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Should ethics apply to other conscious animals?

 
 
djbt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 03:49 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
You've laid out a fairly typical utilitarian position. The only difference that I can discern is your emphasis on experience rather than on happiness. Using Ockham's Razor, however, we can simply pare away the whole experience aspect of your position, since we can reasonably assume that an entity that is capable of happiness is, perforce, capable of experience (happiness, after all, is nothing but an experience).


This is a fair assessment.

joefromchicago wrote:
I'd be happy to engage in a discussion with you regarding utilitarianism, but I'm afraid that would stray too far from the topic of this thread.


Perhaps. We could move this discussion to another thread. However, I feel that it is relevant to this topic, as it clearly leads to a moral position on the treatment of non-human animals. Unless:

(1) You dispute that a utilitarian position such as this leads to advocation of a drastic rethink of the way we behave towards non-human animals, or;
(2) You say the the position is wrong or inconsistent, so that the position on non-human animals that it leads to is also wrong.

joefromchicago wrote:
I am, however, curious as to why you've so far ignored Bentham's rationale for treating animals humanely, i.e. not whether they can reason or talk, but whether they can suffer


I agree with this rationale, but while it sounds fairly convincing on its own, it is derived from a more general position, so best to outline the general position first, before moving into specifics.
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cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 03:56 pm
You sound like a PETA lawyer.
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 04:01 pm
cjhsa wrote:
I'll tell you a real truth. You are spending way, way too much time thinking about this.


Millions of non-human animals are killed every day. Many more live in distressing conditions. At no point in human history has suffering and death been caused on such a scale. There is, of course, a big question mark over whether the lives of animals matter. But even if there is only the slightest chance that they do, does it not seem worth rather a lot of thought? The stakes (no pun intended) are pretty high...
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 04:11 pm
cjhsa wrote:
You sound like a PETA lawyer.


I don't know much about PETA (not as well known or controversial in the UK as they are in the states, I think), expect that they seem to have a tendency to preach to the converted, and annoy everyone else! I guess that's what you are saying that I'm doing... Sorry...

But isn't the question of why my position is wrong more important than who it sounds like? That's why I'm here. The position I've outlined is the one I find to be the least inconsistent and arbitrary , and I'm explaining it so that I can benefit from the criticism of those who disagree with it.
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cjhsa
 
  1  
Reply Thu 31 Mar, 2005 04:39 pm
I am not a proponent of factory farming. I believe it is bad for the animals, the environment, and the quality of the product. At the same time I live in an urban area where hunters are looked at like barbarians, while the gentrified happily munch on their farmed, color added salmon from Costco.
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2005 01:33 am
cjhsa wrote:
I am not a proponent of factory farming. I believe it is bad for the animals, the environment, and the quality of the product. At the same time I live in an urban area where hunters are looked at like barbarians, while the gentrified happily munch on their farmed, color added salmon from Costco.


Fair enough, I can see why this hypocrisy would be frustrating. I'd only say that something being the lesser of two evils doesn't make it a necessary evil... (apologies for use of the word 'evil', terrible word, but 'lesser of two negatives affects on experience' doesn't have quite the same ring)
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2005 09:11 am
djbt wrote:
We could move this discussion to another thread. However, I feel that it is relevant to this topic, as it clearly leads to a moral position on the treatment of non-human animals. Unless:

(1) You dispute that a utilitarian position such as this leads to advocation of a drastic rethink of the way we behave towards non-human animals, or;
(2) You say the the position is wrong or inconsistent, so that the position on non-human animals that it leads to is also wrong.

(1) I don't know what you mean by this statement. If you're saying that adopting a utilitarian position would require a rethinking of our traditional views regarding animal rights, then I would agree.

(2) I think that utilitarianism, as a theory of morality, is indefensible. I'm not sure, however, if I could segregate my general views regarding utilitarianism from my specific views regarding utilitarian animal rights theory.

djbt wrote:
I agree with this rationale, but while it sounds fairly convincing on its own, it is derived from a more general position, so best to outline the general position first, before moving into specifics.

Fair enough.
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Fri 1 Apr, 2005 12:49 pm
joefromchicago wrote:
(1) I don't know what you mean by this statement. If you're saying that adopting a utilitarian position would require a rethinking of our traditional views regarding animal rights, then I would agree.

(2) I think that utilitarianism, as a theory of morality, is indefensible. I'm not sure, however, if I could segregate my general views regarding utilitarianism from my specific views regarding utilitarian animal rights theory.

(1) Yes, this was what I meant, and here we agree.

(2) I can appreciate this. I will set up a new topic where we can put utilitarianism under scrutiny.
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watchmakers guidedog
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Apr, 2005 01:19 am
Just curious, perhaps this has already been covered. Why should we treat animals "ethically" human or otherwise? Is there a reason?

If morality is an individual factor which varies from person to person then shouldn't the decision as to eating meat or using factory farming be a personal decision, much as it is now?
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Apr, 2005 11:10 am
watch, You are correct; we all make our own decisions on "everything" including our choice to eat meats or be a vegetarian. We can't impose our personal morality on everybody else; that's an impossible task, but some people try without much success.
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Apr, 2005 11:27 pm
cicerone imposter wrote:
we all make our own decisions on "everything" including our choice to eat meats or be a vegetarian. We can't impose our personal morality on everybody else; that's an impossible task, but some people try without much success.


It's not impossible at all. It's been done lots of times, when it works we call them 'laws'.
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cicerone imposter
 
  1  
Reply Wed 6 Apr, 2005 11:32 pm
It's against the law to kill, but why do we still have murderers? It's against the law to steal, but we still have burglers and robbers. It's against the law to molest children, but we still have molestation of children. It's against the law to have illegal drugs, but many still use it.
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Ray
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2005 12:29 am
Quote:
It's against the law to kill, but why do we still have murderers? It's against the law to steal, but we still have burglers and robbers. It's against the law to molest children, but we still have molestation of children. It's against the law to have illegal drugs, but many still use it.


The legal system ain't perfect, but without it, there'd be a lot more chaos.


Quote:
If morality is an individual factor which varies from person to person then shouldn't the decision as to eating meat or using factory farming be a personal decision, much as it is now?


I don't believe in moral relativism. One's perception of what is moral might vary from one person to the next, which could mean that there is an error in some people's moral reasoning. I don't see the need to jump toward moral relativism.

Are you not imposing what you think is moral by stating that statement yourself? (that people should have the personal decision)
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2005 01:28 am
Seconding Ray's comment about the legal system. We may still have murders, but we have less murders.

watchmakers guidedog wrote:
If morality is an individual factor which varies from person to person then shouldn't the decision as to eating meat or using factory farming be a personal decision, much as it is now?


This is a difficult question. I'm am still struggling with moral relativism. However, surely by the logic of your argument, it would not be wrong for me to murder, rape, steal, molest children etc. if the morality I had individually chosen didn't prohibit them. Is it my personal decision whether I kill or rape (much as it is in many places in the world)?

My thinking tends toward the idea that something can only be a matter of personal choice if it only affects the person making the choice, which is, of course, extremely unlikely. If the choice will affect anyone, or anything, other than the person making the choice, it is no longer just personal.

So whether or not I kill, rape, eat meat or factory farm are not personal choices, since they will all affect those other than myself.
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watchmakers guidedog
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2005 01:39 am
Ray wrote:
I don't believe in moral relativism. One's perception of what is moral might vary from one person to the next, which could mean that there is an error in some people's moral reasoning. I don't see the need to jump toward moral relativism.

Are you not imposing what you think is moral by stating that statement yourself? (that people should have the personal decision)


"Moral reasoning". That's a strange phrase. I always found morality to be much more of an intuitive process, perhaps that's just me.

And if you consider me asking "If morality is an individual factor which varies from person to person then shouldn't the decision as to eating meat or using factory farming be a personal decision, much as it is now?" to be imposing my morality on others then I hope for your sake that you never encounter an actual example of someone imposing their morality on you.

See in morality there are some conveniently black and white things which everyone except a few crazy people seem to agree on. It's easy to make laws on this because almost no one would be against these laws. Then you start getting into the grey areas where no matter how strongly people feel about it, there's no decisive trend one way or another.

Some of those grey areas include, abortion, religion, marijuana, homosexuality and finally eating meat. People are never going to agree on these topics, you can legislate against them but that'll just make people angry and probably start ignoring the law. Plus it'll probably make the government passing the law get voted out so it won't ever happen anyway. People will go to underground clinics, pray in secret, buy from drug dealers, hide their sexuality or smuggle in meat.

So me, I just say surpress any violence that pops up between the two groups and force them all to live together. Seems to be working okay to me. Sure there'll be some nasty arguments here and there, but most of the time no one will even care. They just live their own lives.
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watchmakers guidedog
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2005 01:48 am
"Cicerone imposter wrote"

No he didn't... I did.

Quote:
This is a difficult question. I'm am still struggling with moral relativism. However, surely by the logic of your argument, it would not be wrong for me to murder, rape, steal, molest children etc. if the morality I had individually chosen didn't prohibit them.


Well, it wouldn't be wrong by your sense of morality.

Quote:
Is it my personal decision whether I kill or rape (much as it is in many places in the world)?


Yes. It is your personal decision. In the end it's up to you whether you do it or not. All anyone else can do is try to stop you or threaten to harm you if you succeed. That's all the legal system is, a threat dangling over your head. It's still up to you in the end, legal or not.

Quote:
So whether or not I kill, rape, eat meat or factory farm are not personal choices, since they will all affect those other than myself.


Is anyone else making it other than you? No, then it's a personal choice. Unless you open up a democratic forum with farm animals before you eat them then it's your own personal choice.

Then everyone else gets their own personal choice on how to respond. See the beautiful simplicity here?

The thing is, I'm not even saying how the world should be. I'm saying how it is.
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2005 01:53 am
I'm not sure I understand your position, watchmakers guidedog (love the name, by the way, what do you have planned for our evolutionary future?). Are you saying we should decide what is right from what the majority agree is right?

And with regard to the problems of legislation, did it not work to some extent for slavery, apartheid, and the many many other laws which, at the time when they were made law, were controversial?
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2005 01:57 am
watchmakers guidedog wrote:
The thing is, I'm not even saying how the world should be. I'm saying how it is.


Fair enough, I wrongly assumed you were putting forward a moral position. Apologies.

In terms of how the world is, I agree with you.

Do you have an opinion on how the world should be?
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djbt
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2005 02:03 am
I retract my apology! You are making a moral statement! You do say how the world should be:

[quote="watchmakers guidedog]So me, I just say surpress any violence that pops up between the two groups and force them all to live together. Seems to be working okay to me. Sure there'll be some nasty arguments here and there, but most of the time no one will even care. They just live their own lives.[/quote]

So violence is bad? Why? Isn't it people's personal choice to fight? Or does "I just say" really mean "what I do is"?

And won't non-human animals care how they are treated?
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watchmakers guidedog
 
  1  
Reply Thu 7 Apr, 2005 03:14 am
djbt wrote:
I retract my apology!


You just want to make three posts in a row to beat my two posts in a row, admit it :wink:

Quote:
You are making a moral statement! You do say how the world should be:


If you look carefully you'll see that that was talking to Ray. When I was talking to you I didn't make a statement of policy. I just described how the world was. With my conversation with Ray I said how the world was and what we should do about it.

It's okay if you still want to retract your apology. I'm just letting you know what I'm saying here.

Quote:
So violence is bad? Why? Isn't it people's personal choice to fight? Or does "I just say" really mean "what I do is"?


Whoa, slow down. You're thinking that I'm saying something I'm not.

See, to me, everyone has their own point of view. You might like violence, you might not. Everyone bases their actions on their own point of view. That's going to happen like it or not.

Also society is made up out of each of us. It's all of us working together to make it what it is. The government can make whatever laws it wants, but without the police enforcing them, the courts trying them, the jails locking them up, construction workers building the jails, etc. Without all of those nothing is going to happen. Society depends on a lot of people all acting upon their own point of view.

Again, this is how the world is. You can like it or not, but that's how it works.

So, here's what I think we should do about it. If society depends on all these people acting on their moral code and we issue a law that everyone will agree on, then it will work well. If we issue a law that half the population doesn't agree with it will be chaos. Half the police will enforce it, half of them won't. Half the courts will be harsh on it, half of them won't. You see this with marijuana. Why do you think manditory sentencing exists.

So if there's something which the population is widely disagreed on then trying to restrict people based on it won't work (well) and will cause chaos. So we should focus on those things which are universal points of morality (or almost so) because those laws will work and keep society running smoothly.

This isn't a moral point of view, it's what I believe would be most efficient.

See what I mean?

Quote:
And won't non-human animals care how they are treated?


To whatever degree their brains allow, yes. Differently for different animals.

Edited.

P.S. You mentioned slavery and apartheid. Case in point, in both cases ending them caused what effectively ammounts to civil wars, chaos, destruction and death. (actual civil war in the case of slavery, just lots of chaos and anarchy over in africa).

P.P.S.

Quote:
watchmakers guidedog (love the name, by the way, what do you have planned for our evolutionary future?)


A guidedog doesn't decide where to go, just helps it get there... Actually to be honest I didn't put much thought into the name and it's not very apt. I just looked at my bookshelf for something to name myself after and saw, "the blind watchmaker"... plus I think puppies are cute.
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