Should animals be treated as property?

Discussion in 'Ethics, Morality, & Justice' started by hug-a-tree, Sep 23, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. phoenix2634 Registered Senior Member

    I made it about halfway through, realized how long it was, and gave up.

    I'll probably finish it when I have more time.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. Challenger78 Valued Senior Member

    Humanity doesn't change. Unless there is a truly universal event which causes everyone to suffer, we will never give each other equal human rights.
    We see the waterfall and build up walls.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    You last post was very long. You addressed my arguments point by point. Instead of doing the same, I wish to examine the common theme that recurred many times in your argument.

    To understand why you are unwilling to even consider the possibility of adopting some measure of animal "rights" that goes beyond what might benefit you personally and what you call your "society", we need to look at the basis of your self-declared moral system. As it happens, I personally find the rationale behind the kind of moral system you advocate abhorrent, but on purely logical grounds I don't think I can argue against it's own internal logic. Nevertheless, I hope that by putting your perferred system of morals in the light so others can take a good look at it, I will help to convince other readers that your world is not the world we want to live in.

    I would go so far as to say that what you call your system of morals is not really morality at all, as it is commonly understood. Rather, it seeks to redefine the term "morality" to mean nothing more than "agreements made by the powerful for their own mutual benefit". The problem with this system, of course, is that all people do not have equal bargaining power, so under your system the strong are free to exploit the weak as they wish. The group that has less bargaining power of course can be extended to include non-human animals, which is why you discount any possibility of rights for them.

    To start to the examination of your system of morals, let's first review what you had to say about it. The added emphasis (in bold) is entirely mine.

    The moral system you claim to have, and advocate, is clearly one based on what philosophers call a social contract. There are a number of different varieties of social contract theories. I have seen your particular brand called "Hobbesian contractarianism". Hobbesian contractarianism, briefly, says something like the following.

    There is nothing inherently wrong with actions such as murder or stealing or telling lies. There are no "objective morals" in that sense. Morals are only what society decides they are. (We'll get to who this "society" is in a moment; it is an important distinguisher of Hobbesian contractarianism.) It is socially useful not to have other members of your society arbitrarily killing you or stealing from you or lying to you. It is to everybody's mutual benefit in the society to avoid murder and lying and stealing, so that people don't have to be constantly looking over their shoulders, protecting their property and distrusting the word of everybody else. And so, "society" agrees on a set of mutually useful standards of conduct. This is the social contract. Nothing is written down on paper, of course, but an understanding is reached by unspoken consensus.

    The consensus involves an implicit bargaining process: each person wants the social contract to protect his own interests as much as possible while restricting him as little as possible. Ideally, of course, each person would like to be morally "allowed" to act unrestricted, while at the same time imposing morals restrictions on others to advance his own interests.

    The outcome of the social contract thus ultimately depends on the relative bargaining power of those in the society in question. As a matter of fact, the weak, the disabled, the poor, and so on, have less power in society than the strong, the healthy, the wealthy. If the strong take from the weak, what can the weak do about it? Nothing. They need not fear retaliation. And the strong have little to gain from cooperation with the weak, whereas they must respect the strength of other strong people who may significantly affect their interests.

    This inequality of physical strength and matter-of-fact bargaining power means that there is no "problem" for the Hobbesian contractarianism if the social contract involves outright exploitation of the weak and vulnerable by the powerful. Even slavery or killing the disabled is not considered "wrong" under such a system. The strong "society" doesn't gain much from the disabled, and the disabled can't retaliate, so why keep them around? It might be more efficient simply to kill them. They have no inherent right to be treated as equals, or anything like that, because as a matter of fact they aren't equal in any important sense. The ONLY important sense of "equality", to the Hobbesian contractarian, is equality of bargaining power. What type of bargaining power? Ultimately, only physical strength, wealth and influence count in this equation. If you don't have them, you're fair game for those who do.

    By nature, Hobbesians argue that everybody is entitled to "bargain" to the full extent of their ability. What they call "moral constraints" are really just restrictions that arise in the bargaining process between parties that are roughly equivalent in bargaining power. And such moral constraints can only arise when bargaining power is equal. Thus, the Hobbesians conclude that no particular moral duties are owed to the weak or powerless, except insofar as other "strong" people demand them (by their own whim or fancy or whatever).

    How does Hobbesian contractarianism stack up against other theories of morality, such as consequentialism or Kantian ethics? Not very well. Why? Because Hobbesian contractarianism does not fit our common-sense understanding of what it means to be moral.

    Many people, knowing nothing of abstract philosophy, feel that there is some kind of moral duty to help the needy, to protect the weak and vulnerable, to respect the intrinsic value of other people as people. They would say that while it may be advantageous for the strong to enslave the weak, for example, the weak have a prior moral claim to justice. They would applaud as particularly moral an act such as helping somebody when you stand to gain nothing or even to lose something yourself. The Hobbesian would think that there is little point in such altruism; there is no rational motivation for it. (Note: this doesn't mean a powerful Hobbesian contractarian won't ever help the vulnerable. But if he does do that, there will invariably be something in it for him, such as the admiration he gets from others of equal strength.)

    In short, most people would say that there is more to living a moral life than seeking selfish advantage, even if seeking that advantage should happen to be "mutual" among members of a high-bargaining-power "society" that excludes the weak and powerless.

    Now, my problem, of course, is that I can't refute Hobbesian contractarianism as a moral theory by arguing for things like the intrinsic value of all living things, or the duty to give equal consideration to all humans (let alone non-human animals). Why? Because the Hobbesian just doesn't believe in things like intrinsic value or equal consideration. Nothing I say will convince such a person that it is good to help the weak or powerless. The Hobbesian only believes in the good of helping oneself or those who can advantage oneself.

    In conclusion, since Hobbesian contractarianism denies that there is a real difference between right and wrong that all people must respect, it is not really a moral theory at all. Rather, it is a proposed alternative to "morality", as it is commonly understood. It may lead to justice and equality where people have equal bargaining power. But it will almost inevitably lead to exploitation of the weak and vulnerable, because there is nothing inherent in the theory that values justice for all over exploitation of some. If people act justly in some circumstances, it is only because they are forced to settle for the "morality" of the social contract negotiated by the powerful. If they had irresistable personal power, the very idea of morality would be unnecessary.


    I ask all readers of this post to review Pandaemoni's quoted comments. Ask yourself whether the label of "Hobbesian contractarian" fits him or not. I think it fits like a glove.

    Pandaemoni's "moral" world is not one I personally want to inhabit. I wonder if other readers do. I have come across the same view before in the same context that it has come up here. In my next post, I will examine Pandaemoni's position in regard to animals in light of what we have learned here.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Let me pick out a few quotes from Pandaemoni, in no particular order.

    Why did slaves not have a "right"? Because, according to Pandaemoni, it was "not respected"? Why was it not respected? Because slaves had no inherent value, and the powerful people found slavery more advantageous than freeing the slaves. Why is there no slavery in modern-day America? Only because the powerful in society settled on a new social contract following a bloody war.

    Note that there is no inherent moral problem with slavery according to a Hobbesian contractarian like Pandaemoni. Slavery isn't "bad". People have simply agreed that it is no longer "morally permissible" - it isn't allowed by the current implicit contract. Note also that nothing inherent in the slaves themselves makes a difference here. They were irrelevant in the social bargaining process. People now abide by the morality that slavery is wrong (in America), because not to do so would be to risk personal loss or condemnation from others of equal or greater power.

    Thus, according to Pandaemoni, a "murder the disabled" rule would be just as good a "moral" rule as any other regarding that group, as long as the powerful agree to it. What the disabled people themselves want doesn't particularly matter, except to the extent that those people can exert other influence and power in society.

    Presumably, Pandaemoni would have no particular a priori view on issues such as abortion or capital punishment either. In considering such issues, he would look at his "society" and ask to himself "what's in this for me? What position should I adopt that will be most likely to benefit myself in the long term?" The rights of a foetus would be non-existent, since it has no power in the relevant sense that Pandaemoni cares about. The rights of a convicted criminal would similarly count for nothing. This doesn't mean that Pandaemoni wouldn't frame his argument in such terms, because hiding his true self-interested motivations may make him look better in the eyes of the powerful, and possibly increase his own power and influence.

    And, don't forget that Pandaemoni has to live in a world with people who have very different views of morality than he has. Some of those people have power, too. Better be careful, then.

    It only really depends on the strength of the short, doesn't it, Pandaemoni? If your society can get away with exploiting short people without fear of retaliation or other negative repercussions from them, then there's nothing to lose. Certainly, there's no kind of innate equality between short people and tall people. You have to look at whether they are wealthy short people, or politically powerful short people, or short people who have an army, or whatever, then decide on that basis.

    Why? Here's where the pedal meets the metal:

    Pandaemoni says: Because non-human animals have no bargaining power, relative to human beings, therefore animals don't "count" in forming a social contract.

    Truly, eating meat is then "amoral", for the same reason that keeping slaves would be considered "amoral" by Pandaemoni. It's just what people have implicitly agreed to do.

    Certainly, animals have no desires or interests that we need to consider in deciding how to deal with them. They won't fight back. They won't take our money. They won't vote anybody out of office. And, as a bonus, they taste great!

    Preventing rabbit suffering does nothing[/b]. Hmmm...

    Because rabbits can't fight back. Because rabbits can't take your money. Because rabbits can't retaliate against you in any significant way if you hurt them. So, nothing to worry about. Sharing a rabbit stew with the guy who might give you a salary raise or who might lend you his lawn mower in return is infinitely more valuable. And the rabbit tastes great!

    You're not a member of chimpanzee society. Ergo, chimpanzees don't get to vote in your social contract. Ergo, chimpanzees get no rights.

    There's nothing intrinsically valuable about a chimpanzee. If you test drugs on chimps, or whatever, and that benefits the society you are a member of, it's win win for everybody important. The chimpanzee doesn't get a say. Why should it?


    Yuk! What a disgusting view of the world you have, Pandaemoni.
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    For anybody else who is reading, there are kinder alternatives to Pandaemoni's dog-eat-dog (literally!) world.

    Consider these articles I wrote on [enc]Equal consideration[/enc] and [enc]Intrinsic value[/enc], for instance. The philosophical underpinnings of these theories are quite different from the Hobbesian contractarianism exposed above. Moreover, they accord with how many people think about morality in their everyday lives.
  9. Lordznebula5 Registered Member

    No not absolutely so I'm against for torture by some lab unnecessarily.

    I must own and eat flesh or I'll go blind. Some us have high protein heme iron needs.

    You do realize that this be actual science that the protein competes with carbs when eaten by the body and not some old wives tale.

    Explanation of the carbohydrate competition:

    flesh protein = all amino acids alert by dopamine.

    carbs = sedated by seratonin.

    Animal should not be seen as ONLY objects/property without some feelings.

    I think animals should be eaten as long as done humanely. I don't support that industries large are capable of going about this humanely.

    Would be best if someone killed his own flesh though. Flesh not being provided flesh at the market and depending on killing own I support as the best system . I support that such system would be the most humane and be the most responsible to show children where the meal comes from and revere and respect that animal.

    I also support killing own and shun industry since would be the most disease avoiding.

    Dog running on a fox be gross behavior of bully. I have no bully tendencies against animals.
  10. EmptyForceOfChi Banned Banned

    I think I should be allowed to hunt humans and eat the sweet sweet meat. Or ban the killing and consumption of animals all together.

    Either way Im happy.

  11. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    I think that is more or less accurate. There was nothing inherent in slaves that gave them the right to be "free", nor is there anythings special about me that gives me the right. Society gives slaves the right (and, based on the social acclimatization I have experienced in my life, I am glad that they do and would struggle against any attempt to change the current rule).

    Here, I would quibble. It's not "the powerful" that matter. It is everyone contributing to society. There is no cadre of the powerful who make up moral norms and force them down on the rest of us schlubs. In a society as diverse as ours no one, and no group, is in fact so powerful that they can force norms of behavior onto others.

    *If* there were such a group—so powerful that they could dictate morality to "the weak" and get the weak to agree with and internalize those dictated norms as if they were their own (in which case, in fact, they would be their own), then the agreement of "the powerful" would be enough. I don't think the real world works that way, though.

    Subject to the quibble above, this is right. Again though, if anyone proposed making it legal to murder the disabled, I'd still fight it, as the moral norms with which I was raised have taught me that that would be bad. I also tend to believe that such a regime would be innately unstable in the long term, because the disrespect shown for the disabled would lead to a plethora of other issues. There though, I may be rationalizing my position based on the moral norms I was taught.

    A priori I do not. I personally think capital punishment needs to be reevaluated in light of the high error rates, but I believe that sound moral systems can be developed that support both practices, ban both practices or support one and ban the other.

    No. I do not get to simply make up the rules as I see fit. I am a social animal and I learn the moral rules from my friends, family, teachers, and others around me in the society. And they did not make up the rules either, they also learned them. At some stage we absorb the behaviours of those around us and internalize them, we make them our own with only relatively minor variations from those we acquired externally. Those minor variations may include things like "Animals should have full rights," which you may believe despite no one else agreeing. You may then take that belief and influence others to share it. Over time, it may seep in to society as a whole and itself become the norm. These variations are always, in the grand scheme of things, very small in an individual, but they accumulate across time making it easy to see how the world's societies wound up with such different sets of moral intuitions, notwithstanding our common descent. Separated populations developed different variations and those differences accumulated over time.

    In general though, you take what you learn from the culture wholesale. Say society had a rule that said "Pandaemoni is bad and needs to be beaten," and I would very likely learn to believe that I was bad, and that, if you think about it, I really need to be beaten. There's no self-interest there, there is merely the social mind of a primate mimicking the mores of the social group to which he belongs.

    The only time self-interest enters into it is when either (a) I am confronted by a moral situation that is not covered (or not covered fully) by the internalized moral rules to which I adhere, (b) in the case of a moral rule that severely cumbersome to me, my own personal inconvenience may cause me to rethink the rule (like "Pandaemoni deserves to be beaten") (in that case, my reevaluated rule becomes one of those little variants that I hope I get to spread to the rest of society) or (c) I am considering whether or not it's "worth" violating my own moral norms. There might be a role for it in analyzing moral norms as well, my in actual day-to-day moral practice, the exercise is not a rational process, but an intuitive one.

    One side note, though, do you know why we internalize the rules and acts of others? Self-interest. By internalizing the rules we see practiced at a young age we make it easier to join in to the society, and, being social animals, that is the key to our survival.

    Here, I'd say this is wrong. Fetuses do not influence the moral norms directly, that is true, but that does not limit them to never having rights (again, it's not all about "the powerful"). Others in society, even though who think like me, advocate on their behalf. Why? Not every child is unwanted. Some women get pregnant and are happy about it. To such potential parents (men and women alike) the fetus—their fetus, at least—is a good thing. Others generalize that further and have warm feelings about fetuses in general. We as a species have a tendency to want to protect infants, and the protection of fetuses is a somewhat extended version of that impulse, so understandable enough.

    Because people have these bases, and upon them, they advocate for the protection of fetuses, the consensus position in the west is that fetuses do have some rights (though the exact extent of those rights varies from place to place). Animals develop rights in the same way. Go outside and kick your dog to death, and the police will come and arrest you. Why? Dogs clearly have no power in society, but we in society are raised to have an affinity for dogs (and dogs for us). Based on that there are those willing to advocate on their behalf. Based on that, in turn, we have afforded dogs some rights.

    Where I would object is if someone claimed that fetuses and dogs (or you or me) had "innate" rights that exist separately from the law and from the morality of society. That is an argument that "rights" exist objectively, and that even if everyone on Earth agrees that such rights did not exist, it could be declared that everyone on Earth is "wrong" even if they do not know it. In my view finding everyone to be "wrong" in that sense is sophistry.

    Hypothetical: Suppose everyone on Earth agreed that for any year just ended, people should pay their taxes on January 1 on the following year. Suppose the law stated that to be the rule as well and made Jan. 1 "tax day." Further suppose an alien came down from on high and told us, "Bah! Everyone on Earth is wrong, because tax day is April 15!" In my view declaring something to be a "right" when the people and the law disagree with you, is just as silly as that. It is taking an arbitrary social construct and trying to fix it as if it were an objective standard (when it is not)...and then, on top of that error, selecting a standard that is different from the prevailing view.

    Again, people do care about criminals. Criminals have families. Criminals also influence moral rules in the same way everyone does, by communicating their views on things to others. Just as powerfully, not all convicted criminals committed the acts with which they were charges. Together I think there is input by and on behalf of convicts into the moral dialogue, and so unsurprisingly, they do have rights. Their lack of "power" has nothing to do with it.

    It's not about self-interest except as described above.

    Take the convict example. *If* I were setting up a moral rule in a ruleless state of nature, I would know that some day I may be falsely accused of a crime and convicted, or I might be driven to committing a crime. Even in a crude self-interest test, that gives me ample cause to want criminals to have some rights, since some day I might benefit from such rights myself. One step removed from that, I may know someone about whom I care who will be convicted, and then I would want them to have rights. One further step removed those I care for may know someone who is convicted, and that person's having no rights would make my loved one sad. That reduced my happiness because I have subsumed their utility function as part of my own.

    In such a "rule crafting" mode, I would give criminals rights because I know that if I do not then society will not afford me, those I care about and those who affect those I care about rights in cases where I or they fall into the clutches of the justice system.

    *BUT* That is not the way the rules work. I work with the rules I learned, not the rules I might craft of given time to study the issue, and I do not make up a new rule every time I am confronted with the situation.

    Hypothetical: Let's say I am a judge on an appeals court, I have committed to rule that gives criminals limited rights (including a right to a fair appeals process). A man I have never met before is convicted of murder. The father of the victim offers be $1 billion is I agree to rule against the convict, without ever hearing his arguments and no matter what the merits, and there is a way I can do so without ever getting caught. Is it in my self interest to take the father's deal? Is it immoral to take the father's deal? The answer to both questions is: Yes. It is in my self-interest to take the billion dollars, but it would be immoral to do so.

    Why? Because the rule was set ages ago, and I merely internalized it. The convict, in the moral system I use to evaluate the world is afforded rights and I ignored the rule to get the money. I do not get to "re-evaluate" the rule later on because now there's money on the line.

    The key, though is that if I encountered a culture where the fate of a criminal turned on how much money the victim's family was willing to pay the judge, that culture is not "immoral" and is not depriving the criminal of "his rights." They have a different ethical system and the morality of taking the money has a different implication there.

    Everyone has roughly equal power. There are no moral trend setters who get the rest of us what to internalize. Morality is a meme that society transmits, nothing more. "The powerful" do not have any especial power to transmit memes than others. There are variations to be sure, but even the most powerful of these trend setters (i.e. Oprah) is extremely limited in her influence. If she decided to try to convince people that animals have the right to free medical care, I don't think she'd get tremendously far. If she tried to convince them that animal testing was bad, she'd get further, but that's because that meme has been seeping into the existing moral order for a long time. She'd merely be reinforcing an existing element of the consensus, rather than trying to implant something new. In either case, she surely would have a greater influence than me, but her efforts would not likely be "transformative" so, influential though she is, even she is not a significant power in and of herself.

    Same for Jesus. His ideas became a powerful meme, but his personal ability to impress them into the hearts of others yielded only limited results viewed on a grand scale (though better than most would have managed). Others then took his thoughts and pushed them further. It's a process that should not be attributed the singular power of Jesus, but the ability of variant rules to spread through adoption and repetition by others. In the end though, it look a lot of people a lot of time to spread them to their full extent.

    That is true. Society maintained slave populations for most of recorded history, and did not seem to crumble to dust as a result. Rome survived with only a few slave revolts. Europe survived centuried of feudalism. In the grand timescale of history, the dominant cultures only just recently eliminated chattel slavery, so it has yet to be seen if it will lead us to some obviously superior position in and of itself.

    Again, though, it has nothing to do with strength, except perhaps to a very limited extent, the strength of the ability to transmit the proper memes. That said, suppose tall person memes spread more easily than those of the short. Would the short be screwed? Not necessarily. Convicts have limited moral authority to use in influencing others and yet we give them rights. The same could go for the short.

    Your focus on strength and power yet again is based on your not truly comprehending my position.

    Wealth is irrelevant. Power is irrelevant in the sense you mean it. My philosophy is not the law of the jungle nonsense you keep suggesting it to be. Humans have rights. That's well established in my morality, and not something that gets disregarded. In yours, of course, every rat catcher in existence is some sort of murderer, because rats have some degree of rights even if killing them helps humans to live. Right? How is killing sewer rats to help humans live any different than killing lab rats? The scale is certainly grander in the former, but shouldn't that make it the greater atrocity?

    That is absolutely right. It is what people have agreed to do, and animals do not have any of the tools needed to influence the human moral rules that led to this state of affairs. So the state will continue (unless humans decide to change it, which by and large we have no interest in doing, save a few rare outliers in the developed nations). Animals do not even have the intellect needed to imagine that the state of affairs is alterable. They cannot conceive of such a thing and arguing away someones desire to feed on their normal food source.

    More to the point, as it's not about fighting back, Animals cannot, for obvious reasons, get up and try to convince people to change their ways. Animals cannot attempt to argue that the system would be better if they had more rights. The most animals can so if fight back, and eat a human, which would turn out to be counterproductive methinks. Voting people out of office could be useful, mostly because it signals a believe, and implies a certain moral attitude. That implication could make people reflect and possibly change their own position (in response to the social stimulus, which is how the intuitions form and change in any event).

    The animals only hope is for humans to make that argument convincingly enough to sway other humans, which for my money you have failed to do.

    Sharing rabbit stew with an invalid who due to a bad heart has no hope of surviving more than another day is also good. Social rules dictate that we care for the sick and the inform where I'm from. Your parents must have been odd (by the standards of western morality) if they taught you that it's better to let the invalid die hungry, than feed him cow meat.

    It's true that chimps so not have a direct voice in the social contract, but untrue that they have "no rights" within the western moral system (of which I am a part). Chimps do not influence the human moral scheme directly, and were I lost in the jungle and found by a tribe of chimps (whom I believe likely have a moral order of a similar, if of a less sophisticated sort), I would not have the skills to influence them, and they would likely injure and kill me.

    Chimp rights (limited though they are) come not from chimps, but from humans who anthropomorphize them and argue that because they are "just like us" or "share 95% of our DNA" etc., that we need to be kind to them. There is nothing wrong with that and there is nothing wrong with that becoming the dominant moral position, though it has not yet.

    In my opinion, people who do that are (in a sense) "fooling" themselves into believing that chimps have a humanlike consciousness, without good evidence for that proposition.

    That is true. There is nothing "intrinsically" valuable about a human either, not even me.

    Here I agree. The issue I have with the pro-chimpanzee people, is that I was raised in a culture that believes that humans are valuable. I recognize that we are not intrinsically valuable, but we are extrinsically valuable as measured against the dominant moral framework. Moreover were are (extrinsically) far more valuable in that framework than chimpanzees.

    As a practical matter then, anyone who has internalized the norms I have would believe (as I do) that sacrificing the live of a chimp for that of a human is a good deal. There's nothing irrational about that either, as it is, in essence, a wholly subjective matter on which, as a result of common culture, most westerners would agree (at present). It is no different than being willing to trade away a peanut butter sandwich for a ham sandwich. If you like ham more than peanut butter, the gain from the tradeoff is obvious.

    On the other hand, if you believe that letting you grandma die is a fair price to pay if Chimp No. 117642-D gets to live, that is a perfectly fine moral view as well. It is not grounded in mainstream western morality as I see it, but rather (most likely) a subgroup that has come to value animal rights as highly as human rights. Good luck with spreading that meme. Hopefully you don't think the condecsending attitude from your post helped your cause.

    Oh no. James R disapproves! Now what will I do??? He's the arbiter of all morality, and I got a thumbs down! :bawl:

    Your dispproval might sting more if you actually attacked my view of the world, but you went down some "power is everything and self-interest is the key to all morality" path that I don't actually advocate (though the interests of humanity, as compared to other animals are alive and strong is western moral thought). That said, do you honestly believe that anyone comes here to get your personal assessment of whether their world view is acceptable to James R? Do you think voicing your disapproval in such tones is either "constructive" or an "argument"?
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2008
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    But you do advocate exactly that.

    You've essentially spent a whole post claiming "I don't make the rules! I just conform to the rules established by other people in my society. I have no say in what is moral and immoral; morality is imposed on me by my society."

    What this tells me is only that you consider yourself to be a less powerful member of your society, and thus less of a determiner of the Hobbesian social contract that persists in your society.

    I can't see you ever challenging any moral norm of your society. You seem content to sit back and let those with the power decide for you how you ought to act.

    Since I have nailed your worldview and already given reasons why it is pointless for me to try to "argue you into" a better moral stance, there's probably little point in continuing this particular discussion with you. Essentially, we have nothing to discuss. Your moral outlook is completely different from mine, but I can't prove that you position is wrong and mine is better.

    As far as I can see, the only way I might convince you of the intrinsic worth of animals (or human beings, for that matter) is to expose you to life more thoroughly than you have been so far. It is probably only through personal experience that you might come to appreciate other human beings and non-human animals. But I'm just a guy on an internet forum. I'm not your mentor. The best I can hope for is that your obvious intelligence will lead you to recognise a truth.

    They don't? Ah, pardon me. I assumed the world revolved around me.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

    What your comment suggests to me is that you are not particularly proud of your world view. You're worried about being "assessed", even by some guy on an internet forum.

    It's not an argument. Voicing moral disapproval is a judgment. It is also often an expression of deeply felt emotion. But it's not an argument.

    I hope it is constructive. I'd hate to waste my time.

    Whether it is constructive for you is another question. But other people will be reading this thread apart from you.

    I will review the remainder of your post and may make a few more specific comments later on.
  13. swarm Registered Senior Member

    nietzschefan His prior masters obviously abused him though(as he cringes if you even suddenly raise your hand for any reason like stretch).

    It is possible to retrain him so that he feels a valued member of your pack.

    We had a dog in similar circumstances. He was a cringing mess. Basically what I would do is get down on the floor on all 4s and play with him, working him up to the standard dog games, and if he cringed I would backup and "cringe" too and then we would approach each other, give a sniff or two and go back to playing. Pretty soon instead of cringing he would give a tentative bark instead and then he went to being able to establish his concerns without being so fearful, we would even exchange mock growls and what not. The goal is to let him know that while you are the lead animal, he has a right to speak up and you will listen fairly and not act unfairly. Right now he is uncertain and so he won't challenge you until backed into a corner in a panic and is constantly afraid and in full submission mode.

    Any way I'm no expert, this is just years of hanging with various dogs and what worked for me. Best wishes for the both of you.
  14. swarm Registered Senior Member

    hug-a-tree Should animals be treated as property?

    Animals should be treated according to what their relationship with us is.

    Prey animals should be eaten and their skins and other inedible parts used efficiently
    Work animals should be treated as work partners.
    Companion animals should be treated as companions.

    Wild animals should be left wild.

    In general, animals should be treated as humanely as possible.

    If research is needed it should be done as humanely as possible and preferably on vermin such as rats, mice and rabbits.

    And while we are on it what's up with "vegans" who are always pulling out those nasty meat substitutes. Look it does NOT taste anything like meat and I know you are a vegan. If I'm eating with you serve me vegetables. I like vegetables! How would you feel is I feed you bleaky fake squash made from sheep intestines?

    And what exactly is wrong with animal partner products like eggs and dairy? Cows and chickens are our friends. We've had a nice thing going for milenia. They give use tasty surplus eggs (they are unfertilized and not alive you know) and milk. We keep the wolves and foxes at bay and make sure they make through the winter, etc. Its a really sweet deal and you guys are screwing it up.

    Look chickens and cows have modified themselves to work better with us. If we dump them we not only are reneging on our deal, they are going to have it really rough.

    And look, if you want to give them rights then they have the right to earn their own way and eggs and milk are better than the alternative, being tasty and fitting well.

    Now, I can understand you don't want to kill cwute fwuffy bunnies, probably because you've never had to deal with them personally, but don't screw the cows and chickens or you might find a dolphin warship decloaking off your port bow and face a perturbed Cap't Blowie.
  15. swarm Registered Senior Member

    James R All animals have intrinsic value.

    I disagree. I find no intrinsic value. Value comes only from being valued by something which knows value.

    I would say that birds and mammals seem to have this capacity. Reptiles and below don't seem to.

    However be that as it may, being of value doesn't exempt one from being eaten or dying. But if your predator is sufficiently intelligent, it might get you a nice life before being killed and eaten.

    A lot of you seem to be trying to pretend that predation by humans is some how eviler than predation by any other animal. I don't find that there is justification for that.
  16. swarm Registered Senior Member

    madanthonywayne Meant to eat all types of food, including meat."

    James R [tries to go to the] appeal to nature fallacy again?

    "Meant" as in we evolved eating meat, are able to digest it effectively, have an obvious ability to hunt and eat meat, and predominantly prefer meat as a food source.

    Our closest animal relatives, the chimps, also like to hunt and eat meat and are very effective at it, as are any number of other primates. There is even evidence that the development of our intelligence coincides with our increasing our meat eating.

    Because at high latitudes plants die or become dormant in the winter, hunting and meat eating not only became a prominent form of subsistence for early humans, but meat consumption has interesting cognitive implications in its own right. Herbivores that forage for food typically obtain and eat small amounts of food intermittently. Because such food is often scarce, foraging can be a very time-consuming, almost never ending preoccupation for many species. In contrast, predators that track and kill large prey have a unique advantage. Upon making a kill, not only can they consume large quantities of meat and fat on a single occasion, but there is often more than enough food to last for several days or more. Since the caloric intake per meal is much greater, meat eating has the potential to free up a lot of spare time. Witness a pride of lions eating, sleeping, and languishing for days following a kill. For organisms with sufficiently large brains and aglimmering of self-awareness, meat eating has the potential to create free time that can bespent in self-reflection and in the pursuit of increasingly more abstract problem solving activities.
    Ash, J., and Gallup, G. G., Jr. (in press b). Brain size, intelligence, and paleoclimatic variation. In G. Geher and G. F. Miller (Eds.), Mating Intelligence: Theoretical and Empirical Insights into Intimate Relationships. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

    Also meat eating seems to go way back as there is significant evidence of the important role meat eating played for Homo Erectus. (Diet in Early Homo: A Review of the Evidence and a New Model of Adaptive Versatility, Peter Ungar, Frederick Grine, and Mark Teaford)

    So "meant" seems an entirely appropriate word.

    Now on to your repeatedly misused appeal to nature fallacy.

    An appeal to nature is a logical fallacy by which it is argued that because something is "natural" it is automatically morally desirable or "good". Sometimes the argument appears in reverse form: that because something is not found "in nature", it must be morally repugnant or evil.

    At what point do I draw any moral conclusions here? No where? Yep, that's right no where.

    For good or ill we evolved to eat meat and we like it, just like every other predator/omnivore on the planet. How one implements that predation can be moral or immoral, but the fact of it is the fact of it. And since we have chosen to become top predator, until you replace us with some other predator the killing is absolutely necessary. Prey and predators are interdependent and the environment depends on them being in balance. If you want to see animal suffering and environmental devastation on a grand scale, ban predation.

    James R I said there's no significant difference between killing a disabled human being because you like the taste of human flesh and killing a cow because you like the taste of its flesh.

    One is a cow. One is a human. In most definitions of "significant difference" that is considered "significant." Some of the differences are species and one is a traditional prey animal and the other is not.

    James R What's special about humans that makes them entitled to...

    Kill and eat cows? Its called being a successful predator and it is hardly unique to humans.

    James R Yes, and race is a different "kind" of human being, in exactly the same way.

    No. Different races are fully able to interbreed. Different species, often even different subspecies, cannot.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2008
  17. swarm Registered Senior Member

    James R Do you think that it is in the animal's best interest to kill and eat it?

    As a species it has gotten the cow from being just another obscure African ungulate to being the top ungulate of the whole planet. Not too shabby considering they'd be getting eaten either way.

    James R More than 25 billion animals are killed by the meat industry each year, in ways that would horrify any compassionate person.

    Apparently not.

    Mmm, man now I'm hungry for a slab of meat!
  18. swarm Registered Senior Member

    Pandaemoni Let the cat starve and you kill but one animal. Feed the cat for life and you must sacrifice thousands.

    Actually if you let the cat starve, the number of deaths is both increased and they are more horrific deaths and the environment and lives of the remaining animals are degraded.

    You can't separate the predator out of the system so easily. The prey which depend on it for population control breed uncontrollably, over graze their food sources and then died of starvation and disease. The one's that manage to live are malnourished, diseased and over crowded.

    Nature doesn't care about squeamish human sensibilities paraded about as "morals."

    The predator is an absolutely necessary part of the ecosystem and removing it causes way more death and suffering than is caused by it performing its normal function.
  19. swarm Registered Senior Member

    James R People across the world and across cultures agree that certain acts are wrong, or desirable. Murder is high on that list.

    Actually one of the first things you learn in cultural anthropology is that there is no universally prohibited act. Not a single one.

    James R If morals are all subjective, then morality is useless as a way of maintaining an orderly society.

    Your conclusion doesn't follow since you don't show that relative morality with consensus is in anyway inferior to absolute morality.

    Also, since all people every where disagree on what is moral and what is not, if morality is absolute, we seem to have no access to it or any way of knowing or agreeing on it, so effectively all morality is relative.

    Finally you fail to establish that morality is necessary or even of use in maintaining an orderly society. Certainly the Nazis, usually considered very immoral, maintained an extremely orderly society. In fact it could even be argued that an overly ordered society (facist dictatorships, communist dictatorships, corporate dictatorships, theocracies) is actually a very immoral one.

    James R I sacrifice no animals to feed my cat, as things stand. I'm ameliorating the impact of your evil acts as best I can.

    Wow, you sure change your morality fast when it interferes with your self interest. You did know that the pet food industry does kill its own animals for it own purposes? They aren't just waste products from other industries. There just isn't really much in the way of actual waste product any more.

    The blood on your can opener is as red as any one else's.

    Drip, drip, drip!
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2008
  20. swarm Registered Senior Member

    Orleander Humans are at the top of the food chain for a reason.
    Betrayer0fHope Would you explain to me why you think this?

    We can prey on what we please.
    Nothing regularly preys on us.
    That's how we defined "top of the food chain."

    Betrayer0fHope humans are not allowed to attack or hunt other humans?

    Actually that was at one point my profession, though you aren't allowed to hunt humans for food.
  21. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    Starry eyes, woah-oh

    James R

    I think you're still running on aesthetic vapors. And I think you're still trying to influence the future evolution of humanity according to an aesthetic assertion.

    You have in the past equated the eating of meat to the rape of children. And the assertion that other species are equal to humanity is cute, but also anti-Darwinian. Your attempt to denigrate plant life is purely aesthetic, since your alleged Principle of Equal Consideration draws the line at experiences we do not understand. If, when you cut a plant, it did not heal, you might have a point in the exclusion. But plants do operate by a form of stimulus and response, although you refuse this consideration with simplification apropos the evangelist:

    When a guy as smart as you so absolutely misses the point, we must wonder whether you're blinded by zeal or merely playing politics.

    You're flat-out religious on this one, James. And just like the last time we went through one of these arguments, your rhetoric is generally going to fail the same way a Christian fails to communicate to an atheist the truth of the Bible by saying, "Because God says so".

    I only note this because people need to be aware that we've been through your theory of the sacred animal and the lowly plant before. But we're the human species. That doesn't mean no other species is important, James, and I confess that, as I look through that old topic, I'm having trouble finding your answer to some questions I asked you once upon a time. Help me out, please. Let me know if they ring a bell, and point us to your response?

    Questions for review:

    (1) Are all human beings human? (Yes/No)
    (2) For whose benefit did human society evolve? (Humans/Other Creatures)
    (3) For what species' benefit would you permit the extinction of humanity? (Free essay)​

    Thank you.
  22. Pandaemoni Valued Senior Member

    Please tell me more about what I believe. Perhaps you can write another long opinion piece on the SciForum wiki and then refer me to your "article."

    If you think that you created your own morality from scratch without the influence of the society in which you were raised, then I have to regard you as, almost, "deeply" non-introspective.

    People can change their ideas about moral norms, but no one has ever done so wholesale and influence free. Mostly the changes come in relation to a single issue or handful of issues (race relations, animal rights, pacifism, etc.) and the rest of their morality continues to conform to the society in which they were raised.

    And it has to be that way. IMO, morality is neither the dictate of God nor derived from pure Reason, it is a system of rules that allow us to function in society, and allow that society to behave in an orderly manner. Deviations from such a set of rules in small ways tend not to cause major problems, but if the majority of people were rejecting the consensus rules with great regularity, the underlying reason we evolved this moral sense in the first place—group cohesiveness—would be lost. Moreover, were we not programmed to absorb and mimic those around us, one imagines that we *would* reject the rules quite often, because the rules are by and large arbitrarily chosen from amongst those sets of rules that allow for such stability. (And we can tell they are by and large arbitrary because we can see so many other cultures that functioned or continue to function just as well as we do under systems vastly different from ours. For example, as alien as it seems to us, torturing and then burning 'witches' to death was considered most moral thing that could be done by those in medieval Europe, and that is the moral system from which ours directly descends.)

    Based on what you have written, you don't even understand my worldview. Given how many times you've misstated it, I think you should put the hammer down, as you aren't "nailing" anything.

    Please though, tell me why I am wrong. Give me more about why I really believe what you tell me I believe, even the stuff I disagree with. How arrogant do you have to be to believe that you know my positions better than I do, even in the face of my correcting you?

    Meanwhile, your own position sits out there as a still unconvincing, and now undefended, steaming pile of subjective opinion.

    Thank God.

    Perhaps, since it is not really worth my time to read your mistaken opinions about what my positions are, you should go back to your steaming pile and take to its defense once again.

    It is still fun to try. One must imagine Sisyphus as happy..

    First, I do ascribe value to humans and animals, I merely recognize that the value is extrinsic, not intrinsic.

    That's your error...In your life you have met people and animals and found them valuable, as we all do, but as a result of being unable to impartially analyze your own feelings and biases you failed to grasp that that value was extrinsic to the thing being valued. The value found is not an objective feature of the creature itself (something that the very universe would need to recognize as is the case with all things objective), but merely a conception that exists in your mind. The human mind is conditioned by evolution to find such value in a variety of contexts. It just so happens that you find such value in a far broader range of contexts than most.

    Even you, though, see no intrinsic value in many animals or in plants. Your refutation of why they have no value is unconvincing unless you can show why a central nervous system is the sine qua non of value. It seems obvious to me that such a criteria is wholly arbitrary. Some day, when artificial vegetable matter has been created for people to feed on rather than real vegetable matter, your descendants will look back on you and wonder if you knew what a barbarian you were, with all your justifications of plant murder. For them, the measure of of whether moral consideration is due may well be membership in the Eukarya. There is nothing objectively wrong with such a belief, though it would still be a matter of setting an extrinsic value on life, not an intrinsic one.

    I hope that some day you develop the introspection needed to investigate more impartially your own biases in making determinations of "intrinsic" versus "extrinsic" value. Unfortunately, there is no was to convince you of the difference between the two so long as the filter of those biases in in place, and I have already posted and read enough on the matter here. Half my word count on these forums may be in this one thread.

    What it should suggest to you instead, is that I find it to be the height of impertinence that someone on an internet forum who has failed to grasp my ideas and whose own ideas are at best half-analyzed, chooses to in effect call me a terrible human being. Imagine a peasant referring to an emperor a blackguard. The emperor need not be "threatened" to take offense at the rudeness.

    Besides, if no one ever calls you out on your rudeness, you'll never learn. I am not your mentor nor parent, but I am happy to provide you this small service since they seem to not have done the job.

    Then I have some bad news...I come away from this shaking my head (at you), but hopeful that someday you will see the light and change. You've only reinforced my conviction in my own positions.

    So you hope that, by spewing what amounts to an ad hominem attack on who I am as a human being, to sway others reading this forum? If you can't sway the readers through rational argument, and all you have is "Agree with me or, as I did with Pandaemoni, I will call you names," then you should stop posting on these forums.
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2008
  23. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Do you want an environmental argument against eating meat? If so, I can provide you with one. Up to this point, I have only put a moral argument.

    Eating meat is very bad for the environment, if that's what you're concerned about. However, I suspect that you'll still find killing animals to be "absolutely necessary" even if I prove to you that your meat eating is environmentally harmful.

    Any rationalisation will do.

    How is species a morally significant difference? Please explain.

    One problem with this argument is that it ignores the intrinsic value of the individual. By the same argument, it would be just fine to kill you for whatever reason. After all, there are another 6 billion humans that might serve equally well as you do.

    You ought to read above where I commented on the kind of crowing about your immorality that you have chosen to engage in along with some of your humane fellow meat eaters.

    Who taught you cultural anthropology? With your knowledge of evolutionary findings, you must know that this statement is nonsense.

    Please provide links so I can verify your claim.


    And I still disagree with you about that.

    Only in a very specific context, which you have neglected to pay attention to.

    I do not believe that social Darwinism is a viable moral philosophy. There are obvious problems with it.

    I think I have discussed this with you in the past.

    I have yet to hear your sound moral basis for meat eating. I have suggested a number of moral bases by which eating meat would be considered immoral.


    Evolution does not happen for the benefit of any species. It is not a teleological process.

    None. But that's irrelevant. Humanity won't go extinct just because people stop eating meat.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page