Animal Rights?

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PeterCai
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Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:41 am UTC

I did a search and nothing came up, weird. I thought I've seen this topic somewhere on SB.

Anyway, what's your thought on animal rights? Explain your positions clearly. For me personally, I just don't understand rights for animals. I understand the need to preserve certain species for the sake of research, environmental impact, and so on, but rights? Why?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby lutzj » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:48 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:I did a search and nothing came up, weird. I thought I've seen this topic somewhere on SB.

Anyway, what's your thought on animal rights? Explain your positions clearly. For me personally, I just don't understand rights for animals. I understand the need to preserve certain species for the sake of research, environmental impact, and so on, but rights? Why?


"God gave us dominion over the other creatures" suffices for me, and the needs/wants of humans >> those of animals in any case. Intentionally and pointlessly causing animals to suffer is pretty messed up and probably indicative of mental issues, but it's not morally bad in my book.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:52 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:I did a search and nothing came up, weird. I thought I've seen this topic somewhere on SB.

Anyway, what's your thought on animal rights? Explain your positions clearly. For me personally, I just don't understand rights for animals. I understand the need to preserve certain species for the sake of research, environmental impact, and so on, but rights? Why?


I dunno either. Even Hitler won't go around killing animals like... animals. (despite killing certain people as if they were animals).

I think there's this cartoon villan engraved inside of us. Probably by the name of Verminous Skumm who's evil plan was to start up factories that can only create acid rain. Nah, its a bit deeper than children cartoons. I think people are (justly) getting freaked out by the utilitarian monster that we humans are. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utility_monster

We see things that are ultimately going to cause extinctions, and want to fight back against those behaviors. If we purely think about things in utilitarian terms, we might lose things that we didn't know about. IE: The Rain Forest, the Flocks of Passenger Pigeon (which used to fly across the entire USA in flocks the size of millions), and so forth. By hoping to give animals minimum amounts of rights, we won't lose them to the hungry hungry utility monster.

Meh, who am I kidding. Captain Planet represents something bigger. A distrust of Corporate America, a misunderstanding of the reasons why animals are abused and where core environmental problems actually occur. (A huge source of water pollution is dog crap that people leave in their own yards for example). The whole of "Captain Planet" (as well as its commercial success as a cartoon and place in culture) may have people thinking harder about environmentalism... but its a gross simplification of the issue (and is practically an insult to the parties that the villans represent).

---------

The thing that pisses me off are pets. If you own a pet, the pet deserves some basic rights IMO. You have signed up for the responsibility of taking care of your pet, and it will live with you for the rest of its life. Pet abuse is a real problem that might be solved by rights.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:16 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:You have signed up for the responsibility of taking care of your pet, and it will live with you for the rest of its life. Pet abuse is a real problem that might be solved by rights.

Getting a pet has utilitarian reasons, like hunting, getting rid of pests, amusement and companionship. It is therefore useful and logical to care for the pet, not unlike cleaning and oiling a car. But if the hassle exceeds it's usefulness, why should a person care for it, besides sentimental reasons? It doesn't make much sense to clean a broken worthless car. If a person so desired, why is it immoral to abuse it? I can buy a car and burn it just for fun. It would be stupid, but it wouldn't be immoral. So why is it in the case of pet?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:23 am UTC

Animals 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.

This is my opinion on the 'Bolivia seeks to grant legal status to Mama Gaia for whining environmentalists' too.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:43 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:You have signed up for the responsibility of taking care of your pet, and it will live with you for the rest of its life. Pet abuse is a real problem that might be solved by rights.

Getting a pet has utilitarian reasons, like hunting, getting rid of pests, amusement and companionship. It is therefore useful and logical to care for the pet, not unlike cleaning and oiling a car. But if the hassle exceeds it's usefulness, why should a person care for it, besides sentimental reasons? It doesn't make much sense to clean a broken worthless car. If a person so desired, why is it immoral to abuse it? I can buy a car and burn it just for fun. It would be stupid, but it wouldn't be immoral. So why is it in the case of pet?


First, the baby test: I could make a baby and burn it just for fun. It would be stupid, but it wouldn't be immoral.

Agree / disagree?
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:52 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:First, the baby test: I could make a baby and burn it just for fun. It would be stupid, but it wouldn't be immoral.
Agree / disagree?


Baby is a human being, pet is not. Thou shalt not kill is a useful morality because it directly benefits humanity. Therefore, burning baby is immoral. There's nothing inherently immoral with burning a cat though.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby LaserGuy » Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:56 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:First, the baby test: I could make a baby and burn it just for fun. It would be stupid, but it wouldn't be immoral.
Agree / disagree?


Baby is a human being, pet is not. Thou shalt not kill is a useful morality because it directly benefits humanity. Therefore, burning baby is immoral. There's nothing inherently immoral with burning a cat though.


Why does a human have more value than an animal? What makes us so inherently special?

More to the point: what about animals that are smarter than some humans? A full grown dolphin, ape, pig, or whale typically has a much greater mental capacity than a small child or someone with certain serious developmental disabilities. On what grounds can we argue that a child is entitled to rights, but an animal of greater mental capacity is not?

[edit]And yes, there is definitely something immoral about intentionally inflicting suffering on a sentient being. That's a pretty good definition of immorality, in fact.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:03 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:Why does a human have more value than an animal? What makes us so inherently special?

More to the point: what about animals that are smarter than some humans? A full grown dolphin, ape, pig, or whale typically has a much greater mental capacity than a small child or someone with certain serious developmental disabilities. On what grounds can we argue that a child is entitled to rights, but an animal of greater mental capacity is not?

[edit]And yes, there is definitely something immoral about intentionally inflicting suffering on a sentient being. That's a pretty good definition of immorality, in fact.


We are not special, but we are us, so what we do should benefit us first. It only make sense. Morality is utilitarian in nature, fairness is only useful when used among humans. There's no reason we should be fair to something that is not us.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Dragonite » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:17 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:Baby is a human being, pet is not. Thou shalt not kill is a useful morality because it directly benefits humanity. Therefore, burning baby is immoral. There's nothing inherently immoral with burning a cat though.


PeterCai wrote:We are not special, but we are us, so what we do should benefit us first. It only make sense. Morality is utilitarian in nature, fairness is only useful when used among humans. There's no reason we should be fair to something that is not us.


I think you have not looked deeply into how ethical systems should work. Sound ethical reasoning is not only based on what directly benefits humanity, even though that is generally a large aspect of it.

Your argument is one often used to defend awful things such as racism and sexism. "Why should we be fair to something that is not us?" Us could be meant to say "white male."

LaserGuy wrote:
PeterCai wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:First, the baby test: I could make a baby and burn it just for fun. It would be stupid, but it wouldn't be immoral.
Agree / disagree?


Baby is a human being, pet is not. Thou shalt not kill is a useful morality because it directly benefits humanity. Therefore, burning baby is immoral. There's nothing inherently immoral with burning a cat though.


Why does a human have more value than an animal? What makes us so inherently special?

More to the point: what about animals that are smarter than some humans? A full grown dolphin, ape, pig, or whale typically has a much greater mental capacity than a small child or someone with certain serious developmental disabilities. On what grounds can we argue that a child is entitled to rights, but an animal of greater mental capacity is not?

[edit]And yes, there is definitely something immoral about intentionally inflicting suffering on a sentient being. That's a pretty good definition of immorality, in fact.


Firstly of all, I would like to point out it is generally unsound reasoning to say that anything with higher mental capacity is "more worthy" of rights, even though I know you were using it in a positive sense. Personally I am fond of the utilitarian point of view in regards to animal rights. Utilitarianism wants to reduce the amount of suffering in the world. Animals are beings capable of suffering. Therefore, we should grant animals rights, such as a right not to be purposefully harmed, to prevent their suffering.

The problem will always be people denying that animals are capable of suffering. I find the evidence to be in favor of the idea that animals are capable of suffering, whether it is exactly like or how similar it is to human suffering is up to debate. For one thing, analogous biology between man and other animals indicates a similar nervous system structure makes it easy for me to believe that animals feel physical pain in a similar fashion to humans. We may want to draw a line somewhere, and entomologists are up in debate as to how insects feel pain, but to be on the safe side, I personally would still not go around killing insects purposefully.

And also, let's say that I am wrong, and animals end up not really feeling a lot of pain, if any. I feel as though the sacrifices made by humanity to give animals rights can take that risk. What are we losing by treating animals with kindness and respect? It's been said that treating animals with violence leads to violence towards humans.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby jakovasaur » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:24 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:We are not special, but we are us, so what we do should benefit us first. It only make sense. Morality is utilitarian in nature, fairness is only useful when used among humans. There's no reason we should be fair to something that is not us.

This only works if you define yourself and others as essentially human beings, rather than something else, like essentially animals, or essentially sentient beings. While I personally don't find the concept of animal rights to be very convincing, I have a hard time explaining why, because a morally relevant distinction between "human" and "animal" is difficult to determine and justify. What is the thing that all humans have that all animals lack, and why is this thing the deciding factor for who/what gets rights?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Jun 06, 2011 5:28 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:
LaserGuy wrote:Why does a human have more value than an animal? What makes us so inherently special?

More to the point: what about animals that are smarter than some humans? A full grown dolphin, ape, pig, or whale typically has a much greater mental capacity than a small child or someone with certain serious developmental disabilities. On what grounds can we argue that a child is entitled to rights, but an animal of greater mental capacity is not?

[edit]And yes, there is definitely something immoral about intentionally inflicting suffering on a sentient being. That's a pretty good definition of immorality, in fact.


We are not special, but we are us, so what we do should benefit us first. It only make sense. Morality is utilitarian in nature, fairness is only useful when used among humans. There's no reason we should be fair to something that is not us.


There are plenty of people in my life who are not useful to me. There are even some who are not useful to the greater society. That does not make it "not immoral" for me to kill them. (Note: I'm talking about say... the homeless, the mentally challenged, and so forth. Just to avoid the "capital punishment" argument, and sticking with a purely utilitarian argument)

IMO, pure utilitarianism is vulnerable to the "utility monster" argument. Thus, taking utilitarianism to its ultimate form is not the end-all-be-all to questions dealing with morality. In particular, if any being (mechanical, artifical, or natural) has a super-linear rate of utility growth, then pure utilitarianism would declare it moral to destroy everything to feed the being. Hell, the concept of "human rights" is incompatible with pure utilitarianism, because the groups of people (ie: the Government) are potentially more "useful" than any one of us is individually.

So as a utilitarian, you must either assert that rights may be violated (including your right to life) if it would be more beneficial to a group of people. Even if you want to keep your life. (Ex. The 5 people are sick. One needs a heart, another needs lungs, another needs two kidneys, one needs a liver, and the last needs a stomache. Is it right to murder an innocent man so his body parts would save the 5 others? A pure utilitarian would say yes)
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:20 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:There are plenty of people in my life who are not useful to me. There are even some who are not useful to the greater society. That does not make it "not immoral" for me to kill them. (Note: I'm talking about say... the homeless, the mentally challenged, and so forth. Just to avoid the "capital punishment" argument, and sticking with a purely utilitarian argument)


Human is a pack animal. It doesn't matter if people are not useful to you yourself, it matters if they are useful to humanity. But, even though human are communal, to an individual, self-preservation is still the most useful. Thou shalt not kill ensures that when we ourselves become useless, society wouldn't just kill us. Since we all become useless sooner or later, it's ultimately a survival strategy, which is utilitarian.
KnightExemplar wrote:IMO, pure utilitarianism is vulnerable to the "utility monster" argument.

That doesn't make sense to me. Utility monster assumes that there is a different morality for which we are judged monsters, which contradicts the premise that pure utilitarianism is the brand of morality used.
KnightExemplar wrote:So as a utilitarian, you must either assert that rights may be violated (including your right to life) if it would be more beneficial to a group of people. Even if you want to keep your life. (Ex. The 5 people are sick. One needs a heart, another needs lungs, another needs two kidneys, one needs a liver, and the last needs a stomache. Is it right to murder an innocent man so his body parts would save the 5 others? A pure utilitarian would say yes)

Of course I accept it,and we often do violate individual rights for the greater good. Military draft being a good example.
The problem with your hypothetical though is that you assume killing the innocent man is the only way to save the 5 others. If there is a way to save them that doesn't involve killing a human being, then that way would be the more utilitarian method. Even with only these 6 people, and assuming that the healthy innocent man is worth less than the 5 terminally ills, I can just let the most useless patient die naturally(or if there is no time, euthanasia), and use his/her body parts to save the others. And if killing the innocent is the only way to save the other 5, and that saving the other 5 is more useful than not killing the innocent(which is complicated to calculate because in the real world, there are factors like the setting of precedent, which may cause more social harm), then yes, the innocent should be killed to save the others.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Magnanimous » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:25 am UTC

I certainly value sapience over mere existence, so I wouldn't say something has rights just for existing. On the other hand, a human doing something to an animal is inevitably going to affect other humans in a moral or immoral way. Such as...
PeterCai wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:First, the baby test: I could make a baby and burn it just for fun. It would be stupid, but it wouldn't be immoral.
Agree / disagree?


Baby is a human being, pet is not. Thou shalt not kill is a useful morality because it directly benefits humanity. Therefore, burning baby is immoral. There's nothing inherently immoral with burning a cat though.

I don't love kittens because I respect their existence, I love them because OH MY GAWD Oh me yarm ADORABLE. There are some health benefits (lower stress, notably) to owning pets, but for the most part it's just the cuteness. Dogs can have more uses, but the same idea applies. So if someone who really hates cats burns one and no one ever finds out... It could be argued that that's not immoral, since a sapient human benefited (kind of?). But good luck with keeping something like that from the public forever: once people get upset because of the story, that swings way over to immoral.

Infants aren't truly sapient (yet), so in that sense I wouldn't give them human rights... But considering how close they are it's still a really shitty thing to do, and immoral by certain definitions. Once you think about how its parents are going to react, of course it's immoral.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:27 am UTC

Magnanimous wrote:I don't love kittens because I respect their existence, I love them because OH MY GAWD Gee Willikers ADORABLE. There are some health benefits (lower stress, notably) to owning pets, but for the most part it's just the cuteness. Dogs can have more uses, but the same idea applies. So if someone who really hates cats burns one and no one ever finds out... It could be argued that that's not immoral, since a sapient human benefited (kind of?). But good luck with keeping something like that from the public forever: once people get upset because of the story, that swings way over to immoral.

But why should the public be upset in the first place? It's not like there is a shortage of pets to lower your stress.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Magnanimous » Mon Jun 06, 2011 6:43 am UTC

PeterCai wrote:But why should the public be upset in the first place? It's not like there is a shortage of pets to lower your stress.

Consciously... No good reason. Humans apparently aren't great at resisting cat gifs.

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There is a problem with feral cat overpopulation, but people still get upset when one dies. Because... well...
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby JamesP » Mon Jun 06, 2011 7:02 am UTC

Wait- setting fire to another animal for no reason wouldn't be immoral? If you were planning on eating the cat or using the carcass in some other way then killing it using humane methods could be considered moral but setting fire to it for no reason is fucked in the head.

How about you strap it down and shave off its skin and laugh while it cries for help? It's only a cat, who cares?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sardia » Mon Jun 06, 2011 8:25 am UTC

Has anyone tried the model of treating living things according to how close it is to a human? For example, crushing a bug is acceptable, but crushing a cat is less so. And crushing a baby is a definite nono. It goes along the lines of if you were willing to kill things that look like humans, you are more likely to be a danger to society. It's not a bad model in my opinion, but I've never explored further than that in my ethics class. Not sure how the model tells you about experimenting on animals for testing and research, but it does guide against unreasonable cruelty.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby lutzj » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:32 am UTC

LaserGuy wrote:More to the point: what about animals that are smarter than some humans? A full grown dolphin, ape, pig, or whale typically has a much greater mental capacity than a small child or someone with certain serious developmental disabilities. On what grounds can we argue that a child is entitled to rights, but an animal of greater mental capacity is not?


Consider a race of aliens, much smarter than humans, that comes to Earth. Would humans suddenly have fewer rights because of our reduced capacity in relative terms? Would the aliens somehow have more rights? Organizing some sort of sentience hierarchy isn't very useful.

On another note, if supersapient aliens started coming to Earth, we probably would need to start killing/doing horrible experiments on them because of the massive scientific value and threat to our existence they represent.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Headshrinker » Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:59 am UTC

I see it, animals will have rights that we give them as OUR animals.
I could kill a cat. But you if you could stop me you would be entitled to. This would give the creature the "right" that you will protect it. If I wanted to kill a baby more people would try to stop me and give that baby more rights. If I wanted to kill an insect no one would stop me and it would have no rights.
If I wanted to kill a cat and no one knew about or could stop me then any "rights" that cat has are not being defended and therefore do not exist.
The amount of rights you have is dictated by the power of the beings that care about you having that right.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Azrael » Mon Jun 06, 2011 11:44 am UTC

lutzj wrote:Consider a race of aliens, much smarter than humans, that comes to Earth. Would humans suddenly have fewer rights because of our reduced capacity in relative terms? Would the aliens somehow have more rights?

By Peter's reasoning the two groups would mutually deny that the other has any rights what so ever.

But ... he's also built that argument on the assumption that utilitarianism is the only correct moral framework.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby duckshirt » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:29 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:By Peter's reasoning the two groups would mutually deny that the other has any rights what so ever.

But ... he's also built that argument on the assumption that utilitarianism is the only correct moral framework.

That wasn't exactly what how I interpretted what he said...

With humans, there's utility in protecting our rights. I agree not to hurt others, and in turn they won't hurt me. The same would apply with intelligent aliens, if we could successfully communicate this agreement to them. With animals, plants, etc, it won't work, so there's no utility in it.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Azrael » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:38 pm UTC

While on the whole your interpretation is far more reasonable, his words were:

PeterCai wrote:We are not special, but we are us, so what we do should benefit us first. It only make sense. Morality is utilitarian in nature, fairness is only useful when used among humans. There's no reason we should be fair to something that is not us.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:45 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Has anyone tried the model of treating living things according to how close it is to a human? For example, crushing a bug is acceptable, but crushing a cat is less so. And crushing a baby is a definite nono.

My guess is that most people subconsciously live by this code.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Mokele » Mon Jun 06, 2011 12:54 pm UTC

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.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:50 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:While on the whole your interpretation is far more reasonable, his words were:

PeterCai wrote:We are not special, but we are us, so what we do should benefit us first. It only make sense. Morality is utilitarian in nature, fairness is only useful when used among humans. There's no reason we should be fair to something that is not us.


Well I wasn't being precise. There of course should be a clause that says: unless being fair to something is useful to us.
In the case of a hyper-intelligent alien specie capable of intergalactic travel, it would be more useful to befriend them them to engage in hostility. Though, to the alien specie, if they are utilitarian, then there's nothing stopping them from treating us like advanced apes. Tto the apes we are the advanced specie, and we do treat them like, well, apes. We keep them in zoos, we study their behaviors and we perform drug testings on them, since there is not a perceivable future in which apes have the opportunity to treat us the same way(inb4 planet of the apes), or further human prosperity by being part of our society. There's no reason to treat them fairly, and we don't.

Of course, the definition of "us" changes over time, from family units to tribes, to villages and then countries and skin color. Only most recently did it finally expanded to the whole human race. I see animal rights movement as an attempt to expand the definition to include pets and higher order mammals. I don't think it is rational though, as doing so has no utilitarian value.

To clarify my personal morality: I am not a pure utilitarianist. It's just not very practical to conduct ourselves by pure utilitarianism, since we can't know the exact consequences of our actions, and therefore can't tell if it's ultimately more or less useful. I however try to discuss morality/explain social construct through the utilitarian lenses since it has the least amount of axioms and is by far the most logical.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 1:57 pm UTC

It doesn't have a utilitarian value to treat animals fairly because of how you define utilitarianism. Why don't we expand the premise of utilitarianism, that morality should benefit humans, to morality should benefit beings in order of sentience? Why just pick humans?
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:09 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:It doesn't have a utilitarian value to treat animals fairly because of how you define utilitarianism. Why don't we expand the premise of utilitarianism, that morality should benefit humans, to morality should benefit beings in order of sentience? Why just pick humans?


We actually don't pick human. It's just that humanity is a group in which individual survival rate increases drastically, which is how we evolved to become a pack animal in the first place. Including other animals in one's group identity is not useful to that individual, so why should he/she do it?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby KnightExemplar » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:19 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
KnightExemplar wrote:So as a utilitarian, you must either assert that rights may be violated (including your right to life) if it would be more beneficial to a group of people. Even if you want to keep your life. (Ex. The 5 people are sick. One needs a heart, another needs lungs, another needs two kidneys, one needs a liver, and the last needs a stomache. Is it right to murder an innocent man so his body parts would save the 5 others? A pure utilitarian would say yes)

Of course I accept it,and we often do violate individual rights for the greater good. Military draft being a good example.
The problem with your hypothetical though is that you assume killing the innocent man is the only way to save the 5 others. If there is a way to save them that doesn't involve killing a human being, then that way would be the more utilitarian method. Even with only these 6 people, and assuming that the healthy innocent man is worth less than the 5 terminally ills, I can just let the most useless patient die naturally(or if there is no time, euthanasia), and use his/her body parts to save the others. And if killing the innocent is the only way to save the other 5, and that saving the other 5 is more useful than not killing the innocent(which is complicated to calculate because in the real world, there are factors like the setting of precedent, which may cause more social harm), then yes, the innocent should be killed to save the others.


Well, it sounds like you're more or less a pure utilitarian then.

Nothing wrong with that, since it seems like your argument is consistent. But this is not a philosophy I personally subscribe to.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:28 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:It doesn't have a utilitarian value to treat animals fairly because of how you define utilitarianism. Why don't we expand the premise of utilitarianism, that morality should benefit humans, to morality should benefit beings in order of sentience? Why just pick humans?


We actually don't pick human. It's just that humanity is a group in which individual survival rate increases drastically, which is how we evolved to become a pack animal in the first place. Including other animals in one's group identity is not useful to that individual, so why should he/she do it?

This is less utilitarianism than rational egoism. There are a few problems with that, but I'll cover them later.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:45 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:This is less utilitarianism than rational egoism. There are a few problems with that, but I'll cover them later.

I have a hard time separating utilitarianism and "rational egoism". It seems to me that they are just two perspectives of the same system. Care to tell me how they are different?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:47 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:This is less utilitarianism than rational egoism. There are a few problems with that, but I'll cover them later.

I have a hard time separating utilitarianism and "rational egoism". It seems to me that they are just two perspectives of the same system. Care to tell me how they are different?

Well, I suppose in one sense rational egoism is just a take on utilitarianism. But traditional utilitarianism is that any action should maximize benefit to people, while rational egoism states that any action should maximize benefit to the actor.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Mokele » Mon Jun 06, 2011 2:51 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:It doesn't have a utilitarian value to treat animals fairly because of how you define utilitarianism. Why don't we expand the premise of utilitarianism, that morality should benefit humans, to morality should benefit beings in order of sentience? Why just pick humans?


We actually don't pick human. It's just that humanity is a group in which individual survival rate increases drastically, which is how we evolved to become a pack animal in the first place. Including other animals in one's group identity is not useful to that individual, so why should he/she do it?


One word: dogs.

We've included them as part of the pack identity for 40,000 years at this point, largely because doing so dramatically increased our hunting capacity. I'd argue we've also done the same for several other "working" animals whose existence is now inextricably linked to humans (cats to keep the mice out of the grain, horses for transport, etc.)


Oh, and also:
PeterCai wrote:alien specie


Alien coins have rights?

Specie = coin, especially precious metal ones
Species = a biological grouping, both singular and plural.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:16 pm UTC

Mokele wrote:We've included them as part of the pack identity for 40,000 years at this point, largely because doing so dramatically increased our hunting capacity. I'd argue we've also done the same for several other "working" animals whose existence is now inextricably linked to humans (cats to keep the mice out of the grain, horses for transport, etc.)

It's not exactly true that we included them in our group identity. There's no evidence that there are any laws concerning animal rights until modern times. If a person so desires, he can abuse his dog. He would probably be shunned and viewed as stupid if he was a hunter, just as if a truck driver sets his truck on fire,
but there wouldn't be any legal consequences.

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?

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby Izawwlgood » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:16 pm UTC

Actually, I'm pretty sure the bible includes passages about humane treatment of animals. For whatever that's worth in your definition of 'modern times'.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:23 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Actually, I'm pretty sure the bible includes passages about humane treatment of animals. For whatever that's worth in your definition of 'modern times'.

It's actually the opposite.
The idea that the use of animals by humans—for food, clothing, entertainment, and as research subjects—is morally acceptable, springs mainly from two sources. First, there is the idea of a divine hierarchy based on the theological concept of "dominion," from Genesis (1:20-28), where Adam is given "dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth." Although the concept of dominion need not entail property rights, it has been interpreted over the centuries to imply some form of ownership.[1][2]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_stat ... ient_world

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:24 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:There's no evidence that there are any laws concerning animal rights until modern times.

I beg to differ.

The Bible says animals are inferior, not that they lack rights.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby PeterCai » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:27 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:
PeterCai wrote:There's no evidence that there are any laws concerning animal rights until modern times.

I beg to differ.

My understanding is that kashrut is a set of laws concerning how to prepare animals for meals, not how to treat animals. You could still abuse a dog, or slaughter it inhumanely, you just can't eat it now. Correct me if I am wrong.

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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby sourmìlk » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:30 pm UTC

PeterCai wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:
PeterCai wrote:There's no evidence that there are any laws concerning animal rights until modern times.

I beg to differ.

My understanding is that kashrut is a set of laws concerning how to prepare animals for meals, not how to treat animals. You could still abuse a dog, or slaughter it inhumanely, you just can't eat it now. Correct me if I am wrong.


Yeah, the point of those laws is clearly to protect animals.

Also this.
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Re: Animal Rights?

Postby jules.LT » Mon Jun 06, 2011 3:31 pm UTC

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.
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