madman created a "Humanzee" that was actually viable and grew to maturity. Would you consider it human and therefore entitled to rights? Why or why not? Imagine it could breed with humans, producing offspring that are increasingly "more human". At what point would you grant them rights? Why bother, since they aren't "human"?
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:02 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Why are amusement and companionship not appropriate reasons to include them in our group identity? I mean, one could easily argue that marriage, for example, has been completely divorced (no pun intended) from its original purpose or roots, and its function now is entirely for the amusement and companionship of the parties involved. Yet marriage remains an important part of our cultural identity, and marital rights are considered very important.

The reason for a group identity in the first place is that it increases individual survival rate. So amusement and companionship don't meet the criteria, I don't think.
Also, marriage is not just for amusement and companionship. By pooling their resources together, a couple can achieve a higher quality of life and has a far better chance of raising a successful offspring, the vow is to ensure that we have a person to take care of our wellbeing after we failed. This is also why legally, common law spouses are recognized, and enjoy the same rights as married couples, while short term relationships aren't.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:04 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Why are amusement and companionship not appropriate reasons to include them in our group identity? I mean, one could easily argue that marriage, for example, has been completely divorced (no pun intended) from its original purpose or roots, and its function now is entirely for the amusement and companionship of the parties involved. Yet marriage remains an important part of our cultural identity, and marital rights are considered very important.

The reason for a group identity in the first place is that it increases individual survival rate.

I don't need to work with black people to live.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:22 pm UTC

Mokele wrote:Why should we care for other humans? A fluke of genetics? Some sort of pre-arranged group identity? That's no different from white folks saying "Why should we care about those with darker skin? There've never been laws before now about it, and in spite of various qualities, they aren't part of our group."


We care for other humans with the expressed desires to be treated the same way. We don't care for other humans if said humans evidently don't care for us. For example, we are permitted to kill other humans in the time of war, in self-defense, and in defense of other group members. The reason that we should include all humans in our group identity is because all humans have the potential to advance society further, which in turns mean increased survival rate, and because we would like to be treated the same way when we inevitably become the minority one way or another.

sourmìlk wrote:I don't need to work with black people to live.

You don't need anybody to live, but you do need the group to live comfortably. Also, imagine a future in which black people dominate white people (which is very possible), wouldn't you want them to treat you as a group member?

Mokele wrote:Seriously, if group inclusion is the primary determinant of morality, why is species any less arbitrary than race or nationality? And if we accept the premise that such arbitrary groupings are legitimate moral criteria, what's to stop me using a grouping that doesn't included all members of the species and exterminating those outside of the grouping?

Also, consider for a moment what would happen if you wound up with something that didn't fit your arbitrary grouping. Suppose, for example, some twisted madman created a "Humanzee" that was actually viable and grew to maturity. Would you consider it human and therefore entitled to rights? Why or why not? Imagine it could breed with humans, producing offspring that are increasingly "more human". At what point would you grant them rights? Why bother, since they aren't "human"?


At least to humans, species are less arbitrary to race because monkeys don't have the potential to invent light bulb, and there's not a immediately foreseeable future in which monkeys have the chance of reciprocate our cares. For other animals, group identity could include their symbiotic partner species.

The Humanzee problem is interesting. For me it depends on how intelligent it will be, and how much of a benefit there is to include it in our group identity.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:32 pm UTC

So, if we only care for humans because they care for us, then isn't that reason to treat domesticated animals properly? And are you telling me that this guy doesn't piss you off?
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby jakovasaur » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:37 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:We care for other humans with the expressed desires to be treated the same way. We don't care for other humans if said humans evidently don't care for us. For example, we are permitted to kill other humans in the time of war, in self-defense, and in defense of other group members. The reason that we should include all humans in our group identity is because all humans have the potential to advance society further, which in turns mean increased survival rate, and because we would like to be treated the same way when we inevitably become the minority one way or another.

What about profoundly mentally disabled people? I don't know what exactly you mean by "advance society further", but I can't imagine they have that potential any more than an animal could. There is also no chance of a "retarded people revolution" that would oppress us. Are we morally permitted to treat them however we want to?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:40 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:So, if we only care for humans because they care for us, then isn't that reason to treat domesticated animals properly? And are you telling me that this guy doesn't piss you off?

He does, but I am not convinced that he should.
Ultimately, domesticated animals will never care for us the same way we care for them, and they will never advance our society. There is no way that a cat will ever abuse us, and there is no way that it will ever invent anything useful.

jakovasaur wrote:What about profoundly mentally disabled people? I don't know what exactly you mean by "advance society further", but I can't imagine they have that potential any more than an animal could. There is also no chance of a "retarded people revolution" that would oppress us. Are we morally permitted to treat them however we want to?

Mentally disabled people are human beings, and in virtue of being human deserve our care, since we, all of us eventually grow old and fragile and mentally dull, and would like to be taken care of when such a time comes.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:41 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:So, if we only care for humans because they care for us, then isn't that reason to treat domesticated animals properly? And are you telling me that this guy doesn't piss you off?

He does, but I am not convinced that he should.
Ultimately, domesticated animals will never care for us the same way we care for them, and they will never advance our society. There is no way that a cat will ever abuse us, and there is no way that it will ever invent anything useful.


So is it okay to abuse the mentally disabled?
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Goplat » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:06 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:Ultimately, domesticated animals will never care for us the same way we care for them, and they will never advance our society. There is no way that a cat will ever abuse us, and there is no way that it will ever invent anything useful. [...] Mentally disabled people are human beings, and in virtue of being human deserve our care, since we, all of us eventually grow old and fragile and mentally dull, and would like to be taken care of when such a time comes.
If a far more technologically advanced alien species discovers Earth, how should they treat humans?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Mokele » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:29 pm UTC

Goplat wrote:If a far more technologically advanced alien species discovers Earth, how should they treat humans?


IT'S A COOKBOOK!!

Why yes, the entire original Twighlight Zone just became available on Netflix Instant, why do you ask?
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:55 pm UTC

Goplat wrote:If a far more technologically advanced alien species discovers Earth, how should they treat humans?

I talked about it on page 1

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Goplat » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:41 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
Goplat wrote:If a far more technologically advanced alien species discovers Earth, how should they treat humans?

I talked about it on page 1

Right, somehow I missed that first time around. "if they are utilitarian, then there's nothing stopping them from treating us like advanced apes" - and since under utilitarianism it's supposedly OK for humans to torture animals, it's also OK for advanced aliens to torture humans. However, your morality theory now implies both that torturing humans is not OK (if another human does it) and that it is OK (if an alien does it); thus it is disproved by contradiction.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:00 pm UTC

Goplat wrote: However, your morality theory now implies both that torturing humans is not OK (if another human does it) and that it is OK (if an alien does it); thus it is disproved by contradiction.

That's not a contradiction.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Mokele » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:21 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
Goplat wrote: However, your morality theory now implies both that torturing humans is not OK (if another human does it) and that it is OK (if an alien does it); thus it is disproved by contradiction.

That's not a contradiction.


So if a vastly superior alien species landed tomorrow and decided you looked tasty, you would willingly offer yourself up as a tasty brunch?
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby quantumcat42 » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:03 pm UTC

Mokele wrote:
PeterCai wrote:
Goplat wrote: However, your morality theory now implies both that torturing humans is not OK (if another human does it) and that it is OK (if an alien does it); thus it is disproved by contradiction.

That's not a contradiction.


So if a vastly superior alien species landed tomorrow and decided you looked tasty, you would willingly offer yourself up as a tasty brunch?

"It's ok for me to hunt a deer" =/= "It's not ok for the deer to run away"

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Magnanimous » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:44 pm UTC

Goplat wrote:Right, somehow I missed that first time around. "if they are utilitarian, then there's nothing stopping them from treating us like advanced apes" - and since under utilitarianism it's supposedly OK for humans to torture animals, it's also OK for advanced aliens to torture humans. However, your morality theory now implies both that torturing humans is not OK (if another human does it) and that it is OK (if an alien does it); thus it is disproved by contradiction.
It's okay for humans to torture (most) animals, but not because we're more sapient than them. It's okay because (most) animals lack the cognitive development to think logically and come to reasoned decisions, which is the standard by which we judge intelligence. This isn't about comparisons: the aliens would most likely recognize humanity's sapience and treat us as (relative) equals.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby jules.LT » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:47 pm UTC

I and countless others firmly believe that it is NOT ok to torture animals.
To hurt them as a means to a useful end like food and research, yeah, but torture? It's not like they're going to talk.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby ikrase » Tue Jun 07, 2011 12:02 am UTC

My views:

Since animals don't look ahead or have the capacity for philosophy (may exclude some cetaceans and primates from definition of animals here), they have no use for human rights of freedom, survival, etc. However, they should not be killed without purpose. Bloodsports, for example, are horrible to both human and animal. They have the right to no unnecessary artificial suffering. (US farming of animals is often quite bad in this respect. ) Some level of suffering (not terribly much) is acceptable if it provides a major gain for either humans or animals. Farming needs to get MUCH better. However, compared to the numerous human problems we have had over the passing millenia, animal problems are low priority.

Essentially:
Humans: right to ambition opportunity, freedom from pain, social contract
Animals: Right to freedom from excess pain, but subordinate to humans.
Nonsapient Animals and Organisms (many invertebrates, all microbes, human embryos or animal embryos that have not developed a brain): No rights

I think that aliens that have any morality will be able to recognize humans as falling into the Humans category, and will not torture or otherwise maltreat them.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby buddy431 » Tue Jun 07, 2011 6:03 am UTC

Spoiler:
Mokele wrote:Honestly, I don't think it's possible to have a logically consistent, functional moral system of any kind. We're a bunch of irrational monkeys whose emotions and morality stems from "Don't take my banana" and such compelling questions as "Should I put this in my mouth?". All of the moral systems I've seen either accept their own illogical and arbitrary nature, descend into contradictions/paradox, run smack into deeply ingrained cultural or biological impulses, or some combination thereof. At this point, IMHO, we'd be better off admitting that a logical, uncontradictory moral system that never proscribes behavior we find repellent is a pipe dream that cannot exist, simply due to our own inherently irrational brains. At the end of the day, we're just making it up as we go along.


Something else that strikes me is that there's no reason to just pick between "animals have no rights" and "animals have all the rights of humans". There's no reason we can't just say "animals have limited rights, which are superceded by human rights, based on intelligence etc." In this way, we acknowledge the irrational pack-mentality Peter argues for and which, for better or worse, will forever be part of the human psyche, but don't go to the sociopathic opposite.

For instance, I do terminal animal experiments. I view the information I get as more vital than the animals that must die to gain that knowledge. But I also accept that the animals are not without value, so I make sure my experiment involves the minimum number of animals and is as humane as possible. Note that this is also the official position of US government ever since the Laboratory Animals Welfare Act of 1966 and subsequent amendments. As such, when I do an experiment, I have to get it approved by a panel including scientists, non-scientists, vets, etc. showing that I'm not needlessly duplicating research, that I'm using the minimum number of animals, that I can't just use models or tissue cultures, and that I'm taking every precaution to make it as humane as possible. IMHO, that strikes the right balance - acknowledging that humans come first, but also acknowledging that animals can suffer and aren't without value.


Mokele's position is the reasonable one here. Few people would say (non-human) animals have no rights, while probably even fewer would say that they have the same rights as humans. The grounds for debate is where to draw the line. Most people would say that torturing a dog, or a mouse, or a lizard for nothing other than sadistic pleasure is unethical. On the other hand, most people would say it's acceptable to euthanize an ill pet whose medical expenses have become burdensome. What about when causing unnecessary suffering for animals creates genuinely better results for humans? That's a gray area. I personally won't eat veal or fois gras because I think that the suffering endured in making them isn't ethical, even if the suffering does create a better tasting product. On the other hand, I will eat eggs that come from chickens kept in tiny cages for the duration of their short, miserable lives, because I believe that the economic benefits of a dirt-cheap source of tasty protein is worth this suffering.

Some people will believe that the taste of fois gras is worth the suffering endured by the goose in making it, while others will believe that the somewhat cheaper price of eggs does not justify cramming hens into tiny cages. Both are reasonable positions to hold. Saying that animals lack any rights, or that they retain all of the rights as humans, are not reasonable positions (in my opinion).
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby fr00t » Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:50 am UTC

Magnanimous wrote:It's okay for humans to torture (most) animals, but not because we're more sapient than them. It's okay because (most) animals lack the cognitive development to think logically and come to reasoned decisions, which is the standard by which we judge intelligence. This isn't about comparisons: the aliens would most likely recognize humanity's sapience and treat us as (relative) equals.


I used to have exactly this sentiment: however, it seems largely arbitrary and inadequate to lump things into sapient and nonsapient as far as "rights to life" are concerned. Why can't your last sentence read: "This isn't about comparisons: the aliens would most likely recognize humanity's ability to feel pain and desire to live and treat us as (relative) equals."? Not that I think we should consider animals as equals (they are far too tasty) but I don't think labeling them as nonsentient allows us carte blanch freedom to torture animals on whim.

My personal feeling is that we should provide reasonably humane living and slaughtering conditions; this is unfortunately partially dictated by financial considerations. As this is accepting a neccessary evil (however small), I would consider development of meat-sources without central nervous systems to be a desirable goal.

PeterCai wrote:Therefore, burning baby is immoral. There's nothing inherently immoral with burning a cat though.


There's nothing inherently immoral, period. The (mostly) universal human imperative "though shalt not kill" is prescriptive, and can easily be explained by utilitiarianism, which, while useful descriptively, is otherwise vacuous. However, I can also easily justify "thou shalt not cause unnecessary pain to living creatures" or even more strict versions, with moral values that aren't incoherent.

Utilitarianism is inadequate, vacuous, and uninteresting as a complete moral therory. Yes, you obviously should do what results in the largest amount of "value". The point of a moral theory is to outline what, specifically, is meant by "value".

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby SummerGlauFan » Wed Jun 08, 2011 3:43 am UTC

buddy431 wrote:
Spoiler:
Mokele wrote:Honestly, I don't think it's possible to have a logically consistent, functional moral system of any kind. We're a bunch of irrational monkeys whose emotions and morality stems from "Don't take my banana" and such compelling questions as "Should I put this in my mouth?". All of the moral systems I've seen either accept their own illogical and arbitrary nature, descend into contradictions/paradox, run smack into deeply ingrained cultural or biological impulses, or some combination thereof. At this point, IMHO, we'd be better off admitting that a logical, uncontradictory moral system that never proscribes behavior we find repellent is a pipe dream that cannot exist, simply due to our own inherently irrational brains. At the end of the day, we're just making it up as we go along.


Something else that strikes me is that there's no reason to just pick between "animals have no rights" and "animals have all the rights of humans". There's no reason we can't just say "animals have limited rights, which are superceded by human rights, based on intelligence etc." In this way, we acknowledge the irrational pack-mentality Peter argues for and which, for better or worse, will forever be part of the human psyche, but don't go to the sociopathic opposite.

For instance, I do terminal animal experiments. I view the information I get as more vital than the animals that must die to gain that knowledge. But I also accept that the animals are not without value, so I make sure my experiment involves the minimum number of animals and is as humane as possible. Note that this is also the official position of US government ever since the Laboratory Animals Welfare Act of 1966 and subsequent amendments. As such, when I do an experiment, I have to get it approved by a panel including scientists, non-scientists, vets, etc. showing that I'm not needlessly duplicating research, that I'm using the minimum number of animals, that I can't just use models or tissue cultures, and that I'm taking every precaution to make it as humane as possible. IMHO, that strikes the right balance - acknowledging that humans come first, but also acknowledging that animals can suffer and aren't without value.


Mokele's position is the reasonable one here. Few people would say (non-human) animals have no rights, while probably even fewer would say that they have the same rights as humans. The grounds for debate is where to draw the line. Most people would say that torturing a dog, or a mouse, or a lizard for nothing other than sadistic pleasure is unethical. On the other hand, most people would say it's acceptable to euthanize an ill pet whose medical expenses have become burdensome. What about when causing unnecessary suffering for animals creates genuinely better results for humans? That's a gray area. I personally won't eat veal or fois gras because I think that the suffering endured in making them isn't ethical, even if the suffering does create a better tasting product. On the other hand, I will eat eggs that come from chickens kept in tiny cages for the duration of their short, miserable lives, because I believe that the economic benefits of a dirt-cheap source of tasty protein is worth this suffering.

Some people will believe that the taste of fois gras is worth the suffering endured by the goose in making it, while others will believe that the somewhat cheaper price of eggs does not justify cramming hens into tiny cages. Both are reasonable positions to hold. Saying that animals lack any rights, or that they retain all of the rights as humans, are not reasonable positions (in my opinion).


I agree with this sentiment. Animals can think, feel, have emotions, etc. Thus, they have some rights (such as not to be tortured, and I would say to not become extinct). However, we do not extend them all human rights (a workhorse can't go on strike, and a dog can't sue you if you hit it with your car).
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby buddy431 » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:01 am UTC

SummerGlauFan wrote:
I agree with this sentiment. Animals can think, feel, have emotions, etc. Thus, they have some rights (such as not to be tortured, and I would say to not become extinct). However, we do not extend them all human rights (a workhorse can't go on strike, and a dog can't sue you if you hit it with your car).


It's interesting that you bring up extinction. That's a completely different issue, in my mind. When I think of animal rights (or human rights), I think of individual rights - not be subjected to unnecessary pain, etc. Do we ever apply collective rights to people? I suppose we do, when we say that cultures have the right not to have genocide perpetrated against them, but the fact that genocide aims to destroy a culture is pretty minor compared to the fact that eliminating a group of people requires you to actually, you know, kill them.

Anyways, I don't really see animals having a "right" to not go extinct. Pushing species to extinction is certainly a problem with how we interact with the environment, but when you're talking about death at a species level, rather than an individual level, it doesn't really seem natural to talk about rights (although look what else is on the forum currently...)
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby lutzj » Wed Jun 08, 2011 4:11 am UTC

Killing off entire species without a decent reason is a bad idea because of the lost potential benefit to humanity.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Falling » Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:55 pm UTC

buddy431 wrote: I personally won't eat veal or fois gras because I think that the suffering endured in making them isn't ethical, even if the suffering does create a better tasting product. On the other hand, I will eat eggs that come from chickens kept in tiny cages for the duration of their short, miserable lives, because I believe that the economic benefits of a dirt-cheap source of tasty protein is worth this suffering.


We've already got dirt-cheap protein sources, and I think you are underestimating the amount of suffering involved in producing eggs.
Veal seems to have that great shock factor for people, but what makes you think it's any worse that eggs?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby KestrelLowing » Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:17 pm UTC

Falling wrote:
buddy431 wrote: I personally won't eat veal or fois gras because I think that the suffering endured in making them isn't ethical, even if the suffering does create a better tasting product. On the other hand, I will eat eggs that come from chickens kept in tiny cages for the duration of their short, miserable lives, because I believe that the economic benefits of a dirt-cheap source of tasty protein is worth this suffering.


We've already got dirt-cheap protein sources, and I think you are underestimating the amount of suffering involved in producing eggs.
Veal seems to have that great shock factor for people, but what makes you think it's any worse that eggs?


Well, my guess is that in general we like to think of egg production like the old chicken coop on the farm instead of the hundreds of chickens in cages. But, as we're not actually eating something that is alive (eggs don't get fertilized), it doesn't seem quite as horrible as killing a baby animal. Also eggs: way cheaper than meat.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Falling » Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:45 pm UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:
Falling wrote:
buddy431 wrote: I personally won't eat veal or fois gras because I think that the suffering endured in making them isn't ethical, even if the suffering does create a better tasting product. On the other hand, I will eat eggs that come from chickens kept in tiny cages for the duration of their short, miserable lives, because I believe that the economic benefits of a dirt-cheap source of tasty protein is worth this suffering.


We've already got dirt-cheap protein sources, and I think you are underestimating the amount of suffering involved in producing eggs.
Veal seems to have that great shock factor for people, but what makes you think it's any worse that eggs?


Well, my guess is that in general we like to think of egg production like the old chicken coop on the farm instead of the hundreds of chickens in cages. But, as we're not actually eating something that is alive (eggs don't get fertilized), it doesn't seem quite as horrible as killing a baby animal. Also eggs: way cheaper than meat.


Yes, but the point is that our ideas often do not lie up with reality. The fact that eggs do not ostensibly involve eating an animal isn't really important. The hens are killed and usually used for meat within a year anyway. And the stress and pain they endure for that period is pretty horrendous.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby KestrelLowing » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:33 am UTC

Falling wrote:Yes, but the point is that our ideas often do not lie up with reality. The fact that eggs do not ostensibly involve eating an animal isn't really important. The hens are killed and usually used for meat within a year anyway. And the stress and pain they endure for that period is pretty horrendous.


It's not important for you, but it may be for others.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Falling » Sat Jun 18, 2011 12:52 am UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:
Falling wrote:Yes, but the point is that our ideas often do not lie up with reality. The fact that eggs do not ostensibly involve eating an animal isn't really important. The hens are killed and usually used for meat within a year anyway. And the stress and pain they endure for that period is pretty horrendous.


It's not important for you, but it may be for others.


See, there are two problems:
-Any non-meat product that we get from an animal subsidizes their meat.
-Animals that are raised for something other than meat are almost always raised under worse conditions and forced to endure those conditions longer.

So I'll concede that there may be people out there who just feel better about the fact that they're not eating meat regardless of reality,
but clearly humans aren't limited to rational thinking, and it's just a stupid position to take.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Pseudonymoniae » Sat Jun 18, 2011 8:44 am UTC

KestrelLowing wrote:
It's not important for you, but it may be for others.



It sounds like these hypothetical people you are discussing avoid eating meat based upon some kind of "yuck factor". This doesn't really address any of the moral issues with respect to animal slaughter, meaning that it really doesn't apply to the question of whether or not animals should have rights. Similarly, animal cuteness might play an important role in convincing certain people to support animal rights, but such a position is no less superficial than PeterCai's utilitarianism.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby buddy431 » Wed Jun 22, 2011 1:56 am UTC

Falling wrote:
buddy431 wrote: I personally won't eat veal or fois gras because I think that the suffering endured in making them isn't ethical, even if the suffering does create a better tasting product. On the other hand, I will eat eggs that come from chickens kept in tiny cages for the duration of their short, miserable lives, because I believe that the economic benefits of a dirt-cheap source of tasty protein is worth this suffering.


We've already got dirt-cheap protein sources, and I think you are underestimating the amount of suffering involved in producing eggs.
Veal seems to have that great shock factor for people, but what makes you think it's any worse that eggs?

I like the taste of eggs more than I like the taste of many other cheap protein sources. I certainly don't expect you to agree with my beliefs, but I do believe that they are largely internally consistent.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby elasto » Wed Jun 22, 2011 3:56 am UTC

Relevant to this thread: PET scans show monkeys have an internal monologue akin to humans.

I think the case is strong for giving monkeys a decent subset of rights ascribed to humans. But, in practical terms, there are still so many humans whose governments service them so poorly with regard to human rights that monkeys will largely have to wait their turn.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Beardhammer » Wed Jun 22, 2011 5:38 am UTC

jules.lt wrote:I and countless others firmly believe that it is NOT ok to torture animals.
To hurt them as a means to a useful end like food and research, yeah, but torture? It's not like they're going to talk.


Except where do you draw the line? You don't believe in hurting animals, but you're fine with killing them and eating them? Go to a Whataburger, get a burger. Where did that cow meat come from? Do you think it came from a cow that was allowed to graze peacefully in a picturesque pasture, or do you think it came from a cow that spent its entire miserable existence in a feedlot?

If you're not okay with killing and eating humans (usually justified on the basis that humans are "intelligent"), why are you okay with killing and eating other intelligent species? Sure, cows and chickens and pigs aren't exactly geniuses, but I grew up on a farm and I've certainly seen remorse and sadness in cows whose calf didn't make it. We didn't raise pigs and I'd probably say chickens are generally pretty dumb animals, but the cows certainly showed awareness and sadness that one of theirs was dead.

Understand, I'm a meat eater. I'm not a vegetarian and certainly not one of those vegan crazies (who could voluntarily deprive themselves of bacon and nice leather workboots? madmen, that's who), but it's a subject I basically just choose to shove under the carpet, because I can't find a logical reason for eating meat, other than "it tastes good." Imagine if you somehow found out that grilled human was the best damned meat ever. Why would it be wrong to start farming and killing and cooking humans? Other than "because they're one of us"? What if you were white, it turns out that black people taste really damn good. Would you be able to justify farming and eating black people, because they aren't "one of you"?

Now, I agree with you. I don't think that any animal deserves unnecessarily inhumane treatment, and I think that people who abuse animals should be treated as criminals, but I think there's an actual logical reason for that - people who would abuse and harm animals and especially pet animals (cats and dogs, mostly) tend to have the same kind of sociopathic mindset that can lead to a serial killer/rapist later on, so punishing them as a criminal and hopefully getting them help works out in the long run.

Sure, there's also "aww, it's a cute little pup! aww, it's a cute little kitty!" thing, but that's irrational and isn't really something I'd want to create laws based on.

Sorry if I started meandering in this post :(

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Magnanimous » Wed Jun 22, 2011 6:10 am UTC

Beardhammer wrote:
jules.lt wrote:I and countless others firmly believe that it is NOT ok to torture animals.
To hurt them as a means to a useful end like food and research, yeah, but torture? It's not like they're going to talk.

Except where do you draw the line? You don't believe in hurting animals, but you're fine with killing them and eating them? Go to a Whataburger, get a burger. Where did that cow meat come from? Do you think it came from a cow that was allowed to graze peacefully in a picturesque pasture, or do you think it came from a cow that spent its entire miserable existence in a feedlot?
Killing the animal is "bad", of course, but it's directly offset by the "good" creation of meat, so a lot of people are okay with it. You could argue that giving livestock horrible living conditions is offset by lowering costs, but that's harder to justify: You can raise cows without torturing them, but you can't harvest their meat without killing them. (... Yet.)
Beardhammer wrote:Now, I agree with you. I don't think that any animal deserves unnecessarily inhumane treatment, and I think that people who abuse animals should be treated as criminals, but I think there's an actual logical reason for that - people who would abuse and harm animals and especially pet animals (cats and dogs, mostly) tend to have the same kind of sociopathic mindset that can lead to a serial killer/rapist later on, so punishing them as a criminal and hopefully getting them help works out in the long run.

Sure, there's also "aww, it's a cute little pup! aww, it's a cute little kitty!" thing, but that's irrational and isn't really something I'd want to create laws based on.

Keep in mind that pets can have a ton of health benefits (that page cites several studies) for their owners, which seems to me like enough justification for humane treatment. Even if an animal of <species typically owned as a pet> is wild/feral, people may still emotionally identify with that animal.

The part that I think is confusing is about the animals that no one likes... If someone tortures an opossum, would anyone care? Or a cockroach?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Beardhammer » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:28 am UTC

Magnanimous wrote:Killing the animal is "bad", of course, but it's directly offset by the "good" creation of meat, so a lot of people are okay with it. You could argue that giving livestock horrible living conditions is offset by lowering costs, but that's harder to justify: You can raise cows without torturing them, but you can't harvest their meat without killing them. (... Yet.)

...

Keep in mind that pets can have a ton of health benefits (that page cites several studies) for their owners, which seems to me like enough justification for humane treatment. Even if an animal of <species typically owned as a pet> is wild/feral, people may still emotionally identify with that animal.

The part that I think is confusing is about the animals that no one likes... If someone tortures an opossum, would anyone care? Or a cockroach?


Interesting aside, there's a book of short stores I read a while back called Engineering Infinity. There was a story in there called The Ki-Anna that dealt with the concept of one intelligent race preying on another intelligent race. It was later revealed that one of the subjects of the short story was one of that other unfortunate race that was basically raised as a living meat source. The dominant race would raise them from childhood as a source of food, slicing off bits and pieces of them to eat without killing them. Should that unfortunate kid survive, they got their freedom or whatever. Pretty weird concept. Somehow I think I'd rather we just kill the damn cow than eat it slowly - it might one day decide it doesn't like going to sleep and waking up with a chunk of muscle missing and do something about it.

As far as the other animals thing... yeah, it's something of a double standard. I don't think anyone mourns the loss of a bug, especially not roaches, but at the same time, they can be every bit as useful as the dog or cat we own. Spiders kill pests like flies and are generally polite enough to not build their damn webs where your face will meet them. Those flies they eat (and cockroaches, too) live off of the detritus we and other animals produce - without them, we'd be drowning in our own muck (maybe.) Rats eat the spiders, and the roaches, and then the cat or dog eats the rats, and so on. I think it's actually a little pompous of us to pass judgement on the "lesser" species, but then again, maybe that's our "right" as the planet's dominant lifeform :P


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