12
   

Animals, Eating Meat and Moral Standing

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2011 02:47 pm
@failures art,
That's the most logically compelling argument you've made so far.
0 Replies
 
Ceili
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2011 02:51 pm
I watched the ten ads worth watching on TED today and one struck me as very interesting. The ad for the Savory Institute states that after years of study, they've found the cure for desertification of land in africa, n. america, austrailia and so on... It's cows.
Yup, bovines.
http://www.savoryinstitute.com/brown-revolution/
At some point in history, most of the recently created deserts were grass covered plains covered in cows or buffalo(bison) and that human intervention in one manner or another striped these lands of the all important top soils by fertilizing and irragating them for non-native plant production. They are now in the process of reversing these global warming trends with COWS. This of course flies in the face of all the crap we've heard about the gasses these creatures give off. Or using up land for their production while people starved for vegies and grains, what was the number 9 times the land use??.... As they`ve found out, while cows may fart, they also help keep soil and therefore the native grasses intact and aid in water retention.
So, perhaps, this will put a whole new spin on the morality of eating beef.
I encourage you all to read this site and see for yourself the work they`ve done and are continuing to do and how they are bringing life, jobs and food to areas that were bereft of all three.
0 Replies
 
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2011 06:52 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
I don't know how you arrive at that conclusion. But even if every system of morality includes animals within their scope, so what? That might just mean that they're all wrong.


You agreed with me in a previous post that there is something wrong with a cat being lit on fire. And yet as I've said before (to which you gave no reply) indirect arguments concerning an animal's standing don't suffice. As Robert Nozick puts it, as long as there is no moral spillover which affects humanity (since you imply direct moral consideration applies only to humans), there is no reason stopping one from treating an animal however they would like. Taking a bat to a dogs head when no one is around seems hardly agreeable.

As a matter of normative argument, I doubt many find that persuasive. Shouldn't it follow then, that animals obtain direct standing, and if this is true, does it not also follow that we have obligations and duties to animals because they make a moral claim on us?

Quote:

Indeed, most people don't like to suffer. But whether suffering has any moral significance remains an open question. You can't just assume that, because most people prefer not to suffer, there's any moral significance in the avoidance of suffering.


As I'm sure you know, Moore's open question is just as controversial. Maybe I am making an un justified assumption, maybe the open question is confused because it too begs the question.

I'll take the Humean line and say that beliefs and desires are sufficient for the bindingness of duties and obligations, which arise from general interests (preferences) or necessities. Hence why most people agree that a principle of non harm is morally significant. In turn, these duties or obligations are restrained by "subsequent judgement or observation".

Quote:
Too high a standard? You haven't articulated any standard.


I have, but you seem not to notice. The desire to further one's own interests should be the standard to which rights apply. I guess the problem with this standard is which interests are considered more important than others. But through deliberation, I don't see any reason(s) why such a task is impossible.

Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2011 07:35 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
No, that's not how rules change. Rules change because people become convinced that the old rules are wrong, not that they're correct but less advantageous than some other rule.

And what convinces people that the old rules are wrong? They realize that the old rules cause a lot of pointless misery without redeeming benefits. At least, that's how Bentham discovered, as early as 1785, that the laws of England were unjust to criminalize gay sex. If a convention of 18th-century Englishmen in a Rawlesian original position would have reached a different conclusion, as I suspect they would have, that's just one more reason to be sceptical of Rawls's approach.

joefromchicago wrote:
That didn't stop you from asserting that humans are more capable of suffering than non-human animals. But if you want to hide behind this transparent dodge, far be it from me to stop you. It's a flaw in your argument, not mine.

I didn't assert it in any confident way, I said I was open to the possibility. The context, you remember, was the question you raised about rights for Amoebas. I presume you raised it to attempt a reductio ad absurdum of my claim that moral rules exist to minimize suffering and maximize happiness. My response is that it's perfectly fine to recognize no rights for Amoebas if Amoebas have no capability to suffer, and a continuously increasing amount of rights as we consider animals with an increasing capability to suffer. It doesn't have to be all or nothing.

In the case of Amoebae, I'm confident that their capacity to suffer is negligible. In the case of dogs, it's perfectly plausible to assume that they feel physical pain as much as we do. So if I was forced to either kick a dog or kick a human equally hard, I ought to be upset about the kicking, but almost indifferent about whom to kick. I admit that my gut instinct is to kick the dog. But then again, my gut instincts were corrupted by decades of humano-centric indoctrination.

Thomas wrote:
The notion that, by killing Schiavo, the doctors would have wronged everyone else sounds awfully Kantian to me. I can't get my head around the notion that, for a utilitarian, a wrong against person A becomes a wrong against everyone else, just because that wrongful act violated a utilitarian rule. A Kantian would be fine with that. A utilitarian -- not so much.

When utilitarians evaluate legal rules, they only care about their consequences in terms of happiness and suffering. Also, they consider the consequences of those rules for everyone. If that sounds non-utilitarian to you, perhaps you really should read up on Utilitarianism. Besides, I'm not the one who thinks Utilitarianism is incompatible with the Categorical Imperative. You're the one who thinks that. (In fairness, Kant agrees with you. He is wrong.)
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2011 08:17 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:
You agreed with me in a previous post that there is something wrong with a cat being lit on fire. And yet as I've said before (to which you gave no reply) indirect arguments concerning an animal's standing don't suffice.

I have no idea what you mean by an "indirect argument."

bigstew wrote:
As Robert Nozick puts it, as long as there is no moral spillover which affects humanity (since you imply direct moral consideration applies only to humans), there is no reason stopping one from treating an animal however they would like. Taking a bat to a dogs head when no one is around seems hardly agreeable.

Likewise, I have no idea what you mean by "direct moral consideration." If by that you're saying that animals don't have rights, I agree, If by that you mean humans can't have direct moral obligations toward animals, I don't agree.

bigstew wrote:
As a matter of normative argument, I doubt many find that persuasive. Shouldn't it follow then, that animals obtain direct standing, and if this is true, does it not also follow that we have obligations and duties to animals because they make a moral claim on us?

No, that doesn't follow at all. We can have moral rules that prohibit cruelty to animals without recognizing that animals have rights.

bigstew wrote:
As I'm sure you know, Moore's open question is just as controversial. Maybe I am making an un justified assumption, maybe the open question is confused because it too begs the question.

An open question is simply a question that hasn't been answered. Even Moore used the phrase in that way. I'm not talking about a naturalistic fallacy here.

bigstew wrote:
I'll take the Humean line and say that beliefs and desires are sufficient for the bindingness of duties and obligations, which arise from general interests (preferences) or necessities. Hence why most people agree that a principle of non harm is morally significant. In turn, these duties or obligations are restrained by "subsequent judgement or observation".

Oh, well, if you take a Humean approach to morality, then you don't believe in morality at all. Hume certainly didn't.

bigstew wrote:
I have, but you seem not to notice. The desire to further one's own interests should be the standard to which rights apply. I guess the problem with this standard is which interests are considered more important than others. But through deliberation, I don't see any reason(s) why such a task is impossible.

The desire to further one's interests? That's the standard? So if something has interests, it has moral rights?
Night Ripper
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2011 08:23 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:
You agreed with me in a previous post that there is something wrong with a cat being lit on fire.


Just to jump in, what's wrong with it is that I don't like it.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2011 08:34 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
And what convinces people that the old rules are wrong? They realize that the old rules cause a lot of pointless misery without redeeming benefits. At least, that's how Bentham discovered, as early as 1785, that the laws of England were unjust to criminalize gay sex. If a convention of 18th-century Englishmen in a Rawlesian original position would have reached a different conclusion, as I suspect they would have, that's just one more reason to be sceptical of Rawls's approach.

No, they would have agreed with Bentham, albeit for entirely different reasons. But then this isn't a thread on whether Rawls was right or wrong, so I'll just leave it at that. If you want to talk about Rawls or homosexuality or anything else, I'll be happy to join the discussion that you start in another thread.

Thomas wrote:
In the case of Amoebae, I'm confident that their capacity to suffer is negligible. In the case of dogs, it's perfectly plausible to assume that they feel physical pain as much as we do. So if I was forced to either kick a dog or kick a human equally hard, I ought to be upset about the kicking, but almost indifferent about whom to kick. I admit that my gut instinct is to kick the dog. But then again, my gut instincts were corrupted by decades of humano-centric indoctrination.

Indeed they are.

Thomas wrote:
When utilitarians evaluate legal rules, they only care about their consequences in terms of happiness and suffering. Also, they consider the consequences of those rules for everyone. If that sounds non-utilitarian to you, perhaps you really should read up on Utilitarianism.

No, that sounds more like you avoiding the point. I agree that utilitarians take consequences into consideration and that they also consider the consequences of utility-maximizing rules (or, at least, rule utilitarians do). What I dispute is whether utilitarians consider an act which is wrongful as to one person to be wrongful as to all people. That's what sounds Kantian. But don't bother trying to explain that one again -- it's a tangential point and I've lost interest.

Thomas wrote:
Besides, I'm not the one who thinks Utilitarianism is incompatible with the Categorical Imperative. You're the one who thinks that. (In fairness, Kant agrees with you. He is wrong.)

I'm sure Kant in his heaven grieves to learn that he got the categorical imperative wrong.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Mar, 2011 08:49 pm
@failures art,
Having "Rights" does not solely amount to the concept of Rights that Humans have, nor is in first place just a question of defining the concept, but rather, instead, a question of Need and how the needing demands for the "Right"...
...now it may well be that when we speak on "Rights" we mainly tend to refer to our idea on them, as we can´t have no other then our own...all well prevented from there we don´t pathetically assume we are the only species in need around...
...again, in turn, such epistemic limitation upon the frame and scope of the concept that refers to the factual state of affairs from where the Right is justified, in the not knowing, does not exclusively reserve to humanity the circumstance on the state of Need who justify´s the emergence of a Right...
...finally, while we may assert with confidence that Humans have an idea on what "rights" refer to as justification for "Need", one must not assume with the same confidence that such idea is exclusively human as need itself is not exclusively Human nor do we have any good reason to think so...
0 Replies
 
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 01:44 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:

I have no idea what you mean by an "indirect argument."


If harming an animal is morally wrong, its is wrong not because the animal itself is harmed, but because of other reasons e.g. it sets a bad example for other human beings.

Quote:
Likewise, I have no idea what you mean by "direct moral consideration." If by that you're saying that animals don't have rights, I agree, If by that you mean humans can't have direct moral obligations toward animals, I don't agree.


Direct moral obligations to the object of moral concern.

Quote:

No, that doesn't follow at all. We can have moral rules that prohibit cruelty to animals without recognizing that animals have rights.


What is the content of those moral rules? How are they applied?

Quote:
Oh, well, if you take a Humean approach to morality, then you don't believe in morality at all. Hume certainly didn't.


He certainly recognized interests, but disagreed with Hobbes/contractarians that contracts alone can justify universal moral norms.

Quote:

The desire to further one's interests? That's the standard? So if something has interests, it has moral rights?


Why not? Arguably, human beings acquire universal rights to non discrimination, non harm because these are general and necessary interests.
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 07:56 am
@joefromchicago,
Thomas wrote:
I'm sure Kant in his heaven grieves to learn that he got the categorical imperative wrong.

Not his categorical imperative is wrong, his inferences from it are. But I won't explain because you've lost interest.
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 08:30 am
@bigstew,
Quote:
If harming an animal is morally wrong, its is wrong not because the animal itself is harmed, but because of other reasons e.g. it sets a bad example for other human beings.


...if it is n´t wrong how could it possible set a bad example ??? what other reason could it be ? either is wrong or it is n´t...where is the "field" function in it ?
...in turn, it could be that one solely believes that in some cases such act it is n´t wrong, prevented there is a good reason, or justification for it...that is a local contextual nullification of its algorithmic operability...

...to my view any moral Law has a contextual functional operational scope by which the obligation towards action it carry´s is established...that in turn does n´t mean the moral premiss is relative in itself, but only that there is a contextual field encompassing a specificity to its root and an operational length to its strength...(every time its need is established it allway´s apply´s)

1 - Any action (Moral or not) is wrong when not justified.
2 - the solely justification for any action is the Need for it.
2 - Such need can only be established in the relational field context on the System of its operational scope.
gungasnake
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 08:53 am
One thing people should be aware of...

There is a change in what the Bible says about animals and our relationships with them after the flood i.e. the entire world was vegetarian prior to the flood:

Quote:
GEN 1:29 And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

GEN 1:30 And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so.


But after the flood:

Quote:

GEN 9:2 And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast
of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the
earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered.

GEN 9:3 Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the
green herb have I given you all things.

GEN 9:4 But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye
not eat. [i.e. have the decency to kill something before you eat it...]


That is the basic permission for humans and all other predators to take what they need for food. That doesn't amount to permission to harm animals for no rational reason, take them for trophies, use them for LD50 tests, dog-fights, or any other such.

There also seems to be a division of the animal world into animals which appear obviously to be meant as prey species, and others which don't, and that seems like one of those things which is obvious enough but which you'd hate to have to defend in any sort of a debate.

Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 09:00 am
@Fil Albuquerque,
1 - Any action (or lack of it) (Moral or not) is wrong when not justified.
2 - the solely justification for any action is the Need for it.
3 - Such (imperative) Need can only be established in the relational field context on the System of its operational scope, thus demanding for an optimal algorithmic adequacy between all the intervening variables from which it arises. (That´s Justification !)
0 Replies
 
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 09:02 am
@gungasnake,
yeah..."Dracula" must have robbed its canines to a lion grazing in paradise... Mr. Green
...or maybe you just believe they are there for decoration purposes...get real !
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 09:41 am
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:

Quote:

I have no idea what you mean by an "indirect argument."


If harming an animal is morally wrong, its is wrong not because the animal itself is harmed, but because of other reasons e.g. it sets a bad example for other human beings.

So why are such arguments insufficient?

bigstew wrote:
Direct moral obligations to the object of moral concern.

That doesn't make it any clearer.

bigstew wrote:
Quote:
No, that doesn't follow at all. We can have moral rules that prohibit cruelty to animals without recognizing that animals have rights.


What is the content of those moral rules? How are they applied?

We can have a rule that prohibits the infliction of unnecessary suffering. It can be applied universally.

bigstew wrote:
He certainly recognized interests, but disagreed with Hobbes/contractarians that contracts alone can justify universal moral norms.

Hume didn't believe in universal moral norms at all. He believed that all morality was merely custom and habit.

bigstew wrote:
Why not? Arguably, human beings acquire universal rights to non discrimination, non harm because these are general and necessary interests.

That doesn't follow. Just because people have interests doesn't necessarily mean that they have interests which are worthy of moral consideration. That's an is-ought problem.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 09:42 am
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
Not his categorical imperative is wrong, his inferences from it are. But I won't explain because you've lost interest.

You have explained. And I have lost interest.
0 Replies
 
bigstew
 
  2  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 04:33 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:

So why are such arguments insufficient?


I already said if there is no moral spillover, animal cruelty is not a problem. That is a problem. Further, when a cat is lit on fire, which is a more coherent claim: that the cat itself is harmed and that is morally wrong, or that it sets a bad example and that is morally wrong? What do we attribute moral concern to?

Quote:
That doesn't make it any clearer.


See above, it is a fairly simple point.

Quote:

We can have a rule that prohibits the infliction of unnecessary suffering. It can be applied universally.


What objects apply and what objects don't? What is the justification for such a rule?

Quote:

Hume didn't believe in universal moral norms at all. He believed that all morality was merely custom and habit.


Because he did not believe custom could justify universal moral norms. I see this problem that Hume notes as the basis for why non-customary justification are required for universal moral norms (which we do think exist e.g. principles of non harm, non discrimination on the basis of gender/race).

Quote:
That doesn't follow. Just because people have interests doesn't necessarily mean that they have interests which are worthy of moral consideration. That's an is-ought problem.


Well I guess we have a fundamental disagreement here. I think the purpose of ethics is the valuing of people's (and other objects of moral concern) well being, comprising of interests. What we ought to do necessarily derives from this purpose.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 06:51 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:
I already said if there is no moral spillover, animal cruelty is not a problem. That is a problem. Further, when a cat is lit on fire, which is a more coherent claim: that the cat itself is harmed and that is morally wrong, or that it sets a bad example and that is morally wrong? What do we attribute moral concern to?

Both can be defended under coherent sets of moral rules. What you're trying to do, however, is back into a system of morality. You want to establish that something is wrong and then find the theory that best explains why it's wrong. That's not how it's done.

bigstew wrote:
Quote:
We can have a rule that prohibits the infliction of unnecessary suffering. It can be applied universally.


What objects apply and what objects don't? What is the justification for such a rule?

Such rules can be formulated under practically any system of morality. I've already given three examples. I know you don't like them, but if you keep asking for examples, I'll keep giving the same ones until you come up with something better yourself.

bigstew wrote:
Because he did not believe custom could justify universal moral norms. I see this problem that Hume notes as the basis for why non-customary justification are required for universal moral norms (which we do think exist e.g. principles of non harm, non discrimination on the basis of gender/race).

Before I delve into this any further, one question: do you think Hume was right? Because if you don't, I don't see any reason to pursue this point.

bigstew wrote:
Well I guess we have a fundamental disagreement here. I think the purpose of ethics is the valuing of people's (and other objects of moral concern) well being, comprising of interests. What we ought to do necessarily derives from this purpose.

You won't commit to any system of ethics but you know what the purpose of ethics is? And that purpose is the source of our moral obligations?
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 08:01 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:

Both can be defended under coherent sets of moral rules. What you're trying to do, however, is back into a system of morality. You want to establish that something is wrong and then find the theory that best explains why it's wrong. That's not how it's done.


First, I don't see why that it is unreasonable- it may just be intuition that animals should be directly considerable in a morally relevant sense, but a strongly held intuition nonetheless that needs to be accounted for by any ethical theory in order to be coherent. This is no different than explaining why raping a woman is wrong, is it because the woman herself matters or because of other indirect reasons?

Second, I think you should supply a moral rule against animal cruelty that you find persuasive, since you require me to go into greater depth regarding the justification for my position.

Oh and excuse my ignorance, but what exactly is the difference you mean between moral rules and a system of morality? I think this is related to my confusion regarding the above. What moral rules (and how) can adequately account for direct, moral considerability regarding animals?

Quote:

Before I delve into this any further, one question: do you think Hume was right? Because if you don't, I don't see any reason to pursue this point.


I do (for the moment, perhaps I'm wrong). I don't think consensually based custom can give rise to universal moral norms. Something other than consent and custom is needed.

Quote:
You won't commit to any system of ethics but you know what the purpose of ethics is? And that purpose is the source of our moral obligations?


Not yet I won't, and yes.
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Fri 4 Mar, 2011 10:40 pm
@joefromchicago,
Oh and I should add as for direct moral considerability, whether such an obligation is made through a rights argument or some other moral principle e.g. utility, I'll have to get back to you on. I have to admit, the nature of rights and whether such a conception is compatible with animals holding rights has perked my interest.

Thanks for your the disagreement/skepticism.
0 Replies
 
 

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