The Instigator
ADreamOfLiberty
Pro (for)
The Contender
MrJK
Con (against)

Zoophilia/Bestiality should not be illegal and is not inherently immoral

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/15/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Challenge Declined
Viewed: 956 times Debate No: 38957
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ADreamOfLiberty

Pro

Because of the length constraints a completely specified argument is impossible, indeed it would take a small book. I will however assert some premises which I hope are self-evident to my opponent. If they are not those topics must be clarified before meaningful debate on the resolution can be had.

1. Legality and morality are inherently linked, if something is moral it should be legal and if is legal it should be moral. The difference between them is the difference between what people think and what is. Morality is that which is right, the law is that which people (a majority of) think is right (as expressed through a democratic government).

2. To make moral claims one must have moral principles, to have moral principles one must have a moral theory. That is one must be aware of the field of philosophy which is ethics and subscribe to some system of thought in that field.


3. Baring a full derivation and support of a moral theory, the relevant theory in the case of bestiality/zoophilia is mutual consent of interacting parties + reasonable avoidance of foreseeable pain or biological damage. For those interested I hold a more constrained view as a universal principle for human society, i.e. volition is the prerequisite of all moral interaction between humans.


From these premises I would like to preempt possible strategies of my opponent by implication.


#1 means I will not entertain the notion that even if bestiality/zoophilia is moral it is detrimental to society and that constitutes a legal basis for banning it. For those who consider this unfair I ask you to think of all those things demonstrably detrimental to society that the law does allow for on the basis of personal freedom.


#2 means that I will not entertain sentiments which associate the term morality with emotional appeals, religious dogma, or mindless whim. It is what you find acceptable in human behavior from yourself and from others. If it is not wrong and you wish to merely point out how it can sometimes be dangerous or play a negative role in someone’s life then I’ll leave you to it; that is not the resolution I wish to argue.

#2 also means that there is no such thing as ‘one case at a time’ moral judgments, nothing is good or evil in a vacuum but can only be so in the context of a mountain of previously derived facts. Identifying and challenging double standards is a key technique in discovering moral fallacies. If someone can, on whim, use one standard of moral judgment in case A and another in case B then no moral debate is possible. Therefore if you are someone who thinks comparing zoophilia to homosexuality or to the practice of eating animal meat is a red herring then you should not accept the challenge.

#3 means you are willing to debate the matter of consent, I love to debate ethics and no doubt I will on this site but if you do not believe consent is the moral principle involved here you are almost certainly going to turn this into a philosophical debate.

Some notes on terms:

I use the term Bestiality/zoophilia, some other people make distinctions between these terms; I mean the practice of interspecies sex specifically involving humans as one of the species.


Is zoophilia a sexual orientation? I think so, as far as the word has objective meaning. Bottom line is that some people desire sexual relations with animals. I do not believe the causes of this phenomenon are relevant to the debate nor do I believe there is enough scientific ground work to attempt to answer that question. The homosexual movement has been chugging away for decades and nobody really has a clue what causes it.

Consent, and this is important, is defined as “permission for something to happen or agreement to do something” http://oxforddictionaries.com... . I am fully aware that the idea of informed consent in legal circles is different and much stricter. I do not mean legal/informed consent when I say consent. No one who has a pet, no one who has partook in any animal derived products has ever had informed consent from any animals. It is an impossibility even for humans to give perfect informed consent because it presupposes that both parties are perfectly aware of the consequences of an action. Something that requires the ability to predict the future with 100% certainty.


In practice what is meant by informed consent is that one party discloses any information about the interaction which may reasonably be expected to affect the other’s decision. If one party does not have the information it cannot be given. If the other party is incapable of receiving the information it is not considered a requirement.


For instance, you bring an unconscious stranger into a hospital, the doctor will still treat them on the presumption that they want to be healed. There is no consent informed or otherwise.

Under the constraints set out above the question is:

A.) Can an animal give permission or agreement to a member of another species for sexual interaction?


There are two possible reasons why the answer to that could be no in all cases:



1. No species is capable of communicating permission, agreement, or anything really to a member of another species implicitly or explicitly


2. No species is psychologically capable of granting consent to another species

We can knock out #2 by the mere fact that this is an issue. Humans must be capable of granting consent to another species if they pursue sexual relations with them. Surely you could say humans are an exception but that would require some explanation. Why would humans be the only species capable of accepting interspecies sex? How could you reconcile this with observed instances of interspecies sex between two non-human species?



Even if a creature is incapable of choosing between acting and not acting a certain way it cannot be said that it does not consent. Instead it is more accurate to say that consent is not conceptually applicable to that species.



If a wasp stings you, you might think it was merely the sum of stimuli up to that point that caused it. There is not enough of an independent consciousness in a wasp brain to ever decide not to sting you given the same inputs. It is incorrect to say that the wasp accepts or refuses the interaction. It does neither but if you had to choose, it would be acceptance because if it did have the ability to choose obviously its actions would reflect its choice.



#1 is a little harder but not by much. Consider the following premise



It is impossible for a creature to pursue an action to which it does not consent provided it does not fear retribution for failure to comply.



This can be established easily by looking at its negation which is “It is possible for a creature to pursue a course of action it does not consent to, even if there is no fear of retribution for failure to comply”. It’s a contradiction in terms. If it can agree with anything it must agree with itself.



Therefore even in the absence of verbal or body language, if an animal pursues a course of action where no negative consequences have ever been employed as the result of failing to pursue said course of action, then it has implicitly communicated its intention and its acceptance of the action. If that action is in fact an interaction it must also consent to the interaction.

To compound that point most animals which zoophiles are interested in mating with are quite capable of body language and vocal communication of a basic sort. Note that “Yes” and “No” are very basic communications which any higher animal owner can attest to understanding.

Whether that decision is the result of some faculty of self-determination or is pure instinct is actually irrelevant. If it is pure instinct then the creature never had any freedom to violate. If it has self-determination then it is determining things for itself.

In summation if there exists any example of an animal showing through action absent negative conditioning the acceptance of sexual relations with another species the answer to question A is Yes, at least in some cases. If in some cases an animal can consent to interspecies sex, then surely in some cases an animal can consent to sex with a human, thus on the consent principle it is moral to have sex with an animal.. in some cases.

I want to wrap up with an example question: Horseback riding. Do you believe a horse can consent to being ridden? How would you know?

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