The Instigator
Pro (for)
3 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
0 Points

Sex with animals is ethically permissible

Do you like this debate?NoYes+0
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/17/2012 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,693 times Debate No: 28343
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (8)
Votes (1)




First I would like to thank ANDYH for accepting this debate topic. I would like to additionally offer to all interested that I would be glad to debate this topic with other people. Finally, I would like to encourage ANDYH to collaborate with others n the assembly of his arguments, as per rule 8 below.

The topic of bestiality and zoophilia are questionable and oft sticky topics (pun intended), which generally produce a visceral reaction in the course of their discussion. Historically, sex with animals has been among the acts considered most obscene, an abomination above most -if not all- other things considered abominations. Despite this, there are in fact a great many things which human emotion arguably gets wrong about ethics: the human desire for revenge, forced heteronormativity, fear of change. In many people the list of emotional malfunction goes far deeper, into neuropathy, and psychopathy. Emotion is an approximation at best of "what is right", and as such, it becomes a valid question as to whether the visceral but none-the-less emotional animus against sex with animals is appropriate.

As such, this debate is to explore whether such an animus is philosophically justified, or whether that animus is something that we ought overcome.

1) First round is acceptance*, second round is argument, third round is rebuttal and additional supporting arguments, fourth round is pure rebuttal and final round is closing. Upon mutual agreement via comments or PM, round 5 may also include a final counter-rebuttal.
2) *CON may go first; if CON uses his first round for argument, CON agrees his last round shall be a blank post, and for the purposes of voting, rounds for CON shall be offset by one post.
3) Responses shall be directed towards the previous rounds(s) only. Round 2 "initial arguments" are to be independent.
4) No direct "vote pandering". An argument ought stand on its own, without appeals to emotion or ad hominem.
5) No "sneaky ****erism". This is defined as making declarations to win an argument rather than making an attempt to investigate whether a claim is actually valid or supported by reason. The winning argument here is to be determined as that argument which stands up to reason, not which argument/person people subjectively like more. In accepting, CON agrees that any votes which do not reflect an objective evaluation of the arguments (subjective votes) are invalid and to be ignored during final evaluation, retracted, or negated.
6) No extended arguments, except if mutually agreed upon.
7) Shared BoP; all positive claims must be defended, and all arguments must be supported with reasons; this is a philosophical debate, and first principles must be mutually accepted, if used as a basis of argument. Argument from authority, argument from tradition, and the naturalistic fallacy are all accepted as fallacies by CON.
8) Shared participation is encouraged; while there can only be one formal "PRO" and one formal "CON", any independently supported argument may be advanced and picked up by the formal debators.
9) First principles accepted in this debate must include that: "The universe exists"; "knowledge exists"; "all descriptive models have greater value than any non-descriptive model"; and that "equals OUGHT be treated equally".
10) Additional rules as presented by CON shall be discussed in comments before being accepted.


Let me first propose a case of bestiality for us to keep in mind in this discussion. I think it is essential for us to remove any obvious wrong-making properties that could occur in any sexual act so that we can have a debate solely concerned with whether or not the property of being an act of bestiality is a wrong-making property. Thus, let us imagine a case in which a woman and her (male) dog have a really close relationship. If they were to have sex it would be pleasurable for both of them. That is, the person would not in any way mistreat the dog by causing it physical or emotional pain. For the sake of argument let us imagine that this dog, Spot, is a full-grown dog as well.

Let us begin the case against bestiality with the following argument:

1. In order for an act of sex involving at least one person and one semi-rational and/or sentient being to be morally permissible, there must be voluntary, informed consent from both participants.
2. An act of bestiality, by definition, cannot involve voluntary, informed consent from both participants.
3. Therefore, bestiality is not morally permissible.

The first premise is clearly the most controversial; so let me elaborate on it. By "voluntary," I mean that neither participant is being coerced or threatened in anyway. By "informed," I mean that both participant understand what they are consenting to, what it means to each one of them and what it means to the other, and perhaps as well as its broader social meaning. This kind of consent is normally the minimal criteria for an act of sex to be morally permissible.

For the sake of argument let us imagine that one participant is a person. By person, I do not necessarily mean a human being. The latter is a biological category and the former is a moral category. I shall not offer a set of necessary and sufficient conditions for a being to be a person, but let us consider the following to be some necessary conditions: consciousness, sentience, and autonomy (self-determination). Thus, the average adult human is also a person. But an alien might also have these properties without also being biologically human, so they are clearly distinct categories.

I have specified that the second participate is semi-rational and/or sentient. By this, I mean to include animals and certain kinds of humans, e.g. infants and the mentally disabled. I have included these two properties (1) because animals have them and (2) to eliminate the objection that without them, premise 1 would make sex with inanimate objects (e.g. blow-up dolls) morally impermissible. I do not think that sex with inanimate is morally impermissible in the slightest and so I thought it was essential to include it.

Now, I think the best objection to premise 1 is that while animals cannot offer"in fact, are not capable of offering"voluntary, informed consent, they can offer a kind of tacit consent. Following Neil Levy [1], let us refer to this latter kind of consent as consent*. Consider the following scenario. You're at a friend's house for a Christmas party and your friend's dog comes up to you and starts humping your leg with a full erection. Surely this dog knows what it is doing"as much as is possible. In fact, let us call the kind of consent that is displayed in the act of an animal initiating a sexual act "active consent*." That is, the animal actively consents* to a certain act. In addition to being able to offer active consent*, an animal can offer what we might call passive consent*, i.e. once a sexual act has been initiated, the animal has the ability to show signs that it no longer consents. For example, the animal might try to get away from the person with whom it is having sex. Or it might make sounds indicating that it is not enjoying itself, e.g. sounds indicating pain or discomfort. If an animal offers none of these indications, then it ostensibly offers passive consent* as well. It seems to me that if an animal offers both active and passive consent*, then that instance of bestially is morally permissible. However, we will soon see that this might necessarily be so.

For the purposes of this discussion let us refer to a case in which a person has sex with an animal who offers active and passive consent* and who enjoys the sex and who suffers no physical or psychological harm form the sex as bestiality*.

With all this in mind, let us formulate the argument against the moral permissibility of bestiality in two ways.

Argument One: Rejection of Voluntary, Informed Consent

1.Either voluntary, informed consent (VIC) is a necessary condition for a sex act to be morally permissible or it is not.
2.If (a) VIC is a necessary condition for morally permissible sex, then bestiality* is morally impermissible, however, if (b) VIC is not a necessary condition, then bestiality* is morally permissible.
3.If 2b is true, then certain instances of pedophilia are also morally permissible, i.e. those in which a child offers both active and passive consent*.
4.However, no instances of pedophilia are morally impermissible.
5.Therefore, bestiality* is not morally permissible. [from 3 and 4, modus tollens]

Argument Two: Acceptance of Active and Passive Consent*

1.Mutual active and passive consent* (MAPC*) is a sufficient condition for morally permissible sex in which one of the participants in not a person.
2.Bestiality* involves MAPC*.
3.Therefore, bestiality* is morally permissible.
4.However, if (1), then certain instances of pedophilia are morally permissible"i.e. ones including MAPC*.
5.No instances of pedophilia are morally permissible.
6.Therefore, MAPC* is not a sufficient condition for morally permissible sex.
7.Therefore, bestiality* is not morally permissible"if the only justification of its moral permissibility is the fact that it involves MAPC*.

These arguments are quite similar; I offer them both in case either of us finds one more accurate or useful than the other.

Before I end, let me just anticipate a possible objection to premise 3 of the first argument and premise 4 of the second"i.e. the reductio ad absurdum. It may be claimed that pedophilia is different than bestiality because children will grow up into persons and will be traumatized by having had sex with an adult. That is, while children cannot offer voluntary, informed consent now, they will be able to in the future whereas animals will never be able to offer such consent. In fact, one might argue that being a child is similar to being drunk with regard to voluntary, informed consent. While a person is drunk, she cannot possibly offer such consent, but eventually she will be able to.

However, we can avoid this objection by arguing that, in this case, pedophilia only refers to certain instances of pedophilia, i.e. sex with children who will never be able to offer voluntary, informed consent. For example, perhaps we know that a child will die before she reaches the age in which she could offer such consent, or perhaps the child is permanently mentally disabled. Let us refer to these instances of pedophilia as pedophilia*. We might even extend this argument to include mentally disabled adults, however, I think that sex with them is less morally objectionable than sex with children"of any kind.

If either of my arguments is sound, then the moral permissibility of bestiality* would entail that pedophilia* is morally permissible, e.g. sex with an infant that will die before the age of five or a 3-year-old that will always be mentally disabled. However, it seems to me that this implication is absurd and we must thus question the moral permissibility of bestiality*.

I look forward to Jarhyn's response and to a lively conversation in general.



[1] Neil Levy, "What (if Anything) Is Wrong with Bestiality?," Journal of Social Philosophy 34, no. 3 (Fall 2003): 446.
Debate Round No. 1


First I would like to thank my opponent, Pangloss, for accepting this debate. We have a common understanding between us on the nature of people and animals, and will further thank him for establishing that we are arguing specifically on the ethical relevance of “sex with animals” to the ethical acceptability of an action.

Additionally, any claim I have made to which there is some doubt or misunderstanding, I will gladly provide additional support or clarification in my next post; my opponent has merely to ask.



Applying to an activity performed on or with a entity: Lacking informed consent.

  1. Animals have pragmatic value to People, at best
    Ethical value is the value that PEOPLE have to other PEOPLE, and all other things need only be afforded pragmatic value; without ethical value, consent of any form need not be garnered in imposition upon animals.

    1. Game theory establishes that people are optimally a community apart from other entities.
      1. Darwinian evolution is optimal with competition between individual, species, pack, and family. The extent of value to animals to each other is that of pragmatism, and thus form tribes.
      2. Memetic evolution (the type of evolution People do) is best WITHOUT competition between individuals in the group of people; people have intrinsic value to other people and optimally form a society, or a community of all people, as any person’s adaptations can be passed to and thereby benefit any other person. However the extent of value for non-people remains that of pragmatism, as animals do not contribute useful adaptations in the form of ideas.
        1. Such a difference is seen between populations of bacteria, and multi-cellular organisms: all cells in the multicellular organism form a community or collective, at which point overt competition becomes detrimental to the body.

    2. People have ethical responsibilities from the basis of first principles, which animals cannot take part in.
      1. A definition of freedom:
        1. The freedom of a person to be is the extent of all things which do not themselves do insult to another person's freedom to be.
        2. That which does such insult is not a freedom.

      2. A definition of responsibilities:
        1. We have a responsibility to all other persons who claim freedom to defend that freedom from that which would do it insult.
        2. This by its nature includes a responsibility to NOT do that which is NOT a freedom.

      3. A definition of fairness:
        1. That which we claim for ourselves as freedom must be accepted as freedom for others, or denied among the freedoms of self.

      4. In order to claim freedom, one must consent to imposition of responsibility, an acceptance of the community of people and their ethical value.
        1. Animals are functionally unable to accept or understand freedom from first principles; they lack a theory of mind, and a concept of identity, and lack the ability to ever attain it.
        2. As understanding of freedom is necessary to claim freedom, animals need never be offered freedom.

    3. People are existentially sustainable, animals are not.
      1. Evolution of memetic collectives is far faster than Darwinian evolution, which requires a new generation to imperfectly select for minute change.
      2. Such faster evolution means the ability to avoid or survive through planetary extinction events and solar reintegration, and potentially to identify such existential threats before they become imminent.
      3. As this life in this existence is all there definitely is (not to be read as “definitely all there is”), all observable meaning is tied up in the survival of life, and as survival is only likely for people and those things we retain as useful tools, it is the pragmatic value of animals which is most important, not just to us, but also to their own survival.

  2. Differences between Ethical and Pragmatic concerns

    1. This debate is not about pedophilia or the mentally disabled; such sex is questionable for ethical reasons, which are generalized for pragmatic reasons.

      1. Often in discussions such as this, attempts are made to draw connections between irrational children, and irrational adults, and irrational animals. I will gladly, at the conclusion of this debate, have an additional debate over the categorical acceptability of sex with children, but such a debate would be one-sided, in that we would be arguing between the logic which leads to “sex with children and/or the mentally disabled is unacceptable” rather than the validity of the resolution itself.

      2. My particular position on this aspect is rather threefold:
        1. Children are generally potentially future adults, with an entitlement to either a full measure of the activity required to make them free as possible from natural evil or imposition, OR a swift death. As such, the future person has the right to decide if and when they will have sex, and as such are ethically harmed by pedophiles.
        2. Children represent a devotion of resources spent to produce rational adults, and the effects of sex increase those costs, or cause them to be outright lost (through depression and suicide, for example). Even in the case of “doomed” children, there is the possibility of breakthrough preventing the doom, and thus reason to defend their rights.
        3. Sex with children is at best extremely difficult to find ethically justifiable, and thus demands the greatest amount of caution, to the extent it becomes pragmatic to treat it as if it were categorically unacceptable so as to prevent false-negatives AND false positives in identification of unethical cases.

      3. My position on the mentally disabled is similar:
        1. The “mentally disabled” may actually have all the necessary qualities of a person, and thus be a person, and it is difficult to ascertain the “edge cases”; giving them the benefit of the doubt with ethical treatment is preferable to violating the ethical rights of a person, and so necessitates requiring what seems as informed consent in such instances.
        2. The mentally disabled may have pragmatic value as independent operators in society (as “property” of society), and as such that value that society has is potentially damaged or destroyed through such activity. Such is made clear by the fact that the mentally deficient generally have legal guardians.
        3. Sex with such people-shaped-animals after accurate identification is generally allowed, when the legal guardian of such a person allows it to happen, though not with the legal guardian for rightful reasons of conflict-of-interest.

    2. Sex with animals is questionable for exclusively pragmatic concerns, and generally those are easily resolved.
      1. Differentiation by species is easily accomplished.
      2. Animals will never “grow up” into persons.
      3. IF it is ever the case that animal-shaped-people become a reality, then pragmatic concerns may arise; however it does not affect the ethical acceptability of sex with animals, merely the pragmatism of allowing it.

  3. Argument from Common Sense

    1. It is common sense that imposition on animals is generally allowed
      1. We allow clearly sexual imposition such as castration, molestation, masturbation, forced sexual coupling, and manual fertilization (with devices or with hands); nonconsensual sex with them for OUR gratification is no different.
      2. We allow much more grisly things like killing, breaking, knocking, tying down, trapping, keeping captive, and poisoning; mere sex is nothing next to that.

    2. Treating animals ethically produces an existential threat to people
      1. We need to be able to feed ourselves; imposition has been and continues to be necessary to do that.
      2. We need to be able to defend ourselves; imposition has been and continues to be necessary to do that.

  4. Conclusion
    1. Ethics are clearly for people, not animals.
    2. Pragmatic unacceptability is different from ethical unacceptability.
    3. Common sense dictates that imposition upon animals is acceptable and even necessary for existence of people.
    4. Therefore, having sex with animals is ethically permissible.

Requests for BOP:
{1}. “no instances of pedophilia are morally permissible” I read “morally” here as synonymous with “ethically”. Emphasis, mine.



I thank Jarhyn for his thoughtful opening statement.

In this round, I honestly have more questions than comments or critiques. Hopefully once I get clear on some of these important issues, I'll have more to say.

What does it mean that people have value to other people? Does this refer to instrumental or intrinsic value and is everybody just as "ethically valuable" as everybody else? Are you allowing for family members to be more valuable to a person than complete strangers? What does it mean for a being to have ethical value vs. pragmatic value? Is it the case that the former is based on a being's being to be "useful" to persons in general, i.e. to humanity. Or is it that persons can help with survival, which is of the upmost importance?

Why game theory? How does game theory represent a satisfactory theory of normative ethics which is preferable to some form of consequentialism or deontological ethics? I only ask because I've never seen someone appeal to game theory in order to justify ethical arguments. It seems to me that if we are both assuming the burden of proof, then any controversial and comprehensive doctrine that you are appealing in order to justify your entire case stands in need of at least some justification.

"people have intrinsic value to other people" Don't animals have intrinsic for some people?

I honestly do not understand what evolution has to do with ethical arguments. Are you arguing for some kind of maximizing utilitarianism wherein the morally right thing to do is that which results in that which is most optimal according to Darwinian or memetic evolution?

Something which I think it is essential to understand is that any claim that you make about animals can equally be made about infants who will die before the age of consent and mentally disabled infants. Let us refer to this category of infants as infants* Like animals they do not"and cannot"contribute useful adaptations in the form of ideas. Infants* also cannot take part in the ethical responsibility that you claim persons can, because, like animals, they cannot and will never be able to "accept or understand freedom from first principles" and so on.

If you want to argue for the value of infants* based on the fact that they have family that can grieve if they suffer or are abused, then this will not provide a way of differentiating between animals and infants*, because many people see their pets as children.

I still do understand what evolution and surviving planetary events and so on have to do with ethics. I agree that memetic evolution is faster, but so what? Persons can avoid catastrophic disasters and it is certainly in animals' interests if we do so, but it does not follow that it is in their interest for us to treat in any way we seem appropriate. Our ability to keep animals alive does not entail that we may do anything we want with or to them.

II.B.2 - by definition infants* will never grow up.

You have provided me with no reason to think that animals are ethically any different from infants*. In fact, infants* fail to meet the necessary conditions for being a person as I defined persons in my opening. I also noted that this personhood was a ethical category and you did not seem to disagree.

III.A.1-2 - I agree wholeheartedly that people tend to allow horrible things to be done to animals"and some even perform such horrible acts on animals. Initially you phrased this argument in terms of what society allows and I agreed with that. I do not agree that common sense tells us that it is morally permissible to abuse and kill sentient animals. Moreover, even if most people thought that it was morally permissible, I never agreed that we could assume such actions are morally permissible. I personally think that much of this kind of treatment of animals cannot be morally justified and is thus not morally permissible. I am not even a big animal rights activist, but I think philosophers such as Jeff McMahan have made pretty convincing cases against treating animals in certain ways (e.g. eating them).

III.B.1 - you know perfectly well that humans do not have to treat sentient animals cruelly in order to raise them for food. Furthermore, we do not need to rely on eating animals for our existence. There are plenty of people who do not eat animals or animal products. Thus, treating animals ethically in this respect does not produce an ethical threat to people.

III.B.2 - I am not sure exactly what you mean by imposition, but if you live in many parts of the United States, Canada, or Europe, there is no official imposition on semi-wild animals. There are no squirrel or bear internment camps. If we had to built a fence to prevent foxes from getting into a neighborhood that would be permissible, but we do not need to harm animals in order to impose a bit on them. Furthermore, treating animals ethically does not mean that if a bear tries to maul you, then you have to stand there and take it. If your life is threatened by an animal, you can harm or kill in order to prevent it from harming you. The same holds true for persons. If a person runs at you wielding a large knife, you can shoot that person. However, that does not mean that you can go around shooting random people.

III.B - Again, I never agreed that the treatment of animals in the US and parts of Europe was morally permissible.

In summation, we are owed an explanation of why animals differ morally from infants*, why game theory is superior to other theories of normative ethics, as well as exactly why do persons have special (ethical) value, i.e. in virtue of what feature or features do persons have ethical value? And, do infants* have this feature or features?

I look forward to Jarhyn's response.
Debate Round No. 2


Given the form and structure of this debate from the presented rules, this will largely be a response primarily to Pangloss's initial argument, and additional argument of my own; I will make an attempt to answer Pangloss's questions so that he can be more clear on my argument.

First, there is the matter of unsubstantiated claims made by my opponent. Principally of these is why he believes that sex with non-persons requires informed consent. Certainly the mentally disabled are unable to give consent to the same consent as fully functioning adults, yet they are still allowed to engage in sexual behavior with fully functioning adults so long as their legal guardians allow it (if they even HAVE such a guardian).

Indeed, I have not accepted the preposition that all sex with "doomed children or the mentally disabled" is ethically unacceptable. In the same manner as my opponent, I will call such not-quite-people or maybe-people as people*. Such people* are difficult to differentiate between people, to the point where it is difficult to conclusively know if any given person* is a person or not. For instance a child may be be mentally advanced enough to be capable of actual informed consent while their twin, identical in all physical ways, is not. In this hypothetical situation twin A is capable of informed consent, and thus sex involving informed consent with this individual should be acceptable. Unfortunately, there's no way to clearly tell that this is the case. If someone sees twin A and his lover being affectionate, they might object, either confusing twin A with twin B, or assuming that twin A because of his apparent youth is a child incapable of consent and his lover might be arrested and punished wrongly. Another might see twin B, make passes and then get MAPC, and then find that they have just committed an unacceptable act with either the wrong twin or with someone who is a child. We have resolved this with the PRAGMATIC requirement that all people must reach some legal age before they are afforded person status, to resolve the ambiguity and to further make the assumption that even if thy aren't actually capable yet of informed consent, whatever they provide at that point is "good enough".

Further, I cannot claim to think that no act of pedophilia is ethically unacceptable. For the reasons I outlined in my initial argument, in fact, I do NOT think that they are all ethically unacceptable, however, there is still the issue that the vast majority are unacceptable. First, there is the possibility that "doomed" children may be saved and become adults; then any future-person argument against pedophilia applies to them. Second, there is the concern that those pedophiles who will seek out such broken people* for sex will be likely, for various reasons, to engage in such unacceptable sex with actual persons; such people* are also very unlikely to be of the sort that is sufficient to satisfy the majority of actual pedophiles. For this reason, even though it cannot be said that those acts are ethically unacceptable, there are pragmatic concerns which cannot be mitigated.

Questions and Answers

What does it mean that people have value to other people? It is readily apparent that any person who has joined the collective is bound to the clear responsibility to defend other people such as themselves from natural evil. As they are the ethical equals of the agent in question, it is the value of the agent to themselves which means that he other must also have value. Further there is actual instrumental value in that person's ability to contribute to and evaluate the contributions of the original agent. Finally they have value in their execution of their own responsibility to the original agent to defend their freedom from harm.

Why game theory? Game theory provides a preferable model of the extent of applicability of normative ethics, because as normative ethics is concerned with ideal states: game theory seeks to investigate the qualities that would bring about an ideal state based on a set of rules (an environment) and a goal, and which qualities and activities would degrade the ability to reach that ideal state.

Intrinsic value of animals? No. In short, animals do not have intrinsic value to people, but merely to individual persons, though the value that some other person gives them need not be accepted by me. Let us take for example my cat. I love my cat. He is kind and friendly, enjoying pets and hugs and he makes my life more livable for being in it. If he died I would be sad, and if someone abused him, I'd make them quite sad. My cat has the pragmatic value of being an emotional boon in my life. But this is MY cat, and he has this value because I have decided he does. I have no more right to define the teleology of cat for all people, nor do they have the right to force their teleology upon me. For something to be unethical, it must be impermissible for all agents in all situations.

On evolution
It is apparent that the intrinsic value of people to people is in their ability to increase the survivability of people. My argument on that front is that normative social memeticism (rather than social Darwinism) converge with ethics from first principles. This massive convergence speaks to its correctness.

On the doomed and the incapable First, it becomes apparent that just because they are currently doomed, it is not known or knowable if they are actually going to die. On the subject of mentally disabled infants, the question of whether we wish to allow those who are capable of using sexually using something that is visually indistinguishable from an infant that has value to remain free in society. As such, it becomes apparent that we should treat them as if it is unacceptable, unless those pragmatic concerns can be mitigated in such a way to prevent ethically unacceptable activities. While such activities may be pragmatically problematic, they are not ethically problematic.

In short, I am not arguing that infants* are ethically different from animals, however they are pragmatically different from animals.

As per rebuttal I am, according to the rules of this debate, not going to actively rebut the current round until the next round. I look forward to CON's defense of his moral rule as requested in the previous round.


I took VIC as a prerequisite for morally permissible (hereafter: permissible) sex with non-persons because VIC is the standard minimal criterion for permissible sex with persons and simply laid out an argument (the first one) which shows that if one rejects this as a necessary condition for permissible sex then one is left with the absurd conclusion that pedophilia* is permissible. However, I did offer a second argument for the conclusion that MAPC* is not a sufficient condition for permissible sex with animals, because it allows for pedophilia*.

I think that MAPC* is a more plausible prerequisite for permissible sex with animals than VIC. It obviously requires much less of animals and is actually something that they can offer. So, for the moment, think of VIC as a first pass at a criterion for permissible bestiality.

I think that MAPC* should be a necessary condition, if not also a sufficient condition, for permissible bestiality. I think that sex with an animal requires some form of consent (or consent*) because animals have interests, i.e. things can positively and negatively affect their wellbeing. The fact that these animals have interests is a function of their being conscious and sentient as well as having desires. Their interests can be directly affected by pleasure and pain or by having their desires fulfilled or thwarted. However, inanimate do not possess interests (or wellbeing for that matter) of any sort as they are not conscious. Thus, animals being used in ways that thwart their desires or cause them pain"for no go reason (e.g. in order to save 10 persons from death)"is impermissible. However, if we accept MAPC*, we must also accept the permissibility of bestiality*.

At this point, I think this it is essential to draw attention to the fact that Jarhyn and I seem to have a different conception about what a moral argument concerns. This became clear to me at two points in Jarhyn's previous post: (1) when he discusses the fact that persons* may be hard to distinguish from persons and (2) when he discusses the fact he doesn't think all cases of pedophilia are impermissible, but because most are, it is pragmatic to consider them all impermissible. These are epistemic questions, which I was largely ignoring, because in my opinion, they apply more saliently in debates about law or public policy and not morality. I took it that when I said "pedophilia* is impermissible" I was talking about hypothetical scenarios in which we knew that an act of pedophilia* had occurred. In addition, I'm not concerned about what is actually true of real world. Morality is not about what is the case, but rather, what ought to be the case. If it were the case that pedophilia* is permissible, then there is a possible world in which most instances of it are permissible. That is, if there are certain criteria by which an instance of pedophilia* could be judged permissible, then there is a possible world in which most persons who engage in pedophilia* do so permissibly. And, therefore, if one accepts that there are such criteria, then one is committed to acknowledging pedophilia* as permissible in all these cases.

This difference in approach is also apparent in Jarhyn's claim that it is possible for persons* to be saved or made adults and so on. But, I've been arguing that if we accept that they will never become adults, then such and such is true. Of course, they may be fixed, but so may animals. If we're considering far-out technology to be a possibility, then I see no reason to limit it to only being able to fix humans. I take it that when we discuss certain scenarios, we take them to be possible and only consider the features which we've agreed on. Jarhyn's approach includes what a professor of mine calls "engineering solutions," where a person changes the precise features under consideration so as to avoid problems as opposed to facing the problem under consideration. I do not mean this as a criticism, but mainly as a way of elucidating the difference in approach.

Game theory: as far as I can see, you have yet to defend game theory against consequentialism, deontological ethics, or even virtue theory, all of which have much greater support in the philosophical community than game theory. Again, your whole argument depends upon this theory and therefore you have to give us some positive reason to think that it is the right (or best) theory. The fact that you claim there is a goal for this social arrangement makes me think that it would be permissible to do horrible things to people if it helped to promote the goal or if the only way for this goal to be achieved was to murder a group of innocent children, this would be permissible. So what's the goal of this arrangement and what are its limits? It also seems that people only have an instrumental value in this arrangement.

You write, "It is apparent that the intrinsic value of people to people is in their ability to increase the survivability of people." But this seems to me to be instrumental value, not intrinsic value. People are valuable not for their own sake (i.e. intrinsically), but for the sake of their ability to increase survivability (instrumentally). To be intrinsically valuable, people would have to have some feature that was valuable in and of itself and not in virtue of its usefulness for others.

You write, "It is readily apparent that any person who has joined the collective is bound to the clear responsibility to defend other people such as themselves from natural evil. As they are the ethical equals of the agent in question, it is the value of the agent to themselves which means that he other must also have value." Why is it readily apparent? Are these people consenting to be part of this collective? Is this some kind of social contract? This account does not sound like it allows for special obligations to friends and family. For example, if I had to choose between saving my mother or a complete stranger from drowning, I would not be justified in saving my mother. Or, even if I had to choose between 5 close family members (father, mother, wife, and two siblings) and 10 complete strangers, would I have to save the 10? How would your theory handle these kinds of cases?
Debate Round No. 3


Rebuttal and Counter-rebuttal
"If you want to argue for the value of infants* based... [grief of the family]... many people see their pets as children."

It is the choice of a person to treat any animal that they own, be it animal shaped or person-shaped, in the way that has the greatest utility to them. It happens that most people form emotional attachments to various animals they own and being destructive to their pets, regardless of their shape, is generally self-destructive for the person. I'm not arguing that infants* have ethical value, merely that there is currently pragmatic value in treating them as if they have ethical value.

"I still do understand what evolution and surviving planetary events and so on have to do with ethics...."

In this particular context, it is not just that memetic evolution is faster, but that it is predictive. There is no way for non-memetic Darwinian systems to be adapted for extremely rare catastrophic environmental events. If there is no reason to waste our time and resources taking them with us, why would we have an obligation to do it? There is already a clearly established ethical (and pragmatic) reason to save the people.

"How does game theory represent a satisfactory theory of normative ethics which is preferable to some form of consequentialism or deontological ethics?"

It is not a basis for a theory of ethics, but a valid question of whether animals (Darwinian species) can benefit from ethical agency. Game theory is not a theory of normative ethics but rather the informer of the application of normative ethics. It cannot be rationally denied that Darwinian evolution requires death imposed by the envronment, and death is the end of all freedom, therefore he continued survival of any Darwinian species relies not only on imposing but on being imposed upon, and being fit for specific impositions is utimately beneficial to animals. I turn it back to CON to give a suitable explaination as to "from whence comes ethical agency?".

II.B.2 "by definition infants* will never grow up."

First, I would like to point out that this particular argument is symantic: so far as we know there is no possible world in which the future may be known with absolute certainty. As per agreement on what makes a thing a person, I have outlined what I see as the basis for personhood in my sections on game theory and ethics: that which is fully capable as a memetic evolver, and that which accepts to be bound by the responsibilities required for freedom. In my estimation, these two groups converge on the same community.

III.A.1-2 "I personally think that much of this kind of treatment of animals cannot be morally justified and is thus not morally permissible."

A computer can be made to feel, and thus attain sentience in the classical sense of "an agent that feels". It is quite an easy thing to develop a computer program which illicits a pain reaction in response to a stimulus (or to give it pain in response to ANY stimulus). In fact, I have a process running right now which is essentially a "hell program", where no matter what the process tries within its available options, it suffers. If you want I can share the source code.

"feeling" is merely an innate subjective reaction to a stimulus which results in a change in the system pressure towards or away from a given stimulus. Here I'm arbitrarily excluding here cases where stimulus/response is 100% causal and fixed, though I suspect that such are still within the realm of "feelings". Jeff McMahan makes his case ultimately as an appeal to emotion, largely of the vein "it feels and suffers therefore it has ethical value". But you and he both are responsible for establishing why the feelings or interests of an animal warrant granting of ethical agency. I have explained reasons why it is particularly against their interests to grant them such agency. I do believe I have established why people have ethical agency, though feel free to request additional support for round 5.

III.B.2 "[I]f you live in many [places]... there is no official imposition on semi-wild animals."

For the places you listed, there is indeed official imposition upon non-domestic animals. We hunt deer, wolves, coyotes, and all manner of animal, and there are official encouragements and regulations to do so. In some cases, wild animals are actually eradicated, exterminated, or imposed upon en masse for convenience sake or to preempt a possible harm. While it is not in the list of places you mentioned, Australia utterly eradicated the tasmanian tiger, and I'm fairly certain that if and when it is possible, the malaria mosquito will be eradicated.

In response to your summation, no explaination is necessary as to why animal differ from infants*, as they do not differ ethically from infants*. It is merely pragmatic to treat them as if they do.


Pangloss forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4


Pangloss forefeit. I will let my case stand.


Pangloss forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by Pangloss 5 years ago
Correction: premise 4 of my first argument against bestiality should be:

"4.However, no instances of pedophilia are morally permissible"
Posted by Pangloss 5 years ago
Cool. I think we're on the same page.
Posted by Jarhyn 5 years ago
In terms of "extended arguments"...

I expect you to refrain from "technically extended arguments" as in posts which contain more than the character limit worth of characters. Limit your initial posting, and all further postings to 8000 displayed characters; I go through the great lengths of arguing using an outline, so that those whom I debate with can clearly and quickly ascertain the nature and structure of my arguments, as well as reference claims without wasting space quoting them.

If you wish to make a claim from some set of logical data, you may neglect connecting steps. I do this frequently with my ethical foundation from first principles which will doubtlessly be part of my own initial argument. IF one of us wishes to see work shown, it may be shown in a later round, but not round 5 (so, in round 3 or 4).

The same general principle applies to statistical claims; statistics and math eat a lot of character space, and may be left out unless demanded, as may be sources for non-disputed factual claims. If a factual claim IS disputed, then sources or work must be provided to back it up in round 3 or 4. If such a claim is outright contradicted with a factual counter-claim with included evidence, the original claim must be withdrawn (conceded) or the counter-claim must be discredited or otherwise refuted before offering the original evidence.

In terms of "extended arguments", if you wish to continue reasons, I have no problem continuing a long chain of necessary text into the third round, so long as you prototype your argument (provide claims) in your first post, to which you later add data and warrants, although they will be subject to the above requirements.
Posted by Pangloss 5 years ago
Also, would you consider allowing me to use "extended arguments"? I didn't realize what you meant when you wrote that criterion. I thought you were referring to arguments from the first round spilling over into the second and ones from the second spilling over into the third and so on. If you would still prefer I not use them, I will not, but I will then just take them and put them in paragraph form. Just out of curiosity, why are you against extended arguments? It just makes it easier for you to understand my argument and to critique it. I'll leave it up to.
Posted by Pangloss 5 years ago
Yes, is that ok? I don't care either way, but I am working on an argument right now.
Posted by Jarhyn 5 years ago
If I may, are you intending to present first?
Posted by Pangloss 5 years ago
No problem.
Posted by Jarhyn 5 years ago
Sorry about screwing up your name :( After 4 times issuing this debate, I got lazy and missed that.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by morgan2252 5 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:--Vote Checkmark3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: While I don't believe in having sex with animals, I see, through logic, how it could be ethically permissible. So, convinging arguments goes to pro. No sides had sources, and both had good spelling and grammar. Con forfieted, so conduct goes to pro.