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Animals, Eating Meat and Moral Standing

 
 
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Mar, 2011 08:46 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:

True, but when it comes time to weigh those interests, humans always seem to have their thumb on the scales. Even you would permit me to keep cats in a condition that would be intolerable for a human.


Remember, I thought it permissable to keep a cat indoors in so far that it didn't suffer substantially, and that it's other important interests were respected. If the oppositte were true, I don't think the same would follow.

Analogously, howabout a child who is cognitively impaired to the point that if allowed outside, there is no guarantee he will find his way home. Should you decide against letting him outside, without supervision, even though he wants to badly? As a parent, would it be impermissable to keep him inside? What if he was able to adjust to being inside and he was able to get on alright?

joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Mar, 2011 10:42 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:
Remember, I thought it permissable to keep a cat indoors in so far that it didn't suffer substantially, and that it's other important interests were respected. If the oppositte were true, I don't think the same would follow.

It has no interest in its freedom? What about its testicles (I notice you avoided that one)?

bigstew wrote:
Analogously, howabout a child who is cognitively impaired to the point that if allowed outside, there is no guarantee he will find his way home. Should you decide against letting him outside, without supervision, even though he wants to badly? As a parent, would it be impermissable to keep him inside? What if he was able to adjust to being inside and he was able to get on alright?

I don't have any problem setting rules for children. But then you didn't start this thread to talk about the morality of eating children, did you?
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Mar, 2011 03:59 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:

It has no interest in its freedom? What about its testicles (I notice you avoided that one)?


Do you mean freedom as a human interest or freedom as an animal interest? Are the two equivalent?

As for neutering an animal, perhaps it is not ideal, but given our current state of affairs it is necessary. We may in a sense have to do some harm to an animal, but the justification for such harm is important. Indeed it would have to be if we truly respect the interests of animals. There is a significant difference between harming for good reason, and harming without good reason. It is not about humanity asserting dominance over something else, it is about taking the interests of all, and sorting out what is the right thing to do.

Quote:

I don't have any problem setting rules for children. But then you didn't start this thread to talk about the morality of eating children, did you?


If both are morally considerable, I don't see how our obligations only apply to one class. I intended to illustrate that it would be inconsistent to say we should not treat aninmals in this way, but with humans we obviously can, given similar interests. It is as if you make the assumption that if we have obligations to animals, on the basis of interests, those obligations are so strong that they cannot override interests of animals whatsoever, even though we do with humans. Is that a fair assumption to make?
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 9 Mar, 2011 08:32 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:
Do you mean freedom as a human interest or freedom as an animal interest? Are the two equivalent?

I don't know -- you tell me. Remember, I'm not the one who thinks that "interests" form the basis for the moral standing of animals.

bigstew wrote:
As for neutering an animal, perhaps it is not ideal, but given our current state of affairs it is necessary. We may in a sense have to do some harm to an animal, but the justification for such harm is important. Indeed it would have to be if we truly respect the interests of animals. There is a significant difference between harming for good reason, and harming without good reason.

From whose perspective? If I kill a dog because it's annoying me, most people would consider me cruel. If I kill a mosquito because it's annoying me, most people would consider me sensible. Yet from the perspectives of the dog and the mosquito, I'm sure my actions are regarded as equally bad. You think there's a good reason to neuter house pets, but that's from a human perspective, and it takes into account only human interests. Yet, in the end, it's Fluffy's balls that are getting cut off.

bigstew wrote:
If both are morally considerable, I don't see how our obligations only apply to one class.

If.

bigstew wrote:
I intended to illustrate that it would be inconsistent to say we should not treat aninmals in this way, but with humans we obviously can, given similar interests.

But I'm not saying we shouldn't treat animals that way. I have no idea what your position is on that question, but I thought I made mine pretty clear.

bigstew wrote:
It is as if you make the assumption that if we have obligations to animals, on the basis of interests, those obligations are so strong that they cannot override interests of animals whatsoever, even though we do with humans. Is that a fair assumption to make?

Nope.
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Mar, 2011 06:36 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:

I don't know -- you tell me. Remember, I'm not the one who thinks that "interests" form the basis for the moral standing of animals.


The question was directed towards you because you seem to imply that interests between humans and animals are equivalent. At a fundamental level, I agree we must consider the interests of all equally, but that does not necessarily entail all interests are the same. Human interest in autonomy, given self reflection, may be quite different than an non human animals interest in autonomy. So to keep a cat indoors might not be as adverse as keeping a grown adult indoors.

Quote:
From whose perspective? If I kill a dog because it's annoying me, most people would consider me cruel. If I kill a mosquito because it's annoying me, most people would consider me sensible. Yet from the perspectives of the dog and the mosquito, I'm sure my actions are regarded as equally bad. You think there's a good reason to neuter house pets, but that's from a human perspective, and it takes into account only human interests. Yet, in the end, it's Fluffy's balls that are getting cut off.


I think most agree that the status quo (leaving animals un neutered) leads to a poor state of affairs (too many animals to care for which results in neglect etc.). Of course animals can not realize this, so we as moral agents have to come to a decision, keeping everybody's interests in mind. It is not the same as "might makes right". If it were possible to avoid such a situation, given the interests of animals, then we ought to. I see it as a "last resort".
north
 
  1  
Reply Thu 10 Mar, 2011 11:55 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:

Though there are various issues related to animals e.g. animal experimentation, zoos, use in consumer goods etc., I thought honing in on the ethics of meat eating might generate good discussion.

So, do you think meat eating is ethical? If so, why? If not, why not? In addition, does context matter, or do we treat all cases involving animals the same? (yes or no answers should be justified, considering this is a normative argument)

I will start by acknowledging that: (i) I am a vegetarian, and will be (ii) defending the view that animals ought to obtain direct moral standing, and (iii) at the very least certain practices used to produce meat e.g. factory farming are wrong and ought to be stopped. Further, rather than suppose any of the major moral theories e.g. utiltarianism, deontology, virtue ethics, I propose an (iv) incompletely theorized argument in that particular issues may remain unresolved, but at a general level we can agree on some things (animal cruelty is wrong).



animal cruelty is wrong , but it is the animal protein that evolved the brain

hence a paradox
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2011 01:42 am
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:
The question was directed towards you because you seem to imply that interests between humans and animals are equivalent.

Let me ask you this: in attempting to discern my position, have you tried reading my posts? I only ask because, if you had been reading my posts, you wouldn't have made that kind of misinterpretation.

Let me lay it out for you: I don't think human and animal interests are equivalent. But then I'm not the one who thinks that animals have any interests that entitle them to moral standing. You, on the other hand, do. Whether you think animal and human interests are equivalent is something that is wrapped in a mystery, but then most of your position is. I'm used to it.

More importantly, if animals have interests, then it seems reasonable to conclude that animals have animal interests, not human interests. If you think, for example, that there are good reasons to spay and neuter house pets, it's because there are good human reasons for doing that. That, however, is simply privileging human interests over animal interests, and I don't see any reason why we should do that if morality is based on protecting interests. Or, at least, you haven't provided any reason to justify privileging human interests over animal interests.

Note, that's not a problem with my position, that's a problem with your position. So you can stop trying to back me into some kind of a contradiction. If anyone needs to explain why animal interests aren't equivalent to human interests, it's you, not me.

bigstew wrote:
Human interest in autonomy, given self reflection, may be quite different than an non human animals interest in autonomy. So to keep a cat indoors might not be as adverse as keeping a grown adult indoors.

Have you asked a cat what it thinks about that?

bigstew wrote:
I think most agree that the status quo (leaving animals un neutered) leads to a poor state of affairs (too many animals to care for which results in neglect etc.).

A poor state of affairs for whom?
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2011 02:38 am
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
More importantly, if animals have interests, then it seems reasonable to conclude that animals have animal interests, not human interests. If you think, for example, that there are good reasons to spay and neuter house pets, it's because there are good human reasons for doing that. That, however, is simply privileging human interests over animal interests, and I don't see any reason why we should do that if morality is based on protecting interests. Or, at least, you haven't provided any reason to justify privileging human interests over animal interests.


Although what you say in here its correct don´t you think such view can be regarded as dangerous...as a free path to everyone do whatever one feels like ?
0 Replies
 
failures art
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2011 03:55 am
@north,
north wrote:
animal cruelty is wrong , but it is the animal protein that evolved the brain

hence a paradox

Can you support your claim that the addition of animal protein lead to human brain development?

What is the paradox you perceive?

A
R
T
Fil Albuquerque
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2011 03:59 am
@failures art,
...there´s no real paradox there...but you certainly get what he meant...
0 Replies
 
InfraBlue
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Mar, 2011 10:29 am
@failures art,
Meat-eating was essential for human evolution, says UC Berkeley anthropologist specializing in diet
0 Replies
 
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Sat 12 Mar, 2011 01:17 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
Whether you think animal and human interests are equivalent is something that is wrapped in a mystery, but then most of your position is. I'm used to it.


Sorry, I'm working on it.
Quote:

That, however, is simply privileging human interests over animal interests, and I don't see any reason why we should do that if morality is based on protecting interests. Or, at least, you haven't provided any reason to justify privileging human interests over animal interests.


I don't think it is privileging human interests over animal interests at all. All interests are taken into account, including those of animals who would be brought into the world and suffer neglect due to abandonment or lack of care. At this point, we have to weigh all the interests against one another, and obviously neutering animals (painlessly, but yeah, de-balled nonetheless) is going to cause some harm. Yet, is that harm greater than the harm caused by not neutering animals, or euthanizing even more animals (assuming no other options are avilable for animal control)? Most would probably choose the former option, since sex-ed ain't going to work. But that has nothing to do with outright privileging human over animal interests. There are different kinds of interests, however.

Quote:

Have you asked a cat what it thinks about that?


A number of times. I get a bunch of meows, he butts heads sometimes, but he never wants to speak english. He seems happy enough though.

Quote:
A poor state of affairs for whom?


For everyone involved.
dadpad
 
  2  
Reply Sat 12 Mar, 2011 07:28 pm
we've had a plauge of locusts here recently and i started to imagine ways these insects could be put to good use. I have seen at vaious times creative and edible delicasies maade using insects such as chocolate covered ants. Indigenouse cultures have made use of varius insects and larvea. Australian aboriginals feasted on bogong moths and ate witchetty grubs.
FM tells of eating what essentially amounts to roast locusts in an afican country.
It seems to me that the world at large could be heading for food shortages in the not to distant future. One possible solution is to use insects as a source of protien.
How does eating insects sit with a vegetarian lifestyle choice
Thomas
 
  4  
Reply Sat 12 Mar, 2011 09:25 pm
@dadpad,
dadpad wrote:
How does eating insects sit with a vegetarian lifestyle choice

I suppose that would depend on the individual vegetarian's reasons for choosing that lifestyle. My own sympathy for vegetarianism is motivated by the avoidance of animal suffering. So, since locusts have nervous systems much more primitive than pigs and cows do, I would prefer eating locusts to eating pigs and cows, though I would prefer eating plants to eating locust. This leaves aside the practical question whether human agriculture can produce insect calories as efficiently as plant calories or even meat calories, which I doubt.
Thomas
 
  4  
Reply Sat 12 Mar, 2011 11:07 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
My own sympathy for vegetarianism is motivated by the avoidance of animal suffering. So, since locusts have nervous systems much more primitive than pigs and cows do, I would prefer eating locusts to eating pigs and cows, though I would prefer eating plants to eating locust.

I see I omitted one step: Because the nervous systems of insects are more primitive than those of us vertebrates, I assume they are not capable of feeling the same degree of pain that we do. To be sure, I cannot prove this, so this is just a rebuttable presumption. But it's what I'm working with for now.
0 Replies
 
joefromchicago
 
  2  
Reply Sun 13 Mar, 2011 11:42 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:
I don't think it is privileging human interests over animal interests at all. All interests are taken into account, including those of animals who would be brought into the world and suffer neglect due to abandonment or lack of care.

You're still privileging human interests -- you just can't see it.

bigstew wrote:
Quote:

Have you asked a cat what it thinks about that?


A number of times. I get a bunch of meows, he butts heads sometimes, but he never wants to speak english. He seems happy enough though.

And that's a problem with your position. You want to grant moral standing to animals based on their interests, but you can only guess at what those interests are.

bigstew wrote:
For everyone involved.

No, just for the humans involved.
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Mar, 2011 05:36 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
You're still privileging human interests -- you just can't see it.


Nope. You are mis interpreting what I am saying. I say that interests ought to be taken into account equally. That doesn't mean that interests can't have relevant sorts of weight, depending on what interests are involved, and the purpose for which these interests are thought to serve. My interests for security of self is not the same as my interest to tie my shoes. Both interests can enter into consideration equally, but my well being (as well as people in general) is more connected with the former interest. Without security of self, I would no doubt suffer more. When comparing human with animal interests, similarities and differences may have something to say about the weight of the interests involved, in connection to well being. Obviously to favour one over the other without good reason would be privilaging.

Quote:
And that's a problem with your position. You want to grant moral standing to animals based on their interests, but you can only guess at what those interests are.


Educated guess would be a better description. Of course it is a matter of inference, but can we have a good idea of what sort of interests matter to human beings and non human animals- sure we can. Already, much scientific literture exists on what sorts of emotions and desires animals have. Is it not reasonable to infer that based on such research, the grief an animal feels for having its babies ripped away from it or losing it's mother is not a morally important, if not morally relevant interest, if the well being of animal is the moral point at issue?

Quote:
No, just for the humans involved.


I'm not a speciest, or at least would be willing to rethink any inherent speciest problems in my thinking, yet you seem bent on trying to imply that I am.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 15 Mar, 2011 06:19 pm
@bigstew,
bigstew wrote:

Quote:
You're still privileging human interests -- you just can't see it.


Nope.

Yep. Not only are you privileging human interests, you can't even articulate an intelligible response to the charge that you're privileging those interests. Really, this is the best you can do?

bigstew wrote:
When comparing human with animal interests, similarities and differences may have something to say about the weight of the interests involved, in connection to well being. Obviously to favour one over the other without good reason would be privilaging.

What does that even mean?

bigstew wrote:
Educated guess would be a better description. Of course it is a matter of inference, but can we have a good idea of what sort of interests matter to human beings and non human animals- sure we can.

Humans, I'm sure you'd admit, have an interest in personal freedom. Do house pets?

bigstew wrote:
Is it not reasonable to infer that based on such research, the grief an animal feels for having its babies ripped away from it or losing it's mother is not a morally important, if not morally relevant interest, if the well being of animal is the moral point at issue?

If.

bigstew wrote:
I'm not a speciest, or at least would be willing to rethink any inherent speciest problems in my thinking, yet you seem bent on trying to imply that I am.

Of course you are. You think it's in your cat's best interests to be neutered, but it's not. It's in your best interests for your cat to be neutered. You just think it's in your cat's best interests because you view those interests through your own human perspective. That's being a speciesist.
bigstew
 
  1  
Reply Mon 4 Apr, 2011 12:55 pm
@joefromchicago,
Oh I should add Joe that I havn't lost interest in this thread. I've decided to do some further reading to develop a more theorized position.
0 Replies
 
 

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