Animal Rights?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TrlstanC » Tue Aug 16, 2011 10:09 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
TrlstanC wrote:That statement is almost exactly wrong.

No, it's not. The supposition that animals deserve human treatment is an opinion. The reason I stand by the notion that calling slaughterhouses 'torture by human standards' irrelevent, is because slaughterhouses are facilities specialized in the systematic and mass killing of an animal. This is acceptable, because we eat animals. This is not acceptable to do to humans, because human life is worth more than animals.
Again, this is an opinion.


The part of the statement that was wrong was that it wasn't worth comparing (the part about the concentration camp was correct). I think this is fairly obvious since you just compared them yourself. The whole point is to compare humans to (other) animals. It's easy to say, "we're worth more" and write off everything we do (avoiding any comparison) it's a lot more difficult to say "we're a like in a lot of, but not all, ways" and try to figure out what the right thing to do is.

The only point I'm trying to make is that I don't know what the "correct" level of rights for all animals is, but I'm pretty sure it's higher than how we're treating most animals alive in the US today, and it could be significantly higher for a lot of animals.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TrlstanC » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:19 pm UTC

A fantastic bit of research. Finding that for a common measure of pessimism and reactions to stress, bees respond similarly to humans and dogs. If nothing else, it's worth reading the article for the lines about testing "shaven and unshaken bees." It also does a really good job of pointing out that in absence of being able to directly communicate with animals (bees in this case) our only other option would be an "emotion-o-meter" or some similar uninvented device. Hopefully there will be lots more research in these areas, it will certainly provide more concrete evidence to judge animals rights.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Vash » Fri Aug 26, 2011 10:36 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:The only way I can parse that is 'where I am from, feral dogs terrorize people, so sometimes we chase them off'. Otherwise, PeterCai is weird.


jakovasaur wrote:Even if that is the case, he didn't characterize it as chasing off dangerous threats, but just as "chasing and beating wild dogs with sticks and stones". I think either way, that is weird.


No, people do this stuff all the time. It's pretty normal. I think people have to be taught otherwise.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TrlstanC » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:01 pm UTC

A short post about the recent accidental death of a dolphin at an aquarium (it was due to two dolphins colliding). It does a fairly good job of asking if even humane treatment of animals in captivity can mean they're worse off then in the wild e.g., mortality rates and life expectancy in captivity of some animals could be lower than in the wild. But it also makes the point that allowing people to come and see dolphins "raises awareness" and can help conservation efforts.

I think this would be a good an area where we could have an actual discussion about what's moral or not, or what kinds of rights we should recognize for animals (as opposed to just reiterating the arguments from either end of the spectrum "might makes right" vs. "all creatures are precious.") The dolphins probably actually do enjoy some (or even most) of their time at the aquarium, and might even really enjoy putting on shows and interacting with trainers. But they're still intelligent and social animals that are being kept in a very unnatural habitat. Does the fact that they might be indirectly benefitting wild dolphins mitigate the situation?

Slightly off topic idea:
Spoiler:
This is probably wildly unrealistic, but does anyone think we could have a "volunteer" aquarium, at least for the smarter animals like dolphins? They get treated well and given lots of free fish and interesting interaction with trainers and other dolphins, but they're free to leave at night. If they come back the next day (or any day) then they can spend the day in the aquarium?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby DSenette » Wed Sep 14, 2011 9:10 pm UTC

TrlstanC wrote:A short post about the recent accidental death of a dolphin at an aquarium (it was due to two dolphins colliding). It does a fairly good job of asking if even humane treatment of animals in captivity can mean they're worse off then in the wild e.g., mortality rates and life expectancy in captivity of some animals could be lower than in the wild. But it also makes the point that allowing people to come and see dolphins "raises awareness" and can help conservation efforts.

I think this would be a good an area where we could have an actual discussion about what's moral or not, or what kinds of rights we should recognize for animals (as opposed to just reiterating the arguments from either end of the spectrum "might makes right" vs. "all creatures are precious.") The dolphins probably actually do enjoy some (or even most) of their time at the aquarium, and might even really enjoy putting on shows and interacting with trainers. But they're still intelligent and social animals that are being kept in a very unnatural habitat. Does the fact that they might be indirectly benefitting wild dolphins mitigate the situation?

Slightly off topic idea:
Spoiler:
This is probably wildly unrealistic, but does anyone think we could have a "volunteer" aquarium, at least for the smarter animals like dolphins? They get treated well and given lots of free fish and interesting interaction with trainers and other dolphins, but they're free to leave at night. If they come back the next day (or any day) then they can spend the day in the aquarium?

how many dolphins in the wild have died because they've collided with other dolphins (or anything else in the ocean)? i would imagine that if it's possible in captivity, then it's probably possible in the wild. citing an accident as possible animal cruelty is probably not a good idea
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:14 pm UTC

TrlstanC wrote:This is probably wildly unrealistic, but does anyone think we could have a "volunteer" aquarium, at least for the smarter animals like dolphins? They get treated well and given lots of free fish and interesting interaction with trainers and other dolphins, but they're free to leave at night. If they come back the next day (or any day) then they can spend the day in the aquarium?

Oh, you mean like domesticating a bunch of wild animals to associate humans with food? Yeah, I'm sure that'll end totally fine.

You need to stop associating 'intelligence' with 'human like'. Dolphins, Apes, Elephants, these are all animals that I would call very highly intelligent and emotionally complex ANIMALS, but they are NOT human-like. They are wild animals. A dolphin in the wild may want to play with bubbles like one in captivity, or, it may want to aggressive ram anything it percieves as a threat. In Chicago, a young boy fell into a Gorilla enclosure, and a truly remarkable female Gorilla gently picked him up and carried him to zookeepers. This is interesting because it indicates that this Gorilla with no prior training was capable of maternally protecting an injured being, especially a child, but it is also interesting because she was protecting the child from the other Gorilla's in the enclosure... Who were hooting and hollering wildly and showing signs of wanting to tear the little boy the shreds.

So seriously, I get it that you think smart animals are crying cinematic tears while they gaze longingly at the horizon, and resent the stupid zookeepers who keep making them do humiliating tricks for delicious fishies or bananas, but forserious, these are animals, and it's important in debates like this to stop anthropomorphizing them, and to recognize that they have needs, but those needs are not human needs.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TrlstanC » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:23 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
TrlstanC wrote:This is probably wildly unrealistic, but does anyone think we could have a "volunteer" aquarium, at least for the smarter animals like dolphins? They get treated well and given lots of free fish and interesting interaction with trainers and other dolphins, but they're free to leave at night. If they come back the next day (or any day) then they can spend the day in the aquarium?

Oh, you mean like domesticating a bunch of wild animals to associate humans with food? Yeah, I'm sure that'll end totally fine.

Would it have helped if I put the "This is probably wildly unrealistic" in bold as well? Is it probably just best to never mention interesting ideas that probably wouldn't work? Is there a tag for that kind of thing?

Izawwlgood wrote: and to recognize that they have needs, but those needs are not human needs.

An excellent point, do we know what those needs are? Hell, do we know what human needs are? Do we know where human (animals), and (non-human) animal needs overlap?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Izawwlgood » Wed Sep 14, 2011 10:34 pm UTC

TrlstanC wrote:An excellent point, do we know what those needs are? Hell, do we know what human needs are? Do we know where human (animals), and (non-human) animal needs overlap?

Well, yes, we often know quite plainly what human needs are. We often do not know what an animal needs, but blithely assuming that all animals want freedom and to roam the savanna may be just as incorrect as assuming that they like that particular plant because it looks pretty to humans. Pointing to the pacing leopard and crying animal abuse may be ignoring the point that this particular leopard is a total wimp, and in the wild was unable to hold onto any territory or successfully procure any mates or even hunt with much accuracy; indeed, being tossed in a zoo and fed every day and kept away from all the other badass leopards was the best thing that ever happened to THIS particular leopard, and it's just glad mean ol Frank isn't picking on it every week.

Now, I know that's sort of a silly way of putting it, but claiming we can't understand animal needs is a cop out here; zoo's allow us to study animals in a controlled setting, and improve upon caring for them. It's not perfect, and it may result in a number of 'less than 100% optimally 'happy' animals', but it means we can continue improving our zoos, improving our care of these animals, and most importantly, gain an understanding of them while maximally leaving the wild ones alone.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TrlstanC » Wed Sep 14, 2011 11:31 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote: Pointing to the pacing leopard and crying animal abuse may be ignoring the point that this particular leopard is a total wimp, and in the wild was unable to hold onto any territory or successfully procure any mates or even hunt with much accuracy; indeed, being tossed in a zoo and fed every day and kept away from all the other badass leopards was the best thing that ever happened to THIS particular leopard, and it's just glad mean ol Frank isn't picking on it every week.

Now, I know that's sort of a silly way of putting it, but claiming we can't understand animal needs is a cop out here


Yeah, it's silly, but I think it's a great point. Some animals probably love being in the zoo, even if they do pace around and look bored and restless. And it's really tough to tell if having animals in a zoo improves things for them or not, or even if that's a worthwhile goal. Maybe "raising awareness" is the best we can do if we want to help improve things for all the other animals.

And hopefully raising questions like this will lead people to ask "how can we figure out what animals want?" or "what are an animal's needs?" I'm not sure that we'd do it for them, but it would certainly interesting to find out. Plus, I think that if you made a zoo, and instead of geared it towards "make it as interesting as possible for school groups" geared it towards "make it as interesting as possible for the animals" that people might actually respond to that and want to come see what was going on. For example (and again, I wished I had a [wildly unrealistic tag]) what if instead of letting tigers just pace back and forth we gave them a treadmill? People do it for their dogs and cats, it might not work, but as long as we're not forcing the tigers to use it, but giving them the option... well, they might actually like it. It's certainly not "living in nature" but neither is anything in a zoo.

I'm not sure what kinds of right animals deserve (even though I'm pretty sure we're screwing some of them up pretty badly), but I think if people do want to respect their rights (for whatever reasons) then a good first step would be trying to get a bit more nuanced idea of what they want beyond assuming that it's one of "they don't care", "they're just like us" or "it's impossible to know."

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Sep 15, 2011 1:13 pm UTC

TrlstanC wrote:Some animals probably love being in the zoo, even if they do pace around and look bored and restless.

The bolded is your problem.
TrlstanC wrote: And it's really tough to tell if having animals in a zoo improves things for them or not, or even if that's a worthwhile goal.

I don't think that's true. I think it's quite obvious that conservation efforts that rely on zoo breeding programs are a good thing.


TrlstanC wrote:lus, I think that if you made a zoo, and instead of geared it towards "make it as interesting as possible for school groups" geared it towards "make it as interesting as possible for the animals" that people might actually respond to that and want to come see what was going on.

I think you woefully misplace your perception of what many zoos are like now a days. I'm harping on this because a handful of my friends work in veterinary or conservation programs around the country, and their jobs are NOT 'how can we make more kids come look at the tigers' but 'how can we make these tigers as minimally stressed as possible'. There are obviously zoo's out there that are only interested in having more people come gawk at the animals, but my sentiment is that the current state of zoo's, at least in America, is that they are bent predominately at improving the lives of the animals they care for, and they do an exceptional job at it. What happens behind the public viewing enclosures makes your tiger treadmill look like childplay; indeed, many decently funded zoos probably provide better medical attention for their animals than the majority of the public are privy to.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Apeiron » Mon Nov 07, 2011 5:47 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Jews don't have rights, they have uses. It's up to us, as responsible humans and stewards/custodians of this planet, to care for them. That includes not causing undue harm, minimizing suffering, and setting up zoos/breeding programs when the fucking things won't screw to save themselves in the wild.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TrlstanC » Thu Jul 19, 2012 2:39 pm UTC

An interesting update from a Wired article about upcoming legal challenges to give some animals rights. It still seems like it's going to be a long shot, but I see a few reasons to think that the chances of a case like this might be better than expected:

1. There are a wide variety of people either supporting or directly working on this. It's not just PETA doing it for publicity.

2. Both the research and legal arguments seems to be getting stronger over time, so while we're not at the point yet (and may never be) where a case like this could be successful, it's trending in that direction. At some point either the science supporting these cases, or the possible legal arguments may run in to serious problems and lose momentum, but for now this seems like just the beginning of a longer process that's just starting to pick up steam.

3. The most serious argument most people have seems to be “I just don’t see the world changing in such a radical way,” which is probably true of our beliefs before many (most?) major changes in our world. Humans just aren't very good at predicting big changes in the way we view the world, or the way the world works. There is a well documented bias to assume that the future will be more like the present than it actually ends up being. Basically, just because we can't imagine, right now, how this would work, doesn't mean it isn't possible.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:40 pm UTC

Apeiron wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:Jews don't have rights, they have uses. It's up to us, as responsible humans and stewards/custodians of this planet, to care for them. That includes not causing undue harm, minimizing suffering, and setting up zoos/breeding programs when the fucking things won't screw to save themselves in the wild.
I'm trying to find a charitable way to derive your position from this post that doesn't make you look like an idiot.

I'm failing.

Help me out here?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby iamspen » Thu Jul 19, 2012 4:52 pm UTC

Apparently, animals are Jews. Except pigs, everyone knows they're godless communists.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sam_i_am » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:26 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Apeiron wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:Jews don't have rights, they have uses. It's up to us, as responsible humans and stewards/custodians of this planet, to care for them. That includes not causing undue harm, minimizing suffering, and setting up zoos/breeding programs when the fucking things won't screw to save themselves in the wild.
I'm trying to find a charitable way to derive your position from this post that doesn't make you look like an idiot.

I'm failing.

Help me out here?


This is a thing we call sarcasm, and it appears to be directed at the post immediately before it.

I'll try to translate it for you as best as I can

Apeiron wrote:If we suggested that a group of people(like Jews, for example) be treated the same way that you advocate to treat some wild animals, Most anyone would certainly find that suggestion deplorable.


Now, of course it is said in such a way such that it has elements of straw-man arguments, and hyperbole, but you'll be extremely hard pressed to find someone on this forum who is not guilty of these things.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:34 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm trying to find a charitable way to derive your position from this post that doesn't make you look like an idiot.

He didn't say he can't understand the post. He said he can't understand it in a way that doesn't make Apeiron look like an idiot.

I don't think your paraphrase solves that problem.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:54 pm UTC

TheGrammarBolshevik wrote:I don't think your paraphrase solves that problem.
Yeah, I filed that particular interpretation securely under the 'looks like an idiot' column.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TrlstanC » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:11 pm UTC

Apeiron's post is about 9 months old at this point. I can't imagine there's anything interesting to say about it now that took that long to think about.

Nor, is the "this looks delicious" post particularly interesting or insightful, I'm sure that the idea of "taste" has been covered at least a few times in the last 6 pages.

Is there anyone with more experience with courtrooms than steak houses that has an opinion?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Thu Jul 19, 2012 9:37 pm UTC

TrlstanC wrote:Apeiron's post is about 9 months old at this point. I can't imagine there's anything interesting to say about it now that took that long to think about.
Oh, I beg pardon in that case--I glanced at it and assumed it was recent based purely on proximity to more recent posts, rather than looking at the date.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TranquilFury » Sun Jul 22, 2012 8:48 am UTC

Domesticated animals have no rights, wild animals have the right to anything that doesn't get them killed.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TrlstanC » Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:35 pm UTC

TranquilFury wrote:Domesticated animals have no rights, wild animals have the right to anything that doesn't get them killed.


Is that a statement of fact? If so, some kind of citation or explanation would be interesting. If it's just your opinion, how do you rationalize that with all of the laws against animal abuse in various countries?

Also, if that's the way we break down the animal kingdom, wild vs. domesticated, where do humans fall? I'd assume wild?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TranquilFury » Tue Jul 24, 2012 1:57 am UTC

TrlstanC wrote:
TranquilFury wrote:Domesticated animals have no rights, wild animals have the right to anything that doesn't get them killed.


Is that a statement of fact? If so, some kind of citation or explanation would be interesting. If it's just your opinion, how do you rationalize that with all of the laws against animal abuse in various countries?

Also, if that's the way we break down the animal kingdom, wild vs. domesticated, where do humans fall? I'd assume wild?

Laws do not grant rights, rights are determined by will to demand and the power to enforce them. This fact is obfuscated by law and popular notions of morality, but in reality it is the threat of force behind these laws that give them power. The same goes for any so-called inalienable right, if we don't have the will to assert and the power to to protect those rights, they don't actually exist.

This explanation is grossly oversimplified, as many people that are individually unable to defend a right, may be able to cooperate. There are also gray areas, as not all domesticated animals are completely powerless, and some wild animals are captured and domesticated. Humans occupy all areas of the wild vs domesticated spectrum, depending how dependent they are, and how willing they are to assert power over others.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jul 24, 2012 2:18 am UTC

TranquilFury wrote:Domesticated animals have no rights, wild animals have the right to anything that doesn't get them killed.
TranquilFury wrote:Laws do not grant rights, rights are determined by will to demand and the power to enforce them.
So if a domesticated cow up and manages to kill you--and somehow manages not to get killed itself--it had no right. But if a wild cow does this--it had every right?

Rights are things we make up because it's nice to have them. When people say things like 'you have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness', what they are actually saying is 'you should have a right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'. Similarly, when someone says a cow has a right not to be slaughtered, what they are saying is a cow should have a right to not be slaughtered. The argument that usually follows isn't about whether or not the law grants cows such a right, or whether or not cows have this right via some magical process--rather, it is a persuasive argument that aims to convince us that there is good reason why cows should have such a right.

Your distinction in this regard is confusing. You don't draw a clear boundary between 'rights you can back up with force' and 'rights we think you should have regardless of whether you can back them up with force'. Using the definition you're supplying (the former), a domesticated animal that kills and eats you has every right to do so (because it had the power to enforce its right to kill and eat you!). Similarly, we have every right to murder each other (so long as we have the power to enforce that right) and authorities have every right to lock us up (so long as they have the power to enforce that right). In other words, 'right' is just another word for 'things you can feasibly do'.

This is not a useful definition.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Lucrece » Tue Jul 24, 2012 8:35 am UTC

I don't remember who said it, but in a similar topic on an article/post someone said that humans are the only race aware of organisms' struggle to preserve themselves, and so we are in a unique position/possessing a responsibility to honor that will to survive. Many of us feel pain when a baby deer is being dropped to the ground by a bear and wailing as its eaten alive, even if some Animal Planet programs and detached biologists can rationalize it as "natural". It is natural for us to get sick and die at early ages, to rape and kill when we can, but time and again we've defied nature because nature is not some sacred arrangement that needs to be preserved just because. We are constantly that species that wishes to intervene as much as we hunt others.

How many species suddenly become repulsed by the suffering of their prey and alter their diet accordingly? Personally it's hard to reconcile for me as a McNuggets lover while being cognizant of the animal farming practices many companies are involved with. And why does it suddenly change with animals that are a direct threat to us, such as salt water crocodiles, bears, great whites, and venomous insects? Is there any merit in my feeling less compelled to argue for the right to existence of wasps I have phobias toward than the rights of Monarch butterflies to continue existing? Are rights just recognized based on our emotional proximity and ability to relate to the subjects of the question?
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jul 24, 2012 3:53 pm UTC

Lucrece wrote:Are rights just recognized based on our emotional proximity and ability to relate to the subjects of the question?
This is when the argument for animals is at its weakest--when people argue for the rights of animals we like, and not for the rights of animals we don't like. An example: Dogs have a right to not be killed for meat, but somehow it's okay to kill cows for meat. I'd suspect that our sympathies lie with creatures we ascribe positive human traits to--dogs are 'loyal', so killing them for meat is like killing a loyal friend. Cows are 'dumb' and 'placid', so killing them for meat isn't a big deal.

Honestly, I'd rather us not kill as much life as we do to sustain our own. I like living, and I like meat--but I'm not very comfortable with treating all animals as if they were just valueless meat-bins, and I'm similarly not comfortable only assigning value based on the animals I 'like'. I suspect this is a consequence of most of us never having killed an animal and eaten it ourselves--we've specialized the work of husbandry away from the majority of the population, and we've even extensively automated it. It's not a process we're intimately familiar with.

One thing I'd like to do before I die is kill an animal I'm going to eat myself, just to understand the process. I think that doing so might give me a better perspective on the meat I eat--understanding that it doesn't come from a magical factory that takes in cows and magically spits out steaks.

EDIT: I suspect that this is something that would be of potential benefit to most meat-eaters, if not all of them! Understanding that having meat means killing something--on a very intuitive level--might lead to us valuing meat more, and wanting the process that creates that meat to be a more responsible one.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Jul 24, 2012 4:57 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Lucrece wrote:Are rights just recognized based on our emotional proximity and ability to relate to the subjects of the question?
This is when the argument for animals is at its weakest--when people argue for the rights of animals we like, and not for the rights of animals we don't like. An example: Dogs have a right to not be killed for meat, but somehow it's okay to kill cows for meat. I'd suspect that our sympathies lie with creatures we ascribe positive human traits to--dogs are 'loyal', so killing them for meat is like killing a loyal friend. Cows are 'dumb' and 'placid', so killing them for meat isn't a big deal.


All rights seem to me to be an invention of sorts, not "natural," so it makes a fair bit of sense that I should favor one animal over the other in large part because of cultural biases. Perhaps that's a justification, though, because I can certainly think of counterarguments where I would not accept that logic (although those are based on human beings, and I draw a pretty strict line between human beings and non-human animals).

Honestly, I'd rather us not kill as much life as we do to sustain our own. I like living, and I like meat--but I'm not very comfortable with treating all animals as if they were just valueless meat-bins, and I'm similarly not comfortable only assigning value based on the animals I 'like'. I suspect this is a consequence of most of us never having killed an animal and eaten it ourselves--we've specialized the work of husbandry away from the majority of the population, and we've even extensively automated it. It's not a process we're intimately familiar with.

One thing I'd like to do before I die is kill an animal I'm going to eat myself, just to understand the process. I think that doing so might give me a better perspective on the meat I eat--understanding that it doesn't come from a magical factory that takes in cows and magically spits out steaks.


Honestly, I can understand why you would feel this way, but having worked as a meat cutter and having seen animals killed for food...it makes the process feel more impersonal and meaningless. Your results may vary, but I think it's only meaningful if you take that sense of reverence in with you. If most meat-eaters killed an animal for food themselves, I doubt it would do much of anything, and I wouldn't be surprised if it increased the demand for meat rather than decreasing it.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:05 pm UTC

Puppyclaws wrote:All rights seem to me to be an invention of sorts, not "natural," so it makes a fair bit of sense that I should favor one animal over the other in large part because of cultural biases. Perhaps that's a justification, though, because I can certainly think of counterarguments where I would not accept that logic (although those are based on human beings, and I draw a pretty strict line between human beings and non-human animals).
Oh, all rights certainly are an invention of sorts--I just think we get more out of them when we apply them consistently. Basing who and what gets rights on personal preference invites a whole bundle of trouble, particularly when preference varies from person to person and culture to culture (some countries really don't see a big deal in eating dog; the US obviously does).
Puppyclaws wrote:Honestly, I can understand why you would feel this way, but having worked as a meat cutter and having seen animals killed for food...it makes the process feel more impersonal and meaningless. Your results may vary, but I think it's only meaningful if you take that sense of reverence in with you. If most meat-eaters killed an animal for food themselves, I doubt it would do much of anything, and I wouldn't be surprised if it increased the demand for meat rather than decreasing it.
Oh, I should have specified: I mean physically killing and preparing the animal myself, not going through the process of how it works in a factory environment. As in, go out, cut off a chicken's head, boil its feathers off, then work from there. Although that might be what you're referring to, I just took 'meat-cutter' to imply a factory environment.

Either way, I think discussions like these benefit from involving more people who have actual experience in what it takes to kill and prepare an animal for consumption--be it in a rural setting or a factory setting.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Puppyclaws » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:29 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Oh, I should have specified: I mean physically killing and preparing the animal myself, not going through the process of how it works in a factory environment. As in, go out, cut off a chicken's head, boil its feathers off, then work from there. Although that might be what you're referring to, I just took 'meat-cutter' to imply a factory environment.

Either way, I think discussions like these benefit from involving more people who have actual experience in what it takes to kill and prepare an animal for consumption--be it in a rural setting or a factory setting.


I don't actually see a difference between what you are describing and a factory situation; I think it is approximately as false as the dichotomy between eating dog and eating cow. As it happens I worked in a high-end butcher that still dealt in whole animals, which is becoming something of a rarity...I used the term "meat-cutter" because I was not in a lead role, did not kill animals by hand myself, and also because the term butcher is something that many are trying to get away from, due to negative connotations. Yes, really.

A professor at my university has made something of a career for herself by asking the question "why, if we eat cows, don't we eat golden retrievers?" To which my answer is, well, golden retrievers are awesome and amazing and cows are not. It's just absolutely impossible for me to get over the emotional state of my love for dogs to think about it impartially. I am pretty OK with people in other cultures eating dog, though, so.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jul 24, 2012 5:40 pm UTC

Puppyclaws wrote:I don't actually see a difference between what you are describing and a factory situation; I think it is approximately as false as the dichotomy between eating dog and eating cow. As it happens I worked in a high-end butcher that still dealt in whole animals, which is becoming something of a rarity...I used the term "meat-cutter" because I was not in a lead role, did not kill animals by hand myself, and also because the term butcher is something that many are trying to get away from, due to negative connotations. Yes, really.
The big distinction I'd make is that in a factory setting, roles tend to be specialized, so one person isn't handling the process from start to finish--rather, you're handling one part in a very long chain that ends with meat in a grocery store.

What interests me is having the experience of the entire chain--rather than just one link. The link I've experienced is the one where I go to the grocery store and buy the meat--if I worked in a factory setting (depending on many X factors), I'd probably only be familiar with one extra link--the link involved in cutting the meat, or cleaning the meat, or killing the cow from which the meat came. But experiencing it in its entirety--from living, breathing animal, to meat on my plate--I think that experience would give me a better perspective on what's actually going on when I buy meat at the grocery store. It's something I'd like to experience for myself, if for no other reason than it would encourage me not to think frivolously about the process.

(Obviously, if I really want to carry this to its logical conclusion, I should raise the cow myself from the point of its birth, then kill it and eat it. Or go even one step farther...! But I realize I gotta cut it off somewhere. I just don't like taking things for granted, and prefer to understand, on a personal level, what goes on to make the things I use and see. I think there's a lot of benefit to doing that, and the quality of a discussion increases when more people understand from firsthand experience the processes involved)
Puppyclaws wrote:A professor at my university has made something of a career for herself by asking the question "why, if we eat cows, don't we eat golden retrievers?" To which my answer is, well, golden retrievers are awesome and amazing and cows are not. It's just absolutely impossible for me to get over the emotional state of my love for dogs to think about it impartially. I am pretty OK with people in other cultures eating dog, though, so.
I can't imagine there being anything wrong with that. I think the problem which we're talking about is only a problem when you start trying to create comprehensive rulesets by which to determine which animals are okay to eat and which aren't. I think golden retrievers are awesome and amazing and cows aren't, too--but it's hard for me to pin down exactly why I think that, and I certainly can't generate from that sentiment a system by which we could accurately gauge an animal's 'value'. Which strikes me as a totally fine thing.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TrlstanC » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:07 pm UTC

I'd agree 100%, having some hands-on experience with where our food comes from is a great idea. Most major food companies actively try to prevent their customers from understanding where their food comes from, what kinds of conditions it's grown and processed in, even what goes in it. Meat in particular is hidden from public view for almost the entire chain from animal to store. Which, from a commercial stand point makes excelent sense, if people knew what conditions the animals, and meat were in prior to showing up at the store it would undoubtably lead to a decline in consumption.

Although, while you can't go on a tour of a factory farm, it's pretty easy to find out what it's like, and certainly possible to go through the exercise of killing nad butchering your own animal. The fact that most people actively avoid that information/experience is probably a good indication that people realize they wouldn't be able to enjoy their steaks as much afterward. People have a viseral reaction that's a good indiciation of where their morals are. It's one thing to talk about rights and where they come from, it's another thing to deal with a knot in your stomach when you have to kill a pig to get some bacon.

But the same thing can probably be said for a lot of food too, the images we're given of big green farms and happy farmers picking apples and carrots doesn't have a lot to do with reality. It can't hurt to go out and do a little farming some time (including the animal raising/killing if you eat meat) to get a better understanding of the whole process.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Zamfir » Tue Jul 24, 2012 7:57 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:(Obviously, if I really want to carry this to its logical conclusion, I should raise the cow myself from the point of its birth, then kill it and eat it. Or go even one step farther...! But I realize I gotta cut it off somewhere. I just don't like taking things for granted, and prefer to understand, on a personal level, what goes on to make the things I use and see. I think there's a lot of benefit to doing that, and the quality of a discussion increases when more people understand from firsthand experience the processes involved)

You can do the traditional thing, and raise rabbits or chickens or so for food.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Lucrece » Tue Jul 24, 2012 9:41 pm UTC

I think the product of killing an animal yourself only gives perspective if you attach spiritual meanings to it. I've met people from villages, especially in Sicily, who have twisted chicken's necks in front of me and have killed pigs themselves, and they don't bat an eyelash. In Venezuela it was also pretty common to see animals killed for food in the lower class environments. If anything, it desensitizes you to the killing and makes it a mechanical process, and I don't think they would care if they had to kill many more animals if they so wanted. Most of the attitudes people who directly killed animals held was "it's just an animal/food", so it didn't particularly shake them emotionally because it was a routine aspect of their life. Sympathizing with animals we eat is more of a city-dweller attitude.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:00 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:You can do the traditional thing, and raise rabbits or chickens or so for food.
I've considered the former--the latter, though... well, from what I've been told, chicken coops smell like the devil's bunghole.
Lucrece wrote:I think the product of killing an animal yourself only gives perspective if you attach spiritual meanings to it. I've met people from villages, especially in Sicily, who have twisted chicken's necks in front of me and have killed pigs themselves, and they don't bat an eyelash. In Venezuela it was also pretty common to see animals killed for food in the lower class environments. If anything, it desensitizes you to the killing and makes it a mechanical process, and I don't think they would care if they had to kill many more animals if they so wanted.
The end goal of the experience wouldn't be for me to eat less meat, or to lessen my (mostly non-existent!) desire to kill more animals; it would only be to give me a stronger sense of context when I eat meat. I don't think of people who have gone through the process of killing the meat they eat as more 'spiritually rich' for the experience--but I do think they have a better context with which to understand where meat comes from.

It's difficult for me to put in words why I think this context is important. I understand it intellectually, but I think acquiring the experience component might be a worthwhile thing. I suppose it's simply that--on some level, I find eating meat without actually having experienced what processing meat requires is, in a way, disrespectful to the organism I'm eating. If I'm going to choose to eat you, I should at least have demonstrated that I possess the fortitude to kill and prepare you.

Giving this job to others out of convenience is one thing, but doing it because I find the process distasteful--because I don't have the stomach for it--or because I consider it beneath me... I think that, for me, killing and preparing my own food would be a way of demonstrating to myself that when I buy meat, I'm not buying it because I'm unwilling to kill and prepare it, but because killing and preparing it takes too much time and energy.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Ghostbear » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:04 pm UTC

Shouldn't it be similarly important to get the context of how the animals are raised? There's a huge difference in the life of a chicken or cow raised by a few individuals on a small time farm and a chicken or cow raised on a giant commercial farm to be turned into fast food. I wouldn't even say that the killing is necessarily the biggest "offense" (can't think of a better word there) with the latter. By skipping that, you're removing a huge part of the context of eating meat in the modern world.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:08 pm UTC

I'm not going to burn myself out. I'm only willing to put up with so much of my own emotional nonsense before I tell my emotional nonsense to piss the fuck off.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Armanant » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:31 pm UTC

This reminds me of a conversation with the mother of a now ex many years ago (not directly, I'm not attributing this kind of behaviour to anyone here, please take no offence).

Me and the ex were talking about how meat animals and egg hens are usually treated, Mum walked in and as soon as she realized what we are talking about literally put her fingers in her ears, went 'lalalalala' and ran out of the room. On pressing the issue ("WTF was that??") she said that if she knew anything about what goes into the food she eats she is certain she would stop eating it, and she didn't want to.

Even now, thinking about the sheer volume of willful ignorance thinking something like that must take makes me want to drive over there and smack her on the back of the head :(

The point of the story is she is a pretty normal mum, and my guess would be if every mum out there knew exactly what goes into the food they eat (and feed their kids), my guess would be a hell of a lot of them would a) vomit, and b) stop.

Edit: Holy shit on re-reading that I realized I butchered the tense all over the place. Sorry. Hopefully fixed most of it.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Ghostbear » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:52 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:I'm not going to burn myself out. I'm only willing to put up with so much of my own emotional nonsense before I tell my emotional nonsense to piss the fuck off.

Well, that's fine for your specific goals, but I think in a general sense if you want people to get the context of where meat comes from, limiting themselves to the killing part is rather insufficient. Not trying to attack you here, but I think it's a hugely important part of the chain to understand how those large scale commercial animals are raised and treated before death.

Armanant wrote:Me and the ex were talking about how meat animals and egg hens are usually treated, Mum walked in and as soon as she realized what we are talking about literally put her fingers in her ears, went 'lalalalala' and ran out of the room. On pressing the issue ("WTF was that??") she said that if she knew anything about what goes into the food she eats she is certain she would stop eating it, and she didn't want to.

I was recently talking about something similar with PM earlier. I've found a large amount of willful ignorance from people when I try to point out to them the bad practices behind most commercial pet stores. I think animals are a difficult one for most people -- we have a lot of instincts and habits towards just using animals as tools or food, but we've also created a social structure where we tend to value life. Where those conflict and people don't want to give up their pet store pets or hamburgers, they just intentionally stay ignorant so as to not have an internal crisis.

It's not unexpected, though it is a bit odd that many people will be intentionally ignorant and (apparently) not feel any significant results from that on their behavior.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:54 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:Well, that's fine for your specific goals, but I think in a general sense if you want people to get the context of where meat comes from, limiting themselves to the killing part is rather insufficient. Not trying to attack you here, but I think it's a hugely important part of the chain to understand how those large scale commercial animals are raised and treated before death.
So should we all go raise cows?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Ghostbear » Tue Jul 24, 2012 10:57 pm UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:Okay. So go raise some cows.

I'm a vegetarian, so that doesn't really apply for me. :D

We do have over a dozen chickens though (and have cycled through several groups of them over the years), and my oldest sister does raise cows, so I also have you there.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Jul 24, 2012 11:01 pm UTC

Puppyclaws wrote:I draw a pretty strict line between human beings and non-human animals.

Why?
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