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Should ethics apply to other conscious animals?

 
 
Ray
 
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 09:00 pm
I've just been disturbed lately by this question. What makes human beings a lot more worthy than animals of life? What distinguish the person from the animal? Why are we careless of the animal lives lost for our food while we are deep in ethical mindsets for human welfare? Is that being selfish? Are people & animals different? I'm just so sick of my own ignorance of the animal condition that I might just turn vegetarian.
I know it's probably been asked before but please do reply.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 8,802 • Replies: 141
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NickFun
 
  0  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 09:12 pm
Humans are at the top of the food chain. This means that we can eat anything we like. Of course, I'm just making this up but it sounds clever...
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kuvasz
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 09:17 pm
yes.

sentience (or its innate capacity) is what humans assume is a priori to a creature having a soul.

in all of the animal kingdom it is self-awareness that humans see in each other as the innate property of humans that deems themselves superior to other animals.

someday, when we can understand the presence of sentience in whales, dolphins and the great apes, we will realize how bad we have acted.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 10:12 pm
I rarely use biblical analogies as I'm not religious in the slightest, but this one seemed appropriate. There is a phrase in the bible that is commonly translated as man shall have "dominion" over all the earth's creatures. This has been used to justify the "we can do whatever we want" argument regarding the way we treat animals and nature. It is also a mistranslation. The original Greek word is actually closer in meaning to "stewardship", which implies working responsibly with the earth's creatures, and treating them respectfully, especially if we plan to raise them for food. It's not so much that consuming animals is 'evil', but the way they are farmed to satiate our growing desire for fast, always-availible convenience is. If you are going to eat meat, buy it from organic, free-range, responsible farms and avoid the supermarket like the plague.
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dauer
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 10:17 pm
I was going to say something, but cav just covered it. I don't think there's anything wrong with people eating meat as it is all part of the natural order. Other animals eat meat as well. But the way in which we treat the animals up until we spill their guts on the ground should be humane. We've taken away their right to live in the wild. The least we can do is give them the same comforts we'd expect when being raised by a more powerful species until the day we're gonna be killed and butchered.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 10:25 pm
Ray: You should check out some of the works of Peter Singer. A sample of his work on animal rights can be found here and here. Also look at the writings of Tom Regan, starting here.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 10:37 pm
A quick primer on genetic engineering may also be of some interest: http://www.labanimalwelfare.org/genetic_engineering.html Trust me, eating them is far less cruel.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Oct, 2004 11:57 pm
A visit to the game parks in Africa puts things into perspective; animals kill other animals for food. Without the ability to kill for their food source, they would starve. Survival is an animal trait/instinct, and we are also animals. That's the reason why past humans practiced cannibalism. We learned on our visit to the Fiji Islands, that the natives there practiced cannibalism less than 100 years ago. Even today, many cultures eat dogs, cats, rats, snakes, ants, bugs, and things not common on American menus. I see that as a natural progression of survival, and man with our ability to be the top dog will eat what's available.
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alvise
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 01:38 am
There isn't an ethics apply to nature, this is the problem.

We are a part of Nature, but now our part is a cancer.

Primitive populations had an ethics applyed to nature, and they have hunt, cut trees, eat meat an fish and so on.
We have not to return primitive, but we have to use our beautiful intelligence to find a way of equilibrium, because an equilibrium must be possible.
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val
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 04:14 am
Re: Should ethics apply to other conscious animals?
To apply ethics to other animals?
Sure, if they are able to behave ethically. For instance, lions should stop eating zebras.
You see, when you ask "what distinguish the person from the animal", the answer is: the fact that you were able to make the question, and other animals are not.
When we talk about ethics for non human animals, we are talking about ourselves, not animals - they have no notion of any ethic.
I agree we should not be unnecessarily cruel to animals, but that's all.
carrie
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 04:57 am
I think that people do as a whole walk around with their eyes shut regarding these issues. PETA is an organisation thta highlights these issues, and I was never aware there was so much cruelty going on until I watched some of their videos.

There is no justification for killing the animals for food, we don't need it, and if all of the land used to rear the worlds cattle on was used for growing grain, then in 10 years we would be able to support the estimated population of the year 2050. There would be nobody starving. So, it seems to me, that the 'survival instinct' is not only killing animals, often brutally, but people too. I know that the social situations that many people are in may make it scary and intimidating to approach animal issues, but more people seem to be becoming aware. Even down to vivisection and the link with Proctor and Gamble and Marks and Spencer.

What bothers me though, is that if you say something like, about Proctor and Gamble, or the rearing of chickens for eggs, or dairy cows, everyone accuses you of being nutty, an extrovert activist. I've found that most people would rather not think about where their food comes from. I sometimes ask the question - would you go out and kill it yourself, and the answer is generally no. It's quite difficult being someone who genuinely cares.

I think that people and animals are different - animals only use what they need, are economical with energy, resources, food, hunting - all for survival. Humans are brutal destroyers, and no matter how you glorify it, every one of us is guilty of this.

The PETA website is worth a look, if anyone's interested.
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 08:07 am
Re: Should ethics apply to other conscious animals?
val wrote:
To apply ethics to other animals?
Sure, if they are able to behave ethically. For instance, lions should stop eating zebras.
You see, when you ask "what distinguish the person from the animal", the answer is: the fact that you were able to make the question, and other animals are not.
When we talk about ethics for non human animals, we are talking about ourselves, not animals - they have no notion of any ethic.
I agree we should not be unnecessarily cruel to animals, but that's all.

I tend to agree with this. Good post, val.
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Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 08:11 am
Animals have feelings jsut like we do....
there was a pair of ducks (ducks mate for life) that lived on my grandparents property and one day, the female got hit by a car and was killed. The male stood there looking at her dead body for quite a while. Finally, he left and my grandfather picked up the body and buried it. THe male duck came back every day for a week or so and paced back and forth at the place the female was killed waiting for her to come back. How sad is that??

Not to mention, look at the expression on a dogs face when you yell at it or something. They have emotions. People are so arrogant. We are not the only being with emotions.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 08:28 am
I'm still firmly in the 'it's the method of treatment and use of animals, not the fact that we eat them' camp. I have no problem eating animals, just problems with the way they are often raised. I am also opposed to fur, as that is strictly for human vanity. However, I wear leather and sheepskin in the winter. Meh, I've been to PETA protests where many pairs of leather shoes were present. Gibbons mate for life, but chimpanzees regularily wage warfare with rival tribes, often beating their enemies to death with sticks. The dolphin is often cited as a perfect example of animal intelligence. Some have gone so far as to suggest they may even be smarter than humans. When in the wild, the males in the pack regularily corral and gang-rape the females, and scientific studies suggest that they do it "just for fun." Despite our strong feelings of what is basically human cruelty towards animals in certain industries, we also cannot judge every chimp or dolphin just because they are so damned cute.

Word of the day: Anthropomorphizing
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 08:30 am
If God didn't want us to eat animals, then why did He make them so delicious?
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 08:36 am
joefromchicago wrote:
If God didn't want us to eat animals, then why did He make them so delicious?


That all depends on the chef.
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Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 08:36 am
joefromchicago wrote:
If God didn't want us to eat animals, then why did He make them so delicious?


We were meant to eat animals. Jesus ate lamb for goodness sake. The point that Cav made is good....it is how we treat them before we kill them. We have no right to abuse them. Lions don't torment and lock the gazelles up for months in tiny cages before they eat them. They just eat them.
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cavfancier
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 08:51 am
When I was apprenticing at Eigensinn Farm with chef Michael Stadtlander (which made Wine Spectator's list as one of the top destination restaurants in the world), I had to take care of the animals he raised as part of my duties. Everything was organic and free range, even the rabbits. I loved those frigging animals. I watched baby geese grow up, and mourned the loss of life when it happened. One night, a rabbit tried to squeeze out from under the barn door, and injured itself quite badly. Sometime in the afternoon, I saw Michael sitting by the barn with the rabbit, slowly drinking a beer.

I asked "What happened?"

He told me, and said "You know, he's injured pretty badly. Sometimes, these things happen, it's just the cycle of life."

He continued to sip his beer, while I pondered the zen of life and death, and wondered what he was going to do. The rabbit was still conscious. Michael finished his beer and said "Oh well, we do what we have to do."

Then he whacked the rabbit on the head with the empty bottle, immediately putting it out of it's misery, and showed me how to string it up, gut and skin it. We had an awesome rabbit stew that night, knowing that it had lived a good life.

He was the most nature-centered and sensitive culinary artist I ever had the pleasure to learn from: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0JAW/is_2002_Summer/ai_89157432
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 12:27 pm
cavfancier wrote:
Then he whacked the rabbit on the head with the empty bottle, immediately putting it out of it's misery, and showed me how to string it up, gut and skin it.

Somehow, I always figured that's how I would go.
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Bella Dea
 
  1  
Reply Tue 12 Oct, 2004 12:30 pm
cavfancier wrote:


Then he whacked the rabbit on the head with the empty bottle, immediately putting it out of it's misery, and showed me how to string it up, gut and skin it. We had an awesome rabbit stew that night, knowing that it had lived a good life.


At least he didn't let it suffer. One time, I hit a squirrl and I was on the phone with my mom. I saw it twitching in my rear view mirror and my mom laughed at me when I said "should I run it over again to make sure he's dead?" Sounds really bad but the alternative is worse. Just letting that poor animal lay there and die a slow horrible death.
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