Does the Animal Rights Movement Deserve to be Taken Seriously?

Brother AJ

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#1
Here's another topic that might stir the pot, and one I've brought up before on other boards.

"All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

Arthur Schopenhauer, German philosopher (1788 – 1860)

Unfortunately for those that are part of the animal rights movement, or animal protectionist movement (for all you utilitarians out there), their particular ideologies are still very much within the ridicule stage. Perhaps this is partly because the most mainstream and well known animal advocacy groups like PETA, who are self proclaimed "media whores", favor using grandstanding and ridiculous stunts, frivolous proposals, and dressing up in chicken suits to get their point across. Maybe it has to do a lot with the fact that there are still a great number of people, that believe in the movement and what it stands for, who are afraid to fight against the atrocities out of fear of being ostracized or rejected by their friends and family.

Whatever the reason why this cause seemingly isn't taken seriously, the animal rights movement remains very much alive today, but there is obviously much work that needs to be done if it wants to be regarded as a true pursuit of social justice and/or struggle for liberation.

In many ways the animal rights movement is similar to justice movements past, in that it seeks to expand upon who we are to consider to be a part of the moral community. Throughout history, many irrelevant characteristics, such as what skin color or reproductive organ you possessed, were used to justify dissimilar treatment and, overall, exclude you from the moral community, but, eventually, this was recognized as injustice and discrimination. Today, it is wondered by many if discrimination based upon what species membership you hold will ever be shown to be a comparable matter of injustice. Is it really only humans who deserve our moral considerations? Does merely having human DNA make you worthy of protection?

There are obviously differences too. One is that, unlike previous movements concerning human rights, the "oppressed" in question are, for the most part, completely hidden from our view. Most of us do not see what exactly happens to the animals at factory farms, slaughterhouses, fur farms, laboratories, etc. around the world, day in and day out, as they are often private, distant, and secure facilities. Out of sight, out of mind as they say. The animals we DO interact with, namely those who are known as "pets", are often said to be deserving of our respect and protection. This has created quite the cognitive dissonance in my view, as we grasp at straws for reasons why dogs and cats should be regarded "higher" than chickens and pigs.

The most stark difference of all in this movement is that animals, that is, nonhuman animals, are a source of food. Eating animals is deeply imbedded within our culture and is practiced all over the world. Tied intrinsically to the belief that animals should be eaten by humans is the mantra that to do so is natural, normal, and necessary. But it isn't necessary, and whether or not something is "normal" or "natural" doesn't necessarily mean that it is moral. Your average human understands at some basic level that we shouldn't kill and harm others unnecessarily, we are not, after all, the sort of people who would want to support such things, but we are seemingly unable to make this connection to what is served on our plates.

These differences are daunting, but they do not make the situation hopeless. This is not a pointless cause. Abolishing the institution of slavery within America was once thought to be an impossible task as well. We can never know what the future may hold.

So what exactly does the animals rights movement ask for? Well, many things, but I think it mostly contends that the like interests of both humans and other animals (e.g. an interest in not suffering and continuing to live) should be treated similarly without prejudice towards species membership. It's not about giving a dog the right to vote, nor the right to drive, but the right to be protected and regarded respectfully. In my view, this is an issue that has gone without recognition or any sort of extensive discussion for far too long now. It affects far too many lives to be ignored any longer. Currently, 58 billion animals are killed worldwide every year for food and this does not include fish and other sea-life. Surely this number should be startling to us and indicate that something is amiss. That something needs to be done.

So, do you believe that the animal rights and protectionist movement deserves to be treated seriously as an important social justice issue? The answer is obvious to me, but how about you?
 
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AfungusAmongus

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I believe that all pain and pleasure has moral importance, but that treatment should NOT be species-neutral. Some animals (e.g. sea sponges) have no nervous system, so they feel nothing and deserve no basic moral respect. Others share some behavioral, chemical, and structural features with humans, and should get partial recognition depending on the kinds of feelings a species seems to experience. Uncertainty about the experiences of critters is the main factor limiting my enthusiasm for their rights.
 
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Depends on which group we're talking about. Some of the groups that are more like the Red Cross (only with animals) are okay. PETA though? No. Those guys just make the problem worse.
 

Reader

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If we stopped eating animals right now, what would happen to them? For example, if nobody would eat bacon it wouldn't be profitable to keep pigs. When keeping pigs wouldn't be profitable, would people still feed them? Where can we get the food/room for all those animals and who would have to pay for that? While the idea of equality among the species is nice I don't really think it can be done yet. There are many unsolved problems and unanswered questions in animal rights and in the whole "equal species" subject.

However, the animal rights movement deserves to be taken seriously. They have some valid points and they are heading into the right direction.
 

Overtaken

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#5
I disagree on essentially every account with animal rights, but I would say without hesitation that the ideas and its proponents should be taken seriously, as any critical thoughts and ideas should.
 

Brother AJ

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I believe that all pain and pleasure has moral importance, but that treatment should NOT be species-neutral. Some animals (e.g. sea sponges) have no nervous system, so they feel nothing and deserve no basic moral respect. Others share some behavioral, chemical, and structural features with humans, and should get partial recognition depending on the kinds of feelings a species seems to experience. Uncertainty about the experiences of critters is the main factor limiting my enthusiasm for their rights.
How much certainty must we have of someone’s experiences before we begin to respect their rights? Or perhaps lacking respect is not the same as lacking enthusiasm? For example, I may not be as enthusiastic about my neighbor’s rights as I am my wife and children’s, but that does not mean I would disregard my neighbor’s right to life by running him over in the street. Or do you believe that we must be absolutely certain of another’s experiences before we decide, say, not to torture and/or kill them?

Regardless, I’d like to address this matter of certainty. We cannot be 100% certain of anyone’s experiences, even if they flat out tell us what they are. They could, after all, be lying or perhaps not fully understand what it means to feel. This would become even more difficult to determine if we were to come across a strange individual that did not speak the same language as we did. The key is not to KNOW their experiences obviously, but to be reasonably certain of them. We can determine, for example, that most humans feel the same about fear and pain as we do because we witness their BEHAVIORS toward said stimuli and can liken them to our own.

Similarly, we can look toward the behavior of other animals, and if they react as we do in certain situations then we can be REASONBLY certain that they are experiencing what we are experiencing. Even though we can’t be absolutely certain, isn’t it best to err on the side of caution when it comes to matters of awarding and protecting rights, just as we would do if we were to encounter a human that we could not communicate with?

The science on the matter is quite clear, and you alluded to it within your own post. It has been shown numerous times that the other animals of this Earth possess behavioral, chemical, and structural features that we also see in human beings. This is especially true when we consider vertebrae such as mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, etc. It was Darwin who said that the differences between us and other animals are of degree rather than kind, and I believe this makes sense seeing as we most likely all share a common evolutionary ancestor.

Should we simply refrain from killing and harming these creatures, or must we be absolutely certain that THEY care whether or not we do these things to them before we make any sort of decision on the matter? Personally I find the latter to be ridiculous and the potential for abuse to be quite high.

Depends on which group we're talking about. Some of the groups that are more like the Red Cross (only with animals) are okay. PETA though? No. Those guys just make the problem worse.
Well I wasn’t talking about specific groups necessarily, but rather if animal rights as a concept should be taken seriously.

I’m confused though, what is it that makes these “Red Cross” animal groups acceptable and PETA unacceptable? What is the “correct” way to protect and advocate for animal rights? I’m no fan of PETA, but I wouldn’t suggest that EVERYTHING they do makes the problem worse. For example, what exactly is wrong with providing vegan education or information for those interested?

If we stopped eating animals right now, what would happen to them? For example, if nobody would eat bacon it wouldn't be profitable to keep pigs. When keeping pigs wouldn't be profitable, would people still feed them? Where can we get the food/room for all those animals and who would have to pay for that? While the idea of equality among the species is nice I don't really think it can be done yet. There are many unsolved problems and unanswered questions in animal rights and in the whole "equal species" subject.
Appealing to consequences is not necessarily a reason for inaction, but I’d like to hear more about why exactly you don’t think equality amongst the species “can be done yet”.

Obviously we are not going to stop eating animals overnight, if anything it will be a gradual process. Gradually people will see that it isn’t profitable to raise animals for meat, and thus will stop producing and breeding animals for such a reason.

As for the animals left over, I assure you that there are many dedicated individuals that would be willing to care for them. Animal sanctuaries already exist, and I imagine that the number of said facilities and all those that support them will only continue to grow in this hypothetical future we are discussing.

However, the animal rights movement deserves to be taken seriously. They have some valid points and they are heading into the right direction.
Glad you think so, but there’s much work to be done.

I disagree on essentially every account with animal rights
Well that seems quite spectacular. Every account you say? I assume you realize that humans are animals as well? Would you care to elaborate on what exactly it is that you disagree with?

but I would say without hesitation that the ideas and its proponents should be taken seriously, as any critical thoughts and ideas should.
That’s not really what I was asking though. I meant should animal rights be taken seriously in the sense that they need to be implemented? Would you care to address this issue please?
 
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AfungusAmongus

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#8
How much certainty must we have of someone’s experiences before we begin to respect their rights? Or perhaps lacking respect is not the same as lacking enthusiasm? For example, I may not be as enthusiastic about my neighbor’s rights as I am my wife and children’s, but that does not mean I would disregard my neighbor’s right to life by refraining from running him over in the street. Or do you believe that we must be absolutely certain of another’s experiences before we decide, say, not to torture and/or kill them?

Regardless, I’d like to address this matter of certainty. We cannot be 100% certain of anyone’s experiences, even if they flat out tell us what they are. They could, after all, be lying or perhaps not fully understand what it means to feel. This would become even more difficult to determine if we were to come across a strange individual that did not speak the same language as we did. The key is not to KNOW their experiences obviously, but to be reasonably certain of them. We can determine, for example, that most humans feel the same about fear and pain as we do because we witness their BEHAVIORS toward said stimuli and can liken them to our own.

Similarly, we can look toward the behavior of other animals, and if they react as we do in certain situations then we can be REASONBLY certain that they are experiencing what we are experiencing. Even though we can’t be absolutely certain, isn’t it best to err on the side of caution when it comes to matters of awarding and protecting rights, just as we would do if we were to encounter a human that we could not communicate with?

The science on the matter is quite clear, and you alluded to it within your own post. It has been shown numerous times that the other animals of this Earth possess behavioral, chemical, and structural features that we also see in human beings. This is especially true when we consider vertebrae such as mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, etc. It was Darwin who said that the differences between us and other animals are of degree rather than kind, and I believe this makes sense seeing as we most likely all share a common evolutionary ancestor.

Should we simply refrain from killing and harming these creatures, or must we be absolutely certain that THEY care whether or not we do these things to them before we make any sort of decision on the matter? Personally I find the latter to be ridiculous and the potential for abuse to be quite high.
Certainly we shouldn't torture animals. Domesticated animals (chickens, cows, pigs, ...) have similar needs and pain-sensitivity to dogs and cats, so they are ethically on the same level. Using them for milk and eggs seems not to bother them if they have enough space, shelter, and fellowship. Slaughtering them causes suffering, but it might be justified by their cheap tasty meat. Hunting wild, overpopulated animals like deer may be justified for other reasons.
 

Brother AJ

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Animal Abuse: No
Animal Rights: Ok
Peta: Heck no.
I'm sorry... I'm not really sure what questions you are answering here. There are countless animal rights groups btw, many of which that are much better than PETA.

Certainly we shouldn't torture animals. Domesticated animals (chickens, cows, pigs, ...) have similar needs and pain-sensitivity to dogs and cats, so they are ethically on the same level. Using them for milk and eggs seems not to bother them if they have enough space, shelter, and fellowship.
I don't think it's very wise to assume that it doesn't bother them. Regardless, it's important to ask if it's right to take advantage of creatures that cannot consent to us using their bodily fluids in the first place. Think of it this way, what if we were to use severely ******** humans to acquire milk or other products? They might not seem to mind you using them this way, but is it really our right to use their bodies like this when they cannot actually consent to such an arrangement?

Furthermore, it's important to consider that TYPICALLY to obtain milk from cows we must separate the mothers from their calves which causes these animals severe distress. In addition, chickens lose nutrients every time they lay an egg, and when we take them they will keep laying, whether they want to or not, which is severely stressful and unhealthy for their bodies.

This is putting ASIDE the issue that just about all farms, that provide eggs and dairy nowadays, have the females slaughtered once they become unproductive and the males either killed outright or sold for their meat because they're useless to the industry.

Slaughtering them causes suffering, but it might be justified by their cheap tasty meat.
Okay, this is confusing to me. You say that these animals matter ethically, and yet we MAY be justified in killing them for mere palate pleasure? That doesn't sound like they matter very much to me. Are you approaching this from a utilitarian perspective? Also, you say that "certainly we shouldn't torture animals", and yet in order for us to acquire cheap meat they HAVE to be tortured i.e. be placed within intensive conditions. Factory farming exists for a reason after all.

Hunting wild, overpopulated animals like deer may be justified for other reasons.
Humans are overpopulated, but I think we can find more humane solutions than shooting them. Plus, the issue isn't really overpopulation, but rather that wildlife agencies continue to artificially boost animal populations (deer are a big attraction) in order to sell hunting licenses.

http://ideas.time.com/2013/11/27/hunting-isnt-the-answer-to-animal-pests/
 
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AfungusAmongus

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I don't think it's very wise to assume that it doesn't bother them. Regardless, it's important to ask if it's right to take advantage of creatures that cannot consent to us using their bodily fluids in the first place. Think of it this way, what if we were to use severely ******** humans to acquire milk or other products? They might not seem to mind you using them this way, but is it really our right to use their bodies like this when they cannot actually consent to such an arrangement?
Disabled humans deserve more respect than dogs chickens etc. Normal human brains allow richer inner lives than our animal cousins, so brain-damaged humans have more potential for recovery, and for hidden ability, than fully functional (say) dogs. The more permanent and severe a brain injury, the less we worry about a person's consent, and rightly so. Furthermore, the usual attitudes towards human corpses and brain-dead bodies show a respect transcending concern for their happiness. From a utilitarian perspective this body-respect probably makes us overvalue the consent and autonomy of severely disabled humans.

Furthermore, it's important to consider that TYPICALLY to obtain milk from cows we must separate the mothers from their calves which causes these animals severe distress. In addition, chickens lose nutrients every time they lay an egg, and when we take them they will keep laying, whether they want to or not, which is severely stressful and unhealthy for their bodies.
Animals that are severely stressed produce less milk, fewer eggs, and lower quality of both, compared to happy animals. That's why dairy cows and egg-laying hens were bred for thousands of years to tolerate calf-separation and egg laying.

This is putting ASIDE the issue that just about all farms, that provide eggs and dairy nowadays, have the females slaughtered once they become unproductive and the males either killed outright or sold for their meat because they're useless to the industry. [...] Okay, this is confusing to me. You say that these animals matter ethically, and yet we MAY be justified in killing them for mere palate pleasure? That doesn't sound like they matter very much to me. Are you approaching this from a utilitarian perspective?
[...]
Humans are overpopulated, but I think we can find more humane solutions than shooting them. Plus, the issue isn't really overpopulation, but rather that wildlife agencies continue to artificially boost animal populations (deer are a big attraction) in order to sell hunting licenses.

http://ideas.time.com/2013/11/27/hunting-isnt-the-answer-to-animal-pests/
Yes, the utilitarian objections to killing are based on happiness. A life's value depends not just on its own happiness, but also on its effects upon others' happiness. A tremendous amount of physical and emotional resources are invested in the upbringing and relationships of any ordinary human being, in the hope of enabling him (or her) to uplift family, friends, and society. Farm animals are far less capable of promoting happiness in this way, so their simple lives are that much less valuable. Meanwhile their milk, eggs, and meat are excellent sources of sustenance and, yes, palate pleasure.

Also, you say that "certainly we shouldn't torture animals", and yet in order for us to acquire cheap meat they HAVE to be tortured i.e. be placed within intensive conditions. Factory farming exists for a reason after all.
I never said we should minimize the cost of meat at the expense of all else. Factory farming takes this form because people undervalue animal welfare.
 

Brother AJ

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Disabled humans deserve more respect than dogs chickens etc. Normal human brains allow richer inner lives than our animal cousins, so brain-damaged humans have more potential for recovery, and for hidden ability, than fully functional (say) dogs.
I'm interested to see how one can objectively show such a thing. What is it that you define as having a "richer inner life", and how could we show that a human's happiness for example was qualitatively SUPERIOR to, say, a dog's happiness? I don't believe this is something that can actually be measured.

Furthermore, surely you can concede the point that there exists many animals that are, at least, intellectually superior to many humans albeit not fully functioning adult humans. There are many severely and profoundly ******** humans that have no potential for recovery, and as for hidden abilities, surely we cannot say that we fully understand other animal minds to such a degree that they can no longer surprise us. Pigs, for example, have been shown numerous times to be as smart as three year old humans, which surely puts them above many other humans that now exist even when we discount younger children.

Source: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/07/pigs-smarter-than-your-dog/
The more permanent and severe a brain injury, the less we worry about a person's consent, and rightly so. Furthermore, the usual attitudes towards human corpses and brain-dead bodies show a respect transcending concern for their happiness. From a utilitarian perspective this body-respect probably makes us overvalue the consent and autonomy of severely disabled humans.
This seems to translate to: The less intelligent someone is, the less we worry about a person's consent. That someone is brain dead is one thing, but when we are to consider young children and ******** humans we absolutely, as a people, care about violating their consent, perhaps even more so than we do for fully functioning adults. This is because these individuals are extremely vulnerable and exploitable, and to take advantage of that is seen as a disgusting crime.

The reason why we feel less upset about violating an animal's consent, of course, is that they are of a different species. The latter reason is inadequate, I must say, as a justification for treating animals the way we currently do.
Animals that are severely stressed produce less milk, fewer eggs, and lower quality of both, compared to happy animals. That's why dairy cows and egg-laying hens were bred for thousands of years to tolerate calf-separation and egg laying.
This is blatantly false on a number of levels. You could perhaps say when an animal's stress rises that the quality of the product they are producing drops, but certainly not the quantity of said product. Many advances in modern science, such as the use of hormones, antibiotics, and genetic engineering have made it possible to acquire animal products faster and in greater amounts regardless of the stress levels of various animals. Cows have machines hooked up to their udders in order to get as much milk from them as possible, and chickens have been bred to produce far more eggs than what was ever natural to them.

It is also incorrect that we've managed to change animals to such an extent that they are more "tolerant" towards losing their children, or that their bodies are more capable of handling the strain we place on them. Chickens regularly develop bone diseases due to loss of calcium from overlaying or even die when their non-machine like body parts can no longer take the pressure.

Sources:

Hormones and Antibiotics - http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/keep-hormones-and-antibiotics-off-the-menu/

Egg laying (references at the bottom) - http://freefromharm.org/eggs-what-are-you-really-eating/

Stress responses in cows: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2011124/Cows-best-friends-stressed-separated.html, http://www.newburyportnews.com/loca...ises-turn-out-to-be-cows-missing-their-calves
Yes, the utilitarian objections to killing are based on happiness. A life's value depends not just on its own happiness, but also on its effects upon others' happiness. A tremendous amount of physical and emotional resources are invested in the upbringing and relationships of any ordinary human being, in the hope of enabling him (or her) to uplift family, friends, and society. Farm animals are far less capable of promoting happiness in this way, so their simple lives are that much less valuable. Meanwhile their milk, eggs, and meat are excellent sources of sustenance and, yes, palate pleasure.
This is the problem I have with utilitarianism, as it primarily focuses on how one can be utilized to serve others or the "greater good" rather than trumpeting the importance of individual rights and happiness. Furthermore, you speak of a reality that exists currently, but it does not HAVE to be this way, and, in addition, considering things from this perspective could have startling implications for many humans as well.

Farm animals are not even given the CHANCE to promote any kind of happiness as it's already decided that they are something to eat, rather than SOMEONE to care about. Those that do have positive interactions with farm animals, such as those that own sanctuaries or have pets, speak of how these beings raise their quality of life in general due to the peacefulness and various quirks that all these animals possess.

It also should be said that these animals being amongst each other as well as humans promotes THEIR happiness too, and surely this counts for something. You may be correct in saying that these creatures lead simple lives, but this does not inherently mean that their experiences are qualitatively inferior to our own. The same would be true for those humans that may live "simpler" lives than those of us in developed nations.

As for the products these animals produce being an excellent source of sustenance and palate pleasure, we are capable of obtaining both the latter and the former from DIFFERENT sources such as plants and other types of food.

Now, what of the countless humans that do not produce happiness for society overall? What of the depressed or homeless? That these individuals do not produce happiness for others means that we may use them in anyway that pleases us? I have a feeling that the majority of society would disagree with such a belief.
I never said we should minimize the cost of meat at the expense of all else. Factory farming takes this form because people undervalue animal welfare.
This is true, but not only do industrialized farms exist because so many undervalue animal welfare, but also because they were NECESSARY to meet the demand of our population that wishes to eat cheap and tasty merchandise. That was my point.
 
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AfungusAmongus

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I'm interested to see how one can objectively show such a thing. What is it that you define as having a "richer inner life", and how could we show that a human's happiness for example was qualitatively SUPERIOR to, say, a dog's happiness? I don't believe this is something that can actually be measured.
Ideas add richness (intensity and variety) to our experiences. Consider this perception of food:

Bertrand Russell (1935) said:
I have enjoyed peaches and apricots more since I have known that they were first cultivated in China in the early days of Han Dynasty; that Chinese hostages held by the great King Kaniska introduced them to India, whence they spread to Persia, reaching the Roman Empire in the first century of our era; that the word ‘apricot’ is derived from the same Latin source as the word ‘precocious’, because the apricot ripens early; and that the A at the beginning was added by mistake, owing to a false etymology. All this makes the fruit taste much sweeter.
Russell's apricot snacks are enriched by his knowledge to an extent only possible in humans. Although we don't typically ponder etymology during meals, our lives are saturated with, and flavored by, ideas.

(more later. I drafted a large post but it was lost when I posted elsewhere on Smashboards)
 
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Do we expect a higher standard of behavior from humans or assign equal personhood to all animals. Which is it? Can't have it both ways.
It would also be difficult to classify every single animal as having equal or greater consciousness as humans, lesser so than humans, or none at all.

Personally, I feel like the world requires balance. We slaughter cows at the extent we do because the demand for cows are huge and society has been established partly to satisfy this need. Although cows may have a consciousness which allows them to feel, I do not believe that their feelings must be taken into human consideration due to the fact that society as a whole craves beef, and if we aren't getting beef one way (i.e. slaughterhouse and factory farming), we may end up having to forgo beef for much of society since there are almost no other ways to generate livestock at such a scale that would meet society's expectations. The only way I would be able to see or accept the animal rights movement is to change society as a whole, meaning beef must be less commonplace, or a good majority of society declares animals rights a thing to be accepted.
 
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I'm interested to see how one can objectively show such a thing. What is it that you define as having a "richer inner life", and how could we show that a human's happiness for example was qualitatively SUPERIOR to, say, a dog's happiness? I don't believe this is something that can actually be measured.

Furthermore, surely you can concede the point that there exists many animals that are, at least, intellectually superior to many humans albeit not fully functioning adult humans. There are many severely and profoundly ******** humans that have no potential for recovery, and as for hidden abilities, surely we cannot say that we fully understand other animal minds to such a degree that they can no longer surprise us. Pigs, for example, have been shown numerous times to be as smart as three year old humans, which surely puts them above many other humans that now exist even when we discount younger children.

Source: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2010/07/pigs-smarter-than-your-dog/

This seems to translate to: The less intelligent someone is, the less we worry about a person's consent. That someone is brain dead is one thing, but when we are to consider young children and ******** humans we absolutely, as a people, care about violating their consent, perhaps even more so than we do for fully functioning adults. This is because these individuals are extremely vulnerable and exploitable, and to take advantage of that is seen as a disgusting crime.

The reason why we feel less upset about violating an animal's consent, of course, is that they are of a different species. The latter reason is inadequate, I must say, as a justification for treating animals the way we currently do.

This is blatantly false on a number of levels. You could perhaps say when an animal's stress rises that the quality of the product they are producing drops, but certainly not the quantity of said product. Many advances in modern science, such as the use of hormones, antibiotics, and genetic engineering have made it possible to acquire animal products faster and in greater amounts regardless of the stress levels of various animals. Cows have machines hooked up to their udders in order to get as much milk from them as possible, and chickens have been bred to produce far more eggs than what was ever natural to them.

It is also incorrect that we've managed to change animals to such an extent that they are more "tolerant" towards losing their children, or that their bodies are more capable of handling the strain we place on them. Chickens regularly develop bone diseases due to loss of calcium from overlaying or even die when their non-machine like body parts can no longer take the pressure.

Sources:

Hormones and Antibiotics - http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/keep-hormones-and-antibiotics-off-the-menu/

Egg laying (references at the bottom) - http://freefromharm.org/eggs-what-are-you-really-eating/

Stress responses in cows: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2011124/Cows-best-friends-stressed-separated.html, http://www.newburyportnews.com/loca...ises-turn-out-to-be-cows-missing-their-calves

This is the problem I have with utilitarianism, as it primarily focuses on how one can be utilized to serve others or the "greater good" rather than trumpeting the importance of individual rights and happiness. Furthermore, you speak of a reality that exists currently, but it does not HAVE to be this way, and, in addition, considering things from this perspective could have startling implications for many humans as well.

Farm animals are not even given the CHANCE to promote any kind of happiness as it's already decided that they are something to eat, rather than SOMEONE to care about. Those that do have positive interactions with farm animals, such as those that own sanctuaries or have pets, speak of how these beings raise their quality of life in general due to the peacefulness and various quirks that all these animals possess.

It also should be said that these animals being amongst each other as well as humans promotes THEIR happiness too, and surely this counts for something. You may be correct in saying that these creatures lead simple lives, but this does not inherently mean that their experiences are qualitatively inferior to our own. The same would be true for those humans that may live "simpler" lives than those of us in developed nations.

As for the products these animals produce being an excellent source of sustenance and palate pleasure, we are capable of obtaining both the latter and the former from DIFFERENT sources such as plants and other types of food.

Now, what of the countless humans that do not produce happiness for society overall? What of the depressed or homeless? That these individuals do not produce happiness for others means that we may use them in anyway that pleases us? I have a feeling that the majority of society would disagree with such a belief.

This is true, but not only do industrialized farms exist because so many undervalue animal welfare, but also because they were NECESSARY to meet the demand of our population that wishes to eat cheap and tasty merchandise. That was my point.
The only problem I see with taking an animal's perspective is that as humans, we currently have no way to know exactly how animals feel, and seeing as humans have conquered much of the Earth, to satisfy a self-enobling cause such as animals rights selfishly overlooks the fact that animals in the slaughterhouse are necessary (for current society) to feed the still-growing human population.

It is pointless to translate the intent behind slaughter of animals to human beings not beneficial to society since support for animals rights is put at a lesser regard than human rights. Because we are human, and because general society views human death or violation of human rights as such an atrocity, comparing humans to animals in these terms is not applicable for this argument.
 

LarsINTJ

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#16
It would also be difficult to classify every single animal as having equal or greater consciousness as humans, lesser so than humans, or none at all.

Personally, I feel like the world requires balance. We slaughter cows at the extent we do because the demand for cows are huge and society has been established partly to satisfy this need. Although cows may have a consciousness which allows them to feel, I do not believe that their feelings must be taken into human consideration due to the fact that society as a whole craves beef, and if we aren't getting beef one way (i.e. slaughterhouse and factory farming), we may end up having to forgo beef for much of society since there are almost no other ways to generate livestock at such a scale that would meet society's expectations. The only way I would be able to see or accept the animal rights movement is to change society as a whole, meaning beef must be less commonplace, or a good majority of society declares animals rights a thing to be accepted.
Society cannot be changed directly, even if we express highly logical and convincing arguments. The vast majority become so ingrained in the way things are and so dependent on it staying the same that it's far too difficult/painful for them to accept a new way of life (which may shed light on potential wrongs they have committed or supported in the past). It only gets worse as people age.

The only way to change society is to replace the old stubborn ideas which eventually die off with new ones openly accepted by each subsequent generation whom have yet to form crippling dependencies. It has always been like this.

Government subsidies are the reason modern meat production is so out of hand. Society is only able to support this industry because meat is allowed to be so cheap through the buffer of their own tax dollars. If everyone were subjected to the true cost of meat, then the industry would slow down due to an inevitable drop in sales. Unfortunately this is easier said than done, as I alluded above.
 
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Brother AJ

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#17
Ideas add richness (intensity and variety) to our experiences. Consider this perception of food:

Russell's apricot snacks are enriched by his knowledge to an extent only possible in humans. Although we don't typically ponder etymology during meals, our lives are saturated with, and flavored by, ideas.
First, it would be difficult to explain much of animal behavior unless we are to assume that they too are capable of having "ideas", which simply means that one can form a "thought or suggestion as to a possible course of action."

Second, yes, it can be said that human ideas are more complex and of larger quantity which allows us to have a greater variety of experiences, but it still doesn't follow that said ideas are more "intense" than the ones had by other animals.

How could one prove, for example, that Russell's enjoyment of the apricot is superior to the enjoyment of a dog that is playing and jumping around with a newly acquired toy? Again, I would ask how one could actually measure such a thing.

(more later. I drafted a large post but it was lost when I posted elsewhere on Smashboards)
I feel you on that one. I've had a great amount of misfortune when it comes to losing more lengthy posts, but this is why I now write everything on a word document beforehand. :)

Do we expect a higher standard of behavior from humans or assign equal personhood to all animals. Which is it? Can't have it both ways.
I disagree, and here's hoping that we don't end up having the same conversation in two different threads. ;)

I find it reasonable to expect a higher standard of behavior from humans, but only those humans that are both adults and without severe mental defects. I would not expect, for example, other animals, young children, or severely ******** humans to understand all the complexities of moral code, but I WOULD still consider them to be persons.

A person, in my view, is simply an individual that is able to either benefit or suffer from various ethical imperatives. Although their minds can be said to be less complex, the aforementioned individuals clearly possess the capacity to suffer and so they also can be said to prefer NOT to suffer or to overall be harmed.

Furthermore, because they are often unable to defend themselves, these individuals are clearly amongst the most vulnerable members of our society, and, therefore, are more easily abused and exploited by those that possess power. How can it be excusable in our minds to harm or take advantage of the most vulnerable in our world when they are doing nothing to actively harm us? No, we can't expect them to live up to all of our standards of behavior, but why must we effectively punish them for something that is completely out of their control?
The only problem I see with taking an animal's perspective is that as humans, we currently have no way to know exactly how animals feel,
As I said before, we cannot be 100% certain of anyone’s experiences or of how they feel, even if they flat out tell us. They could, after all, be lying or perhaps not fully understand what it means to feel. This would become even more difficult to determine if we were to come across a strange individual that did not speak the same language as we did. The key is not to KNOW their experiences obviously, but to be reasonably certain of them. We can determine, for example, that most humans feel the same about fear and pain as we do because we witness their BEHAVIORS toward said stimuli and can liken them to our own.

Similarly, we can look toward the behavior of other animals, and if they react as we do in certain situations then we can be REASONBLY certain that they are experiencing what we are experiencing. Even though we can’t be absolutely certain, isn’t it best to err on the side of caution when it comes to matters of awarding and protecting rights, just as we would do if we were to encounter a human that we could not communicate with?

Again, the science on the matter is quite clear; as it has been shown numerous times that the other animals of this Earth possess behavioral, chemical, and structural features that we also see in human beings. This is especially true when we consider vertebrae such as mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, etc. It was Darwin who said that the differences between us and other animals are of degree rather than kind, and I believe this makes sense seeing as we most likely all share a common evolutionary ancestor.

Should we simply refrain from killing and harming these creatures, or must we be absolutely certain that THEY care whether or not we do these things to them before we make any sort of decision on the matter? Personally I find the latter to be ridiculous and the potential for abuse to be quite high.
and seeing as humans have conquered much of the Earth, to satisfy a self-enobling cause such as animals rights selfishly overlooks the fact that animals in the slaughterhouse are necessary (for current society) to feed the still-growing human population.
This movement isn’t about self-ennobling, but rather seeking justice for those we feel are being oppressed and mistreated. Furthermore, I’m not sure where you’re getting the idea that it is NECESSARY to slaughter animals in order to feed humans, but most nutritionists have concluded by now that it is completely UNNECSSARY to consume animal derived products to survive or even thrive in life. For example:

The Permanente Journal - http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/.../5117-nutrition.html

American Dietetic Association - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864

British Dietetic Association - www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/vegetarianfoodfacts.pdf

Dietitians Association of Australia - http://daa.asn.au/for-the-public/smart-eating-for-you/nutrition-a-z/vegan-diets/

Dietitians of Canada - http://www.dietitians.ca/Nutrition-.../Vegetarian/Eating-Guidelines-for-Vegans.aspx

http://www.cancer.org/treatment/tre...nativemedicine/dietandnutrition/vegetarianism

Harvard School of Public Health - http://www.dining.harvard.edu/vegvgn

Cleveland Clinic - http://my.clevelandclinic.org/heart...food-choices/understanding-vegetarianism.aspx

New York Presbyterian Hospital - http://nyp.org/wellness/showDocument.php?contentTypeId=1&contentId=1876&heading=Vegetarian Diets: The Myths vs. Facts

The Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center (UCLA) - http://www.dining.ucla.edu/.../SNAC_pdf/Vegetarianism.pdf

The Perelman School of Medicine (Penn Med) -http://www.pennmedicine.org/enc.../em_DisplayArticle.aspx...

The Mayo Clinic -http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vegetarian-diet/HQ01596

http://nutritionfacts.org/.../uprooting-the-leading.../

Walter Willet, the Chair of Harvard’s nutrition department - http://life.nationalpost.com/.../drinking-milk-not.../

It is pointless to translate the intent behind slaughter of animals to human beings not beneficial to society since support for animals rights is put at a lesser regard than human rights. Because we are human, and because general society views human death or violation of human rights as such an atrocity, comparing humans to animals in these terms is not applicable for this argument.
It is certainly applicable if we are to recognize the obvious similarities between humans and other animals. That we refuse to acknowledge said similarities or claim that they don’t matter is certainly a problem that we ought to overcome.

I’d like to believe that despite the fact that the majority of humans used to think that persons of color were lesser than those with white skin, they were still incorrect in thinking so. That is to say, simply because society believes something does not automatically make it true. The color of one’s skin is certainly an insufficient reason for denying the rights of another, and eventually we were able to understand this (not to say that racism is dead of course). Similarly, one’s species membership is an insufficient reason to ignore the rights of individuals. Perhaps if we were to focus on the evident similarities between us and other animals instead of what is different, then we may more easily be able to see why our exploitation of them is unjustifiable.
 
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#18
Yes and no.
Should we just go around killing animals willy nilly? Of course not.
But people have to remember, we're animals too. Just very smart animals. To quote the Simpsons,
"Remember Billy, if a cow could he'd eat you and everyone you care about!"
Some animals are born as produce some animals are born to make produce, some animals are a combination of both.
 

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#19
Yes and no.
Should we just go around killing animals willy nilly? Of course not.
Define "willy nilly." It would be helpful if you gave me a more concrete philosophy.

But people have to remember, we're animals too. Just very smart animals. To quote the Simpsons,
"Remember Billy, if a cow could he'd eat you and everyone you care about!"

LOL yea, I remember that episode, but you realize that's supposed to be satire right? Just so we're clear. Furthermore, why does us being smart animals mean that we shouldn't respect animal rights? I'm assuming this was the "no" part of your response?

Some animals are born as produce some animals are born to make produce, some animals are a combination of both.
They are born that way because we breed them to be that way, but let's not pretend that this is somehow inevitable. We have the power to stop if we so choose.
 

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#20
I mean for sport. I am personally against some random hill billies going out and shooting wild deer and then leaving them to die, but slaughtering hundreds of cows is fine. It's weird but true.

Yes that quote was satire, but still proves my point. Only reason we aren't being mass bred and put into slaughter right now is because we just happened to stand up straight and get thumbs ahead of everyone else. Lions don't think twice about killing a human.

Yea we can stop, but why? We were meant to eat animals, the only thing is now we can mass produce them. A cow is born in a mass farm, lives in a mass farm, dies in a slaughter house. We are making them specifically to kill them, therefore de-humanizing it. We aren't going about slaughtering random cows we see in a field, we're treating them like an item, because we can produce and sell them that way. There are still cows left in the wild, we just make a lot of cows on our own to eat. There are cows that would've been extinct if we didn't start mass producing them for their meat.
 

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#21
I mean for sport. I am personally against some random hill billies going out and shooting wild deer and then leaving them to die, but slaughtering hundreds of cows is fine. It's weird but true.
What exactly is the reason you object to killing animals for sport though? How does it morally differ from slaughtering cows?

Yes that quote was satire, but still proves my point. Only reason we aren't being mass bred and put into slaughter right now is because we just happened to stand up straight and get thumbs ahead of everyone else.
Okay, you couldn't POSSIBLY know whether or not other animals would do the same thing if they were in our position, but even if they did how exactly does that justify OUR own actions?

Another thing I should point out is that no other species would have necessarily stood up straight and got thumbs as we did. Evolution varies considerably, so there is no "top" form to achieve as all species only develop attributes over time that allow them to adapt to their respective environments. Humans developed the characteristics they have today because it allowed them to survive, but those same characteristics would possibly NOT benefit another species that was also trying to survive.

Yea we can stop, but why? We were meant to eat animals, the only thing is now we can mass produce them.
We ought to stop because killing other animals is unnecessary and harmful to the creatures we exploit. We are not "meant" to do anything actually, as one's purpose is entirely subjective and up to them. We currently mass produce other animals for the sole purpose of killing them, but we do not HAVE to do this.

Lions don't think twice about killing a human.
I don't know that this is true, as most animals are not going to attack unless they feel threatened. Regardless, again, we cannot justify our own actions simply because of how some other animal would behave if they were in our place.

A cow is born in a mass farm, lives in a mass farm, dies in a slaughter house. We are making them specifically to kill them, therefore de-humanizing it. We aren't going about slaughtering random cows we see in a field, we're treating them like an item, because we can produce and sell them that way. There are still cows left in the wild, we just make a lot of cows on our own to eat. There are cows that would've been extinct if we didn't start mass producing them for their meat.
This part is confusing to me. You're saying that it's better to perpetually exploit and kill these animals than to let them go extinct? Would you honestly prefer such an existence? Extinction in itself does not actually harm anyone as no one can be harmed simply because they don't exist. I would suggest letting the animals we have now live out their natural lives under our care until they have all died out.
 
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AfungusAmongus

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#22
yes, it can be said that human ideas are more complex and of larger quantity which allows us to have a greater variety of experiences, but it still doesn't follow that said ideas are more "intense" than the ones had by other animals.
Generally speaking, pleasures suffer from diminishing marginal utility - as you experience the same (or sufficiently similar) things over and over, they reward you less and less. Variety promotes intensity.

I should add that as relatively powerful and impactful creatures, human mental health has a greater indirect moral impact compared to all other animals. Distressed humans wreak havoc (mass murders etc) while flourishing humans can multiply their flourishing (scientific progress, mass media, political improvements).

How could one prove, for example, that Russell's enjoyment of the apricot is superior to the enjoyment of a dog that is playing and jumping around with a newly acquired toy? Again, I would ask how one could actually measure such a thing.
Let's make a fairer comparison: Russell eating vs. dog eating, or Russell playing vs. dog playing. The same kind of activity can involve additional mental content when Russell does it, qualitatively different kinds of activity such as contemplating word origins or the topology of a chew toy. These additional experiences are morally important to me.

The reason why we feel less upset about violating an animal's consent, of course, is that they are of a different species. The latter reason is inadequate, I must say, as a justification for treating animals the way we currently do.
It's not just prejudice, it's also reasonable inferences about the abilities of different creatures. Corals being an extreme example, clearly their consent is meaningless since they have no thoughts. Critters between us and corals might give some primitive version of consent that has some intermediate moral significance. Consent is based not just on ability to suffer, but primarily on ability to reason about how future events impact your interests and well-being. We routinely patronize young children by forcing them to tag along with parents on errands, forcing them to go to school, to the doctor's, to bed, etc. All of this is compatible with the idea of consent because we don't expect certain groups to reason properly about their own interests. Expecting cows and chickens to consent to our interactions with them is absurd, like expecting a toddler to consent to school or bedtime.

Animal farming necessarily involves exploitation. I agree that some disabled humans are similar to farm animals morally speaking, in terms of their abilities to suffer and enjoy life, and in principle exploiting exactly these people for spare organs seems morally acceptable, if we're super sure that their distinctly human mental features are gone for good (though we might worry about surgeons intentionally crippling healthy people in order to harvest their organs). Young children are properly guarded from exploitation moreso than comparable farm animals because of lasting harms to their developing minds.

This is blatantly false on a number of levels. You could perhaps say when an animal's stress rises that the quality of the product they are producing drops, but certainly not the quantity of said product. Many advances in modern science, such as the use of hormones, antibiotics, and genetic engineering have made it possible to acquire animal products faster and in greater amounts regardless of the stress levels of various animals. Cows have machines hooked up to their udders in order to get as much milk from them as possible, and chickens have been bred to produce far more eggs than what was ever natural to them.
Nonsense, there's obviously a correlation between stress and quantity. Sources:
Stressed hens either lay very strange eggs or no eggs at all.
Reduction in milk production is one of the major economic impacts of climatic stress in dairy cattle.

It is also incorrect that we've managed to change animals to such an extent that they are more "tolerant" towards losing their children, or that their bodies are more capable of handling the strain we place on them. Chickens regularly develop bone diseases due to loss of calcium from overlaying or even die when their non-machine like body parts can no longer take the pressure.

Sources:
Hormones and Antibiotics - http://healthychild.org/easy-steps/keep-hormones-and-antibiotics-off-the-menu/
Egg laying (references at the bottom) - http://freefromharm.org/eggs-what-are-you-really-eating/
Stress responses in cows: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2011124/Cows-best-friends-stressed-separated.html, http://www.newburyportnews.com/loca...ises-turn-out-to-be-cows-missing-their-calves
Link 1 is irrelevant to calf-separation and egg-laying tolerance. Link 2 is biased and the references don't appear to support your claim that breeding has failed to improve egg laying tolerance. Link 3 doesn't support your claim that breeding has failed to improve separation tolerance. Link 4 is broken. Remember, I'm not advocating current factory farming practices, but rather attacking your claim that egg and dairy farming is severely stressful on the animals even when proper techniques are used to mitigate stress (early separation, reasonable limits on hormones and antibiotics).

This is the problem I have with utilitarianism, as it primarily focuses on how one can be utilized to serve others or the "greater good" rather than trumpeting the importance of individual rights and happiness.
The "greater good" means considering everyone's interests and seeking the most happiness overall. Utilitarianism in no way focuses on exploitation rather than cooperation, instead it permits exploitation in the rare cases when the harms are exceptionally small and the gains exceptionally large. I believe that exploiting farm animals typically falls into this category when the animals are farmed humanely.

Farm animals are not even given the CHANCE to promote any kind of happiness as it's already decided that they are something to eat, rather than SOMEONE to care about. Those that do have positive interactions with farm animals, such as those that own sanctuaries or have pets, speak of how these beings raise their quality of life in general due to the peacefulness and various quirks that all these animals possess.

It also should be said that these animals being amongst each other as well as humans promotes THEIR happiness too, and surely this counts for something. You may be correct in saying that these creatures lead simple lives, but this does not inherently mean that their experiences are qualitatively inferior to our own.
And yet individual farm animals are far less able to promote flourishing on a large scale. Our social interactions may often be basically available to other mammals, but our minds have far more impact than the minds of cattle whether captive or wild, friend or food.

As for the products these animals produce being an excellent source of sustenance and palate pleasure, we are capable of obtaining both the latter and the former from DIFFERENT sources such as plants and other types of food.
Veganism/vegetarianism has costs - the taste and nutrition of meat and animal products is either impossible or more expensive to replicate using plants/fungi alone.

The same would be true for those humans that may live "simpler" lives than those of us in developed nations.

Now, what of the countless humans that do not produce happiness for society overall? What of the depressed or homeless? That these individuals do not produce happiness for others means that we may use them in anyway that pleases us? I have a feeling that the majority of society would disagree with such a belief.
Your comparison between farm animals and impoverished/depressed/homeless people fails to recognize the potential of the human mind. Chronic depression, unmet needs, and technological austerity dampen but don't extinguish one's prospects for uniquely human greatness.
 
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LarsINTJ

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#23
The "greater good" means considering everyone's interests and seeking the most happiness overall. Utilitarianism in no way focuses on exploitation rather than cooperation, instead it permits exploitation in the rare cases when the harms are exceptionally small and the gains exceptionally large. I believe that exploiting farm animals typically falls into this category when the animals are farmed humanely.
The primary reason why Utilitarianism falls flat as a universal moral framework is that the subjective nature of 'greater good' lends itself to being diametrically opposed between two or more parties. It's also impossible to rightfully determine what is best for another person without full consent (especially considering how unpredictable the future is), let alone an entire population. We're all self-interested to some extent and Utilitarianism expects everyone to disregard their own preferences in order to adopt exactly the same desires as the all-knowing enforcers/majority.
 
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AfungusAmongus

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#24
The primary reason why Utilitarianism falls flat as a universal moral framework is that the subjective nature of 'greater good' lends itself to being diametrically opposed between two or more parties.
1) "Universal moral framework" sounds overly ambitious. I'm a utilitarian because I value everyone's happiness; that is, I hold utilitarianism as my personal moral framework. I'm not claiming to describe the way everyone conducts their moral reasoning.
2) Morality is typically concerned with resolving competing interests "diametrically opposed between two or more parties", so a moral theory should lend itself to such scenarios.

It's also impossible to rightfully determine what is best for another person without full consent (especially considering how unpredictable the future is), let alone an entire population.
Utilitarianism doesn't ask you to "rightfully determine" what is best for everyone as mathematical certainty - obviously that's impossible. You base decisions on reasonable guesses about how your actions affect others, even when you can't ask them yourself.

We're all self-interested to some extent and Utilitarianism expects everyone to disregard their own preferences in order to adopt exactly the same desires as the all-knowing enforcers/majority.
No, utilitarianism doesn't ask anyone to disregard their preferences, pretend to be omniscient, or impersonate the majority. Where are you getting these ideas?
 
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LarsINTJ

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#25
I'm referring to the consequence of applying Utilitarianism to society as a whole, it's fine to apply it to yourself as an individual, that just seems to be the deferral of gratification, i.e. what appears best for me in the present may turn out to be detrimental in the future, although even then you can't know for certain.

Any ethical theory which attempts to define 'the good' is inevitably going to fall to subjectivity. The objective approach defines evil by analyzing the universal consistency of any given ethical proposition. 'The good' is circumstantial and open to interpretation, but certain actions will always be considered evil regardless of context if we are to accept the axiom of human self-ownership (it's impossible to argue against self-ownership without demonstrating an implicit acceptance of it).

When imposed on other people, Utilitarianism may permit objective evil for the sake of subjective preferences. 'The greater good' is all too often an excuse that tyrants use to justify their behavior. This is exactly how the ruling class has historically corrupted the notion of morality.

Well, it could be said that Socrates - extremely bitter and passive-aggressive toward the authorities who wanted him dead - solidified within Western thought the idea that we should obey our masters above all else because they know best (which has evidently lead to disaster time and time again, a 'curse'), despite having been persecuted for attempting to spread the opposite message among youths.
 
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#26
Here's an argument I have read in debate and seen around before. I am curious what people think of it:

EITHER humans are morally equal to animals in which exploiting other animals is justified by the laws of nature, OR humans are morally superior; either way human domination of animals is legitimate
Neil Schulman, “The Illogic of Animal Rights”, 1995, http://www.pulpless.com/jneil/aniright.html.
If human beings are no different from other animals, then like all other animals it is our nature to kill any other animal which serves the purposes of our survival and well-being, for that is the way of all nature. Therefore, aside from economic concerns such as making sure we don't kill so quickly that we destroy a species and deprive our descendants of prey, human animals can kill members of other animal species for their usefulness to us. It is only if we are not just another animal -- if our nature is distinctly superior to other animals -- that we become subject to ethics at all -- and then those ethics must take into account our nature as masters of the lower animals. We may seek a balance of nature; but "balance" is a concept that only a species as intelligent as humankind could even contemplate. We may choose to temper the purposes to which we put lower animals with empathy and wisdom; but by virtue of our superior nature, we decide ... and if those decisions include the consumption of animals for human utilitarian or recreational purposes, then the limits on the uses we put the lower beasts are ones we set according to our individual human consciences. "Animal rights" do not exist in either case.

I do not necessarily support this line of thinking, but I have seen it and think it is appropriate to put in the thread.
 
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DunnoBro

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#27
Here's an argument I have read in debate and seen around before. I am curious what people think of it:

EITHER humans are morally equal to animals in which exploiting other animals is justified by the laws of nature, OR humans are morally superior; either way human domination of animals is legitimate
Neil Schulman, “The Illogic of Animal Rights”, 1995, http://www.pulpless.com/jneil/aniright.html.
If human beings are no different from other animals, then like all other animals it is our nature to kill any other animal which serves the purposes of our survival and well-being, for that is the way of all nature. Therefore, aside from economic concerns such as making sure we don't kill so quickly that we destroy a species and deprive our descendants of prey, human animals can kill members of other animal species for their usefulness to us. It is only if we are not just another animal -- if our nature is distinctly superior to other animals -- that we become subject to ethics at all -- and then those ethics must take into account our nature as masters of the lower animals. We may seek a balance of nature; but "balance" is a concept that only a species as intelligent as humankind could even contemplate. We may choose to temper the purposes to which we put lower animals with empathy and wisdom; but by virtue of our superior nature, we decide ... and if those decisions include the consumption of animals for human utilitarian or recreational purposes, then the limits on the uses we put the lower beasts are ones we set according to our individual human consciences. "Animal rights" do not exist in either case.

I do not necessarily support this line of thinking, but I have seen it and think it is appropriate to put in the thread.
While I find it difficult to stomach, and the wording is a little edgy for my taste, I must accept the validity of the points raised. I don't think any logical response can be made to truly refute it.

However, concept I prefer to muse over, is that generally happier, healthier, etc animals are tastier and better for you. So I believe developing methods to make cultivating those types of livestock cheaper and more manageable a more palpable way of going about appealing to both sides of the fence.

PETA just attacking, destroying, and being destructive but providing no productive discussion or avenues of feasible alternatives/advancements is entirely counter-productive to their cause.
 

Yoshi_smash

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#28
So, do you believe that the animal rights and protectionist movement deserves to be treated seriously as an important social justice issue? The answer is obvious to me, but how about you?
I agree with everything you said; non-human animals have rights and deserve to be afforded the same moral consideration that humans get. People should stop eating meat and stop using animal products. There is no such thing as "ethically" raising animals for slaughter (because the slaughter itself is unethical). An animal's life should be considered more important than how it tastes. Others have said that killing animals for food is necessary -- this is not true.

Speciesism is discrimination based on species membership, and it needs to be eliminated. Speciesism is similar to racism of sexism, except that speciesism is about species membership.

Disabled humans deserve more respect than dogs chickens etc. Normal human brains allow richer inner lives than our animal cousins, so brain-damaged humans have more potential for recovery, and for hidden ability, than fully functional (say) dogs.

Yes, the utilitarian objections to killing are based on happiness. A life's value depends not just on its own happiness, but also on its effects upon others' happiness. A tremendous amount of physical and emotional resources are invested in the upbringing and relationships of any ordinary human being, in the hope of enabling him (or her) to uplift family, friends, and society. Farm animals are far less capable of promoting happiness in this way, so their simple lives are that much less valuable. Meanwhile their milk, eggs, and meat are excellent sources of sustenance and, yes, palate pleasure.

I never said we should minimize the cost of meat at the expense of all else. Factory farming takes this form because people undervalue animal welfare.
This is speciesism -- you are placing the well-being of humans above non-humans, and you are placing more value on human life than on non-human animal life -- that is wrong. Plus, it is possible to have a nutritious vegan diet without any animal suffering being involved. As I said, a being's life is more important than how it tastes. And humans should not think of themselves as being "superior" to non-humans (for moral purposes).
 
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Sucumbio

Smash Powerslave
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#29
I agree with everything you said; non-human animals have rights and deserve to be afforded the same moral consideration that humans get. People should stop eating meat and stop using animal products. There is no such thing as "ethically" raising animals for slaughter (because the slaughter itself is unethical). An animal's life should be considered more important than how it tastes. Others have said that killing animals for food is necessary -- this is not true.

Speciesism is discrimination based on species membership, and it needs to be eliminated. Speciesism is similar to racism of sexism, except that speciesism is about species membership.



This is speciesism -- you are placing the well-being of humans above non-humans, and you are placing more value on human life than on non-human animal life -- that is wrong. Plus, it is possible to have a nutritious vegan diet without any animal suffering being involved. As I said, a being's life is more important than how it tastes. And humans should not think of themselves as being "superior" to non-humans (for moral purposes).
Just to clarify what moral authority do you draw these conclusions from?
 
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