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Greebo
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In a fully objectivist society, should an Objectivist Government offer to non-human organisms legal protections from unethical or immoral treatment? Do living organisms which are not capable of reason deserve some level of protection of rights based on their existence as a living being?

For example - taken from the other thread - say you come across a dog chained up on property not belonging to you, and the dog has clearly been abused. Its injured, and malnourished.

If the dog is only property and has no right to any protections against such abuse, then any action you took to rescue the dog without the owner's permission would be a violation of that owner's property rights.

But the dog is undeniably a living entity, and while the dog can not reason, it does have the means to sustain itself. It is goal directed, if only based on instinct.

So - as a living being, and accepting as given that the treatment of the animal by its owner serves no productive, moral purpose, and promotes no rational value - should the dog, and any other living being, be provided some protection against such treatment, and further should that protection include some form of legal punishment for those who engage in such treatment of animals?

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If you start legislating morality, who's morality do you base that on? Yours? Mine? That of the puritan or sociopath down the road?

Then when little Jimmy finds a salamander and steps on it is he committing an offense?

I agree that it is disgusting to torture and abuse an animal but I'd rather educate than legislate

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If the dog is only property....

Depending on what you mean, I think I may have caught a big one ( yes, sportfishing pun intended) ) here:

Objectivism section one, subsection one:

Axiom of Identity: A is A.

If a dog is property, then the dog is property. It cannot be a property today, and not a property tomorrow, just because you feel like rescuing it.

If it is a property, then, according to Ayn Rand, in a laissez-faire capitalist society property is sacred. End of story.

If it's not, then what is it? And since you said you have dogs too, what gives you the right to claim them as yours, and keep them in your house against their will. Can I come over and take them with me? After all, they ar not your property.

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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If you start legislating morality, who's morality do you base that on? Yours? Mine? That of the puritan or sociopath down the road?

In an Objectivist society, there would still be a Government, and there would still be criminal law. If I robbed you, the Government would have laws on the books defining that as a crime, and would arrest me and presumably find me guilty and sentence me to an appropriate punishment.

That is legislating morality, right there - the immoral act of me robbing you is criminal and punishable by law, and under an Objectivist Government, should be.

So by what basis do we legislate that morality? The infringement by me upon your property rights, as clearly identifiable under Objectivist Ethics.

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In an Objectivist society, there would still be a Government, and there would still be criminal law. If I robbed you, the Government would have laws on the books defining that as a crime, and would arrest me and presumably find me guilty and sentence me to an appropriate punishment.

That is legislating morality, right there - the immoral act of me robbing you is criminal and punishable by law, and under an Objectivist Government, should be.

So by what basis do we legislate that morality? The infringement by me upon your property rights, as clearly identifiable under Objectivist Ethics.

I'd argue that your example is a legislation of rights... that is my right as a rational human being to not have force used against me in my dealings with other rational human beings.

The dog, as property is entitled to no rights, it is a moral judgment that torturing it is wrong.

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Depending on what you mean, I think I may have caught a big one ( yes, sportfishing pun intended) ) here:

Objectivism section one, subsection one:

Axiom of Identity: A is A.

If a dog is property, then the dog is property. It cannot be a property today, and not a property tomorrow, just because you feel like rescuing it.

If it is a property, then, according to Ayn Rand, in a laissez-faire capitalist society property is sacred. End of story.

If it's not, then what is it? And since you said you have dogs too, what gives you the right to claim them as yours, and keep them in your house against their will. Can I come over and take them with me? After all, they ar not your property.

A dog as property is not metaphysically given. A dog is metaphysically given, but property is a concept that comes from humans and as such, the definition is up to us to determine, isn't it?

I want to explore this idea further - but I'm wondering if we need different classifications of property - one classification for non-living things and one for living things.

But right now I need to get back to work and can't focus on this properly - so more later.

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In an Objectivist society, there would still be a Government, and there would still be criminal law. If I robbed you, the Government would have laws on the books defining that as a crime, and would arrest me and presumably find me guilty and sentence me to an appropriate punishment.

That is legislating morality, right there - the immoral act of me robbing you is criminal and punishable by law, and under an Objectivist Government, should be.

So by what basis do we legislate that morality? The infringement by me upon your property rights, as clearly identifiable under Objectivist Ethics.

In an objectivist society the government would most definitely not be legislating morality.!!!

Government would have the right (and the mission, given to it by its voluntary funders) to defend victims (their right to life, liberty and property, to be precise) and to punish those who initiate violence. Not because it is imoral to initiate violence, but because it is moral to punish those who do, in the proper context of this government.

Why is it moral to contribute to or participate in a government created to punish those who initiate violence against members of society?

Because such a government is essential for man's survival qua man.

Why is it not moral to contribute or participate in a government created to punish those who initiate violence against their animals?

Because such a government is not needed for man's survival qua man. In fact such an act, of breaking a citizen's right to his property (whether he is snorting his coke or torturing his pet) is imoral: not a rational act in one's self interest. (in your case it happens to be an emotionally motivated act)

Edited by Jake_Ellison
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A dog as property is not metaphysically given. A dog is metaphysically given, but property is a concept that comes from humans and as such, the definition is up to us to determine, isn't it?

I want to explore this idea further - but I'm wondering if we need different classifications of property - one classification for non-living things and one for living things.

But right now I need to get back to work and can't focus on this properly - so more later.

Well, under objectivism someone's dog is property. But that wasn't my point.

All I'm saying is that a dog is either property or is not, according to the law of identity. Saying this much is like saying: e = m times (c square). It's not something you get to disagree with, no matter what the definition of dog, property, or life are. All you need for that to be true is for the definition of aristotelean logic to be true.(I think I've got this right:)

If you change the definition of property, depending on how you play around with that definition, you could argue yourself into supreme ruler of the universe, protector of all that is created by the Lord, but it would not be objectivism.(one thing you still could not do is say that a dog is both property and whatever the opposite of property would be under your definition)

Property is defined in objectivism, and set in stone in a capitalist society.

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Alternate solution: Formation of an association (not government aided or controlled in any fashion) whose job it is to identify corporations which mistreat animals, and encourage members to organize boycots of such organizations' products on that standard. In the case of private mistreatment, perhaps you live in a neighborhood with a homeowner's society, which you must agree to in order to live in that neighborhood. One of the agreements could be that you will not mistreat animals on or around your property. Government coercion is not needed in order to protect living creatures (While pets may be property by the law of identity, by the same law they are also -living creatures-.) If you morally think animals should not be mistreated, you can bet other people do too.

Edited by Capitalism Forever
Fixed duplicate
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That is legislating morality, right there - the immoral act of me robbing you is criminal and punishable by law, and under an Objectivist Government, should be.

No, not morality, it is legislating the protection of objectively determined rights. Not all things unethical or immoral violate rights. That is why laws are based on rights, not morality.

Edited by RationalBiker
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Property is defined in objectivism, and set in stone in a capitalist society.

But in objectivism, property is defined only with regards to man owning property and respecting property rights of other men. To my recollection, Ms. Rand never once touched on whether or not animals can/should be treated as property in the same way that a table, or a piece of land are treated as property.

There is a difference between "my car", "my coat", "my rock" and "my wife", "my son", "my daughter". I'm suggesting that perhaps a THIRD level of ethical difference may be philosophically necessary for "my cow", "my cat", "my dog" and the like - because a living being (in particularly, a semi-intelligent animal) is *not* a rock, or a table - it *is* alive, and while it doesn't have rights in the way that Man has rights - Rand (afaik) only ever addresses the right to life as it pertains to rational beings - perhaps *some* level of rights are implied in the very fact that it is alive.

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It should be noted that even in a non-objectivist society, you can't effectively legislate morality. Blue laws that prohibit the sale of liquor on Sunday don't make a dent in drinking, anti-pornography laws are completely ineffective since the internet has become widespread, and so on.

Jackethan has the right idea. There are social solutions that don't require force or government intervention to solve the problem. Something as simple as constantly asking the owner "How's your dog doing?" would make the point that the mistreatment is being noticed. A person touched by the dog's plight could make an offer to buy the dog, with the stipulation that the owner would not obtain a replacement. That would form a contract, allow the animal to be rescued without resorting to stealing, and hopefully protect future animals. (At this point, the government could justifiably get involved if another dog was mistreated because there is breach of contract.)

But mistreatment of animals does not justify theft, by individuals or by the government.

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I would like to point out that you can and must legislate certain moral principles. The basis for Rand's conclusion to that effect starts in "The Objectivist Ethics" p. 36:

The only proper, moral purpose of a government is to protect man's rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence—to protect his right to his own life, to his own liberty, to his own property and to the pursuit of his own happiness.

and continues in "Man's Rights" p. 108:

'Rights' are a moral concept—the concept that provides a logical transition from the principles guiding an individual's actions to the principles guiding his relationship with others—the concept that preserves and protects individual morality in a social context—the link between the moral code of a man and the legal code of a society, between ethics and politics. Individual rights are the means of subordinating society to moral law.

concluding finally in "The Nature of Government" p. 127:

If physical force is to be barred from social relationships, men need an institution charged with the task of protecting their rights under an objective code of rules. This is the task of a government—of a proper government —its basic task, is only moral justification and the reason why men do need a government. A government is the means of placing the retaliatory use of physical force under objective control—i.e., under objectively defined laws.

All proper laws enforce moral concepts; not all moral concepts should be enforced by law.

The question of whether animals can be property can be disposed of very simply, by determining whether animals have rights. Although Rand never specifically addressed the issue of cow rights, I think the basis for concluding that neither cows not tables have rights is clear. Those facts of reality that are true for man -- that he does not survive by instinct, that he must discover he means of surviving, that he is a volitional being that can and must chose his actions and his actions are not metaphysically given -- are what leads to the moral concept of "rights" applied to man. Those facts do not apply to tables, or chairs, and they don't apply to trees, or cows either.

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To my recollection, Ms. Rand never once touched on whether or not animals can/should be treated as property in the same way that a table, or a piece of land are treated as property.

But she abundantly addressed the concept of rights and why man is the only known being that has/needs rights according to his nature. Animals, according to Objectivism (which is what you are asking about), do not have rights, including the right NOT to be property. "Alive" is not the distinguishing feature which grants rights, unless you are in Switzerland.

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Alternate solution: Formation of an association (not government aided or controlled in any fashion) whose job it is to identify corporations which mistreat animals

What do you mean by "mistreat," and if you mean "torture for no reason other than pleasure," why do you think corporations will engage in this?

I might argue myself that one should organize a boycott of the users of "recreational" drugs, in an effort to stop that kind of immorality, but I would never imagine to say that one should boycott "corporations which get high on drugs." If one does something ugly and immoral for hedonistic pleasure, one doesn't tend to do it at work, let alone on behalf of one's company.

Let me also remark that if I ever try to organize a boycott, it won't be primarily to stop people from being immoral, but to eliminate the effects of their specific kind of immorality on me. I don't mind people being immoral (whether it's abusing drugs, "mistreating" animals, or whatever else) as long as they do it out of my sight. (I mean "sight" in a broad sense here, i.e. "...as long as it has no visible effect on my life.") The purpose of morality is to teach me how to live successfully; if other people apply those principles too, good for them--and if they don't, that's too bad for them, but I don't really care as long as the ill effects stay in their lives and don't intrude into mine.

Edited by Capitalism Forever
typo
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What do you mean by "mistreat," and if you mean "torture for no reason other than pleasure," why do you think corporations will engage in this?

Not quite, but in Mexico, and I suppose in Spain and some parts of Latin America, some corporations do sponsor bull-fighting. Now, I judge that forcibly inserting sharp metal objects into an angry bull, making it bleed and become more enraged, is torture. Doing so in front of thousands of spectators, plus more on TV, makes it torture for the sake of amusement.

I am agaisnt it, but not strongly enough to engage in a boycott of corporate sponsors.

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All proper laws enforce moral concepts; not all moral concepts should be enforced by law.

I'm not trying to split hairs, I just think this one point is important for my entire argument(in one of my previous posts):

I would argue that all proper laws enforce a single moral concept: "the concept of individual rights".

(as opposed to moral concepts plural)

I would like to point out that you can and must legislate certain moral principles.

Absolutely.

This does not negate my statement, that: "In an objectivist society the government would most definitely not be legislating morality.!!!"

Morality(by definition) means the whole package, not just the part about "individual rights".

Ayn Rand makes it clear in the quote you posted that the only puprpose of government is to protect man's rights.

P.S. "only man's rights" definitely means "not animal's rights", so you can't say everything is up in the air because she didn't mention animals.

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Not quite, but in Mexico, and I suppose in Spain and some parts of Latin America, some corporations do sponsor bull-fighting. Now, I judge that forcibly inserting sharp metal objects into an angry bull, making it bleed and become more enraged, is torture. Doing so in front of thousands of spectators, plus more on TV, makes it torture for the sake of amusement.

It is an expression man's supremacy over brutes and a celebration of his heroism. As such, it is perfectly moral.

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It is an expression man's supremacy over brutes and a celebration of his heroism. As such, it is perfectly moral.

No. Raising cattle, having ranching industries, even doing scientific tests on animals, are an expression of Man's supremacy over lesser creatures. Torturing bulls for amusement is not.

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No. Raising cattle, having ranching industries, even doing scientific tests on animals, are an expression of Man's supremacy over lesser creatures. Torturing bulls for amusement is not.

Not a fan of the sport, I think calling it a noble activity celebrating man's supremacy is reading too much into it, but if "torturing bulls" is what bullfighting is, why would the people doing it limit themselves to torturing only bulls, and torturing them only in this specific manner, sometimes through a bullfighter's lifespan, and across generations.

If you use a term like "torturing bulls for amusement" you are making assumptions about people's motive's and psychological processes, and you need to back those assumptions up with psychological arguments (at least something basic: you can't just base it on nothing).

I don't know a lot about the psychology of torture, but even if you only know about it from movies, you would have to admit that is not how torture works: as a person goes on, their "acts of torture" become more extreme, they need a lot more to be satisfied.

I think that while this tradition might have its roots in the roman arena-games which used animals, and which at times degenerated into just plain torture (although not to the extent revisionist historians of today are describing them), they are just a sport people hang on to in the name of preserving tradition, and the psychology of the participants and the spectators is that of any football player and football fan.

As I said, I do have a problem with it, because it's rigged and generally not based on competition. (since it doesn't warm my heart that some weird tradition is being preserved, I find it absolutely pointless and stupid)

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Not a fan of the sport, I think calling it a noble activity celebrating man's supremacy is reading too much into it, but if "torturing bulls" is what bullfighting is, why would the people doing it limit themselves to torturing only bulls, and torturing them only in this specific manner, sometimes through a bullfighter's lifespan, and across generations.

The spectacle has its points. Other considerations aside, the various bull fighters are brave men who risk their lives on every event and in practice sessions; it's not rare for them to be injured, maimed and even killed. And there is a certain elegance in avoiding the bull's strike with the cape. If that were all, I'd see nothing wrong in teasing a bull, angering him, and avoiding him.

But that isn't all. After a round of cape antics, the bull is stuck with pikes and made to bleed. After some more cap show, the bull is stuck with decorated steel skewers called "banderillas." Then the matador steps in. He carries a red cape and a sword. After more teasing of the bull, who's been bleeding for over half an hour and in pain, the matador sticks a sword in the bull's back and kills it. usually. Someitmes a coup de grace is required (I think they use a .22 on the back of the skull).

So, no, the spectators don't go to see the bull suffer. But the bull does suffer. I know some bull fighting enthusiasts. If you propposed that the bull not be stuck, only poked, and the matador not stick a sword into him, say only to amke the move with a blunt sword or something, they say that wouldn't be nearly as interesting. So it is important for the spectators that the bull be mad eto bleed and that it be killed.

So they do want to see the bull tortured for a while, even if that's not their main reason for attending bull fights.

And that's just sick.

I don't mind killing animals for a purpose such food, raw materials (leather, fur, etc), in defense of more useful animals (killing wolves to preserve cattle), scientific reserach, etc. I don't mind inflicting pain on animals for a purpose such as scientific research, or even product testing. But I do mind both for amusement.

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In a fully objectivist society, should an Objectivist Government offer to non-human organisms legal protections from unethical or immoral treatment? Do living organisms which are not capable of reason deserve some level of protection of rights based on their existence as a living being?

Yes, if you (or they) can show that at least one of their species respects your rights. But because a rational faculty is required to be able to respect someone's rights you have no reason to acknowledge any right except those of their owner.

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Are you opposed to it primarily because the animal suffers, or because it is hedonistic?

I'm opposed because there are literally thousands of other ways to be amused and entertained that do not involve torturing an innocent animal. On the other hand, there is no other way to obtain animal protein other than to kill an animal and cut it up, nor of learning some aspects of biology or medicine without experimenting on animals.

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