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Richard Dawkins - Science and the New Atheism
Posted: 01 November 2008 04:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 211 ]
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*If it is wrong of us to tell hunters that they should not hunt then it is wrong of hunters to shoot animals.

*If it is not wrong to shoot animals, on the basis that disapproval of hunting is only a subjective opinion, then it is not wrong of me to tell others that they should not hunt.  How dare you impose your own subjective view upon me by saying that I must leave hunters alone!  For that matter, neither you nor a hunter would have any legitimate claim to criticize me if I were to exercise my subjective preference to go out and start shooting hunters.

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Posted: 02 November 2008 01:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 212 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 01 November 2008 03:30 PM

If we are to compare the lives of people living 2000 years ago with the lives of people living today we might find that people are better off on average these days, in the sense of longevity, happiness, etc.  But then again, there were people living in luxury 2000 years ago and there are many miserable people in the world today who are far worse off than were, for example, the pharaohs o Egypt.  There are millions of children, for example, who die from diarrhea every year.  So things are not uniformly better for everyone.  I also see no good reason to assume that they will ever get better, although I am not denying that it will.  I hope that you are right and that it goes the positive way.

I certainly agree things are not uniformly better. Like I said you have to take the long view. Consider the poorest peoples.. in some ways they actually are better off. They don’t get invaded by a new tribe/chiefdom every year because the globe has become (comparatively) much more stabilized.  10,000 years ago the number 1 cause of death wasnt diarrhea because it was probably murder. Many of these poorest owe their existance to relatively modern agriculture- without it millions could never have been born (the moral benefit here is debatable of course) but they have a shot at life they would not have had before. The US and other nations send aid, charity and money on a truly massive scale. Your chance of a foreign people 10,000 miles away sending you any aid 2,000+ years ago? Zero.

As for the pharoahs.. they could not dream of the fantastic luxuries enjoyed by the poorest people of mine and other nations who have refridgeration, TVs, radios, antibiotics, cars, internet, easy access to nigh-infinite information, etc..,

Over time violence, famine, and war have all declined. Over time literacy, quality of life, and political stability have gone up. These are facts. I am not being optimistic.. I am regularly called a cynic in fact.
You see no good reason to think the situation will improve? History is not enough? The most basic reason for progress and continued progress is that as a species we are fundamentally technological and equally social. All humans in every time and place ever studied were constant inventors of new things and also they banded into groups as large as practical limits allowed. To put it briefly, the demands of group living are high and favor pro-stability pro-order pro-equity type values over time because groups without these features eventually disintegrate. We invent technologies that further these goals, one of the first being the written word which had the result of taking ideas from one place to a distant one. Information technology always makes it harder to oppress and easier to innovate. Info tech has only exploded in this role over time and this is only a single example of a transformative technology which can not be put back into the bottle.
Again this is all in broad strokes. Conditions in some places are horrible but think about this- a) you know about them. a previous impossibility. b) you only know they are horrible because you have a frame of reference- a non-horrible life. That horrible place you’re thinking of? it used to be standard life, not horrific exception and c) we have the power to intervene and at least sometimes have. This seems like progress to me.

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Posted: 02 November 2008 01:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 213 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 01 November 2008 03:30 PM

Hunting involves victims.  Gay sex involves only pleasure for it’s participants (assuming of course that they are willing participants).  It is entirely victimless.  I don’t think this is anything reasonable of a comparison.

If I kill an animal to eat, then it is prey. Not a victim. If you claim otherwise, then how is it not a victim when other animals kill it to eat it? Further, it is not clear that some animals in fact don’t kill or maim for apparent “sport”. Should they be arrested? How ‘bout lions that kill each other for dominance reasons? If animals get rights and victimhood surely politcal murder by a rival should be punished?

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Posted: 02 November 2008 06:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 214 ]
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zarcus - 08 December 2007 12:36 PM
George - 08 December 2007 11:52 AM

Welcome to the century of the moral arguments. wink Why not go all the way and stop eating DNA altogether? You can always munch on viruses, dirt, and red blood cells.

It’s strange in a way because I keep coming back to this “is-ought” problem when talking about morals, ethics. Ever since I heard Sam Harris say that not only is the is-ought problem a myth but we can apply oughts to “happiness” (contentment etc.) I can’t help but think this issue is more spongy then just making the claim as fact. Looking at the moral argument for vegetarianism as an evolutionary understanding we are faced with an “ought”. I ought not eat meat because I recognize the moral dilemma of killing and eating other animals. So, as human animals we ought not eat meat.

Do you recognize yourself as an animal?Do you recognize that many other animals eat other animals?Do you recognize that zoologically man is an omnivore?(Biologically as well)
The fact that some people are put off by the current industrialization of animal sources of food is understandable.It is the result of overpopulation centered around large urban areas.Nonetheless it is secondary to the fact that eating animals is NOT immoral.
You know,when the christians or buddhists or whatever religion speaks of intelligent design,I often think their best argument could concern food sources.Look at pigs and cows.The hybridization and stocking of these animals is perfect.Look at a pig.It’s a veritable feast of plenty walking around on four legs.Same for the cow.Pigs,cattle and chickens.These animals were slowly domesticated and evolved right along side of man.This was no accident.Eggs,milk,cheese,meat,tallow,hides,glue,medicine.
Yes,today the massive,industrialization of these animals is,for some,disgusting.And why wouldn’t it be,what with the negative environmental impact,the lower quality of meats,eggs and milks,the introduction of growth horomones and questionable fodder.The crowded feedlots and the occasional media spotlight on brutality.These could be sound reasons to be a vegetarian.
So eating meat is not immoral.What about overpopulation and the formation of civilization as we know it today?Can this be called immoral?

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Row row row your boat gently down the stream.  Merrily Merrily merrily merrily life is but a dream!

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Posted: 02 November 2008 07:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 215 ]
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VYAZMA - 02 November 2008 06:45 AM

So eating meat is not immoral.What about overpopulation and the formation of civilization as we know it today?Can this be called immoral?

Overpopulation is not likely to be a problem. Virtually no 1st-world nation has a birthrate that can even maintain its present size. The rate of population global growth is falling continually. It is a projected economic crisis in Japan (for example), as it is expected not to have the manpower to sustain its industry in the coming years. Google “demographic winter”.

[ Edited: 02 November 2008 08:01 AM by sate ]
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Posted: 02 November 2008 07:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 216 ]
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sate - 02 November 2008 01:17 AM
erasmusinfinity - 01 November 2008 03:30 PM

Hunting involves victims.  Gay sex involves only pleasure for it’s participants (assuming of course that they are willing participants).  It is entirely victimless.  I don’t think this is anything reasonable of a comparison.

If I kill an animal to eat, then it is prey. Not a victim. If you claim otherwise, then how is it not a victim when other animals kill it to eat it?

Terminologically, it is prey when a person or other animal kills to eat.  I do not think that it is necessarily wrong to hunt and eat animals if one needs to do so in order to survive (as if this is really a serious consideration for humans in the 21st century).  However, from the perspective of the animal (or person) being hunted and killed and presumably eaten it is a matter of being a victim, whether perpetrated by humans or other species of animals.  I have said in this thread that it is sometimes justifiable to commit acts that might otherwise be immoral if necessary for survival or as choices over greater immoral acts.

sate - 02 November 2008 01:17 AM

If animals get rights and victimhood surely politcal murder by a rival should be punished?

Isn’t that what we call a war crimes tribunal?

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Posted: 02 November 2008 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 217 ]
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sate - 02 November 2008 01:10 AM

As for the pharoahs.. they could not dream of the fantastic luxuries enjoyed by the poorest people of mine and other nations who have refridgeration, TVs, radios, antibiotics, cars, internet, easy access to nigh-infinite information, etc..,

I suppose that it depends on which particular part of the contemporary world we are comparing with which part of the ancient world.  There are millions of people in the world today who would be hard pressed to imagine such fantastic luxuries as indoor plumbing and sewage, clean safe drinking water, bountiful food, etc. as were enjoyed by the powerful in the ancient world.

I don’t disagree with your other points about particular improvements in the conditions of life.  I do believe that civilization and technology have the capacity to make life better.  I think that things can get better for any and all of us if and to the degree to which we make them better.

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Posted: 02 November 2008 07:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 218 ]
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sate - 01 November 2008 02:11 PM

What evidence supports the contention that hunting is dying? If this is true (which seems to me likely) it might have absolutely nothing to do with morality. It may be the simple result of more people living in urban/suburban places instead of rural ones where hunting is obviously facilitated and traditionally accepted. It could be a consequence of increased technological penetration as today’s yuong people might be a lot more interestted in blasting aliens on their Playstation 3 than sitting in a camo box for 4 hours waiting for a deer to happen by.

The evidence for the decline in hunting is the decline of hunting licenses.
The evidence for moral progress is polls showing that the majority of Americans are opposed to the killing of animals for recreation.

sate - 01 November 2008 02:11 PM

‘Have to admit, as a city slicker I have occasionally been straight weirded-out when meeting sport hunters. I just don’t get it.. they are alien to me. And I’m no peta-lovin paint-hurtlin wacko like.. some.

Most people have this feeling.  There is something about a person who gets thrills out of killing.

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Posted: 02 November 2008 07:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 219 ]
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BaIB - 02 November 2008 07:50 AM

Most people have this feeling.  There is something about a person who gets thrills out of killing.

Yes.  If there were no heart pounding, no sweaty fingers, no challenge to the suppression of one’s moral instinct involved in hunting then it would be hard to imagine anyone getting any more of a thrill from hunting than from skeet shooting and camping.  Sport hunting exemplifies sadism.

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Posted: 02 November 2008 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 220 ]
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Chris Crawford - 01 November 2008 02:45 PM

the Church was the primary civilizing agent for the West from the collapse of the Roman Empire up until the Reformation.

What makes you think that?  I think if it were not for the Church, the Reformation would have come a lot sooner.  Just consider the scientific and philosophical thought that the Church tied to suppress.

What evidence supports the contention that hunting is dying? If this is true (which seems to me likely)

Chris Crawford - 01 November 2008 02:45 PM

I see no evidence in support of that. Hunting remains quite popular in rural areas. Ducks Unlimited has a membership of about 3/4 of a million people; the NRA (which admittedly is not all hunters) has 7 million. If the numbers are falling, then they’re falling very slowly.

This is from a PRO-hunting website:
The future of fishing and hunting in America does not look good. In the 18 to 24 year age group, fishing participation dropped from 20% in 1991 to 13% in 2001 (Source: U.S. Fish & Wildlife survey). For the same age group, hunting participation dropped from 9% in 1991 to ONLY 6% in 2001!
Read more: http://www.deer-library.com/artman/publish/article_145.shtml

Chris Crawford - 01 November 2008 02:45 PM

I’m not weirded out by hunters, largely because so many of my neighbors hunt. I don’t approve of what they do and I want to make certain that the laws in place protect me from them, but I’m not about to impose my preferences on them. I find the notion of gay sex revolting but I’m not about to impose my tastes on gays, either. It’s a big world.

How in the world can you compare gays to hunters?!!!  Gays are not hurting anyone, not violating anyone’s rights.  Hunters murder animals for fun.  Hunters also endanger the rest of us who just want to enjoy nature (5 people were killed by hunters in my state in the last decade).

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Posted: 02 November 2008 08:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 221 ]
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erasmusinfinity - 01 November 2008 04:02 PM

*If it is wrong of us to tell hunters that they should not hunt then it is wrong of hunters to shoot animals.

*If it is not wrong to shoot animals, on the basis that disapproval of hunting is only a subjective opinion, then it is not wrong of me to tell others that they should not hunt.  How dare you impose your own subjective view upon me by saying that I must leave hunters alone!  For that matter, neither you nor a hunter would have any legitimate claim to criticize me if I were to exercise my subjective preference to go out and start shooting hunters.


Bravo erasmusinfinity!

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Posted: 02 November 2008 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 222 ]
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sate - 02 November 2008 01:10 AM
erasmusinfinity - 01 November 2008 03:30 PM

If we are to compare the lives of people living 2000 years ago with the lives of people living today we might find that people are better off on average these days, in the sense of longevity, happiness, etc.  But then again, there were people living in luxury 2000 years ago and there are many miserable people in the world today who are far worse off than were, for example, the pharaohs o Egypt.  There are millions of children, for example, who die from diarrhea every year.  So things are not uniformly better for everyone.  I also see no good reason to assume that they will ever get better, although I am not denying that it will.  I hope that you are right and that it goes the positive way.

I certainly agree things are not uniformly better. Like I said you have to take the long view. Consider the poorest peoples.. in some ways they actually are better off. They don’t get invaded by a new tribe/chiefdom every year because the globe has become (comparatively) much more stabilized.  10,000 years ago the number 1 cause of death wasnt diarrhea because it was probably murder. Many of these poorest owe their existance to relatively modern agriculture- without it millions could never have been born (the moral benefit here is debatable of course) but they have a shot at life they would not have had before. The US and other nations send aid, charity and money on a truly massive scale. Your chance of a foreign people 10,000 miles away sending you any aid 2,000+ years ago? Zero.

  <<cut>>>


I thought we were talking about MORAL progress, not economic progress.

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Posted: 02 November 2008 08:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 223 ]
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neither you nor a hunter would have any legitimate claim to criticize me if I were to exercise my subjective preference to go out and start shooting hunters.

Why bother criticizing you when we can put you in jail for the rest of your life?

Sport hunting exemplifies sadism.

I disagree. The hunters I know can spend all day tramping around in the forest, never even get a shot, and still enjoy the experience. For them, it’s the getting out into the woods that’s enjoyable. It’s no different than fishermen who sit in their boats doing nothing all day, waiting for a fish to take the hook. It’s just absorbing the peace and quiet. People who climb mountains are the same. Why bother going to the top of the mountain? You could just as well wander all around the mountain. But getting to the top creates a sense of purpose even though that purpose is not the ultimate cause of the activity.

Yes, I find it disgusting to shoot animals. But I am not so small-minded as to condemn other cultures for their values unless those values cause injury to me.

Just consider the scientific and philosophical thought that the Church tied to suppress.

Right up until the Reformation, all the scientists and all the philosophers were clerics and indeed most people who could read were educated by the Church. The Church was the font of all science and philosophy during that period.

Thanks for the solid numbers on hunting. They do indeed demonstrate that hunting is declining. Attributing the cause of this decline to moral revulsion of killing animals remains unjustified—but perhaps you can find some data on that.

How in the world can you compare gays to hunters?!!!

I am NOT comparing gays to hunters. I am comparing my emotional reaction to gays to my emotional reaction to hunters.

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Posted: 02 November 2008 08:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 224 ]
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sate - 02 November 2008 01:17 AM
erasmusinfinity - 01 November 2008 03:30 PM

Hunting involves victims.  Gay sex involves only pleasure for it’s participants (assuming of course that they are willing participants).  It is entirely victimless.  I don’t think this is anything reasonable of a comparison.

If I kill an animal to eat, then it is prey. Not a victim. If you claim otherwise, then how is it not a victim when other animals kill it to eat it? Further, it is not clear that some animals in fact don’t kill or maim for apparent “sport”. Should they be arrested? How ‘bout lions that kill each other for dominance reasons? If animals get rights and victimhood surely politcal murder by a rival should be punished?

Non-human animals do not have brains complex enough to judge right and wrong to the same degree that (some) humans can.  In a court of law, a non-human animal, even the smartest chimpanzee, could not be tried, just as a 4 year old human child (regardless of how bright) could not be tried.
Non-human animals must hunt to survive.  They have no choice.  We, humans are moral agents and we have choices.  Therefore, we have a moral obligation to do what is right and to not do what is wrong.

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Posted: 02 November 2008 08:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 225 ]
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VYAZMA - 02 November 2008 06:45 AM
zarcus - 08 December 2007 12:36 PM

It’s strange in a way because I keep coming back to this “is-ought” problem when talking about morals, ethics. Ever since I heard Sam Harris say that not only is the is-ought problem a myth but we can apply oughts to “happiness” (contentment etc.) I can’t help but think this issue is more spongy then just making the claim as fact. Looking at the moral argument for vegetarianism as an evolutionary understanding we are faced with an “ought”. I ought not eat meat because I recognize the moral dilemma of killing and eating other animals. So, as human animals we ought not eat meat.

Do you recognize yourself as an animal?Do you recognize that many other animals eat other animals?Do you recognize that zoologically man is an omnivore?(Biologically as well)

Humans (some humans that is) are MORAL animals.  This means that our brains are complex enough to judge what is right and what is wrong.  We have this tool (our brain), therefore, we have an obligation to use it.  Also, we have choices.  Non-human animals do not have choices.  They have to hunt or else they will starve.

VYAZMA - 02 November 2008 06:45 AM

The fact that some people are put off by the current industrialization of animal sources of food is understandable.It is the result of overpopulation centered around large urban areas.Nonetheless it is secondary to the fact that eating animals is NOT immoral.

You said above that humans are just animals.  If eating animals is not immoral, then it logically follows that eating humans is not immoral.

VYAZMA - 02 November 2008 06:45 AM

You know,when the christians or buddhists or whatever religion speaks of intelligent design,I often think their best argument could concern food sources.Look at pigs and cows.The hybridization and stocking of these animals is perfect.Look at a pig.It’s a veritable feast of plenty walking around on four legs.Same for the cow.Pigs,cattle and chickens.These animals were slowly domesticated and evolved right along side of man.This was no accident.Eggs,milk,cheese,meat,tallow,hides,glue,medicine.

Do you know the difference between and natural selection and artificial selection?

VYAZMA - 02 November 2008 06:45 AM

Yes,today the massive,industrialization of these animals is,for some,disgusting.And why wouldn’t it be,what with the negative environmental impact,the lower quality of meats,eggs and milks,the introduction of growth horomones and questionable fodder.The crowded feedlots and the occasional media spotlight on brutality.These could be sound reasons to be a vegetarian.
So eating meat is not immoral.

Eating meat is immoral because it violates non-human animals’ basic right not to be used as a means to an end.  If killing animals is moral, as you say, please provide an argument that killing humans is immoral. After all, we are all animals (as you agreed).

VYAZMA - 02 November 2008 06:45 AM

What about overpopulation and the formation of civilization as we know it today?Can this be called immoral?

I personally believe that anyone who has more than 2 children is acting immorally because he/she is degrading the quality of life on this planet for everyone.  And those who have no children are the most virtuous.
The formation of civilization is not immoral.  This is how we humans survive in this world.  Why did you ask that question in the first place?  What makes you think that it could be immoral?

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