Animals can be deserving of Personhood
This is to be a mature debate on the issue of personhood for animals. The 5 round debate will be divided as follows:
1. Acceptance, definitions, and clarifications (any further clarifications will be handled in the comments section)
2-4. Opening statements and rebuttals/arguments.
5. Concluding statements (no more rebuttals).
- Personhood: "the state or fact of being a person"
- Person: "A self-conscious or rational being"
In our society, every person is born with certain "unalienable rights" that have come to be defined as the Rights to "Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness/Property". As such, granting any animal personhood would gain said species access to these same unalienable rights.
-Any such living thing other than a human being.
-Person hood: The state or fact of being an individual or having human characteristics and feelings.
-Person: A human being as distinct from an animal or thing.
These definitions are from the same site which you found your definitions from. I would like to point out to the voters that his definition of a person is tagged with the word "philosophy"
In our society, every person is born with certain "unalienable rights" that have come to be defined as the Rights to "Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness/Property". A person is entitled to all these rights by definition. Animals however do not qualify as a person and therefore are not have an unalienable rights.
I'd like to thank my opponent for accepting this debate and wish him good luck.
Let me touch upon on our clash of definitions so that voters are more aware of my decisions. For one thing, this is a philosophical debate (as you can see by the category). When we're talking about the rights of any individual (women and LGBT members for instance) it is always a question of philosophy as we are essentially asking ourselves who do Lockean principles apply to? This is the first reason I opted for the philosophical definition of "person" over the others.
My second reason has to do with corporate personhood. In the United States, the Supreme Court, in two rulings (Buckley v. Valeo and Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) decided that corporations had a wider variety of rights than were initially granted, which has since evolved into corporations being declared "persons" in the United States. Now, if the definition of a person is simply a human being, how can we include corporations in it? We use the philosophical one.
And finally, my last reason for doing so is common sense. How can I debate that animals are human beings? It's not possible. Philosophers don't consider the words human and person to be synonymous. Think about it this way- a square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square. A human is a person but a person is not a human. To give more support to this, consider the question of slavery. It was never a question of human being v. property but the question of person v. property. Were they people? Or were they property?
Also to, as the saying goes, put a stake in the matter, if my opponent wishes to insist that the definition of a person is simply a synonym for human-being, than this debate cannot go further. I'd like to clarify that this is not an attack on my opponent, but just a statement that I do not wish to waste either of our times debating terminology when a topic of this matter has the potential to go deep in philosophy (a subject I assume we both have a love for).
Onto the official debate then.
When we take the philosophical-definition of a person, we come to a rift of two categories; consciousness and rationality. Let's take the first category; consciousness (note the difference between consciousness and conscience). To quote the philosopher Charles Taylor in his book 'The Concept of a Person' "a person is a being with consciouesness, where consciousness is seen as a power to frame representations of things." To give the official definition (from Merriam-Webster of course).
"The quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself"
Now of course, the dictionary definition isn't enough when we take into account the vast debate that has been going on in defining the consciousness, from Descartes to Dawkins. The philosopher Ned Block simplifies this debate by creating two different categories of a consciousness.
The first, which he dubs the Phenomenal (or P) Consciousness essentially revolves around the idea of experiencing qualia which in turn are our experiences/perceptions of the activities in the world around us. Philosopher Colin Allen sees this as another way of stating sentience, an idea which I agree with (my opponent is free to argue this).
Keeping on this train of thought, sentience opens up new doors in the world of animal rights. There is a wide range of evidence to support this claim, most prominently the pain argument (I do not feel the need to find evidence for this as it seems to be common sense). To summarize my thoughts on this, I will quote Voltaire:
"What! that bird which makes its nest in a semi-circle when it is attaching it to a wall, which builds it in a quarter circle when it is in an angle, and in a circle upon a tree; that bird acts always in the same way? That hunting-dog which you have disciplined for three months, does it not know more at the end of this time than it knew before your lessons? Does the canary to which you teach a tune repeat it at once? do you not spend a considerable time in teaching it? have you not seen that it has made a mistake and that it corrects itself?"
Sentience or P-consciousness is, as I just stated, one part of Block's categorization of the consciousness as a whole. The second part is what he calls the Access (A) Consciousness. I do not feel the need to go into this as it is, in simplest terms, basically the ability to "access" the information gathered from qualia. Think of it as learning about addition and bringing that information about.
However, we're not done with consciousness as there is one more aspect to be talked about (which I believe my opponent will find the most ground in making his argument), and that is the self-consciousness. You may know this better as self-awareness.
"I think therefore I am". This was Descartes's answer to the Brain-in-a-Vat problem, but I believe it works as a solution for this issue of whether or not animals are self-aware. If an animal can be aware of its environment (as is the case with sentience), then why can't it be aware of itself in this world? Unfortunately there is the problem of "Other Minds". Essentially it is this (and note that it does apply to both humans and non-humans); "I am aware that I am aware, but how do I know that you are aware?" It really is the truth because no one can be 100% that someone else is self-aware (hence where mind-reading comes into play in fiction). With other humans, however, we make the assumption that they are self-aware b/c they are like us and can tell us. With non-human animals, we have the language barrier amongst other barriers that prevent us from fully knowing. Luckily, however, science has provided us with a decent way of proving self-awareness in some species.
It's called the mirror test. Basically you put a test spot on an animal (can be a dye, chalk, or sticker) that can only be seen through a mirror and you have that animal look in the mirror. If it notices the spot and does something about it, then the animal is self-aware. Wikipedia provides a sourced list of animals that have passed the test, so I'll just copy and paste if it's all the same to my opponent:
The test does have some constrictions however, namely that it relies heavily on the activeness of the occipital lobe. The problem is not every animal's occipital lobe is the same development-wise. Take dogs for instance, who's brains are dominated by an olfactory cortex (smell). Improvements are coming and science may very well give us a better test, but for now this will have to do as sufficient "solid-evidence".
I'm going to end this topic on yet another Voltaire quote:
"Barbarians seize this dog, which in friendship surpasses man so prodigiously; they nail it on a table, and they dissect it alive in order to show the mesenteric veins. You discover in it all the same organs of feeling that are in yourself. Answer me, machinist, has nature arranged all the means of feeling in this animal, so that it may not feel? has it nerves in order to be impassible? Do not suppose this impertinent contradiction in nature."
I've bolded that last sentence b/c it really does speak to what a lot of animal rights activitists feel is a hypocrisy within humanity that has been used as a justification for specieism. We are all made up of the same materials (organs, blood, veins, muscles, nerves, etc...) yet there is still a, what you may call, crusade to find a distinction between humans and animals.
The final stake in the argument. The University of Cambridge had a conference last year on consciousness that involved top scientists in all fields related to the subject. They made the declaration that animals have a consciousness. It goes into the biology of it all as well, but it is evidence.
The Pro has made several very distinct and understandable arguments on the philosophy of personhood being given to animals. However, where my opponent leaves room for disputably (as I as well feel that every being is entitled to a peaceful and happy life) is in the use of the word "Can".
Now I do not wish to say that animals are not deserving of peaceful and happy lives, which I am assuming the Pro agrees with. The problem with having animals under the same domain as people when it comes to "unalienable rights" as being "Rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness and property," must be dealt with on an un-philosophical basis.
-Let us consider the true reality of the Pro"s argument:
In a hypothetical world where the realisation of animals right to personhood has given animals access to such unalienable rights.
As I said earlier, everything living is deserving of life. From the moment they are conceived and begin to grow, that entity is deserving of life as it has managed to survive be it on its own, or in the company of other living things and thus is "worthy" of life.
However, now that animals are given such rights they are considered equals to us ( And should my opponent say otherwise to animal/human equality upon reading further into my arguments please keep note of it.), how are these "new persons" given protection of their lives? Are hunters, ranchers, whole industries devoted to, in the bluntest sense, the distribution and selling of lifeless animals now to be charged with murder or hate crimes? Granted, animal rights in general strive to protect animals from being wrongly harmed by human beings. But now upon the acceptance of animals as individual "persons", are we obligated to protect them from industries, and in some cases themselves?
As philosophical definitions of the word "liberty" are namely political, I would like to bring this point into the debate as well. "Liberty" is defined as:
Right to choose:"the freedom to think or act without being constrained by necessity or force
Freedom:"freedom from captivity or slavery
Basic right:"a political, social, and economic right that belongs to the citizens of a state or to all people
Now, In a world where animals have been given "personhood" they are now considered individuals who are free to act as they please, but within the boundaries of the law. They are now no longer captive as Zoo"s and farms are required to set free their inhabitants as "persons" are not kept in zoo"s. Finally, animals are now given rights, economic rights, and the right to become a "citizen".
The Pro has provided evidence that animals are both conscious and rational and show intelligence in the field of "deciding ones own fate and choices". However, the language barrier which is still very large prevents animals from making such choices. There is nothing in philosophy or fact which states that an animals brain is designed to grasp the concept of political views or the understanding of laws which the human world understands well enough to abide by it. *Do not let the Pro argue that this obstacle is easily breached by "teaching" or "training" these new "persons" how to abide by such laws, as it is to far-fetched of an accusation to be made*
-Once again, I agreed with the Pro that all living things are entitled to happiness in their lives. However, I have yet to see justification in the Pro"s argument for animals to own property. This would imply both that they have now been given ways to obtain money any the ability to communicate how they desire to spend it. For the sake of time, I will go no further on this aspect of the debate.
Voters, I understand that I have not contested the point of this debate with philosophy as the Pro has. However, I have pointed out that if the Pro intends to stand by his clarifications as the basis and justifications to bestowing "personhood" upon the animal kingdom, then he must also understand how it effects the rest of the world and the impracticalities of doing so.
Can: Be allowed to:"to be allowed to do something, either by legal or moral right or by permission.
-The Pro argues that animals "can" be deserving of personhood.
in the debate terminology, the word "can" implies that something is achievable but doesn't necessarily have to be achieved. The reason something wouldn't"t have to be achieved could be for multiple reasons, namely being impracticalities of achieving said goal.
In conclusion, as the Con, I set out to prove that animals are not deserving of the unalienable rights first acknowledged and respected by humans due to the impracticalities of doing so. The Pro should rather argue more so taking pro-action on specific animal rights as his arguments would have gone much further.
The con should win for successfully contesting the Pro, for proving that philosophical arguments on this topic do not account for the impracticalities of implementing said "personhood" and for successfully contesting a philosophical argument with the facts which it forms its basis upon. Thank you voters, and please Vote Con.
My opponent has made me a very sad person for making me type so much only to be ignored. However, I will take advantage of this. By refusing to debate my philosophical inquiries into animal personhood, he has unintentionally agreed to my arguments that animals are indeed deserving of personhood. His problem appears to be that, now that we've agreed that humans aren't the only beings entitled to rights, how does the implementation of these rights to non-humans affect the human world we've currently grown-up in. I will rebute his points on the 3 unalienable rights.
There was a reason I wanted to keep this debate in the philosophical realm as these topics Con has brought up are large-scale in their own right. They delve into the 5 topics (as the film Earthling defined) of animal rights. I will try to answer them in a simplified yet effective manner.
"Are hunters, ranchers, whole industries devoted to, in the bluntest sense, the distribution and selling of lifeless animals now to be charged with murder or hate crimes?"
Of course not. In the US and most of the developed world, there are ex-post facto laws in place, meaning that any crime committed before it was outlawed is unpunishable. I.e. If I litter and the next day it's made illegal to litter, I cannot be prosecuted.
"But now upon the acceptance of animals as individual "persons", are we obligated to protect them from industries, and in some cases themselves?"
Yes we are obligated to protect them from industries. Industries have to evolve- that's how it's always worked. When slavery and child labor were outlawed, for example, those industries that relied on them (cotton, textiles respectively) changed.
The same applies for all industries that rely on animals. To list a few examples, science is already providing us with in-vitro meat to replace slaughterhouses and PETA gives a whole list of better alternatives to animal testing (http://www.peta.org...).
With regards to protection from themselves, that's a little shady. When we're talking about the presence of unalienable rights, we are almost definitely talking about in a society with a government in place. I'm not saying one does not have those rights in a non-governmental place, but with regards to enforcement, the rights can almost certainly be ignored. That being said, in a species natural environment/ecosystem the rules of nature play out as they are; eat or be eaten. Now of course, we do have an obligation to protect species in risk of endangerment and their said habitats. It is through this latter proposal that I believe regulated hunting can be implemented but I will not go further for fear of space.
Con appears to be relying on a slippery-slope argument here as he is in essenence proclaiming that if we grant personhood to animals, we must grant them every available right in this world. Remember, we must be practical and logical in situations such as these, and that includes considering the limitations of personhood subjects. Take corporations for example- when the Supreme Court granted them personhood, it didn't mean they had every right that a human being had- just whatever was logical for a corporation to have (i.e. freedom of speech). Corporations did not get suffrage for instance as that was an illogical right to be given.
Think the same for animals. As you pointed out, freedom from forced captivity in a zoo is a good example of a Liberty right that an animal with personhood would have. Speaking for all animal rights activists, no one is considering giving animals rights such as suffrage due to common sense.
As I stated above, we have to be practical in all situations. But in the case of property, it's interesting because when I think the right to property (in the case of animals), I'm not thinking in the captalist sense "okay, I have the right to start a business", but to rather the right to have a home. Con is right in that animals cannot own something as most do not possess the necessary levels of abstract thinking. However, we can agree here that they do in fact have a right to a home, which is where I think the justification in setting aside land for animal sanctuaries or organic farms where the animal's welfare is taken into account above the profits.
"The Pro should rather argue more so taking pro-action on specific animal rights as his arguments would have gone much further."
As I stated above, I did not want to delve into the specific categories of animal rights as I was hoping to make a philosophical argument. Because that's where the main difference lies between animal rights and animal welfare.
If I could make one small request to my opponent, and that is to keep declarations for votes away from the discussion this early. I personally have no problem with it (although I do think it's rather pointless considering we're not getting paid to win here lol), but it does seem rather unnecessary to do so in only the 2nd round.
I eagerly await my opponent's rebuttal.
A. I have agreed with the right to life. Not persondhood and all it encompasses.
---- Industries: The Pros logic is flawed. The Pro states that when child labor was outlawed, industries were forced to evolve to make up for the lost work force. However, what differentiates the two industries are the factors being changed. The textile industry lost child labor, not the textile being produced. The Meat industry in this case would be losing its product in the name of "protecting persons from immoral deaths".
---- In-Vitro meat: The answer to this problem is replacing raw meat with In-Vitro meat. However, the only way this would be possible is if it was a compatible product for the market it is now taking on. This is not currently the case and may not be so for decades.
-- Cost:  "Given the current technology, it would cost $1 million to turn out a 250g piece of beef." Large scale production of in vitro meat may require artificial growth hormones to be added to the culture for meat production. No procedure has been presented to produce large scale in vitro meat without the use of antibiotics to prevent bacterial infections. The cost to mass produce this type of food with the use of other costly chemicals.
-- science: If in vitro meat turns out to be different in appearance, taste, smell, texture, or other factors, it may not be commercially competitive with conventionally produced meat. The lack of fat and bone may also be a disadvantage, for these parts make appreciable culinary contributions. Now regardless of all this,  kitchen meat incubators MAY allow homemakers to synthesize their own meat products; thus bringing a permanent end to meat markets and butches.Job losses linked to kitchen meat incubators may be neutralized somewhat by families starting their own home-based businesses around selling and manufacturing synthesized in vitro meat. This would transform the family unit from being strictly consumers into being prosumers; making money by selling their products to other families while spending that money on consumer goods and synthesized meat made by other families. However, there is a flaw with this idea.
-- Econ: The meat industry is worth billions. The jobs which they encompass alone tops 3 million. Now because of the new "persons" All of these people are put out of business! The only ones who are capable of retaining a job are those who are qualified to deal with chemicals and growing these types of meat. Because of the "simplicity" of the growing process maybe a tenth of these people will be given a job if not only a fraction. People must ask themselves as a whole: is it worth ruining an entire portion of the economy to be able to say that these new persons are given a right to garenteed life.
-- Status quo solves: Now obviously there are many animal rights activists and people who strive to keep animals from harms way. Endangerd animals are sympathized by billions of people.
--- Logic: Your right, there are certain rights that animals simply do not need.
--- Status quo solves: Zoos currently circulate animals in their zoos, releasing them back into the wild every so many years. Zoos strive to make their habitats comforting, feed the inhabitants well, and keep them healthy. If anything, Zoo's are a beneficial check up for many animals which would otherwise die of other causes.
Seeing as how arguments for liberty are very limited and in the case of animals very minute, I ask voters to please disregard either arguments on liberty from either the Pro or Con as they have become irrelevant to the debate.
-- Status quo solves: What was wrong with the home they once came from??? Literally, national parks, forest reserves, etc. Current animal rights activists and preservation strive to give homes to vast majorities of animals. The Pro must define what he means by "homes"
In conclusion, I have shown the impracticalities of giving inalienable rights to animals. Please vote Con.
"This is not currently the case and may not be so for decades."
Con appears to think that I said replacing factory-farmed meat with in-vitro will occur overnight. That is incorrect. It will indeed take time, and there will be a period where FF meat is competing with IV meat until IV wins. As Professor Mark Post at the Eindhoven University stated "You could take the meat from one animal and create the volume of meat previously provided by a million animals."
"Given the current technology, it would cost $1 million to turn out a 250g piece of beef."
As of now, IV meat is indeed expensive. However, science is always progressing forward and prices will go down. On top of that, there is the fact that FF meat isn't completely cheap either. The fact is the meat and dairy industry absorb 63% of all government food subsidies that greatly reduces the price of meat in the market. Moving those same subsidies to IV meat would have a similar effect.
"Large scale production of in vitro meat may require artificial growth hormones to be added to the culture for meat production. No procedure has been presented to produce large scale in vitro meat without the use of antibiotics to prevent bacterial infections. The cost to mass produce this type of food with the use of other costly chemicals."
Is Con really trying to argue that FF meat doesn't have any of these? Hormones and antibiotics are pumped into livestock at an alarming rate. That's why there's a difference between organic and normal meat.
If in vitro meat turns out to be different in appearance, taste, smell, texture, or other factors, it may not be commercially competitive with conventionally produced meat.
Everyone can adapt to minor changes, human taste buds change every 7 years, and I have faith that science won't let us down here.
The lack of fat and bone may also be a disadvantage, for these parts make appreciable culinary contributions.
Isn't KFC marketing boneless chicken as the new fad? And since when does anyone deliberately want fat?
I'm going to ignore Con's entire paragraph dealing with kitchen-incubators as 1) It appears to be support for my argument if anything and 2) He appears to be arguing for small-business, which is not what this debate is about.
Econ: Con is making a very poor assertion here. For starters, he is assuming that all 3 million jobs in the meat industry are slaughter and packing. The truth is that most jobs involving the meat industry are in fact service jobs; you know, like working in fast food. It's hard to find worldwide statistics, but for the US, of the 487,600 workers involved in the meat industry, about 89,100 are the packers/slaughterers that would lose their jobs. Divide the two numbers and we have a little more than 18% of the workforce unemployed.
There's also this fact- once life is gone, you can't get it back. Once a job is gone, you can almost always find another one. If we're honestly going to argue life v. a job, I'd side with life anyday. Also, an 18% impact would hurt the US economy if it was a sudden, radical change. As I said, the transition to IV meat would be a much slower one than what Con is trying to argue.
My opponent did not provide any sources for his claim that "Zoos currently circulate animals in their zoos, releasing them back into the wild every so many years". It's understandable given that it isn't true with regards to the minority.
The truth is most horrible havens. Now don't get me wrong, I know that not all zoos are like this, but the truth of the matter is that the majority are. There is no government agency regulating the existence of zoos and as such most zookeepers are free to do as they please.
Here's a quote from PETA's site. Now, while I don't support PETA personally, I do believe they have valid arguments on the Big 5 Issues of Animal Rights.
"Most zoo exhibits provide animals with few, if any, opportunities to express natural behavior or make choices in their daily lives. Animals are closely confined, lack privacy, and have extremely limited possibilities for mental stimulation or physical exercise. These conditions often result in abnormal and self-destructive behaviors, also known as “zoochosis."
Donjaundebater1212 forfeited this round.
My opponent's forfeiting of the round, whether it be intentional or not, leaves no more time for rebuttaling as we will now both deliver our closing statements.
In conclusion, I believe I have presented an innumerous amount of facts and information that support my Pro stance on Animal deserving personhood. I gave more than enough arguments defending the fact that animals do have a consciousness and, while I was unable to attend to the rationalization factor, I do believe common sense can play a part there.
My opponent refused to counter my philosophical points, thereby confirming that he either A) Couldn't debate them, B) Accepted them, or C) Both, all three scenarios of which support my side.
Con instead attempted to bring this argument into a hypothetical one wherein he attacked the principles of animals possessing equal opportunity to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness/Property. However, he once again failed in this aspect as I 1) proved that animals could keep their lives whilst still maintaining the economic industries that rely on them, 2) Proved that granting animals rights does not mean giving them every right, thereby creating legislative confusion, and 3) Setting aside land for animal sanctuaries in order to protect strays was a proper right under the natural right of Property. Both of us agreed to happiness so no debate there.
In conclusion, I believe I beat Con in this debate and I thank my opponent for accepting the challenge and presenting his side in a dignified manner. Regardless of your personal opinion on the topic itself and whether or not I have convinced you, it should be clear that Pro (me) is the winner.
Donjaundebater1212 forfeited this round.
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