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General Purpose Animal Philosophy Thread

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Lazy Riser's picture
Lazy Riser
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May 9 2006 20:15
General Purpose Animal Philosophy Thread

Hi

I only care averagely about animals. The fate of non-humans doesn’t concern me too much. You’ve got to be a working class biological entity (or one their pets) before you get to drink at my endless font of mercy.

It’s deliciously ironic, though, how much philosophical ground a discussion of animal-centric “politics” can cover. This makes the phenomena of animalism much more interesting than the creatures whose emancipation it seeks.

Anyway, what someone thinks of animals is about as important as their opinion on Katie Melua. If you think I’m wrong, you’re a degenerate with a reactionary agenda.

powertotheimagination wrote:
You 'had it out' a while back. I remember it ending up in a circular debate with you criticising me but not that much in a constructive way. I'd love to hear what you have to say LR, but you need to expand on it.

You can choose to take it as a criticism if you wish, but I’ve no interest in persecuting you for your personal tastes. And as for circular arguments, that particular thread’s near loops where regularly broken by references to prior agreed positions. In the end the thread emerged from any cycles via JDMF’s admission that animal exploitation was politically neutral.

Love

LR

knightrose
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May 9 2006 21:03

OK reposted:

Surely the problem with vivsection is the effect it has on humans. We must all realise that it has the capacity to make those who do it less sensitive to suffering and pain. It has a cumulative effect on the rest of us.

Sadly, though, despite Bambi and Tom and Jerry, animals aren't really cute little humans in fur coats. We can chose to be nice to them, and I rather hope we do. Thye are not in any sense equal to us and if it is necessary we use them to our own ends. I hope that a communist society would phase out animal experimentation - it should be a goal to aim for, but becuase we want to and because it is in our interests to do so.

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May 9 2006 21:41

Hi

Thanks for that comrade, and thanks to everyone for humouring my little hobby…

knightrose wrote:
Surely the problem with vivsection is the effect it has on humans.

Agreed. The only problem with anything is the effect it has on humans, I’m not trying to sound flippant, I just want to generalise the philosophical basis to reinforce your point.

knightrose wrote:
We must all realise that it has the capacity to make those who do it less sensitive to suffering and pain.

Agreed. But, properly trained, only to creatures inside their professional domain. I’m sure their sensitivity to the suffering and pain of their customers, struggling to retain their youthful complexions, is enhanced.

knightrose wrote:
It has a cumulative effect on the rest of us.

Perhaps. But why would a marginal increase in net insensitivity to suffering be necessarily regressive. Perhaps if we were less wishy washy and empathetic we’d be better able to act in our ruthless self interest and usher in the eon of autonomy.

knightrose wrote:
We can chose to be nice to them, and I rather hope we do.

No need to hope! We’ve been rolling back the level of animal suffering since the dawn of time, in some cases at the expense of what some might call their dignity. I wholeheartedly endorse the notion that humanitarianism is the mark of civilisation.

But really, this notion of an animal’s pain as an abstract wrong, where does it come from? What’s the difference between our sentiments towards animals and inanimate objects? Do we feel bad when androids are destroyed?

The idea that animal suffering (or death) matters comes from a belief in “consciousness” as a magical force of nature.

Imagine someone builds me a machine, everyday it gets more and more complex, capable of making more and more decisions autonomously, expressing preferences so nuanced they almost appear heartfelt. It’s complex neural network gives it seriously strong negative feedback whenever things don’t go the way it planned. Anyway I get bored with it, backup the present state, and chuck the machine in the recycling grinder. My conscience is clear, but in what way was the device not alive?

Love

LR

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 9 2006 22:58
Lazy Riser wrote:

Agreed. The only problem with anything is the effect it has on humans, I’m not trying to sound flippant, I just want to generalise the philosophical basis to reinforce your point.

I don't think I agree with that at all. And that's not because I've got a particularly big chip on my shoulder about animal rights (I'm not even a particularly strict vegetarian, much to my girlfriend's disgust). But the effect that we have on animals is a reflection of the nature of our own humanity. Inflicting unnecessary pain on anything is inhumane.

as such, as far as I'm concerned the important issue isn't that our actions affect ourselves (we become desensitised, etc.) but that our actions affect others negatively. I think rather than claiming that "The only problem with anything is the effect it has on humans", it should be stated that "the problem with humans is the affect that they have on others." ...

[I also typed the following because its late, I'm tired and I'm bored. I thought I had the beginings of an idea but now that I look at it its clearly cod philosophy shite - as any attempt to deal with this problem must first define what and why a problem is a problem. I think what i was trying to get to was that defining humanity in the absence of an affect on something is wrong, and that your phrase implies that a human problem in this respect is purely a reflection (i.e. that the affect is purely secondary). Its a load of bollocks but I've left it rather than deleted it, as it might be an excuse to start arguing about morality (if you fancy it)]

...Granted, if this is read according to the premise that "The only problem with anything is the effect it has on humans", I'd imagine it could be phrased as 'we act inhumanely so therefore we can be considered inhumane' (our action has a reciprocal effect on the way human beings think about themselves). But if this is the case then the affected subject (i.e. the animal) is merely an object against which we are defined; we are concerned only with ourselves, not with the suffering, and I think there's a problem there if our concern is with morality.

EDITED:

Actually, I looked at that again, and it really was a pile of shite. Because if I torture a cat...then so what? What reason do you have for telling me not just that its cruel to do so - but that there is something bad about being cruel to animals, and that I shouldn't be cruel to them?

If I was to torture a baby you could give me reasons why that was a bad thing to do (damaging the child psychologically or physically is bad for the survival of the group and species, hence we think of it as immoral - human morality derives from what benefits human beings as a whole). I suppose you could also say that the fact we think torturing a cat to be cruel is simply the imposition of this specifically human morality onto the animal world...in which case assuming that torturing animals to be cruel is, essentially, an error.

...and that means that animal rights is purely an aesthetic judgement!

OH people are probably going to get cross about that (depending on how you define 'aesthetic judgement').

...which is good, as its a load of arse - although I'm not entirely sure why yet. I think the answer, which I haven't worked out yet, is to do with the definition of humane action and of humanity - classing all creatures that can feel pain as subjects that should be spared cruelty. But I'm not sure yet how you could claim that this is necessarily so, without falling back into the 'any problem is a human problem' thing.

I'll try again tomorrow when I'm not so tired (interesting thread this)

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May 9 2006 23:21

Hi

SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
the problem with humans is the affect that they have on others

This a surprisingly commonly held view. The link between veganism and the wish to live without “interfering” with others, or be interfered with, is quite powerful. It’s a victim mentality based on the inferred injustice of being affected by forces over which you have no control.

SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
as far as I'm concerned the important issue isn't that our actions affect ourselves (we become desensitised, etc.) but that our actions affect others negatively

Pure self deprecation, as if you’re the least important person. Overtones of Christianity too, if you don’t mind me saying. Do onto others, etc, as if preferences are always compatible. The people I speak that exhibit this philosophy, and this may be a bit harsh, seem to think that leaving everyone else alone means they’re owed the same favour.

SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
and that means that animal rights is purely an aesthetic judgement!

Spot on.

Love

LR

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 9 2006 23:39
Lazy Riser wrote:
Hi

Hi yourself. I'm far too tired for this, but i've got a huge pile of work to do and I'm finding excuses not to do it

Quote:
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
the problem with humans is the affect that they have on others

This a surprisingly commonly held view. The link between veganism and the wish to live without “interfering” with others, or be interfered with, is quite powerful. It’s a victim mentality based on the inferred injustice of being affected by forces over which you have no control.

No, there was no isolationism intended with that phrase - that's precisoly what I found problematical in your own comments. I'm interested in establishing humane actions as actions within a context - not just a social context, but a context within the world, part of a..well, a dialectical relationship between the world and the human subject. I don't want to leave everything alone, and I don't want to be left alone. I also don't want to define humanity, humane actions or human beings as though they are in some way divorced from everything else.

Quote:
Pure self deprecation, as if you’re the least important person.

I'm very humble

Quote:
Overtones of Christianity too, if you don’t mind me saying.

Ouch

Quote:
Do onto others, etc, as if preferences are always compatible. The people I speak that exhibit this philosophy, and this may be a bit harsh, seem to think that leaving everyone else alone means they’re owed the same favour.

...this is straying from the animal rights thing, but I do think that the 'do unto others...' thing is the basis of morality. It implies a social bond of sorts, and as human beings are inherently group animals they require a mechanism to ensure that they can operate effectively within social groups. the basis of this is to treat others as you woudl want them to reat you themselves

Quote:
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
and that means that animal rights is purely an aesthetic judgement!

Spot on.

nah, I don't think so - but it'll have to wait till tomorrow

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May 9 2006 23:40

Agree with the point from Knightrose re: vivisections ability to desensitize. Also agree causing suffering to other beings is us acting negatively. Lose-lose all around vivisection is to me.(terrible use of English soz - I sound like Yoda! embarrassed ). Nothing is about aesthetics wholly when deliberately-inflicted suffering takes place.

Norm
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May 9 2006 23:58

Humans are animals, but animals which are conscious. As sentient beings we feel pain when damage is inflicted upon us by our surroundings, and as sapient beings we are conscious of this and able to ask why it is happenning.

Non-human animals are sentient, but not sapient. They feel pain, and they suffer. The only difference is that they are not able to question why they suffer, ponder over it for hours or days before eventually blaming an intangible force in the sky, or something similar.

Humans are able to take animals out of their natural habitat, selectively breed them and alter their genetic composition to remove their fight/flight responses with regard to humans, and then exploit their instincts to produce value for society without them being consciously aware of it, and without them (as individuals OR as a species) benefitting from the process in any way.

Just as we're able to take humans, suppress their ability to form their own values consciously, supply them with prefitted generic values, and prey on their instincts (all that is left of them) to coerce them into shunting value around society unconsciously and so leaving them alienated from the entire process of creation and consumption. We call them the working class.

We're able to do both, but why should we do either? I doubt i'll find anyone here in favour of the exploitation of sapient beings, so what's the justification for institutionalising the exploitation of sentient beings?

Lazy, why do you care about humans? I don't see the point. If you're not interested in the welfare of sentient life because all they can do is feel pain and the frustration caused by being unable to freely satisfy their instinctually produced desires, then why care about the welfare of sapient life simply because they can ask ridiculously vague philosophical questions regarding the reason for the pain they feel and are (every now and again) aware of the reasons behind their frustration at their lack of freedom?

I mean surely the only justification for freeing the working class is that they're being exploited and having their freedoms to act upon their desires (after evaluating them 'philosophically') constricted, and not only because they (can be) aware of it?

Because the reason why we aren't all rising up against the capitalist oppressors at this very moment, is because most of us aren't aware of it because capitalism has rendered our consciousness to shreds, and is currently cultivating instincts to sell us crap and keep us working to buy more crap. So as we're not conscious of it, why bother making people conscious of it, if the animals are fine now surely they are too?[/i]

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 10 2006 00:01

Haven't got the hang of being rude to people here yet

I'd written "ha ha ha ha Norm wrote that all proles are animals," and then thought bollocks, that probably looks like i'm being serious

...I wasn't, I thought I was being hillarious

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May 10 2006 00:05

Norm - A storming first post! Agreed of course. Welcome to the boards. I hope you have fun. tongue

Norm
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May 10 2006 00:10
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
Haven't got the hang of being rude to people here yet

I'd written "ha ha ha ha Norm wrote that all proles are animals," and then thought bollocks, that probably looks like i'm being serious

...I wasn't, I thought I was being hillarious

haha

Norm
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May 10 2006 00:11
Lone Wolf wrote:
Norm - A storming first post! Agreed of course. Welcome to the boards. I hope you have fun. tongue

Thanks, me too. It looks interesting, don't know why I didn't join sooner...

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 10 2006 00:27
Norm wrote:
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
Haven't got the hang of being rude to people here yet

I'd written "ha ha ha ha Norm wrote that all proles are animals," and then thought bollocks, that probably looks like i'm being serious

...I wasn't, I thought I was being hillarious

haha

sorry, didn't mean to sound unpleasant, just thought it was funny

But anyway, you're essentially saying much of what I was unable to above - human beings cannot be considered to be isolated from the natural world, and cruelty extends to all creatures capable of experiencing it

Norm
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May 10 2006 00:32
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
Norm wrote:
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
Haven't got the hang of being rude to people here yet

I'd written "ha ha ha ha Norm wrote that all proles are animals," and then thought bollocks, that probably looks like i'm being serious

...I wasn't, I thought I was being hillarious

haha

sorry, didn't mean to sound unpleasant, just thought it was funny

But anyway, you're essentially saying much of what I was unable to above - human beings cannot be considered to be isolated from the natural world, and cruelty extends to all creatures capable of experiencing it

Not of it, I didn't take any offence at all, was funny.

And definitely. But, if you really want to get into it, it could be said (by adovcates of the great Greek authoritarian Mr.Plato) that humans don't actually experience suffering directly, because as we're actually conscious of it we're only aware of a subjective, removed, version of pain... Whereas animals do experience it directly and so we should take their suffering more seriously. But that's kind of stretching the integrity of philosophy to its limits there... lol.

davethemagicweasel
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May 10 2006 00:39

I think the whole notion of 'animal rights' is actually based on a flawed (and liberal) conception of what rights are.

Rights aren't some abstract thing that can be granted to someone/something - to a passive subject such as an animal. They can only be created and maintained through conscious social action, i.e. by humans.

So we have trade union recognition and workplace protection laws (inadequate as they are) because people organised themselves to fight for those rights, we have the right to vote (hollow tho it is) because, again, people organised to force concessions out of the ruling classes (Chartists, Levellers, etc). However, an animal can never stand up for its own rights and can never organise with its fellows in solidarity against their oppression. If the day ever comes when the rats and monkeys are conscious enough to organise against the vivisectionists then I'm sure we would all support them - but until that happens animal rights can only ever be a humanly created social concept.

I think a better term would therefore be 'human responsibility', and that isn't something that can or ever should be imposed upon another since it is a matter of personal judgement (an aesthetic judgement, altho I also dislike the term because it seems to cheapen the whole sordid business of the way animals are treated).

I'm not saying this because I'm anti-animal in any way, I've been a vegetarian since I was 5 and, like many others, it was the realization of what that brownish lump being put on my plate every dinner time actually was that first made me aware that there was something deeply wrong with the world in which we live. I could easily convince myself to become a vegan on the same basis (altho I would miss cheese), but the futility of doing so is part of what pushed my politics in the way it has gone - because it doesn't matter how hard you try its impossible to opt out of the capitalist system that causes all these problems (hell, if I could opt out I wouldn't object to it quite so much).

But, as I grew up vegetarianism transformed right before my eyes from an attempt at a principled abstention from the system into just another part of the system - the choice I had made became simply another commodity to be wrapped up in glossy packaging and sold back to me. Frankly, I blame fucking Linda McCartney!

So yeah, its a personal choice, and if we want to improve the lot of animals then the only way that will happen is through improving the lot of people, since the exploitation of animals is a social phenomena, and when we finally get to the long awaited communistic gift economy we can, and I think given sufficient material abundance most people will, work out better ways to produce food and conduct scientific research and reduce animal cruelty to an absolute minimum.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 10 2006 00:49

yeah, I think the responsibility thing covers it fairly well. If to be responsible in this sense is what it is to be human, we are inhumane when we act with cruelty. Acting humanely then becomes a means of maintaining our own defenition of ourselves.

..but this still doesn't answer the problem outlined above: how we define ourselves is a purely human problem, and one the world is utterly indifferent to. If we are going to say that it is good to act humanely, that it is good to think of human beings as essentially one with animals, or that it is good to act responsibly towards them - then we would need to provide a reason that does not rely on these defenitions themselves. Otherwise, it becomes a tautological statement (e.g. you must be humane because if you are not you won't be humane).

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May 10 2006 00:50

Hi Dave

Much of your post is reasonable enough but do not agree with your proposition that rights cannot be granted unless one can consciously stand up for these rights and organise etc. It is BECAUSE animals have no voice that I feel so strongly about this issue. Also, according to your argument humans who cannot speak out/organise because they are elderly/disabled/ etc etc. What of them???The ability to speak out and organise cannot be the criterion otherwise it is just survival of the fittest.

Do realise from the rest of your post that we are in accord on a lot of stuff though - just wanted to challenge this one point.

Norm
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May 10 2006 01:14
davethemagicweasel wrote:

Rights aren't some abstract thing that can be granted to someone/something - to a passive subject such as an animal. They can only be created and maintained through conscious social action, i.e. by humans.

Most people currently have no idea for the "rational justification" behind their rights. They are granted them by state (when it deems appropriate), and always have been. The rational justification for rights only came in as an afterthought from various Elightenment age philosophers, after people begain to realise that all they had previously was an irrational justification based on threats of punishment or promises of reward if they stepped out of line.

And frankly, that's still what most of us end up being brought up with today.

Rights are granted as concessions by government after it removes all of our basic freedoms. The freedom to choose to (attempt to) kill is destroyed throughout childhood by the irrational commandment of "it's wrong to kill", produced by the existence of "The Right to Live".

A free society cannot tolerate a killer in its midst, because by killing someone against their wishes they remove a choice, and in doing so create a hierarchy. Killers should be removed from society by isolation (physical or existential). The existence or nonexistence of rights doesn't change the fact that a society which bases itself on the absence of hierarchies (removing choice) cannot exist with members that create hierarchies (by removing choice). All the existence of a code of preproduced, prepackadged rights based on "what is best for every individual" does in addition to this is cause the repression of socially unnacceptable desires, rather than the free evaluation of them. I don't think you can force an objective code onto a subjective species.

Rights don't apply to humans any more than animals. It's freedoms that are important in both cases. Humans should be free to evaluate the world around them with respect to themselves as individuals, create goals for themselves and then act to accomplish them to the best of their abilities. Animals should be free to do what they do: obey instinct. The only point I would make is that we should not interfere with what those instincts are, as we have hierarchically done in the past.

davethemagicweasel wrote:

However, an animal can never stand up for its own rights and can never organise with its fellows in solidarity against their oppression.

No, because the concept of rights is a purely human one. But animals can and do stand up for their freedoms, what little instinct permits them to have. This comes in the form of the fight/flight response, which is what we have always attempted to remove from our domesticated slaves through selective breeding. Turning a (possibly) once mutualisticially beneficial, voluntary relationship into an authoritarianly enforced parasitical one.

davethemagicweasel wrote:

But, as I grew up vegetarianism transformed right before my eyes from an attempt at a principled abstention from the system into just another part of the system - the choice I had made became simply another commodity to be wrapped up in glossy packaging and sold back to me. Frankly, I blame fucking Linda McCartney!

Same smile

davethemagicweasel wrote:

So yeah, its a personal choice, and if we want to improve the lot of animals then the only way that will happen is through improving the lot of people, since the exploitation of animals is a social phenomena, and when we finally get to the long awaited communistic gift economy we can, and I think given sufficient material abundance most people will, work out better ways to produce food and conduct scientific research and reduce animal cruelty to an absolute minimum.

Aye! And i'd add that i'd never dream of forcing an autonomous community into not testing on animals. But that to my mind it's a rational position which can (and most probably will) be discussed within each community in the future, and i'm merely trying to guess the outcome... heh. It'll win me a fortune in bet money!

Norm
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May 10 2006 01:16

Sorry, I should say hi, i'm used to myspace where we're all significantly more rude :$ My apologies Dave, and "Hi".

davethemagicweasel
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May 10 2006 01:24
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
yeah, I think the responsibility thing covers it fairly well. If to be responsible in this sense is what it is to be human, we are inhumane when we act with cruelty. Acting humanely then becomes a means of maintaining our own defenition of ourselves.

..but this still doesn't answer the problem outlined above: how we define ourselves is a purely human problem, and one the world is utterly indifferent to. If we are going to say that it is good to act humanely, that it is good to think of human beings as essentially one with animals, or that it is good to act responsibly towards them - then we would need to provide a reason that does not rely on these defenitions themselves. Otherwise, it becomes a tautological statement (e.g. you must be humane because if you are not you won't be humane).

Lone Wolf wrote:
Hi Dave

Much of your post is reasonable enough but do not agree with your proposition that rights cannot be granted unless one can consciously stand up for these rights and organise etc. It is BECAUSE animals have no voice that I feel so strongly about this issue. Also, according to your argument humans who cannot speak out/organise because they are elderly/disabled/ etc etc. What of them???The ability to speak out and organise cannot be the criterion otherwise it is just survival of the fittest.

Do realise from the rest of your post that we are in accord on a lot of stuff though - just wanted to challenge this one point.

Hi

Hmmm... yeah, fair point. I think part of that post comes from a reaction against sanctimonious AR types who go on about 'speaking for the animals' and I've maybe gone a bit too far in the opposite direction.

So, how are we to stand in solidarity with the animals then? Clearly we can't do so through threats and intimidation of humans. One important distinction is that often old/disabled humans can express their own opinions and we can then support them, and we can do so based upon a basic sense of empathy that we have with other humans. But that empathy is much more indirect in regards to animals, if it can be applied in that situation at all, and in many cases is little more than a projection of human concepts onto animals that we have no real reason to believe they are capable of.

I think its pretty obvious that animals can feel pain, but do they feel a desire to be free? Do they feel the chains of their imprisonment when in a factory farm? Can we ever know if they can?

So basically, animal rights campaigns wil always consist of a group of people deciding what rights animals should have for them, which is a claim that I'm not particularly comfortable with and would reject on principle if it were applied to humans. After all, the AR-ers claims to be acting on behalf of the animals is just as authoritarian in principle as a Leninist vanguard claiming to act on behalf of the working class.

So I'm gonna stay sat on the fence for now - I do think something should be done, but I don't know what at this point. I'm gonna continue trying to minimize how much cruelty I am complicit in and responsible for, but I can't justify any kind of claim that I have any right to tell other human beings how they should behave towards animals.

As for how we define ourselves as human - thats something that I think is impeded by the capitalist system. We are forced into a relationship with the animals of this world that attaches a price to them, just like we are with everything else - they become commodities which massively impedes us from coming to our own conclusions about how we define ourselves and our relationship to the world. So we can't really become fully human and individuated (woo! yay for pompous words learnt from philosophy books!) and thereby define what it is to be humane in relation to the rest of nature until we rid ourselves of the alienating social systems that are holding us down.

Or is that just pompous navel gazing on my part?

Love

DTMW

davethemagicweasel
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May 10 2006 01:47
Norm wrote:
Snip

Hi

I think that an anarchist/libcommunist argument would be better off not talking in terms of rights, and I do quite like your use of the word freedoms instead since that seems to imply a much more positive definition rather than a negatibe one granted by a hierarchy of one sort or another.

Maybe we should return to the old 19th century slogan "No rights without duties, no duties without rights"

Norm wrote:
A free society cannot tolerate a killer in its midst, because by killing someone against their wishes they remove a choice, and in doing so create a hierarchy. Killers should be removed from society by isolation (physical or existential). The existence or nonexistence of rights doesn't change the fact that a society which bases itself on the absence of hierarchies (removing choice) cannot exist with members that create hierarchies (by removing choice). All the existence of a code of preproduced, prepackadged rights based on "what is best for every individual" does in addition to this is cause the repression of socially unnacceptable desires, rather than the free evaluation of them. I don't think you can force an objective code onto a subjective species.

But isn't refusing to tolerate a killer also removing a choice - that of the killer to kill. I'm not for a second disagreeing with the removal of killers from the community, but what about when a person has a desire to kill an animal for food, but the animal seems to express a desire to live through its flight response? How do we solve the contradiction between those freedoms when one party cannot speak for itself?

I have a feeling this will still be being debated long after the revolution...

Norm wrote:
But animals can and do stand up for their freedoms, what little instinct permits them to have. This comes in the form of the fight/flight response,

Good point. In that case we can get some idea of what the animals want and thereby find some reasonable grounds upon which to base acting in solidarity with them.

Thanks, I think that solves some of my issues with the whole thing. But that still leaves a problem of how to reconcile not imposing my opinions on those people who do want to eat meat and test on animals and the desire to support the animals. face to face discussion and persuasion in the directly democratic communes of the future would seem the ideal, though possibly far off, response. Particularly since I think the way attitudes towards testing cosmetics on animals have changed which shows that thats a much more effective way of doing things than threatening students and digging up corpses anyhow.

Anyway, I really should go to bed because I'm only really on here as a way of avoiding revision. Thanks for the conversation all.

Love

DTMW

Norm
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May 10 2006 02:27

Hey, sorry about before. I didn't realise it was customary to say Hi here, it makes sense, makes it all friendlier.

davethemagicweasel wrote:

But isn't refusing to tolerate a killer also removing a choice - that of the killer to kill. I'm not for a second disagreeing with the removal of killers from the community, but what about when a person has a desire to kill an animal for food, but the animal seems to express a desire to live through its flight response? How do we solve the contradiction between those freedoms when one party cannot speak for itself?

And in the case of animals, if we assume that they obey instinct, then they can never choose to do anything on the same level as us. The only concept resembling choice they have is flight/fight. To my mind, it can be assumed that because the prey animal failed in escaping, it's "chosen" to be caught. This is effectively what occurs in the natural world, wolves hunting deer and whatnot.

The only problem I objectively have with eating meat is the domestication aspect. Breeding animals so rather than run from us they walk up the ramp to be slaughtered, because it saves us the effort of actually "asking them" for their meat via hunting them. Note that the Native Americans respected their animals slightly more than we did/do, because they never mechanised the process of hunting wild (free) buffalo for food into growing inbred (tamed) buffalo for food.

And other than that I think it's purely a personal choice. To hunt or not to hunt. To consume meat provided to the gift economy by the labour of a hunter, or not to... etc. But that's just my thoughts on the situation.

davethemagicweasel wrote:

face to face discussion and persuasion in the directly democratic communes of the future would seem the ideal, though possibly far off, response. Particularly since I think the way attitudes towards testing cosmetics on animals have changed which shows that thats a much more effective way of doing things than threatening students and digging up corpses anyhow.

Definitely better ways. And yes that's far off, but face to face discussion can happen here and now. And in forums as friendly as this one seems to be (mostly...), it could most probably work if we interact with our communities in a similar manner, and affirm their current positions but introduce new issues to think about, eliminating the distancing caused by the alienating effects of capitalism on the consumers.

Goodnight, enjoy revision. I know I won't...

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JDMF
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May 10 2006 07:32
Lazy Riser wrote:
In the end the thread emerged from any cycles via JDMF’s admission that animal exploitation was politically neutral.

just a slight correction LR, as in that i never said that wink This may stem from your narrow definition of what politically neutral is, but you jumped the gun there.

I said that capitalism can survive veganism. As much as it can survive not having sweatshops, probably can survive environmentalism, dropping third world debt, fair trade, workers self management, getting rid of racism, sexism and fascism etc. If you think all those are politically neutral, then yes, animal exploitation would be as well.

davethemagicweasel
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May 10 2006 11:03
Norm wrote:
Hey, sorry about before. I didn't realise it was customary to say Hi here, it makes sense, makes it all friendlier.

I don't think its always customary, but someone said hi to me so I returned the greeting, and then it just kinda seemed appropriate to go the whole hog and imitate LazyRisers style. But yeah does make it friendlier.

Norm wrote:
And in the case of animals, if we assume that they obey instinct, then they can never choose to do anything on the same level as us. The only concept resembling choice they have is flight/fight. To my mind, it can be assumed that because the prey animal failed in escaping, it's "chosen" to be caught. This is effectively what occurs in the natural world, wolves hunting deer and whatnot.

The only problem I objectively have with eating meat is the domestication aspect. Breeding animals so rather than run from us they walk up the ramp to be slaughtered, because it saves us the effort of actually "asking them" for their meat via hunting them. Note that the Native Americans respected their animals slightly more than we did/do, because they never mechanised the process of hunting wild (free) buffalo for food into growing inbred (tamed) buffalo for food.

And other than that I think it's purely a personal choice. To hunt or not to hunt. To consume meat provided to the gift economy by the labour of a hunter, or not to... etc. But that's just my thoughts on the situation.

But if anything I think we can take the flight instinct as the best expression an animal can make of a preference to live. The fact that the cow idn't smart enough to realise that the slaughterhouse is a threat doesn't necessarily make it alright.

If we start taking the fact that something gets caught as proof that it has somehow chosen to die then surely that is just a case of might makes right and survival of the fittest. And if the only criteria is whether or not a person has expended the labour in catching their own animal then are you simply arguing that we should try and make it a fair fight?

I don't see how hunting is "asking" them for their meat - since its not exactly informed consent that they are giving. And just because the wolves do it doesn't strike me as meaning that we should do it too, because were capable of considering the consequences and implications of our actions in a way that a wolf can't.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 10 2006 11:24

Obviously no one here is going to advocate cruelty to animals, or would deny that acting cruelly is a bad thing to do

But unless I've missed it, no one has yet been able to put forward a refutation to LR's claim that all problems are human problems - in the sense that defining cruelty is essentially a human concern. There needs to a response that demonstrates that cruelty to animals is bad for something other than a tautological reason, and that defining cruelty is not a purely human concern.

Because if it is a purely human concern, then there is absolutely no concrete reason to act in a humane manner towards non-humans. If the belief that we should not torture animals is little more than an ideological extension of our own human morality (itself a mechanism for specifically human group interaction), then there is no reason why we shouldn't dismiss this as a fantasy, as something falsely imposed onto animals, and simply do whatever we fancy.

powertotheimagi...
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May 10 2006 12:10

Well here is my last words on this, I don't fancy another 30 or so pages.

LR, from what i've seen when talking to you on other threads here you seem to have a central view of (non-human) animals as primarily, if not solely, tools for human usage. It all seems very like Descarte's ideas that if you hit a dog it make a noise, but this noise is not through its conscience of pain, hitting the dog is like hitting a object such as a clock, it'll ring out, but there is nothing conscious behind that ringing, its merely a reflection of the action you took on that object. I recognise that you probably do think animals can feel pain- both physical and mental- and from this can suffer, but it comes across that you think of animals only as tools for human usage, they are nothing but 'raw materials' in all manner of ways. Any pain or distress an animal may feel while being used as a material is secondary, if it comes into it at all. But why is an animal just a tool for us? Here is where we were debating about last time, when you disagreed with part/s of my ethical arguement for not harming animals. If you can recognise that animals are capable of suffering and feeling pain as subject of lifes on what terms can we then harm them- especially if there is absolutely no benefit for humans, or a benefit that is marginal? I dont remember you answering this point last time. If we condemn causing pain to humans, why not to other subjects of a life? I doubt you will use an arguement of 'souls' or intelligance, but what other reasons can stop, say, a disabled baby from being vivisected, yet a adult chimp can be?

As I have mentioned previously, I worked with vivisectors for a while and I couldn't, nor still can, work out how mice sperm can be used to help male humans. I'm no expert on its biological constructs, but I think that mice and human sperm are abit different from one another. What similaritie does a mouse (mice) have with a human? The only one that I can see is that they both have hearts/legs/ eyes etc, and these tend to perform the same duties in all mammals. But surely that cannot be the basis for vivisection? These body parts may perform the same duties, but often in radically different ways from how they would do it in another species, humans included.

When discussing AR, and vivisection in particular, I am reminded of an old documentary I watched a while ago. A doctor/surgeon at the turn of the 19th century proposed removing small parts of a womens cancerous infected breast cells, rather then the accepted practice at the time of removing the whole breast. His ideas were laughed at and vilified, yet now they are common practice. Todays anti-vivisection medical professinals are like that. Medical practicioners, such as the Dr Greek's, make a strong historical-medical basis for vivisection leading to very little medical progress. Do not confuse animals being used in experiments as meaning animals are vital to experiments. Most scientific progress on the human body and treating its aliements has been made through a few dozen forms of investigation solely into human biological workings and interaction.

As for non-human animals being close to humans, well many experiments show us the futality of accepting animals as a fine model for developing human used drugs. How close (gentically and biologically) do you think you are to a gerbil, or a hamster, or even a cat? Your heart and circulatory system is also very different from a dog, as experiments found out a few years back when conducting heart drugs tests on dogs (whos 4 legs means they have a radically different circulatory system to humans).

I wrote an article on vivisection based in part on criticising the Seriously Ill for Vivisection PDF 'unmasking the AR movment'. I've also done the same with AR and political campaigners. I dont really feel like going over it all again. Same with a post I did on here a while back about supporting AR prisoners.

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May 10 2006 12:19

So far this thread seems to be very good, the usually baiters have kept at bay and it seems fairly fraternal, although I think the same nuisances keep cropping up about people raising semantic issues with the idea of 'rights'. Technically it should be 'animal liberation' not rights, because rights are a liberal bourgeois concept, but to most ordinary folk this would be splitting hairs.

I also think that in terms of the development of capital animal abuse was significant, but it no longer is necessary. We now live in a modern potentially sustainable environment, where the harming of animals can be put to an absolute minimum.

Quote:
But unless I've missed it, no one has yet been able to put forward a refutation to LR's claim that all problems are human problems - in the sense that defining cruelty is essentially a human concern. There needs to a response that demonstrates that cruelty to animals is bad for something other than a tautological reason, and that defining cruelty is not a purely human concern.

Is needless harming something not significant an arguement? I simply cant qualify how unecessary suffering can be justified, yes animals cant qualify in human philosphical terms to certain criteria about possible 'rights', 'intelligence' etc but this again is about measuring animals to human expectations. Animals exist and therefore should be given respect in terms of freedom and suffering.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 10 2006 12:33
october_lost wrote:

Is needless harming something not significant an arguement? I simply cant qualify how unecessary suffering can be justified, yes animals cant qualify in human philosphical terms to certain criteria about possible 'rights', 'intelligence' etc but this again is about measuring animals to human expectations. Animals exist and therefore should be given respect in terms of freedom and suffering.

But why is needlessly harming something bad? If the response is simply that 'its bad to needlessly harm something because its bad to needlessly harm something' we won't get very far. Tautological arguments are not satisfactory in this respect.

...and I don't think the solution is to be found in positing rights for animals, as this doesn't solve the problem; unless you can prove some how that these are not rights that we have arbitrarily imposed, we still won't have dealt with the 'the only problem is a human problem' issue.

The only way to deal with this problem is to stop thinking about animals and humans, and to think about consciousness (in the sense that we are now concerned with a quality present within both animals and humans). If this is done we can establish what we should and should not do to conscious subjects. we become concerned with a defenition of consciousness, and a humane approach to it, rather than a purely reflexive defenition of human beings.

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May 10 2006 13:34
SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:

...and I don't think the solution is to be found in positing rights for animals, as this doesn't solve the problem; unless you can prove some how that these are not rights that we have arbitrarily imposed, we still won't have dealt with the 'the only problem is a human problem' issue.

Ive already said the concept of 'rights' is a bit of a dead end, because its a liberal term, liberation is more correct, but again this sounds like semantics. And when you say 'arbitarily' you make it sound as though people are making a whole laundry list of proclaimations on behalf of animals. I dont think this is the case, believing in Animal Rights/Liberation is not vanguardist, and I think it can take different priorities.

SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:

The only way to deal with this problem is to stop thinking about animals and humans, and to think about consciousness (in the sense that we are now concerned with a quality present within both animals and humans). If this is done we can establish what we should and should not do to conscious subjects. we become concerned with a defenition of consciousness, and a humane approach to it, rather than a purely reflexive defenition of human beings.

Conciouness is by rights a human definition and therefore human centric. How does your conciousness feel about destroying a sustainable environment, or going partaking in activity which nature may not have intended? You could just as easily rotate around other priorities beside conciousness.

SatanIsMyCoPilot
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May 10 2006 15:03
Quote:
"october_lost" wrote:

Ive already said the concept of 'rights' is a bit of a dead end, because its a liberal term, liberation is more correct, but again this sounds like semantics. And when you say 'arbitarily' you make it sound as though people are making a whole laundry list of proclaimations on behalf of animals. I dont think this is the case, believing in Animal Rights/Liberation is not vanguardist, and I think it can take different priorities.

Doesn't that all go without saying? Using the word 'arbitrary' was intended to illustrate the nature of the problem here - which is essentially to do with the imposition of meaning onto something, i.e. declaring something to be so, rather than identifying that it is so.

Quote:
Conciouness is by rights a human definition and therefore human centric. How does your conciousness feel about destroying a sustainable environment, or going partaking in activity which nature may not have intended? You could just as easily rotate around other priorities beside conciousness.

...OK, but not in the sense that I meant 'consciousness'. Our cat is conscious - it is aware, it reacts, it thinks, it experiences emotions - it is a sentient, aware, experiencing subjct.

In this respect all animals are possessed of some level of consciousness; it just so happens that human consciousness is the highest and most complete expression of that consciousness. We could then say that there is something present within all animals, which is most fully realised within human beings.

If we then say that the best expressions of human rationality and consciousness are compassion and empathy towards other human consciousnesses - i.e. moving away from barbarity - then we could also say that to be truly humane we should treat all consciousnesses with empathy and compassion.

So by claiming that both animals and humans are characterised by consciousness, and by claiming that the highest expressions of human consciousness are empathy towards other consciousnesses, you can say that this is no longer a specifically human problem: animals cease to be objects that define human problems, and become subjects characterised by the same problem

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May 10 2006 15:50

Hi

SatanIsMyCoPilot wrote:
So by claiming that both animals and humans are characterised by consciousness, and by claiming that the highest expressions of human consciousness are empathy towards other consciousnesses, you can say that this is no longer a specifically human problem: animals cease to be objects that define human problems, and become subjects characterised by the same problem
LR wrote:
Imagine someone builds me a machine, everyday it gets more and more complex, capable of making more and more decisions autonomously, expressing preferences so nuanced they almost appear heartfelt. It’s complex neural network gives it seriously strong negative feedback whenever things don’t go the way it planned. Anyway I get bored with it, backup the present state, and chuck the machine in the recycling grinder. My conscience is clear, but in what way was the device not alive?

Just because a thing has consciousness doesn’t mean it’s wrong to enjoy destroying it. Or is there something especially magic about being a strictly biological entity? Maybe it’s a Jedi thing.

Love

LR