The Instigator
YYW
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points
The Contender
BlackVoid
Con (against)
Losing
9 Points

Resolved: A just society requires the recognition of animal rights.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/18/2011 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 17,877 times Debate No: 17953
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (53)
Votes (8)

 

YYW

Pro

First round will be for acceptance, following rounds for debate. Obviously, this is the current LD resolution. Let's try to debate it that way. Sources are important, but not overwhelmingly important. Logic, reason, etc. should be the grounds for compelling arguments. Kritiks are fine, so long as you do not willfully misinterpret the resolution or wage an assault on the dictionary. In our efforts we ought to mutually endeavor to test the strengths of our ideas, rather than quibble over phraseology and definitions.

I would strongly prefer some LD experience in my opponent, but it isn't required. A couple of notes though:

1) If you are still in high school, consider the ramifications of putting your arguments online. (This is my polite way of saying that even if you are 18 and in high school, don't accept this debate.)

2) There is a minimum age of 18 for this debate, principally because I have as of late been disgusted with some of nonsense our younger members have put on here.

3) If you assume a burden of proof higher than is required to advocate for the resolution, you can rest assured that I will exploit that to win the debate.

4) This is the last touchy one... I don't care about what my ranking is, primarily because of how rankings and "victory" is determined. The idea of having my argumentative prowess quantified by some miscreant youth is as novel is it is absurd.

5) I just want to reiterate that this is not an evidence war. No links (other than in-text citations), no videos, etc.

Lastly: there are no "rules" per se, aside from basic cannons of decency. I would like this to go sort-of as LD does, but if my opponent is unfamiliar with that debating style I can accommodate. There is nothing I love more than a judge who (based on their personal bias of one side or another) will look for a "violation" to justify giving the debater advocating for the position they don't like the loss. If you are a judge and can't get past yourself to judge fairly then do the honorable thing and refrain from judging. Similarly, if you aren't at least an undergraduate or have an undergraduate degree (at minimum) do not judge this round.

This is kind of my last hope for this site. If it goes poorly... well I suppose my cynicism will be justified.

Now, notes about the topic itself:

The resolution does not require that we explicitly define what animal rights are.
We are only talking about "just" societies. While "just" is open to interpretation, "recognition" is not. Again, do not willfully misinterpret the resolution to argue some unfathomable position of insanity.

After we are finished, I would like to flip sides and argue on the neg with the same opponent -if that is ok with my opponent. To that end, this is kind of like a two for one deal.

Happy debating!

PS. If I forgot to mention anything, no lawyering. This is not an exhaustive list of requirements and nor should it be treated as one by judges. We all should have a pretty good idea of what a debate of this variety should look like so let's not muck it up, shall we?
BlackVoid

Con

Thanks to YYW for the topic. I'll point out that this is the first LD resolution of the year.

I did LD for 3 years in high school (graduated last year), and I'm over 17, so he should be fine debating me. Though I would like to point out to my opponent that there are several intelligent high schoolers on this site, and if he's had bad exeriences with some of them then he's probably just gotten the few bad apples. I'm only saying this because I never liked the bad rep teens got and still get.


But anyway, I accept all rules of the debate and look forward to a good round.
Debate Round No. 1
YYW

Pro

Resolved: A Just Society Requires the Recognition of Animal rights.

The resolution asks us to determine what a just society is, and within the parameters of such a society should the rights of animals be recognized? Justice, then is our value. Let's begin with the a basic understanding of justice: giving each their due. If individuals have rights in a society, then justice must concern itself with the protection and cultivation of those rights. No law, institution, or person is just if it or he violates or ignores or in some way encroaches upon the rights of others. A system of justice (of a just society) must recognize (acknowledge formally) the rights of all individuals recognized to have rights within that society.

What, then, are rights? Rights themselves are "Rights are entitlements to [or not to] perform certain actions, or to [or not to] be in certain states; or entitlements that others perform [or not perform] certain actions or be [or not be] in certain states... Rights dominate modern understandings of what actions are permissible and which institutions are just. Rights structure the form of governments, the content of laws, and the shape of morality as it is currently perceived. To accept a set of rights is to approve a distribution of freedom and authority, and so to endorse a certain view of what may, must, and must not be done." (1)

1) To accept that animals have rights only requires that one accept that there are certain things that humans ought not do to animals.

"To say that a being deserves moral consideration is to say that there is a moral claim that this being has on those who can recognize such claims. A morally considerable being is a being who can be wronged in a morally relevant sense." (2)

This debate is only concerned with human to animal interaction because animal rights exist only in animal to human interaction, as humans alone have the power to to recognize those rights while animals do not. To that end, there can be no expectation of reciprocation from the animals to humans. Do animals merit moral consideration? Can animals be wronged in a morally relevant way? Rights are the product of human reason, reason that enables us to recognize at minimum our obligation not to cause harm to the people and things we interact with.

Kant argues in "Groundwork" and that humans are innately superior to animals because humans are rational beings and therefore are ends themselves, "not merely... means to be arbitrarily used." According to Kant, "[animals] only a relative value as means and are therefore called things." Indeed, humans have the power to arbitrarily use animals to whatever ends humankind may desire, but merely having a power does not divest the holder of that power of all duty and responsibility with regard to that power.

In essence, simply because humans can abuse animals does not make us justified in doing so. That is not to say that humans and animals moral claims are equal, nor are human rights and animal rights equal. Because humans are superior (I cite Korsgaard's justification (2) for that assertion) our rights are superior to those of animals. Similarly though, that humans have superior rights does not strip animals or all rights or moral consideration. This is acceptable because merely "that non-human animals can make moral claims on us does not in itself indicate how such claims are to be assessed and conflicting claims adjudicated. Being morally considerable is like showing up on a moral radar screen—how strong the signal is or where it is located on the screen are separate questions." (2)

We accept that animals experience pain, but also that they are incapable of reciprocating recognition of rights and therefore we do not senselessly abuse animals or expect them recognize our right not to experience pain. If any being has an interest in avoiding pain, that being has a moral claim to pain avoidance because as Korsgaard so eloquently phrased it "to be in pain is a pain, and that is no trivial fact." (2)

What the moral significance of those claims are situational and beyond the scope of the resolution because if we accept that any being that has an interest in avoiding pain deserves to have that interest taken into account (recognized) by an individual capable of recognizing that right, then we accept that there are restrictions governing what humans may do to animals. From that conclusion we deduce that animals have rights; and that those rights are due recognition if they are to have significance.

By contrast, to assert that animals have no rights is to assert that there neither are nor ought to be any permissible limitations governing human to animal interaction. If animals have no moral claim whatsoever then there is no action, injury, or abuse which humans may inflict upon the animal kingdom with any consequence to the morality of the person causing the harm. Accordingly, animals are due the right to not be made suffer without cause.

2) If we accept that there are certain things that humans ought not do to animals, then the rights of animals must be recognized by a just society.

If animals have rights, then to violate them without cause is unjust. What may constitute a viable cause to violate the rights of animals is another debate entirely and vary by context, but we may stipulate easily that (like with human to human interaction -though the cause to violate the rights of an animal, given that animals have less rights than humans, need not be as compelling as the cause to violate the rights of a human) it is permissible to conceive of a situation where the rights of humans and animals may be in conflict and it would be justifiable for a human to violate the rights of an animal.

A just society is one that upholds the values of its citizens. Humans, by our nature, have a sense of humanity and compassion. We do not delight in the suffering of animals, and as such we do not cause what we individually consider to be unnecessary suffering or inflict senseless pain. If we as a society accept that there are certain things that humans should not do to animals, then the task of justice is to prevent those things (whatever they are) from occurring. Where animals have the right to not be subjected to unnecessary harm, any violation of that right is unjust. A just society then assumes the responsibility of preventing such an occurrence by codifying morality, accepted human ethical obligation into a system of law where penalties are established for violating those laws.

In that, the just society ensures that where any person violates those rights they are due consequence -and animal rights are recognized. If we accept that humans ought not bring about unnecessary harm to the animal kingdom, then we recognize animal right as individuals. A just society, being a reflection of the individuals it is constructed of, then is obliged to ensure that animals not be made to unnecessarily suffer. A society that does not recognize animal rights on any level does not accept any limitations governing what humans may or may not or ought or ought not do to animals, is unjust then because without recognition of animal rights on any level there is no restriction preventing senseless or causeless animal suffering.

In Summery:

To accept that animals have rights is to accept that there are certain things that humans shouldn't do to animals. Because there are limitations (moral or otherwise) governing what humans should and should not do to animals, animals have rights that stem from those limitations. Most reasonable humans do not abuse animals for this reason, and because most people disapprove of animal abuse (in the abstract sense) a just society that recognizes the rights and values of its members is required to recognize animal rights in order to be just.

(1) http://plato.stanford.edu...
(2) http://plato.stanford.edu...
(3) http://www.iep.utm.edu...
BlackVoid

Con

Thanks to pro for his opening case. I'll give my case first then refute his.



I accept my opponent's value of Justice. He defines it as "giving each their due", but I never saw this definition in any of the dictionaries I looked at, so I'd like to know where this is coming from. Until then, I offer the definition of "the administration of what is just or fair" which is the definition most commonly used.

We need to figure out what it means to be "just or fair". I defend Utilitarianism, which states that actions are just when they produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This is the correct interpretation of justice for two reasons:

1. Utilitarianism is objective; there is a definite right or wrong answer as to whether or not something produces a net benefit.

2. Utilitarianism, by definition, maximizes happiness for as many people as possible. This is a good thing because all humans are striving for happiness in life, ad Utility helps us do this.


Contention 1: Not recognizing animal rights produces a Utilitarian benefit

A. Animal experimentation

Researchers trying to treat and prevent diseases have depended on animal testing for decades. According to the Foundation of Biomedical Research, "animal research has played a vital role in virtually every major medical advance of the last century (1)."

Animal experimentation requires that we don't recognize animal rights. Test subjects are often locked in cages, injected with various liquids, and exposed to certain substances, which would be unethical if we did consider animals as having a right to life or freedom. Thus, we cannot afford to respect animal rights because it would prohibit animal experimentation, which is bad because testing is necessary to developing cures for disease.

In fact, animal research contributed to 70% of the Nobel prizes for physiology or medicine (2). Its also led to the development of anaesthetics, insulin, and transplants, and developed vaccines for polio, hepatitis, and smallpox. So right off the bat, animal testing has literally saved millions of lives and will continue to do so.

The Department of Health and Human services also confirms that animal experimentation has increased our average lifespan by 23.5 years (3). Its also key to cancer research and AIDS treatment. In fact, Americans for Medical Progress states that "You can't be for AIDS research AND animal rights." (4)

Therefore, a just society does not recognize animal rights because doing so would destroy any chance of developing vaccines or cures for serious medical conditions.


B. Food

In areas such as Alaska, Northern Africa, or any other place with extreme conditions, plants do not have sufficient sunlight or water to grow. This makes vegetarianism impossible in several areas around the world. In these places, animals must be killed and eaten for food in order for the human population to survive. Not doing so condemns, literally, millions of people to starvation, which is obviously unethical.


Conclusion: Animal testing and food consumption literally saves millions of lives, of both humans and animals. But doing so requires the non-recognition of animal rights, because to test cures and vaccines we must take away the animal's freedom and/or life. This is acceptable because there is a greater Utilitarian benefit; more animals will end up being saved because of our medical advancements, and human populations in the desert and tundra will be able to survive by eating meat.


Pro case:


I have two general refutations against my opponent's arguments:


First, my opponent's case is incompatible with Utilitarianism. His arguments are generally about the animal's ability to suffer, moral considerability, and moral reciprocity. These arguments are deontological in nature rather than Utilitarian. So if the judges at any point accept Utilitarianism as the correct way to weigh the round, his entire case would fall because it does not match the correct framework.

Second, my opponent does not meet the BoP. The resolution asks Pro to defend animal rights, which means he must defend at least 2 rights in order to fulfill the grammatical burden of the resolution. However, the only right Pro has even mentioned is the right to freedom from suffering, and nothing else. Thus, he does not meet the burden of proof because he only defends one animal right whereas the resolution calls for multiple.


Justice

Pro hasn't actually explained what constitutes a just action. This is problematic because the resolution asks us to evaluate what a just society would do. Since he has no weighing standard of Justice, you have to accept my interpretation, which is that a just society acts to maximize the happiness of its people.

I agree with my opponent that we must not violate rights of those who possess them. I also accept his definition of Rights.


C1:

In this debate, Pro needs to answer the question "Why should animals have rights?". Most of his case doesn't do this. His Contention 1 consists mostly of pre-emptive arguments rather than positive ones, and his contention 2 talks about what would happen IF animals had rights.


Lets look at Contention 1.


Pro starts by saying that "To accept that animals have rights only requires that one accept that there are certain things that humans ought not do to animals." Thats fine.


In Pro's next paragraph, he says that animal rights only exist in human to animal interaction. Ok.


Then he says that humans having the ability to abuse animals doesn't mean that its justified. Ok.



Animals and pain

Finally, Pro makes a positive argument for the resolution, by saying animals should have the right to freedom from suffering because they can feel pain. I agree that most animals experience similar physical stimulations of suffering that humans do. However, what makes pain truly painful is the emotional response. The International Association for the Study of Pain writes that "The emotional component of pain is considered its important aspect, not the activation of pain sensors in the body."(5)


We know emotions play a key role in pain sensations because of how we react to different situations. In the dentist office, the pain of a needle going into a gum doesn't hurt a lot because we are able to reason it away, making our emotions not play a role. But if we were forced onto a table against our will, an had our teeth drilled into, it would hurt quite a lot because we are now emotionally involved.


So emotions are a prerequisite to the feeling of true suffering. This is where the animal's cognitive capacity comes in. In The Cognitive Structure of Emotions, three professors write several times that a high cognitive ability is necessary for the feeling of emotion (6), which in turn is necessary for the feeling of true suffering. Most animals do not have a high cognitive capacity like humans do, so this would prove that animals are unable to feel pain on the human level because they do not have emotions on the human level. Thus, this is not a reason to recognize animal rights.


Contention 2:

This contention just explains that if there are things that shouldn't be done to animals, then they have a right from it. This is fine, but I've already argued that any "bad thing" we can do to animals is morally neutral because they don't have emotions at the level humans do.


Conclusion:

Pro is missing a lot of things from his case to affirm. For one, he doesn't define what a just action is, and only defends one animal right. Plus, he hasn't justified his deontological approach to the topic whereas I have justified my Utilitarian one. Remember that if voters accept Utilitarianism, it would basically be an auto-win because thats what my case is about. For these reasons, as well as the fact that not recognizing animal rights saves millions, I urge a Con vote.


Good luck to my opponent in his next round.

Debate Round No. 2
YYW

Pro

I extend my foremost gratitude to my opponent, and would respectfully request that he reserve any discussion of voting issues until the later rounds. However, given that he has brought the topic up, I will entertain a refutation so as not to leave any argumentative surface unscathed. I will evaluate my opponent’s case, restate my own as needed, and finish on the voting issues that my opponent felt it necessary to bring up since he brought them up.

I fundamentally reject the proposition by my opponent that utilitarian justice and Socratic justice (the definition I proposed) are mutually exclusive; because utilitarian justice is one of many means of achieving Socratic justice. In essence, where giving each their due is what we aspire to achieve, maximizing utility is but one of many ways to define what it is that they are due.

Some things to keep in mind:

Firstly, my opponent argues that what is just or fair (where justice and fairness are synonymous, as Rawls would argue) is best achieved by the maximization of happiness (as Brentham would argue) in a utilitarian societal structure. Utilitarianism is acceptable, though it is not the only way to achieve what is “just” in all circumstances.

My opponent argues that “not recognizing animal rights produces a utilitarian benefit.” He argues that recognizing animal rights precludes the consumption of meat or the use of animals for testing purposes in medical research.

Why his logic is fallacious:

In order to assert that the consumption of meat or use of animals in medical research is a violation of “animal rights” one must first assert that animals have the right not to be killed for food or be used as means of experimentation. As humans we accept that both medical research and eating are important activities to our survival, and to the betterment of mankind. Recall, that to accept that animals have rights only requires that one accept that there are certain things that humans should not do to animals, like make animals suffer needlessly. Actions that humans take towards animals that benefit human welfare are well purposed. Any suffering that animals may incur is then justified because it facilitates human benefit, and thus not a violation of “animal rights.” Recall further that to accept that animals have rights does not require an acceptance that the rights of animals and humans are (or even ought to be equal), only that they not be made to suffer needlessly.

And as for my opponent’s response to my case:

My opponent contends that my case is incompatible with utilitarianism on any level, which I take issue with. My opponent defined utilitarianism as “the greatest good for the greatest number of PEOPLE” to maximize human welfare.

Again, a consideration human rights is in and of itself not at odds with any action humans take towards animals that results in benefiting humans because humans have higher moral consideration than animals. Where human rights and animal rights are in conflict, obviously deference should be afforded to humans because human have a superior moral claim. Given that humans and animals do not exist as equals, humans are justified in using animals to ends that benefit humanity -but not senseless ends that cause unnecessary animal suffering.

My opponent notes that I have not listed (at least) 2 “rights” that animals are entitled to, and he asserts that because I have not listed animal rights to a point of specificity that I have failed to meet my burden of proof. I reject this claim wholeheartedly, on the grounds that the resolution states:

“Resolved: A just society requires the recognition of animal rights.”

“Rights” in the plural form, does not require that he or I itemize what grievances animals are entitled to in every case, because rights are not and cannot be explicitly itemized to a degree of absolute certainty or universal applicability. To require that I do so abstractly (without a given situation to assess) is to task me with a responsibility greater than any philosopher, thinker, etc. ever undertook and is thus unreasonable.

To accept and affirm the resolution only requires that the reader think of some abuse that humans ought not inflict upon animals in some situation -simply, to accept that there are some things that humans shouldn't’t do to animals. To negate this resolution requires a comprehensive and universal absence of restraint to what humans may to to animals. In essence, to disagree with this resolution is to state that there are, nor ought to be any limitations to what humans can do to the animal kingdom.

However, my opponent takes issue with the fact that animals can feel pain because “the emotional component of pain” is a prerequisite for the experience of pain. This is absurd. If a dog yelps in response to being shot, obviously it is feeling physical pain. A close reading of my opponent’s cited evidence indicates that it only speaks to the HUMAN experience of pain, completely irrespective of that of animals.

If animals didn’t feel pain, why would prescription pain medications be available for animals of varying species? Why would a kicked dog yelp? Obviously, because it would be experiencing pain if subjected to such abuse. If any being can experience pain, that being has a right to avoid doing so unless there is a good reason for it. Even though animals may not have the same emotional response to the experience of physical pain that humans do does not divest animals of all moral consideration, as my opponent seems to believe.

Additionally, I have no obligation to define what a “just action” is (other than that it justice requires the recognition of human rights -which I have), only that a “just society” is obliged to recognize animal rights on some level. If on any level an individual recognizes that there are some things that people just ought not to (like torture a dog for fun, or kill a cat because they can) then that individual recognizes that animals have some rights. To that end, a just society would recognize those rights.

Lastly, My opponent has made the following concessions:

“To accept that animals have rights only requires that one accept that there are certain things that humans ought not do to animals." Thats fine. In Pro's next paragraph, he says that animal rights only exist in human to animal interaction. Ok. Then he says that humans having the ability to abuse animals doesn't mean that its justified. Ok.”

Because my opponent agrees that there are certain things that humans ought not do to animals, he recognizes that animals have rights, and furthermore that simply because humans have the power to abuse animals does not make them justified in doing so. If humans are not justified in abusing animals, then not only do animals have the right not to be abused but society (composed of humans) is obliged to recognize that the abuse of animals is wrong.

To that end, my opponent essentially accepts that “A just society requires the recognition of animal rights.”

In summery:

Achieving the greatest good for the greatest number of people is not in conflict with the recognition of animal rights because any act that humans took to better humankind would not result in needless suffering of animals. Accordingly, there is no "auto-win" if you, as a judge accept utilitarianism because utilitarianism as defined by my opponent is not in conflict with a recognition of animal rights.
BlackVoid

Con

I thank my opponent as well for his response.

I'm going to go straight down the arguments as he made them.


Utilitarianism:

My opponent thinks that his conception of Justice (giving each their due) is compatible with Utilitarianism. I agree. However, my argument wasn't that Justice and Utility don't match. It was that Utility and my opponent's arguments don't match. This is because my opponent's case does not explain how recognizing animal rights benefits anybody, or how it produces a Utilitarian benefit. Rather, its more about the deontological implications of treating animals poorly because they can feel pain. This would normally be fine, but Pro has still not justified deontology as a sound ethical theory, which makes his arguments invalid because their premise is not proven.


Justice:

Pro agrees that Utilitarianism is a way to determine what is just. Though he asserts that "it is not the only way to achieve what is “just” in all circumstances. " Perhaps, but he has conceded my two justifications for Utility, so at the very least we're going to weigh this topic through it.

Thus, in this debate, we look to which side is benefiting more people. Clearly this is the Con position, since I'm developing cures for disease and sickness.


Animal testing/Food:

My opponent seems to think animal testing is a reason to violate animal rights rather than say they shouldn't have them at all. However, in round 2 my opponent said that "No law, institution, or person is just if it or he violates or ignores or in some way encroaches upon the rights of others". He also said that "Where animals have the right to not be subjected to unnecessary harm, any violation of that right is unjust".

These quotes say that if animals did have rights, any violation of them is unjustified. This means he cannot access the benefits of animal experimentation and food consumption because these would require the violation of the right to life or freedom. As such, animal research and animal rights are mutually exclusive.

The alternative then is simply to say that we should not recognize animal rights in the first place. This enables us to save millions of people because it allows us to experiment on and occasionally kill animals to develop cures, with no ethical constraints restricting us. A just society would do this because it creates a Utilitarian benefit, which has been tacitly agreed to as the correct way to view the resolution.

Also, its questionable as to what the point of animal rights are in the first place, if we can just lock them up and throw them in cages whenever we want. If my opponent thinks its okay to force monkeys and lab rats into laboratories and inject them with fluids, then he's not really upholding animal rights.


Lets move on.


Pro case:


1. The pro case and Utilitarianism

I think Pro misunderstood this argument. His rebuttal seems to be saying that he can support animal rights and support Utilitarianism.

This doesn't answer my argument. The argument is that my opponent's case (individual arguments) don't match Utilitarianism, because none of his points attempt to produce any kind of net benefit through the recognition of animal rights. Remember, Utilitarianism is the greatest good for the greatest number of people. For his case to be compatible with this, he should argue that the recognition of animal rights leads to some sort of net benefit.

Though none of his arguments do this. As previously stated, my opponent mostly talks about deontological reasons to give animals rights, which has not been justified. Thus, accepting Utilitarianism as the correct way to determine what is just means that none of my opponent's case applies.


Animals and pain:

Pro has straw manned this argument into thinking I said animals don't feel pain whatsoever. This is just wrong; I admitted that animals feel pain physically. The argument is that animals generally do not feel pain anywhere near the human level because they lack complex emotions, which play a vital role in the feeling of suffering.

Pro mentions that there are pain medications for animals which prove that animals can feel physical pain. This is irrelevant because this issue is not about physical pain, its about emotional pain. My opponent does not contest that animals cant suffer on the human level, due to their lack of cognitive ability and emotion. I urge voters to reread my dentist example in my last speech (not refuted), which shows how the lack of an emotional response to pain effectively prevents suffering.


Though, given that not recognizing animal rights enables animal experimentation, it wouldn't matter if animals can truly suffer anyway. There's an outweighing benefit to not recognizing the right to freedom from suffering, which hasn't been refuted.


What is a Just action?

I respectfully find it ridiculous that Pro doesn't want to define what a just action is. The resolution questions a Just society, and I would expect that a Just society would act according to what is just. At that point we need to know what being Just actually means, which isn't explained properly.

This is a big issue because until we know what it means to be just, we can't make a positive statement towards the resolution because we don't know what affirming actually means. For instance,

What if the resolution said, Resolved: A contra-mecha-destructo-bomb society requires the recognition of animal rights. How is he supposed to affirm if he doesn't explain what a contra-mecha-destructo-bomb society does? Clearly, an understanding of the subject is necessary before we can make a positive statement for the topic.


Concessions???

Pro says this:

"my opponent agrees that there are certain things that humans ought not do to animals".

He does not specifically outline where I agree to this, so I will have to decipher it.

I did at one point agree that "humans having the ability to abuse animals doesn't mean that its justified". However, this only means that abusing animals isn't good. Just because abuse isn't morally right doesn't mean that its morally wrong. Actions can also be morally permissible, or neutral, which means that animal abuse not being good doesn't automatically mean its bad. Morality is not so black and white.


Conclusion:

I have offered a clear way to determine whether a just society recognizes animal rights; Utilitarianism. My opponent said that this was "acceptable" and did not contest my justifications for it being the best way to determine Justice. Thus, judges will be voting for whoever can benefit the greatest amount of people.

My opponent has not contested that animal experimentation and food consumption save millions of lives. Thus, it would appear that the Utilitarian benefit lies with me.

Though, my opponent seems to think that animal experimentation is consistent with a Pro position. But his quotes I mentioned earlier show that if animals have rights, no thing would be just if it violated them. Clearly, forcing animals into cages to be experimented on would be a violation of rights, and therefore unjust according to my opponent. So the only option is to not recognize animal rights, since this is the only option that would consider animal testing as a good thing, which it is.

There are other points of clash here, but this is a key one that I think negates pretty well. I urge voters to recognize that recognizing animal rights is simply not practical, and thus not moral or just. At least, according to the Utilitarian framework that has been accepted.


Good luck to my opponent in his final round.






























Debate Round No. 3
YYW

Pro

Again, many thanks to my opponent for accepting this debate and sticking to it, because I believe it has proven to be more of a challenge than he expected.

My opponent defined utilitarianism as the following:

“I defend Utilitarianism, which states that actions are just when they produce the greatest good for the greatest number of people. This is the correct interpretation of justice for two reasons: 1) Utilitarianism is objective; there is a definite right or wrong answer as to whether or not something produces a net benefit. 2)Utilitarianism, by definition, maximizes happiness for as many people as possible. This is a good thing because all humans are striving for happiness in life, ad Utility helps us do this.”

I accepted my opponent’s definition of utilitarianism, because his definition of utilitarianism is not in conflict with societal recognition of animal rights. But how could this be?

My opponent offered two examples of what “violations” of animal rights may be: a use of animals in medical research and consumption of them for food. I have contended that animals have the right not to be made to needlessly suffer, and my opponent has not disagreed.

The examples that my opponent has cited (use of animals for medical research and food), even though they may cause animal suffering, in no way violates animal rights because the use of animals for purposeful activities that maximize human benefit (utility) are not needless.

Because the use of animals for food or medical research serve the higher purpose of benefitting people, any suffering that may result from those activities to animals is not needless and therefore justified.

Why are they justified? Because if justice is where each are given their due, and animals are not entitled not to be eaten or experimented upon where those activities benefit humans, then it is morally justifiable to experiment on animals. To that end, human benefit (utility) is maximized and animal rights (the right not to be made to needlessly suffer) are not violated.

As an aside, “deontology” is a nice word but it is not what I am arguing. My opponent is transposing semantics in an attempt to deconstruct his own straw-man version of my case. In that, my opponent fundamentally misunderstands that which has been presented to him.

He has failed to counter any point I have offered and opted rather to repeat himself than to respond to what I have offered. Furthermore, I have not failed to define justice, and I find it irresponsible of my opponent to accuse me of failing to define it when it is clearly in the first paragraph of the second round.


My opponent’s fallacious logic:

“My opponent seems to think animal testing is a reason to violate animal rights rather than say they shouldn't have them at all... This means he cannot access the benefits of animal experimentation and food consumption because these would require the violation of the right to life or freedom. As such, animal research and animal rights are mutually exclusive.”

At no point did I say that animals have a right to life or freedom. I have exclusively contended that animals have a right not to be made to needlessly suffer. My opponent, rather than arguing that point, has fallaciously misconstrude what animal rights are, persuant to this debate and therefore has inflicted no harm to my case.

Use of animals for food or medical research does not violate that right because any suffering that animals may experience from those activities is not needless due to the benefit to humankind they yield. Accordingly, there is no conceivable possibility that utilitarianism designed to maximize human benefit as argued by my opponent is in violation of animal rights.

My opponent seems to be unable to grasp this. Again, my opponent has not disagreed that animals have the right not to needlessly suffer and ignored the responses that I have made to his contentions. Therefore, my opponent has done no damage to my case because he has comprehensively failed to counter it.


In Summery:


Animals feel physical pain, and my opponent and I do not disagree over this. Pain is something that all living things that can experience it desire to avoid, because to be in pain is to suffer. My opponent agrees that just because humans have the ability to abuse animals does not give them the right to abuse them.

If my opponent accepts that humans do not have the right to abuse animals, then he must also accept that animals have the right not to be abused by humans -this is just the next logical step that my opponent failed to recognize. We have already stipulated that animal rights only exist in human to animal interaction. Abuse effectuates needless suffering, but purposeful use does not.

My opponent has championed the positive effects of human use animals to maximize human benefit through consumption of animals for food or use of animals in medical research. Because these activities are beneficial to humans, humans are not subjecting animals to abuse by subjecting them to needless suffering.

If animals have a right not to be abused (subjected to needless suffering) then animals are due recognition of that right. Just societies recognize the rights of all who are due rights, and because animals are due recognition of their right not to be subjected to abuse a just society is obliged to recognize that right.


The Result of This Debate:

My opponent has made no attempt to actually counter anything I have said and because he cannot introduce new evidence in the final round he is barred from introducing any new examples. The examples he has offered have been logically countered, or were irrelevant if they were not specifically addressed.
As a debater, my task is to offer a case and respond to the logic presented by my opponent -which I have done. I have proven that a just society is required to recognize animal rights. My opponent has fundamentally misconstrued my argument, and failed to prove his own case because I have further proven how utilitarianism is not in conflict with a recognition of animal rights. I look foreword to my opponent’s response, though the outcome of this debate compels an affirmative victory.


BlackVoid

Con

First I'd like to thank YYW for a fun and thought-provoking debate, and for putting good effort into the round. With that said I'll move into the arguments.


Rebuttal:



Remember, my opponent has accepted Utilitarianism as a sound way to determine justice. Thus, you will be weighing the round through a cost-benefit analysis. Does recognizing animal rights help society or hurt it? Thats what this debate is about.


Unrefuted arguments


A lot of key points I made weren't answered in my opponent's last speech. My opponent has not refuted the following:

1. My opponent's arguments are not Utilitarian in nature because they do not attempt to produce a net benefit.

2. My opponent has given two quotes indicating that no violation of rights is ever just. These are under my Animal Testing section of round three. If animals had rights, experimenting on animals would violate them. Thus, he cannot justify animal testing and thus condemns millions of people to die from disease and starvation. The only option is to not recognize animal rights.

3. Animals cannot suffer when they experience pain because they do not have complex emotions. Therefore, recognizing an animal's right to freedom from unnecessary suffering doesn't make sense.

4. Animal abuse is neither right nor wrong; it is morally neutral.


I'll elaborate more on how these are conceded as we go down the individual arguments. For now, concessions 1 and 3 individually defeat the entire Pro advocacy.



Pro's case and Utility

In LD debate, which this resembles, all arguments must tie back into the criterion, or the method in which we weigh the round. This is Utilitarianism, since he has accepted it. Therefore, any argument in this debate must relate to that theory in order to qualify as a valid argument.

My opponent has misunderstood this all round. He constantly thinks that this is about it being impossible to support both animal rights and Utility, which it isn't. This is about his arguments not matching the framework for the round. The following syllogism should clarify:

1. Utilitarianism is how the winner of the debate is decided (Accepted by opponent)

2. Thus, any argument we make should attempt to produce a net benefit/maximize utility.

3. Pro's one argument is that animals deserve rights because they can suffer. This does not produce a net benefit.

4. Thus, Pro's case does not apply under the framework that he himself has accepted.


My opponent's straw manning of this point means he has conceded the true argument, thus his argument about animal suffering wouldn't apply even if I dropped it.


Can my opponent support animal testing???

Like last round, my opponent repeatedly tries to say that he can support experimentation because its for a greater good, and thus not a violation of the right to unnecessary suffering. He does not respond to the quotes of him I gave in my last round, namely the one of him saying "No law, institution, or person is just if it or he violates or ignores or in some way encroaches upon the rights of others". This quote directly contradicts his assertion because it states any violation of rights is unjust, whether there be a greater benefit or not. Thus, he can't support killing animals for food but also say he's for animal rights.


He does not respond to my argument asking what the point of having rights is. We experiment on and kill animals all the time for practical purposes. Why would we give animals rights at all if we can take them away whenever we feel like it?


What?

At one point in his last round, Pro said this:

"At no point did I say that animals have a right to life or freedom."

I'm not sure how to respond to this except to arbitrarily say that this makes no sense. He wants to defend the right to freedom from suffering but not the right to life? This is absurd. It would lead to the conclusion that killing animals for fun is OK as long as its painless.

Furthermore, all other rights stem from the right to life, since nothing can exist without it. At the point where my opponent does not want to defend an animal's right to life, he forfeits the opportunity to defend any rights because life is a prerequisite to having them in the first place.


Suffering

We agree that animals feel pain on a basic physical level. But he makes the argument that "to be in pain is to suffer". This is actually a drastic claim that I reject entirely. Pain is an unpleasant sensation. Suffering is an agonizing feeling coupled with emotional distress. They are nowhere near synonymous.

Onto the actual argument. Pro continually says that he defends the animal's right to freedom from unnecessary suffering. However, he's completely dropped my argument that animals do not actually suffer because they lack complex emotions. I even said last round that " a lack of an emotional response to pain effectively prevents suffering" and he did not address this. He also never denied that animals do not have complex emotions because of their limited cognitive capacity. Thus, its established that animals do not have emotions and thus do not suffer.

Its worth noting that freedom from suffering is the only animal right Pro has defended. As such, this concession nullifies his entire case.



On a separate issue, Pro does not address my argument about Moral Neutrality. This indicates that just because something may not be good (like harming animals) doesn't mean its inherently bad.



Conclusion

Pro has one argument; animals can suffer. My response was never directly addressed so this falls. On the other side, not recognizing animal rights is the only way to allow animal experimentation and food consumption, which he's conceded save millions of lives. Furthermore, morality is not black and white. Even if there are certain things we can do to animals that aren't good, it doesn't instantly mean they're bad. Finally, it makes no sense to defend any rights of animals without defending the right to life, since all other rights stem from being alive. Based on these arguments and others, it should be clear that not recognizing animal rights benefits society the most and thus is the action a just society would take.


Again, thanks for the debate.


Debate Round No. 4
53 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Maikuru 5 years ago
Maikuru
Interesting topic and close score. I'll have to read this soon.
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
YYW
lol, I guess so. :)
Posted by BlackVoid 5 years ago
BlackVoid
Dang, I leave for 2 minutes and there's 5 new comments.
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
YYW
tru dat... rofl
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
lol YYW debated in highschool, practically everyone who does that is cocky.
Posted by YYW 5 years ago
YYW
Yeah, I apologize for that... when I wrote the terms of the debate there were more than a few spam debates up and I let the reactionary side dictate terms...
Posted by S98-SAMMAN 5 years ago
S98-SAMMAN
YYW your pretty cocky...
Posted by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
Pro's analysis that animals can feel pain is correct. His analysis that we ought not inflict pain without cause is correct. Cons objection that "He wants to defend the right to freedom from suffering but not the right to life? This is absurd" is false, because YYW was defending that animals ought not be subjected to pain without the benefit of a greater good. Again, recognizing animal rights only means accepting that we should not do some things to them.

CON had more sources, but most of them did not ultimately relate to justice like PROs did, they only gave raw statistics as to how animal testing and meat were beneficial. However this does not relate to the resolution, because just because some rights can justly be taken from animals for the greater good, doesnt show how it is just to needlessly take them. So I feel PRO had better sources.

S&G to CON because pro made some mistakes (like "summery")
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
(RFD: Part 3) - continued from below.

Spelling and Grammar to Con because of better presentation. Pro never properly divides his argument into contentions making it much more difficult to follow than Con's. Pro was very well-organized and formatted his debate in an easy to read structure. I suggest Con put headings and subheadings in bold. It may seem minor but presentation and readability is important in a written argument.

Conduct to Con because:

1) Pro claims he was disgusted with the nonsense that younger members put on this site therefore insulting many readers.

2) Pro then insults the voters by saying "the idea of having my argumentative prowess quantified by some miscreant youth is as novel is it is absurd."

3) Pro refuses to answer Con's questions, tells him re-read sections and in general acts very rude to his fellow debater not extending him the courtesy that we at DDO have come to expect from our opponents.

4) Pro tells his opponent that the debate was more challenging than his opponent expected. Um.. shouldn't common courtesy dictate that it be the other way around? By itself, it is not a conduct violation, but when added to the list, it makes the conduct case against Pro quite formidable.

5) Pro actually had the audacity to tell his opponent why he won in the comments section. I lol'd when I read that! Yes Con was right in saying that he too could list reasons why he won, though thankfully, he didn't actually do it.

Conduct votes are usually decided by minor violations and it is rare to have such a big list of violation, so the conduct vote emphatically goes to Con.

I also find it respectfully ridiculous that other voters ignored EVERY violation that Pro made and instead docked conduct points from Con just because he urged voters to vote for him.
Posted by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
(RFD: Part 2)

Con's grammatical take on "at least two rights must be defended" was however well-refuted by Pro.
When Con brings up food and research, Pro essentially says that killing animals for food and using them for research still recognizes animal rights which I don't buy at all. His definition of animal rights that animals should not suffer needlessly is too narrow. He essentially argues that as long as humans are benefiting, the abuse of animals is not a violation of animal rights which again is a tough sell.

The utilitarian argument goes to Con because Pro hasn't pointed out how recognizing animal rights benefit human society and therefore hasn't explained why a just society should recognize animal rights.

Looking back at the resolution, I felt that this was Con's strongest conclusion: that animal rights and animal research are mutually exclusive. Locking up animals in cages most certainly does not upholds animal rights. Therefore, recognizing animal rights would take away from using them for research, which reduces utilitarian benefits but a just society should not reduce utilitarian benefit. For this reason, Con gets the argument vote.
8 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Vote Placed by Valar_Dohaeris 2 years ago
Valar_Dohaeris
YYWBlackVoidTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro showed that a just society must recognize animal rights. His entire case was based upon the fact that suffering is bad, and that things that can suffer shouldn't be made to suffer needlessly. He then asserts that animals can suffer so there is no need to make them suffer without due cause. As pro notes there are times when animals need to suffer such as for food, but this is a cause and a need. It boils down to a syllogism. 1) Anything that can suffer does not need to suffer without cause. 2 ) Animals can suffer C) Animals should not suffer without a cause. Con never really contests this or understands the implications of pro arguments.
Vote Placed by logicalrobot 4 years ago
logicalrobot
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Reasons for voting decision: Con could have argued that there is no such thing as natural rights under the framework of utilitarianism.
Vote Placed by 16kadams 4 years ago
16kadams
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Reasons for voting decision: Unvoting. I noticed I VB'd 5 months ago so I am fixing it 5 months later. :P Sorry if this is inconvenient
Vote Placed by seraine 5 years ago
seraine
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Reasons for voting decision: This "Utilitarianism is how the winner of the debate is decided (Accepted by opponent)" won it for Pro. Con was attempting that only human utility counts, but all animals can experience the same emotions as humans and such and Con didn't justify that only human utility counts. Ending needless suffering maximises utility.
Vote Placed by thett3 5 years ago
thett3
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Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: Good debate. I give arguments to Pro, because his argument that "animal rights" only means that we ought not do some things to animals is true. Con tried to use utilitarianism, but Pro pointed out that utilitarianism only speaks of people. Con even admits this (sort of) "Just because abuse isn't morally right doesn't mean that its morally wrong." This shows that since under utilitarianism animal abuses is amoral, we need to use another system to decide whether it is just or not. cont. comments
Vote Placed by Double_R 5 years ago
Double_R
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Reasons for voting decision: Good debate from both sides. Cons refutation of Pros case concerning the right to needless suffering ultimately wins this argument. A right is not something that can be taken away whenever beneficial to the rest of society. If that is the case it is not a right. For example: if government agents swept me off the street, put me in a cage and experimented on me, my rights would be violated regardless of whether it is beneficial to society. It is no different for animals.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 5 years ago
F-16_Fighting_Falcon
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Reasons for voting decision: Con wins by showing that a just society is utilitarian and then showing that animal research is beneficial and that they can be hunted for food and used for research and that this utilitarianism requires that animal rights are not recognized. This easily shows that a just society does not require the recognition of animal rights. The resolution is negated. (See comments for a very detailed analysis of the arguments).
Vote Placed by kohai 5 years ago
kohai
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Comment section