The Instigator
Ninja_Tru
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
20000miles
Con (against)
Winning
20 Points

Trade in the goods ivory and rhinoceros horns should be legalized.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 8/29/2010 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 3,280 times Debate No: 12857
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (10)
Votes (3)

 

Ninja_Tru

Pro

== This Round==

This first round is to set up some ideas for voters and debaters to think about. I politely ask that the Con refrain from posting any arguments in their Round 1, but I also doubt that they will. After all, their incentive is not to do so; if the Con announces their arguments in Round 1, I'll be free to answer them in Round 2 and that will give me an early advantage. If you're Con, and you don't want to start off handicapped (this is your decision), don't start this debate with any arguments. Anything you say can and will be used in this court of debate. However, I fully welcome the Con posting any definitions or ideas that they also find important to think about before we start debating.

== Endangered Animals==

Poaching continues to be an international problem, and it only increases as the economy flings itself scandalously in its direction. Currently, "powdered rhino horn goes for $60,000 per kilo"(1) while black gold prices at the same time range from $39,641.23 to $39,937.66 (2). The ivory trade is in much the same condition, and the result of this is that the poaching market continues to grow with the intense incentive of making money in this lucrative market.

== The Pro's Solution==

The Pro suggests that nations legalize trade in these two goods. The implications of this decision will be discussed by both the Pro and the Con and the voters should determine which side has proven a net-beneficial world and vote accordingly.

== End of Round 2==

Con, good luck.

Sources:
(1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com...
(2) http://goldprice.org...
20000miles

Con

Greetings to all keen debaters and observers, and a big thank you to Ninja for instigating a topic which should yield an entertaining debate.

This will be my first debate and although I'm not well versed about the particulars of the tusk and horn trades I feel that I have some valuable views about the treatment of animals that should prove interesting.

************************

More factual background:

While the price of rhinoceros and elephant products remains high, so does the potential cost of legalisation of trade in such goods. Before the wholesale ban on the ivory trade in 1989, numbers of elephants in Africa dwindled from 1.2 million to 450,000 in just one decade. [1]

That's all from me for the moment - I wouldn't want to give away my advantage when I don't have to.

Good Luck!

************************

[1] http://advocacy.britannica.com...
Debate Round No. 1
Ninja_Tru

Pro

Ninja_Tru forfeited this round.
20000miles

Con

Thanks for posting this debate. In the following round I shall focus on mainly the ivory trade and not the rhinoceros horn trade. Firstly because convincing spectators that ivory trading should remain illegal will suffice to win me the debate and secondly because I'm not too interested in reading up on rhinoceroses.

In the following I shall set out the fundamental problem of the ivory and rhinoceros horn trades and lay out ethical and practical considerations of the trade. As a consequence, I shall prove that a trade in ivory and rhino horns should remain illegal.

The fundamental problem

Let me begin by stating that I do not find anything inherently wrong with the handling of ivory and rhino horns. They are not harmful substances to either users of these products, nor are they indirectly harmful to other humans. In fact, if it were the case that humans could plant ivory seeds, harvest ivory tusks and sell them at market, then the ivory trade would operate like any other industry. The fundamental problem is that the goods in question must be obtained from other living creatures that are either killed or made less well off due to a demand for tusks and horns.
It is from this standpoint that I shall argue against the legalisation of markets in these goods.

Problems with a free market in ivory and tusks

Let us take the assumption that we allow free entry into the horn and tusk market. That is, anyone can pick up arms, find an elephant or rhino and, kill it and remove their appendages. Such a market would be undesirable, not only from the point of view of the beast, but for man as well.
Such a free market would incentivise unlimited exploitation of the resource in question as quickly as possible. That is, driven by the desire to make profits, entrepreneurs (read: poachers), will attempt to extract as much ivory and horn in the present and leave as little as possible for future time periods.
This obviously implies that the number of elephants and rhinoceroses in the wild will dwindle dramatically. This has indeed been the case, with the African elephant population falling by almost two-thirds in the 1980s from 1.2 million to 450,000 [1]. There was little doubt at the time of the ban on the ivory trade that extinction of the African elephant was an inevitability, and no doubt remains that this is the case today.
This of course, implies a problem for the ivory market itself. Such a market would mean that a sustainable marketable quantity of ivory could not possibly be maintained. In short, since the incentives faced by the ivory entrepreneur lead him to kill as many elephants as possible in as short a time frame as possible, the ivory trade itself will soon cease to exist. [2] As a result of its economic unviability, few would argue for free and unrestricted trade in tusk and horn.

Ethical considerations: Animal Persons and Human Needs

In the following I shall try to argue that the killing of creatures like elephants and rhinoceroses may be unethical, especially when done for human desires that may be considered trifling. These arguments will give weight to the case for criminalising ivory and tusk traders. But first, a quick detour.
Consider the following scenario. Humans have discovered a race of extraterrestrials that have similar mental capacities and abilities to humans, as well as possessing consciousness, sentience, self-awareness, the ability to feel pleasure and pain, can think and feel and can communicate. Would such entities be deserving of the same rights as human beings. Philosophers and members of the public generally answer in the affirmative. [3] The primary reason for this is that these are the main conditions necessary for personhood. Those who do not extend these rights to non-human persons appear to be speciesists – that is, people who claim the rights of an entity are based on a non-relevant characteristic, in this case species membership.

What does this have to do with elephants? The answer should be clear by now. If elephants possess the characteristics necessary to make them worthy of personhood, then they would appear to be candidates for rights equal to that of other persons. I strongly believe that this is the case. Elephants possess the largest brains of any land mammal. [4] As a consequence, elephants possess a mental capacity greater than most other animals. In addition to consciousness and the ability to feel pleasure and pain, elephants display a sense of self awareness. In a famous study, an ‘x' was marked on the face of South Asian elephants and large mirrors were placed in front of them. One of the elephants managed to touch the mark with its trunk, while others were able to display a sense of familiarity with their own reflections [5]. They also display a sense of compassion, artistic ability, creativity, problem solving ability and social interaction. [6]

The conclusion that follows from this is that the killing of an elephant should carry the same, or almost the same moral significance as the killing of a human person.

The second prong in the argument against the legalisation of trade is the fact that tusk and horn products serve interests that might be considered fleeting or unnecessary. The main uses of ivory are ornamental – piano keys, billiard balls and other handcrafted objects. Contrary to popular beliefs, powdered rhinoceros horns are not an aphrodisiac, but may be used to treat fevers. They too can be sculpted into ornamental figures. Clearly, close substitutes to ivory and rhino horn exist.

The fact that there exist substitutes to these products and the fact that the needs fulfilled by these goods are not urgent (i.e. they are not medicinal in nature, nor can they be eaten) gives weight to the case that trade in these goods should remain illegal. An analogy can be drawn here: dog- and cock-fighting inflicts pain on animals, the fact that it does so solely for human entertainment counts in favour of keeping such activities illegal.

Free Range Elephants?

One possible solution to the moral dilemma is to suggest another method of extracting ivory from elephants. One such solution is to capture and raise elephants on large fields, and extract their tusks when they reach maturity. We already have free range chickens, why not free range elephants? Two considerations count here: one ethical and one practical.

Firstly, although an elephant may be kept in an enclosure, free of pain for most of its life, removing its tusks may not be ethically justified. An elephant values its tusks. It uses them to "dig for water, salt, and roots; to debark trees to eat the bark; to dig into baobab trees to get at the pulp inside; and to move trees and branches when clearing a path. In addition, they are used for marking trees to establish territory, and occasionally as weapons." [7]

This would appear to diminish the quality of life of an elephant and make it vulnerable, and since an elephant is more akin to a human than, say, a chicken, great consideration ought to be given its suffering.

Another similar analogy might be useful. Suppose that humans could produce other humans in laboratories and raise them in warehouses. Would it be ethical to permit the removal of the organs of such people? Suppose these people had the intellect of an elephant or a human child. Would it still be ethical? I contend that it would not, and since after all, we do not permit the removal of organs from children that most consider my view plausible. If the analogy is apt, the removal of tusks from elephants is also wrong.

The practical consideration is much more straightforward. Although an elephant may live between 50 and 70 years, its tusks do not grow back once removed. [8] It may take many, many years for a large tusk to develop in an elephant. As a result, elephant farming would not be a viable option for those interested in harvesting ivory.

*References in the comments
Debate Round No. 2
Ninja_Tru

Pro

Ninja_Tru forfeited this round.
20000miles

Con

**I forfeit my R3 too**
Debate Round No. 3
Ninja_Tru

Pro

Ninja_Tru forfeited this round.
20000miles

Con

Oh well, not the debate we all wanted.
Debate Round No. 4
10 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Ninja_Tru 7 years ago
Ninja_Tru
Yeah, I'm still interested. Sorry about that, I guess you'll get the opening shot.
Posted by 20000miles 7 years ago
20000miles
So, a forfeited opening round by Pro.

Are you still interested in the debate, Ninja? Shall I post my argument or not?
Posted by Ninja_Tru 7 years ago
Ninja_Tru
Lol, so many Libertarians here. I edited the debate to make it so all trade is legalized. It's not that I wanted to steal your thunder and argument; it's just that a debate on "some trade" versus "all trade" would have been shallow and uninteresting to voters. Sorry.
Posted by lovelife 7 years ago
lovelife
Pro actually makes a decent point. I think this could be an interesting debate.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
wjmelements
I'm with Panda as well.
Posted by gocrew 7 years ago
gocrew
I'm with I-am-a-panda. I'll take the con if you want someone to argue from that perspective.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 7 years ago
I-am-a-panda
And how is that explosion a bad thing?
Posted by Ninja_Tru 7 years ago
Ninja_Tru
True, that's a good point. However, my arguments will rely on the market opening up slowly and particularly which would require that only a limited trade be legalized. If it had no restrictions, the market would probably explode in growth.
Posted by I-am-a-panda 7 years ago
I-am-a-panda
I'd be inclined to argue the trade should have no restrictions,
Posted by Ninja_Tru 7 years ago
Ninja_Tru
By the way, (I usually mention this in my Round 1), the Con should probably suggest reasons either why my proposal is bad or why another proposal is better and mutually exclusive. Both would be great reasons to vote Con.
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by XStrikeX 7 years ago
XStrikeX
Ninja_Tru20000milesTied
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Vote Placed by innomen 7 years ago
innomen
Ninja_Tru20000milesTied
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Vote Placed by LaissezFaire 7 years ago
LaissezFaire
Ninja_Tru20000milesTied
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