Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by Fenrisulven, Oct 13, 2008.
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This is part of my point - this is by in large arbitrary.
You don't hear people talking about the rights of sponges or Hydras, even though both are part of kingdom Animalia, Hydras (as an example) even have a response to physical stimulis that strongly resembles a pain or fear mechanism/reaction - in that they do much the same thing as a hedgehog does - they pull their tentacles in, and contract into a ball.
But then, how is that different to (for example) the ferns that wilt when physically struck?
This is completely absurd - I would even go as far as suggesting it represents a strawman. Besides which, i've already made my opinion of animal welfare legislation, and those people who cause suffering abundantly clear, and it's not what you seem to think it is.
If you read the conversation between myself and James R you would see that I suggested that killing an animal for meat, without causing its suffering, was acceptable, and James R suggested that even killing for meat was immoral.
Again, to some extent this represents nothing more then a personal attack, however it also serves to illustrate my point.
At what point does a physical response become a pain response? This is an arbitrary line. There are plants that react to physical stimuli in the same way that some animals do.
First off, as previously stated, if you had read the conversation between myself and James R, you'd see that I had already stated that I believe in killing without causing suffering.
Morality is an artificial construct imposed upon the world by human beings.
You're also claiming to be able to speak on behalf of all vegetarians, and to fully know all of my motives.
And I know for a fact that you're wrong - quite aside from the discussion with James R, which has centered around killing as being the issue rather then suffering, some of my closest friends are vegetarians, and for them the issue is killing, rather then suffering.
This statement is based on a false premise, and i've already addressed it.
False analogy, addressing a false premise.
You seem to have misunderstood the point I was making.
And this only really serves to illustrate my point further - we extend human rights to animals (anthropomorphism), such as cows, sheep, dogs, and horses because we recognize their response (the fear response, to use your example) as being like ours, and this similarity evokes an emotive response (which, arguably becomes an evolved self defense mechanism). However, we do not extend Human (or human like) rights to plant life, because we do not recognize what they 'experience' as being like what we 'experience' because the responses are so different - one might go as far as calling it Alien.
Trippy, since when does anyone extend human rights to animals?
You have actually been following the dicussion haven't you?
We're looking at it different ways. I don't see what the animal rights activists are doing as extending human rights to animals because a human in bondage would have the right to choose to reproduce and to stay alive. Abolitionists never advocated preventing slaves from reproducing or killing them to save them from suffering. They never hauled away large numbers of them to kill them en masse the way that PETA does. They never advocated separating freed slaves from the rest of human society. They never forcibly removed slaves who wanted to stay. They never declared people who were once slaves to be unfit to live or reproduce, the way that AR does with animals.
AR is not giving animals any rights. It's fighting to death against the basic rights that an animal might have.
I have not just been following the discussion, I have often been leading it. :thumbsup:
Which 'AR people'? You're just dealing in generalities and tying yourself up in knots in the process.
Let me put it to you another way.
If the issue is suffering, then if I purchase a steer, raise it, give it appropriate medical attention, and ensure it has an appropriate supply of food and water, as well as making adequit shelter available to it. If I then kill that animal in a way that causes it, to the best of my understanding, no suffering.
By your argument, there's no morality issue in eating the meat, and I should reasonably expect a vegetarian to eat any dishes prepared from it. By corollary, I should also be entitled to take offense at their turning down such a dish - because their philosophy is one based on the causation of suffering, and I have caused none.
Alternatively, if I happen to live in a scociety where farmers of beef cattle treat their stock in a similar fashion, and the agencies responsible for enforcing this society's animal rights legislation are able to work unfettered, and the legislation is effective, then again, there should be no morality issue.
I know what I am talking about. Do you?
Not if you base morality on what can & cant experience pain (which animal rights/welfare activists generally do IME).
No because sponges cant/dont experience pain. As for Hydras, they dont have a brain id imagine theyre able to phenomenally experience anything that we'd typically think of as 'pain', and since theyre practically microscopic to the point where even meat-eaters dont bother eating them, it seems like a bit of non-issue all round.
They have no locus with which to process/experience pain, that's how its different.
Well my point was, if you think morality based upon what we reasonably assume is conscious experience of pain is purely arbitrary, then surely animal welfare acts by extension must be misguided and arbitrary? - i.e. why not give rights to ferns/sponges/hedges as well..
I understand that. What im trying to establish is what foundations you base your moral judgement on if you dont think 'capacity to experience pain' qualifies as one.
No i think this where youre making a huge mistake. There's really is a massive difference between a 'best guess' and something that's completely arbitrary.
Of course we cant know the finite point at which something 'becomes' conscious or able to experience pain, but the process we employ to make a reasonable estimate is far from random.
Of course. And all im trying to do is find out what you think that construct is based upon.
Well im thinking more along the lines of the first philosophers who began challenging humans as 'a means unto themselves and animals as a 'means to an ends'. Of course im sure not all vegetarians will agree with my assessment of the moral causes of vegetarianism, but i think you'll find that there's a strong emphasis on both minimising and removing suffering from anything thats deemed capable of experiencing it.
Well im happy to be proved wrong. If you feel that your original assessment that it's death rather than suffering that motivates people to become vegetarian, then im open to any evidence that supports that view.
Yes, because they are the same as ours. Anthropomorphism is where you project human characteristics or qualities onto animals that dont have the capacity for them. Something entirely different.
Right, so again - if you dont think recognition of an entity to phenomenally experience pain is a sound basis for moral judgement, then please provide another. Im not saying my moral theory is right and yours is wrong, i just want to under what the basis for your own moral behaviour is.
"Unnecessary pain" is not the same thing as "no pain."
Sorry im not being as clear as i could be here.
The point im attempting to make is that suffering, or the capacity to suffer is the primary basis we have to treat other entities as moral creatures. In other words, when we recognise the capacity to suffer (and by extension experience) exists in another being, then we can start being moral about it. Otherwise we'd be just as busy being moral to rocks, bridges, books, toasters, etc.
This isnt take say that suffering is the be all and end all of moral treatment, obviously there's other stuff to take into account too such as 'autonomy, dignity, treating others as means rather than ends, etc'. But i think the ability to suffer is a pretty sound basis on which to form a argument for moral treatment.
I dont think you understand how to form an detailed, coherent argument.
IF you were at school, college or uni and happened to have a professor who agreed with your assertion that animal rights activists are, on the whole, a pretty loathsome lot. S/he would still give you an F for turning in an essay in which you treated animal rights activists as a homogeneous entity, all with the same views, and moral enterprises.
Being specific about what you're taking issue with is the first step in forming a good argument. If you leave this part out then youre not arguing, youre stereotyping and generalising.
How do you treat dog breeders?
The fact is, Heliocentric, that I am not going to let you quibble with me. Animal rights activism is totally networked by sharing ideas, personnel, and political influence. It is one entity that shows many faces to the world. The idea that an ALF terrorist and an ASPCA screwball have nothing to do with each other is simply wrong. The ALF terrorist makes it a lot easier for the ASPCA/SPCA/RSPCA to get away with dirty deeds.
Another thing that makes the AR and AW people homogeneous is the misuse of terms like "unnecessary suffering." That term is used to mislead people into thinking that normal agricultural use of animals is accepted, and a lot of people don't realize that the term is actually used to undermine use as the activists continually work to narrow what constitutes "necessary." A lot of these organizations use verbal trickery to make it look like they're on the side of the animal owner and when you read the fine print they have something in there that says that they're going to bend people over the rail.
They're one bunch to me and I could give a damn how your liberal professors would grade me.
That's not an argument, that's a rant. Goodbye.
Don't let it hit ya where the good Lord split ya.
No, again, your morality is based on what you recognize as being pain. it's a subtle, but significant difference.
Tell me, do you think the use of Flyspray is immoral?
Prove it. How do you distinguish one physological response to physical stimulus from another. Again, it's arbitrary, it's what we recognize as pain or suffering.
They don't have a centralized nervous system, they do, however have a neural network that enables a physiological/neurological response to physical stimulus.
So you choose to draw the line based on whether or not a central nervous system is present?
Again, have you ever used fly spray?
Given that Sponges are members of kingdom animalia, why should they be exempt from the protection offered members of class mamalia?
I've already outlined my moral ethics (in some respects anyway).
Don't kill what you're not willing to eat.
Don't eat what you're not willing to kill.
In killing, do not cause suffering.
It's not as arbitrary as it might seem at first, and it puts all of the onus on the individual, where it should lie.
No, it's arbitrary, because it's based on what we recognize, and what we understand as consciousness.
But then, what is consciousness, what is self awareness? Cat's don't recognize themselves in the mirror, does that mean it's okay to torture them?
Is it acceptable to pull the wings off flies instead?
Morality (or at least the part of it that we're discussing) is an emotive response based on a combination of religion (even if you're an atheist, most societal values have their ultimate basis in some form of religion or other) and the pressures of society.
Why is your morality more correct then an african one that requires female circumcision, a muslim one that requires that women show only their eyes, or a cannablistic one?
I also know vegetarians who have chosen to become so simply because they dislike the taste of meat. How is that any different from choposing to eat meat because I enjoy it?
Again, read through the last few posts between myself and James R.
No, we assume they are the same, because they seem the same.
By this definition a Cheetah is immoral for hunting meat (or, if you prefer an omnivore) so are Most primates, and Panda's.
Where as I personally regard them as being Amoral.
I wonder how much pain Heliocentric is willing to inflict on me to prevent me from inflicting pain on animals.
Of course, what reason would you have to kill a fly that couldnt be easily solved by opening a door or window.
No its science. The general consensus being that you generally require a brain (and even then sufficient brain mass) to have what wed typically think of conscious experience.
It doesn't have to have a central nervous system, but presence of a central nervous system would usually indicate that you're dealing with something that can experience pain.
Probably not for 10 years or so, and no files have managed to either maim or kill me since then you'll be glad to hear!
Have you ever ridden a spaceship at an amusement park?
Because they cannot experience pain based upon the scientific knowledge we have currently amassed. Hence - reasoning about the world on the basis of empiricism, e.g. - the exact opposite of arbitrariness.
My point was, how do you gauge what has and hasn't the capacity to suffer? Since your moral framework heavily depends on sorting that one out, i assumed you must have some kind of system in place to establish its presence or absence.
How could it be arbitrary if its based upon an understanding of something? I really dont think you know what arbitrary means.
Noone is claiming that recognition of phenomenal experience (particularly pain) is %100 accurate. But we know enough about physiology to hazard a pretty decent guess.
I think what youre really arguing is that we cant be entirely sure what can and cant have consciousness, and of course in that respect i fully agree. But you have to understand that the process we use to determine what has consciousness isnt arbitrary, is fundamentally scientific.
The capacity for empathy existed long before we formed what we'd now recognise as 'civilisation'. In other words we argue and disagree about the extent of moral rules and theories, but the process of moral intuition is ultimately inherent.
My morality is more 'correct' than a african moral system btw, because my moral system is logically consist nt and is based upon a governing rule 'do not harm something that has the capacity to be harmed'.
Most moral systems only take certain types of persons/entities into moral account, while leaving others outside of the moral argument without providing good explanations for why this should be so. I.e. - why should a woman be mutalated without consent whereas for a man this would be deemed immoral? Typical answer: 'Because she's just a woman' (not a good argument, or even an argument atall).
I assumed we were talking about vegetarianism on moral grounds.
Can you please provide a reason for moral action other than recognition of a conscious, experiential being that might have the capacity to suffer.
Separate names with a comma.