The Instigator
Vict0rian
Pro (for)
Tied
0 Points
The Contender
WillMalina
Con (against)
Tied
0 Points

Animals are capable of consent.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/31/2016 Category: Society
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 227 times Debate No: 92149
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (4)
Votes (0)

 

Vict0rian

Pro

Many people believe that animals have no ability to consent (especially with humans) but I simply don't understand why. Obviously animals can't speak but many animals do in fact present them selves in such a way that signals they want to have sex. Not to mention that many animals come onto people them selves. I just don't see why they supposedly aren't able too. I mean most can communicate if they want it and If they're sexual mature then they should be able too consent right?

Only rules:

No trolls.

No personal attacks. I'm sorry but calling me a horrible person does not prove your point.
WillMalina

Con

In order to demonstrate that animals cannot give consent, it is necessary to first define consent. Upon reaching a suitable definition, I will argue that animals do not have to capacity to give consent. Throughout my argument, I will use the example of an ape, let"s call him Abe, participating in a clinical trial for a new cancer medication.

In defining consent, I will borrow a definition from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on the topic. The article can be found here: http://plato.stanford.edu....

There are three conditions an action must meet in order to be considered consensual. Consent must be informed and voluntarily. Additionally, Abe must be capable of decision-making. Abe"s participation in the trial being informed, voluntarily, and decisionally-capacitated are thus the three necessary conditions for it to be considered consensual. If Abe"s participation in the trial fails to meet one of these conditions, then he has not given consent.

I will first examine the informed requirement of consent as it pertains to animals. There are several barriers to this aspect of consent: deceit, comprehension problems, and the content and cogency of relevant information. If Abe encounter any of these obstacles in consenting to the trial, then they cannot give consent. We will assume the information provided to Abe is cogent, complete and not deceitful. But can Abe comprehend the information? If he cannot, then he is unable to give consent under my definition. Say the researchers explain to Abe that he is about to go on a 3-month trial for a new cancer medication. This requires him to be given cancer through some sort of injection and if the medication does not work, this cancer will most likely end his life. Abe cannot speak or read English, so how would they communicate this information? In order to ensure Abe understands that his life is literally at stake, the researchers would need some way to communicate with him. I cannot think of anyway the researchers would be able to do this. Therefore, Abe cannot possibly comprehend information regarding his participation in the trial. It is thus impossible for Abe"s participation in the trial to be consensual since it would not be informed consent.

Was Abe"s participation voluntary? Cognitive psychology claims that a voluntary action occurs when one cognitively identifies the desired outcome and pairs it with the action it will take to achieve it. So Abe would have to identify the outcomes of his participation. He would contract cancer, possibly die, and maybe the researchers would give him a female mate and an endless supply of bananas as rewards for his participation. Additionally, the actions taken to reach these outcomes must be identified. In this case, Abe must acknowledge that he must commit 3 months of his life to fighting a disease and undergo constant medical tests. I doubt that if Abe knew the consequences of participating, he would have willingly agreed to take part in the clinical trial. If he had the information he would be able to give consent, but as I demonstrated before, there is no possible way for Abe to receive information about the trial"s outcomes or required action. He cannot, therefore, identify the trial"s outcomes or actions necessary to reach these outcome. It follows from this that his participation would be involuntarily and consequently he would be unable to consent.

Does Abe possess the capability for decision making? The Stanford Encyclopedia Article (http://plato.stanford.edu...) on this concept outlines four sub-capacities: understanding, appreciation, rationality, and choice. Do animals understand their decisions? It could be argued that they are acting on instinct alone, but given the complexity of some animals, this does not seem true. In Abe"s case, he certainly does not understand his decision to participate. He does understand, however, that by climbing a tree he will be able to obtain a tasty banana. So animals do have some element of understanding underlying their actions. Animals must also be able to appreciate the significance of their actions. I cannot think of a decision made by animal that does not involve such appreciation, so I will grant this sub-capacity to animals. Rationality and choice, however, are not as certain. Animals, especially complex ones such as apes, may be able to manipulate information rationally. This ability is uncommon and undeveloped in animals, however, so it appears to be unique to humans. The ability to express a decision, what I have termed choice, is also important. Animals cannot verbally express decisions to humans, but within their species they have certain modes of communication which indicate a decision. A mating call in a boar frog, for instance, would indicate it has made the decision to seek a mate. These expressions are extremely limited in the types of decisions they indicate, but nonetheless can be produced by animals either verbally or physically. Considering these sub-capacities suggests that animals do in fact possess at least a small degree of decision-making capacity. This capacity is extremely limited, however, in that animals can only make basic decisions that lack a rational basis. Abe certainly does not possess the capacity to make a decision regarding his participation in the trial, but he does have the capacity to make other, less complex decisions.

If we are to accept my definition of consent as informed, voluntary, and decisionally-capacitated, then animals cannot give consent. Although they possess the capability for decision making, they cannot give consent since it would not be informed nor voluntary. These are two necessary conditions for consent, meaning animals cannot give consent insofar as it is not informed nor voluntary.
Debate Round No. 1
Vict0rian

Pro

When I was talking about consent I meant consent for sex, And I think that when it comes to certain animals they are informed, can volunteer them selves, and can make the dissension to follow though with it. How will they do that you ask? Well it could be something as simple as humping your leg, they may not be able to speak but that's pretty clear as to what they want. There are many other ways animals can present them selves but no one ever sees that as consent even if the animal is clearly sexually excited excited, or in some cases trying to forcibly have sex with another animal or human. I don't understand why if then a human has sex back with it they're in the wrong. I understand that in our society having sex with animals is seen as bad but in circumstances like that I don't understand why it is. You're not hurting anyone so why is it illegal?
WillMalina

Con

WillMalina forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2
Vict0rian

Pro

Vict0rian forfeited this round.
WillMalina

Con

WillMalina forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
Vict0rian

Pro

Vict0rian forfeited this round.
WillMalina

Con

WillMalina forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
4 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Posted by corporealbeing 8 months ago
corporealbeing
@mangolife23 Disgust doesn't make a point invalid.
Posted by WillMalina 9 months ago
WillMalina
So consent usually implies some sexual element, but this debate doesn't have to focus on consent in a strictly sexual sense. Humans (and animals?) can give consent to many things other than sex, such as consenting to obey government or consenting to conducting business with a retail store. I will thus be focusing on consent in its general sense rather than approaching the sexual element of consent.
Posted by Vict0rian 9 months ago
Vict0rian
@mangolife23 No. I don't care for it, however it is a topic that needs to be discussed. Also thank you for saying the most cliche thing you possibly could on this topic.
Posted by mangolife23 9 months ago
mangolife23
Are you trying to argue that you want to have sex with an animal????
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