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Post 0

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 4:57amSanction this postReply
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You said: "Two gazelles may gore one another to death competing for a female..."

I just feel compelled to point out that this isn't true. ;) Animals who have fight-like mating rituals never actually kill each other. There are biological mechanisms that prevent the violence from escalating to that point, which makes a lot of sense, in evolutionary terms, because a species that was internally violent (i.e., members of the species kill each other) doesn't have as much of a chance of surviving. Usually there's enough population control coming from the environment itself (except perhaps in the case of humans) that no mechanism is needed to pare the population down to prevent it from depleting the surrounding environment.

But overall I liked your article. Good timing, for me, because I'm going to visit a friend this weekend and she warned me that her housemate is a "rabid" environmental/animal rights activist.

Jana



Post 1

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 6:38amSanction this postReply
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I hope this article starts a good thread on this subject. I have not come up with satisfactory answer to the question of animal "rights", and although this article is thought-provoking, I don't find an answer in it. I clearly see that the concept of rights can only apply to a rational animal, but I do believe that sentient animals deserve some protections.
I definitely felt that my cocker spaniel was more loyal,loving and noble than a majority of people I have met.



Post 2

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 7:50amSanction this postReply
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James, what sort of answer are you looking for?



Post 3

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 8:16amSanction this postReply
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James,
"I definitely felt that my cocker spaniel was more loyal,loving and noble than a majority of people I have met."

This is what Hitler said about his dogs as well!!! This is very scary, I hope you are not serious!!!!

Jana,
You said: "Two gazelles may gore one another to death competing for a female..."

I don't claim to be an expert on gazelles - it was sort of symbolic. Anyway, I saw this documentary about Mountain Goats. They hit their horns together so hard that apparently their hooves can be ripped off their feet. I could imagine that such an animal's survival chances won't be high

I also saw how deer in North America are so completely exhausted after rutting season that the weakest are often just picked off by predators, such as coyote, afterwards.




Post 4

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 11:42amSanction this postReply
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Marcus- I was being a bit light, but whereas animals do not have the attributes to be loved as one loves a human being, the love one feels for a pet is real. Barbara and Nathaniel Branden had a dog named Mutnick. NB developed what he called his "Mutnick Principle", as I recall ( I read this about 40 years ago, so give me a break here). It was NB's theory that a large part of the affection one feels for a pet is that they make one feel "visible". I think that is a part of it.
Particularly with dogs, I also think they are final proof ( the cherry on a sundae) that life is beneficent. Dogs evolved to be man's "best friends" in a manner of speech (I know the difference, Marcus, between a friend and a dog, but a dog can be great company, and even this is an understatement of that bond).
Pete- what I am looking for is perhaps some original ideas on man's rules of conduct re: animals.



Post 5

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 11:44amSanction this postReply
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P.S. Marcus, Hitler liked ice cream. DO YOU???



Post 6

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 12:14pmSanction this postReply
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James, the love you feel for your dog, given the visibility he affords you, is completely valid.  But when talking about animal rights as a broader concept, would you feel the same love for a zebra in the middle of a safari?  Not likely, because the giraffe has no intimate connection with you -- it does not belong to you.  Part of the root of love one feels for a pet is the fact that it is one's personal possession -- one that returns love, affection, and loyalty.
 
What I think Marcus is addressing here is the sense that animal rights, in most modern arguments, are placed above those of human rights.  Often that argument comes with the package deal that human progress should be stunted to "save the animals" who can be used to find cures for disease, or that we should interfere in preventing natural habitats from following their due course of evolution.

Though the thought of monkeys being poked and prodded in a laboratory is less than appealing to me, I would rather have it be a monkey than a human being. 
 
 




Post 7

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 12:15pmSanction this postReply
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"P.S. Marcus, Hitler liked ice cream. DO YOU???"

He also liked beautiful women, Walt Disney's Snow White, Broadway musicals (especially those featuring Fred Astaire), representational art, and the music of Puccini and Franz Lehar.

That Hitler liked or disliked something is hardly a sound standard of ethical judgement, methinks.




Post 8

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 12:55pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Cresswell is slightly sensitive to these Hitler allusions. Hitler was a vegetarian who liked Wagner. Mr Cresswell is a vegetarian who likes Wagner. Hahaha!

Linz :-)



Post 9

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 12:56pmSanction this postReply
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Jennifer- I agree with all you say and would never mean to imply any sanction to the animal rights extremists. However, my connection with animals is beyond just those that belong to me. I understand the differences that the word "rational" brings to the definition of man as "rational animal", but I also understand, more than many here, it seems, the "animal" part of that definition, too. We do not know what the higher animals experience. I find Rand's "perceptual animal" vs. "conceptual man" definition neat, but unproven. Whatever turns out to be true, it is undeniable that higher animals "feel" things. I think that humans have obligations of conduct from that fact, but I haven't worked out what that means yet. Does anyone agree with this? Has anyone thought it through?



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Post 10

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 12:57pmSanction this postReply
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"This argument however is flawed. First, the natural state of affairs of animals is not one of “humane dignity” but of harsh conditions with pain and cruelty from fellow animals and an unforgiving environment..." As PJ O'Rourke used to say, ethics is for humans: you can tell the lion all you like that it's wrong, but he'll still chew the guts right out of Bambi.

The call for 'animal rights' is part of an unwelcome trend  in which less and less sentient things are accorded the status of having rights, thus giving status to bearded numb-knuts who claim (somehow) to 'speak for' such things. In this country (New Zealand) we have laws protecting the 'rights' of trees, rocks, mud puddles, and sand dunes, and we have assorted entities crawling over each other eager to speak for them, and (not incidentally) to be paid by the state to do so.

I think the only valid legal protection available comes from the fact that animals are generally owned by someone possessing rights, and the law should reflect the high regard in which particular animals are held. Other than that, on this issue the law should be silent.




Post 11

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 12:59pmSanction this postReply
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Hilter like "Snow White"? Can you imagine what Mel Brooks could do with that?
(Edited by James Kilbourne on 9/24, 11:52am)




Post 12

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 12:26pmSanction this postReply
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Marcus

I don't think many Objectivists would disagree that animals don't have the same right to life as humans, or that purposely inflicting pain on animals is immoral and cruel. But the most difficult questions arise only when you consider the legal context for animal rights.

For instance, animals may not have a right to life, but should they have a legal right to not have unnecessary cruelty (or even just cruelty), inflicted on them? And if so, how should "unnecessary" and "cruelty" be defined, and who should define them?

Are you happy with the position adopted by some libertarians that anything goes as long as its on your own property? Or should animal rights be sorted out on a case-by-case issue, in which case we just leave it up to jurisprudence to sort it out?

(Just as an aside, the whole anti-hunting thing had me literally shaking with anger last week. I'm quite happy to go out and join the next protest if any UK-ites want to come with me).




Post 13

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 1:08pmSanction this postReply
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Tim- I agree with every word you wrote. And every question, particularly.



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Post 14

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 2:39pmSanction this postReply
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Tim wrote: "Are you happy with the position adopted by some libertarians that anything goes as long as its on your own property? Or should animal rights be sorted out on a case-by-case issue, in which case we just leave it up to jurisprudence to sort it out?"

This is an all too common straw man. There are other possible responses than either doing nothing or calling in the law. Refusal to deal with people who (you believe) mistreat animals and publicizing their mistreatment are two.

One of the premises that we need to encourage others to check is that if there's something you don't like then "there oughta be a law".



Post 15

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 2:58pmSanction this postReply
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I am surprised Mr. Machan hasn't responded to this, since he has written a book on this very question, hasn't he?

And has anyone read it yet?
Maybe the sought for answers lie within...




Post 16

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 5:31pmSanction this postReply
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The ultimate answer to shut up "animal rights" advocates is to remind where the concept of rights comes from. All ethics must be grounded in self interest. Everything must be made egoistic, and all subsequent decisions about "good" or "bad" come from the evaluation of how well they have been made egoistic. The act of giving rights to humans is purely for reasons of selfish benefit, and I have no reason to give any living being 20 seconds of concern above and beyond their use and value to me. Were it not in my interests to respect human rights, than I wouldn't, and initiation of force would be fair game. However, humans, being conceptual creatures, exempt themself from this by making it much in my interest to treat them in nonforcible trader relations instead of hunting them. As it stands, most nonhuman animals (except cats, which are adorable), have nothing at all to offer me except for their meat and their leather, and because of technological advantage can pay me no reprisal if I enslave and destroy them. Thusly, I say, harvest them all, grind up their bodies, let them suffer any hell that serves my ends and my life: I will not feel a moment of remorse.



Post 17

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 5:40pmSanction this postReply
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Robert Malcom- thanks. I ordered Machan's book.
Robert Bisno- they are accomplishing wonders with lithium these days..



Post 18

Thursday, September 23, 2004 - 7:39pmSanction this postReply
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James Kilbourne:

Argumentum ad hominem. Factually incorrect argumentum ad hominem, I may add. No psychotherapist has ever diagnosed me with any sort of mood or personality disorder, and i've been around enough that any such diagnosis should have come up by now.

You also have not attacked the argument at all: namely, that all decisions of rights, being of the province of ethics, come from egoism. The decision of whether to grant a class of entities rights or protection of any sort rests ENTIRELY on the egoistic use value thereof. Animals are, for the most part, useful only as raw material.



Post 19

Friday, September 24, 2004 - 4:44amSanction this postReply
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Robert Bisno said:

"Thusly, I say, harvest them all, grind up their bodies, let them suffer any hell that serves my ends and my life: I will not feel a moment of remorse."

James said: "Lithium works wonders these days."

I say, Mr. Bisno, James is letting you off lightly. It is one thing to recognise that animals, being non-conceptual, don't have rights; it is quite another to say that one should impose limitless suffering on them for one's own convenience because one *does* have rights. Precisely because *we* are conceptual, we can generalise our experience of pain - & its anti-life nature - & seek, as a logical, human extension of our identification - to avoid/minimise it in our treatment of non-conceptual beings. That, at least, is what any *decent* human being would do.

*Your* argument, Mr Bisno, is that because animals cannot do so, we, who have choice, should behave exactly as they, who do not have choice, behave. That marks you out as a sick, evil fuck. Lithium is not the answer for monsters like you - the treatment you would mete out to animals is.

I had the incomparable joy of the company of a female German Shepherd dog for fourteen years. It didn't match the quality of my human relationship at that time, but it was close, for both Glenn and me. If you had come to her, intent on "grinding her up & letting her suffer any hell" that served your life, *you* would not be alive today, because *I* would have murdered you, & humanity would be better off for *her* existence & your non-existence. Take this crap back to the ARI where it belongs, you Mengelian psycho!!

Linz
(Edited by Lindsay Perigo on 9/24, 4:59am)




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