Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism
Learn about the true meaning of animal rights, including what is and is not rights advocacy and examples of rights advocacy compared to other advocacy: http://www.rpaforall.org/rights.html
From the introduction:
"Animal rights" is almost always used incorrectly by the news industry and most animal organizations and advocates. This hampers animal-rights advocacy by creating confusion about its goal, divergence from rights-promoting strategies, and delusion about what constitutes progress toward animal rights. People have helped animals in countless ways for thousands of years without promoting rights for them. Promoting rights means describing the rights other animals need to lead fulfilling lives, why meaningful protection is impossible without rights, and why human beings as well as other animals will benefit when all have the rights they need.
And we find things like rape, murder and even warfare among non-human apes also. If we intervene in one case, then it's speciesist not to intervene in the other.
Suppose we're dealing with a pedophile, a rapist, a serial killer or a psychopathic arsonist that has a genetic tendency to do what he has been doing. Now what are we going to do? Lock him up for life? Wouldn't it clearly be the most humane solution to administer a pill that would cure him of his violent needs and enable him to live a normal social life? Wouldn't that clearly be best for everyone concerned? - So what's the argument against this pill for non-human serial killers?
Brandon, we all get frustrated when others don't agree with out perspective. But I don't think you are being entirely fair to suggest advocacy of compassionate intevention is somehow "fascist". A universal concern for weak, vulnerable and suffering animals regardless of race or species is as diametically opposed to fascism as any ethic I know.
I've noticed that the term "utilitarianism" has become an all-purpose term of abuse in the animal advocate community. But presumably you believe that your approach to the living world will lead to better overall consequences for the well-being of sentient creatures than the adoption of utilitarian policy prescriptions. If this is so, then these supposed utilitarian policy prescriptions weren't really mandated by a utilitarian ethic at all.
I don't think my definition of sentience is questionable. If it turns out that there are even more sentient creatures than we had supposed, so be it. I will gladly take their suffering into account as well and try to reduce it to the best of my abilities. (But what do you mean by vegetables "registering emotion"? I have not seen any convincing research to the effect that plants can feel pain, which would hardly make evolutionary sense.)
Well, we have been "playing God" for at least 10'000 years now. Culture is playing God, and things like biotechnology and medicine are particularly striking examples. Our life expectancy would still be down to 30 had we not chosen to play God. And thank God we're continuing to do it. (For if we don't play God, who will?)
Regarding natural resources and wild as well as domesticated animals, the problem is that we have not been playing God but Devil. But there would be nothing wrong with playing God, quite the contrary.
While we may not be computers (at least not classical ones), we certainly are very complex (bio-)machines. And we know from medicine that they can in principle be fixed just like machines. (Fortunately!) Considering the gruesome effect that genes coding e.g. for carnivorism or aggression or horrible diseases have, we can properly describe them as "genetic malware".
When will you stop imposing your views on farmed animals by wanting to "liberate" them or even exterminate them by stopping the breeding programs? When will you stop imposing your views on human predators? On human serial killers and rapists? - This argument is no worse than the ones you're using against me.
Regarding ecology (and the alleged additional damage that our interventions could cause), please do finally go read this http://arzone.ning.com/profiles/blogs/debunking-the-idyllic-view-of... important paper. Having to address the same fallacious arguments all over again is tedious.
Evolution's purpose is to optimize gene spread and dispersal, not the well-being of the poor creatures that it creates. Have you grasped the horrible fact that the vast majority of wild animals die gruesome deaths as children already? (See the Horta paper.) Wanting to preserve this while being aware of it is sadistic.
Why should it matter who was around first? What matters is that those who are around now and in the future will have to suffer less.
"The vast majority of animals being tortured are tortured legally in factory farms every day, which is what we have created."
That's simply a lie that we're telling us in order to be able to sustain the comfortable myth of nature as "harmonious" and "balanced". There are many more wild animals than humans and domesticated animals combined. And the vast majority of them die painful deaths as babies or children already. Read the paper. (And again, I'm not denying that abolishing factory farms should be our current practical priority. We'll only be able to really address wild animal suffering when our society will have accepted that it should itself go vegan.)
Have a good day! :) Thanks to your ancestors's God-play, I'm sure you won't have trouble surviving. And answering me in the evening.
David, it is indeed fascinating how many AR people seem to believe that their approach will have the best consequences for the animals in this world and that consequentialism is fascism. What's going on?
Adriano. Regarding my earlier post and subsequent posts. I had read the paper by Horta when you posted the link earlier in this discussion. Interesting but not well written and does not present a compelling argument. I guess to sum up;
Sorry not sure what happened but got thrown out for some reason. Anyway, to continue, your argument seem to be based on the supposition that human animals are superior to all other life forms and are consequently somehow entitled to decide what happens to other species.
Your statement that factory farms are "simply a lie that we're telling us in order to be able to sustain the comfortable myth of nature as "harmonious" and "balanced", is quite surprising because it is manifestly fallacious. Actually, what you seem to be doing is moving the responsibility for animal suffering from human animals to other animals. Americans for example eat nearly 9 billion chickens a year. That's just one species in one continent. If you take Horta's calculation for suffering, then you can't ignore the pain and suffering endured from human made factory farms given that many of these animals spend months or years in misery.
Even Horta states in his paper he is not unsympathetic to the view that humans have screwed up the environment and should leave it alone. Experience has shown that it is in the restoration of the environment that give the best results.
I recognise you will not accept my views. My concerns are that humans have tried before to create the best through genetic manipulation. The problem here is that it is based on whose idea of what's perfect? The Nazis saw the Aryan race as the ideal. The early settlers in Australia believed that the Aborigines were backwards and the best thing to do was to assimilate the children as the belief was that their colour would disappear through assimilation into the white society. Humans once saw wolves in the USA as vermin. We destroyed the Tasmanian Tiger. We are now doing it to our kangaroos. The ecosystem is fragile, and humans are not that great at managing the environment. We are too greedy, too short sighted, not great at thinking and have far too much arrogance and hubris.
I consider that the the best thing we can do for animals is to try to fix the damage we have done through the proliferation of factory farms, use of animals in experiments and so on, and leave wildlife alone. I have no issue about picking up injured wildlife and taking it to the vet to be euthanased if necessary or fixed and released back into the wild. In times of famine, sure help them out as it is largely human mismanagement of the environment that's making it harder for animals to find habitat and water. other than that, leave them alone.
Your misrepresentations are huge, Kerry. For one thing, I said that it was a lie that the vast majority of animal suffering and death went on in factory farms. Sure, there's an unspeakable amount of suffering and death going on there. But an even greater amount is occurring in nature. That was my point, your overall statement was simply false. And for another, I never said we are "superior" in any ethical sense. We do evidently have superior power to change the world, yes, for better or for worse. And what I'm saying is that we should use this power not to harm other animals, but to help them to the best of our abilities. Sure, that will entail making decisions. But you are making them too - and necessarily so. Abolishing factory farming is a decision - and a good one. Not wanting to even try to do something about the fact that the vast majority of wild animals die horrible deaths as children already is a decision as well - and a bad one.
Your criticism of genetic alterations is deeply ironic. Can't you see what the fault was with Nazism and the like? It was racist, social-darwinistic etc. But that's got nothing to do with what we are all about. We are about reducing horrible pain and suffering - regardless of race, species, physical or mental capacities or whatever. We reject all forms of discrimination (racism, speciesism, ableism etc.).
Now how is your criticism contradictory and ironic? You say that we're not entitled to say what's "perfect". But if so, you should immediately stop declaring greed, short-sightedness, bad thinking and arrogance imperfect. You see? You're judging what's perfect and what's not. And that's fine! Making such judgements is not problematic per se, we can't avoid making them. We should just be careful and make sure we get them right. It's very clear, for instance, that it would be better (for everyone concerned!) if human beings were endowed with a genome that increased their capacities for and tendencies towards compassionate and intelligent behaviour. What could possibly be wrong with such genetic alterations?
Kerry, we should distinguish between the idea of using genetic engineering to create an ideal world and genetic intervention to prevent indisputable harm. Thus we can now treat the otherwise lethal Severe Combined Immunodeficiency (SCID) syndrome with gene therapy. No one would dispute that it is profoundly harmful to be born without a functioning immune system.
A (big) complication is that some animals are born with a genetic predisposition to cause severe harm - indisputable harm - to other animals. There is nothing culturally relative about the harm carnivorous predators cause their "prey". To be asphyxiated, disemboweled or eaten alive is profoundly harmful to the victim by any criterion at all. In humans, the genetic predisposition to cause harm to others is no more than the term suggests: a mere predisposition. Nature may have "designed" male humans to be hunters/warriors; but we are not obligate carnivores. Humans can choose to live a pacific, cruelty-free vegan lifestyle.
In the case of obligate carnivores, however, this option isn't feasible - even if the predatory carnivores understood the implications of what they are doing. If they had the cognitive competence to do so, they would be horrified - but empathetic, mind-reading skills are a late evolutionary innovation.
If in future humans use biotechnology to protect other sentient animals from being asphyxiated, disemboweled or eaten alive, this will not be a case of humans arrogantly imposing our values - for it is in no one's interest to suffer such a ghastly fate. Rather we'll be accepting our obligation to prevent severe and avoidable harm to our fellow creatures - precisely what being an animal advocate is all about.
Thanks but we will have to agree to disagree here. Adriano for the record I have not misrepresented my case at all. You have not understood my point. My personal view is that we as humans have no right to start genetic manipulation of other species, that is to take away the rights of animals by what would be fairly brutal and aggressive intervention that will require a degree of cruelty to initiate. By that I mean capture and imprisonment etc. It is a noble aim to end death and suffering en masse, but to do so will require the virtual extinction of several top order carnivorous species. You would need to manipulate the entire ecosystem, kill off or sterilise vast numbers of lower order animals, reptiles, fish, birds and insects to enable plant and water sustainability. You will need to reduce the numbers of humans dramatically.
For your edification my concerns are not about an 'ideal' world as opposed to prevention of harm. The world is a very imperfect place, but it operates as a perfect ecosystem. Nothing that has been said by either of you has moved me towards seeing value in the manipulation of the environment, rather the opposite. Humans know exceptionally little about this planet we live on. We know less about the deepest depths of the ocean than we do about the Moon.I also think that it is a huge assumption to make that animals, wherever they appear on the order, are cognitively unaware of what they are doing. There has been evidence of animals forming attachments to other species, film of a hippo charging a crocodile to save a young gazelle and trying to get it out of the water, that sort of thing. Animals are constantly amazing. I think that we can support animals through things like drought and water shortages, rescue when they fall into mud pits and so on. But my view is we should otherwise take a non-intervention stand and leave them alone. To do otherwise is to make judgements about the value of some animal species over others and then we get caught in a circle. Do not be mistaken, if you genetically change a lion you no longer have a lion.
I think we have exhausted this line of discussion so perhaps will be good to just let my post go without reply.
Enjoy your weekend.
Yeah, we'd no longer have lions, they would have evolved, like they have been for millions of years. There's nothing wrong with that. We should be evolving bio(psycho)logically further too - to a more empathetic, intelligent, healthy and happy stage.
Let me just remind you of the fact that due to the wasteful, but evolutionarily successful reproduction strategies the vast majority of wild animals die gruesome deaths as children already (starvation, disease, injury, predation). And there are many more of them than humans and domesticated animals combined. Do you really want this planetary massacre to go on ad infinitum? Making a judgement about the value of this hell is no more problematic than making a judgement about the value of factory farming. We should try to stop it. We already know quite a lot about how the environment and how "food chains" (what a perverse thing!) work. Furthermore, if we look at the rate at which scientific knowledge and technology progresses, there's no doubt that at some point in the future we will know enough. (We could start setting up special research programs right now. They should be comparable in scale to the Moon landing program.) What is more, we could hardly make matters worse given the fact that the status quo is so horrible. So any risks that the project may entail must be compared not only to the risks, but to the certain catastrophes that will result from doing nothing.
Thank you, same to you. But believe me, I don't enjoy disagreements. ;) What I most enjoy is being proven wrong and admitting that I was wrong, it's like winning the lottery (http://lesswrong.com/lw/88i/link_being_proven_wrong_is_like_winning...). And right after that comes getting others to admit that they were wrong.
And one last remark: You are again appealing to the "wisdom" of nature. But there is no such thing. Nature is cruelly indifferent to its creatures. Things go wrong all the time in nature. And geo(bio)logically speaking, nature is basically a series of mega-catastrophes. At present, there simply is no such thing as a "healthy eco-system" - at least if you care about animal rights. 99% of all the species that have ever walked this planet have gone extinct. And this will be our fate too if we don't ultimately manage to set up high-tech defense systems against the cruel indifference of nature. (At the same time, I'm obviously not denying that (bio-)technological culture is dangerous too. But it's still the only thing that can protect us and other animals against nature.)
Hi Carolyn! I totally agree with you. I cannot believe that that animal rights advocates can suggest we interfere with the lives of free-living animals. THe eradication of predators and scavenges would rid the oceans of the vast majority of its animals. The great wales (even those thought to be vegan are not! Krill and half the plankton are free-living animals), dolphins, seal, sea lions, and practically every other mammal would go together with all the sharks and about 40% of all fish species. The number of invertebrates that are carnivorous is staggering. The open oceans would be barren! I could do a similar audit for land animals but is too depressing.
I have been a Vegan for over 30 years and state that my religion is Ethical Veganism on all documents but I would leave the movement tomorrow if I thought that being an advocate for animal rights meant that I was campaigning for the elimination of the Earth's ecosystems.
There is one species on this planet that needs controlling - humans. They are the ones who wilfully and knowingly harm sentient beings including there own kind. Our fight should be to persuade all humans to become Vegans, to reduce human populations, learn to respects all free-living organisms and give back land to allow natural ecosystems can re-establish themselves. Finally we should take from the Earth as little as possible and leave nature to take care of itself!