The Instigator
socialpinko
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
CiRrK
Con (against)
Winning
10 Points

According to Preference Utilitarianism, Speceisism is Morally Wrong

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
CiRrK
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/23/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,764 times Debate No: 16661
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (2)

 

socialpinko

Pro

This debate will be on whether or not preference utilitarianism condemns speceisism as morally wrong. I as Pro will seek to affirm the resolution by showing that speceisism conflicts with basic principles of preference utilitarianism. My opponent as Con will seek to negate my arguments and may or may not bring his own case forth.

Definitions

Preference Utilitarianism: Moral theory according to which the good consists in the satisfaction an agent's preferences, and the rightness of an action depends directly or indirectly on its being productive of such satisfaction.

Speciesism: discrimination in favor of one species, usually the human species, over another.

Morally wrong: Being antagonistic to the principles on which preference utilitarianism is based.

Rules

---Drops will count as concessions.

---Forfeiting of any round will result in a loss of all 7 points.

---No needless semantical arguments.

---No new arguments may be brought up in the fourth round.


*I do not see a point in any other official rules. Courteous behavior will be expected but not required. I do not think this will be a problem with my opponent though.*

*Argumentation will begin in R2. R1 will be only for acceptance and agreement on the definitions of the terms of the resolution and rules.*
CiRrK

Con

Sounds good to me.
Debate Round No. 1
socialpinko

Pro

In this round I will provide my case in the form of a syllogism to show that assigning special value based on speceis membership alone is inconsistent with principles on which preference utilitarianism is based on. Over the course of this debate my opponent and I will argue on whether or not my argument is logically valid.

Premise 1
The principle of utility states that an action is morally write if it maximizes utility(happiness).

This is simply the definition on which most forms of utilitarianism are built on. Different versions of utilitarianism define happiness as diferent things. This is releant to this debate in that when we apply this to preference utilitarianism, happiness is defined as adherence to one's preferences.

Premise 2
This principle applies to any being capable of having preferences.

One of the basic tenets on which utilitarianism is based, is that pleasure is inherently good and pain is inherently bad. On preference utilitarianism, pain is when one's preferences are gone against(someone kills me, going against my preference to go on living). So any being who is capable of holding preferences would necessarily need to be taken into account when applying the principle of utility. This is why no one questions that humans are to be taken into account under the principle of utility.

Premise 3
Animals are capable of holding preferences.

If we are to see if animals are able to hold preferences, let's look at how we know that humans are able to hold preferences. There are three ways in which we can conclude that a person holds a preference. We'll take as an example, the preference to go on living. The three things that a person can do are:

Verbally Communicate

If Person A comes up to Person B with the intention of killing Person B, Person B will in most cases be able to verbally communicate that he wishes to go on living.

Person A: I'm going to kill you!
Person B: Please don't! I want to continue living!

So obviously, when PA decides if he will kill PB, he must take into account the principle of utility because PB is capable of holding the preference to go on living. Animals in most cases cannot speak human languages though so we must look at other forms of communication.

Non-Verbal Communication

If PA comes up to PB with the intention of killing PB, PB will, in the case that he is deaf or mute, still be able to communicate that he has a preference to go on living, either through sign language or through written language. PB can write on a paper that he wants to go on living or speak in sign language. Again, animals in most cases cannot use this form of communication so we must look for another form of communication.

Behavior

Another way we can look at someone's preference is to look at their behavior in certain situations. If PA comes up to PB with the intention of killing him, if PB tries to defend himself or run away, we can rationally assumes that he has a preference to continue living. It is with this reasoning that we can see that animals are capable of holding preferences. If you begin to beat on a dog, it will either try to get away from you or attack back. We can see from it's behavior that it prefers not to be beaten on.

Conclusion 1
Assigning animals lower value only on the basis of their speceis is inconsistent with the principle of utility.

It is an accepted premimse in preference utilitarianism that if a being is able to hold preferences, they should be taken into account when deciding on the moral rightness or wrongness of an action that involves them. Since animals are able to hold preferences, assigning them lower value than humans only on the basis of the membership of their speceis is morally wrong. I will pass the debate on to my opponent and await his response.
CiRrK

Con

Burden: My opponent has the burden to prove that preference utilitarianism excludes specisism as a legal decision calculus. Meaning the government or society cannot differentiate all rights allocations based on species.

Syllogism Observations

1. My opponent gives us in his syllogism how it's possible to tell if preferences exist, but doesn't tell us 1) what preferences animals have besides being physically harmed, and 2) how do we allocate the fulfillment of these preferences

2. Syllogisms are insufficient in terms of utilitarian or consequentialist analysis. This is true because utilitarianism involves the weighing of end state and consequences. Utilitarianism isn't a system that can be simply understood from a flow of premises and conclusions. Impact calculus type models are necessary.

C1: Assumptions of preference utilitarianism

The definition my opponent provides is: Moral theory according to which the good consists in the satisfaction an agent's preferences, and the rightness of an action depends directly or indirectly on its being productive of such satisfaction.

This makes two fundamental assumptions:

(1) Agency. Agency can be broken down into two sects – logical and moral. Logical being that an agent can deduce for themselves and act according to logical analysis. Moral being that an agent can act within deductions of the right/ethical. Animals lack both these types of agencies, since they act on instinct, and thus are precluded from the calculus of preference utilitarianism.

(2) Productivity. The definition of preference utilitarianism makes the point of productivity for the sake of achieving one's preferences. This links back to the notion that preference utilitarianism would be bound by preference calculus's since it is inevitable that preferences will compete, especially between humans and animals.

At this point, the very definition of preference utilitarianism makes 2 assumptions which would preclude analyzing animal preferences.

C2: Interventionism and Competition

A) The "animal world" is not conducive for moral normativity. As such, the burden of interference and authority lies with human actors. This creates a conflict of interest and off-sets the general competitive notion found within the "animal world." The moral burden that human authorities would have would be to basically police the "animal world," since preference utilitarianism would morally demand that we reduce as much pain as possible in an attempt to maximize preferences and happiness. This is problematic. To demonstrate this I will give a scenario. Lion A is hunting a group of gazelles, labeled group B. The preference of Lion A is to eat, and thus to hunt. The preferences of group B will be to live, as shown by the behavioral sign of trying to escape the lion. Preference utilitarianism, under the syllogism of my opponent would morally demand that humans intervene to stop Lion A from hunting, and thus protecting the preferences of group B. However, this creates a conflict of interest. Lion A needs to violate the preferences of group B in order to eat and thus survive. This arena of complete competition for survival makes interventionism a moral imperative, however by the very nature of the "animal world," this intervention creates a conflict of interest within the sphere of preference utilitarianism. Which leads to B

B) Preference utilitarianism presupposes a contractualist framework, which is lacking within the realm of non-human nature. Societies function through explicit and implicit contracts. This would be true in both a statist and anarchist society. It is the best way to maintain order and stability. Both of these are prerequisites to any type of utilitarianism, because we cannot maximize preferences unless there is a stable framework to work under. As such, contractualism will ultimately determine what will be constituted under preference utilitarianism. Contractualism states that we determine moral norms by our autonomy, and thus our ability to enter into agreements or contracts. Since animals lack autonomous agency, and by extended logic cant willingly enter into contracts, then animals are not a part of our moral decision calculus'.

C3: Rights Analysis

The advocacy of my opponent leads to the conclusion that non-humans need to be afforded rights as well. The problem with this, however, is that rights are given to humans as a way to govern HUMAN society. For example, the first amendment - right to freedom of religion and speech – is given to humans so we can freely and autonomsly express our opinions without the interference of the government or another individual. This would not be the case for animals, since they lack the ability to do either of these things. The 4th and 5th Amendments allocate rights as a way to protect criminals from prosecutorial and governmental abuse. Again, animals don't access these rights because they lack the ability to freely commit crimes and to be prosecuted under legal statutes. These isolated examples prove that yes, there are certain rights that legitimately cannot be afforded to animals since they lack the capacity to fully exercise these rights. This makes specisism legitimate, at least on a case by case basis. As such, preference utilitarianism would not completely exclude specicism as a legal decision calculus.

C4: Consequentialism

Since preference utilitarianism is an off-shoot of consequentialism, then preference utilitarianism is bound by overriding end states. This has 2 links to the resolution:

(1) Preference utilitarianism cannot 100% exclude an act or belief. This is true because utilitarianism is a flexible moral philosophy and not a categorical one. As such, the resolutional prima facie cannot be accepted because it is condemning a legal decision calculus without first doing a weighing of ends. The underlying notion of utilitarianism and consequentialism thus would reject the resolution without even a further analysis.

(2) Affirming the resolution would lead to the banning of most farming and ranching, animal testing and animal containment. This would highly and negatively affect human society in that eating habits will be drastically altered and also research will be hindered. Moreover, governmental councils would have to be created and so would probably a separate and specialized judiciary system. This would skyrocket the debt, and the debt is overarchingly bad. Large debts crowd out the private sector from loans and investments, since the government would be funneling into all the system. This would increase inflation which would drive up the prices of commodities and other goods within society. And this would lead to Chinese Dollar Dumping, which would cripple the US economy forcing the majority of the US populous into debt. This would also harm the environment since it would reverse green innovation. As such, my opponents advocacy turns itself. [1]

[1] Dorsch, , 7/7/9 "How Long Can the U.S. Dollar Defy the Law of Gravity?" http://www.marketoracle.co.uk...)
Debate Round No. 2
socialpinko

Pro

socialpinko forfeited this round.
CiRrK

Con

Extend arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
socialpinko

Pro

socialpinko forfeited this round.
CiRrK

Con

Extend. Thank you.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by socialpinko 6 years ago
socialpinko
I had about three days. That's long enough.
Posted by Ore_Ele 6 years ago
Ore_Ele
I thought you were going to take a break from debates?
Posted by CiRrK 6 years ago
CiRrK
Thx! I expect this to a good debate : )
Posted by socialpinko 6 years ago
socialpinko
Nice response. I'll have my response done by tomorrow probably.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by jewgirl 5 years ago
jewgirl
socialpinkoCiRrKTied
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: F.
Vote Placed by quarterexchange 5 years ago
quarterexchange
socialpinkoCiRrKTied
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Total points awarded:07 
Reasons for voting decision: 7pts due to the rules set by the instigator.