The Instigator
Noel
Pro (for)
Losing
36 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
38 Points

Resolved: free family pigeons kept for racing.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/4/2008 Category: Sports
Updated: 8 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 1,941 times Debate No: 4334
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (11)
Votes (23)

 

Noel

Pro

~~~ ANIMAL EXIT ~~~

Olivia loves animals,
especially the birds.
They loft with life and beauty,
with grace beyond mere words.

Her cousins are cruel to pigeons,
though they are nice to her.
They keep the birds for only sport;
for racing, as it were.

One day, in their unplanned absence,
she finds the cages' key;
A chance to lock them safe inside,
or else to set them free.

Olivia loves all animals, but is especially fond of the avian variety. Her cousins are nice to her, but she thinks them cruel to the pigeons they keep for racing and not as pets. One day, while her cousins are unexpectedly away, Olivia has the option to free the pigeons or lock them in their cages.

Round 1 Reasoning

Kant encourages duty and honesty, so he would support Olivia in liberating the pigeons provided that she take responsibility for doing so. Keeping the birds only for racing and not at all as pets seems to needlessly exploit the animals. It is her natural duty to aid these birds to loft with life and freedom.

Note that the choice presented is for Olivia to free the pigeons or lock them in their cages. There isn't a third option, such as training the pigeons to unlock their coops or anonymously reporting her cousins to the humane society. On the other hand, Olivia's action can be in a manner that might lessen discomfort all around. This is probably what Mill would have in mind. Mill can see a good result as justifying the means of achieving it. Furthermore, animals and nature have a value that people must protect. Mill might be comfortable with Olivia just blaming their escape on a strong wind.

In either case, the conclusion must be to free the birds.

-- Noel Leon
Danielle

Con

It was said that the pigeons owners, Olivia's cousins, were cruel to their animals; however, that "cruelness" came in the form of keeping the pigeons solely for racing instead of as pets. I say - who cares? My opponent writes, "Keeping the birds only for racing and not at all as pets seems to needlessly exploit the animals." Okay, so what about people who own animals solely for show (a fancy fish tank)? Or how about race horses? They're worth hundreds of thousands of dollars - would it be okay to free them from their "cruel" owners who keep them solely to race?

People own pets for a lot of reasons, and as long as those pets are kept safe and comfortable, nobody has the right to take those pets away. If Olivia's cousins owned dogs and used them in dog fights, that would be inhumane, as the dogs only exist to fight and kill. However pigeons are not dogs and pigeon racing is not dog fighting. There are only so many ways you can play with a pigeon. Frankly I'm not sure I would even notice if a pigeon was kept as a pet or only for racing. Birds stay in cages. If Olivia's cousins keep their pigeons safely in an appropriate cage (which Pro's opening argument implied that they did), then who cares if those pigeons aren't being... played with enough?

If we can remove someone's animal because they intend to solely race it instead of keeping it as a pet, does this mean we can raid every farm and/or slaughter house and take THOSE animals too?! Those animals aren't kept for racing - they're kept solely for us to kill and eventually eat. Something tells me that the practices of slaughter houses are far more tragic than those of Olivia's cousins, yet to consider releasing those animals is - for the most part - considered out of the question.

Yes, animals and nature have a value that people must protect, but the question is: to what extent? People also have rights including the right to property, and as far as I'm concerned, those pigeons belong to Olivia's cousins -- to free them would be a terrible injustice to responsible pet owners. Though a little cold (or maybe they just don't like pigeons), the cousins have done nothing to warrant taking their property. Not only have they kept and trained and maintained the livelihood of a few racing pigeons, but they are also very nice people (note the amount of times it was pointed out that Olivia's cousins are nice to her).

I'm not a religious person, though I do believe it is quoted somewhere that "Thou shall not steal." In fact, this is commanded. For those of us who are a little more secular, consider the words of our Founding Fathers who spoke of our right to property. Are these pigeons not property? The problem with Pro's case is that he suggests Kant's philosophy of encouraging duty and honesty and Mill's idea of the ends justifying the means (wasn't that Machiavelli?). Well here's what I have to say about that.

I do believe that utilizing Kant's ideas of duty and honesty, Olivia should not set the birds free. This example calls for her to choose between her moral duty to her cousins and her moral duty to a few racing pigeons. Based on the facts (i.e. her cousins are nice to her, they are not cruel to their animals other than keeping them solely for sport, etc.) I would say that Olivia's duty to her cousin surpasses that of her duty to the pigeons. In terms of honesty, lying to her cousins about what happened to the birds would not only be hurting her cousins, but also herself and her own conscience as well.

Mill, who was greatly influenced by Bentham, followed the concept of utilarianism: within reason, one must always act to produce the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people. In this scenario, if Olivia sets the birds free, only she is happy and her cousins (multiple people) are dissatisfied. So by Mill's logic, she should not set the birds free.

Another part of this philosophy includes Mill's expansion on the subject to oppose Bentham's thinking. A good example is Bentham's suggestion that "Pushpin is as good as an opera." In other words, Bentham contests that if equal or more people get the same kind of happiness from pushpin as some people get from an opera, pushpin is not of lesser value than opera. Mill disagrees, and notes that people only receive such happiness from pushpin because they have not been exposed to opera. Had they had a chance to compare the two, they would favor the opera... the point is that the "little things" tend to be favored by those who have no experience with anything else, and therefore they are not in a proper position to judge.

So by this logic, Olivia is judging her cousins for their actions, without having kept pigeons solely for sport herself. Had she been included in their endeavors, she may not have had the same perspective. Either way, she is in no position to make the call to rid someone of their rightful belongings. Animals have souls but they are still considered property. Also, if Olivia is still upset about the birds, maybe someone can remind her of Mill's philosophy that "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied." :P
Debate Round No. 1
Noel

Pro

Cons arguments in brief are (1) who cares, (2) chattel rights, and (3) numerical feelings.

Twice in as many paragraphs Con dismisses Olivia's sensibilities on the basis of "who cares". According to Con, keeping pigeons purely for racing purposes does not meet his standard of cruelty. He proceeds to identify examples of what -- in his judgement -- is real cruelty: dog fighting and slaughter houses. Alas, the issue is not what is offensive to Con's sensibilities, for it is given that Olivia considers her cousins cruel. Con's sense of what is inhumane is to be respected, but is not relevant. It is Olivia's judgment that counts and, as stated explicitly, Olivia thinks that her cousins are cruel to the pigeons.

Con then turns to a bit of modus tollens pivoting on chattel rights. The pigeons are property; specifically, the property of the cousins, not of Olivia. Setting them free is unauthorized loss of property and tantamount to theft. As a general principle, one ought not to steal. Therefore, Olivia ought not to set the pigeons free.

Alas, Con begs the question by embedding a key conclusion [pigeons are property] in the premises. Are the animals we keep as pets on par with other property at our disposal? We might think someone silly for smashing his or her ipod, but would not recoil in horror (OK, maybe if it was an iTouch, I'd recoil a bit). On the other hand, who would not condemn that person for slaughtering a puppy because, ah well, it was but property? We are the guardians of pets. Their keepers, true, but charged with their safety and welfare. Olivia expresses a special fondness for avian welfare (freedom rather than caged imprisonment being their natural state) and so would hardly equate the birds with chattel. It has become apparent then that Con's argument fails not only for begging the question, but for using "property" equivocally.

Con lands finally and squarely on Bentham's dictum that "pushpin is as good as opera". I will clarify this phrase in a moment, especially since it does the opposite of what Con intends, but pause in astonishment that Con invokes Bentham for support. Con likes Bentham and Bentham likes pleasure in quantity. For him (Bentham, I really do not know Con all that well), all varieties of happiness are equal, whether from art, drugs, religion, or masochism. Now I am not attacking Bentham, and certainly not reproaching Con, but have to wonder how this form of hedonism helps Con's case.

Mill, however, finds that pleasures differ in quality. Here my worthy opponent cites part of a classic quotation. "It is better to be a human being dissatisfied than a pig satisfied; better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied. And if the fool, or the pig, are of a different opinion, it is because they only know their own side of the question." -- John Stewart Mill, Utilitarianism, chapter 2. That quotation has utility for Olivia. It illuminates the difference between happiness and contentment. Those who have experienced both the higher and lower are best qualified to judge a pleasure's quality.

And now we are at the heart of the matter. On the basis of sources invoked by Con, who is best able to judge the merits of liberating the pigeons? The cousins experience contentment in their birds not as pets but as vehicles for racing pursuits hardly different from slot cars. Olivia, however, identifies clearly higher level pleasure, genuine happiness, as she revels in appreciation for the birds as they "loft with life and beauty, with grace beyond mere words". For exactly the reasons Con supplies, he must conclude, having invoked Mill's qualitative difference, that Olivia is best fit to judge the merits of freeing the birds versus locking them away.

And Olivia, as we know, set them free.
Danielle

Con

I completely disagree with Pro when he notes, "Con's sense of what is inhumane is to be respected, but is not relevant. It is [only] Olivia's judgment that counts..." This is simply untrue. Olivia's feelings are not the only ones that are pertinent to the situation. A common belief on what is considered cruel has to be taken into account. For instance, if Olivia's cousin called her ugly, she might think this to be cruel and a great abuse towards her. Olivia may think that her cousins deserve to be locked in a closet for hours due to their behavior towards her. However, most people in society would probably not deem it appropriate for one to be locked in a closet because they called someone ugly. While mean, it does not warrant a certain behavior/action. Thus while Olivia's cousins could probably treat their animals a little better, what they're doing with/to the pigeons would probably not be considered cruel by society's standards to the point where setting them free is necessary. Therefore, Olivia setting them free would be unwarranted and in itself a great injustice.

In other words, society sets standards through laws for certain consequences to occur. In a similar example, taking someone's child away is wrong and illegal, UNLESS there is evidence that the child is being placed in great danger and/or is severely harmed. Just because a parent might act harshly towards their child in your opinion does not give you the right to remove the child from one's parent. Instead, there are other options, such as alerting the department of child services to investigate the situation. Likewise, you cannot just take someone's pet and set it free for a reason you deem to be somewhat cruel, especially since no immediate harm is being introduced to the birds. Instead, Olivia could consider talking to her cousins about the situation (they have a good relationship after all), or contacting PETA. However to set the pigeons free without any compelling justification or without notice to her cousins would be completely immoral -- it is not following the appropriate due process regarding chattel rights, a process that for all intensive purposes should be respected or at least upheld.

Next Pro attempts to draw a distinction between living and inanimate property. He writes that slaughtering a puppy would be a lot more unsettling than seeing someone smash their iPod. This is probably true; however, it has nothing to do with the fact that one has no right to damage, destroy or take someone elses property, whether it be an iPod or a puppy. Say I am the owner of both an iPod and a puppy. Simply because I place more instrinsic value on the life of the puppy does not make the iPod OR the puppy any less my property. Both belong to me. Just because I may be more upset if someone killed my puppy doesn't mean that I wouldn't be upset if someone stole my iPod.

Pro considers us to simply be the owners and guardians of our animals. However in choosing to accept that role and be charged with the welfare, safety and well-being of our pets, we are also making an investment in - you guessed it - personal property. It seems kind of strange to view our pets that way but in essence that is what they are. People pay money for something and in return receive what they paid for. So although Pro has probably meant to tug at the heart strings of all of the animal lovers out there, I urge that you try looking at it from another perspective. Consider a baseball player, for example. He is a living being with feelings, emotions, a soul, free-will, etc. Now say the Yankees "buy him" and he is now a part of the Yankee franchise. While of course the Yankees cannot buy this player's mind, body, soul or spirit, they CAN buy him in a more tangible sense. It is the same way with pets.

If you are still not following my point of view, consider your own pet at home. Do you not own this pet? If not, do you think it would be okay for someone to randomly decide either 1 - that they are going to take this pet from you without your consent, simply because they want to be it's new guardian? Or 2 - do you think it would be okay if someone decides that you are undeserving of this pet (for whatever/no reason), and therefore they want to set this pet free without your permission? If you believe either of these instances to be wrong, you should vote Con.

Lastly my opponent brings up happiness vs. contentment, and asserts that Olivia seeks greater happiness from the pigeons than her cousins do. That is simply unsupported logic and should not be taken into account, for it is Pro's mere opinion and not supported by any evidence in this debate. For instance, even if Olivia were to experience sheer happiness via her appreciation of the birds, that DOES NOT mean that her cousins do not experience unbridled enthusiasm from the sport of pigeon racing. True, they may not love the birds in and of themselves as much as Olivia does. However, this debate does not take into account how her cousins feel about the sport in general, or elude to what kind of sheer happiness they may receive from the game.

Further, my opponent's logic is flawed in another sense as well. Say I owned an expensive house - but did not keep it clean - and someone else were to see my house, note my neglect, and appreciate my house in general more than I did for a number of reasons. This appreciation would NOT give one the right to take my house (my property) from me simply because they may experience unequivocal happiness from/for this house than I do. If you want to take it back to a living/inanimate context, the same logic applies to my puppy. Just because someone might think my puppy was cuter than I thought it to be, or play with my puppy more often than I did (for whatever reason), this would not give someone the right to take my puppy from me, or take your puppy from you if that were the situation in your case.

I would also like to note that Pro has ignored some of my philosophical points (since this debate was probably intended to discuss some philsophy related/based ideas), namely in the Kant regard and even some of the points I made about Mill's ideas. For instance, Pro never touched upon producing the greatest amount of happiness for the greater number of people (Mill), nor did he refute Kant's opinion regarding duty and honesty. I had pointed out that Olivia's duty to her cousins surpassed that of her duty to the pigeons. Also, I had mentioned that lying to her cousins about what happened to the birds would not only be hurting her cousins, but also herself and her own conscience as well.

The bottom line is that there is a clear right and wrong to this debate -- it's just a matter of putting things into perspective. I'll give a few final examples to conclude my argument before urging you to vote Con (hehe). Think of the many reasons that a couple winds up having children. Three of them include: because they really love kids and wanted to raise a family; because the condom broke or they forgot to wear protection; because a divorce was looming and they wanted one last shot to salvage the relationship. Now while one of these reasons is obviously more noble of why a couple would have a child, it does not mean that the couples who have children for those other reasons are not parents or are undeserving to be parents because of their intentions. Now I would like to make it clear that I do not think children are property so the situation is a little different; however, the same logic still applies.

And finally, think about the parents who have kids but hire nannys to raise them. The children may unfortunately get to know and love the babysitters more than their own families. While incredibly sad, that would not give the nannys the right to steal or release the children from the custody of their parents. And such it is with the pigeons, you see. Think about all of these points before making your final decision. Thanks.
Debate Round No. 2
11 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by whiteflame 5 months ago
whiteflame
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>Reported vote: fire_wings// Mod action: Removed<

3 points to Pro (Arguments). Reasons for voting decision:

[*Reason for removal*] Vote placed outside of what is considered to be reasonable expectations for proper voting conduct. Contact head moderator Airmax1227 for details.
************************************************************************
Posted by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Logical-Master
Here here!

I motion that the Lwerd go make us all some sandwiches. I don't know about you guys, but I'm starving. Chop Chop!
Posted by brian_eggleston 8 years ago
brian_eggleston
I am shocked and appalled that anyone could make such a blatantly sexist comment in this day and age and I know that theLwerd feels the same way…

http://www.debate.org...
Posted by s0m31john 8 years ago
s0m31john
Females should not be interested in politics, but rather, being in the kitchen making sandwiches.

http://www.instantrimshot.com...
Posted by DrAlexander 8 years ago
DrAlexander
Whenever you had that Boondocks picture of a male people thought you were a male.

Icons can be misleading...
Posted by DrAlexander 8 years ago
DrAlexander
Hahah. Hell no we have
Hilary Clinton,
C.Rice,
Carol H,
and female politicians are found all over the world, look at Chile and India.

Even Rutgers University (NJ) has a center for American Women and Politics.

Barack Obama is a male, so they see his icon, of a male, and assume its a male.
Posted by Logical-Master 8 years ago
Logical-Master
FEMALES AREN'T INTERESTED IN POLITICS!
Posted by Danielle 8 years ago
Danielle
HaHa I'm not going to yell at anybody anymore for assuming I'm a male -- I'm kind of used to it. Also, why would the Barack Obama icon throw people off about my gender? Are you implying that females aren't interested in politics...? Hmm.
Posted by DrAlexander 8 years ago
DrAlexander
I'd recoil if someone smashed my iTouch as well, actually I'm typing on it right now.

:D
Posted by DrAlexander 8 years ago
DrAlexander
Noel, before theLwerd starts yelling at you, CON's a female.
lol... I guess the Barack icon throws people off, it's a simple mistake, don't worry.
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