The Instigator
Hayd
Pro (for)
Winning
7 Points
The Contender
SolonKR
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

Animal Rights

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Hayd
Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 2/7/2016 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 9 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 853 times Debate No: 86218
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (20)
Votes (1)

 

Hayd

Pro

This debate is for Fire_wing’s tournament. Round 1 can be found here
http://www.debate.org...

I borrowed most of the set-up from bsh1 in this debate, I have his permission to use it.
http://www.debate.org...

Solon and myself are extremely thankful for the selfless, compassionate, caring, loving, angelic, sensuous, beloved, celebrated, courteous, cordial and polite, empowering and exuberant, exalting and omnibenevolent hosting of the tournament by Fire_wings. We full-heartedly acknowledge the grandiosity of his character.

Resolution
Justice Requires the Recognition of Animal Rights

Terms
Justice: doing what is just
Just: what is morally right or fair
Require: necessary or essential
Animal: any organism of the Kingdom Animalia excluding humans
Right: something that one may properly claim as their due/a moral or legal entitlement to, or to not perform or have others perform certain action(s) and to or to not be in certain states.

Rules
1. No forfeits
2. Full citations should be provided in the text of the debate
3. No "kritiks" of the topic (e.g. justice is unknowable, rights don't exist, etc.)
4. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add resolutional definitions
5. For all undefined terms, individuals should use commonplace understandings that fit within the logical context of the resolution and this debate
6. The BOP is shared
7. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss

Round Structure
Con should present his case in R1 and waive the last round. No new arguments in the final round (R3 for Con and R4 for me).

Thanks... to Solon for this debate, I’m sure it will be awesome.
SolonKR

Con

Thanks to my opponent for this debate.


First, I would like to note that, absent a reason to believe that animal rights exist, there is reason to believe that they do not exist.

For example, if I offer the proposition, “There is a barbershop underneath Antarctica”, absent a reason to believe it, there is reason to disbelieve it.

This is not about BoP (though I am hitting myself for not contesting that); rather, this is the argument that “absence of evidence is evidence of absence”


With that out of the way, here are my premises:

1. Either human rights exist or do not exist.

2. Human rights entail individual liberty.

3. If one human deprives another of liberty, through slavery, murder, or otherwise, he infringes upon his human rights.

4. Existence of human rights necessitates abstention from infringing upon the rights of other humans.

5. Humans must kill to eat--either plants, or animals.

6. Both plants and animals are living.

7. If living is what entitles an entity to rights, then both plants and animals have the same rights as humans

8. Therefore, humans cannot eat plants and animals.

9. Humans eat.

10. Either rights do not exist, and therefore we may eat, or they do exist, and therefore plants and animals do not have rights.

11. Given the rules of this debate, rights exist.

12. Either only animals+plants have rights, only humans have rights, or both have rights.

13. Humans are a specific subset of animals

14. If animals have rights, humans must have rights by definition of an animal.

15. Therefore, rights cannot belong exclusively to animals (it is irrelevant whether only plants have rights).

16. Either only humans have rights, or both humans and plants+animals have rights.

17. If they have rights, plants/animals would be infringing upon human rights if they did not allow humans to eat them.

18. If either plants or animals have rights, eating them infringes upon their rights.

19. Therefore, humans and plants/animals would be in a constant state of violation of rights

20. If rights cannot possibly be respected, then they do not exist.

21. Since rights exist, they must be respectable

22. Therefore, plants and animals must not have rights.


I shall spend the rest of my round elaborating on these premises.

1. Something cannot both exist and not exist.

2. By the OP, “something that one may properly claim as their due/a moral or legal entitlement to, or to not perform or have others perform certain action(s) and to or to not be in certain states.” This is vague, so adding in the “commonplace understanding” of human rights is necessary. According to the United Nations, who, given the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are the common authority on human rights, “All human rights are indivisible, whether they are civil and political rights, such as the right to life, equality before the law and freedom of expression; economic, social and cultural rights, such as the rights to work, social security and education, or collective rights, such as the rights to development and self-determination, are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent,” (1).

3. This is by definition.

4. Follows from the definition

5. Self-evident.

6. Self-evident.

7. If both humans and plants/animals have rights, there must be a common thread that makes them all fit the same grouping. Status as a living being is the most frequently stated and least nonsensical that I have heard, so I have opted for it.

8. Follows from 2 and 7.

9. Self-evident.

10. If living beings have rights, we may not infringe upon them by eating them. If we don’t, we may eat them.

11. From the OP.

12. Self-evident.

13. By biological definition, not the definition of animal otherwise used in this debate; this is necessary to distinguish because I am speaking of animal in a broader sense here.

14. By definition

15. If animals have rights, humans must have rights, too.

16. By 15, I showed that humans must have rights no matter what.

17. By definition.

18. By definition.

19. Humans eat => violates animal+plant rights. Animals+plants let humans die => violates human rights. This can also be extended to plants vs. animals. Animals eat => violates plant rights. Plants let animals die => violates animal rights. That plants cannot consent is irrelevant--the animals cannot either.

20. Because rights are universal, they are also something that people have. Here, we see that the right to not be eaten cannot be had.

21. Follows from 11 and 20.

22. Because by 19, animal+plant rights are not respectable.



Sources:

1. http://www.ohchr.org...

Debate Round No. 1
Hayd

Pro

This debate is centered around how humans and animals should interact. Do humans have the moral right to use animals as a resource as they choose? Or are animals free beings with the right to live their lives individually sans humans. In order to justify the oppression of animals by humans, humans need to establish that they have greater moral worth than animals. But, as I will show with my Argument from Marginal Cases, this is not so.

OV1-My arguments’ conclusions will be that humans are morally obligated to grant animals rights. Although this is not the same wording as the resolution, it means the same. As defined in R1, justice is doing the just thing. Just being what is morally right or fair. So doing what is morally right, is doing what is just. And as I will show, in order to do what is morally right, we are obligated to grant animals rights.

Argument from Marginal Cases
1) In order to conclude that all and only human beings deserve a full and equal moral status (and therefore that no animals deserve a full and equal moral status), there must be some property P that all and only human beings have that can ground such a claim.
2) Any P that only human beings have is a property that (some) human beings lack (e.g., the marginal cases).
3) Any P that all human beings have is a property that (most) animals have as well.
4) Therefore, there is no way to defend the claim that all and only human beings deserve a full and equal moral status.
5) Animals also deserve full and equal moral status.
6) We are morally obligated to grant animals rights.

Defense of Premise 2)
Remember that this must be a property that would ground human’s moral dominance over animals. So properties such as being able to walk upright, have DNA, etc. does not ground this moral status. However, properties such being rational, autonomous, or ability to act morally can be reasons to gift humans dominance over animals. The problem with this is; not all humans possess these properties either. Examples would be the senile, infants, the cognitively disabled, etc. These are all “marginal” cases of humanity.

Defense of 3)
We must search for a property that; 1) all human beings possess, 2) all animals lack, and 3) sufficient to ground human dominance. As we do, we seem to push towards sentience, which I will show that animals experience in the next argument.

Argument from Suffering
1) Animals can suffer (feel pain).
2) If one can prevent suffering without sacrificing anything of equal moral worth, then one is obligated to do so.
3) Granting animals rights would prevent suffering without sacrificing anything of equal moral worth.
4) One is morally obligated to grant animals rights.

Defense of 1)
If the question is “do animals feel pain?” How do we know that we humans also feel pain? We know that we individually feel pain, but we conclude that the entire human race feels pain by outside observation of behavior. We can conclude that a being feels pain by; writhing, screaming, reflexes (quickly drawing one’s hand away from the stove), facial expressions, moaning/yelping, attempting to avoid the source of the pain, etc. We can determine if others feel pain by outside indications, which is how we determined that humans feel pain. Outside indications show that animals feel pain, thus animals feel pain.

“Every particle of factual evidence supports the contention that the higher mammalian vertebrates experience pain sensations at least as acute as our own. To say that they feel less because they are lower animals is an absurdity; it can easily be shown that many of their senses are far more acute that ours--visual acuity in certain birds, hearing in most wild animals, and touch in others; these animals depend more than we do today on the sharpest possible awareness of a hostile environment. Apart from the complexity of the cerebral cortex (which does not directly perceive pain) their nervous systems are almost identical to ours and their reactions to pain remarkably similar, though lacking (so far as we know) the philosophical and moral overtones. The emotional element is all too evident, mainly in the form of fear and anger." [2]

We can reasonably conclude that animals feel pain based on observed behavior and anatomy.

Defense of 3)
This premise is very truistic. By giving animals rights it makes it illegal to cause them wanton suffering, and punishable if violated. People will not want to be punished, and therefore would reduce suffering.

And our moral status is not on the line because granting animals rights does not necessitate violation of moral law.

Rebuttal
Con proposes a logical argument; the premises follow to the conclusion. Thus, if even one of the premises is proven false, or the premises are proven non-sequitur, then the conclusion is proven invalid, and thus the entire argument can be thrown out. As I will show, many of Con’s premises are false, and therefore the entire argument is false. I will be skipping around to the premises that are false, but I leave the premises that I am not refuting still there so that the reader can still see the flow of the argument. The premises that I am refuting are underlined, with the refutation under it.

1. Either human rights exist or do not exist.
2. Human rights entail individual liberty.
3. If one human deprives another of liberty, through slavery, murder, or otherwise, he infringes upon his human rights.

This is not justified. What are the premises on which a someone earns “human rights”? If it is merely being human, then depriving another of human rights does not change the fact that you are human. And thus you do not lose your human rights. Con needs to explain what premises grants someone human rights, and how depriving someone else of human rights negates your own. Neither of these are justified, and need to be for the argument to work.

4. Existence of human rights necessitates abstention from infringing upon the rights of other humans.
5. Humans must kill to eat--either plants, or animals.

This is false. Milk, honey, tofu, yogurt, bread, nuts, butter, oranges, apples, etc. These are all things that are not alive, and you can eat to survive.

6. Both plants and animals are living.
7. If living is what entitles an entity to rights, then both plants and animals have the same rights as humans

Why is it that living is what entitles an entity to rights? Con says that it is because it is the least nonsensical thing he has heard. But if Con is going to argue the property of living as grounding rights over sentience, rationality, self-consciousness, etc., he needs to justify it.

8. Therefore, humans cannot eat plants and animals.
9. Humans eat.
10. Either rights do not exist, and therefore we may eat, or they do exist, and therefore plants and animals do not have rights.
11. Given the rules of this debate, rights exist.
12. Either only animals+plants have rights, only humans have rights, or both have rights.
13. Humans are a specific subset of animals
14. If animals have rights, humans must have rights by definition of an animal.

Con can’t include humans within the animal category because of how we mutually decided to define animal: with exclusion of humans. Check R1. This means that Con cannot justify that humans have rights, and that animals do not exclusively have rights. Thus the argument falls.

15. Therefore, rights cannot belong exclusively to animals (it is irrelevant whether only plants have rights).
16. Either only humans have rights, or both humans and plants+animals have rights.
17. If they have rights, plants/animals would be infringing upon human rights if they did not allow humans to eat them.
18. If either plants or animals have rights, eating them infringes upon their rights.
19. Therefore, humans and plants/animals would be in a constant state of violation of rights
20. If rights cannot possibly be respected, then they do not exist.

Why is this? This is not justified, merely asserted. Con must argue that justice does not require the recognition of animal rights. The fact that the rights may be broken often does not negate the fact that justice requires the recognition of animal rights. Thus this argument has no impact, as it does not negate the resolution.

21. Since rights exist, they must be respectable
22. Therefore, plants and animals must not have rights.

Since Con needs all premises intact in order for the argument to work, and multiple premises are blatantly false, the argument fails.

[1] C/P’d from [http://www.iep.utm.edu...]
[2] http://www.animal-rights-library.com...
SolonKR

Con

Defense:
I really only need to defend up to premise 11, and add:
12. Since rights exist, animals and plants do not have rights.

Defending the rest becomes unnecessary by this addition.

“3. If one human deprives another of liberty, through slavery, murder, or otherwise, he infringes upon his human rights.
This is not justified. What are the premises on which a someone earns “human rights”? If it is merely being human, then depriving another of human rights does not change the fact that you are human. And thus you do not lose your human rights. Con needs to explain what premises grants someone human rights, and how depriving someone else of human rights negates your own. Neither of these are justified, and need to be for the argument to work.”

Human rights are simply rights afforded to humans, by definition. Unless Pro is arguing that animals have a distinct set of rights from humans, human rights become synonymous with animal rights by his arguments. The whole point of my premises is to demonstrate that this is impossible. I think Con misread part of the statement, so I will rephrase: If one human deprives another human of liberty, he infringes upon the latter’s human rights. This has nothing to do with “losing” human rights. It is simply saying that, if human rights exist (and, per the rules, they almost certainly do), then they are violated by this. I do not need to bother explaining where these rights are derived from; it is enough for our purposes that they exist.

“5. Humans must kill to eat--either plants, or animals.
This is false. Milk, honey, tofu, yogurt, bread, nuts, butter, oranges, apples, etc. These are all things that are not alive, and you can eat to survive. “

I will revise this premise accordingly:

5. Humans must infringe upon the rights of other beings to survive.

This covers this scenario because all of the named foods still necessitate infringement upon the rights of a living being by definition of rights, should those rights exist. You must take the fruit of a tree, the milk of a cow, and so on to do this.


“7.
If living is what entitles an entity to rights, then both plants and animals have the same rights as humans
Why is it that living is what entitles an entity to rights? Con says that it is because it is the least nonsensical thing he has heard. But if Con is going to argue the property of living as grounding rights over sentience, rationality, self-consciousness, etc., he needs to justify it. “

If rights exist, and they are truly grantable on broad-classification basis, which is the subject of this debate, then any entity is entitled to such rights by belonging to the group in question that has rights; in other words, living. In any case, you can replace “living” with any other basis, and the structure of this argument will remain the exact same; it is on Pro to demonstrate that animals have a distinct set of rights from humans.

So, the revised set of premises is:

1. Either human rights exist or do not exist.

2. Human rights entail individual liberty.

3. If one human deprives another of liberty, through slavery, murder, or otherwise, he infringes upon his human rights.

4. Existence of human rights necessitates abstention from infringing upon the rights of other humans.

5. Humans must infringe upon the rights of other beings--plants or animals--to survive.

6. Both plants and animals are living.

7. If living is what entitles an entity to rights, then both plants and animals have the same rights as humans

8. Therefore, humans cannot eat plants and animals or their products.

9. Humans eat.

10. Either rights do not exist, and therefore we may eat, or they do exist, and therefore plants and animals do not have rights.

11. Given the rules of this debate, rights exist.

12. Therefore, animals and plants do not have rights.

Speaking of which, on to the rebuttals.

Argument from Marginal Cases

"1) In order to conclude that all and only human beings deserve a full and equal moral status (and therefore that no animals deserve a full and equal moral status), there must be some property P that all and only human beings have that can ground such a claim."

I also only need to demonstrate that one premise is false to render my opponents’ arguments moot.

Demanding demonstration that all humans share P is absurd. It is possible, for example, to say that some humans do not deserve rights while others do, and not just in racist treatises. In fact, there is a specific group of humans who are considered unworthy of rights in modern-day countries across the globe--criminals. Therefore, one can say that this property P is simply a conscious willingness to obey the laws of one’s societies, entitling humans to dominate animals because of their civilized nature. The marginal cases--criminals--are in fact deprived of equal moral status to some degree, even in the most humane of countries.

Argument from Suffering

Pro has been more successful this time in that his first premise is actually true. However, this argument still does not hold water.

2. There is no prescribed basis by Pro for this claim. Unfortunately, I am bound by the rules to not argue that suffering is good, but I can still argue that there is no moral obligation to prevent it. There is simply no basis for this claim. “People are not obliged to prevent any suffering if doing so would maximize their own happiness” is a baseless claim that I can throw right back at it.

3. How do you determine “equal moral worth”? Plug it into random.org? Flip a coin? The phrase is meaningless. Granting animals rights does entail a sacrifice on behalf of humans regardless of circumstances--the sacrifice being the amount of produce-able food, land that could be used for another purpose but instead must be used for providing more living space, and so on. As a result, human suffering must inevitably increase; the amount is irrelevant. Respecting a right to life of animals and plants in itself incurs a cost--the pleasure bacon, turkey, chicken, carrots, and more bring are all gone in this instance. Pro doesn’t say how these things can be weighed, and this argument is consequently worthless.
Debate Round No. 2
Hayd

Pro

Con’s Argument
Con defends his argument by changing it.

I did misinterpret the argument. I’m glad Con clarified. I thought that Con meant: if human X infringes upon human Y’s human rights, then human X forfeits his own human rights. But the clarified argument runs: if human X infringes upon human Y’s human rights, then human Y’s human rights are infringed.

P4) Existence of human rights necessitates abstention from infringing upon the rights of other humans.

Why is this? The only justification for human rights is being human, as Con defined. Thus, the only way for human rights to stop existing would be for human beings to stop existing. Infringement does not do this.

P7) If living is what entitles an entity to rights, then both plants and animals have the same rights as humans

The problem with this argument is that it does not adequately justify “living” to be a moral status grounding property over any other property P. Con says that P must be grantable on a “broad-classification basis”. It does not have to be grantable on a broad spectrum, it merely has to ground moral status. That is its only qualification.

I directly challenged Con to justify the property of living over any other moral status grounding property such as sentience or rationality. Con uses circular reasoning to justify it; “any entity is entitled to such rights by belonging to the group in question that has rights; in other words living.” By “group” Con is referring to beings that are alive. Sentience is also a property that belongs to the group that in question has rights. So is rationality. This does not justify “living” over any other property and thus the premise does not stand; it's a bare assertion.

Argument from Marginal Cases
Con’s rebuttal is that not all humans have equal moral status. Saying that criminals lose their moral status somewhat by not obeying society’s laws. Does this make criminal’s suffering less morally undesirable? Is it no longer morally wrong to needlessly torture a criminal? Is it any less morally wrong to torture a criminal than a non-criminal? By Con’s argument all these statements are true. But the criminal still feels pain. Disobeying society’s laws does not hinder the criminal’s ability to suffer. Thus, criminals’ moral worth is equal to any other human, and humans do all have equal moral status.

Con also suggests that a moral worth grounding property that only humans exclusively possess is a “conscious willingness to obey the laws of society”. I find this strange, since many species of animals. For example; wolves. Wolves have an orderly social structure in which there are specified roles; the omega through alpha. Roles entail special privileges; who is first to eat, breeding rights, etc. These societal rules are expected to be followed, if not, the “criminal” is driven from the pack. Complex social structure is displayed in many other species such a gorillas, dolphins, orcas, whales. But simplistic ones are displayed in every species that interacts with other organisms; ants, bees, penguins, bats, etc. Even plants are showing social structure to some extent [3].This is not a property that animals lack by any means.

Argument from Suffering
2) Con argues that there is no moral obligation to prevent suffering. Suffering is an inherently undesirable state. It is undesirable for the person experiencing the negative mental state. Morality is recognizing what is desirable and undesirable. Any moral obligation is to do a morally desirable action, or prevent a morally undesirable action. Preventing a morally undesirable state such as suffering is a moral obligation.

3) Con questions the term “moral worth”, suggesting that it is meaningless. “Moral worth” is the right to not be killed, to not suffer; a moral requirement to be treated in a certain way. If animals and humans have equal “moral worth,” then it would be equally morally wrong to kill a human as it would to kill an animal, as well as any other moral principle.

Con argues that if animals were granted rights, human suffering would ensue. But Con also says that the amount is irrelevant. I agree that some suffering will ensue on humans as a result of veganism. Such as loss of pleasures such as enjoying steak, bacon, etc. But this is only relevant if it outweighs the amount of suffering that would be reduced by granting animals rights. Suffering can be weighed. Cutting off two of my fingers is more painful than cutting off one finger. The drastic reduction in animal suffering greatly outweighs the suffering that not being able to eat meat brings on. When I am referring to animal suffering, I am literally referring to animals suffocating to death over the course of three to four days after experiencing muscle paralysis and severe nausea [1]. Putting animals through a cage washing machine while still trapped in the inside, getting scalded to death in a 180 degree machine [2]. The amount of suffering that animals experience is enormous. It is truism to say that the suffering that animals experience outweighs the suffering that not eating meat produces. Thus the argument stands.

[1] http://www.humanesociety.org...
[2] http://www.humanesociety.org...
[3] http://www.wired.com...
SolonKR

Con

My opponent’s arguments are in quotation marks.

P4) Existence of human rights necessitates abstention from infringing upon the rights of other humans.
“Why is this? The only justification for human rights is being human, as Con defined. Thus, the only way for human rights to stop existing would be for human beings to stop existing. Infringement does not do this.”

If existence of human rights doesn’t necessitate respect of human rights, they are self-evidently worthless. A right is, quoth the definitions, “something that one may properly claim as their due/a moral or legal entitlement to.” If rights don’t need to be respected, the possessor of said rights cannot “claim as their due” the entitlements of such rights--for example, not being murdered, and thus, they aren’t rights.

P7) If living is what entitles an entity to rights, then both plants and animals have the same rights as humans
“[P] does not have to be grantable on a broad spectrum, it merely has to ground moral status. That is its only qualification.”

“Animals” = broad classification. According to the resolution, therefore, it does. I demonstrated that the argument that there must be a specific, universal trait P to be nonsense, because it is impossible to do so, and because rights aren’t recognized universally. The example of criminals (which I shall later defend) proves this). Regardless, this is irrelevant to this particular argument (and seems to contradict Pro's argument from marginal cases).

“I directly challenged Con to justify the property of living over any other moral status grounding property such as sentience or rationality. Con uses circular reasoning to justify it; “any entity is entitled to such rights by belonging to the group in question that has rights; in other words living.” By “group” Con is referring to beings that are alive. Sentience is also a property that belongs to the group that in question has rights. So is rationality. This does not justify “living” over any other property and thus the premise does not stand; it's a bare assertion.”

Saying that living beings are granted rights by virtue of their living is not fallacious in the first place, and that wasn't the point. Substitute in "sentience". "7. If sentience is what entitles an entity to rights, then only humans have rights." I would be able to end the argument right there. Pro has not contested that humans have rights, so regardless of whatever quality entitles beings to rights, this still works. If it were "having color", the rest of the premises would still work. The point [which I mentioned last round] was that Pro has not made any claim that animals and plants have DIFFERENT rights than humans; ergo, they must have the same rights, but it is impossible for them to have the same rights (the point of premises 8-10).

My argument stands.

Argument from Marginal Cases
“Con’s rebuttal is that not all humans have equal moral status. Saying that criminals lose their moral status somewhat by not obeying society’s laws. Does this make criminal’s suffering less morally undesirable? Is it no longer morally wrong to needlessly torture a criminal? Is it any less morally wrong to torture a criminal than a non-criminal? By Con’s argument all these statements are true. But the criminal still feels pain. Disobeying society’s laws does not hinder the criminal’s ability to suffer. Thus, criminals’ moral worth is equal to any other human, and humans do all have equal moral status. “

The answer to all those questions is indeed yes. Pro has provided no evidence whatsoever throughout this debate that “suffering” is what morality must be predicated on--an egregiously bare assertion. Therefore, the worldwide practice of denying criminals rights--even in countries like Norway, crime still restricts freedom of movement, for example--shows that marginal cases are irrelevant because they may be excluded in any moral calculus.

“Con also suggests that a moral worth grounding property that only humans exclusively possess is a “conscious willingness to obey the laws of society”. I find this strange, since many species of animals. For example; wolves. Wolves have an orderly social structure in which there are specified roles; the omega through alpha. Roles entail special privileges; who is first to eat, breeding rights, etc. These societal rules are expected to be followed, if not, the “criminal” is driven from the pack. Complex social structure is displayed in many other species such a gorillas, dolphins, orcas, whales. But simplistic ones are displayed in every species that interacts with other organisms; ants, bees, penguins, bats, etc. Even plants are showing social structure to some extent [3].This is not a property that animals lack by any means.“

The key word is “conscious”. So, yes, all or at least the overwhelming majority of non-human organisms do (and recall that marginal cases, as I’ve shown, are irrelevant).

Argument from Suffering
“2) Con argues that there is no moral obligation to prevent suffering. Suffering is an inherently undesirable state. It is undesirable for the person experiencing the negative mental state. Morality is recognizing what is desirable and undesirable. Any moral obligation is to do a morally desirable action, or prevent a morally undesirable action. Preventing a morally undesirable state such as suffering is a moral obligation. “

Suffering is undesirable, certainly, but, as I said last round, that has nothing to do with morality. Christians and Muslims may find tithing undesirable, for example, yet it is considered a moral act. A married couple killing themselves to save a little child is undesirable, and produces net suffering (2 deaths vs. 1 life), yet would generally be considered moral. Pro has provided no basis as to why suffering is immoral, and at this point, it is too late to do so, so all the arguments about suffering are not supported by any evidence.

“3) Con questions the term “moral worth”, suggesting that it is meaningless. “Moral worth” is the right to not be killed, to not suffer; a moral requirement to be treated in a certain way. If animals and humans have equal “moral worth,” then it would be equally morally wrong to kill a human as it would to kill an animal, as well as any other moral principle.”

Allow me to substitute in his definition.
1) Animals can suffer (feel pain).
2) If one can prevent suffering without sacrificing any rights of equal worth, then one is obligated to do so.
3) Granting animals rights would prevent suffering without sacrificing any rights of equal worth.
4) One is morally obligated to grant animals rights.

The phrase is still meaningless, because there is no justification as to why A) suffering morally must be prevented, B) how equal moral worth is determined, and C) how exactly rights can be sacrificed if they are truly universal or at least broadly classifiable to the level of all animals.

“Con argues that if animals were granted rights, human suffering would ensue. But Con also says that the amount is irrelevant. I agree that some suffering will ensue on humans as a result of veganism. Such as loss of pleasures such as enjoying steak, bacon, etc. But this is only relevant if it outweighs the amount of suffering that would be reduced by granting animals rights. Suffering can be weighed. Cutting off two of my fingers is more painful than cutting off one finger. The drastic reduction in animal suffering greatly outweighs the suffering that not being able to eat meat brings on. When I am referring to animal suffering, I am literally referring to animals suffocating to death over the course of three to four days after experiencing muscle paralysis and severe nausea [1]. Putting animals through a cage washing machine while still trapped in the inside, getting scalded to death in a 180 degree machine [2]. The amount of suffering that animals experience is enormous. It is truism to say that the suffering that animals experience outweighs the suffering that not eating meat produces. Thus the argument stands.”

How does one quantify the suffering of animals? Ask them to rate it on a scale from one to ten? Even if we could, how would we know what their 7 is in human terms? The suffering of humans regardless of quantity is relevant because, absent any reason to believe in animal rights (suffering has not been tied to immorality, and the argument from marginal cases simply doesn’t work), we must emphasize what we know exists--human rights. If Pro truly believes in reducing suffering as the basis for morality, we ought to end this injustice of demanding accommodations for animals at the expense of human luxury.

Absence of Evidence is Evidence of Absence
In conclusion, the very first point of mine is ultimately what has decided this debate. Pro has provided no moral grounds on which he may justify that animal rights exist. His attempt at marginal cases fails because marginal cases are in fact exempt from the understood meaning of the word “rights”. His attempt at justifying through suffering fails because we are given no reason to believe that suffering is morally wrong. Without any reason to believe that animal rights exist, we must believe that they do not exist.

Thanks to my opponent for this certainly interesting and engaging debate, and thanks to Fire_wings for hosting.
Debate Round No. 3
Hayd

Pro

Preface
My response will be in two sections. Rebuttals; where I attack my opponent’s case. And defense; where I defend my arguments. Since this is the final round I will not bring up any new arguments.

Rebuttals
P4) Existence of human rights necessitates abstention from infringing upon the rights of other humans.

Con argues that if rights can be violated they are worthless. It follows that since they have no worth, they cannot claim moral worth, and thus it cannot be a right since the right would claim no moral value.

Although rights are violated they still possess worth. Every time a right is violated, this signifies that the violating act is immoral. We are immoral every time we eat an animal or a plant. Are humans inherently immoral then? Maybe. But it doesn’t matter, I still uphold the resolution. Since rights entail worth, they can claim it as their right.

P7) If living is what entitles an entity to rights, then both plants and animals have the same rights as humans

Sadly, Pro still fails to justify P7. Just because you can substitute any property into Pro’s argument and it still works does not justify “living” as a moral status grounding property. It's a bare assertion, as is saying that the color purple is a moral status grounding property.

Argument from Marginal Cases
Con’s entire rebuttal is pointing out that I have not shown that morality should be based off suffering, and thus that it is a bare assertion. But I did show that morality should be based off suffering, under my defense of “Argument from Suffering”, premise 2. This is bad for Con, for his entire rebuttal was based off this notion. Thus, his entire rebuttal can be thrown out.

When Con proposed that the property that animals lack is a conscience choice to obey society’s rules, I showed that the majority of non-humans demonstrably do show a willingness to obey society’s rules. Con responded by saying that animals do not consciously choose to do this. But he does not give explanation beyond that. This can immediately be thrown out as a bare assertion.

Regardless, we are talking about whether animals can make a conscious decision to follow the rules of society. This is demonstrably true given that some choose not to. This is where you get the “lone wolf”. Bees that are lazy are not being productive are exiled from the hive [1]. If Con is right, and animals do not consciously choose to follow rules of society, and do it rather with instinct, we would see every organism following society’s rules; its instinct. This is proven false, as some organisms choose to leave.

Argument from Suffering
Con responds to my argument that morality is based off suffering by arguing that morality is subjective, giving examples of church tithes, and parents saving the life of a child. Yet in both these instances, they are considered moral to reduce suffering. Christians and Muslims paying church tithes leads to intense pleasure in heaven, as well as reduced chance of extreme suffering in hell. The small loss of money is worth the extreme pleasure. Thus it is moral. In the case of the parents; not saving their child would lead to intense suffering by the parents as a result of losing a child, as well as intense guilt for not having saved her. In all instances, beings do a cost-benefit analysis, and decide based on pleasure-to-suffering whether something is desirable or undesirable, and thus moral and immoral.

Con then says that I provide no reasoning for why suffering is immoral. But I did; suffering is an undesirable state. It is undesirable for the person experiencing the negative mental state. Morality is recognizing what is desirable and undesirable. Any moral obligation is to do a morally desirable action, or prevent a morally undesirable action. Preventing a morally undesirable state such as suffering is a moral obligation.

Con then argues that my argument does not justify that:
A) suffering morally must be prevented.

Suffering is an undesirable state. Morality is recognizing what is desirable and undesirable. Any moral obligation is to do a morally desirable action, or prevent a morally undesirable action. Preventing a morally undesirable state such as suffering is a moral obligation.

B) how equal moral worth is determined.

Whether the being possesses a morality grounding property. It is truism that humans already possess it because R1. It would not be any less morally wrong to kill a human if animals were granted the same status.

C) how exactly rights can be sacrificed if they are truly universal or at least broadly classifiable to the level of all animals.

This doesn’t make sense. Con does not make clear what rights are being sacrificed, I don’t understand the sentence.

Con then says that it is too hard to measure suffering. But I’m going to subject to realism here; being literally skinned alive, butchered, scalded alive, suffocation, etc. This the most paramount level of suffering any being can ever experience. There is no arguing this, it is not up for debate, it is an objective fact. Con has not objected to the fact that animals feel pain just like humans do, though he questions to what level. It is the same level. Because of evolution, the mechanism of pain was developed. Animals that felt pain when they did something that harmed their bodies were more likely to not harm their bodies than those that did; and were more likely to survive. This susceptibility to pain was passed through the generations as it grew stronger and stronger. There is no reason to believe that non-humans do not feel the same amount of pain as humans, and Con provides no justification. How does he even know that his fellow humans feel pain? By external behavior such as wincing, moaning, etc.? All of these are seen in animals. By evolution? Same deal. There is the same level of certainty that fellow humans feel pain (and the level), as do animals. Thus it is idiotic to assume that they don’t, and to a different level.

The suffering that will ensue from the loss of luxury is minimal, and pales in comparison to the amount of suffering animals endure. This is truism.

[1] http://ext100.wsu.edu...



A vote for Pro is a vote for this little guy! Vote Pro!
SolonKR

Con

Well, a vote for Con is a vote for bacon! Vote Bacon!
Debate Round No. 4
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Hayd 9 months ago
Hayd
ditto
Posted by SolonKR 9 months ago
SolonKR
gg wp
Posted by Hayd 9 months ago
Hayd
Thinking back on this, I just could have brought up shifting the goal-posts fallacy to negate Con's entire argument. Oh well lol
Posted by Fkkize 9 months ago
Fkkize
Part 4/4

What I find puzzling is how the absence of pleasure equates to suffering. I and presumably anyone reading this is not eating bacon in this very moment, does that mean we are all suffering? Clearly not.
Although ethics is not an exact science and we can"t assign numerical values to suffering, PRO does a good job responding to the latter of CON"s claims.

What I found to be quite ridiculous is CON"s insistence on quantifying suffering. If this was my own debate I"d probably list this as a Kritik.

It takes quite a bit of mental gymnastics and rationalization to believe someone (even an animal) being skinned alive to be not horrendous, just because we can"t put a number on it and PRO calls CON out for that.

As mentioned earlier, although PRO does not establish suffering to be the sole arbiter of moral badness, he is successful at establishing it to be of some importance. Therefore, roughly half of CON"s last rebuttal is futile.

Therefore, I"ll count this in favor of PRO.

In his first round CON presents a minor argument to which I will refer as AEEA (absence of evidence is evidence of absence). Never does PRO respond to it at all and CON only implicitly calls him out for that.
I think it is an extremely weak argument. To defend it CON would at the very least need to specify what kind of evidence we would need to see. But he does no such thing.
This argument only holds any ground if and ONLY if all of PRO"s arguments, which is not the case.
Therefore, I cannot count this in favor of CON.

In conclusion, arguments go to PRO and CON unfortunately never used any sources to strengthen his claims.

-> Winner: PRO
Posted by Fkkize 9 months ago
Fkkize
Part 3/4

CON"s sole objection to the Argument from Marginal Cases is quite misguided. In civilized countries it is not at all the case that criminals have no rights. They still enjoy especially human rights, which is why CON shoots himself in the foot here, because he states in the beginning of the same round that infringing on someone else"s human rights does not negate your own.

He proceeds to claim that Pro did not substantiate the moral importance of pain at all and although PRO did not do that in his original presentation of either of his arguments, he added that in round 3.

PRO may not have established suffering to be of sole importance to moral reasoning, but he clearly has shown it to have at least some importance.

Ultimately, this is not of very high importance to the argument from marginal cases, so I"m not exactly sure why CON chose this objection or why PRO responded as he did. CON fails to rebut the argument at hand, as the original presentation was far stronger than any objections or responses.

Therefore, I"ll count this one in favor of PRO.

CON calls out PRO for not substantiating the 2nd premise at all and rightly so and as mentioned earlier PRO adds it in round 3.
Although I certainly do not believe "equal moral worth" to be vacuous, PRO needs to do more work to substantiate that it is in fact equally bad to kill an animal as it is to kill a human.
In his first rebuttal to this argument CON makes a lot of factual claims regarding the consequences of granting animal rights (living space, etc.). These assertions are very clearly false and He provides no citation for any of it, but fortunately for him, PRO does not respond to that at all.
Posted by Fkkize 9 months ago
Fkkize
Part 2/4

I don"t quite understand PRO"s attack on 14. Of course, the way "animal" was defined, this premise is clearly false, but he can"t really contest that humans have rights/ CON can justify these rights as they seem to be assumed in the debate and PRO"s arguments rely on that as well.

Properly worded the last couple of premises would likely be a lot more powerful, but as they are, they seem somewhat confused. However, he alters his argument anyway and makes it more compact.

CON then states "Unless Pro is arguing that animals have a distinct set of rights from humans, human rights become synonymous with animal rights by his arguments", but PRO never said he wants to extend *human* rights to animals. However, his assessment of PRO"s objections to 3 and 5 appear to be adequate.

The crucial part of this rebuttal is that he does not at all respond to PRO"s objection to 7. He says "If rights exist, and they are truly grantable on broad-classification basis, which is the subject of this debate, then any entity is entitled to such rights by belonging to the group in question that has rights", but it is not at all clear to me why this leads to his conclusion of "living" as the important property instead of anything PRO lists.
Rationality or sentience seems to fit his criteria just as well, which PRO correctly points out.

His revised argument still does not include a premise stating that it is in fact being alive that entitles a being to rights. Further, 4 still seems quite confusing. Human rights are violated on a daily basis, yet nobody conclude from that they don"t actually exist.

On the basis of an extremely weak 7th premise, this argument does not count in favor of CON.
Posted by Fkkize 9 months ago
Fkkize
Part 1/4

The argument CON presents in round one contains quite a lot of formally logical flaws, for example (although he states it in his defense of 7) 6 and 7 do not logically entail 8. For that he needs a premise explicitly stating that it is in fact being alive that entitles a being to rights.

I am not quite sure why Pro contests premise three, but his attack on premise 5 (as well as the premises leading up to 5) are a bit misguided. He lists tofu and bread, the production of both entails the "killing" of plants, which, according to Con"s argument, would be infringing upon their rights.

PRO then attacks 7, which in my opinion is the weakest part of CON"s case. His entire argument hinges on animal rights entailing plant rights, because they are alive, too, leading to absurd conclusions.

However, his justification is not very satisfying. I for once don"t know anyone who wants to ground rights in being alive over, say, sentience or anything else PRO listed.
Posted by Hayd 9 months ago
Hayd
Think it's 2500. Fkkize said he would vote
Posted by fire_wings 9 months ago
fire_wings
how much elo to vote?
Posted by Reformist 9 months ago
Reformist
If you lose this debate Solon then I'm going to pour my heart out to you.

In the form of anti semitic jokes
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Fkkize 9 months ago
Fkkize
HaydSolonKR
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Comments