Bestiality is immoral
Many people have complained about the restrictive nature of my previous arguments for the proper morality of bestiality. Said restrictions were necessary to make a positive case since in reality the default is that something acceptable until proven otherwise.
This debate is a chance for those who think they can make the case from scratch. No moral or legal standard is given, pro will have to present their own and support it.
BoP is on Pro to show that bestiality is immoral, this will certainly include giving the general reasons anything is immoral, and supporting that rule/principle against all challenges I make. No need for other debates, no room to complain about unfair preconditions.
First round is for Pros first argument, Pro types only "end" in his/her last round.
I lied, I will include one set of restrictions, the definitions section:
(D.1) Bestiality – the practice of interspecies sex specifically involving humans as one of the species.
(D.2) Zoophilia – the sexual orientation which describes a permanent sexual attraction towards animals by humans.
(D.3) Rape – the forcing of sexual intercourse onto an organism capable of intelligent self-determination without their consent. NOTE consent as defined below.
(D.4) Pain – the discomfort of an organism, established by some objective observation of behavior or biology.
(D.5) Biological Damage – the objectively observable harm that that impairs the value, usefulness, or normal function of some organ or tissue in an organism.
(D.6) Consent– and this is important, is defined as “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something” http://oxforddictionaries.com... .
When we are speaking of animals, however, we cannot really know what their wills are, because animals themselves cannot know their own wills (more details on this below). They are driven instead by instinct, and their cognitive functions are quite limited. I think it safe to presume that dogs, for instance, would be a rather popular choice for zoophiles. Yet the cognitive abilities of a dog are equivalent to those of a child of 2 - 2 1/2 yrs. of age.
"According to several behavioral measures... dogs' mental abilities are close to a human child age 2 to 2.5 years."
This limited cognitive ability means that dogs, much like small children, cannot think out the implications of their actions or their effects in time. Thus we come to the matter of "consent." I don't wish to challenge Con's D.6 itself, but to raise the point that the "something" twice referred to in the definition encompasses far more than the immediate physical act of sex. The act itself has psychological, social, and physiological effects and comes with various risks that cannot be assessed by a being with severe cognitive limitations. There is indisputably a potential for harm in all of these areas.
It cannot be reasonably said that such a being has consented to these "somethings" because they can only be imagined and deliberated upon by a mind with higher cognitive functions. While it likely isn't the case that the effects of sexual abuse are the same for human children as they are for animals, it is reasonable to presume that the potential for harm in general is similar for beings at similar levels of cognitive ability. I'm open to correction on that point, but it seems clear that animals suffer both physically and emotionally:
We must also address the issue of rape, D.3 above. For while it is all well and good to establish that an animal cannot meaningfully consent to sexual activity, D.3 holds that a rape (or violation, as I put it above) can only be inflicted upon " an organism capable of intelligent self-determination." In other words, a being with a will. Animals and small children, as I have argued, either do not possess a will or cannot know what their will is or act upon it. What we think of as a will or the capacity to self-determine is correlated with higher cognitive abilities that these beings do not posses. On these points, Con and I agree.
However, I would argue for what I call a reasonably presumed best interest for animals and small children, a best interest to which any being with a will would reasonably be expected to conform. This presumption is virtually the foundation of parenthood; parents are held responsible by society for acting in the best interests of their children. Among many notions of best interest, I would include that they are responsible for minimizing the potential for harm to their children. All adults are held to a similar if lesser standard with respect to all children.
A small child cannot know, or can only have a dim idea of at best, that its best interest lies in holding mommy's hand on the sidewalk of a busy street instead of playing in traffic. The responsibility belongs to the parent. As children mature, the balance of responsibilities shift until the child becomes an adult (and, as an aside, I think that ought to be socially recognized sooner than it is). This arrangement is justifiable on solidly empirical grounds, provided that we agree to the basic proposition that it is good to live and bad to die senselessly. All of the same can be said for animals, in spite of some very sophisticated instincts and innate characteristics that allow them to survive much more than a human child would be able to withstand. Of course they will not mature into beings with higher cognitive functions, but I don't see that this changes the nature of our responsibilities towards them.
Given what we know about the potential for harm inherent in sexual relationships between cognitively advanced and cognitively limited beings, then, I think we can say that the presumed best interest of animals excludes these types of relationships. The morally correct relationship between a cognitively advanced being and a cognitively limited being is the parent-child relationship (or some functional equivalent), the essence of which is to decrease, and not increase through sexual intercourse, the potential for harm for the cognitively limited being.
I'll close by noting that I reject the radical argument that all sexual relationships between beings of "unequal power" are rape - a popular feminist and even anti-bestiality argument. Please do not mistake my argument for that one. Cognitive capacity for meaningful consent, with "meaningful" understood as consent in view of the potential risks, is my standard. Beings with unequal power can both possess this capacity, but no animal can.
“I'm going to presume, though I am open to correction, that Con and I hold to a similar morality”
You are correct about the hierarchy of my values but that does not mean I will not challenge absolute claims. If you put forward a principle like “consent is required for interaction with animals” then I am going to require you to admit to all the implications of such a principle. Your idea of a ‘compelling reason’ is not necessarily anyone else’s, if you want it in law it should be an objectively compelling reason.
If they don’t know their own wills then there is in fact no reason to believe they have wills. While I do value ‘personal autonomy’ I only value real things as opposed to imaginary. If it is your position that there is in fact nothing that they want then there is no reason to respect the non-existent will which you are projecting onto them. I may as well worry about what my car would want if it had a will.
“They are driven instead by instinct, and their cognitive functions are quite limited.”
Instinct and will are not opposites. An urge is presented to the will so that if it knows no better course it will take that action. Humans are in the exact same position.
“I think it safe to presume that dogs, for instance, would be a rather popular choice for zoophiles.”
Indeed, man’s best friend makes a pretty good lover as well… happy coincidence.
“Yet the cognitive abilities of a dog are equivalent to those of a child of 2 - 2 1/2 yrs. of age.”
I won’t contest that. I would like to point out that they are able to accumulate more knowledge than most 2-2 ½ year olds though.
For instance at 2 years old a human usually has about fifty words http://www.babycentre.co.uk...
Including noun verb combinations.
Dogs have demonstrated the ability to understand common nouns and differentiate between nouns and verbs as well. However at least one dog has learned 1000 proper nouns.
They can foresee some of them as can small children. When a toddler asks for some water they know that the result will be acquisition of water which will result in a quenching of thirst. When they ask to be picked up they know the result will be that they are picked up and no longer have to walk, or they will get warm, or they will feel safer.
So too with adults we think we see the implications of our actions but we are often mistaken.
There is no perfect knowledge of an action or interaction. All of us can only know about it down to a certain level of abstraction and predictive accuracy. Saying the level which is common to your average adult human is the only morally relevant level of knowledge is a line in the sand that defies nature when applied to anything but reasonably well educated adult humans in modern society.
“I don't wish to challenge Con's D.6 itself, but to raise the point that the "something" twice referred to in the definition encompasses far more than the immediate physical act of sex.”
It can but does not need to. Let me make it simple. A dog doesn’t know about disease. If they get a disease from sex with a human I wouldn’t claim they consented to getting the disease. If it was avoidable by the human I would blame them for neglect.
However that does not mean the dog failed to consent to the sex, the immediate physical act.
The reason consent matters is because it is the taking of responsibility for their part of the interaction. When something is beyond another’s ability to comprehend it is impossible to offload the responsibility to them with their consent. Therefore it remains your responsibility.
Zoophiles do not propose to offload the responsibility of knowing and avoiding consequences animals cannot foresee onto animals.
The only thing that they are understood as consenting to is what they can consent to. The physical act as they understand it, what it means to them, what it feels like to them, etc…
There is no other rational possibility or expectation. If you say they must see all risks you see, then even feeding them would be immoral since they have no idea that you have assessed the possibility that the food is poisoned and found it insignificant.
Suppose you had a dog with the intelligence and communication skills of a human adult. They ask for chocolate. You say “that’s going to hurt you” and they say “I don’t care, give it anyway.” Then you may give them chocolate despite foreseeing bad consequences since the smart-dog accepted responsibility.
Now let us consider a more realistic dog, you can’t tell them chocolate is bad for them. What are we obligated to do then? Simple don’t give chocolate even when they beg for it. We know they can’t foresee the bad consequences so we don’t consent to an interaction which we know will end up in pain.
What you need to realize is that in both examples the dog consents to eating chocolate. Lack of consent is not what makes the second a moral problem.
“The act itself has psychological, social, and physiological effects and comes with various risks that cannot be assessed by a being with severe cognitive limitations.”
Then let us evaluate those risks.
“There is indisputably a potential for harm in all of these areas.”
There is potential for harm in many many things in life. Our ability to predict risks has only been a benefit to animals. Pointing out that animals can’t consent to things they don’t understand really has no moral implications. No more than saying that a baby can’t understand how a car works so it’s immoral to put one in a car seat makes sense.
It is good then that I am not saying that happens.
“it is reasonable to presume that the potential for harm in general is similar for beings at similar levels of cognitive ability.”
Not really. The vast majority of the potential psychological harm to children comes from the fact that as their minds grow they realize how much worse their decision making skills were when younger. They realize then how much trust they placed in those who interacted with them then and can easily feel betrayed if they think someone made a bad decision.
Even the idea that it is a bad decision is a cultural phenomenon that only humans can be affected by.
“I'm open to correction on that point, but it seems clear that animals suffer both physically and emotionally”
What I do insist on is that any claim of emotional or physical harm be grounded in objective observations and logic. The not-knowing of risks that the animal is not aware of is not going to perturb their psychology nor will the potential for pain they never actually experience cause them suffering.
The position on sexual abuse should be based on the same principles as the rest of the animal abuse laws. The state must demonstrate neglect or pain or else they don’t have a case and it doesn’t matter if you’re in Narnia (where animals can talk) or not.
Then I suggest you meet some animals and children. I have done both, and can assure you they do possess wills. This allusion to having a will but not knowing you have a will is vacuous, it cannot be evaluated.
“What we think of as a will or the capacity to self-determine is correlated with higher cognitive abilities that these beings do not posses.”
Then just as my premise implies we have no duty to respect non-existent self-determination.
I agree it doesn’t, provided that you want the animal to have a fulfilling happy life as far as it can within the confines of nature.
As an aside I do not believe that the instinctual payload is actually that much higher for most large mammals, that is an unfounded anthropocentric view. The fundamental difference between an instinct and a decision is that instinct can’t be changed yet we have empirical evidence that large mammals can adapt practically every single aspect of their behavior. They are driven by instincts as we are, but they choose the best way to pursue the values their instincts give them.
I know very little about such inherent potential. You are going to have to make a case for that.
“The morally correct relationship ... is the parent-child relationship”
It is trying to fit animals into a human relationship role and not recognizing that they are different from humans and warrant a different social relation that leads to the irrational disgust in the first place.
There is no potential harm added by the inclusion of humans into the natural sexual behavior of animals. Trying to fit them into the 'child' niche lends the idea that if they have sex it’s only because somebody came along and tricked them into it. That is incorrect.
A much greater risk of psychological harm is incurred by ignoring their desires and will than the equivalent of a few bumps and bruises every once in a while.
" Your idea of a "compelling reason" is not necessarily anyone else"s, if you want it in law it should be an objectively compelling reason."
We're debating morality, not law. I think there are different standards. And I don't mind clarifying what I mean by a compelling reason either. Typically it is wrong to violate another person, to impose your will upon them without their consent. Some situations may warrant it, however. Say a person is standing in the middle of the road and is about to be hit by a car. You shout at them to move, but they just have to stand there to keep looking at their phone or a billboard or something. You then push them out of the path of the car, against their will, saving their life. I would call that a compelling reason - when you act in good faith to prevent immanent harm to another person in spite of their apparent lack of consent.
I didn't go into details about this because I don't believe sexual activity ever falls into this category. At the same time I think it is important to take note of broad exceptions to rules, lest we needlessly limit ourselves.
" If it is your position that there is in fact nothing that they want then there is no reason to respect the non-existent will which you are projecting onto them. I may as well worry about what my car would want if it had a will."
We'll address some more details about the will below. For now, though, I would point out that your car is not capable of suffering, whereas animals and children are. I would posit that any being capable of experiencing pleasure and pain can be presumed to desire pleasure and want to avoid pain, even if this may not be the case in some circumstances. So the distinction between inanimate objects such as trees and cares on the one hand, and beings capable of cognition and sensation on the other, is empirically justifiable.
"Instinct and will are not opposites."
I didn't say they were opposites. They are different, though.
"They can foresee some of them [implications] as can small children."
Immediate effects, yes. That isn't the same as an implication, though. A child cannot understand that something it does may be seen, by a pedophile, as an invitation to a sexual encounter. Nor can it understand that a sexual encounter may cause lasting pain in various ways. The same can be said of animals.
"So too with adults we think we see the implications of our actions but we are often mistaken."
Of course. But we have the ability to reason, which, among other things, is an ability to recognize and manage risks. Our best efforts may come to naught, and we may even encounter risks and difficulties that we could not anticipate. The use of reason also enables us to deal with unforeseen problems. To impose something inherently risky upon a being without the cognitive capacity to appreciate or prepare for potential problems, solely for the purpose of physical pleasure or even some kind of emotional bond (which we cannot ever be sure is shared by the cognitively limited being), is to act contrary to their best interests, and is not morally justifiable. There is no compelling reason to do it.
" Saying the level which is common to your average adult human is the only morally relevant level of knowledge is a line in the sand that defies nature when applied to anything but reasonably well educated adult humans in modern society."
Ah, but there's the rub, isn't it? Reasonably well-educated adult in humans in modern society are precisely those who are insisting that they ought to be able to copulate with animals. Case in point, yourself. I would argue that what we think of as a reasonable education or even what we in 21st century America think of as "adulthood" isn't required, though, only higher cognitive abilities and a minimal degree of socialization. With higher cognition comes greater culpability and responsibility for one's actions - especially when they propose to interact with cognitively limited beings and engage in risky behavior with them.
This next point is important, so I want to revisit what I wrote:
"I don't wish to challenge Con's D.6 itself, but to raise the point that the "something" twice referred to in the definition encompasses far more than the immediate physical act of sex."
And Con's response: "It can but does not need to."
My reply is that it does need to. Sexual activity comes with certain inherent risks, and it changes those who engage in it for better or worse. So there can be no meaningful discussion of sex without the consequences of sex, just as there can be no meaningful discussion of war without the consequences of war. You can discuss it, but the discussion will be formal and hollow, detached from all reality and experience, and consequently of little use.
" A dog doesn"t know about disease. If they get a disease from sex with a human I wouldn"t claim they consented to getting the disease."
As well he shouldn't!
"However that does not mean the dog failed to consent to the sex, the immediate physical act."
No, it does not "mean" that, I agree. What actually happens as a result of sex is not the issue, since any number of things can happen. Since I haven't argued this point, I'm going to move on.
"Zoophiles do not propose to offload the responsibility of knowing and avoiding consequences animals cannot foresee onto animals."
What zoophiles intended and what can actually happen are different. If an animal is damaged as a result of a sexual encounter, there is little if anything the zoophile can do to reverse it. Pedophiles can apologize to their victims but they can't undo the damage done. Some consequences are permanent and irreversible, and that is why the risk factor is high. This is among the reasons that societies and religions urge sexual restraint.
"The only thing that they are understood as consenting to is what they can consent to. "
Of course. The point is that they can't consent to everything inherent in the activity you would like to engage in with them, and given the risk factors involved, this is quite necessary to meet our shared understanding of what is moral.
" If you say they must see all risks you see, then even feeding them would be immoral since they have no idea that you have assessed the possibility that the food is poisoned and found it insignificant."
The risk factors involved in eating are insignificant next to the certainty of death that not eating would entail. The risk factors involved in sexual activity are significant next to the consequences of abstinence, which are nil. Another empirically justifiable distinction, in my view.
"What you need to realize is that in both examples the dog consents to eating chocolate. Lack of consent is not what makes the second a moral problem."
Well, I disagree. The first dog is able to reflect, consider, and say "I don't care, give it anyway." Don't care about what? The possibility of sickness and/or death? Fine. That is consent. If you realize that the second dog can't foresee the bad consequences of eating chocolate, you are realizing that the dog cannot meaningfully consent to eating chocolate.
I can concede that not all risks place a moral limitation on the cognitively advanced party. It is right to point out that even nourishing food is risky. But acknowledging that virtually anything can happen at any time isn't a substantive argument. The riskier the behavior, or the more responsibilities it entails, the more important consent becomes for participation in it.
" Pointing out that animals can"t consent to things they don"t understand really has no moral implications."
Of course it does, when those "things" can cause great harm to them and only occur at the whim of more advanced and powerful beings. Obviously the "thing" we are talking about matters.
" The vast majority of the potential psychological harm to children comes from the fact that as their minds grow they realize how much worse their decision making skills were when younger. "
I'm afraid I can't agree to this statement. The "vast majority"? How do you know this? Changes in the behavior of abused children are often immediate and obvious. They become withdrawn, agitated, and disturbed very early on.
"When abused yes indeed they do (and your link leads to something on dog fighting). "
There's not much out there on the specific effects of bestiality on animals. But if their cognitive abilities are on par with those of small children human, it is not unreasonable to assume that the effects of sexual abuse are the same.
"Walking a dog can turn into abuse if you are pulling the leash faster than they can run. Feeding them can turn into abuse if you knowingly put poisons in the food."
I would say needlessly putting your pets at risk by having sex with them is abuse.
"What I do insist on is that any claim of emotional or physical harm be grounded in objective observations and logic."
Which I don't think you provided in your account of the effects of abuse on children in the least.
"The position on sexual abuse should be based on the same principles as the rest of the animal abuse laws. The state must demonstrate neglect or pain or else they don"t have a case and it doesn"t matter if you"re in Narnia (where animals can talk) or not."
This is quite convenient for abusers everywhere, isn't it, since animals can't talk? There are other indicators of abuse, however, and I am not opposed to using them as criteria for criminality. But here we are talking about morality. Remember? ;)
"I know very little about such inherent potential."
Read the link on child abuse I posted.
"Trying to fit them into the 'child' niche lends the idea that if they have sex it"s only because somebody came along and tricked them into it. That is incorrect."
I think the burden of proof is now on YOU to prove that. I'm out of room, so I will leave it there.
"I didn't go into details about this because I don't believe sexual activity ever falls into this category."
Now a great number of your points this round relied on the premise that there are significant negative consequences/risks to bestiality (as defined in R1). Most of my rebuttals have been to deny such risks exist or are significant. Therefore the most productive content for your next round would be an extensive argument for the existence of these consequences/risks.
Jeffersonian1 forfeited this round.
Your sweet and weary head.
Night is falling.
You have come to journey's end.
And dream of the ones who came before.
They are calling from across a distant shore.
Why do you weep?
What are these tears upon your face?
Soon you will see.
All of your fears will pass away, safe in my arms... you're only sleeping.
What can you see?
On the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea.
A pale moon rises.
The ships have come to carry you home.
And all will turn to silver glass.
A light on the water, all souls pass.
Until the world of night, through shadows falling. Out of memory and time.
Don't say, we have come now to the end.
White shores are calling, you and I will meet again.
And you'll be here in my arms, just sleeping.
What can you see?
On the horizon?
Why do the white gulls call?
Across the sea.
A pale moon rises.
The ships have to come to carry you home.
And all will turn to silver glass.
A light on the water, grey ships past... into the west.
Jeffersonian1 forfeited this round.
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