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Richard Dawkins - Science and the New Atheism
Posted: 20 October 2008 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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zarcus - 10 December 2007 07:43 AM
erasmusinfinity - 10 December 2007 07:20 AM

but we don’t need to eat meat.

Of course, I agree, eramusinfinity. One thing that comes to mind is there would need to be a concerted effort needed by everyone to change their behavior in ways they may not realize at first. In the case of fish I think lessening intake quickly would not cause a disruption and they would be able to live in their natural environment with less disruption. With animals for which we already control their populations we would have the immediate problem of having an unprofitable market so retaining certain animals, such as cows, would quickly decline. Cows for the most part in North America would find it very difficult to survive in a more ‘natural’ environment. In essence cows would become either pet like or placed in zoos.  Then their is the more wild variety of animal, such as dear, where human activity also puts controls on their population. Since they are wild, population control becomes an issue, such as seen with ‘suburban sprawl’, where the natural environment for dear is eroded. Killing other animals to control their populations is common and we would be left with killing but not eating, unless a radically altered approach was taken by humans.

Edit: change “dear” to deer, dear folks.  red face

The above comments do not make sense to me.  If non-human animals are entitled to rights, then killing them, regardless whether it is a large number or a small number, is morally wrong.
As for cows, they are domesticated animals.  All domesticated animals are a product of artificial selection.  These are species created by humans for the use of humans. They are cripples compared to their wild counterparts.  They do not fit into any ecosystem.  Most of them would not be able to survive in the wild.  The only ethical thing to do is to stop breeding domesticated animals.  We should make them extinct.

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Posted: 20 October 2008 03:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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logicisrefreshing - 10 December 2007 06:12 PM

In response to Jackson’s question, and the question of Dawkins’ views of becoming vegetarian…

I had a bacon & cheese hamburger with french fries (that didn’t taste all that good) and while we were helping him pick what to eat (yes, I was sitting across from him and we were helping him pick his dinner) he mentioned something about maybe trying to become a vegetarian and ended up ordering fish served with rice, peas, and carrots…

Does he think fish are not animals?

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Posted: 20 October 2008 03:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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zarcus - 09 December 2007 07:27 AM

Singer seemed to be OK will the actual killing of animals. He seemed focused on the evidence that we have that seems to indicate that the animals are feeling pain as we would and questioned our double standard that allows us to feel fine with causing animal suffering. From my perspective, if we can breed cows and provide them happy lives, as I’m sure many farmers do, than what is the problem so long as they have a quick and relatively painless death? Apart from that, I guess we could should also consider the feelings of their kin who might miss them, if they are a species that feels such emotions.

Peter Singer is not an advocate of rights.  He is a utilitarian.

Most animal rights advocated go by Tom Regan’s philosophy, which states that non-human animals have a right not to be used as a means to an end.  Breeding cows and slaughtering them is using cows for our end.  This is immoral.

Also, how can one have a happy life if one is not free nor has one self-determination? This is impossible.  This is why women fought for liberation.

[ Edited: 20 October 2008 07:16 PM by BaIB ]
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Posted: 20 October 2008 03:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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mckenzievmd - 12 December 2007 01:30 PM

FWIW (which isn’t much), I tend to agree with the position that killing for food isn’t necessarily wrong, but that the infliction of unecesary pain and suffering or environmental damage for convenience or economic efficiency is.

So you think a right to life is unimportant to a non-human animal? Non-human animals don’t care whether they live or die?

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Posted: 20 October 2008 03:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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George - 12 December 2007 02:49 PM

Dawkins wonders if all the extinct species between us and the chimps were alive, which ones would be okay to eat. An interesting idea. And I don’t know the answer to it.

Judging by our history, the answer is pretty obvious.  Up until not long ago, we enslaved members of our own species just because of a difference in the color of the skin. We oppressed other members of our own species because of gender.  Today, we perform the most horrible experiments on the chimpanzee, a species most related to us.  Draw your own conclusion.

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Posted: 20 October 2008 03:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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dmoreau - 12 December 2007 09:41 PM

For those of us with the sufficient income, I feel we shouldn’t subsidized the institutionalized mistreatment of animals with a sufficient nervous system to feel pain.

Who says that meat is less expensive than fruits, vegetables, grain and legumes?  Certainly meat takes a lot more resources to produce than do plant-based products.

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Posted: 20 October 2008 03:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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dmoreau - 12 December 2007 09:41 PM

I also find it interesting how we allow hunting of various species to control population growth, but almost all find it unethical to euthanize homo sapiens to control overpopulation.

Never mind euthanasia, most people consider it immoral to limit the number of children people can have.

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Posted: 20 October 2008 06:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:55 PM

Draw your own conclusion.

I did. I said I didn’t know. Do you? I assume you don’t mind killing mosquitos or bacteria that make you sick. If we go back to Dawkins’s thought and imagine that all the species between us and the mosquitos were alive, which ones of them would it be okay to kill? What is the obvious answer?

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Posted: 20 October 2008 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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George - 20 October 2008 06:57 PM
BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:55 PM

Draw your own conclusion.

I did. I said I didn’t know. Do you? I assume you don’t mind killing mosquitos or bacteria that make you sick. If we go back to Dawkins’s thought and imagine that all the species between us and the mosquitos were alive, which ones of them would it be okay to kill? What is the obvious answer?

We kill every species there is, including our own, so why would we spare the other Homo species?  I would say we would exploit them and kill them.  They would make great models for our diseases.  We would experiment on them.  They are lucky that they are extinct.

I don’t know what bacteria I kill.  I am sure I do but I am not conscious of it.  I don’t kill mosquitoes.  I use repellent or else I blow on them and they fly away.  But this is a different matter.  Everyone has a right to protect oneself from harm.  Mosquitoes, BTW, are the species who have killed and continue to kill more humans than any other species.  A little mosquito against the mighty Homo sapiens….

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Posted: 20 October 2008 07:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 85 ]
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I don’t think you understand what Dawkins wanted to say, BaIB.

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Posted: 20 October 2008 08:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 86 ]
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George - 20 October 2008 07:16 PM

I don’t think you understand what Dawkins wanted to say, BaIB.

I think what he wanted to say is that, if there were other Homo species living today, where would we draw the line. Right now we draw the line between Homo sapiens and all other animals.  We grant rights to Homo sapiens and no one else.  But if there were other species between Homo sapiens and the chimpanzee, it would be more difficult to find a place to draw the line.

And I say we would not include other Homo species in our circle of moral concern.  I say this because we have no problem (or had no problem) excluding even some members of our own species.

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Posted: 21 October 2008 05:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 87 ]
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BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:43 PM

The above comments do not make sense to me.  If non-human animals are entitled to rights, then killing them, regardless whether it is a large number or a small number, is morally wrong.

I think that point depends somewhat upon how you define “rights.”

BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:51 PM

Peter Singer is not an advocate of rights.  He is a utilitarian.

Most animal rights advocated go by Tom Regan’s philosophy, which states that non-human animals have a right not to be used as a means to an end.  Breeding cows and slaughtering them is using cows for our end.  This is immoral.

Peter Singer advocates specified “rights” for specified beings.  He does not blanketly assume that all beings should be afforded identical “rights.”  He also suggests that the conventional notion of “rights” needs to be thought out a bit more.  I agree with Singer, for example, in proposing that killing a mosquito or a hornet is not identical to killing a chimpanzee or human.  Different beings have different capacities for suffering and a “happy life.”

I do agree with you that it is not moral, in general in modern society, to breed cows for slaughter.  But although I would not eat a cow myself, I do believe that there are possible situations in which it would be morally justifiable to slaughter cows for food.

Peter Singer does advocate that certain rights that are commonly referred to as “human rights” be afforded to certain other primate species in The Great Ape Project.  He also argues that what any people consider to be “human rights” need not apply to all members of the species homo sapien.  For example, in the case of human vegetables.

BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:53 PM

So you think a right to life is unimportant to a non-human animal? Non-human animals don’t care whether they live or die?

Some beings care and some don’t have a capacity to care.  Some are capable of suffering via the sensation of pain but do not have the capacity for anguish via thoughts of concern about their future.  Certain rights should be afforded to certain beings and certain rights should not.  No creature should be needlessly made to suffer but a chicken, for example, need not be granted the “right” to vote or the “right” to freedom of press.

BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:57 PM

Never mind euthanasia, most people consider it immoral to limit the number of children people can have.

This may be a seperate topic, but I do not believe this.

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Posted: 21 October 2008 04:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 88 ]
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BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:43 PM

The above comments do not make sense to me.  If non-human animals are entitled to rights, then killing them, regardless whether it is a large number or a small number, is morally wrong.

erasmusinfinity - 21 October 2008 05:06 AM

I think that point depends somewhat upon how you define “rights.”


The principle right is the right not to be used as a means to an end.

 

BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:51 PM

Peter Singer is not an advocate of rights.  He is a utilitarian.

Most animal rights advocated go by Tom Regan’s philosophy, which states that non-human animals have a right not to be used as a means to an end.  Breeding cows and slaughtering them is using cows for our end.  This is immoral.

erasmusinfinity - 21 October 2008 05:06 AM

Peter Singer advocates specified “rights” for specified beings.  He does not blanketly assume that all beings should be afforded identical “rights.”  He also suggests that the conventional notion of “rights” needs to be thought out a bit more.  I agree with Singer, for example, in proposing that killing a mosquito or a hornet is not identical to killing a chimpanzee or human.  Different beings have different capacities for suffering and a “happy life.”


Peter Singer does not advocate any rights. Peter Singer is an advocate of utilitarianism.

“A utilitarian accepts two moral principles. The first is that of equality: everyone’s interests count, and similar interests must be counted as having similar weight or importance. White or black, American or Iranian, human or animal — everyone’s pain or frustration matter, and matter just as much as the equivalent pain or frustration of anyone else. The second principle a utilitarian accepts is that of utility: do the act that will bring about the best balance between satisfaction and frustration for all affected by the outcome. “

Read more of Tom Regan’s criticism of utilitarianism:
http://www.tomregan-animalrights.com/regan_rites1.html

Now read Tom Regan’s philosophy (in a nutshell):
http://www.thevegetariansite.com/ethics_regan.htm

A big difference, isn’t there!

erasmusinfinity - 21 October 2008 05:06 AM

I do agree with you that it is not moral, in general in modern society, to breed cows for slaughter.


What is your reason for claiming that breeding cows for slaughter is immoral?

erasmusinfinity - 21 October 2008 05:06 AM

But although I would not eat a cow myself, I do believe that there are possible situations in which it would be morally justifiable to slaughter cows for food.


What situations? Please give an example.

erasmusinfinity - 21 October 2008 05:06 AM

Peter Singer does advocate that certain rights that are commonly referred to as “human rights” be afforded to certain other primate species in The Great Ape Project.  He also argues that what any people consider to be “human rights” need not apply to all members of the species homo sapien.  For example, in the case of human vegetables.


Yes, Peter Singer does advocate that certain human rights be granted to the great apes, but this is not his ideology.  This is just a strategy.  It is an attempt to break the human/all other animals barrier.  Once you move the line to humans and all other great apes/all other animals, it is only a matter of time before that line has to be moved again further, and further, until all sentient beings are granted rights.

BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:53 PM

So you think a right to life is unimportant to a non-human animal? Non-human animals don’t care whether they live or die?

erasmusinfinity - 21 October 2008 05:06 AM

Some beings care and some don’t have a capacity to care.  Some are capable of suffering via the sensation of pain but do not have the capacity for anguish via thoughts of concern about their future.  Certain rights should be afforded to certain beings and certain rights should not.  No creature should be needlessly made to suffer but a chicken, for example, need not be granted the “right” to vote or the “right” to freedom of press.


I agree with most of the above.  I am not concerned about the right to vote or the freedom of speech.  I am only concerned about the right not to be used as a means to an end.  All sentient beings should be granted this right, regardless of their mental capabilities.

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Posted: 21 October 2008 05:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 89 ]
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BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:51 PM

Peter Singer is not an advocate of rights.  He is a utilitarian.

Well, he has advocated specified human “rights” for Great Apes such as those I referenced above in The Great Ape Project.  He advocates that all animals that are capable of suffering have a right not to suffer.  He is also a strong advocate of social and economic justice as they apply to Human Rights Theory.  Although, it may be that ‘rights’ are defined in a somewhat different manner here than you have defined above.

Peter Singer describes himself as a Preference Utilitarian.  This stance is quite compatible with what most people refer to in Human Rights Theory.

BaIB - 21 October 2008 04:30 PM
erasmusinfinity - 21 October 2008 05:06 AM

But although I would not eat a cow myself, I do believe that there are possible situations in which it would be morally justifiable to slaughter cows for food.

What situations? Please give an example.

As I said before, in modern developed societies I see no legitimate moral grounds for slaughtering cows.  Thus I do not eat cows and I do not use most other cow “products” such as leather or gelatin.  But if one were starving and a cow were the only food source that were readily available then I think that it would not be immoral to slaughter and eat it.  Or at least, the justification for doing so would outweigh the meaningfulness of the immorality of the act.  Such as would be similar to the matter of stealing medicine, if one were forced to, in order to save the life of one’s child.

BaIB - 21 October 2008 04:30 PM

Once you move the line to humans and all other great apes/all other animals, it is only a matter of time before that line has to be moved again further, and further, until all sentient beings are granted rights.

How do you define sentience?  Are there not varying degrees and forms of sentience?

BaIB - 20 October 2008 03:53 PM

So you think a right to life is unimportant to a non-human animal? Non-human animals don’t care whether they live or die?

Some animals do care and some of don’t have the capacity to care.  I have little doubt that cows, pigs, sheeps, cats, dogs, etc. do care.  I find it highly unlikely that sea sponges or mosquitos care about much of anything.  Certainly, they care nothing of whether or not they are being used as means to ends.  I also think that some humans do not care.  Namely, fetuses and some human “vegetables.”  If beings are not capable of projecting upon their future then they need not be considered to possess a ‘right’ to much of anything, as far as I see it, apart from a right not to suffer.  And in cases where they can not be meaningfully said to suffer, we need not even be concerned about that.

I will read more on Regan and get back to you on him.  I do have a few problems with the notion that you express that “the principle right is the right not to be used as a means to an end.”  Does this principle also apply to beings that don’t know or care about being used as so-called means to an end?  Does it also apply to situations in which beings are used by others as part of reciprocal relationships?

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Posted: 21 October 2008 06:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 90 ]
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A small item on the issue of animals caring about death: the awareness of death is a uniquely human trait, a side effect of consciousness. The ability to step outside yourself and look at yourself from the outside seems to be part of it. Another indicator is the ability to recognize oneself in a mirror. There are only a few species that can do this. Chimpanzees are one. Elephants are another. Interestingly, elephants have also shown behavior suggesting that they are affected by the deaths of others.

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