Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:21 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:Because seriously, thread after thread, the only thing I've ever really seen you demonstrate is an inability to see things from any point of view other than your own. If it doesn't fit into YOU (irrational, poorly informed) worldview, then by definition it is irrational and poorly informed.

Frankly, I find that fairly laughable coming from you, but such a response doesn't really get us anywhere. If you hold this opinion of me, then kudos. I continually correct myself and admit fault in my own arguments when I find it/have it pointed out to me, a forum/community/argumentative strength I cannot claim to have ever witnessed in you.

I have on at least one point here given cited reasoning backing my assumption that this publicity stunt is stupid (The EQ of Orcas compared to dolphins), and have suggested looking to further reading provided that suggests PETA isn't really about the 'ET' it claims to be. If you find it so shocking that one could continue holding an opinion that differs from your own, I would ask you to keep it to yourself in the future.

But, given that we had an almost verbatim exchange in the Occupy Thread, I'm going to simply state that, once again, washing everyone who disagrees with YOU into a fine category of irrational or poorly informed, in the face of demonstrating their rational and informed perspectives is pretty childish.

Griffin wrote:Also, chickens ARE fully sentient and have a range of emotions.

Citation needed. I think there's even a thread dedicated to defining 'sentience'. I would strongly suggest that chickens are not. Out of curiosity, do you have any experience with animal behavior, biology, or the like?

omgryebread wrote:PETA is also not representative of animal rights activists!

This is certainly true, I'll grant. I wager there are informed animal rights activists out there, but because this thread is about PETA, and I wrote 'my experiences with MOST activists', the point still comes down to awaiting some sensibility or intelligence from this group. I will clarify and state that I am not under the impression that animal rights activist = idiot, but the particular activists we are talking about here, and everyone I have ever personally encountered, are.

Also, I'm a little surprised no one jumped on my statement about SeaWorld not definitively doing any harm to these animals by holding them in captivity; after a bit of reading, I'm completely redacting that claim. I wouldn't call it slavery, because Orcas aren't people, but I would readily accept that it is cruel to keep an animal used to swimming hundreds of km a day, in an enclosure twice it's length. As a PR stunt drawing attention to the mistreatment of Orcas, this is of questionable efficacy. But I fully agree with Dream's statement that 'decent treatment of Orcas' and 'Orcas in captivity' is not a statement SeaWorld is capable of making, nor I in claiming.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:36 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I have on at least one point here given cited reasoning backing my assumption that this publicity stunt is stupid (The EQ of Orcas compared to dolphins), and have suggested looking to further reading provided that suggests PETA isn't really about the 'ET' it claims to be.

How does that prove the publicity stunt is stupid? At most it indicates that it's not the best publicity stunt they could have made. That doesn't make it stupid.

Izawwlgood wrote:[...] and I wrote 'my experiences with MOST activists', the point still comes down to awaiting some sensibility or intelligence from this group. I will clarify and state that I am not under the impression that animal rights activist = idiot, but the particular activists we are talking about here, and everyone I have ever personally encountered, are.


You wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:I dismiss them because they know jack shit about what they're passionate about. My experience with most animal rights activists is that their arguments are sophomoric, their understanding of the organisms they're trying to defend is based on extraordinary levels of anthropomorphizing these animals, and instead of listing solutions to helping endangered animals, they do the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and repeatedly go "Nope, nopenopenope, we need to stop ALL fishing in the oceans because it's harming them."

That's completely dismissing an entire group of people (most animal rights activists) as morons based on your experiences with a small subset of them. You shouldn't assume a group you are discussing is automatically mentally deficient just because some of them are irrational (as this would result in everyone who holds an opinion on a major topic being mentally deficient), even if the ones that brought about the current topic are irrational, and even if the ones you have met are irrational. It's shoehorning an entire group of people into your experiences and preconceptions for some of them, and then you refuse to consider that they might not be that stupid.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Griffin » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:02 pm UTC

Citation needed. I think there's even a thread dedicated to defining 'sentience'. I would strongly suggest that chickens are not. Out of curiosity, do you have any experience with animal behavior, biology, or the like?

You can strongly suggest whatever the heck you want - the rest of us will stick with facts, thank you. Sentience, the ability to feel emotions such as pleasure and pain, are one of the core aspects of animal psychology. They are one of the most primitive parts of the human brain, as well - not some unique adaptation, but rooted in reflex and the oldest parts of the brain. They are the basic drivers of emergent behaviour, providing generalized positive/negative reinforcement for a variety of activities. I'd be hard pressed to see a chicken surviving as the creatures they are without that sort of mental feedback, truth be told. Multiple studies have been conducted that a variety of birds have a range of apparent emotional experience - does this mean they have genuine emotions? Fuck if I know. But the evidence seems to indicate "yes", because they act and react as if they do. I don't specifically know of any studies involving chickens, but I doubt they would be wired all that different from other birds on such a fundamental level - avian sentience (or at least apparent sentience, derived from our understanding of their behaviours) seems to be the rule rather than the exception. If checkens are LESS sentient than other birds, it would likely be in degree, not in kind.

But honestly, it doesn't matter - Your point was the seeing a chicken as sentient was crazyness, crazy enough that we would all simply agree with you, when its nothing of the sort. There is nothing /irrational/ in seeing a chicken as sentient, and like the rest of your arguments its based on presuppositions that simply because you disagree with it, it's crazy.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:34 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:How does that prove the publicity stunt is stupid? At most it indicates that it's not the best publicity stunt they could have made. That doesn't make it stupid.

Uh, it doesn't prove anything; my statement was about my opinion of the publicity stunt, followed by my reasons for holding said opinion. I am not refusing to admit that some animal activists may not be stupid, I readily admit as such! I am however, again, saying that those *I HAVE ENCOUNTERED* were, and PETA is.
Ghostbear wrote:That's completely dismissing an entire group of people (most animal rights activists) as morons based on your experiences with a small subset of them.

Yes, which is why I clarified my statement, and agreed with the correction.
Griffin wrote:You can strongly suggest whatever the heck you want - the rest of us will stick with facts, thank you.

Ok, show me facts that demonstrate chickens are sentient. First, mind you, address what eran_rathan pointed out, that is, your use of the word 'sentient', is incorrect. I do not dispute that chickens are capable of some form of problem solving, are capable of experiencing some form of feeling (FEAR! HUNGER! WILLING TO EAT THAT! FEAR AGAIN!), and even that chickens may have personality differences (This chicken is less skittish around humans! This chicken loves digging holes!). That is not the same as sentience. So, yeah, lets see some facts. Because again, I'm curious, do you have any experience or understanding of Animal Behavior, Biology, etc?
Izawwlgood wrote:But honestly, it doesn't matter - Your point was the seeing a chicken as sentient was crazyness, crazy enough that we would all simply agree with you, when its nothing of the sort. There is nothing /irrational/ in seeing a chicken as sentient, and like the rest of your arguments its based on presuppositions that simply because you disagree with it, it's crazy.

Yes, a point I continue to stand by, a point you perhaps didn't understand so I will expand upon.
There is absolutely something utterly ridiculous as seeing a chicken as sentient, and more so, as claiming a chicken has a full range of emotional/intellectual experiences as a human does. If your argument for animal rights hinges upon anthropomorphizing animals (and incorrectly at that!), then you are making a rather idiotic argument for animal rights.

The last sentence in that point is key Griffin; I urge you, before again claiming that I simply dismiss anyone that disagrees with me as stupid, to read that last sentence. I am, for a second time for your sake, clearly pointing out WHY such an argument is invalid.
Last edited by Izawwlgood on Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:38 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Diemo » Thu Feb 09, 2012 5:36 pm UTC

Multiple studies have been conducted that a variety of birds have a range of apparent emotional experience - does this mean they have genuine emotions? Fuck if I know.


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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby DSenette » Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:27 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Griffin wrote:You can strongly suggest whatever the heck you want - the rest of us will stick with facts, thank you.

Ok, show me facts that demonstrate chickens are sentient. First, mind you, address what eran_rathan pointed out, that is, your use of the word 'sentient', is incorrect. I do not dispute that chickens are capable of some form of problem solving, are capable of experiencing some form of feeling (FEAR! HUNGER! WILLING TO EAT THAT! FEAR AGAIN!), and even that chickens may have personality differences (This chicken is less skittish around humans! This chicken loves digging holes!). That is not the same as sentience. So, yeah, lets see some facts. Because again, I'm curious, do you have any experience or understanding of Animal Behavior, Biology, etc?



sen·tient
   [sen-shuhnt] Show IPA

adjective
1.
having the power of perception by the senses; conscious.

2.
characterized by sensation and consciousness.


so, yeah, since i think all vertebrates are shown to have sensation (i.e. senses) and the definition of sentience has nothing to do with intelligence (problem solving and the like) or emotional abilities. i would imagine that chickens, being vertebrates are sentient.

are they as emotionally diverse as humans? probably not.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Griffin » Thu Feb 09, 2012 6:42 pm UTC

I do not dispute that chickens are capable of some form of problem solving, are capable of experiencing some form of feeling (FEAR! HUNGER! WILLING TO EAT THAT! FEAR AGAIN!), and even that chickens may have personality differences (This chicken is less skittish around humans! This chicken loves digging holes!). That is not the same as sentience.


>narrows eyes<
Can't tell if trolling, or just stupid.

But seriously : You just admitted that the chicken has all of the aspects that define sentience, and then said not only was that not enough for a chicken to be sentient, but that thinking a chicken is sentient, based on your list of a chicken meeting all the components of sentience, is crazy. Are you perhaps confusing the definition of the word sentient with the definition of the word sapient? Chickens are almost definitely the first, but almost definitely not the second. (Or at least there hasn't been any evidence of it - sapience is a doozy to measure though)

Ethan said the definition of the word was "aware". Are you seriously going to argue chickens are incapable of perception, then? Because you've just stated the exact opposite.

Because again, I'm curious, do you have any experience or understanding of Animal Behavior, Biology, etc?

Yes, I do. Do you? No wait, I don't care, because waving our internet credentials around isn't going to make this conversation any less stupid. Next you'll be telling us only like 4 more people on this board know more about animals than you. We really don't need that sort of stuff.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:28 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:But seriously : You just admitted that the chicken has all of the aspects that define sentience, and then said not only was that not enough for a chicken to be sentient, but that thinking a chicken is sentient, based on your list of a chicken meeting all the components of sentience, is crazy.

I did no such thing! I even directed your attention to someone who pointed out to you why such a thing was never demonstrated. FEAR of things recognized as dangerous is NOT the same as sentience/consciousness! Being someone personally different from other individuals of your species (Less fearful of this or that) is not the same as sentience/consciousness! (I'm actually reminded of a conversation between Marge and Homer, wherein Marge says "Homie, I need you to tell me about your feelings" and Homer says "I feel all sorts of things, I'm hungry, tired..."), I'll take this opportunity to address DSenette's point:
DSenette quoting dictionary wrote:sen·tient
   [sen-shuhnt] Show IPA

adjective
1.
having the power of perception by the senses; conscious.

2.
characterized by sensation and consciousness.

Pay attention to the bolded! Chickens are not conscious! They do not possess consciousness!
Griffin wrote:Are you perhaps confusing the definition of the word sentient with the definition of the word sapient?

Are you? I'm quite confident that the scientific community does not consider chickens sentient. I'm slightly confident that the scientific community ONLY considers humans sentient.
Griffin wrote:Yes, I do. Do you? No wait, I don't care, because waving our internet credentials around isn't going to make this conversation any less stupid. Next you'll be telling us only like 4 more people on this board know more about animals than you. We really don't need that sort of stuff.

I'm asking because you're making claims about things, and telling other people to cite their information, without doing the same yourself. The definition of 'sentience' you are using leaves plenty of room to exclude things like chickens quite easily. If you have any credentials, any information exposure to the topic of how sentience is involved in animal behavior, come up with an argument for why chickens are sentient beyond 'they can perceive their environment and react to it' (Is a bacterium sentient? What about an ant? Are rats sentient? Dogs? Chimps? Autistic children?) Because the term 'sentience' has quite different usage when applied to animal behavior than when applied to a PETA information splash page, or animal activist girl claiming her chicken is sentient (bad example, as I believe she was suggesting her chicken was sentient according to the amorphous scientific use of the word).

But to preempt your query, yes, I have taken three college level courses on animal behavior, and conducted behavioral research on primates. I have also taken a number of classes on Evolution, which in at least some part, addresses the development of cognition, and taken a class on developmental biology, which also addresses differences in development of cognition. I don't say these things to indicate I'm an authority on the topic, because I'm not, but to respond to your question.

Perhaps I should clarify; I think consciousness is something only people possess, and maybe, possibly, some primates, certain cetaceans, maybe elephants, possibly some corvids. I would define it as 'awareness of one's awareness' or at the very least 'aware of awareness in others'
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Griffin » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:47 pm UTC

Since a chicken can be knocked unconscious, it would stand to reason it would have to be conscious in the first place, no? I mean, exactly what definition of consciousness are you using that a chicken isn't conscious? What is the difference between a chicken that is moving about doing chickeny things and one that is incapacitated by a knock out drug, if not consciousness?

As to science...
I've never known an animal behaviourist or researcher to ever even USE the term sentience in their work, one way or another - scientifically, it's not terribly valuable in the face of far more specific and meaningful terminology. In point of fact, most scientific fields pride themselves on avoiding the word as almost entirely meaningless in and of itself.

Perhaps I should clarify; I think sentience is something only people possess, and maybe, possibly, some primates, certain cetaceans, maybe elephants, possibly some corvids. I would define it as 'awareness of one's awareness' or at the very least 'aware of awareness in others'

Fine, whatever. You can have your own special definition of sentience and think whatever you want, and I'll agree with you - the range of animals that experience awareness of others awareness (though wouldn't that be closer to Empathy?) is significantly more limited, and may very well not include chickens.

But since there are plenty of common definitions of sentience that include chickens, to hand wave away those who believe such as crazy only reinforces my own point - your complete inability to see things from any point of view other than your own.

But to preempt your query, yes, I have taken blah blah blah

Don't care, it doesn't matter, and has zero relevance to your argument. And the fact that you keep pushing for my own credentials puts the blatant lie to your statements that its not an appeal to authority when you were clearly fishing for an opportunity to push your "experience".
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Falling » Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:57 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Perhaps I should clarify; I think consciousness is something only people possess, and maybe, possibly, some primates, certain cetaceans, maybe elephants, possibly some corvids. I would define it as 'awareness of one's awareness' or at the very least 'aware of awareness in others'


I'm just curious where you got this definition since I've never actually seen anyone define it that way.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:01 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:Since a chicken can be knocked unconscious, it would stand to reason it would have to be conscious in the first place, no? I mean, exactly what definition of consciousness are you using that a chicken isn't conscious? What is the difference between a chicken that is moving about doing chickeny things and one that is incapacitated by a knock out drug, if not consciousness?

Ah yes, because 'rendering trauma to damage perceptive function of a nervous system' is clearly an indication that the nervous system once possessed consciousness.
Griffin wrote:I've never known an animal behaviourist or researcher to ever even USE the term sentience in their work, one way or another - scientifically, it's not terribly valuable in the face of far more specific and meaningful terminology. In point of fact, most scientific fields pride themselves on avoiding the word as almost entirely meaningless in and of itself.

Yes, I appear to have gotten the terms 'sentience' and 'consciousness' swapped. I edited my previous remark to indicate as such, which you appear to have somehow cited after my edit. We've been mincing the terms this whole discussion. The term 'consciousness' is used frequently, and has a fairly robust field of research suggesting that there are some interesting possibilities to the flexibility of the term, but that chickens are distinctly not.
Griffin wrote:Don't care, it doesn't matter, and has zero relevance to your argument. And the fact that you keep pushing for my own credentials puts the blatant lie to your statements that its not an appeal to authority when you were clearly fishing for an opportunity to push your "experience".

Ah yes, because I'm the one calling differing opinions irrational and poorly informed.
Falling wrote:I'm just curious where you got this definition since I've never actually seen anyone define it that way.

I believe I first saw it used in a book by Frans de Waal's, called Primate Politics (fuzzy on the name recollection actually), and a textbook by John Alcock said something to the effect in chapters of higher intelligences.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:11 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Because the term 'sentience' has quite different usage when applied to animal behavior than when applied to a PETA information splash page, or animal activist girl claiming her chicken is sentient (bad example, as I believe she was suggesting her chicken was sentient according to the amorphous scientific use of the word).

Quoth the wiki:
Sentience is the ability to feel, perceive or be conscious, or to have subjective experiences. Eighteenth century philosophers used the concept to distinguish the ability to think ("reason") from the ability to feel ("sentience"). In modern western philosophy, sentience is the ability to have sensations or experiences (described by some thinkers as "qualia").
[...]
In the philosophy of animal rights, sentience implies the ability to experience pleasure and pain.

It seems pretty safe to me to assume that chickens can feel, based on their behavior.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:16 pm UTC

Yes, I stated I've been using the wrong terms. To point out however, the wiki also says "or be conscious". Not all (any?) animals are conscious.

Out of curiosity, if animals are sentient, is animal ownership acceptable? Are animals then responsible for their behavior, not their 'owners'?
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Griffin » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:22 pm UTC

Ah yes, because 'rendering trauma to damage perceptive function of a nervous system' is clearly an indication that the nervous system once possessed consciousness.

Since consciousness, from the only generally agreed upon definition (the medical one) is the ability to perceive and respond to perceptions with purposeful behaviour, yes. It is an indicator. A completely unnecessary one, but an indicator nonetheless.

The term 'consciousness' is used frequently, and has a fairly robust field of research suggesting that there are some interesting possibilities to the flexibility of the term, but that chickens are distinctly not.

In what little scientific use the term sees, consciousness is a continuum - with alertness, response to stimuli, the ability to follow plans or seek goals being primary attributes thereof, and any sort of "purposeful movement". What little research I've seen on the topic would certainly place chickens towards the lower end, not exhibiting "high levels" of consciousness, but they would certainly be on the conscious scale. Note that this is almost exclusively limited to the medical fields - animal behaviorists, including primatologists I've known, will often go out of their away to assert the term is meaningless to their fields and lacks anything approaching a scientific definition (beyond the medical one). The few scientific fields that do use the word, like those pursuing (blech) "consciousness studies" tend to have very specific, jargonistic, often contradictory definitions.
All this considered, if you intend on using consciousness as some sort of basis for any sort of argument, you're free to define it however you want, but as far as the "actual meaning" goes, there isn't one that's generally agreed on.
Seriously, I would love to see any evidence of consciousness being "used frequently" in any real scientific research with any sort of general definition - and none of that pop-science say-whatever-the-fuck-i-want-to-sell books stuff either, I mean some real scientific sources.

Looking up Fraans Da Walls, he actually avoids saying anything at all about consciousness even when explicitly asked about it, so I'm not sure where you are getting your information.

And this is all completely irrelevant - you've moved the conversation to a meaningless term for who knows what purpose. The original argument was about sentience, which is defined by the ability to perceive and respond, to think and to feel, all of which Chickens can do, even if they can only do them in a primitive manner.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:22 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:To point out however, the wiki also says "or be conscious". Not all (any?) animals are conscious.

Or does not mean "and"- only one of the conditions needs to be true, not all.

Izawwlgood wrote:Out of curiosity, if animals are sentient, is animal ownership acceptable? Are animals then responsible for their behavior, not their 'owners'?

I don't think sentience would really factor into these questions at all. Sapience is probably the better fit. As for that case? Beats me.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Griffin » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:32 pm UTC

Eh, fine, forget my last post - you've admitted to using the wrong term, and consciousness isn't worth discussing.

But no, I don't see any problems with animal ownership simply because they are sentient.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:53 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:Eh, fine, forget my last post - you've admitted to using the wrong term, and consciousness isn't worth discussing.

Insofar as mincing terms about whether or not chickens are sentient or conscious, and whether or not people who hinge arguments about animal rights on anthropomorphizing animal behavior, the point stands (with word use corrected). Insofar as debating consciousness of chickens or orcas, I concur.
Griffin wrote:Looking up Fraans Da Walls, he actually avoids saying anything at all about consciousness even when explicitly asked about it, so I'm not sure where you are getting your information.

The book was "Chimpanzee Politics" (I was close), and from a bit on social maneuvering. The wiki entry doesn't do it justice; the gyst being that awareness of both yourself as an individual in a group, and each member of the group also as individuals within the group, is unique to higher order primates and a couple other highly social creatures. I recall him differentiating this degree of group behavior from, say, simply recognizing your position relative to an alpha, or even recognizing your position on a pecking order. It includes using tactics like recognizing one individual as having a tendency of doing x, and doing something to evoke x from that individual to benefit ones self.
The cover of the book included an image of a chimp hiding behind a bush and fucking a female chimp, while both are looking at a silver back. The thought bubbles from each include imagines of what they think the other is thinking, the idea being, that the idea to think about what others are thinking as it pertains to their own individuality, is a measure or feature of consciousness.
Or, it's also possible I'm misremembering and extrapolated the tie in to consciousness. But anyway, moving on;
Griffin wrote:But no, I don't see any problems with animal ownership simply because they are sentient.

I ask because what differenciates say, keeping a cat in my apartment as a pet, and keeping an Orca in SeaWorld? Barring of course, the conditions in which these Orcas are kept; that is, would it be acceptable if the tanks were larger?
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Griffin » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:06 pm UTC

What made you think I had any problem with keeping Orca's in sea world?
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Diadem » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:15 pm UTC

Falling wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:Perhaps I should clarify; I think consciousness is something only people possess, and maybe, possibly, some primates, certain cetaceans, maybe elephants, possibly some corvids. I would define it as 'awareness of one's awareness' or at the very least 'aware of awareness in others'


I'm just curious where you got this definition since I've never actually seen anyone define it that way.

I have heard this definition before, but for a different word. My high-school philosophy teacher (of all people) used it as the definition of self-consciousness [see language note later]. I've never heard it since, though I think it's an excellent definition. He defined 'consciousness' as the ability to perceive sensory information (which is the most common definition.) and self-conscious as the ability to perceive that one is conscious.

language note: I'm Dutch. The actual words used were 'bewustzijn' which translates to 'consciousness' [lit: aware-being] and 'zelfbewustzijn' which would literally translate to self-consciousness. In Dutch that is a normal word, but I don't think it is in English. Perhaps the best English translations would be sentience and sapience. Or maybe awareness and self-awareness, which would be the closest literal translations.

Anyway, regardless of words, I think the distinction is a philosophically useful one. I've always wondered where my high-school teacher got that definition from, because it seems very useful, but I've never seen it anywhere else.

Anyway chickens most definitely possess the former, and most likely do not possess the latter. Though possession of the latter is very hard to proof or disproof.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Malice » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:25 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I ask because what differenciates say, keeping a cat in my apartment as a pet, and keeping an Orca in SeaWorld? Barring of course, the conditions in which these Orcas are kept; that is, would it be acceptable if the tanks were larger?


In my opinion, if there is a problem with keeping Orcas in Sea World, it's with forcing them to perform for money, and also with the size and nature of their habitat. I wouldn't enclose a cat permanently in a box that's only twice as big as the cat, and I wouldn't make it do tricks every day for my own financial benefit. I suspect the latter is why PETA chose Orcas rather than beasts of burden; it's much easier to defend "but we need these beasts to till our fields and make food!" (or "but we need to eat these cows in order to live!") than it is to defend "but the Sea World Corporation needs these Orcas in order to increase their profits!"

Additionally, there's a difference between keeping a domesticated cat (because the alternative is that they'll run around town, diseased, breeding, and eventually starve to death due to rampant overpopulation) and keeping a "domesticated" Orca (because the alternative is that they'll swim around in the ocean, perfectly fine and not inconveniencing humans either).
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Panonadin » Thu Feb 09, 2012 9:28 pm UTC

Griffin wrote:What made you think I had any problem with keeping Orca's in sea world?


After reading 3 pages of back and forth I got to this and literally laughed out loud in the middle of the room in my office.

Also since I don't like posting and not adding something to the thread. I think that animals should be kept in captivity for breeding and preservation purposes only. I wouldn't say, let them all go right now! I would how ever support not catching any more.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby LaserGuy » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:06 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I ask because what differenciates say, keeping a cat in my apartment as a pet, and keeping an Orca in SeaWorld? Barring of course, the conditions in which these Orcas are kept; that is, would it be acceptable if the tanks were larger?


(Well, a cat owner would probably tell you that the cat keeps you as a pet).

I'll stake out my position here as best I can.

I am not opposed to keeping an orca at a place like SeaWorld in principle, with some reservations. I would say that removing an animal like an orca from the wild to put them in SeaWorld is probably totally out of line. For a highly social species with close family groups like orcas and dolphins, I don't think there's any way to do this without causing unreasonable harm. AFAIK, most aquariums, including SeaWorld, don't do this anymore. Some aquariums have a policy of only adopting "rescue" animals, who somehow get stranded or injured and need care, and subsequently returning them to the pod would be unfeasible (or, depending on the species, the pod might refuse to accept the lost member at all).

I think the issue mostly comes down to quality of life. While perhaps not the best standard for comparison, a good place to start might be zoos. A modern zoo typically tries to replicate the habitat of the animals that are on exhibition. Skimming through the Wikipedia article on the subject, I note that the Dallas zoo has a 5 acre habitat for their six elephants, and a 2 acre habitat for two tigers, and that these habitats have appropriate plants, terrain, etc. for the animals to interact with. Moreover, AFAIK, these animals aren't required to put on shows or do tricks (or, for that matter, to show up for visitors at all--I've definitely seen zoos where an animal might just be off sleeping under some bushes somewhere or something and you just wouldn't see it at all). A killer whale is larger than an elephant, and, if your EQ value is actually representative of anything, considerably more intelligent, so something of a comparable scale would probably be appropriate. Separating orca families into individual tanks is probably not okay, because that's not how they behave in the real world. That is, if we are going to keep animals in captivity, we ought to try to do so in a way that most closely resembles the real lives and habitats of the animals that we're dealing with.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby DSenette » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:12 pm UTC

Diadem wrote:
Falling wrote:
Izawwlgood wrote:Perhaps I should clarify; I think consciousness is something only people possess, and maybe, possibly, some primates, certain cetaceans, maybe elephants, possibly some corvids. I would define it as 'awareness of one's awareness' or at the very least 'aware of awareness in others'


I'm just curious where you got this definition since I've never actually seen anyone define it that way.

I have heard this definition before, but for a different word. My high-school philosophy teacher (of all people) used it as the definition of self-consciousness [see language note later]. I've never heard it since, though I think it's an excellent definition. He defined 'consciousness' as the ability to perceive sensory information (which is the most common definition.) and self-conscious as the ability to perceive that one is conscious.

language note: I'm Dutch. The actual words used were 'bewustzijn' which translates to 'consciousness' [lit: aware-being] and 'zelfbewustzijn' which would literally translate to self-consciousness. In Dutch that is a normal word, but I don't think it is in English. Perhaps the best English translations would be sentience and sapience. Or maybe awareness and self-awareness, which would be the closest literal translations.

Anyway, regardless of words, I think the distinction is a philosophically useful one. I've always wondered where my high-school teacher got that definition from, because it seems very useful, but I've never seen it anywhere else.

Anyway chickens most definitely possess the former, and most likely do not possess the latter. Though possession of the latter is very hard to proof or disproof.

i think the common term in english is self awareness. being aware that you are you and not someone else, and typically also being aware that there are other things that might be self aware as well that are different entities other than yourself. VERY limited amount of animals pass the test for this.

consciousness, and sentience, are completely different items
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:27 pm UTC

Malice wrote:In my opinion, if there is a problem with keeping Orcas in Sea World, it's with forcing them to perform for money, and also with the size and nature of their habitat.

With all seriousness, what's wrong with having them perform? I fully agree that the habitats they are kept in is too small, which probably accounts for the veritable host of issues SeaWorld has had with their Orcas. But what's wrong with teaching them to perform, even perform for SeaWorld's profit?

@Diadem: I suppose the point I'm getting at is that attempts to mimic their natural habitat aside (which it sounds like SeaWorld fails at pretty horribly), and removing them from the wild (which SeaWorld doesn't do anymore), I don't see anything wrong with training these animals to do certain things for the enjoyment of onlookers. I'm not talking about having a Lion jump through a flaming hoop and cracking a whip after it or such (which has clear and present stress increasing problems), I'm talking about having an Orca jump on command or a dolphin slam a ball through a hoop or such.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby omgryebread » Thu Feb 09, 2012 10:45 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Malice wrote:In my opinion, if there is a problem with keeping Orcas in Sea World, it's with forcing them to perform for money, and also with the size and nature of their habitat.

With all seriousness, what's wrong with having them perform? I fully agree that the habitats they are kept in is too small, which probably accounts for the veritable host of issues SeaWorld has had with their Orcas. But what's wrong with teaching them to perform, even perform for SeaWorld's profit?

@Diadem: I suppose the point I'm getting at is that attempts to mimic their natural habitat aside (which it sounds like SeaWorld fails at pretty horribly), and removing them from the wild (which SeaWorld doesn't do anymore), I don't see anything wrong with training these animals to do certain things for the enjoyment of onlookers. I'm not talking about having a Lion jump through a flaming hoop and cracking a whip after it or such (which has clear and present stress increasing problems), I'm talking about having an Orca jump on command or a dolphin slam a ball through a hoop or such.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:00 pm UTC

Lets try this again in a way that may be more helpful; do you object to people training their pets to do tricks? Because again, Orcas =! People.

If you want to argue that holding [ORGANISM] in captivity is a bad thing, then fine, that's a wholly valid position to take; tell me what is specifically wrong with having captive organisms PERFORM. Your cute analogy is an argument against holding things in captivity, not against having captive things perform.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:00 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:With all seriousness, what's wrong with having them perform? I fully agree that the habitats they are kept in is too small, which probably accounts for the veritable host of issues SeaWorld has had with their Orcas. But what's wrong with teaching them to perform, even perform for SeaWorld's profit?

I can't speak specifically towards how they train sea animals, but generally the training for most animals that perform for entertainment is quite harsh, even cruel. Bears that performed in circuses would essentially be be beaten to train them to learn their tricks, and those were relatively innocuous tricks. These animals aren't like dogs, with thousands of years of domestication and affinity towards humans to make training them relatively easy. I have no reason to believe that the training for orcas is any better. Further, how do we know that the performances aren't taxing for them? It doesn't look easy, and even if it is, it doesn't appear to be the types of things these animals would enjoy doing if left to their own devices.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Dream » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:14 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:Lets try this again in a way that may be more helpful; do you object to people training their pets to do tricks? Because again, Orcas =! People.

Orcas also aren't domesticated.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:30 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:I have no reason to believe that the training for orcas is any better.

Here's one.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:32 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:I can't speak specifically towards how they train sea animals, but generally the training for most animals that perform for entertainment is quite harsh, even cruel.

SeaWorld claims they use positive reinforcement to train their animals, so, barring the distinct possibility that they are lying (I could see it either way), how do you feel about this once we remove negative reinforcement from the equation? Specifically, what about having animals perform is a problem, barring of course, their mistreatment. Because I'm not convinced the act of having them perform is a Bad Thing.
Dream wrote:Orcas also aren't domesticated.

Neither are a number of other animals people keep as pets and teach tricks. I'm sure you know people who own various species of birds that can say something or do something on command? Or people who have trained their pet rodent of some sort of another to, say, run through a maze?
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Ghostbear » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:42 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:SeaWorld claims they use positive reinforcement to train their animals, so, barring the distinct possibility that they are lying (I could see it either way), how do you feel about this once we remove negative reinforcement from the equation?

That would be addressed with the second half of my post. :)

To copy and paste:
Ghostbear wrote:Further, how do we know that the performances aren't taxing for them? It doesn't look easy, and even if it is, it doesn't appear to be the types of things these animals would enjoy doing if left to their own devices.

I'd state that the conditions are by far the principle concern, but I don't think an animal should have to devote its existence (or a significant part thereof) to the entertainment of others.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:48 pm UTC

Well, right, but that's addressed in the;
Izawwlgood wrote:Specifically, what about having animals perform is a problem, barring of course, their mistreatment.

If these Orcas were jumping through whirring blades of screechy doom, or zapped with electricity and made to dance, I'd have a problem. But they aren't; they're being made to do stuff that they normally do in the wild, timed to be part of a show, and at worst it seems (as part of the show), tasked with performing these activities in a coordinated manner (whacking a ball into a net, for example). Now, obviously if these performances were stressing the animals, we'd have a problem, but I don't believe that the activities themselves are particularly stressful, so, tell me, what specifically about performing these activities is a problem?
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Webzter » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:50 pm UTC

Ghostbear wrote:I'd state that the conditions are by far the principle concern, but I don't think an animal should have to devote its existence (or a significant part thereof) to the entertainment of others.


Oh crap, some forum posters are gonna get fired / released back into the wild.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Malice » Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:57 pm UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Malice wrote:In my opinion, if there is a problem with keeping Orcas in Sea World, it's with forcing them to perform for money, and also with the size and nature of their habitat.

With all seriousness, what's wrong with having them perform? I fully agree that the habitats they are kept in is too small, which probably accounts for the veritable host of issues SeaWorld has had with their Orcas. But what's wrong with teaching them to perform, even perform for SeaWorld's profit?


I think it's wrong because I think you need a good reason to force an animal or a person to do what you want it to. I'm okay with beasts of burden, for example, because they're necessary for the production of food. I'm not okay with forcing, hurting, or tricking an animal into performing on a regular basis when it may not wish to, simply for the purposes of entertainment or profit.

I had a dog (he died a few weeks ago), and we only taught him the basic commands he needed to know in order to live with us in comfort and safety. I am also uncomfortable with those people who train their dogs to do a whole act or whatever, or show dogs. I would prefer in general to respect an animal's autonomy and not mold their defenseless little brains for our personal amusement, or beyond what is necessary for us or them.

I think it's ill-advised, separate from the question of morality, to allow things like the Orcas at Sea World, because as soon as you are using an animal for profit, you begin to have reasons to overlook that animal's wellbeing in the service of further profit.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Ghostbear » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:11 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:If these Orcas were jumping through whirring blades of screechy doom, or zapped with electricity and made to dance, I'd have a problem. But they aren't; they're being made to do stuff that they normally do in the wild, timed to be part of a show, and at worst it seems (as part of the show), tasked with performing these activities in a coordinated manner (whacking a ball into a net, for example). Now, obviously if these performances were stressing the animals, we'd have a problem, but I don't believe that the activities themselves are particularly stressful, so, tell me, what specifically about performing these activities is a problem?

And then that was addressed with the latter part of the newer post:
Ghostbear wrote:I'd state that the conditions are by far the principle concern, but I don't think an animal should have to devote its existence (or a significant part thereof) to the entertainment of others.

Or, if you prefer, Malice appears to have worded it better than I in their own explanation.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Izawwlgood » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:50 am UTC

Malice wrote:I had a dog (he died a few weeks ago), and we only taught him the basic commands he needed to know in order to live with us in comfort and safety. I am also uncomfortable with those people who train their dogs to do a whole act or whatever, or show dogs. I would prefer in general to respect an animal's autonomy and not mold their defenseless little brains for our personal amusement, or beyond what is necessary for us or them.

Dogs may not be the best example, because they are domesticated, as pointed out, but I'm fairly confident that some dogs (I'm thinking Australian Shepard's?) are particularly inclined to doing work... Like, if you don't give these dogs calculus homework to do daily, they get antsy and bored and unhappy. Meaning, when you give these dogs a task, a trick to learn or a complicated performance to accomplish, they are at their happiest. Now, I completely agree that 'dogs bred to do stuff' =! Orcas, so this facet of the point may be somewhat moot. But a number of highly (or at least 'somewhat) social animals (chimps, various birds, otters, seals, cetaceans, elephants, etc) may live vastly ENRICHED lives because they have human interaction to stimulate them. I'm sure there are plenty of these animals that want nothing more than to have those skinny bipedal meatbags fuck off, but I'm almost positive there are others that delight in interacting with their food dispensers, clicker clickers, or sign language-ing buddies.

Malice wrote:I think it's ill-advised, separate from the question of morality, to allow things like the Orcas at Sea World, because as soon as you are using an animal for profit, you begin to have reasons to overlook that animal's wellbeing in the service of further profit.

Certainly; I think it's just as likely, however, that because of how expensive these animals are for SeaWorld, that the company would be maximally interested in the welfare of the Orcas. Stressed and sick and unhappy Orcas don't live long (as evidenced by the myriad deaths in SeaWorlds history), and it stands to reason that because each animal is so a significant cash... cow... that any given show is worth far less than the Orcas well being. I sincerely doubt these Orcas are Orca-prodded until they begrudgingly perform; if anything, wager shows are frequently cancelled because 'Shamu seems to be getting a cold'. Now, to recognize other truths of the situation, SeaWorld has historically not been very good at caring for these animals; I think that comes with the territory, and over time, they seem to be getting better. While unfortunate, the 'getting better' part is key.

Malice wrote:I think it's wrong because I think you need a good reason to force an animal or a person to do what you want it to. I'm okay with beasts of burden, for example, because they're necessary for the production of food. I'm not okay with forcing, hurting, or tricking an animal into performing on a regular basis when it may not wish to, simply for the purposes of entertainment or profit.

But again, if an Orca won't perform, I'm pretty sure they just don't. Not every Orca is in these shows.
Ghostbear wrote:I'd state that the conditions are by far the principle concern, but I don't think an animal should have to devote its existence (or a significant part thereof) to the entertainment of others.

Yes, but specifically, why is this different from relying on an animal to plow your fields?
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Webzter » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:27 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:I'm fairly confident that some dogs (I'm thinking Australian Shepard's?) are particularly inclined to doing work... Like, if you don't give these dogs calculus homework to do daily, they get antsy and bored and unhappy.

That's true. If you breed a dog over generations to be a working dog and then coop it up with nothing interesting to do and no room to exercise, it will get antsy. But, what's your point with this, exactly? That an animal that's been bred for generations to do a task is only happiest when it's doing said task? (or a reasonable facsimile of said task). I'd say that's a pretty fair assessment.

I would speculate that Man and Dog's relationship is very symbiotic. Dog chose to approach Man and Man chose to approach Dog and both worked out a mutually beneficial relationship. As has been shown by domesticating silver foxes, dogs were likely rather apt at quickly ingraining themselves in human tribes.

Izawwlgood wrote:Yes, but specifically, why is this different from relying on an animal to plow your fields?


We've progressed as a society to the point where we, as a percentage of tillable land, primarily use mechanical animals (just because it has Deere in the name doesn't mean it's a real deer) to plow our fields.

Discussing chickens might be more relevant. Why is it ok to force chickens to lay eggs for our consumption. Why is it ok to force chickens to breed just so we can slaughter and eat them. And, again, as with Dog, the relationship has been largely beneficial to Chicken. Now, of course, I don't mean it's beneficial to the chicken that's on it's way to the dinner plate, but it's beneficial to the chicken species as a whole. If one goal of a species to to exist and pass it's lineage on, then, in the scheme of things, chickens have done remarkably well at that.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Malice » Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:09 am UTC

Izawwlgood wrote:
Malice wrote:I had a dog (he died a few weeks ago), and we only taught him the basic commands he needed to know in order to live with us in comfort and safety. I am also uncomfortable with those people who train their dogs to do a whole act or whatever, or show dogs. I would prefer in general to respect an animal's autonomy and not mold their defenseless little brains for our personal amusement, or beyond what is necessary for us or them.

Dogs may not be the best example, because they are domesticated, as pointed out, but I'm fairly confident that some dogs (I'm thinking Australian Shepard's?) are particularly inclined to doing work... Like, if you don't give these dogs calculus homework to do daily, they get antsy and bored and unhappy. Meaning, when you give these dogs a task, a trick to learn or a complicated performance to accomplish, they are at their happiest. Now, I completely agree that 'dogs bred to do stuff' =! Orcas, so this facet of the point may be somewhat moot. But a number of highly (or at least 'somewhat) social animals (chimps, various birds, otters, seals, cetaceans, elephants, etc) may live vastly ENRICHED lives because they have human interaction to stimulate them. I'm sure there are plenty of these animals that want nothing more than to have those skinny bipedal meatbags fuck off, but I'm almost positive there are others that delight in interacting with their food dispensers, clicker clickers, or sign language-ing buddies.


Stimulating human interaction and performing for tricks are not the same thing. You can play with a dog, or teach it things, or have it solve puzzles or whatever without putting it on display for paying customers.

Izawwlgood wrote:
Ghostbear wrote:I'd state that the conditions are by far the principle concern, but I don't think an animal should have to devote its existence (or a significant part thereof) to the entertainment of others.

Yes, but specifically, why is this different from relying on an animal to plow your fields?


Because if fields aren't plowed, people go hungry. As you basically argued earlier in the thread, sources of food are important and not easily replaced. Unlike the financial benefits of the "pointing and laughing at whales" industry.
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby folkhero » Fri Feb 10, 2012 8:55 am UTC

Malice wrote:Stimulating human interaction and performing for tricks are not the same thing. You can play with a dog, or teach it things, or have it solve puzzles or whatever without putting it on display for paying customers.

Does a dog or whale care how many people are watching, pointing, or laughing? Does it care if the people watching paid money?
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Re: Court To Decide Whether Orcas Can Be Enslaved

Postby Maurog » Fri Feb 10, 2012 9:08 am UTC

What about those dogs in dog food commercials, sure they look happy, but did someone ask them if they want to represent some crappy brand to millions of people?

I bet they can't walk down the street without people pointing and saying, hey it's that dog from TV.
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