Do animals have rights?

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Do animals have rights?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Fri Mar 30, 2012 5:33 pm

Most people believe that their fellow human beings have natural rights, such as the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Do you think that animals also have rights? Why or why not?
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Re: Do animals have rights?

Postby Wil Bane on Mon Dec 31, 2012 7:00 pm

Yes, animals do have rights. They are of the same nature we are.
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Re: Do animals have rights?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Mon Dec 31, 2012 11:28 pm

Wil Bane wrote:Yes, animals do have rights. They are of the same nature we are.

I don't quite agree. I wrote a blog posting explaining my reasons: http://enlightenedworldview.com/blog/?title=do-animals-have-rights&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1. Take a look if you have time and let me know what you think.
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Re: Do animals have rights?

Postby Wil Bane on Tue Jan 01, 2013 2:27 pm

Brandon Norgaard wrote:
Wil Bane wrote:Yes, animals do have rights. They are of the same nature we are.

I don't quite agree. I wrote a blog posting explaining my reasons: http://enlightenedworldview.com/blog/?title=do-animals-have-rights&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1. Take a look if you have time and let me know what you think.


I can agree with the vast majority. Being that humans are the dominant species, we can kill and eat any other animal we'd like that is fine to eat. (Obviously not other humans, as we know murder and cannibalism is bad for our species. Sadly, it still happens in modern civilized society.) Is that to say that it's ok to just go out and start killing every animal in sight? No. That is inhumane and quite immature. Is poaching wrong? Yes. Again, I believe that to be killing for the thrill. Is killing for trophy wrong? Not as long as you will use the rest of the animal for some good, like eating the meat and giving the leftovers back to nature (putting all the guts out for coyotes to eat is what happens around here). Animal abuse is wrong, such as dog fighting. I do believe animals can feel pain. You pick up a cat by the tail and swing it really fast and hard round and round above your head, it will yelp and hiss in pain. No, I've never done that. My dog runs away in fear and shakes when it hears loud sounds like fireworks and gunshots. (I think that's why he's afraid of the fireworks. Lol.) If you create a computer program that mimics the pain of a cow, it's not a real cow. Computers are not made of organic compounds. They don't have brain tissue, muscle tissue, skeletal tissue, body organs, etc.. They are powered by electricity, and yes, some are some bodily processes. Animals (including humans, of course) are made of body tissues. So, do animals have rights? Yes, but not to the same extent as humans do. They have the right not to be abused. Is it wrong to hunt and kill for food? Not at all. Carnivorous and omnivorous animals do that themselves in the wild. Do plants have rights? Well, seeing as plants provide us with the oxygen we need to breathe and live, I would hope that we don't cut down and/or destroy too many plants. Lol.
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Re: Do animals have rights?

Postby Brandon Norgaard on Wed Jan 02, 2013 11:45 pm

I'll agree with your ethics towards animals for the most part. I do, however, realize that there has to be some limits to what kinds of beings have anything like the consciousness I experience.
Wil Bane wrote:I do believe animals can feel pain. You pick up a cat by the tail and swing it really fast and hard round and round above your head, it will yelp and hiss in pain. No, I've never done that. My dog runs away in fear and shakes when it hears loud sounds like fireworks and gunshots. (I think that's why he's afraid of the fireworks. Lol.) If you create a computer program that mimics the pain of a cow, it's not a real cow. Computers are not made of organic compounds. They don't have brain tissue, muscle tissue, skeletal tissue, body organs, etc.

One fundamental fact we need to first acknowledge is that ethics don't derive solely from physical and material stuff. For any normative ethics, which means that things are right or wrong as a matter of fact, there needs to be a component of this that is nonphysical. I have an experience of consciousness that I know is not merely a function of my physical body. My experience of happiness and suffering, while caused by physical processes, is distinct and nonphysical.

There is then a question of how the physical body causes this conscious experience to happen. There are multiple approaches here. You seem to be going with what is called type parallelism because the parallel between the physical and the nonphysical is based on the type of stuff. So brain functions, nerve endings, etc. are types of physical stuff and what happens to them, based on this theory, causes the experience of pain or suffering in the nonphysical realm. I don't agree with this because I think it makes more sense that this parallelism is made possible by the functions of the body, regardless of what it is made of. I see that brain matter and nerves serve a function and my body has a collection of functional attributes that facilitate this parallelism. When things happen to the body that are against my interest, I experience suffering. When things happen to the body that are in my interest, I experience happiness. As I see it, my body could just as easily be made of computer components, just as long as all of the components performed the same functions. My experiences would then have parallel with this computer rather than with a carbon based human body.

Now, I have to draw the line somewhere. All physical things have some functions, but not everything has experiences. So I then have to figure out what package of functional qualities a being must have to facilitate parallelism and thus to have this experience of happiness or suffering. One obvious functional quality is having interests, which facilitates positive or negative experience. But a tree could be said to have interests, so we need more. I put together a list of functional qualities, and this list includes certain mental functions that only humans seem to have. Only humans, for example, can understand the consequences that their possible future actions might have on the experience of other beings and from this to deliberate over whether to do this or some other action.

Since only humans have all of these qualities, I conclude that only humans have the experience of happiness and suffering, or at least anything close to what I experience, therefore I really don't think animals have rights.
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