Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum
Ragnar

Animal rights

Rate this topic

Recommended Posts

To get this straight:

1.The measure of morality is human life. Good human life that is.

2. If I want to kill animals and am reasonably convinced that I should eat meat I have all right to do so.

3.If I believe that eating meat is harmful to me I have the right to stop eating meat and live on veggies alone. I might even become a vegan. But I am not allowed to forbid eating meat to other people.

I've been a vegan once, believing it was healthy(The only valid reason for veganism). I was young and influencable back then and read the wrong book.

But I was smart. So I found out that man was a predatory animal. I found out that too much carbs increase your insulin levels (I checked this with these ketosis-sticks) and checked what I read about insulin in dietbooks in textbooks.

It proved valid. I learned not to fear cholesterol in my diet and then all objections were set.

Since then I eat lots of meat (as far as my student budget allows for it - once I'm a full-blown engineer I'll start living on meat and veggies) and feel fine. I feel better than when being a vegan although I didn't feel lousy back then.

I now believe that man is meant to eat meat. That it's the main part of his diet.

Unless anthropology finds out that man didn't leave the woods and walked on two feet through the grasslands to hunt animals I won't leave this position.

It is a well-known fact among biologists that the predatory animal is smarter that its prey because it has to outsmart it. Since man is the smartest animal on earth it stands to reason that he is one of the best hunters.

In fact the evolution of our brain, meat consumption and tool creation increased one another in a positive feedback loop until man even extinguished (!!!) huge Bear species for meat consuption(!!!). Archeologists today check out how old the human they found is by checking his bones. If his bones are fragile it is sure that he lived under 10.000 years from now.

Anthropologists now wonder why we started agriculture in the first place. I have my own theory by now: Man bred so well that he populated almost all of earth. Then the place to live shortened in the best parts of earth leading to land ownership. It was the starting point of formal property rights and therefore capitalism.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I am man. Animals are delicous. I want to eat the delicious animals. I arange for another man, or myself in rare circumstances, to provide said delicious animals for my consumption. Two men are now happy... Excuse me, my steak is almost ready.

:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It is a well-known fact among biologists that the predatory animal is smarter that its prey because it has to outsmart it. Since man is the smartest animal on earth it stands to reason that he is one of the best hunters.

Smartest? Indeed. But you have to question what's smart. By my own standards mankind lacks intelligence. We pollute our air. We kill one another. We go to war. We have nukes. We complain about high gas prices while people starve in Africa... I know, it's an old school thought that any fourteen year old can come up with.

But it's a valid one. Look at dolphins. They live in their environment in peace. They don't pollute the water. They don't go to war. And they eat a lot of fish.

Dolphins are smart because they've found a way to live in perfect harmony with their environment. Humans are not smart because they haven't done what dolphins have.

Is it okay to eat meat when you know you could have a salad instead? Maybe. Animals feel pain and are alive. And humans can get around the meat eating. Dolphins can't.

So, really, who's smarter?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Smartest? Indeed. But you have to question what's smart. By my own standards mankind lacks intelligence.

Where are you drawing the distinction between "smart" and "intelligent"? You admit that humans are indeed the smartest species, but that they lack intelligence. Can you please explain this seemingly contradictory remark?

Also- you mention your standards for determining the intelligence of a species, and that mankind does not meet your standards. You go on to give examples, but you do not explicitly explain what your standard for intelligence is. It'd help if you did this.

We pollute our air.

There's no reason to look at only one side of the situation surrounding air pollution. You should question if the benefits of engaging in activites that cause air pollution outweigh their costs (the pollution). I've spent most of my life living in the second most polluted city in the nation. I have no known negative effects from living here. However, the activites that cause this air pollution (primarily agriculture- as a recent study proved) have greatly benefited me. This doesn't mean that reducing air pollution (widing the gap between cost and benefit) wouldn't be a good thing, but there's no reason to only consider the costs of a certain decision. In this case, the benefits far outweigh it. Humans are capable of this complex decision making.

We kill one another. We go to war.

Are you arguing that humans engage in more unjustified killing than any other species? Show me another species even capable of conceptualizing "justice."

We have nukes.

I don't see how our achievements in nuclear energy serve as proof that humans lack intelligence.

We complain about high gas prices while people starve in Africa.

I'm curious; what do you think is the root cause of starvation in Africa?

Look at dolphins. They live in their environment in peace. They don't pollute the water. They don't go to war. And they eat a lot of fish.

Please show me how dolphins have raised their standard of living over time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Look at dolphins. They live in their environment in peace. They don't pollute the water. They don't go to war. And they eat a lot of fish.

They don't go to war but they do form gangs and commit gang rape. So Flipper is not that much nicer than an Uzi toting Cryp who can jump through hoops at Sea World and wave for anchovie treats. Ask your average vegan and they'll tell you all that meat makes you mean, so that may explain something. <FYI: no, I am not making light of rape but of vegans and dolphins>

Dolphins are smart because they've found a way to live in perfect harmony with their environment. Humans are not smart because they haven't done what dolphins have.

And as for being smart, have your read Douglas Adams...."so long and thanks for all the fish."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Smart would be knowing how to live in tune with nature.

"Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed." Failure to "live in tune with nature" results in death. The fact that humans live at all is convincing evidence that we are highly successful at this pursuit, not to mention the fact that we become steadily more successful at living when we apply ourselves to it.

However, to apply ourselves, we need some way to integrate our knowledge and form conclusions. That's what philosophy is for. Objectivism is the philosophy for living on earth, for recognizing nature in order to command it and end the suffocating worship of death.

What is your relation to Objectivism? Are you a student? A fan of Ayn Rand's novels?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But it's a valid one. Look at dolphins. They live in their environment in peace. They don't pollute the water. They don't go to war. And they eat a lot of fish.

Dolphins are smart because they've found a way to live in perfect harmony with their environment. Humans are not smart because they haven't done what dolphins have.

No being lives "in piece with his environment". At least not the way you put it. Lions hunt for zebras. Ants eat insects. Cats play with their prey before they kill it. Cows eat grass and grass therefore evolved to be inedible by cows but didn't make it. So much for the harmony.

Second:

Dolphins don't even have the means for polluting the environment. How smart is that?

What I meant was the capacity for intelligence. Yup, when I go to the mall I am indeed highly pissed by the stupidity of my fellow human beings. :P But that's because their nature allows them to be smart in principle. And the fact that I can write you a message on a computer through the internet, the fact that you can read it and that you have a monitor in front of you and a computer to read it from, even the mouse in your hand is direct proof of human intelligence.

And humans can get around the meat eating. Dolphins can't.

So, really, who's smarter?

Man can. Dolphins can't. Man's smarter. B)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
In a nutshell, doesn't a living thing have a higher value than a non-living thing ? Why ?

A bunch of people seem to find this viewpoint rational. Is it valid? I don't see how a living thing necessarily has a higher value to me. Speaking hypothetically, if animals don't have rights, why would it be immoral for me to inflict unnecessary pain on them through torture (assuming I was not violating the rights of anyone else)? If I find joy in pulling the appendages off of small furry animals, would it not be moral to do so if there were no real consequences (ignoring whatever would have made me twisted enough to actually find joy in that).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Speaking hypothetically, if animals don't have rights, why would it be immoral for me to inflict unnecessary pain on them through torture (assuming I was not violating the rights of anyone else)?

Animals do feel pain. If you find joy in the infliction of pain, are you a moral person?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's just it: you shouldn't ignore that part. That's the part that makes it a problem.

Then I disagree. How the torture is motivated is irrelevant to whether the actual act of torture is immoral.

In contrast, killing someone cannot be morally motivated and the act itself is a violation of someone's rights, so the act itself must be immoral. Inflicting pain on an animal is not immoral in itself, what is immoral is holding the principles that allow it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Killing someone is not always immoral. Murdering someone would be, but if I kill in self-defense that could very well be a moral action.

Of course the motivation is important, you can't just divorce the underlying ideas from the actions. There can be good reasons to inflict pain upon animals, but if you do it just for kicks that would at the very least indicate psychological problems.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What about the fact meat is healthy for us? Isn't it moral to do what's best for ourselves? Besides, butchering provides money to repopulate stock. Animals aren't things with feelings to be considered, but non-sentient machines to be used as tools. Especially with rand's view of the biggest tree in the forest being the most successful by stealing light from its smaller neighbors and thus becoming the biggest, most healthy tree, I wouldn't of thought I'd even seen this argument arise. On the other hand, I do like veggies, I just wouldn't want a diet of ONLY them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Then I disagree. How the torture is motivated is irrelevant to whether the actual act of torture is immoral.

In contrast, killing someone cannot be morally motivated and the act itself is a violation of someone's rights, so the act itself must be immoral. Inflicting pain on an animal is not immoral in itself, what is immoral is holding the principles that allow it.

(emphasis mine)

I'm not sure I understand your wording. As Maartin said, "killing" can be moral or immoral depending on if it is self-defense.

I don't understand the second part either: My statement was that it was the motivation and the psychology of the torturer that made the torture immoral. In the bold part, you've re-stated my position but you say you disagree with me.

Perhaps you should re-phrase that? ;)

Edited by Inspector

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
(emphasis mine)

I'm not sure I understand your wording. As Maartin said, "killing" can be moral or immoral depending on if it is self-defense.

I don't understand the second part either: My statement was that it was the motivation and the psychology of the torturer that made the torture immoral. In the bold part, you've re-stated my position but you say you disagree with me.

Perhaps you should re-phrase that? ;)

My original question was whether there was valid reasoning for the idea that torturing an animal is immoral, so I assumed that your answer meant yes, because of the specific motivations that would probably exist. My question was directed more towards the idea of whether there was a parallel between torturing an animal, which has no rights, and a human, which has rights, regardless of the motivation to do so. I apologize for miscontruing things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My original question was whether there was valid reasoning for the idea that torturing an animal is immoral, so I assumed that your answer meant yes, because of the specific motivations that would probably exist. My question was directed more towards the idea of whether there was a parallel between torturing an animal, which has no rights, and a human, which has rights, regardless of the motivation to do so. I apologize for miscontruing things.

Okay, I think I understand now. Yes, what I mean is that in the case of an animal, which has no rights, there is no immorality from the harm that comes to the animal: all of the immorality is contained in the motivation and psychology of the man doing the torturing.

...Hmm, that sounded Platonic. Or maybe just Greek...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The more complex mammals are emotional beings that likely experience physical pain very strongly - perhaps even more strongly than most humans due to their perceptive process being entirely concrete/sensory based. Hence, acts of violence/cruelty towards animals are very much experienced by another actual awareness, so to speak.

However, the treatment of animals is not a moral issue in strict terms, since they are not rational beings. If the capacity for emotion were the basis of morality, then lions and hawks would be some of the most profoundly evil beings on the planet, due to their eating alive other beings with the capacity for emotion almost every day. Obviously the ramifications of that premise are absurd.

But, there is nothing wrong with choosing not to create excess emotional suffering, even in non-rational beings.

If you can't stomache the thought of such beings being systematically raised only to be slaughtered (sometimes in rather cruel conditions and painful killings), and choose not to eat meat for this reason - it's respectable.

If you choose to try and convince others not to do so as well based purely on emotional appeal - it's somewhat respectable, albeit potentially annoying.

If you make claims that it is a moral imperative, and that eating meat causes one to be an immoral person - this is when it becomes problematic, and a very irrational stance.

Edited by Tsuru

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If you can't stomache the thought of such beings being systematically raised only to be slaughtered (sometimes in rather cruel conditions and painful killings), and choose not to eat meat for this reason - it's respectable.

If you choose to try and convince others not to do so as well based purely on emotional appeal - it's somewhat respectable, albeit potentially annoying.

If you make claims that it is a moral imperative, and that eating meat causes one to be an immoral person - this is when it becomes problematic, and a very irrational stance.

Respectably, I don't respect the position of choosing not to eat meat because animals are harmed. It's silly.

And there's nothing even remotely respectable about trying to convince others to do the same based on emotional appeal. That's insulting to one's intelligence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Tsuru:

I don't see how it follows that if certain animals are raised in ways you consider to be wrong, you should therefore not eat any meat... This is like not interacting with any humans just because you don't like some of them...

It would be far better to look for companies that do treat the animals more kindly if you feel like this.

But still, if it wasn't for the mass production of meat in this ways it would probably be nigh-unaffordable for the majority of people to eat on a regular basis. Raising animals in a more friendly manner, like you seem to prefer, is much less efficient than the alternative that is used commonly today.

But I don't really see where the undue suffering comes in... You said yourself that it would be absurd to hold other animals responsible for harming their prey, yet for some reason humans are exempt to this?

Why? Because we should know better and not hurt the poor animals' feelings?

I sincerely doubt that most people who raise animals in ways you consider to be improper do it because they enjoy torturing animals needlessly. And yes, I consider human life to be worth far more than the extra suffering of animals, so if the first requires the second then it is completely moral.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
But I don't really see where the undue suffering comes in... You said yourself that it would be absurd to hold other animals responsible for harming their prey, yet for some reason humans are exempt to this?

Why?

That's the key to wiping out this silliness right there: WHY?

The answer is that there is no "why." It is just as absurd for a human to concern themself in any way shape or form with what their food suffered or did not suffer as it would be for a hawk to do so.

When you peel back the veneer, this is nothing but an empty appeal to unidentified emotions. Because animals can scream like humans, cry out like humans, and squirm around like humans means in the mind of an emotionalist that they somehow are humans and that there exists some reason why humans should avoid inflicting pain on them.

Well, they aren't humans and they have no rights. If there was a way to make hamburgers more delicious by killing the cows in a massively more painful way, you can bet that I'd be the first in line with my grill fired up. There is no logical reason to spare the cow.

Animals. Don't. Have. Rights.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
That's the key to wiping out this silliness right there: WHY?

The answer is that there is no "why." It is just as absurd for a human to concern themself in any way shape or form with what their food suffered or did not suffer as it would be for a hawk to do so.

When you peel back the veneer, this is nothing but an empty appeal to unidentified emotions. Because animals can scream like humans, cry out like humans, and squirm around like humans means in the mind of an emotionalist that they somehow are humans and that there exists some reason why humans should avoid inflicting pain on them.

Well, they aren't humans and they have no rights. If there was a way to make hamburgers more delicious by killing the cows in a massively more painful way, you can bet that I'd be the first in line with my grill fired up. There is no logical reason to spare the cow.

Animals. Don't. Have. Rights.

Inspector,

Has it been proven that there is no animal besides a human being that - to a degree - can reason / feel emotion / feel pain? Is it just humans that have such qualities?

I'm just curious because from what studies I have read, there ARE animals that have certain degrees of these "human" qualities. If that's not the case, I'd like to see the evidence.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You don't have to prove that no animals besides humans have the requisite attributes to have rights. If someone wants to make the case that a certain animal should have them, they are free to prove it. It's they who are making the positive claim, not the ones saying that humans have rights and other animals do not.

It makes a lot more sense to hold that animals in general don't have rights, and then grant exceptions should they ever come up, than investigate every single one of the billions upon billions of species on this planet to see if they should be given rights...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
It makes a lot more sense to hold that animals in general don't have rights, and then grant exceptions should they ever come up, than investigate every single one of the billions upon billions of species on this planet to see if they should be given rights...

Exactly. If an animal has the proper facilities to posess rights, then it should have no problem communicating that fact to us. If you're saying that we should not eat cows because we might slaughter one before it gets the chance to tell us how smart it is, then I submit to you that you should stop breathing because you might accidentally inhale a microscoping alien civilization and cause the deaths of billions of innocent sapients.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Tsuru:

I don't see how it follows that if certain animals are raised in ways you consider to be wrong, you should therefore not eat any meat... This is like not interacting with any humans just because you don't like some of them...

It would be far better to look for companies that do treat the animals more kindly if you feel like this.

But still, if it wasn't for the mass production of meat in this ways it would probably be nigh-unaffordable for the majority of people to eat on a regular basis. Raising animals in a more friendly manner, like you seem to prefer, is much less efficient than the alternative that is used commonly today.

But I don't really see where the undue suffering comes in... You said yourself that it would be absurd to hold other animals responsible for harming their prey, yet for some reason humans are exempt to this?

Why? Because we should know better and not hurt the poor animals' feelings?

I sincerely doubt that most people who raise animals in ways you consider to be improper do it because they enjoy torturing animals needlessly. And yes, I consider human life to be worth far more than the extra suffering of animals, so if the first requires the second then it is completely moral.

I don't recall ever saying that one shouldn't eat meat. Animals are nonrational beings, so it isn't a moral issue. If you choose to eat meat (as I do), it's fine.

What my point is, is that if someone chooses not to eat meat because they can't stomache the thought of its production, or because they don't want to create excess pain in other living beings (for something they don't feel is nutritionally essential), we have no right to mock or criticise them for this choice. It only becomes an issue if such people assert that it is morally wrong to eat meat because of this.

Edited by Tsuru

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×