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The Ethics of Animal Rights

bsh1
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10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Aloha!

This is part two of my four part "The Ethics of..." posts, which should be coming out once a week. In these posts I will briefly discuss an issue of ethics and explain my position on the subject. While I am always open to discussing my reasoning, I am also interested in hearing about your own thoughts on the subject, apart from what my stance is.

As a brief disclaimer, I am going to note that my posts entail certain assumptions. I will try to be honest about what these assumptions are. These assumptions are necessary to keep the discussion on topic. For instance, I assume that all humans have moral worth in order to prevent every single post I make from degenerating into "does morality exists," "do people have worth," "morality is subjective," and so forth. While these may be important questions, if we return to them every time we discuss and ethical issue, we will never make any progress in our discussions or actually get to addressing the topic presented. Thus, I ask that discussion focus on the issue presented in this post, and not some of these more esoteric points of argument. If you wish to debate one of these other questions, there are other threads made or that could be made for those purposes.

==============================

If we assume that all people have moral rights, how can we proceed to deny animals moral rights? This is the essential question I am going to be addressing in this post. While I'd be interested to have a discussion about what rights animals are due if they are rights-holders of any kind, I see the issue of "what" rights they are due as separate from "whether" they are due rights, since even humans have different levels of rights provided to them.

As I see it, the basic arguments presented against animal rights are that animals are irrational agents and that animals cannot suffer to the degree that a human can. Since rights are often contexualized as ways of protecting our rational capacity, preventing needless suffering, or entailing responsibility, rationality and suffering would seem to be basic thresholds for who can have rights. On the face, these arguments do seem to exclude animals from holding rights, but a closer examination seems to cast doubt on this idea.

Consider a variety of possible counter examples: children, the severely mentally handicapped, the comatose, etc. We award all of these actors rights despite the fact that they are incapable of rational thought. The mentally handicapped, for instance, don't even have the potential to be rational. So, it seems that if we hold to the idea that all humans have rights, we cannot exclude entities from being rights-holders on the basis of their not being rational.

Similarly, there are people with congenital insensitivity to pain, meaning that they cannot feel pain. Under the assumption that all humans have rights, we would still accord them rights. While suffering can transcend physical pain, the fact that there are humans who cannot feel physical pain makes a compelling case that suffering is less important in how we award rights than we would like to admit. Certainly, there is a sliding scale of suffering, and there are probably animals who can suffer as much as some humans. My favorite example is elephants who have displayed PTSD after witnessing the loss of herd members as a form of emotional trauma. I don't see why this kind of suffering is necessarily any less than the forms of suffering some humans endure, so again, suffering cannot be the basis by which we exclude animals from rights.

So, even if rationality and/or suffering are the basis of rights, it seems that animals (or, at least some animals) deserve rights. Animals as high as the lowest human should, at the very least, receive basic rights and protections.
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bsh1
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10/6/2015 10:38:01 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Previous Installments

The Ethics of Euthanasia: http://www.debate.org...
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bsh1
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10/6/2015 10:44:30 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
For more reading, you can check out my debate on the subject: http://www.debate.org...
Live Long and Prosper

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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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tejretics
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10/7/2015 11:02:21 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
(1) How do you define "animal rights?" Wikipedia's definition is that animal rights is the view that some or all non-human animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives.

(2) In this post, you defend the argument from marginal cases, but since you don't believe animals even have the right to life, how would you be able to rebut the argument from marginal cases?

(3) Do you accept the potentiality refutation of the argument from marginal cases when it comes to babies?
"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
Fkkize
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10/7/2015 11:58:15 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Aloha!

This is part two of my four part "The Ethics of..." posts, which should be coming out once a week. In these posts I will briefly discuss an issue of ethics and explain my position on the subject. While I am always open to discussing my reasoning, I am also interested in hearing about your own thoughts on the subject, apart from what my stance is.

As a brief disclaimer, I am going to note that my posts entail certain assumptions. I will try to be honest about what these assumptions are. These assumptions are necessary to keep the discussion on topic. For instance, I assume that all humans have moral worth in order to prevent every single post I make from degenerating into "does morality exists," "do people have worth," "morality is subjective," and so forth. While these may be important questions, if we return to them every time we discuss and ethical issue, we will never make any progress in our discussions or actually get to addressing the topic presented. Thus, I ask that discussion focus on the issue presented in this post, and not some of these more esoteric points of argument. If you wish to debate one of these other questions, there are other threads made or that could be made for those purposes.

==============================

If we assume that all people have moral rights, how can we proceed to deny animals moral rights? This is the essential question I am going to be addressing in this post. While I'd be interested to have a discussion about what rights animals are due if they are rights-holders of any kind, I see the issue of "what" rights they are due as separate from "whether" they are due rights, since even humans have different levels of rights provided to them.

As I see it, the basic arguments presented against animal rights are that animals are irrational agents and that animals cannot suffer to the degree that a human can. Since rights are often contexualized as ways of protecting our rational capacity, preventing needless suffering, or entailing responsibility, rationality and suffering would seem to be basic thresholds for who can have rights. On the face, these arguments do seem to exclude animals from holding rights, but a closer examination seems to cast doubt on this idea.

Consider a variety of possible counter examples: children, the severely mentally handicapped, the comatose, etc. We award all of these actors rights despite the fact that they are incapable of rational thought. The mentally handicapped, for instance, don't even have the potential to be rational. So, it seems that if we hold to the idea that all humans have rights, we cannot exclude entities from being rights-holders on the basis of their not being rational.

Similarly, there are people with congenital insensitivity to pain, meaning that they cannot feel pain. Under the assumption that all humans have rights, we would still accord them rights. While suffering can transcend physical pain, the fact that there are humans who cannot feel physical pain makes a compelling case that suffering is less important in how we award rights than we would like to admit. Certainly, there is a sliding scale of suffering, and there are probably animals who can suffer as much as some humans. My favorite example is elephants who have displayed PTSD after witnessing the loss of herd members as a form of emotional trauma. I don't see why this kind of suffering is necessarily any less than the forms of suffering some humans endure, so again, suffering cannot be the basis by which we exclude animals from rights.

So, even if rationality and/or suffering are the basis of rights, it seems that animals (or, at least some animals) deserve rights. Animals as high as the lowest human should, at the very least, receive basic rights and protections.

This is very similar to my own train of thought, namely the argument from marginal cases.
Similar to tej, I am interested in how you do not conclude from this that animals have a right to life.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
Fkkize
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10/7/2015 4:13:56 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Similarly, there are people with congenital insensitivity to pain, meaning that they cannot feel pain. Under the assumption that all humans have rights, we would still accord them rights. While suffering can transcend physical pain, the fact that there are humans who cannot feel physical pain makes a compelling case that suffering is less important in how we award rights than we would like to admit.

Oh, in case this is targeted at utilitarianism, utilitarians usually follow the mental state account of utility.
That is to say 'pleasure' stands for positive, 'pain' for negative mental states. It is not related to physical pain in a way that could further this line of reasoning.
: At 7/2/2016 3:05:07 PM, Rational_Thinker9119 wrote:
:
: space contradicts logic
kp98
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10/7/2015 6:03:23 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
It is a fact of human nature that we care more about our family than we do about our neighbours and more about our neighbours than strangers. We are getting better at caring more about our own race than other races, but racism is still all too prevalent.

So it no surprise that we care less about (non-human) animals than we do about humans. This has been called 'speciesism' as a parallel to 'racism', and there are parallels. I don't think speciesism can be justified logically any more than racism can.

We can find excuses to treat animals worse than people, but there are no reasons to do so - we exploit animals because we can. 200 years ago master races exploited the slave races - perhaps in 200 years more we will not exploit the 'slave species' either.
bsh1
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10/7/2015 6:40:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 11:02:21 AM, tejretics wrote:
(1) How do you define "animal rights?" Wikipedia's definition is that animal rights is the view that some or all non-human animals are entitled to the possession of their own lives.

I think the right to life is one of many rights. "Rights" as a broad concept arise from interest-protection. A basic prerequisite to something having rights is that it have interests. At the same time, this does not mean all interests give rise to rights or that all interests are protected to the same degree. Generally, I would say that "animal rights" as a phrase implies that animals have "a moral or legal entitlement to (not) perform or have others perform certain action(s) and to (not) be in certain states." [http://plato.stanford.edu...]

(2) In this post, you defend the argument from marginal cases, but since you don't believe animals even have the right to life, how would you be able to rebut the argument from marginal cases?

Well, let me start by working backwards, since I know you believe animals have the right to life. Let me pose to you this question: does an ant have a right to life?

(3) Do you accept the potentiality refutation of the argument from marginal cases when it comes to babies?

As I wrote in the OP: "The mentally handicapped, for instance, don't even have the potential to be rational." So, clearly, I reject that the issue of potentiality is sufficient ground for denying animals all rights. Now, I do think that potentiality matters morally-speaking, in that I would save a child with potential over a person who was virtually brain dead and had no chance of recovery if I could only save one.
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bsh1
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10/7/2015 6:42:40 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 4:13:56 PM, Fkkize wrote:
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Similarly, there are people with congenital insensitivity to pain, meaning that they cannot feel pain. Under the assumption that all humans have rights, we would still accord them rights. While suffering can transcend physical pain, the fact that there are humans who cannot feel physical pain makes a compelling case that suffering is less important in how we award rights than we would like to admit.

Oh, in case this is targeted at utilitarianism, utilitarians usually follow the mental state account of utility.
That is to say 'pleasure' stands for positive, 'pain' for negative mental states. It is not related to physical pain in a way that could further this line of reasoning.

Sure, but I think we can both concur that one's physical experiences often directly influence one's mental state, and vice versa. Someone who cannot feel pain is certainly not going to experience suffering in the same way as someone who can.
Live Long and Prosper

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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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bsh1
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10/7/2015 6:56:46 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 6:23:00 PM, britkit_francis wrote:
http://www.debate.org...

Why would you eat endangered species? That just seems callous in the extreme.

I may have qualms about affording animals the right to life, but I at least recognize a species' right to exist.
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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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FaustianJustice
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10/7/2015 6:56:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I will be happy to entertain the notion of animal's rights when I hop into the ocean and am not viewed as a potential food source, when I can wander the national forests and have no fear of whatever is there attacking me in the manner that I have no desire to attack it, etc.

The simple problem is that whatever social contract we adopt, it must be understood and reciprocated by the participants. Animals don't do that.
Here we have an advocate for Islamic arranged marriages demonstrating that children can consent to sex.
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bsh1
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10/7/2015 6:59:02 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 6:56:52 PM, FaustianJustice wrote:
I will be happy to entertain the notion of animal's rights when I hop into the ocean and am not viewed as a potential food source, when I can wander the national forests and have no fear of whatever is there attacking me in the manner that I have no desire to attack it, etc.

Let's debate this! It should be fun :)

The simple problem is that whatever social contract we adopt, it must be understood and reciprocated by the participants. Animals don't do that.

Does a child accept the social contract? Does a mentally ill person sign it? What about political dissidents who reject their country's social contract? Are they all excluded from having basic rights?
Live Long and Prosper

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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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kp98
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10/7/2015 7:21:32 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
200 or less years go 'human' rights were not even extended to women and negros. We are a bit better now, but perhaps still not as good as we could be! Perhaps in 200 years more we will treat other species as we treat other races now - or how we should treat other races now.

There is no more reason to be 'speciesist' than there is be racist.
FaustianJustice
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10/7/2015 8:32:05 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 6:59:02 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 10/7/2015 6:56:52 PM, FaustianJustice wrote:
I will be happy to entertain the notion of animal's rights when I hop into the ocean and am not viewed as a potential food source, when I can wander the national forests and have no fear of whatever is there attacking me in the manner that I have no desire to attack it, etc.

Let's debate this! It should be fun :)

The simple problem is that whatever social contract we adopt, it must be understood and reciprocated by the participants. Animals don't do that.

Does a child accept the social contract?

Not immediately.

Does a mentally ill person sign it?

No, and in some instances, they suffer from not participating in it. It could also be argued that their incarceration "for their/our safety and therapy" is further repercussion of not participating in said contract.

What about political dissidents who reject their country's social contract? Are they all excluded from having basic rights?

You reject it by leaving and finding a social contract more to your liking. I am not sure how that would exclude anyone.
Here we have an advocate for Islamic arranged marriages demonstrating that children can consent to sex.
http://www.debate.org...
bsh1
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10/7/2015 8:36:19 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 8:32:05 PM, FaustianJustice wrote:
At 10/7/2015 6:59:02 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 10/7/2015 6:56:52 PM, FaustianJustice wrote:
The simple problem is that whatever social contract we adopt, it must be understood and reciprocated by the participants. Animals don't do that.

Does a child accept the social contract?

Not immediately.

So, because a child is not "immediately" part of a social contract, it is permissible to abuse them before they enter the contract?

Does a mentally ill person sign it?

No, and in some instances, they suffer from not participating in it. It could also be argued that their incarceration "for their/our safety and therapy" is further repercussion of not participating in said contract.

If we agree that all humans have rights (as I said in my OP, this is one assumption I'd like to operate under in this thread), then how do you reconcile this with your view of the Social Contract as the basis of rights?

If X is not part of a Social Contract, am I free to beat, rape, torture, imprison, molest, or do anything I might want to this person?

What about political dissidents who reject their country's social contract? Are they all excluded from having basic rights?

You reject it by leaving and finding a social contract more to your liking. I am not sure how that would exclude anyone.

The social contract is a deeply flawed philosophical idea. The idea of implicit consent is absolutely nonsensical for a variety of reasons.

I would love to debate this with you: "The Social Contract is sufficient ground to deny Animals Rights." I would be Con; 3 rounds, 8,000 characters. Nothing to burdensome.
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FaustianJustice
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10/7/2015 8:41:20 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 8:36:19 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 10/7/2015 8:32:05 PM, FaustianJustice wrote:
At 10/7/2015 6:59:02 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 10/7/2015 6:56:52 PM, FaustianJustice wrote:
The simple problem is that whatever social contract we adopt, it must be understood and reciprocated by the participants. Animals don't do that.

Does a child accept the social contract?

Not immediately.

So, because a child is not "immediately" part of a social contract, it is permissible to abuse them before they enter the contract?

Thereby violating your position in the current contract. ;)

Does a mentally ill person sign it?

No, and in some instances, they suffer from not participating in it. It could also be argued that their incarceration "for their/our safety and therapy" is further repercussion of not participating in said contract.

If we agree that all humans have rights (as I said in my OP, this is one assumption I'd like to operate under in this thread), then how do you reconcile this with your view of the Social Contract as the basis of rights?

Because rights are generally forfieted when one seeks to do harm to others, yes? That being one's right to life ends when their own is imposed over another. As I stated, it could be argued that the mentally disturbed (in some instances) are a threat to themselves and others, there by in part renegging on the contract.


If X is not part of a Social Contract, am I free to beat, rape, torture, imprison, molest, or do anything I might want to this person?

What would lead you to that conclusion, especially if you are hypothesizing that other countries have a different contract, and one might be interested in leaving it?


What about political dissidents who reject their country's social contract? Are they all excluded from having basic rights?

You reject it by leaving and finding a social contract more to your liking. I am not sure how that would exclude anyone.

The social contract is a deeply flawed philosophical idea. The idea of implicit consent is absolutely nonsensical for a variety of reasons.

I would love to debate this with you: "The Social Contract is sufficient ground to deny Animals Rights." I would be Con; 3 rounds, 8,000 characters. Nothing to burdensome.

I wouldn't mind that. Give me... till Tuesday? My Sunday's are normally free, but I picked up some OT this weekend.
Here we have an advocate for Islamic arranged marriages demonstrating that children can consent to sex.
http://www.debate.org...
bsh1
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10/7/2015 8:52:02 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 8:41:20 PM, FaustianJustice wrote:
At 10/7/2015 8:36:19 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 10/7/2015 8:32:05 PM, FaustianJustice wrote:
So, because a child is not "immediately" part of a social contract, it is permissible to abuse them before they enter the contract?

Thereby violating your position in the current contract. ;)

No. Social Contracts enjoin members of the Contact to behave in certain ways to other members of the Contract. Social Contracts do NOT create obligations to people outside of the Contract, so I could totally abuse a child under your reasoning. I am not sure you understand how the theories work if this is your position.

No, and in some instances, they suffer from not participating in it. It could also be argued that their incarceration "for their/our safety and therapy" is further repercussion of not participating in said contract.

If we agree that all humans have rights (as I said in my OP, this is one assumption I'd like to operate under in this thread), then how do you reconcile this with your view of the Social Contract as the basis of rights?

Because rights are generally forfieted when one seeks to do harm to others, yes?

You're mixing and matching philosophical theories here. WHY do I forfeit my rights when I harm others?

That being one's right to life ends when their own is imposed over another. As I stated, it could be argued that the mentally disturbed (in some instances) are a threat to themselves and others, there by in part renegging on the contract.

How is being a threat to myself a reason to revoke my rights under the social contract?

If X is not part of a Social Contract, am I free to beat, rape, torture, imprison, molest, or do anything I might want to this person?

What would lead you to that conclusion, especially if you are hypothesizing that other countries have a different contract, and one might be interested in leaving it?

See above. Social Contracts only create obligations WITHIN the Contract. This means that, according to the Social Contract, I have no obligations to anyone outside the contract, meaning I could do all of those things to them without violating my own contract.

You reject it by leaving and finding a social contract more to your liking. I am not sure how that would exclude anyone.

The social contract is a deeply flawed philosophical idea. The idea of implicit consent is absolutely nonsensical for a variety of reasons.

I would love to debate this with you: "The Social Contract is sufficient ground to deny Animals Rights." I would be Con; 3 rounds, 8,000 characters. Nothing to burdensome.

I wouldn't mind that. Give me... till Tuesday? My Sunday's are normally free, but I picked up some OT this weekend.

Okie dokie.
Live Long and Prosper

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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

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Kozu
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10/7/2015 9:44:22 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Aloha!

This is part two of my four part "The Ethics of..." posts, which should be coming out once a week. In these posts I will briefly discuss an issue of ethics and explain my position on the subject. While I am always open to discussing my reasoning, I am also interested in hearing about your own thoughts on the subject, apart from what my stance is.

As a brief disclaimer, I am going to note that my posts entail certain assumptions. I will try to be honest about what these assumptions are. These assumptions are necessary to keep the discussion on topic. For instance, I assume that all humans have moral worth in order to prevent every single post I make from degenerating into "does morality exists," "do people have worth," "morality is subjective," and so forth. While these may be important questions, if we return to them every time we discuss and ethical issue, we will never make any progress in our discussions or actually get to addressing the topic presented. Thus, I ask that discussion focus on the issue presented in this post, and not some of these more esoteric points of argument. If you wish to debate one of these other questions, there are other threads made or that could be made for those purposes.

==============================

If we assume that all people have moral rights, how can we proceed to deny animals moral rights? This is the essential question I am going to be addressing in this post. While I'd be interested to have a discussion about what rights animals are due if they are rights-holders of any kind, I see the issue of "what" rights they are due as separate from "whether" they are due rights, since even humans have different levels of rights provided to them.

As I see it, the basic arguments presented against animal rights are that animals are irrational agents and that animals cannot suffer to the degree that a human can. Since rights are often contexualized as ways of protecting our rational capacity, preventing needless suffering, or entailing responsibility, rationality and suffering would seem to be basic thresholds for who can have rights. On the face, these arguments do seem to exclude animals from holding rights, but a closer examination seems to cast doubt on this idea.

Consider a variety of possible counter examples: children, the severely mentally handicapped, the comatose, etc. We award all of these actors rights despite the fact that they are incapable of rational thought. The mentally handicapped, for instance, don't even have the potential to be rational. So, it seems that if we hold to the idea that all humans have rights, we cannot exclude entities from being rights-holders on the basis of their not being rational.

Similarly, there are people with congenital insensitivity to pain, meaning that they cannot feel pain. Under the assumption that all humans have rights, we would still accord them rights. While suffering can transcend physical pain, the fact that there are humans who cannot feel physical pain makes a compelling case that suffering is less important in how we award rights than we would like to admit. Certainly, there is a sliding scale of suffering, and there are probably animals who can suffer as much as some humans. My favorite example is elephants who have displayed PTSD after witnessing the loss of herd members as a form of emotional trauma. I don't see why this kind of suffering is necessarily any less than the forms of suffering some humans endure, so again, suffering cannot be the basis by which we exclude animals from rights.

So, even if rationality and/or suffering are the basis of rights, it seems that animals (or, at least some animals) deserve rights. Animals as high as the lowest human should, at the very least, receive basic rights and protections.

Rights should be grant to species' capable of rational thought. That would avoid the problem with your exceptional cases. It wouldn't matter if there was something impairing them from rational thought, they'd still be the same species.

Also, if animals were granted a right to life, would that right to life be equal to a humans?

I think Faust made a good point about animals not recognizing peoples rights. If I didn't recognize your right to life, should I still be granted mine?
bsh1
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10/7/2015 9:48:11 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 9:44:22 PM, Kozu wrote:
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:
Aloha!

This is part two of my four part "The Ethics of..." posts, which should be coming out once a week. In these posts I will briefly discuss an issue of ethics and explain my position on the subject. While I am always open to discussing my reasoning, I am also interested in hearing about your own thoughts on the subject, apart from what my stance is.

As a brief disclaimer, I am going to note that my posts entail certain assumptions. I will try to be honest about what these assumptions are. These assumptions are necessary to keep the discussion on topic. For instance, I assume that all humans have moral worth in order to prevent every single post I make from degenerating into "does morality exists," "do people have worth," "morality is subjective," and so forth. While these may be important questions, if we return to them every time we discuss and ethical issue, we will never make any progress in our discussions or actually get to addressing the topic presented. Thus, I ask that discussion focus on the issue presented in this post, and not some of these more esoteric points of argument. If you wish to debate one of these other questions, there are other threads made or that could be made for those purposes.

==============================

If we assume that all people have moral rights, how can we proceed to deny animals moral rights? This is the essential question I am going to be addressing in this post. While I'd be interested to have a discussion about what rights animals are due if they are rights-holders of any kind, I see the issue of "what" rights they are due as separate from "whether" they are due rights, since even humans have different levels of rights provided to them.

As I see it, the basic arguments presented against animal rights are that animals are irrational agents and that animals cannot suffer to the degree that a human can. Since rights are often contexualized as ways of protecting our rational capacity, preventing needless suffering, or entailing responsibility, rationality and suffering would seem to be basic thresholds for who can have rights. On the face, these arguments do seem to exclude animals from holding rights, but a closer examination seems to cast doubt on this idea.

Consider a variety of possible counter examples: children, the severely mentally handicapped, the comatose, etc. We award all of these actors rights despite the fact that they are incapable of rational thought. The mentally handicapped, for instance, don't even have the potential to be rational. So, it seems that if we hold to the idea that all humans have rights, we cannot exclude entities from being rights-holders on the basis of their not being rational.

Similarly, there are people with congenital insensitivity to pain, meaning that they cannot feel pain. Under the assumption that all humans have rights, we would still accord them rights. While suffering can transcend physical pain, the fact that there are humans who cannot feel physical pain makes a compelling case that suffering is less important in how we award rights than we would like to admit. Certainly, there is a sliding scale of suffering, and there are probably animals who can suffer as much as some humans. My favorite example is elephants who have displayed PTSD after witnessing the loss of herd members as a form of emotional trauma. I don't see why this kind of suffering is necessarily any less than the forms of suffering some humans endure, so again, suffering cannot be the basis by which we exclude animals from rights.

So, even if rationality and/or suffering are the basis of rights, it seems that animals (or, at least some animals) deserve rights. Animals as high as the lowest human should, at the very least, receive basic rights and protections.

Rights should be grant to species' capable of rational thought. That would avoid the problem with your exceptional cases. It wouldn't matter if there was something impairing them from rational thought, they'd still be the same species.

Why should they be granted to species as a whole rather than individuals? Why should they be granted on the basis of rationality and not suffering?

I think Faust made a good point about animals not recognizing peoples rights. If I didn't recognize your right to life, should I still be granted mine?

A mentally ill person doesn't recognize my right to life, but I recognize theirs. I don't think "responsibility" is a compelling answer to the question of who should get rights. There are people who cannot understand the idea of rights or be responsible for their actions, but we still grant them protections, and we employ legal proxies to uphold their rights.
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Kozu
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10/7/2015 10:37:34 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 9:48:11 PM, bsh1 wrote:
So, even if rationality and/or suffering are the basis of rights, it seems that animals (or, at least some animals) deserve rights. Animals as high as the lowest human should, at the very least, receive basic rights and protections.

Rights should be grant to species' capable of rational thought. That would avoid the problem with your exceptional cases. It wouldn't matter if there was something impairing them from rational thought, they'd still be the same species.

Why should they be granted to species as a whole rather than individuals?

Do you think some humans inherently deserve rights while others don't?

Why should they be granted on the basis of rationality and not suffering?

I understand suffering as a "negative state of mind". Bugs can experience negative states of mind, but it seems ridiculous to give them rights. I feel the same way with animals. Human interests are all that really matter, considering that's what effects society .

I'll ask this a second time too, unless you left it out for a reason.
"Also, if animals were granted a right to life, would that right to life be equal to a humans?"

I think Faust made a good point about animals not recognizing peoples rights. If I didn't recognize your right to life, should I still be granted mine?

A mentally ill person doesn't recognize my right to life, but I recognize theirs. I don't think "responsibility" is a compelling answer to the question of who should get rights. There are people who cannot understand the idea of rights or be responsible for their actions, but we still grant them protections, and we employ legal proxies to uphold their rights.

If he wasn't impaired he could. Animals by contrast are not impaired, they simply never had the capacity in the first place.
bsh1
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10/7/2015 10:50:31 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 10:37:34 PM, Kozu wrote:
At 10/7/2015 9:48:11 PM, bsh1 wrote:
So, even if rationality and/or suffering are the basis of rights, it seems that animals (or, at least some animals) deserve rights. Animals as high as the lowest human should, at the very least, receive basic rights and protections.

Rights should be grant to species' capable of rational thought. That would avoid the problem with your exceptional cases. It wouldn't matter if there was something impairing them from rational thought, they'd still be the same species.

Why should they be granted to species as a whole rather than individuals?

Do you think some humans inherently deserve rights while others don't?

Sure. I have certain rights based on my capacities that others don't. I have a right to vote, a right to marry, a right to free movement, the right to consent to sex and to medical procedures, the right to work, etc. All of these rights can be reasonable restricted for some classes of humans based on their rational capacities. So, I "inherent;y" deserve these rights, but not all humans do.

I would also ask why humans should be the relevant group. If you say, "give rights to a group capable of rational thought" why not use a broader group? Why not say, "give rights to all mammals because some mammals are capable of rational thought" or "give rights to life because some living things are capable of rational thought."

Conversely, you could narrow the group, and say, "give rights to adult humans, because only adults humans are capable of rational though," or "give rights to adult, mentally healthy humans, because only that group is capable of rational thought."

You talk about extending rights to a group of individuals. Why is the group, with the parameters you draw for that group, non-arbitrary or not over-exclusionary or not under-inclusive?

Why should they be granted on the basis of rationality and not suffering?

I understand suffering as a "negative state of mind". Bugs can experience negative states of mind, but it seems ridiculous to give them rights. I feel the same way with animals.

I would strongly dispute that bugs can suffer. I don't think they have the cognitive capacity to really suffer. They can feel pain...but suffering requires emotions, and I don't think bugs have that.

Human interests are all that really matter, considering that's what effects society .

That is an extremely speciesist thing to say.

I'll ask this a second time too, unless you left it out for a reason.

"Also, if animals were granted a right to life, would that right to life be equal to a humans?"

I am leaving it out because I'll probably get more into this subject with Tej.

I think Faust made a good point about animals not recognizing peoples rights. If I didn't recognize your right to life, should I still be granted mine?

A mentally ill person doesn't recognize my right to life, but I recognize theirs. I don't think "responsibility" is a compelling answer to the question of who should get rights. There are people who cannot understand the idea of rights or be responsible for their actions, but we still grant them protections, and we employ legal proxies to uphold their rights.

If he wasn't impaired he could. Animals by contrast are not impaired, they simply never had the capacity in the first place.

So why doesn't impairment disqualify him from having rights? To say, "rights-holders should be capable of being responsible" and then to dismiss counterexamples because they should normally be responsible makes very little sense. They're not responsible, and so if you give them rights, you are giving rights to actors incapable of responsibility. At that point, it seems merely hypocritical to deny animals rights because they are incapable of responsibility. If you value responsibility, only give rights to those capable of being responsible and deny them to everyone else.
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Yonko
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10/7/2015 11:12:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:

I think the fundamental assumption you've made automatically affirms your conclusion. If all humans have rights, including the severely mentally disabled, then it is logically impossible to deny at least higher-level animals some basic rights (unless the basis for rights is having human DNA, which is ridiculous). Children and comatose people aren't really a problem for the animal rights denier because they can still appeal to the "substance" view of personhood (i.e. "capacity" for rationality), but the mentally disabled do not have any such capacity, and they do operate on the cognitive level of animals, so as long as we're arbitrarily presuming that they have rights, it becomes logically inconsistent to deny animal rights. If we were debating this and you weren't able to just assume things like unconditional human moral worth, I'd respond by saying that your argument is nothing more than evidence of a double-standard in our society -- that mentally disabled people technically do not have moral rights, but are awarded legal rights for the sake of those who are emotionally attached to them.

So your argument against rationality as a criterion for rights doesn't really hold up, objectively speaking...
As for the suffering criterion, it fails for meta-ethical reasons, which I will delve into at a later time.
bsh1
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10/7/2015 11:31:12 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 11:12:12 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:

I think the fundamental assumption you've made automatically affirms your conclusion. If all humans have rights, including the severely mentally disabled, then it is logically impossible to deny at least higher-level animals some basic rights (unless the basis for rights is having human DNA, which is ridiculous). Children and comatose people aren't really a problem for the animal rights denier because they can still appeal to the "substance" view of personhood (i.e. "capacity" for rationality), but the mentally disabled do not have any such capacity, and they do operate on the cognitive level of animals, so as long as we're arbitrarily presuming that they have rights, it becomes logically inconsistent to deny animal rights. If we were debating this and you weren't able to just assume things like unconditional human moral worth, I'd respond by saying that your argument is nothing more than evidence of a double-standard in our society -- that mentally disabled people technically do not have moral rights, but are awarded legal rights for the sake of those who are emotionally attached to them.

So your argument against rationality as a criterion for rights doesn't really hold up, objectively speaking...

It holds up under that basic assumption. And really, I do think that assumption is reasonable and necessary for the discussion. But I am not going to debate that.

What I will say is that rationality as a basis for rights is problematic for other reasons, which we can discuss if you lay out an ethical framework for the argument that rationality should be the sole criterion for rights.

As for the suffering criterion, it fails for meta-ethical reasons, which I will delve into at a later time.

I think it is some combination of suffering and rationality that give rise to worth...but that's something I think you know already.
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Yonko
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10/7/2015 11:53:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 11:31:12 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 10/7/2015 11:12:12 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:

So your argument against rationality as a criterion for rights doesn't really hold up, objectively speaking...

It holds up under that basic assumption. And really, I do think that assumption is reasonable and necessary for the discussion. But I am not going to debate that.

I think it's reasonable to assume that humans in general possess rights, but assuming that for ALL members of the homo sapiens species makes it impossible to deny animal rights for the reasons explained earlier. That defeats the purpose of this thread -- to generate rational discussion on the issue.


What I will say is that rationality as a basis for rights is problematic for other reasons, which we can discuss if you lay out an ethical framework for the argument that rationality should be the sole criterion for rights.

Maybe later...


As for the suffering criterion, it fails for meta-ethical reasons, which I will delve into at a later time.

I think it is some combination of suffering and rationality that give rise to worth...but that's something I think you know already.

You're already familiar with my views on secular ethical reasoning haha. I don't really see the point of your top-down approach to ethics (i.e. recognizing a common moral intuition and then looking to justify it rationally).
bsh1
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10/8/2015 12:06:10 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/7/2015 11:53:14 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/7/2015 11:31:12 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 10/7/2015 11:12:12 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:

So your argument against rationality as a criterion for rights doesn't really hold up, objectively speaking...

It holds up under that basic assumption. And really, I do think that assumption is reasonable and necessary for the discussion. But I am not going to debate that.

I think it's reasonable to assume that humans in general possess rights, but assuming that for ALL members of the homo sapiens species makes it impossible to deny animal rights for the reasons explained earlier. That defeats the purpose of this thread -- to generate rational discussion on the issue.

I mean, with that assumption there is still room for debate. You can try what Kozu is doing...it just won't work.

I don't think the assumption defeats rational discussion, because many people share my basic intuition (that all humans have rights) but simultaneously deny animal rights. Having a rational discussion about their beliefs and why they conflict can still be a productive and interesting endeavor.

As for the suffering criterion, it fails for meta-ethical reasons, which I will delve into at a later time.

I think it is some combination of suffering and rationality that give rise to worth...but that's something I think you know already.

You're already familiar with my views on secular ethical reasoning haha. I don't really see the point of your top-down approach to ethics (i.e. recognizing a common moral intuition and then looking to justify it rationally).

I think you have to base morality on intuitions, but maybe that's just me.
Live Long and Prosper

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"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

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Yonko
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10/8/2015 12:17:42 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/8/2015 12:06:10 AM, bsh1 wrote:
At 10/7/2015 11:53:14 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/7/2015 11:31:12 PM, bsh1 wrote:
At 10/7/2015 11:12:12 PM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/6/2015 10:37:17 PM, bsh1 wrote:

So your argument against rationality as a criterion for rights doesn't really hold up, objectively speaking...

It holds up under that basic assumption. And really, I do think that assumption is reasonable and necessary for the discussion. But I am not going to debate that.

I think it's reasonable to assume that humans in general possess rights, but assuming that for ALL members of the homo sapiens species makes it impossible to deny animal rights for the reasons explained earlier. That defeats the purpose of this thread -- to generate rational discussion on the issue.

I mean, with that assumption there is still room for debate. You can try what Kozu is doing...it just won't work.

Exactly XD


I don't think the assumption defeats rational discussion, because many people share my basic intuition (that all humans have rights) but simultaneously deny animal rights. Having a rational discussion about their beliefs and why they conflict can still be a productive and interesting endeavor.

I suppose so... I don't think being doomed to failure is very fun, though. Basing morality in genetics simply doesn't work. Perhaps in this thread I'll just join your side and argue against the animal rights deniers ;P


As for the suffering criterion, it fails for meta-ethical reasons, which I will delve into at a later time.

I think it is some combination of suffering and rationality that give rise to worth...but that's something I think you know already.

You're already familiar with my views on secular ethical reasoning haha. I don't really see the point of your top-down approach to ethics (i.e. recognizing a common moral intuition and then looking to justify it rationally).

I think you have to base morality on intuitions, but maybe that's just me.

I think so too. I just see rationalizing those intuitions as redundant and ultimately more of a means for entertainment ("intellectual masturbation") than anything else.
bsh1
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10/8/2015 12:35:10 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 10/8/2015 12:17:42 AM, Yonko wrote:
At 10/8/2015 12:06:10 AM, bsh1 wrote:
I don't think the assumption defeats rational discussion, because many people share my basic intuition (that all humans have rights) but simultaneously deny animal rights. Having a rational discussion about their beliefs and why they conflict can still be a productive and interesting endeavor.

I suppose so... I don't think being doomed to failure is very fun, though. Basing morality in genetics simply doesn't work. Perhaps in this thread I'll just join your side and argue against the animal rights deniers ;P

Lol...

I think, as an aside, there is also intellectual potential for discussion in this thread of other arguments in favor of animal rights (or against) and for conversations along the lines Tej was taking...

I think you have to base morality on intuitions, but maybe that's just me.

I think so too. I just see rationalizing those intuitions as redundant and ultimately more of a means for entertainment ("intellectual masturbation") than anything else.

Eh, I disagree. I think without rational constraints on our intuitions, things get more arbitrary than necessary.
Live Long and Prosper

I'm a Bish.


"Twilight isn't just about obtuse metaphors between cannibalism and premarital sex, it also teaches us the futility of hope." - Raisor

"[Bsh1] is the Guinan of DDO." - ButterCatX

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