Owning Pets

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by (Q), Dec 12, 2009.

  1. cluelusshusbund + Public Dilemma + Valued Senior Member

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    Originally Posted by cluelusshusbund
    I wouldn't relish the prospect of humans being selectively-bred to suit the needs of a much advanced entity... so I question the morality of humans selectively breeding other animals for our own purposes!!! ”

    Originally Posted by Fraggle Rocker
    Considering that we have selectively bred ourselves, your argument is a little weak.

    Origionaly posted by cluelusshusbund
    That humans have selectivly bread themselfs is irrelevent to my argument.!!!

    What i queston is... the morality of a much advanced entity selectivly-breedin other animals... an as an esample i applyed the concept to humans... ie... do you have a moral issue wit a much advanced entity selectivly-breedin humans for ther own purposes... to be "show" or "pet" quality for esample.???
     
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  3. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    and can you tell me what your reasons for disbelieving this "nonsense," as you so name it, would be? or do only "words" have any substantive import for you? please, (Q), do tell: what precisely do such words as "love" and "respect" mean? is there some special meaning independent of their use and context? (rhetorical question.)

    my dogs are never on leashes and i often leave the doors open. they may step outside and wander about a bit, but they always come back. and they never seem to stray very far when out and about--and if they do, after a bit they tend to look (sniff) around until they locate me, and then they come back.

    but i am curious to hear these special meanings which you impart to "love" and "respect." do tell.

    moreover, as has been pointed out to you repeatedly--first by me and then by fraggle (who simply reiterated what i had already said (

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    ))--the notion of "ownership" is a legal notion which means nothing to any of us proper anarchists; the other sense of "ownership," refers simply to that which is proper to one--my mother, my girlfriend, my dog--i do not "own" any of them in any legal sense which i recognize.

    there is something suggestive in what you say above that says to me that you are one who is inclined to operate on faith: you have no proof, nor sufficient evidence, to conclude that anyone will never leave you; yet i strongly suspect (note: i am engaging in supposition here, but what of it?) that you believe nonetheless that certain individuals will not leave you--how do you account for this?
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2009
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  5. John99 Banned Banned

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    i notice that many people here have problems discerning 'ownership' from guardianship.
     
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  7. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    many, yes; but by no means all. (Q) i am supposing (again, supposing) that (Q) is a proper propertarian (props to ursula k. leguin) and he cannot get his head around that which does not pertain to "ownership" in the legal sense.

    hmmm. i might add (props to sapir, whorf, and herr wittgenstein): contingency, contingency, contingency, and context. many a folk haven't such a notion ("ownership") in the first place--certain australian aboriginals, pygmies, various nomadic folk and hunter-gatherers--and can not even grasp such a notion, barring years and years of indoctrination into our, heh, "enlightened" ways (i'm still trying to figure out who the hell these "enlightened" people are); what of them? some of them have dingoes, and the tarahumara of southern sonora (i may be off on this, possibly a southerly state) have all got dogs living inside of the caves which they inhabit (note that i didn't say their caves). i'm pretty certain that they're not positivists--well, i am being needlessly cautious here-- they are NOT positivists; nevertheless, they would dismiss all this talk of "ownership" as sheer nonsense.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2009
  8. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    ahhh, but he must assume such in order to get his impotent point across.
     
  9. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    No. Pack-social behavior evolves in the same way that any other behavior evolves: a combination of natural selection and of random mutations that happen to survive due to chance.

    The pack-social instinct is more common among hunters than among prey, because the coordinated behavior of a small group is not as useful for defense as offense. More prey species are herd-social, living in tolerance of anonymous strangers because there's so much food that there's no need to compete for it, and because the strength of the herd presents a certain level of defense against solitary hunters and even small packs--but not forming the bonds of trust, care and sacrifice that pack-social creatures form. You won't often see a buffalo risking his life to protect a herd-mate from a predator, but you'll see wolves doing that for their pack-mates.

    But there are indeed a few pack-social species of grazers, such as horses, who live in relatively small extended-family groups with complex hierarchies, harems and battles for dominance like carnivore packs. It would be so easy to hypothesize that helping one another kill food so that neither of you starves is the basis of the pack-social instinct, but horses are a counterexample. It takes no planning and coordination to surprise and overpower grass.

    Lions evolved in places where there were huge herds of very large herbivorous animals. So the pack-social hunting instinct survived because A) it was an effective way to take on so many large prey in one place and B) there was enough food to feed a pack. This would not have worked in most of the New World where the prey animals are smaller and it would be hard for a pack of lions to get enough to eat, and it would not have worked in central North America where the gigantic bison would have trampled half of the lions to death before any of them were finally taken down and available for eating.
     
  10. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    please, some people here think their pets are roommates

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  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Faith need not be unreasoned. After a few years of living with someone and getting to know them intimately so you have a good understanding of their priorities, motivations, tastes, and weaknesses, and adapting yourself to these as appropriate and comfortable, it is quite possible to draw a reasoned conclusion that the probability of them leaving you is satisfactorily low. I.e., in the order of magnitude of being killed by lightning (in North America, not Africa): not zero but small enough to ignore.

    A dog has a much simpler psychological makeup so it does not take as much time and effort to figure him out and accommodate his peculiarities. Once you've raised a puppy (of most breeds) the odds of him deciding to leave you even if you turn into an asshole are considerably lower than being struck by lightning in San Diego. And unfortunately many people test the asshole part of that hypothesis every day.
    This is no surprise if you reflect on the development of our own species. It's impossible for a nomadic hunter-gatherer (a human living before the Paradigm Shift into the Neolithic Era/Agricultural Revolution) to contemplate "possessing" anything that he can't carry--without the help of draft animals or wheels. People's possessions were rather standard and minimal: clothing, flint tools, a bag made out of an animal skin. The Paleolithic/Mesolithic "economy" did not generate a lot of surplus wealth (to put it mildly in a time when starvation was always a threat), so possessions in excess of the minimum necessary for survival were small and rare: a flute, a carved goddess, decorations on one's clothing, a beautiful little rock. And bear in mind that the pre-Neolithic humans lived exclusively by their pack-social instinct like the wolves they eventually experimented with joining: in an extended family unit of a couple of dozen people they had known, trusted and loved since birth. The idea of "owning" something exclusively and not sharing it with one's pack-mates would be foreign to these people. If your cousin wants to play your flute or pray to your wooden goddess, you let him, and when he's done with it you have no trouble figuring out where it is. Even if he's an asshole (and surely every family had its share of assholes then just as they do now), the elders would sort out the disagreements. If you whine enough Uncle Thork will carve you a new flute or goddess.

    It's only in our post-industrial economy, several Paradigm shifts out of the Mesolithic, when for the first time in history 99% of the human race is not "employed" in the food production and distribution industry, that there is enough surplus productivity, to generate enough surplus wealth, for us all to have houses stuffed full of things we "own."
    The Tarahumara live in Chihuahua, the state directly east of Sonora that is contiguous with New Mexico and part of the Texas Panhandle.
    I'd like to know what anthropologists who have studied these people have learned of their notions about their relationship with dogs. Do they regard them as pack-mates? Second-class pack-mates? Visitors from another tribe? Foolish livestock? Or do they have a special concept carved out for them, as the animals who voluntarily, cooperatively and harmoniously live among them? Of course after living on the periphery of civilization for several centuries Tarahumara culture has been contaminated and many of them now live in cabins and probably have iPods.

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  12. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

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    Goddammit yes! Animal slavery must end!

    While we're at it, we must advocate universal animal suffrage as well!

    The right to arm bears.

    Freedom to tweet, or bark, or whinny or whatever...

    Freedom to flock...

    Umm...

    ~Raithere
     
  13. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    agreed. (largely

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    ) though you still must acknowledge that, in a sense, such convictions do require a leap of faith--for we cannot empirically establish such things. where i would disagree with you is with respect to the "simpler psychological makeup." i call it "integrity"--sure, dogs play games, but when it comes down to business, dogs never lie. a semantic quibble perhaps.

    however, if we are to take (Q)'s suspicions as face value, we must conclude one of either two things:

    1) (Q) has never actually known a dog, and this would effectively render his opinions on the matter of no value.

    2) (Q) is the ultimate skeptic, and can accept no such notions as "love" and "respect" without adequate "proof" of such. were one to live this in this fashion--for which "proof" (or even extreme probability) can not be rightly ascertained, one would be rendered impossible to act. i think we can safely assume that this is probably not the case for (Q)

    of course, this leaves us with no.1. (Q) has never known a dog. this strains credulity, but i suppose it is in fact possible.

    again, agreed. though i do not attribute this phenomenon solely to development: many contemporary anthropologists argue that nomads are NOT nomads by necessity (IOW, they would like to be sedentary, but they have not figured out the means to effect such a change in lifestyle), but rather they are nomads by choice. their "god," for want of a better term, is movement itself. some may contest this, but to me it is quite intuitive, for it mimics my own inclinations and predispositions. sure, i "own" things, but for the most part--harmonium excepted--most of my "things" are but tools to me, and a burden at times. for much of my life, everything that i "own" could either be fitted into a decent sized backpack or into the back of a bicycle trailer--along with my dog, of course.

    chihuahua, thank you--it's been years since i've been there. and you are correct in that they have been "contaminated" by western mores and "things."

    i haven't found much anthropological work with respect to the tarahumara specifically, but there is an abundance of literature on aboriginal australians. of course, are we to trust the claims of anthropologists? the ones i know, who have lived amongst a group in alice springs on and off for over thirty years (david turner, deborah bird rose, and tony swain) contest that they regard dingoes as they do each other; in fact, they might possibly have an even higher regard for them. d.b. rose, in dingo made us human writes that creation myths, in the dreamtime, hold that dingo and man were once one and the same--but by action of the dingo, we were separated.

    incidentally, i strongly recommend rose's dingo made us human and tony swain's a place for strangers: towards an ontology of australian aboriginal being. i cannot recommend turner's texts, because frankly he copped some of my ideas (some heideggerian nonsense) and did not give me due credit (you know, 'cuz i "own" my ideas). still, you--being a musician--might find his work fascinating nonetheless as he explores the import of song in shaping aboriginal being.


    edit: apologies for typos (no, not the capitals!)--i'm in a rush and shall amend later.
     
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2009
  14. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    What people get from an experience is not uniform. Many people have lived with dogs and came away from the experience vowing never to repeat it. After all many people have that experience after being in love with humans. Dogs are simpler and more faithful to be sure, but they also invariably die and that is painful. Other people just can't get over the disruption to their lives and of course that's a great test for parenthood.
    This is a p[lace of science so we're all skeptics and rightfully so. The scientific method is just as applicable to dating, choosing a movie and deciding which species to share one's home with as it is to less immediately important things like calculating the age of the universe and finding a renewable energy source. Every hypothesis must be supported by evidence before anyone is obliged to regard it as more than a speculation, and every extraordinary hypothesis must be supported by extraordinary evidence before anyone is even obliged to treat it with respect.

    Q has accused me of unscientific discourse and he's correct. Nonetheless if he's a behaviorist, and people with his outlook usually are, it's still possible to define love and respect on the basis of behavior. And it's just as fair to predict the future behavior of a spouse, a politician or a pet based on empirical observations of their present and past behavior, as it is to make similar predictions about the future behavior of chemical reactions and planetary orbits.
    You said it. Their Wikipedia article is almost short enough to be twittered.
    Chemistry became a truly proper, rigorous science in the 19th century and the same happened to physics in the 20th. By their nature, it's unlikely that the soft sciences will ever achieve the status as the hard ones. The fact that experimentation runs a short gamut from unethical to illegal to impossible really cramps their style. Still we are starting to see some of the same integrity, wisdom and impartiality applied to the soft human sciences (anthropology, psychology and their bastard hybrid offspring sociology) that was used to discover DNA, black holes and plate tectonics. Anthropology is not my discipline but the reports, interviews and reviews I've seen encourage me to guess that among its current roster of professionals there are quite a few people who have both integrity and good scientific skills.
    Australia was the first continent to be populated by the diaspora of Homo sapiens out of Africa, a full ten thousand years before the second wave walked out during a much different climate and settled in Asia. But ironically, it was the last continent to be settled by dogs. They only go back about five thousand years and came with traders and explorers from southeast Asia and Oceania who appear to have left very little evidence of their visits except the dingoes, who are the same subspecies of wolf, Canis lupus familiaris as our dogs. So these were, truly, dogs and not wolves, so the Native Australians did not have the same experience with their first encounter as the people in central China had when wolves first wandered into their camp ten thousand years earlier. These animals were more scavenger than hunter, more follower than leader, slightly more dim-witted than wolves, enormously more gregarious, and not only tolerated but enjoyed the company of other species. In other words, the dogs Australians met for the first time were already domesticated and ready to join them as loyal, loving pack-mates.

    What a remarkable experience that must have been for both species! It's no wonder the humans still tell stories about it!

    The Europeans have legends about wolves: Romulus and Remus, who founded Rome, were raised by a she-wolf. The Indians of the Southwestern USA tell legends about Coyote, the Trickster. There were no placental mammals native to Australia and so, no canids. The closest they had was the thylacine or "zebra wolf," a predatory marsupial. This was definitely not a gregarious species so it never formed a multi-species community with humans. Fortunately dogs eventually came to the rescue, already "broken in" for the job.

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    (The last thylacine on record was dutifully tracked down and killed about 75 years ago, but we have photographs of them.)
     
  15. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    i am largely on the same page as you, James, but i have a few minor quibbles:

    with respect to intrinsic value, i regard all things--irrespective of personhood--as having some intrinsic value. this does not by any means suggest that we are incapable of acting, by virtue of infringing upon the "rights" of any "thing," but rather that we must be mindful in all of our actions: is it necessary to clear-cut this forest, i.e. does it in some way serve "a greater good"? even the most selfish amongst us, if he were truly "wise" and considerant of the long-term consequences of any and every one of his actions, would still behave in a manner which one might deem "moral," even if his primary concerns are for himself or his own exclusively.

    but by acknowledging the value of all things, consideration of the consequences might be less tedious--and demand far less mental calculus--than by simply acknowledging the intrinsic value of certain things, while regarding other things simply as resources (with extrinsic value).

    and with regards to rights, i am disposed to thinking of such in rawlsian terms: a social contract which must be acknowledged and understood by all parties involved. this becomes problematic when dealing with certain entities: the feebleminded, very young children, lions, etc. for they are not in a position to abide this contract--and note: i do not consider all non-human animals as being incapable of heeding the contract--dogs, horses, etc. have negotiated such a contract with humans (and others) for thousands of years. (though dogs, not being subjects of or to the state, cannot negotiate such a contract with such an abstracted entity.)

    and so for me, it makes more sense to speak in terms of protection, by which we recognize and respect their interests, for those who are disinclined to accord the same. i suppose it is entirely dependent upon how one perceives "rights": i regard rights simply as entitlements and permissions--there is no recognition of interests or consideration of consequences implied.
     
  16. John99 Banned Banned

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    James, how does someone walk from Africa to Asia? How many generations would that take and what was it about the land that gave homo sapiens their unique features?
     
  17. John99 Banned Banned

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    IF they had the unique features before they left Africa did they split into groups?
     
  18. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    this is an excellent point--and somewhat disconcerting, but true nonetheless.

    still though, i think when talking about such abstractions as "love" and "respect," there is only so much rigor we can apply. for instance, one might protest--with respect to the dog--that this supposed "love" is simply a plea to get fed! and of course, in a sense, this is true. but there's far more to it than that. with "love" (i.e. between humans), doesn't everyone expect something in return? what quality or behavior can positively define "love" for us--must my dog bring me flowers?

    i'll defer to helene cixous on this matter:

    "meeting a dog you suddenly see the abyss of love. such limitless love doesn’t fit our economy. we cannot cope with such an open, superhuman relation."

    i'm trying to find a source for a story told to me long ago by an acquaintance, perhaps you are familiar with it?

    when geronimo--the apaches, of course, are distant relatives of the tarahumara--and his tribe boarded the train bound for washington, to meet the "great white chief," their dogs (who were not allowed to board the train) ran after the train for hundreds of miles until they dropped dead. have you heard this story before? i've tried to source it with little success.

    i don't know if the so-called "soft" sciences will ever achieve the rigor of the "hard" sciences, but at the same time i, personally, am not bothered by this. of course, such is my temperament--i like my ambiguity

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    consider the work of behaviorists (in the lab) alongside the work of ethologists (in the field). they're both critical of one-another: one, for lack of control variables; the other, for ignoring the observer phenomenon, for instance. i don't wholly discount the work of behaviorists, but i am far more inclined towards being sceptical of their "findings," for they often conclude that species x is incapable of doing such--that is preposterous! one can only rightly conclude that species x is incapable (or, the ones who were tested, at least) of passing test x. the mirror test is a particular thorn in my side--dogs are not "self-aware." yeah, right.

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    this has always been of tremendous fascination for me, and i've a lifelong long of dingoes--my dogs are heelers! there is something so, ummm, un-dog-like about them; rather perhaps, ur-dog-like.

    ahhh, but if you really delve into the myth of remus and romulus--by which i mean, examine all of the evidence, i.e. pottery shards, etc. you'll note that this "she-wolf" is rather mastiff-looking!

    and let us not forget my favorite quote from the zend-avesta of the zoroastrians:

    "the world comes into being through the understanding of dogs."

    (this is actually feuerbach's paraphrasing of a particular passage of the avesta, but i prefer it to the original.)
     
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2009
  19. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    LOL, so? Mastiff or wolf, its not even close to true.
     
  20. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

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    for that matter, the "she-wolf" may simply have been a prostitute, for lupa also means prostitute. still, remus and romulus are the archetypal foundlings (or "feral children"); mythological or not (well, ok, mythological) their story spawned a succession of such stories throughout the ages. there's many a variety of foundling--from kaspar hauser (raised mostly in a shed) to genie (raised in a shabby bedroom) to amala and kamala (the wolf-children of india)--and many have been established as apocryphal, but remus and romulus are of the "raised by animals" variety.

    does it make a difference whether they were raised by a wolf or by a dog? i think metaphorically it does. the wolf is conceded as wild, the dog is domesticated--or the intermediary between the "tame" and the "wild." i'll not go off on my folk-etymology (a term i coined, i believe, to describe the sort of "etymology" undertaken by anyone from gary snyder to contemporary continental thinkers) of the middle-high german term wylde, meaning both "will" and "wild," but it is significant nonetheless. (for those in ages past, who were inclined to denude the "wild" of a "will," there is a problem. but there are cycles, and these "unenlightened" folks were preceded by a more enlightened lot, i.e. xenophon (the cynegeticus), et al.)
     
  21. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    dani is the one that breaks my heart.

    anyways, its all wishful thinking on the part of people. They want to see nobility in animals and its rarely there. For every case of a dog saving a persons life you have 5 for a dog killing someone.
     
  22. mordea Registered Senior Member

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    The same could be said for humans.
     
  23. Orleander OH JOY!!!! Valued Senior Member

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    yes, but this thread isn't about people
     

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