Dog fighting (See initial argument)
Debate Rounds (5)
Let me be clear, I am really against dog fighting, but I will be arguing that it is NOT immoral or cruelty to animals, and I will be trying to win the debate. This debate will be exported as PDF and used in my final presentation in January (usernames will be redacted), so please don't accept this debate if you have a problem with this.
I have set high word-limits, partially because of this introduction which I felt was important. Most of my arguments will not use the full 9000 characters, but feel free to take advantage of them if you need. This is more of a philosophical debate on morality than a scientific one, so we will be relying on logical reasoning in addition to statistics. Please try to use reliable sources when making factual claims (such as: x amount of dogs die every year from dog fighting). I have set this for 5 rounds, but if we both feel that we have said all there is to say by the third or fourth round, I will concede the argument for the sake of time. Would still like to see some comments though!
Now I will begin by stating my 3 main points, and explaining my philosophy behind it:
1: Animals, by nature, are aggressive. Humans box and wrestle and smash into each other competing for balls (pardon the double entendre), Stray dogs will naturally fight each other, often to the death, because they are territorial.
2: Much like in competitive sports involving combat, dog fights are often stopped when one dog has shown complete dominance. The dogs are usually allowed to heal before they fight again. In many ways, these dogs are like the Mike Tysons and Joyce Gracies that we worship.
3: There are many dogs sitting in shelters who rarely see the light of day, and spend 22 hours a day in their cages. They might find being a gladiator who is well fed quite preferable. Dog fighting is not half as cruel as the way we treat livestock (and some humans), so it is really moot by comparison. Morality is completely relative.
But let's get down to the arguments themselves. As Pro has not set any standards for how the round will be debated, I will mirror his introductory post in mine, and focus on both providing my perspective in the round, and outlining my argument rather than directly addressing Pro's case, as I will do after he has expanded on it in the second round.
I normally don't like to make a case for my argument using personal experience, but I feel that it's worth noting. I have owned dogs over the vast majority of my life, and as such, I feel that this is a topic close to my heart. Over that time, I've watched dogs play, and I've watched them fight. But I wouldn't even call the latter "dog fighting," at least not within the bounds of this conversation. We're not talking about two dogs fighting for their own reasons. We're talking about dogs that are bred to fight, placed in a ring with other dogs that are also trained to do so, and then proceeding to engage in absolute carnage until people outside of that ring are satisfied that one is the winner. So let me be clear in my points.
1. Dog fighting is immoral because it specifically creates fights that won't otherwise happen between dogs. This results in injuries, both of the short and long term, and often death. I will provide the links to substantiate this as a flesh out this argument.
2. It turns animals that could be treated with loving care into savage killing machines that are not only capable of harming other animals, but could also cause severe harms to humans that are not prepared to deal with vicious dogs. Their owners cruelly abuse them by starving, beating, drugging and otherwise harming their dogs. This often results in the death of the dog by euthanasia.
3. It involves human beings engaging in betting on blood sport. Not only does this treat the animal as nothing more than an object meant to do nothing more than earn their owners and other spectators money, but it also treats the animal as nothing more than its success. As soon as that animal stops succeeding, its worth disappears, and therefore its life becomes worthless as well, and is often taken from it without remorse.
4. Bait animals are also a problem here. These are usually rabbits, kittens or small dogs, and are used to test a dog's fighting instinct, which are often mauled or killed before the match even starts. These are often stolen pets, taken from loving households and used simply to verify the capacity of the dogs to engage in this brutal exercise.
5. Animals cannot consent. None of the animals engaged in this exercise have any choice in the matter because we exert both undue influence on them and the lack of a shared language makes it impossible to know. Consent should always be garnered before subjecting any being to something this dangerous.
6. Communities with dog fighting as a constant often contain children who are routinely exposed to the unfathomable violence that is inherent within the blood sport and become conditioned to believe that the violence is normal. Those children are systematically desensitized to the suffering, and ultimately become criminalized, joining the very criminal organizations that participate in this and empowering them.
And with that, I await my opponent's extended arguments and responses.
Let me say that I am also a dog owner and a dog lover. I actually mix my own food for them because I think it is inhumane to feed them processed garbage. I agree it is different when domesticated dogs play with each other (and scare the heck out of our cats), but that is because they have been domesticated. Feral canines and close members of their genus will fight aggressively against pretty much any animal they see as invading their territory. Dog fights are controlled and contrary to common media coverage, many of the dogs have legitimate owners who love and care for them (like a manager cares for their boxer like a friend).
"Feral and domestic dogs often differ markedly in their behavior toward people. Scott and Causey (1973) based their classification of these two types by observing the behavior of dogs while confined in cage traps. Domestic dogs usually wagged their tails or exhibited a calm disposition when a human approached, whereas most feral dogs showed highly aggressive behavior, growling, barking, and attempting to bite. Some dogs were intermediate in their behavior and couldn"t be classified as either feral or domestic based solely on their reaction to humans. Since many feral dogs have been pursued, shot at, or trapped by people, their aggressive behavior toward humans is not surprising." - (via http://icwdm.org...)
I will numerically categorize my direct responses to correspond to your points.
1. First, I would have to say that morality is a pretty relative concept, that changes based on time, place and society. At one point, human beings were owned as slaves and fought to the death, and while we see this as immoral in retrospect, it was socially acceptable at the time. Today, there are people against Boxing and Football because it is "too violent", but most sports fans disagree with this people. In the case of dogfighting, the majority is reversed, but morality is still relative.
Secondly, when evaluating the general morality of a specific behaviour (especially pertaining to social norms), you must also compare it against baseline standards. For instance, we have a for profit prison system that is so overfull in some places that people are sleeping three to a cell on cement floors. We have more homeless people than we do vacant homes, and over a third of them are veterans. Protesting dog fighting as immoral seems arbitrary and hypocritical, if not entirely a waste of resources. Much like prohibition of drugs, if dog fighting were a regular sport, it would not be run by criminals who are sometimes very violent and cruel.
That said, you have to understand that the vast majority of dog fights are ended before a death ensues. Even if the owner has no concern for the dog, they have a financial interest in its survival. They call fights much like when Brock Lesnar has someone in a ground pound.
2. We are assuming that many dog who are fought have no other existence outside of a cage and the ring. This is not true. In more rural areas, friends simply "let" their dogs fight and then break up the fight. After that, they know not to fight because both owners are present and have trained their dogs well.
I agree with your idealistic view that every animal should have a loving home, but that just isn't the case. Detroit alone has over 18,000 stray and feral dogs running a muck. Many dogs spend their lives in shelters (I volunteer for Humane Society, ironic, huh?), and then die or are euthanized if they aren't adopted within a period of time. In truth, many of these animals being fought would otherwise be adding to the feral population.
"About 2.7 million healthy, adoptable cats and dogs"about one every 11 seconds"are put down in U.S. shelters each year. Often these animals are the offspring of cherished family pets. Spay/neuter is a proven way to reduce pet overpopulation, ensuring that every pet has a family to love them." -(via http://www.humanesociety.org...)
3. Boxing, martial arts, thai stick-fighting, football, rugby, wrestling...do you see where I am going? All controlled sports, which prevents excessive injuries or violence, and ensures proper care when injuries are sustained. The animals are treated as athletes in many cases, not as objects, and many of them are fed well and have homes. Legalizing dog fighting would ensure that this is ALWAYS the case., and reduce the amount of deaths. Again, if we are going to evaluate the morality of a particular behavior, we have to compare it to currently accepted standards.
"Fights average one to two hours, ending when one of the dogs will not or cannot continue. In addition to these organized dogfights, street dogfights are a problem in many urban areas." -(via http://www.humanesociety.org...)
"John Goodwin, an expert on animal fighting with the Humane Society, says there are an estimated 40,000 professional dogfighters in the United States...But, Goodwin adds, there could be as many as 100,000 additional people involved in "streetfighting" -- informal dogfighting" -(via http://www.cnn.com...)
Up to 140,000 people are participating in dog fighting, Meanwhile, World Wrestling Entertainment-- which degrades women, promotes violence and teaches men to be jerks --receives 15 million viewers in the U.S. every week. What is the difference, other than one being called immoral and outlawed, and the other just being called "filth"?
So, to start, I think I need to take a step back from the line by line and address a couple of overarching issues that I see with your responses and arguments.
To start, I need to get into this issue of morality and thoroughly address it. I appreciate that my opponent questions my perspective on morality, as it is often subjective. However, my view is that there are objectively sound moral values. I think we can all agree on at least two fronts as to what is moral: we should value life, and we should value the quality of that life. If Pro has a problem with either of those being standards by which we judge a moral harm or a moral benefit, then he may express them in his next post.
Social acceptability doesn't affect this. The relative value of life that some people attributed to slaves in the past doesn't change the moral importance of that life in any time frame based off of these two principles. They chose to ignore the importance of life and its quality, but that doesn't make it less objective.
Secondly, this this argument of hypocrisy, which seems to be a common thread in Pro's arguments. I'll make a stand here and now: I don't condone much of what Pro has stated as being similar in his arguments. Sports aimed at injury that lack appropriate protective measures for those involved should also be banned, since they are also blood sport. Hence, boxing is a blood sport. Football is not. I could refer to all the specific instances my opponent brings up, but the main distinction as I see it between what is and is not blood sport isn't the level of violence involved, it's any sport that is meant to cause bloodshed. That's all that's required, and I can take a stance against all of it in this debate and not show the hypocrisy you're discussing.
The other portion of your hypocrisy argument is that other options are worse for these dogs. I have multiple contentions against this argument. One, stray or feral is still better than in a ring fighting with other dogs without consent. At least in these situations, the dogs in question have a measure of autonomy to their lives. Being thrown into a ring to fight other dogs is no such thing. Two, putting a dog down is still better than being thrown into a ring. At least in these cases, they don't suffer through grievous injuries and multiple fights (I'll get to the links on that on the line by line). I would argue that this continuous loss of quality of life, with almost certain early death included, is worse. Three, I can be against all of these things at once. I can be against the system that utilizes puppy mills to make purebred dogs for sale, which is a large part of the reason why so many people don't adopt. I can be against euthanizing so many dogs and advocate for more money to the Humane Society and other related organizations. I can also be against the way people treat feral dogs, which leads them to being aggressive. We need not pretend that these are absolutes.
I want to dig further into this feral vs. domestic argument, though. Realize that Pro is arguing that it's fine to breed and train dogs for violent behaviors, but leaving some of them to acquire those natures in the wild is harmful. The only situation in which a dog is certain to become violent and aggressive is when they're trained to do so.
Thirdly, we have this argument regarding legalization being a better alternative. I've already stated on the first point that legalized blood sport isn't moral. Blood sport is blood sport, whether it's regulated or not, and it should be spurned. There are two main problems with the transition from illegal to legal. The first major problem is that it invites more people into dog fighting? Why? It increases the number of people who will bet on it by availability, and improves access, making it easier to get into and more widespread. Beyond that, even if there is some benefit to dogs involved in this fighting, society as a whole needs to take a stand against blood sport like this. I'd make a slippery slope argument here, but on a basic level, this is just plunging us into a moral abyss, saying that we're OK with activities we recognize as harmful to the rights of animals. No amount of regulations will make this completely safe and still allow the practice in any similar form to what it is now. So we would be accepting legalized animal abuse. We don't allow people to beat in their own homes, but suddenly, we will allow them to throw their animals into a ring to attack each other for a live crowd? I'll get into the harms of this more on my final point.
But let's get into the arguments proper.
1. I can protest overcrowded prisons, the extent of homelessness, and the way veterans are treated and still protest dog fighting. It's neither arbitrary nor hypocritical " I'm saying these are all harmful, this is just the topic we're discussing now. I don't see this sort of protest as a waste of resources either. These examples are all related to human beings, and while they should be addressed, animal rights should not be shelved to do so. Their lives matter too.
I would also like to know exactly who Pro thinks will be running dog fighting if it were legalized. Are you suggesting that criminals suddenly going to drop their enterprises because it's legal? Or are you instead suggesting that there are legal enterprises that have been waiting for this moment and would be happy to take it up themselves? Both seem relatively unlikely, especially when criminals can suddenly run legit with larger audiences and more bets. I doubt they'll be outcompeted, and therefore criminal enterprises will only grow.
On death - First, death isn't the only outcome we should care about. Injury is practically guaranteed, and is often permanent. Many dogs could develop terrible infections, lose the use of a limb or be mentally damaged. Second, dogs do often die of blood loss, shock, dehydration, exhaustion, or infection hours or even days after the fight. Numbers are difficult to find, but some have been pursued. Approx. 250,000 dogs in fighting pits nationwide. We can't possibly know how many have died from these fights, as they haven't been documented, but every single one of them gets injured, and many die. It doesn't matter if its hundreds, thousands or tens of thousands. Those lives matter. Third, though Pro didn't respond to them, I did make several arguments about their abuse outside of the ring (which can also lead to death), their being killed when they can no longer fight, and the loss of bait animals, which are taken from loving homes and always killed.
2. Pro refers to instances where dogs are treated well outside the ring. I'd like to point out that he doesn't cite this argument, and it's not at all realistic. As I pointed out in my initial argument, sending these animals into the ring makes them a commodity. It's no different than the cruelty that results from horse racing, where horses that don't make the grade are slaughtered for meat or enter a downward spiral of neglect.
3. I've already responded to these arguments. What we currently accept isn't a reason to accept this.
4. This response was given in the comments, but yes, it is more wrong. Nature is messy, but that doesn't mean we have to actively participate in doing this. And since, in this case, it's not being used for food to feed a wild animal and instead just to showcase the dogs' violent tendencies, it's incredibly senseless. What's more, when you say in your own post how important it is that dogs have a good home, and yet ignore the fact that these animals often do have a good home, you're contradicting the importance of that home life.
5. Similarly in the comments, I'd say that any of the consent issues you're discussing here are very different from the ones seen in dog fighting. None of these thrust dogs into dangerous situations. None of them force injury upon them. None of them commoditize that animal based on its fighting capacity. Consent is an issue in all of these cases, but there's a different level of harm, and each of these cases simply involve the issues of cohabitation rather than issues of money.
6. You left this one out. Desensitized children engage in more animal cruelty and violence against humans. Those with a history of animal cruelty often engage in spousal abuse and child abuse. This is not small, and legalizing furthers this problem, desensitizing the entire nation to these harms by condoning them.
Iamthejuan forfeited this round.
"My view is that there are objectively sound moral values. I think we can all agree on at least two fronts as to what is moral: we should value life, and we should value the quality of that life."
--I do agree, however, this is still a personal evaluation. Some people have varying definitions on what constitutes life, while yet others consider certain races or other species to be of lesser value. We can only evaluate the morality of any given issue as it pertains to what is socially acceptable. In some countries, women are still betrothed by their parents under a dowry system. American women would find this highly oppressive, though research has shown that arranged marriages have significantly lower divorce rates. A majority might agree on one issue or another, but it is still a judgement and not an absolute, and subject to change with time.
"The relative value of life that some people attributed to slaves in the past doesn't change the moral importance of that life in any time frame based off of these two principles. They chose to ignore the importance of life and its quality, but that doesn't make it less objective."
--Very true. But there is a difference between the gladiator arena and a boxing ring. One is considered immoral (now), the other is highly regulated in the interest of minimizing negative effects such as injuries and death. From the standpoint of wanting to protect the lives of these dogs, they would be more protected if they were housed, sheltered, trained, and monitored by professionals.
Furthermore, from an evolutionary perspective, morality is completely relative. Animals kill each other all the time in nature, we call it "survival of the fittest". Some people think it is immoral to eat meat, while others think it is immoral to cut down trees-- these are entirely rooted in social factors not absolute morality.
"Sports aimed at injury that lack appropriate protective measures for those involved should also be banned, since they are also blood sport. Hence, boxing is a blood sport. Football is not."
--I am glad that you recognize the correlation between certain professional sports and animal fighting-- a major point I was trying to make. It isn't so much about the hypocrisy as it is setting a bar. If we are evaluating the morality of a particular activity (and somewhat agree that morality is relative), then our only criteria for evaluation is the examination of similar activities which have already been regulated. However, since you stated that you are actually against those similar activities, I understand that you are not being hypocritical in maintaining that dog-fighting is immoral. However, the general majority of consumers in America either find these sports enjoyable or are indifferent towards them. As social perceptions on morality are generally rooted in popular and mass culture, it is impossible to debate morality without using such a comparison.
Many people argue for weed legalization because alcohol and cigarettes are much worse. Are they all bad for you? Yes, but prohibition has never helped. It made the black market for bootlegging, drugs, and prostitution much more violent, and the same is true of dogfighting.
This is a bit of a tangent, but while football is not a "blood sport", it is actually much harsher on the body than boxing, and injuries are much more diverse and unpredictable.
"One, stray or feral is still better than in a ring fighting with other dogs without consent. At least in these situations, the dogs in question have a measure of autonomy to their lives."
--Yes, in a perfect world we would all be nomads and live off the land. In todays world, it means the feral dog is likely to get picked up and put in doggy jail, eventually to be euthanized. Feral dogs also carry diseases such as rabies, they endanger children, damage properties, and kill domesticated animals or livestock.
"Being thrown into a ring to fight other dogs is no such thing. Two, putting a dog down is still better than being thrown into a ring. At least in these cases, they don't suffer through grievous injuries and multiple fights"
--I think you may have have only the worse images of dogfighting in your head (the ones that are commonly shown in media). Yes, there are injuries, and sometimes death (which again, would be reduced by regulation). However, to say they are being forced into grievous combat an evaluation of perception. Some people hate to fight, and some people love it. My dogs play fight all the time, and often they bite each other's necks and roll around on the ground like that...doesn't bother them at all. And as I stated earlier, many of these animals if they were to meet as ferals would fight to the death out of instinct.
"I would argue that this continuous loss of quality of life, with almost certain early death included, is worse."
-- Worse than being adopted into a loving home? Debatable, but I agree. Unfortunately, adoption rates don't even cover the animals in our nation's shelters let alone the ferals. If I had to choose between jail (and likely euthanization) or mixed martial arts, I would have to go with MMA.
"Three, I can be against all of these things at once. I can be against the system that utilizes puppy mills to make purebred dogs for sale, which is a large part of the reason why so many people don't adopt. I can be against euthanizing so many dogs and advocate for more money to the Humane Society and other related organizations. I can also be against the way people treat feral dogs, which leads them to being aggressive."
--Yes you can, but this is an extension of your personal argument and doesn't change the facts. We have too many strays and ferals as it is, many of them get put down, and some of them are very dangerous or destructive. As an individual, you can probably make an excellent argument against all 3 of these. But again, in evaluating the general "morality" of an activity, we must do so in relation to reality not the ideal.
"Realize that Pro is arguing that it's fine to breed and train dogs for violent behaviors, but leaving some of them to acquire those natures in the wild is harmful. The only situation in which a dog is certain to become violent and aggressive is when they're trained to do so."
We breed animals all the time for industrial use or sheer entertainment (sea-world, ringing brothers). There is nothing we can do about the feral population; I was simply pointing out that dogs like many other animals are territorial and often aggressive towards each other or humans they don't know. Also, a dog that is trained to fight is going to stand a much better chance than a dog not trained to fight. If you manage a boxer you make sure they train. If you own a pitt for fighting, you make sure they train.
I also think you confuse dog fighters with (for lack of a better term) low-intelligence pit-owners who train their dogs to be aggressive to EVERYONE for the purpose of "home defense". These dogs have accounted for the majority of pit-bull associated deaths, not fighting-dogs.
"I've already stated on the first point that legalized blood sport isn't moral. Blood sport is blood sport...and it should be spurned."
--The first sentence is absolutely correct; legality does not often coincide with what society considers right. But it isn't just about the legality, but also the fact that there are massive fan bases for these "blood-sports" and violent sports. Again, it isn't about the hypocrisy, its about using a standard comparison
The second statement is an opinion. As an amateur MMA participant, I can tell you that there is a lot of blood sweat and tears, hard work, determination, self-sacrifice, and motivation that goes into professional athleticism. Contrast this with WWE, which while entirely choreographed to be less dangerous, is completely crude and watched by millions of adults. I would rather my son watch a dog-fight than that crap.
"There are two main problems with the transition from illegal to legal. The first major problem is that it invites more people into dog fighting?...Beyond that... society as a whole needs to take a stand against blood sport like this."
--The first point is often used in arguments against drug legalization, and suffers a fatal flaw. You assume that the number of people participating in the activity would go up if it were syndicated, but the truth is it would be the same amount of people doing it openly, and within the confines of a much safer structure. The natural human reaction to prohibition is subterfuge, not abstinence. Laws can't prevent behaviors; they can only punish them or regulate them.
I think we need to solve the issue of absolute versus relative morality, as well as standards for evaluating what is moral. My fault for not stating this at the beginning. We can discuss this in the comments to save space if you like.
First, I'm just going to reorganize a bit, and group Pro's main arguments before addressing some of the more specific issues he's discussed.
Looking at this round, I see 4 major arguments, plus a few corollary arguments that I've included:
1. Morality is personal because what's socially acceptable becomes what's moral.
a. Morality in nature is subjective.
2. Legalization improves safety and treatment of dogs.
3. Being trained for and sent into dog fighting is better than being feral.
a. It's also better than them being put down
b. Training for dog fighting doesn't make them violent to humans.
4. The number of people involved wouldn't increase.
1. This is where he spends most of his time clarifying. He says since we accept many similar practices as moral from a societal level, we should accept this one. I made an argument in the comments regarding this, but I will restate part of it here: just because you've committed one objectively immoral act and continue to do so doesn't mean that you should expand the practice. Many human sports are objectively immoral by reducing quality of life or actually ending lives. The fact that they persist doesn't mean that dog fighting should be recognized as morally acceptable.
This also ignores the issue of consent. A human being can consent to having their body ruined and putting themselves at physical risk. We cannot possibly know whether a dog is consenting, and even if we could, we cannot know whether that is a result of their own desires. As such, subjecting them to objectively immoral acts by forcing them to fight is made less moral than allowing adult humans to decide. It's the same reason we don't just throw children into a ring.
And just to tack this on, the comparison to drugs is a bad one. Legalization of alcohol and tobacco took it out of the criminal market, shutting down black markets entirely. Dog fighting legalization will only serve to empower them, and increase the involvement of crowds and gamblers. I'll get into why that is over the course of my arguments.
1a. As for nature being subjective, I think we are better than nature. We're human beings, and we can assess things in ways that aren't solely based on survival of the fittest. What goes on in nature we can't and shouldn't affect, but we most certainly shouldn't see that as a reason to add to the death toll.
2. I'll repeat myself here: we would be accepting legalized animal abuse. In the best case scenario, Pro's stance in this round is still going to always lead to the injury of at least one dog in the ring. No amount of safety is going to prevent that. As I pointed out in the comments, this actually does come into what's socially acceptable for this country " we have drawn a line at the physical abuse of our pets. Forcing our pets to be abused by other people's pets is no less abuse. Also, much as my opponent makes many good responses, he never fully addresses the issue of bait animals dying to prove viciousness (that would persist even in a regulated environment, otherwise the sport as a whole would collapse), nor does he ever address my point about racing horses from Round 2, a perfectly legal practice of killing animals once they are no longer able to perform well. That doesn't disappear either.
Nor does my argument on how criminal enterprises are still going to be in control following legalization. I've separated this out because he's actually supercharged the argument: "the truth is it would be the same amount of people doing it openly." It's not just the same amount " it's the same people. Nowhere in his argument does he ever state who these professional trainers are, where they have come from, that they've been waiting for legalization (this is particularly damning, I've never heard of a professional dog trainer just waiting for the ban to be removed), and that they are prepared to improve dog's lots. Criminals will continue to control the sport, and now that it's legal, they won't have to do it in back alleys. They'll be able to do it in open arenas, and still treat the dogs terribly, even if they're able to allow slightly less harm inside the ring.
3. I'm still not sure whether I buy this. Yes, some feral dogs get put down. Yes, some feral dogs attack people. Yes, some feral dogs get disease. But we're not comparing between finding these dogs a loving home and leaving them out in the streets. We're comparing between feral (as would be the case for many dogs, regardless of whether dog fighting is legalized) or being trained to fight other dogs. These are dogs that will be regularly injured by the teeth and claws of their opponent, increasing the chance for infection. Dogs that will likely receive steroid injections (as do many athletes), which could cause severe health issues for them. This is going to happen most times, if not every time. And the vast majority of these dogs will not live beyond their younger years, as they will be beaten in the ring, and either killed there or euthanized shortly thereafter. I'd say feral is still better than that.
3a. I made this argument back in round 2, but I would say it's better for them to be euthanized early than to suffer the traumas of multiple fights and severe training before inevitably being put down. Dying by itself is better than suffering AND dying.
3b. These dogs are bred to cause injury " at the very least " to every animal they see, small and large, essentially ensuring that either they have to be constantly locked up (great for their quality of life) or that they are incredibly likely to attack untrained dogs on their trips outside, dogs that are far likelier to die or receive permanent injuries in short confrontations. And that's if they're trained specifically not to attack humans, something that I think is a grandiose assumption by my opponent, as the ~250,000 dogs I cited in round 2 are almost certain to include a good number that aren't trained to recognize the distinction.
4. I'll accept this on one end " the number of people involved in training, selling, and fighting these dogs likely won't increase. As I said, criminal enterprises will still control that end, though perhaps they may increase the number of dogs used. But involvement on the spectator end certainly will increase. Pro states that this is a fallacious argument, that the same number of people would be using drugs if it was openly available, so the same would be true here.
Again, I'd say that a comparison to drug legalization is unwarranted. Drug trips are not likely to be televised in the absence of a ban, at least outside of Japanese game shows. Dog fighting almost certainly will be syndicated to some extent, appearing on television screens to a much wider audience. And yes, being on TV will increase exposure, and therefore the audience, especially from chronic gamblers. Even if that's not the case, flyers will be posted of the events. They will happen in well lit arenas with easy access, not in back alleys. It will be a far more inviting atmosphere, one that increases awareness as well. Pure morbid curiosity will draw many people in. I don't think this is going to happen with any currently illegal drugs when legalized, either. In both cases, access is made affordable and simple, but what Pro is missing both that legal gambling most certainly won't care about moral boundaries, and that people are drawn to flashy shows on TV or in their neighborhoods. Humans are easily distracted by shiny objects.
An increased number of gamblers and viewership further empowers the criminal organizations that run it.
Lastly, I want to spend some more time on the child issue, something Pro really did not spend enough time on. All he says is that this isn't proven. My link says otherwise. I don't have the space to quote from it, but what it showcases is a definitive link between animal abuse and human violence. As I've stated multiple times now, this is literally legalized animal abuse. Putting that on a television screen in a well-lit arena for all to see tells children that animal abuse is acceptable. Whether that means that they participate in it themselves or don't do anything about family members who engage in it, that's a problem for both the animals themselves and for anyone who interacts with those family members. At the very least, we both agree that this can activate people with mental disorders, which is bad enough to keep the ban, but the reality is that it's going to lead to more animal abuse, more desensitized children, and more human violence among the general population as well. All Pro has on this point is a little uncertainty. That's not enough to make this argument disappear, nor does it minimize it to the point of unimportance.
And with that, I await Pro's concluding post.
In response to Whiteflame's last post, I believe his summary of my major and minor points is dead on. Because this conversation has taken a primarily philosophical course (which is fine), I will only respond to his direct challenges to my points, rather than trying to argue my points further.
"just because you've committed one objectively immoral act and continue to do so doesn't mean that you should expand the practice."
--Absolutely correct. But you are still beginning with the personal belief (not an absolute standard) that one or both acts is/are immoral. From a strictly humanist standpoint, if I want to live in the country and fight dogs, it's none of your business. If you, a neighbor, were to come and tell me you were going to call the cops, I would naturally be forced to ask you why you don't actively protest many "similar or worse by comparison" activities which are perfectly legal-- adamantly, that is, to the point of pursuing legislations and criminal sanctions against anyone who engages in sports which involve intense physical interaction.
"The fact that they persist doesn't mean that dog fighting should be recognized as morally acceptable."
--I am arguing that dog fighting is not immoral, not that we must all accept it as moral. I can accept that their are people who are into BDSM and Homosexuality and all kinds of other things, and I don't have to participate. Now, this naturally leads us into your next point regarding "consent".
"A human being can consent to having their body ruined and putting themselves at physical risk."
--So if I consent to using drugs, why do I and my dealer go to jail? Forget the illicit for a moment even-- A boxer who consents to fighting is still engaging in the activity you have compared to dog fighting as "blood-sport". Consent or not has no bearing on the general morality, only on your perceived morality in contrasting the two (against, say...football).
"We cannot possibly know whether a dog is consenting, and even if we could, we cannot know whether that is a result of their own desires. "
--We have long considered ourselves above other animals on this planet, but I will not argue from this standpoint. As someone who values all life, I recognize that violence and death are a part of it. I will get in the ring and fight around with someone on the ground until one of us chokes the other into submission, and then go out for drinks with them afterwards. Does this make me violent? I have never assaulted anyone.
To directly answer this point of yours: we can't talk to animals, and we never have their consent for anything we do to them ever. From displacement to use in entertainment, hunting, poaching, domestication, deforestation, and any other number of ways we have affected animals without their consent, I don't see how we can logically correlate consent with the morality of dog-fighting.
"As such, subjecting them to objectively immoral acts by forcing them to fight is made less moral than allowing adult humans to decide."
-- I have already made an argument that you are "begging the question" regarding your use of the term "immoral". I will add now that I don't see how comparable activities can be "more or less" immoral in relation to each other. If you are going to argue this though, I will concede to this one point (that it may be more or less moral than boxing), but add that you have just admitted that morality is completely subjective.
"And just to tack this on, the comparison to drugs is a bad one. Legalization of alcohol and tobacco took it out of the criminal market, shutting down black markets entirely. Dog fighting legalization will only serve to empower them, and increase the involvement of crowds and gamblers. I'll get into why that is over the course of my arguments."
-- OK, I re-read the arguments, and I agree that syndication might increase involvement SLIGHTLY. The increase would seem much larger because a lot of the people now doing it openly were already doing it and never got caught. Plus how do you define dog fighting? If my dog and my friend's dog fight each other in the yard, and then we separate them, was that a "dog fight" (no wounds, no deaths, because we care about the dogs). I don't see how you admit that prohibition of activities is a failure, but expect it to succeed with dog fighting. Furthermore, If the crowds and gamblers are being monitored by security and officials, how could their possibly be MORE violence and deaths? Dog's can be trained to fight with the understanding they are not fighting to the death. Domesticated animals do it all the time, even when domesticated after being feral.
"As for nature being subjective, I think we are better than nature. We're human beings, and we can assess things in ways that aren't solely based on survival of the fittest."
--I salute you for this statement. However, we all disagree so much, and there are so many selfish, greedy people, that I don't see a reason to single out dog fighters (or drug users, e.g.). Maybe if more people could debate like you and I are debating we could get further in society.
"I'll repeat myself here: we would be accepting legalized animal abuse. "
--I won't repast the whole paragraph, since it is basically an extension of this argument. My response to this, in short, is that this is entirely subjective. Furthermore, if it made dog fighting much safer for the animals (which much research has shown to be what happens whenever prohibitions are removed), then it actually is helping to end animal abuse. All of these dogs could be recognized celebrities like Joyce Gracie, and enjoy nice homes, good food, and medical care when needed. Not to mention fights could be called earlier, before any serious injuries occur.
"he never fully addresses the issue of bait animals dying to prove viciousness"
It is in our conversation in the comments section. I would say that this is not a common practice in dog fighting, and if dog fighting were legalized it wouldn't be happening at all.
"nor does he ever address my point about racing horses from Round 2, a perfectly legal practice of killing animals once they are no longer able to perform well."
--I think that is terrible. I have already expressed my disdain for euthanizing, and do not understand how this relates other than to make my point about baseline comparisons for moral evaluation.
"I'm still not sure whether I buy this. Yes, some feral dogs get put down. Yes, some feral dogs attack people. Yes, some feral dogs get disease. But we're not comparing between finding these dogs a loving home and leaving them out in the streets. We're comparing between feral (as would be the case for many dogs, regardless of whether dog fighting is legalized) or being trained to fight other dogs. These are dogs that will be regularly injured by the teeth and claws of their opponent, increasing the chance for infection."
--I did post links with statistics on ferals. My point was also there already aren't enough homes for all the strays. Furthermore, many dogs which are fought have normal homes and owners who care for them. Many "underground" fights, usually involving youth, are stopped well in advance of serious injury. Even cruel owners have a financial interest in preserving their fighters.
"the vast majority of these dogs will not live beyond their younger years, as they will be beaten in the ring,"
--you are making a pretty big statement here. Can you verify this with a comment link? I think it would be impossible to gauge. You can't aggregate data on illicit activities.
I have already addressed 3a., so moving on to 3b.
"These dogs are bred to cause injury " at the very least " to every animal they see, small and large, essentially ensuring that either they have to be constantly locked up (great for their quality of life) or that they are incredibly likely to attack untrained dogs on their trips outside, dogs that are far likelier to die or receive permanent injuries in short confrontations. "
--That depends entirely upon how they are trained, and who trained them. If you legalize and regulate dog fighting, it would always be licensed, trained (knowledgeable) people doing this.
I believe you are correct on the increase in viewership. Could this be bad? Possible. But now we are getting into the realm of media and mass culture, which is an entirely separate debate I would love to have at some point. Many experts in the fields of communications and psychology are divided over the degree to which media inputs shape culture and vice-versa. This is not a clear enough issue to use as a debating point for this particular issue.
I am out of space, so I will address the rest of your points in the comments section. Thanks for helping me out with this assignment!
I'm going to spend most of this getting into summation and concluding remarks, as I feel much of what I have to say in rebuttal will be repetitious with them, though I will first go through the rebuttals of my opponent.
Pro argues that I am still looking at the issue from a personal standpoint, and that from a purely humanist standpoint, I should be fine with it. He's wrong in two ways. The first is that humans are indirectly affected, and I think I made that very clear with my argument on desensitization of children. The second problem is that word, "humanist." The subject of most of this debate hasn't been human. That's an anthropacentric viewpoint, which has allowed for the extinction of more wild species than we'll ever know and the mass slaughter of countless domesticated animals for our food.
From here, he moves back into hypocrisy. I find myself wondering why this matters. Why should I have to protest similar activities to find fault in this one? If I am acting hypocritically, can I not be acting morally? Or, if morally isn't right, can I not act in defense of animals who suffer cruelty under my neighbor? From the outset, this hasn't been just a question of morality. Pro took 2 separate burdens from the start: he has to prove that dog fighting is both "NOT immoral" and that it doesn't result in cruelty to animals. I'm going to provide an extensive explanation of where I see the morality portion, but if I prove that cruelty to animals does result, it doesn't matter whether morality is at issue.
I'll get into his responses on the moral end of the spectrum near the end of this post, but I do want to mention something about consent, as that is a major issue in this debate. I think my opponent mishandles this argument. All of his examples emphasize the hypocrisy of a world like ours not allowing dog fighting. But this doesn't address my point. When we agree from the start of the debate, and my opponent did agree, that life and its quality are objective values, then their degradation should be considered immoral. However, this isn't just about morality. This is also about cruelty. Consent suffices as the sole way to determine whether that loss or degradation of life was the result of an autonomous choice or something outside of their control. We cannot prevent individuals from making those choices for themselves; it's their life, their quality, they can modify it as they please so long as it does no harm to others. It's not cruelty, as cruelty is inflicted on others. But since we value these two principles, by necessity, we must defend them for those who have no choice in the matter.
Now, Pro can talk about the hypocrisy of how some laws don't respect autonomy. Pro can talk about how consent can lead to choices that are immoral from the standpoint of others viewing that consent as harmful. He can talk about how we cause harm to animals in other ways against their will. None of that matters, nor does it change this situation. It might toss the moral issue into uncertainty, but not the cruelty issue. Hypocrisy doesn't make the non-autonomous loss of life or its quality less cruel.
Pro posed another odd point. "I don't see how you admit that prohibition of activities is a failure, but expect it to succeed with dog fighting." I made very specific arguments explaining how the prohibition of alcohol was a failure for separate reasons in my last post. I also argued how legalization causes more harms, and brought up the specific instance of horse racing as proof that dogs will still be euthanized following permanent and debilitating injury. And as more people, as my opponent admits, will be going out to watch these events, they will invariably increase in size. We can argue about the amount of increase, but any increase means more dogs subjected to this brutal practice. That means more dogs put at risk of imminent death and almost certain injury. And I'll repeat what I've said before: no amount of security personnel and officials will make this safe. Pro keeps stating that it will be safer, yet all along, he's never given a route to change beyond ending the fights earlier. That's up to the judges, who are likely to be influenced by the criminal element that controls the entire sport. It's just a more blatant show of the exact same thing.
I'm rather confused that Pro has asked the question "how do you define dog fighting?" this late into his own debate about dog fighting. We didn't come right out and say it, but dog fighting is a sport where two dogs are thrown together in a ring and fight it out until one or the other submits. The fact that dogs fight sometimes outside the ring is, again, moving outside of the realm of non-consent.
Pro also states that the dogs can be trained to fight "safely." No one should buy this. Even if we assume such safe fighting is possible, owners won't change the system from what works. Removing the viciousness of the dogs in the ring will debilitate the sport, losing them customers and thus earnings. Officials will be the ones purportedly making it "safer," but as I stated, they won't do it. They'll want this to remain popular as well.
Overall, I think Pro means well, but he's asking us to believe in an idyllic world. He tells a great story:
That dog fighting only needs is legalization to stop or minimize the animal cruelty
That bait animals won't be utilized to test their strength
That the criminal groups that currently run dog fights will be replaced with law abiding trainers
That fewer dogs are going to die, and fewer injuries be doled out to the dogs in the ring
That after they're out of the ring, these dogs will be treated well
None of these have citations, nor could they. Dog fighting has never been legalized in this country, so how could any of us know what will happen and how it will be regulated? They're all just inference, with Pro purporting similarities between dog fighting and certain sports or drugs. The reality is that there's not a lot we know about the outcomes of these dogs right now, either. Neither of us have that data. But we do know that both dogs cannot leave that ring uninjured. We do know that many horses who can longer race are euthanized. We do know that there are other sports where underachieving animals are mistreated or euthanized. And we can expect far worse in a sport that makes animal cruelty its headline.
Lastly, I'd like to hit at the issue of morality because I think if my opponent's case is shaky anywhere, it's here.
Getting into morality, and I think this is key, we're having a fundamental disagreement as to what Pro needs to do to satisfy this burden. He's spent a lot of time arguing that morality is relative, and therefore we cannot accept that anything is moral or immoral, thus proving that dog fighting is not immoral. But let's say I accept this. One can only conclude one of two things from this; we must either view the world through a lens of relative morality, or we must discard morality as a notion for assessing anything. In either case, Pro loses the debate with this argument alone.
Bear with me here. Let's say we have a world where we view everything through relative morality. In that case, some people will view it as morally harmful based on societal norms, and some won't. Dog fighting, and all other concepts as well, would exist in a space between moral and immoral. That's bad for him, because he's stating unequivocally that it is "NOT immoral". That's an absolute, and absolutes don't exist in this world. If he can't prove that absolute, he loses this round.
How about the world without morality? Well, if morality doesn't exist, neither does immorality. We cannot distinguish between. As such, Pro cannot affirm that dog fighting is "NOT immoral" because neither of us can make that assessment. We can't assess morality in its absence. So this nihilistic view would lose Pro the debate as well.
So what have I brought forward here? I've made a case for how legalization only adds to animal cruelty concerns. I've argued that it's going to lead to mass desensitization and more criminality among the human population. And I've even taken my opponent's arguments about morality and turned them around on him, revealing that his own perception of morality is damning to his case.
I deeply respect my opponent for taking on a difficult issue here, and I feel he's done an incredible job considering the side he took in this debate, but when it comes to a vote, siding with me is easy. If you believe that morality is objective in any sense, you vote for me, as I've made the most specific and well-elucidated arguments regarding it. If you believe that it's subjective, you will still vote for me due to Pro's failure to meet his own burdens. Vote Con.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by TheLastMan 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Another good debate. Pro forfieted in one of the rounds. So, Pro loses conduct points. By embracing Pro's world of subjective morality as he stipulates it, we must exist in a world either without a concept of morality or one where morality is always in flux. As such, Pro cannot meet his burden. His burden in the round, as he stated, was to prove that dog fighting is "NOT immoral." With subjective morality, he cannot meet that burden, no matter how we interpret it. Pro seemed to add nuance to his stance on morality throughout the debate. I agree with Con that this isn't just about morality. This is also about cruelty.
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