Animal Rights Zone

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:
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"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.
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"For example, how to manage an ecosystem once you start removing elements."
Once you start? We're doing that already! Like I said, Adriano and David have appropriate qualifications here (e.g., needing more research, not acting prematurely) that directly address this concern (and all other concerns you've raised). You seem unable to read their qualifications. You seem to think you're coming up with a novel criticisms rather than just repeating concerns that they themselves have acknowledged and addressed.

Just because humans (particularly those who are in power, such as heads of nation-states and transnational corporations) are destroying ecosystems now doesn't mean that it should continue.

Kerry has mentioned feeding carnivores and other non-herbivores to reduce predation. I oppose this idea for all the reasons mentioned earlier (dependency leading to domestication, health issues, attacks on humans who aren't carrying food, etc). Non-intervention in natural predator-prey relations is the fair and just solution.

Do you think the billions of "prey" animals that are eaten alive would agree with your views on "fairness" and "justice", Brandon? Do you think the predators would be opposed to their herbivorization if they knew what they were doing and if it were a safe procedure (as it may be in the future)? What about yourself, would you prefer to remain an obligate carnivore forever if you were one and go on killing other animals each day? Or would you want to have your genome tweaked (or cultured meat fed to you) so as to be able to live on a cruelty-free diet?

Kerry, you're misrepresenting my position. I have always said that we must focus on humans equally and - today - primarily. (I'm doing this in my practical life.) What is more, I have not opposed the proposal to feed carnivores with cultured meat (which will soon become a reality: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2087837/Test-tube-me...). I will support every measure that reduces wild animal suffering.

But again: Predation is not the only problem. Due to "wasteful" reproduction strategies, the majority of wild animals die gruesome deaths as children already. Predation is just one cause here, there's also disease, parasitism, starvation or injury. Do you agree that we should try to alleviate their suffering? (I mean, why not, this case is much more straightforward than the issue of predation, which may involve conflicting rights.) They're helpless and in need. But in order to be able to help them, we need big research programs.

Bonn.  No you are not right.  There have been few responses to any of my concerns to allay my concerns.  And I have not made any claims that my concerns are novel.

Adriano.  My suggestion of cultured meat was to attempt to find a middle ground that might be a reasonable alternative.  You have also stated that humans are excluded from the same treatment you are proposing for other species, and have not said anything about how you think you are going to get human reform.

The reality is that all you and followers of Horta are doing is continuing a long practice of human domination of and cruelty towards animals. You have categorically stated that to do to humans what you are proposing to do to animals would be fascist.  The usual 'animal management', and for that matter fascist management of people whom they consider to be sub-human, follows a pattern.

1. Something is perceived to be 'wrong' with a species or individual

2. Therefore something needs to be done TO the species or individual that frequently entails radical fertility management (e.g. Mengele), surgical procedures or extermination.

3. No other options are usually considered primarily because the aggressors don't even think there might be alternatives and/or are unwilling to go to expenses concerned.

For the record;

* I am in complete agreement with Brandon that we should just leave them alone.

* If this were ever to not be the case then extermination and/or genetic 'tweaking' would be completely unsupportable to me from either an environmental or moral ground.

* I find no joy in the killing for food that goes on. I do however accept what goes on in nature, which is the position that Buddhists and Jains generally hold.

* I do consider that the ecosystem is fragile, and the killing does have some benefits as was acknowledged in one of Horta's papers. For example the survival of the fittest argument actually ensures that there won't be the consequences of inbred weakness and a need to take action to address this problem.

* I would no more trust human research into animal management than I would trust Hitler to manage the concentration camps 'humanely'.

* I firmly believe that this planet is on the brink of disaster brought about entirely by human activity, and our behaviour should be the priority target for the benefit of ALL species on earth. If you don't do this then there is no point in this discussion because there won't be much left to manage.

* The raising of these ideas for discussion in animal rights forums are highly dubious, given that they tend to distract people from what the true dangers are, i.e. us.

* I consider that what you are proposing will only add to animal suffering through unintended consequences that I have expressed in earlier posts.

* As I pointed out, to do this research would require massive funding that you won't get from governments. It will come from business with self-interests that are not concerned about animal welfare.

I have to say that I am totally unimpressed with Horta.  Nothing any his followers on this thread have said anything to persuade me that what you are proposing is either viable or moral. 

Kerry, you raise a number of points. I'll try and deal with at them as best I can.

1) You cite continuing and dangerously high human population growth as a reason to deny the importance of contraception. But this increase is now almost exclusively a Third World phenomenon. Developed countries with adequate family  planning programs have undergone the demographic transition:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Demographic_transition
Consider for a moment the alternative. What might our planet might be like if humans did _not_use contraception at all? Malthusian pressures would lead to  suffering on an unimaginable scale and probably  complete ecological collapse. Just because things are bad doesn't mean they couldn't be far worse. Now free-living nonhuman animals do not enjoy the benefits of fertility control. So they suffer accordingly. What principled grounds have we for to discriminate against them and withhold provision of contraception? Certainly we should consider the issue of informed consent - or rather lack of it.  But in what sense do nonhuman animals consent to have more offspring than can possibly survive, let alone flourish? They are victims of pitiless natural selection - just as are humans without access to family planning.

2) You suggest that the goal of phasing out predation is really a case of "getting rid of the animals David and Adrian find personally offensive". No, our personal feelings are incidental. Objective criteria exist of suffering and physical harm e.g. being disembowelled, eaten alive or asphyxiated. It is the victim's perspective that matters, not our personal predilections.

3) Whether one takes a utilitarian perspective that aims to abolish all suffering, or a rights-based perspective that affirms every sentient being has a right not to be harmed, we're talking about a long-term goal here. Ethically speaking, if we wanted to provide cradle-to-the-grave healthcare and support for every elephant on the planet, then both technically and financially we could do so now. But if we wanted to provide the same level of healthcare and support to every sentient being of all phyla, not just in our wildlife parks but in the deep oceans, then we'll need to await developments in nanorobotics, biotech and artificial intelligence that are decades away. Such utopian-sounding technologies strike most of us as fanciful. Yet there is no fundamental principle of nature that dictates sentient beings need suffer harm once biological robots master the technology to rewrite their own source code.

4) You reproach us with not considering human predation. But it is precisely the impartial desire to phase out human and nonhuman predation alike - regardless of race or species - that underpins the most controversial aspect of humanity's future stewardship and compassionate  intervention in the living world i.e. "reprogramming" predators. Rhetoric aside, we don't want to "exterminate" human predators. But we do favour intervention, namely behavioural modification. In the case of predatory obligate carnivores, behavioural modification alone won't suffice to prevent harm to the vulnerable.. But even here, low-tech solutions that don't involve genetic tweaking will soon be feasible e.g. the provision of abundant in vitro mincemeat.

5) You cite the issue of cost. Yes, in the short-term this is a major problem. But the nature of information-based technologies is such that cost tends to fall to zero over time. The exponential growth of computing power looks set to continue for decades or more. (cf. Moore's law http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moore's_law ) If even the humblest sentient beings suffer harm, misery and violent death next century, then their unpleasant fate won't come about because prevention is too costly or technically demanding to implement. Rather it will come about because humans choose to preserve such cruelties in the guise of conservation biology.

David, this discussion has become somewhat circular and I rather expect that there are a whole bunch of AR Zone members who gave up on this a long time ago.  So, this is probably going to be my last comment, unless something radical happens and new information enters the discussion.  I can hear the cheering from here!

I do however wish to correct you on a couple of things.

Firstly, I did not say that I deny the importance of contraception because of continuing and dangerously high population growth.  The point I was making is that if your premise about the use of technology and human use of it were correct, then human population would be much lower and animals much higher.  I.e., not on the point of extinction.

On the human race, you appear to have far greater trust in humanity than I do. Technology as you said is already there to resolve a number of issues, but humans won't do so.  Rare individuals sacrifice, most do not and least of all those who own the technologies. Witness for example the fight that the African 3rd world countries had to go through to be able to buy the cheaper generic AIDS medication. This isn't an aberration it's business as usual.  Tobacco companies are now moving into Asia to build new markets.  They have calculated they need to make an addict every 15 minutes to replace someone who dies from tobacco related illness, and they are now targeting 10 year olds. Trustworthiness?  I don't think so.

The main issue here is how you regard animals compared to myself.  I see them as separate entities with rights, including the fundamental right to be left alone.  I do not agree that we have the rights to dictate and interfere with their lives in the wild.  I consider what you are proposing to be the greater evil, which has largely come about by an arrogance and hubris that pervades humanity at this time and which has led to the tipping point we are now rapidly approaching.  No you are not showing respect or consideration for animals and their rights. 

My one concession mentioned was about artificial meat.  I would perhaps tolerate this if it meant that it would be done in place of the interventions you advocate, and in such a way that animals could go on living as naturally as possible.  The other reason of course why this might be necessary is due to human destruction of ecosystems and habitat.  They are already dying out because of our interference, if that could be reversed for the tigers and so on then that would be a good outcome.

Of the examples provided in other links to justify human intervention, the two that I know about caused me concern because they were misleading.

The only morally and ethically justifiable position we should take towards animals in the wild is let them be.  The only justifiable intervention is to attempt to reverse the harm we have done by, for example, returning habitat to them and repairing the ecosystem.

As a final point I would suggest that the earth will not tolerate the interventions you suggest.  If you consider Lovelock's Gaia theory   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_hypothesis   I think there is reasonable evidence to regard the planet as a self-organising system.  Autopoiesis is a term commonly used.

As I said, I don't think I can contribute any more to this discussion as it's going around in circles.  If what you have proposed should ever be considered I will raise my strong objections in the relevant fora.

Kerry, the right not to be harmed - to be left alone - should indeed be respected. But this ethic leads to radically different policy implications depending on whether we view nonhuman animals as 
1) sentient individuals each of whose interest in not being harmed needs to be protected 
or
 2) a collectivity whose members should be allowed to prey upon and otherwise harm each other free from human intervention.

Actually, as you know, I think our obligations to other sentient beings extend beyond mere protection of bodily integrity from physical harm at the hands of human and nonhuman animals. But even the minimal individual right not to be harmed and left alone has extremely radical policy implications if taken seriously i.e. a world without predation.

A discussion of the Gaia hypothesis here would probably take us too far afield. Let's just say the idea has not found critical acceptance in the scientific community - which is not (I'll readily grant) the same as saying the hypothesis is definitively false.

I agree . Nature takes care of its own. There is a natural food chain in nature and we have to stop being so arrogant in feeling humans have the right to change that.  We should not try to change something that has worked for countless years just because we can. Or we can try.
 
Brandon Becker said:

If that was the case, I would forgo my support for animal rights. As it stands, no animal rights theory that I've heard of supports eradicating predation - all deal exclusively with human actions. It seems the only advocates who want to do away with predation are extreme utilitarians like David Pearce. I regard such positions as speciesist (because it persecutes carnivores who must kill to survive), ecologically absurd (because predation is necessary to control populations), arrogant (to assume that humans should police nature and have the means to do so), and a pathological product of humans' domestication through "civilization."

Arrogant to say that the fundamental interests of others are not important.

Wend Watts said:

I agree . Nature takes care of its own. There is a natural food chain in nature and we have to stop being so arrogant in feeling humans have the right to change that.  We should not try to change something that has worked for countless years just because we can. Or we can try.
 
Brandon Becker said:

If that was the case, I would forgo my support for animal rights. As it stands, no animal rights theory that I've heard of supports eradicating predation - all deal exclusively with human actions. It seems the only advocates who want to do away with predation are extreme utilitarians like David Pearce. I regard such positions as speciesist (because it persecutes carnivores who must kill to survive), ecologically absurd (because predation is necessary to control populations), arrogant (to assume that humans should police nature and have the means to do so), and a pathological product of humans' domestication through "civilization."

Who is to be the person, or group of people who decides what those fundamental interests are, and who are they actually important to? 

Are humans really capable of deciding which interests should be respected and which should not in regard to the needs and desires of other species? 

Its the responsibility of human being to protect the rights of animals.Thanks for the link.Divorce lawyers sydney

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Egoism is an arbitrary discrimination. And it is ethically irrelevant whether they are animals of other species.

Carolyn Bailey said:

Who is to be the person, or group of people who decides what those fundamental interests are, and who are they actually important to? 

Are humans really capable of deciding which interests should be respected and which should not in regard to the needs and desires of other species? 

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