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Question About Animal Cruelty

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m0zart
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Based on your posts, I would agree that there is a fundemental hostility between you and every other form of life on the planet. I just don't think that the source of this hostility is necessarily the other life forms.

Do you have an argument to present or are you just going to sling insults?

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Do you have an argument to present or are you just going to sling insults?

My argument is as follows: there is no "fundamental hostility" between man and "other life forms", in a general sense. In any specific instance, man's survival and other life forms' survival may be at odds (competition over food, territory, etc). In specific instance, there may be a fundamental hostility between man and other men but it does not follow that there is a fundamental hostility between men. Inspector asserted that there is a fundamental hostility between himself and other life forms. I am genuinely interested in support of this assertion - or the equivalent version if extended to all men, i.e., there is a fundamental hostility between man and other life forms.

Regarding my comment wherein I agreed that hostility exists between Inspector and other life forms, I was referring to the content and tone of his posts and comments in this thread, several of which I would consider hostile, both to "other life forms" and other members of this forum. Let's just say I'm glad I'm not a bear.

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I think that's rather sad. It's been proven that petting animals releases endorphins that help one to relax.

As I said, when I am at other peoples houses I enjoy petting their pets. I just don't want one in my own house. It's not worth it to me to have something that I can't trust not to destroy things. Hell, it's not even worth the food bills to me, personally. But I understand the value of pets.

Likewise, our relationship through animals isn't by force.
You don't lock up your horse or your dog?

Wood/plants are not sentient. Animals are. I see no reason why, when we differentiate reason from non-reason, we shouldn't differentiate pain-feeling from non-pain feeling.

Again with this whole "pain-feeling" thing. Tell me why that should matter? I see no reason to make that kind of distinction. They are using a resource to further their sport. You could just as easily say that auto racers use gasoline for their sport.

However, if I damaged your property or hurt someone you love, would you just kill me?
No, as you are a human being and have rights. We have a government with laws to deal with disputes between us, which we are both capable of respecting. There can be no objective authority to deal with the disputes between bears and humans, which bears are capable of respecting. Furthermore, I do not recognize the right of the bear to exist. It is not in my objective interests as a human being to do so.

Those other bears did nothing to you, yet you would want them dead? For what purpose?

Bears, being wild animals... and big, strong ones at that, represent a threat to me and all that I love. The goal would be to wipe out any possible threat.

As far as I'm concerned, an animal has RIGHT to defend itself from humans.
I completely and utterly disagree. Animals do not have rights. They simply are what they are. They do not have the "right" to do anything, as such. There are only the rights of the human who owns the animal. If, for example, a crook trespasses on a dog owner's property and gets bitten, this is allowed in the same way that it would be allowed for him to defend his property in any other way (such as with a gun). The animal, itself, does not have rights.

According to your values, it would not be immoral to kill every bear that exists because one of them destroyed some property.

...Unless there was some other, greater, value being lost. Such as if any bear were already the property of someone else (i.e. the greater value being the right to property ownership), or if it cost too much money to kill the ones that were too far away to threaten me (i.e. my money being a greater value than bears in Asia being removed as a threat to me)

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Betthefarm, when I said "other forms of life," I mean non-human life forms, as I am a human. Are you interpreting my comments to mean a declaration of hostility to other men? Before I answer your assertions, I want to make sure you understand me correctly.

I assumed you meant non-human life forms.

Please stick to the topic and do not turn this into a brawl.

Indeed. I do not intend to turn this into a brawl. I am geniunely interested in the rational basis and support of these assertions.

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Having contemplated Inspector's radical position and chewed on what exactly he said and (I presume) means, I find that I agree with what he says about non-humans and force, and the hostility issue. Clearly, all disagreements between man and non-man must be resolved by force, in favor of man. Non-man simply cannot reason, and this is as obvious for animals as it is for rocks, and the idea that other forms of life are somehow "friendly" to man is, well, incomprehensible. Not all animals are as aggressive as tigers or badgers, but that isn't the issue. It is a corruption of the concept "hostility" to deconstruct it by saying that only tigers are hostile and wolves, bears and rats are simply "misunderstood" -- as wrong as denying that Castro isn't evil because he's not as much a murderer as Stalin or Hitler.

I disagree with -- or, should I say, do not have -- his feelings about pets especially the sacred dog (ya think?), but de gustibus. I absolutely cannot use reason to persuade the hounds to not head for the North Pole at high speed. But:

Bears, being wild animals... and big, strong ones at that, represent a threat to me and all that I love. The goal would be to wipe out any possible threat.
Context matters -- I question whether this is a rational conclusion. If you live in Svalbard or a similar place, I agree entirely, end of discussion. Otherwise, I would like to see in what way bears are really a threat to you. I don't mean, can you conjure up a scenario where a bear might threaten your life, I mean the claim that bears do threaten you and should be eliminated. I will kill any bear that actually threatens to hurt me or my loved ones, and not otherwise; similarly I will kill any bee that threatens me, but I don't see how killing bees that do not threaten me to be life-advancing (my life or anyone else's). I draw the line at actual threats, not imaginable threats. Seems to me the disagreement reduces to what the proper epistemological predicate is -- I vote for "probable".
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I disagree with -- or, should I say, do not have -- his feelings about pets especially the sacred dog (ya think?), but de gustibus.

Right, I hope I made it clear enough that it was my personal evaluation that applies only specifically to me. As I said, I understand the value that pet owners gain and even indulge in it when I visit them.

But:Context matters -- I question whether this is a rational conclusion. If you live in Svalbard or a similar place, I agree entirely, end of discussion.

Yes, I was assuming that if a bear had harmed me, that I at least live in an area where there are bears and that those other bears could do the same as the perp-bear. If it escaped from the circus or something and there weren't any bears in my area, then it wouldn't really be prudent to go and hunt down bears that can't concievably do me any harm. But I sure might want to, at least until I clamed down, and I think it well illustrates how a person should feel about animals, and about defending their values.

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My argument is as follows: there is no "fundamental hostility" between man and "other life forms", in a general sense. In any specific instance, man's survival and other life forms' survival may be at odds (competition over food, territory, etc). In specific instance, there may be a fundamental hostility between man and other men but it does not follow that there is a fundamental hostility between men.

A fundamental premise of the Objectivist ethics is that men, acting in accordance with their nature (i.e. rationally) do not have any conflicts of interest. In specific instances, men can choose to act in defiance of their nature and thus create specific hostilities, but there is no fundamental hostility between men based on their very nature.

The conflicts that exist between men and animals, however, are based on their fundamental natures. The nature of animals; how they survive and what their survival requires, is in fundamental conflict with that of man and what he requires. When an animal acts on its interests and against the interests of man, this is not a momentary or isolated situation; that animal is not acting in a fashion contrary to its nature.

I have written on this topic, at length, before. The key to understanding it is to ask yourself: "What if someone released 100 bears into downtown Detroit? Is there any way that such a situation could be resolved without using force? Could we and the bears simply 'learn to get along?'"

Smaller, less carnivorous animals present the same problems. Even birds soil our property with their waste. If a human collected bird feces and went around pouring it on cars, wouldn't he be arrested? Even the smallest and most harmless of animals, left to itself, has the potential to cause harm to humans, and none can be convinced otherwise. Even domesticated animals must be kept on leashes and have humans tend to their waste products. If you think that their nature is not at odds with ours then you need to check that premise, big time.

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Could you elaborate on the animals' thoughts/feelings and how these have affected your views?

I guess it's somewhat hard to explain. Animals do not understand our words (or, at least, all of them), but we communicate with them all the time. They understand the few words we can teach them and tone of voice, but more importantly they understand our body language. They understand certain scents that go along with certain emotions. We (or most of us), on the other hand, do not understand when animals use the same cues to try and communicate with us. I'll use general/basic examples here, but most people do not realize that if a horse has it's ears pinned back at them, it means it doesn't want/like you, and it may very well bite or kick you if you try to go near it. It is communicated it's intent very clearly early on. Same as a dog baring it's teeth, or raising it's hackles, or a cat hissing. That is, of course, a basic example that most every knows. Short anecdote- I once worked at a summer camp taking care of a horse barn. One of the mornings I was out giving grain, I went into the pasture to get the buckets. One of the horses was trying to get the grain from me and I pushed him away. The other horse, Snickers, was being fine by me, but was annoyed by the other horse (whose name I forget). Well, the other horse started doing laps around me, and snickers went to kick him and, whoops, kicked me instead (right in the thigh, good thing I turned, though, otherwise I wouldn't be having the kid I'm having next month. Kicked me so hard, it made me lose my vision and balance. That's also where I learned that when a horse kicks a human, they pull their kicks). Now, following Inspector's logic, I should kill that horse (that threatened my life/body) or want him dead and subsequently EVERY horse dead, since many people would not be able to distinguish between being kicked or the reason behind it. I knew that Snickers had no intent of kicking me and was aiming for the other horse (who was doing a wonderful job of running behind me at the time). Now, I was pretty pissed at the other horse, but since it was not my horse, there was little I could do.

Many animals communicate through their eyes. I can tell, to a certain degree, what my dog, max, is thinking by looking at his eyes. To me, having animals, is the same as having a child that will never grow up. I love watching them be perplexed by things they don't understand, and trying to use their doggy, or kitty, minds to figure it out. For me, I supsect this will be even grander when I have a child. Unfortunately, I can't explain all the little details of animals that lead me to this conclusion.

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Now, following Inspector's logic, I should kill that horse (that threatened my life/body) or want him dead and subsequently EVERY horse dead, since many people would not be able to distinguish between being kicked or the reason behind it. I knew that Snickers had no intent of kicking me and was aiming for the other horse (who was doing a wonderful job of running behind me at the time). Now, I was pretty pissed at the other horse, but since it was not my horse, there was little I could do.

Yes, I was assuming that if a bear had harmed me, that I at least live in an area where there are bears and that those other bears could do the same as the perp-bear. If it escaped from the circus or something and there weren't any bears in my area, then it wouldn't really be prudent to go and hunt down bears that can't concievably do me any harm. But I sure might want to, at least until I clamed down, and I think it well illustrates how a person should feel about animals, and about defending their values.

Based on his clarification, I think you may have misrepresented Inspector's position.

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You don't lock up your horse or your dog?

The horse is put in it's stall for protection and food. It goes into its stall WILLINGLY. We don't have to force it. The dog usually does not get "locked" up. We have a fence that keeps him from going in other's yards. I don't see any difference between those and sending a child to their room for the evening. It's all the same.

Again with this whole "pain-feeling" thing. Tell me why that should matter? I see no reason to make that kind of distinction. They are using a resource to further their sport. You could just as easily say that auto racers use gasoline for their sport.

I do see a reason to make that distinction. Gasoline does not think. It does not feel pain. Animals THINK. They feel PAIN. Just because it is not on the same level as a human does not take away from that nature. If you can't, or aren't willing to make that distinction then the argument is moot anyways.

No, as you are a human being and have rights. We have a government with laws to deal with disputes between us, which we are both capable of respecting. There can be no objective authority to deal with the disputes between bears and humans, which bears are capable of respecting. Furthermore, I do not recognize the right of the bear to exist. It is not in my objective interests as a human being to do so.

Bears, being wild animals... and big, strong ones at that, represent a threat to me and all that I love. The goal would be to wipe out any possible threat.

No, you're right. When a bear attacks, we simply resort to the first primal law - Survival of the fittest. No they don't. You represent more of a threat to them, than they do to you. That's silly and acontextual, you're doing the same thing that you just gave me grief about. Most bears will not be around humans, and avoid humans at all cost (as most "lower-in-the-food-chain" animals do). That's like saying because one human wrecked your house, or hurt your family, that all humans should die. There is no objective logic in that.

I completely and utterly disagree. Animals do not have rights. They simply are what they are. They do not have the "right" to do anything, as such. There are only the rights of the human who owns the animal. If, for example, a crook trespasses on a dog owner's property and gets bitten, this is allowed in the same way that it would be allowed for him to defend his property in any other way (such as with a gun). The animal, itself, does not have rights.

Let me ask you something. If you kill my family. Do I have a right to kill you? Has that taken away from your right to exist?

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I have written on this topic, at length, before. The key to understanding it is to ask yourself: "What if someone released 100 bears into downtown Detroit? Is there any way that such a situation could be resolved without using force? Could we and the bears simply 'learn to get along?'"

Yet another a contextual, and arbitrary, example. Let's rephrase.

"What if someone released 100 Al Queda terrorists into downtown Detroit? Is there any way that such a situation could be resolved without using force? Could we and the terrorists (HUMAN) simply 'learn to get along?'"

I think that one answers itself.

"What if someone released 100 fluffy bunnies into downtown Detroit? Is there any way that such a situation could be resolved without using force? Could we and the bunnies simply 'learn to get along?'"

Sure, you pick them up and put them forest outside of detroit. Chances are they didn't want to be in Detroit anyways (who does, really?).

"What if someone released 100 Juvenile deliquents into downtown Detroit? Is there any way that such a situation could be resolved without using force? Could we and the children simply 'learn to get along?'"

Feel free to answer this one.

"What if someone released 100 squirrels into downtown Detroit? Is there any way that such a situation could be resolved without using force? Could we and the squirrels simply 'learn to get along?'"

Since there probably are a bunch of squirrels there, I can't see this making a big difference. We seem to get along fine with them as it is. If we didn't...I'm sure they'd all be dead by now.

Of course, the real answer to that question is WHO is that SOMEONE. Wouldn't that make the animals the responsibility of that someone? Virtually none of those animals would CHOOSE to go into downtown of a city. Why would someone release a dangerous threat to the city? Does the threat need to be killed? Or simply captured and placed in a safer area? If 100 bears just randomly entered the city like that, there'd have to be some kind underlying reason because bears just don't do that. So, it seems a bit arbitrary. Funny, I see you give people grief for putting out those types of questions, including myself.

Based on his clarification, I think you may have misrepresented Inspector's position.

I don't think I have. Even in that second paragraph you posted, he still expressed a DESIRE for all bears to die. I can understand wanting justice for a single animal that does injustice to you. If a bear came and killed my family, I would want that bear dead. I would hunt it down and kill it. However, I fail to see how another bear 2 miles away deep in a forest had anything to do with that action, and why I should want it dead (especially if said bear is not inclined to attack humans). Likewise if all the orignal bear did was throw some trash around and break a window, I hardly see a reason to kill it. I might find some other ways to convince said bear that he doesn't want to be around my area. In another situation, if I'm walking out in a forest, and I come upon a bear cave and the "owner" of that bear cave thinks I'm an enemy, I respect the right of that bear to defend its home (which means I'm going to run like hell the other way.). I'm not, however, going to go home, find the biggest gun I can, GO BACK to that cave and blow that bear's mind out. Seems quite pointless to me, since they bear was merely defending it's percieved (and chances are, marked) home.

My question, for Inspector, is; what is the rational basis for a DESIRE (whether acted upon or not) for wanted A collective dead based on an individuals action? This seems really similar to some of the war/terrorist threads that I read, where certain people on here have expressed that ALL arabs should die because SOME of them are terrorists.

Edited by Styles2112
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The horse is put in it's stall for protection and food. It goes into its stall WILLINGLY. We don't have to force it.

It is still locked up. And your dog is still imprisoned behind the fence. Yes, a lot of that is to protect the animal, but at least some of it is because the animal can’t be trusted not to run away or to refrain from damaging the property of others or hurt them.

I don't see any difference between those and sending a child to their room for the evening. It's all the same.
I never said that you don’t force your children to do certain things to that in no way invalidates my point.

I do see a reason to make that distinction. Gasoline does not think. It does not feel pain. Animals THINK. They feel PAIN. Just because it is not on the same level as a human does not take away from that nature. If you can't, or aren't willing to make that distinction then the argument is moot anyways.

And bricks are RED versus steel, which is GRAY. Neither attribute gives bricks rights, so it is unimportant. Animals don’t have any attributes which give them rights, so for the purpose of this discussion, no, I will not make that distinction. I acknowledge that it exists, but not that it matters.

I rather agree that we are at an impasse here, and will remind you that it is the Objectivist position that animals do not have rights. You should stop making that assertion here, as only the debate forum allows that kind of assertion.

That's silly and acontextual, you're doing the same thing that you just gave me grief about.
Since you did not specify which of my phrases this is a response to, I don’t know what you’re talking about.

That's like saying because one human wrecked your house, or hurt your family, that all humans should die. There is no objective logic in that.

Humans can be reasoned with to convince them not to hurt my family. Bears cannot. Bears can only be forced to not hurt my family, and if one of them wrecks my house, I am going to make damn sure that none of the others get that chance.

Let me ask you something. If you kill my family. Do I have a right to kill you? Has that taken away from your right to exist?

Yes and no. Yes, in a way it does take away my right to exist. But no, you don’t just get to kill me as we live under the rule of law and unless it is an emergency in which I am still threatening you, you have to let the police handle it and have it go to a trial. Criminals, to answer your question, forfeit their rights in a sense.

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Yet another a contextual, and arbitrary, example. Let's rephrase.

"What if someone released 100 Al Queda terrorists into downtown Detroit? Is there any way that such a situation could be resolved without using force? Could we and the terrorists (HUMAN) simply 'learn to get along?'"

The answer is no and you know it. Just because humans can choose to become as animals does not invalidate my example in any way.

"What if someone released 100 fluffy bunnies into downtown Detroit? Is there any way that such a situation could be resolved without using force? Could we and the bunnies simply 'learn to get along?'"
This also does not invalidate my example. The bunnies would be unable to use force to respond to us in any meaningful way, but we would still have to deal with them by force, even if it just meant nudging them out of the way or picking them up and moving them. Of course, they don’t know (and can’t be made to know) to stay out of the street, so they could very well damage cars when they get run over. Also, no matter how fluffy they are, they still could carry rabies. Changing it from a bear mauling people to a bunny defecating in a restaurant does not eliminate the point: animals are incapable of respecting the rights of humans.

"What if someone released 100 Juvenile delinquents”

Feel free to answer this one.

Why? What does this question add? How does it address my point?

"What if someone released 100 squirrels into downtown Detroit?”
This seems a repeat of the bunnies. The lesson is: what would happen if you released 100 random human beings in to downtown Detroit? Nothing; absolutely nothing.

Does the threat need to be killed? Or simply captured and placed in a safer area?

Both of these are force, by the way. You seem to acknowledge the truth of my point…

If 100 bears just randomly entered the city like that, there'd have to be some kind underlying reason because bears just don't do that. So, it seems a bit arbitrary. Funny, I see you give people grief for putting out those types of questions, including myself.
The difference is that other exaggerated examples tend to lose the point of what they are trying to prove. Mine, while exaggerated, does not drop any relevant context. Also, it was not used as a proof, but as a concretization.

However, I fail to see how another bear 2 miles away deep in a forest had anything to do with that action, and why I should want it dead (especially if said bear is not inclined to attack humans).

The only difference between the bear in the forest and the one that hurt/killed is location, and since 2 miles is close enough for it to easily come and do what the other bear did, then it represents just as much of a threat as the first bear. It is in the nature of bears as such to have no respect for property or human life. Killing all bears that are within range of civilization is the same as putting out all forest fires that are within range of civilization.

Likewise if all the orignal bear did was throw some trash around and break a window, I hardly see a reason to kill it. I might find some other ways to convince said bear that he doesn't want to be around my area.
I disagree that it shouldn’t be killed and I disagree that it can be “convinced.”

I respect the right of that bear to defend its home (which means I'm going to run like hell the other way.).

Animals do not have rights. I will remind you that it is against the rules to make assertions of that kind in this part of the forum.

I'm not, however, going to go home, find the biggest gun I can, GO BACK to that cave and blow that bear's mind out. Seems quite pointless to me, since they bear was merely defending it's percieved (and chances are, marked) home.
Then the next time a bear perceives and marks its home to include your house, I guess you’ll have to move out. If the bear has the right to do what a bear does, then you don’t have a right to oppose it. Since bears cannot be made to refrain from perceiving and marking their territory to include human property, then you have to either resort to force, or lose your life and/or property.

What are you going to do? How exactly will you not resort to force? Are you going to negotiate with it?

You: “Please Mr. Bear, sir, I know you marked my car as yours but I worked ever so hard to make payments, so I’d really like to keep it.”

Bear: <mauls you to death>

My question, for Inspector, is; what is the rational basis for a DESIRE (whether acted upon or not) for wanted A collective dead based on an individuals action?

Bears are not individuals. Humans must be judged as individuals since we possess volition; what one of us does is not the same as what another may choose to do. Terrorists, by choice, decide not to respect human lives or property and must, therefore, die. Some people will choose to be terrorists, and some will not.

A bear, on the other hand, by its very nature, will not respect human lives or property.

With humans, you have the distinction of saying, “not all humans choose to be terrorists, therefore I cannot treat all humans as terrorists.” With bears, there is no distinction. They are incapable of respecting rights or property. They are, to extend the metaphor, incapable of being anything but terrorists.

The only relevant question regarding terrorists is, “are they in a position to do me harm?” (not, “will they do me harm,” as they certainly will) It is the same way with bears.

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I don't think I have.

Okay, but you HAVE.

He qualifies his desire as might want to, at least until he cools down. This is indicative of an emotional reaction which is later overcome by more prudent judgement.

However, I fail to see how another bear 2 miles away deep in a forest had anything to do with that action
It wouldn't be about bringing a bear to justice, it would be about reducing potential threats. If this bear could do it, so could the one two miles away.

I respect the right of that bear to defend its home

You are respecting something that does not exist, which isn't rational. Bears don't have rights.

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The only difference between the bear in the forest and the one that hurt/killed is location, and since 2 miles is close enough for it to easily come and do what the other bear did, then it represents just as much of a threat as the first bear. It is in the nature of bears as such to have no respect for property or human life. Killing all bears that are within range of civilization is the same as putting out all forest fires that are within range of civilization.

HOW? Why would a bear want to? Contrary to your belief, these creatures are not lumbering automons that just attack everything in sight. If you see a bear in the woods, most likely it is going to go its own way and leave you alone (unless, of course, you have a tasty treat). Bears do not go out of their way (certainly not miles) to find your home and kill people and trash it. That bear is not a threat to you. Now, if that bear is standing in your yard yelling and kicking your trash around...that's a different story. I can't see any rational reason to kill an animal simply because YOU wrongly percieve it as a threat.

I disagree that it shouldn’t be killed and I disagree that it can be “convinced.”

That's fine. I disagree with you.

Animals do not have rights. I will remind you that it is against the rules to make assertions of that kind in this part of the forum.

I'm trying not to, so after this post I'm going to cease posting in this thread. Thanks for an interesting argument though.

Then the next time a bear perceives and marks its home to include your house, I guess you’ll have to move out. If the bear has the right to do what a bear does, then you don’t have a right to oppose it. Since bears cannot be made to refrain from perceiving and marking their territory to include human property, then you have to either resort to force, or lose your life and/or property.

No, I'll do the same thing it did to me in the forest, defend my home. You twisted my words and put it out of context. How nice of you. Animals actually do respect property areas to a certain degree. That's why you don't generally see bears in downtown detroit or other such animals.

A bear, on the other hand, by its very nature, will not respect human lives or property.

That's just not true. A bear will NOT simply attack a human just because it's a bear. I already said that most bears/carnivors leave humans alone. You're making a collective assertion about a group when it needs to be judged on individuals. All animals have individual personalities and tendencies just like humans.

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Contrary to your belief, these creatures are not lumbering automons that just attack everything in sight. If you see a bear in the woods, most likely it is going to go its own way and leave you alone (unless, of course, you have a tasty treat).
That's an interesting belief. Actually, the bear just has to get it into its head that you have food (tasty or otherwise), or recognise that you are food. These gentle giants of the forest will be happy to attack you because they've learned that humans often have food; and when it comes to the gentle giants of the ice-floe, be afraid, be very afraid (semi-gruesome picture).
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This thread is very ironic, since I just watched Grizzly Man (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0427312/) last night - a documentary about a guy who lived among bears for some years, with plenty of nauseating video of himself cooing to the bears in the most anthropomorphic way imaginable. He (and his then girlfriend) were finally attacked and devoured by a hungry Grizzly bear. If you really want an up-close and personal view into the psychology and behavior of an ardent environmentalist wacko, it's a perfect documentary.

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I’ll start by saying that I do disagree with Dismuke’s statements, on one point: (which is not material about the immorality of senseless torture)

His position gives me the overall impression of a fundamental camaraderie with every other form of life on the planet, qua being forms of life. He seems to imply that, as they are alive, and we are alive, we share a common bond.

Oh, my goodness. The very last thing I meant to imply when I used the term "common bond" was that we had some sort of fundamental "camaraderie" with other life forms.

While I will admit to feeling a certain amount of camaraderie with my cats, I certainly do not feel it towards animals in general.

What I meant by "common bond" with other living creatures was that, as living organisms, we can relate to other living organisms qua living organisms. I will illustrate what I mean by a few examples.

Our reaction towards an 800 year old live oak tree is likely to be quite different than the one we would have for a nearby commonplace rock that happens to 800 million years old. Because of the conditional nature of life, we have a certain fascination and awe towards something which has managed to remain alive for a period of time which is many times our own lifespan. That doesn't mean that one feels a camaraderie towards the tree or that there are potential ethical concerns about mowing the grass or eating spinach. It does mean that there is a certain bond that we have with the tree that we do not have with the rock: in both cases, our existence is conditional.

When we watch a spider take the time and effort necessary to weave its web, when we watch an animal hunt for prey, when we watch squirrels gather up and hide food, we can relate to the behavior we are witnessing. Like us, their lives are conditional. Like us, if they wish to live they must take certain actions in order to produce the values which are needed to sustain life. Like us, they face the possibility of failure. Perhaps someone will walk through the spider's web and it will go without food for the day. Perhaps the hunted prey will escape. Perhaps another animal will come along and disturb the squirrel's hiding places. While a normal person does not feel a sense of camaraderie with spiders and squirrels, he can very much relate to the struggle those creatures must endure in order to survive. Being able to relate to this, however, is not sufficient to cause most normal people to avoid squishing spiders that come into the house or to morally condemn the hillbilly that eats the squirrel for dinner.

The consciousness of lower animals is so primitive that they have no conscious awareness of pain and suffering. But the higher animals are just as capable of feeling physical pain as we are - and that is something about them that we can and do relate to. For a mentally healthy person, the sight of an animal suffering in extreme pain is extremely disturbing and unpleasant precisely because it is next to impossible for us not to relate to it. To derive pleasure from the sight of such suffering - well, that is throughly sick.

I, on the other hand, think that since every other form of life on the planet survives by force, and not by reason, that there is a fundamental hostility between myself and every other form of life on the planet.

I agree that the animal world is governed by force. Those animal species which do not survive by force live under constant threat of force by predators. The fact that we alone have reason results in a huge and unbridgeable gulf between ourselves and all other forms of life. But I would hardly say that there exists a fundamental hostility between ourselves and other forms of life. What would happen to us if all other forms of life besides ourselves were to suddenly cease to exist? We, too, would perish for lack of anything to eat. Our lives depend on other forms of life, primarily for food but also for clothing, medicine and, in some cultures, transportation and menial labor.

Rather than saying that there exists hostility between ourselves and other forms of life, I think a better approach would be to say that, since the animal kingdom is ruled by brute force, the use of brute force is the only means at our disposal of dealing with it. When it comes to relationships with animals, be it a relationship between an animal and another animal or between ourselves and an animal, might does make right.

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