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"Because we can," ethics in scientific experiments

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  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    If you're going to do substitution, substitute this:


    Animals cannot be made to obey the social contract of a fair society, so they should not be awarded the rights given to humans who can.
    If you honestly think that it's okay to hurt anything that can't obey a social contract, and thus it's okay to go around giving dogs swift kicks to the ribs and torturing cats for fun and so on, then that's wonderful, but I think you've probably lost the argument.

    I don't think animals need to be treated exactly like humans. Obviously humans get the right to vote, for instance, and animals don't. I've said this before in this thread. What I've also said is that when it comes to pain and suffering, animals need to be treated exactly like humans, at least for animals like dogs which pretty clearly feel the same kind of pain that we do.

    And for more evidence that what we have against animals is prejudice rather than anything principled, I would point everyone in this thread to @Captain Marcus who apparently comes into a forum labeled "Debate & Discourse" looking for neither because he is so sure of his prejudices that he won't even deign to debate them with someone who thinks they have arguments against them.

    edit: and just so anyone doesn't get the wrong idea, I don't think pets are like slaves. I think pets are like adopted children. I think animals that are forced to work (like draft animals) are like slaves, although they don't have to be - if draft animals are treated well, they could be like adopted children that help out around the farm! It all depends on how we think about them and what priority we give to their needs and desires.

    It is very okay to torture animals for fun; it's called hunting. We just don't like to do it to dogs because they're cute or whatever, but that has no bearing on anything. It's a cultural bias we have against ugly animals (which include insects). If you think it's okay to kick an attacking badger but not okay to kick an attacking dog, that's not based on any kind of morality. If you think it's okay to squish a bug but not squish a cat, you're just squeamish unless you can come up with an objective rubric other than adorability.

    Also "adopted children that help out around the farm" are as much like slaves as animals are like slaves with this analogy. It's not like slaves were universally badly treated. The most important distinction between slavery and animal ownership is that slaves had the capability of being free, power owning citizens all along. The whipping and the forced labor and lack of choice also make slavery, but the worst connotation is lost and it's slavery without the fangs, which is still not even unethical. At this point, slavery comparisons cannot remain a trigger for determining what's morally wrong or not.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Paladin wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    If you're going to do substitution, substitute this:


    Animals cannot be made to obey the social contract of a fair society, so they should not be awarded the rights given to humans who can.
    If you honestly think that it's okay to hurt anything that can't obey a social contract, and thus it's okay to go around giving dogs swift kicks to the ribs and torturing cats for fun and so on, then that's wonderful, but I think you've probably lost the argument.

    I don't think animals need to be treated exactly like humans. Obviously humans get the right to vote, for instance, and animals don't. I've said this before in this thread. What I've also said is that when it comes to pain and suffering, animals need to be treated exactly like humans, at least for animals like dogs which pretty clearly feel the same kind of pain that we do.

    And for more evidence that what we have against animals is prejudice rather than anything principled, I would point everyone in this thread to @Captain Marcus who apparently comes into a forum labeled "Debate & Discourse" looking for neither because he is so sure of his prejudices that he won't even deign to debate them with someone who thinks they have arguments against them.

    edit: and just so anyone doesn't get the wrong idea, I don't think pets are like slaves. I think pets are like adopted children. I think animals that are forced to work (like draft animals) are like slaves, although they don't have to be - if draft animals are treated well, they could be like adopted children that help out around the farm! It all depends on how we think about them and what priority we give to their needs and desires.

    It is very okay to torture animals for fun; it's called hunting. We just don't like to do it to dogs because they're cute or whatever, but that has no bearing on anything. It's a cultural bias we have against ugly animals (which include insects). If you think it's okay to kick an attacking badger but not okay to kick an attacking dog, that's not based on any kind of morality. If you think it's okay to squish a bug but not squish a cat, you're just squeamish unless you can come up with an objective rubric other than adorability.

    Also "adopted children that help out around the farm" are as much like slaves as animals are like slaves with this analogy. It's not like slaves were universally badly treated. The most important distinction between slavery and animal ownership is that slaves had the capability of being free, power owning citizens all along. The whipping and the forced labor and lack of choice also make slavery, but the worst connotation is lost and it's slavery without the fangs, which is still not even unethical. At this point, slavery comparisons cannot remain a trigger for determining what's morally wrong or not.
    Here is where we diverge. You think kicking a dog in the face is not wrong. I think it's wrong. Anyone who agrees with you needs convincing that I'm not really in the mood for, aside from pointing out that you think kicking a baby in the face is wrong even though the baby can't sign the social contract and blah blah blah I've been through this four of five times without any response from you as far as I can tell. I'm willing instead to start with the assumption that people agree with me that when someone takes a kitten and slowly crushes the life out of it, they're not just doing something distasteful, they're doing something that's actually wrong.

    If you think "adopted children that help out around the farm" are much like slaves, then you will either be in favor of slavery or against the right of farms to adopt children, either of which is fine (although both sound odd to me). Animals, though, have the ability to be free too. I'm not sure where you think animals lived before farms were invented, but they definitely lived somewhere where they weren't enslaved.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • ElJeffeElJeffe Moderator, ClubPA mod
    edited August 2012
    You know, I think when we get to the point where we are making comparisons between horses and black people as if they are actually the same thing, the conversation has gone to a really weird place.

    Like, the whole argument strikes me as a sort of ethical shorthand for people too intellectually lazy to bother thinking about why we grant any entity moral value to begin with.

    ElJeffe on
    Maddie: "I named my feet. The left one is flip and the right one is flop. Oh, and also I named my flip-flops."

    I make tweet.
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    If you're going to do substitution, substitute this:


    Animals cannot be made to obey the social contract of a fair society, so they should not be awarded the rights given to humans who can.
    If you honestly think that it's okay to hurt anything that can't obey a social contract, and thus it's okay to go around giving dogs swift kicks to the ribs and torturing cats for fun and so on, then that's wonderful, but I think you've probably lost the argument.

    I don't think animals need to be treated exactly like humans. Obviously humans get the right to vote, for instance, and animals don't. I've said this before in this thread. What I've also said is that when it comes to pain and suffering, animals need to be treated exactly like humans, at least for animals like dogs which pretty clearly feel the same kind of pain that we do.

    And for more evidence that what we have against animals is prejudice rather than anything principled, I would point everyone in this thread to @Captain Marcus who apparently comes into a forum labeled "Debate & Discourse" looking for neither because he is so sure of his prejudices that he won't even deign to debate them with someone who thinks they have arguments against them.

    edit: and just so anyone doesn't get the wrong idea, I don't think pets are like slaves. I think pets are like adopted children. I think animals that are forced to work (like draft animals) are like slaves, although they don't have to be - if draft animals are treated well, they could be like adopted children that help out around the farm! It all depends on how we think about them and what priority we give to their needs and desires.

    It is very okay to torture animals for fun; it's called hunting. We just don't like to do it to dogs because they're cute or whatever, but that has no bearing on anything. It's a cultural bias we have against ugly animals (which include insects). If you think it's okay to kick an attacking badger but not okay to kick an attacking dog, that's not based on any kind of morality. If you think it's okay to squish a bug but not squish a cat, you're just squeamish unless you can come up with an objective rubric other than adorability.

    Also "adopted children that help out around the farm" are as much like slaves as animals are like slaves with this analogy. It's not like slaves were universally badly treated. The most important distinction between slavery and animal ownership is that slaves had the capability of being free, power owning citizens all along. The whipping and the forced labor and lack of choice also make slavery, but the worst connotation is lost and it's slavery without the fangs, which is still not even unethical. At this point, slavery comparisons cannot remain a trigger for determining what's morally wrong or not.
    Here is where we diverge. You think kicking a dog in the face is not wrong. I think it's wrong. Anyone who agrees with you needs convincing that I'm not really in the mood for, aside from pointing out that you think kicking a baby in the face is wrong even though the baby can't sign the social contract and blah blah blah I've been through this four of five times without any response from you as far as I can tell. I'm willing instead to start with the assumption that people agree with me that when someone takes a kitten and slowly crushes the life out of it, they're not just doing something distasteful, they're doing something that's actually wrong.

    If you think "adopted children that help out around the farm" are much like slaves, then you will either be in favor of slavery or against the right of farms to adopt children, either of which is fine (although both sound odd to me). Animals, though, have the ability to be free too. I'm not sure where you think animals lived before farms were invented, but they definitely lived somewhere where they weren't enslaved.

    Babies have the capability to grow into individuals able to obey the social contract, while animals do not.

    It is your job to find out the actual difference between kicking a dog and shooting a deer, unless you equate the two, which you also need to state because that is not the norm view.

    Forgetting about extraneous information like farming and adoption, children can be made to do labor by their parents without consent or recompense. This is slavery in name, but it is an accepted form of slavery. That's why the continual analogies to slavery aren't going over too well - slavery is not an absolute evil; it needs more context. Genocide, for instance, isn't an absolute evil when talking about mosquitos or controlled forest fires that eliminate sunlight-blocking brush. That's why shock tactics like word replacement and using hyperbolic hypotheticals should be used sparingly.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    You know, I think when we get to the point where we are making comparisons between horses and black people as if they are actually the same thing, the conversation has gone to a really weird place.

    Like, the whole argument strikes me as a sort of ethical shorthand for people too intellectually lazy to bother thinking about why we grant any entity moral value to begin with.

    It doesn't matter to me personally how ridiculous arguments may or may not get as long as they're something someone actually believes, since every belief can stand to be analyzed. I don't really see the harm as long as we don't start loading the arguments into insult cannons.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    You know, I think when we get to the point where we are making comparisons between horses and black people as if they are actually the same thing, the conversation has gone to a really weird place.

    Like, the whole argument strikes me as a sort of ethical shorthand for people too intellectually lazy to bother thinking about why we grant any entity moral value to begin with.
    I think it makes more sense to argue that an idea is wrong rather than just to throw personal attacks at the people who hold the idea, but to honestly call someone like Peter Singer "intellectually lazy" sounds pretty strange to me. Peter Singer is one of the most celebrated philosophers alive today and he has made important contributions to a number of debates in applied ethics. The idea that he has not though about "why we grant any entity moral value to begin with" is very strange, even more so because he's hardly the only one to have said this sort of stuff. Jeremy Bentham, one of the fathers of utilitarianism, made basically the same argument hundreds of years ago, and if Bentham was intellectually lazy then I'm a pigeon. As for myself I can say that I've certainly thought about that quite a bit too, and if I thought any of it was relevant to whether we can use non-human animals to experiment on, then I would be talking about it. I don't think any of it's really relevant, though, because Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer have a simple argument that I am appropriating: when it comes to causing pain, it is unacceptable to draw an arbitrary line between creatures it is okay to cause pain to and creatures that it is not okay to cause pain to, and to distinguish between humans and non-humans animals is to draw exactly such an arbitrary line and it is also to make the same mistake that a racist does when they draw an arbitrary line between members of their own race and those of other races.

    edit: Paladin, there is no difference between kicking a dog and shooting a deer (unless the deer dies a painless death, which complicates matters, but let's just say it doesn't). You're right that I don't have the majority view, but neither do you, because you say kicking a dog is OK, which almost nobody believes. I actually have an argument for why I'm right: I say that drawing a line between dogs and deer is arbitrary, so you have to either give up your dog beliefs or your deer beliefs, and your dog beliefs are stronger. Do you have an argument for why we should instead give up our beliefs that kicking a dog is right in order to salvage our belief that hurting a deer is OK? Because you have a long ways to go to do that - I doubt most hunters would accept that kicking a dog would be okay, and in fact I know hunters who would probably beat you up if you kicked their dog.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    You know, I think when we get to the point where we are making comparisons between horses and black people as if they are actually the same thing, the conversation has gone to a really weird place.

    Like, the whole argument strikes me as a sort of ethical shorthand for people too intellectually lazy to bother thinking about why we grant any entity moral value to begin with.
    I think it makes more sense to argue that an idea is wrong rather than just to throw personal attacks at the people who hold the idea, but to honestly call someone like Peter Singer "intellectually lazy" sounds pretty strange to me. Peter Singer is one of the most celebrated philosophers alive today and he has made important contributions to a number of debates in applied ethics. The idea that he has not though about "why we grant any entity moral value to begin with" is very strange, even more so because he's hardly the only one to have said this sort of stuff. Jeremy Bentham, one of the fathers of utilitarianism, made basically the same argument hundreds of years ago, and if Bentham was intellectually lazy then I'm a pigeon. As for myself I can say that I've certainly thought about that quite a bit too, and if I thought any of it was relevant to whether we can use non-human animals to experiment on, then I would be talking about it. I don't think any of it's really relevant, though, because Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer have a simple argument that I am appropriating: when it comes to causing pain, it is unacceptable to draw an arbitrary line between creatures it is okay to cause pain to and creatures that it is not okay to cause pain to, and to distinguish between humans and non-humans animals is to draw exactly such an arbitrary line and it is also to make the same mistake that a racist does when they draw an arbitrary line between members of their own race and those of other races.

    edit: Paladin, there is no difference between kicking a dog and shooting a deer (unless the deer dies a painless death, which complicates matters, but let's just say it doesn't). You're right that I don't have the majority view, but neither do you, because you say kicking a dog is OK, which almost nobody believes. I actually have an argument for why I'm right: I say that drawing a line between dogs and deer is arbitrary, so you have to either give up your dog beliefs or your deer beliefs, and your dog beliefs are stronger. Do you have an argument for why we should instead give up our beliefs that kicking a dog is right in order to salvage our belief that hurting a deer is OK? Because you have a long ways to go to do that - I doubt most hunters would accept that kicking a dog would be okay, and in fact I know hunters who would probably beat you up if you kicked their dog.

    You can go to east asia and find killing a dog to be perfectly acceptable. It is usually then eaten, but not always.

    An objective reason why it's not acceptable here is for a few reasons, none of which clash with our taste for killing deer.

    One is that dogs are usually somebody's property. You get in trouble for damaging somebody's property, and it makes no sense to damage your own property.

    Second, large animals are a good model for human/human violence as well as human/human studies. This may be a reason why humans prone to animal violence later become serial killers. For selfish reasons alone, it is not a good idea to torture domesticated animals.

    Third, dogs in particular reciprocate violence, so for reasons of personal safety and the safety of others, it is not a good idea to familiarize your animal with violence.

    However, if you are going to eat your dog or your snake or your fish, then all you have to fear is the judgmental eye of your neighbor, which is not a good barometer of morality. Fish are a very good example because they are vertebrates that can feel pain, yet we suffocate them and decapitate them while they're thrashing in order to make sashimi. Listen to the kitchen in the back the next time you go to a restaurant with a live aquarium.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • Craw!Craw! Registered User
    Craw! wrote: »
    Non-human animal experimentation is like this except instead of babies we use rats. Can we justify using rats instead of babies? I argue that we cannot. There is no good line to be drawn that is not arbitrary and based on blind unthinking prejudice.

    Where do you draw the line, TychoCelchuuu? Is every organism that has at least one neuron a no-go? Are isolated neurons a no-go?
    The line is ability to feel pain. I don't think anyone thinks that neurons feel anything.

    I could say that saying neurons don't feel anything would be like saying our brains don't feel anything but I'll assume that you meant single neurons. Well, again, where do you draw the line? What counts as feeling pain and how do you know that that is what is going on?

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    MrMister wrote: »
    MrMister wrote: »
    Maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain in humans. Utilitarian morality, like any moral system that doesn't pre-suppose some universal, inherent moral code, is ultimately either selfish or about humans. We can maximize utility based on its impact on us, individually and personally, or based on its impact on humanity as a whole, largely dependent upon whether we think that the species' ability to prosper is a driving goal. In either case, avoiding unnecessary harm to humans is an easily defensible utilitarian moral position.

    Two comments.

    1) Your use of 'utilitarianism' here is pretty non-standard. Utilitarianism is usually taken to be the code that the ultimate good is happiness, which is tightly identified with maximal pleasure and minimal pain, and that actions should be taken in accord to how much either they, or the principles of choice from which they flow, serve to maximize happiness. Of the classical Utilitarians, Bentham saw no difference between humans and animals on this score:
    The French have already discovered that the blackness of skin is no reason why a human being should be abandoned without redress to the caprice of a tormentor. It may come one day to be recognized, that the number of legs, the villosity of the skin, or the termination of the os sacrum, are reasons equally insufficient for abandoning a sensitive being to the same fate... the question is not, Can they reason? nor, Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?... The time will come when humanity will extend its mantle over everything which breathes"

    John Stuart Mill, his protege, thought that there was a difference between humans and animals on this score, but that it had not to do with what they deserved but rather with the sorts of pleasures and pains to which they were susceptible. Pigs cannot, for instance, get any pleasure out of the sublime beauty of the works of ancient philosophy. But he took this to be irrelevant toward the fact that what pleasures and pains they are capable of are morally important in just the same way as those same pleasures and pains are when they occur in humans. Furthermore, all classical Utilitarians, and everyone following in the tradition, has put forth the requirements of the Utilitarian calculus as fully impartial: in Bentham's words it requires "each to count for one, and none for more than one." So Utilitarianism, in standard use, is actually an example of a moral theory which is neither selfish nor about humans.

    In standard philosophical use, but as it applies to experimental and industrial ethics? Humanity has never, on average, given much of a shit about anything that isn't human. Bentham may have believed that there will come a day when we consider our treatment of rats to be equivalent to the 19th century treatment of blacks and Asians, but to what benefit? Why should all things that breath be included? For that matter, why should things that don't breath be excluded? There are some plants with stimulus response systems more complex than some animals; shouldn't we include them? Without significantly more information than modern science possesses, any distinction we choose to make is going to be horribly arbitrary. And even with more knowledge than we have now, any distinction that doesn't include every system in the universe--organic or otherwise, living or otherwise--which has states that may be divided into some binary set of more and less prosperous is, ultimately, arbitrary.

    I have a preference for humanity. Bentham has a preference for things that breath. There are folks out there who think picking fruit off of plants is immoral because it harms the plant; they apparently have a preference for organic systems. Is a star a less complex system than a rat? A rat deprived of food will starve, and this deprivation is immoral because feeding the rat would put it in a more pleasurable state. Is it then not our moral imperative to ensure the sun's supply of hydrogen? What makes one hideously complex physical system more or less important to moral consideration?
    MrMister wrote: »
    2) The 'why' question you ask here--why include animals?--can just as well be asked about the fundamental principles of any moral system. The Kantians think they have a non-question-begging answer, but I (and many others) think that it is not any good. Instead, it seems that there may be some primitives in this area of discourse which are not given much in substantive further explanation and defense. And this is so in all sorts of places--try giving a substantive definition of truth, for instance; even the barest logic must appeal to some notions that are not themselves further argued or explained. So it's not obvious that the why-question cannot be met with "that's simply how it is."

    The why question appears, to me at least, to be the only relevant one here. We can extend moral consideration to any degree, to the extent that essentially any action any human takes could be considered immoral on the basis of its impact on some species of animal, some species of plant, or some equivalently complex non-living system. That extension makes the framework fundamentally useless. It can no longer tell us anything useful about morality because every action aside from submitting to entropy is, in some fashion, immoral.

    Humanity, on average, wants to survive and to thrive. Human pleasure, as a sum over all humans, increases as the prosperity of our species increases. There is abundant historical evidence that subjugating and mistreating any fraction of the human population of a region is objectively worse, over a long enough time scale, for the entire population of the region than to do otherwise. There is no equivalent evidence with regard to animals. Certainly there are limited classes of animals whose survival and prosperity have an influence on that of humanity, either because they provide some resource on which we are dependent or because we've integrated them into our society in such a way that their displeasure affects those humans around them in the same way that human displeasure would. But, by and large, being mean to other living things has no significant impact on humanity.

    No species aside from humanity, and those few animals we've altered through the domestication process to the extent that they now believe humans to be part of their own species' social order, gives a shit about any species aside from its own. Any attempt we make to ensure the pleasure of a non-human species is already rising well above the biological norm. To the extent that there can be a reason for "why should we include non-human, non-sapient creatures in our moral framework", the only obvious one is "because it makes us feel good to do so". In a human-pleasure-maximization calculus, being nice to animals is good. Being nice to plants is good too, for that matter, as is being nice to many non-living systems. And that's the only calculus that I see in evidence over the course of human history.

    We can devise any arbitrary philosophical system of morality we'd like to, but when it comes down to making decisions about what sort of medical and biological research to perform, what kinds of food to farm, and what impact on the environment to allow, pragmatic concerns about the future of the human species have to win out. Until the point where humanity, on average, cares about something other than its own survival more than it cares about continuing to exist, our decisions must be, at most, a selection from among those options which most benefit humanity while least impacting everything else in the universe.

    A moral framework which judges the pleasure of rats equivalent to the pleasure of humans sounds nice but, so long as our species' biological imperative is to survive, it has no business determining whether or not we perform potentially human-life-saving research. Treating the research animals as nicely as possible within the constraints of the research is both scientifically valuable and, via humans' empathetic response, pleasant, but I see no logical reason that we should, as a rule, consider the pleasure of non-humans equally important to our own. Their pleasure, unlike ours, is largely irrelevant to our survival, and survival is the closest thing to a uniform imperative that our species has.

    I don't agree with most of what SKFM has had to say, but I do agree with him that our actions, and indeed our survival, is not inherently important to the universe in any way. Our actions have no inherent import to the world around us. But our survival is inherently important to us. Being moral carries no such intrinsic weight, except within such moral frameworks as support our long-term prosperity as a species. I can't see any logical reason, therefore, to select a moral framework on which to base our ethical considerations in which the prosperity of the human species isn't foremost.

    Nothing would necessarily even change were we to one day locate or create another sapient species. I imagine that, in most cases, it would be in our own long-term best interest to treat them decently. Perhaps we would even find that the mistreatment of other sapient beings has the same effect on human societies that the mistreatment of minorities has; I don't know.

    Two remarks.

    1) You say that it's arbitrary to care about pain, and the functional systems capable of feeling it, without caring about the well-being of other functional systems--like stars, rivers, and lakes and so on. But this is not so arbitrary as you make it out to be. For instance, who's to say that it's better for a star, for its own sake, to keep on burning, rather than to go out? I cannot see why you would pick one rather than the other. Similarly, although we sometimes use intentional language to describe things like rivers--it reaches for the sea--I take such language to be strictly analogical. Strictly speaking, rivers do not reach for anything, and there is no answer to the question of whether a river would rather be dammed or not. Creatures which feel pain, however, do have very obvious, and very asymmetrical answers to these sorts of questions. A rat would most definitely rather not be stabbed; it is better for the rat not to be. A capacity for pleasure and pain, it turns out, is a pre-requisite for having interests at all; since rivers lack it, there is no answer to whether they have an interest in being dammed or an interest in being allowed to flow free. So when one tries to take account of everything which is even capable of having interests, the result is that one considers those creatures which can feel pleasure and pain. But that surely is not arbitrary--after all, you're trying to take account of everything with interests!

    Selecting any state as preferred is going to be arbitrary. Is it better for a star to burn or to die? There's no answer, since 'better' has no quantitative meaning. Is it better for a rat to live or die? Is it better to feel pleasure or pain? We, and all self-motivating life-forms, strive for pleasure over pain in whatever fashion we're capable of, but that only makes it better from our own point of view. From a certain point of view our striving could be seen as counter to some conceptual 'good' in the same way that different viewpoints might label a star's consumption of hydrogen good or bad.

    My point with the non-living systems was that 'having interests' is fairly arbitrary. It's easy for humans to ascribe anthropic qualities to any sufficiently complicated system. I bitch about the things my computer 'decides to do' or 'wants to do' on a daily basis. It doesn't actually want or decide anything in a strictly living-being sense, but lacking a good understanding of what it does do, it certainly appears to be making decisions and operating on the basis of desires. We consider that animals have intentions and interests because animals are, to one degree or another, all fairly similar to ourselves. We have those things and we assume that anything that acts in a manner basically similar to ours probably does too. At least, their actions are consistent with such an assumption and we have no reason to assume otherwise.

    But, provided a sufficient understanding, is an insect really interested in anything to a degree greater than Google's YouTube object recognition neural net is 'interested' in cats? What makes one very complex system's behavior more important than another? Why do the stimulus responses of a given category of things deemed 'acting in their interests' while another is 'reacting to the environment'? Is there any way to draw a line between the two that isn't either arbitrary or anthropocentric?
    MrMister wrote: »
    2) You're a little incautious with claims about how we must make decisions. White supremacists do not care about certain subsets of the species and make their decisions accordingly. I, by contrast, do not care about the species per se at all, preferring a more universalistic approach, and also make my decisions accordingly. Am I or the white supremacists part of the relevant 'we?' If yes, then we will surely object that you are not correctly describing what we must do, because we are in fact not doing it.

    I am. Largely because I don't have the time to review and edit drafts of my posts to ensure that everything is couched sufficiently.

    You can design pretty much any arbitrary moral framework and show that it's valid based on some axiom or another, many of which will be self-evidently less valid than others. There's nothing wrong with a utilitarian moral framework where the suffering of all things that can suffer (even limiting this to sufficiently human-like systems that we would consider their condition 'suffering') is on equal footing. The question, and the crux of my argument here, is how do you select one when it comes down to legislating things like medical experimentation?

    A moral framework that equates humans with animals and plants and rivers or whatever isn't going to be terribly useful, from a human-centric, practical point of view. A framework that favors white people above everything else in the universe is going to be, at least initially, pretty awesome from white people and shitty for everything else. So how do we decide where to put the line? Looking back through human history we can see examples, over and over again, of governments that chose to put the line on the side of white people, or Israelites, or Egyptians, or Romans, or Christians, or males, or North Koreans named Kim Jong, or whatever. And every single time we see that putting the line somewhere inside of the human population doesn't end well. Civil unrest, economic distress, war with your neighbors who disagree with where you drew the line. If, then, we put the line such that it is inclusive of at least all of humanity, we can avoid all of that shit. At least when it comes to medical experimentation.

    So what if we put the line further out? If we include, say, chimps and whales. Sure, no problem. It's not a terribly large impact on humanity and what impact there is we can fairly quickly mitigate. But what happens in the converse? If we keep the line such that chimps and whales are on the outside? Does this lead to a situation which is untenable for humanity? I don't see any historical evidence indicating that it does, so, from a practical standpoint, I don't see any reason to select a moral framework on which to base our experimental ethical standards which favors non-humans to any degree beyond that which would create a detrimental impact on humanity as a by-product.

    And, to TychoCelchuuu: it doesn't matter if you give a shit about humans. There is nothing special about humans that makes us worth giving a shit about. But there is no practical foundation on which to construct a system of legislated experimental ethics that does not favor humans. They're our laws. We have to abide by them and they are there, ostensibly, to help our society flourish. A government that actively de-emphasizes the wellfare of its human populace in favor of a silent, politically and socially inactive non-human populace isn't going to last long. We aren't talking about what's 'most good' in some abstract fashion, we're talking about what kinds of scientific and medical experiments should be allowed to occur with government sanction. How can that not give a shit about humans?

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Paladin wrote: »
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    You know, I think when we get to the point where we are making comparisons between horses and black people as if they are actually the same thing, the conversation has gone to a really weird place.

    Like, the whole argument strikes me as a sort of ethical shorthand for people too intellectually lazy to bother thinking about why we grant any entity moral value to begin with.
    I think it makes more sense to argue that an idea is wrong rather than just to throw personal attacks at the people who hold the idea, but to honestly call someone like Peter Singer "intellectually lazy" sounds pretty strange to me. Peter Singer is one of the most celebrated philosophers alive today and he has made important contributions to a number of debates in applied ethics. The idea that he has not though about "why we grant any entity moral value to begin with" is very strange, even more so because he's hardly the only one to have said this sort of stuff. Jeremy Bentham, one of the fathers of utilitarianism, made basically the same argument hundreds of years ago, and if Bentham was intellectually lazy then I'm a pigeon. As for myself I can say that I've certainly thought about that quite a bit too, and if I thought any of it was relevant to whether we can use non-human animals to experiment on, then I would be talking about it. I don't think any of it's really relevant, though, because Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer have a simple argument that I am appropriating: when it comes to causing pain, it is unacceptable to draw an arbitrary line between creatures it is okay to cause pain to and creatures that it is not okay to cause pain to, and to distinguish between humans and non-humans animals is to draw exactly such an arbitrary line and it is also to make the same mistake that a racist does when they draw an arbitrary line between members of their own race and those of other races.

    edit: Paladin, there is no difference between kicking a dog and shooting a deer (unless the deer dies a painless death, which complicates matters, but let's just say it doesn't). You're right that I don't have the majority view, but neither do you, because you say kicking a dog is OK, which almost nobody believes. I actually have an argument for why I'm right: I say that drawing a line between dogs and deer is arbitrary, so you have to either give up your dog beliefs or your deer beliefs, and your dog beliefs are stronger. Do you have an argument for why we should instead give up our beliefs that kicking a dog is right in order to salvage our belief that hurting a deer is OK? Because you have a long ways to go to do that - I doubt most hunters would accept that kicking a dog would be okay, and in fact I know hunters who would probably beat you up if you kicked their dog.

    You can go to east asia and find killing a dog to be perfectly acceptable. It is usually then eaten, but not always.

    An objective reason why it's not acceptable here is for a few reasons, none of which clash with our taste for killing deer.

    One is that dogs are usually somebody's property. You get in trouble for damaging somebody's property, and it makes no sense to damage your own property.

    Second, large animals are a good model for human/human violence as well as human/human studies. This may be a reason why humans prone to animal violence later become serial killers. For selfish reasons alone, it is not a good idea to torture domesticated animals.

    Third, dogs in particular reciprocate violence, so for reasons of personal safety and the safety of others, it is not a good idea to familiarize your animal with violence.

    However, if you are going to eat your dog or your snake or your fish, then all you have to fear is the judgmental eye of your neighbor, which is not a good barometer of morality. Fish are a very good example because they are vertebrates that can feel pain, yet we suffocate them and decapitate them while they're thrashing in order to make sashimi. Listen to the kitchen in the back the next time you go to a restaurant with a live aquarium.
    If you really think that kicking a dog is wrong not because you shouldn't hurt dogs but because the dog is someone's property and because it makes you a jerk towards humans and because it might bite people, then you're basically off the train. We could have this argument elsewhere but for now I'd like to just abandon attempting to convince you, because I feel like any normal person with empathy and no vested interest in protecting some philosophical theory which supports dog-kicking is going to say that kicking a dog is wrong because it hurts the dog.
    Craw! wrote: »
    Craw! wrote: »
    Non-human animal experimentation is like this except instead of babies we use rats. Can we justify using rats instead of babies? I argue that we cannot. There is no good line to be drawn that is not arbitrary and based on blind unthinking prejudice.

    Where do you draw the line, TychoCelchuuu? Is every organism that has at least one neuron a no-go? Are isolated neurons a no-go?
    The line is ability to feel pain. I don't think anyone thinks that neurons feel anything.

    I could say that saying neurons don't feel anything would be like saying our brains don't feel anything but I'll assume that you meant single neurons. Well, again, where do you draw the line? What counts as feeling pain and how do you know that that is what is going on?
    Tough question! It's not really necessary to answer this as long as you agree that some things, like human beings and dogs, feel pain, because then at least you will agree that for something like a dog, we ought not to use it in an experiment where we wouldn't use a baby. If you don't think that human beings or dogs feel pain, then feel free to stab yourself and a dog with a fork until you've gotten the picture.

    @CptHamilton: you are saying that all morality is relative, we can choose whatever morality we want, and the one you've chosen is much more useful than mine. Fine, that's great, that's a very interesting metaethical argument but at this point you've given away the whole game because there is no right and wrong, just what we choose to make right and wrong, and we can never have a discussion because the racist can be just as correct as you and you can be just as correct as me because we all have our nice little systems that we've built up from axioms we chose and none of these can ever be ultimately incorrect. Great! An ultimate morality doesn't exist! So we're all right about everything because we can't be wrong!

    I'm not sure why you bothered posting in an applied ethics thread if you think all morality is just a matter of deducing consequences from arbitrarily chosen axioms, because what MY deductions are and what YOUR deductions are are irrelevant because they are both equally correct to each of us, so there doesn't seem to be any point in talking about them or disagreeing because there's no ultimate standpoint to determine who is right. It would be like coming into a thread where we're talking about math and saying "look, everything you say depends on 1+1=2, but that's only correct if you adopt a given set of mathematical axioms, and I reject your axioms and there is no truth about the correct set of axioms to use!" I mean, yes, you're right, but then the question is why did you come into the math thread if math is bullshit and nobody can ever disagree?

    And it's very unclear to me how you can say that racist governments throughout history "didn't end well." What do you mean by "well?" If there's no ultimate morality, I say that "well" means "collapses eventually." Under my criterion, racist governments do very well, and our morality should be racist!

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    @CptHamilton: you are saying that all morality is relative, we can choose whatever morality we want, and the one you've chosen is much more useful than mine. Fine, that's great, that's a very interesting metaethical argument but at this point you've given away the whole game because there is no right and wrong, just what we choose to make right and wrong, and we can never have a discussion because the racist can be just as correct as you and you can be just as correct as me because we all have our nice little systems that we've built up from axioms we chose and none of these can ever be ultimately incorrect. Great! An ultimate morality doesn't exist! So we're all right about everything because we can't be wrong!

    I'm not sure why you bothered posting in an applied ethics thread if you think all morality is just a matter of deducing consequences from arbitrarily chosen axioms, because what MY deductions are and what YOUR deductions are are irrelevant because they are both equally correct to each of us, so there doesn't seem to be any point in talking about them or disagreeing because there's no ultimate standpoint to determine who is right. It would be like coming into a thread where we're talking about math and saying "look, everything you say depends on 1+1=2, but that's only correct if you adopt a given set of mathematical axioms, and I reject your axioms and there is no truth about the correct set of axioms to use!" I mean, yes, you're right, but then the question is why did you come into the math thread if math is bullshit and nobody can ever disagree?

    A lack of ultimate morality doesn't say anything about the validity of competing relative moral systems. A system that prioritizes whites over every other human is objectively inferior to one that gives equal treatment to all people, since the latter system ensures a lower overall level of suffering (provided that there's not some kind of bizarre demographic going on, like there are 5 black guys in a world of 6 billion whites or something). From a purely abstract standpoint, a system that gives all living things equal treatment morally is also objectively better than one that favors humans only. And that's fine.

    But you said it yourself: it's applied ethics. Which system is best in application? A system that lets humans suffer and die to spare rats, or the converse? One system may be more moral than the other, but that doesn't make it a better system in application. The system that gives equal favor to the suffering of humans and rats isn't going to work out because the rats don't give a shit. Humans have to follow the laws imposed by the system and have to deal with the consequences; the rats are going to go on ratting whether we pick Column A or Column B and aren't going to kick up a fuss at their local lawmakers if we select not in their favor.

    Your arguments for why this isn't true all seem to boil down to: But then why don't we do it to babies and mentally handicapped people? Which I've addressed repeatedly and at length.

    Is it moral to murder a dog, for any reason? No, it's probably not. Is it ethical to murder a dog if doing so potentially will lessen the suffering of a number of humans? I dunno; I guess it depends. Is it a practically serviceable system of applied ethics to mandate picking in the dog's favor every time? I don't see how it possibly could be.

    CptHamilton on
    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Just kicking a dog is wrong because it hurts the dog AND serves no purpose.

    Kicking* a dog that's attacking someone is not wrong.

    Kicking* a dog that's about to eat something poisonous is not wrong.

    *Assuming that kicking is the only available, or best available option.

    Context is everything here. It's your absolute statements that I can't agree with.
    Stances like "Experimentation on animals in regards to cosmetic products is wrong" I can agree with.

    Cancer studies though, not yet. We still have too far to go on this.

    Move to New Zealand
    It’s not a very important country most of the time
    http://steamcommunity.com/id/mortious
  • DolraithDolraith Registered User
    I see a fundamental problem with the basis of the argument that is presented by TychoClechuu. Simply put, the problem is thus: pain, pleasure, fear, etc are all subjective parameters. The moral system we are trying to establish is objective. Trying to build an objective system on a subjective basis is much akin to trying to build a skyscraper on quicksand - if you're awesome, you can get it to go up, but the shifting of the base will cause it to come tumbling down eventually. However, I do no agree with CptHamilton either, useful morality does not have to be antrocentric. Let me propose a system that is an abstractization of the one that has been discussed here at length, but tweaked so as to be completely impartial.
    Instead, I propose we base the morality system on maximizing the total number of complex systems - be it organic, social, architectural, or even abstract ones. I.e. building the eiffel tower is a good thing, as it creates a complex architectural system that lasts. Destroying it for no reason is bad, as it reduces the overall complexity of systems. (yeah we can argue that the point is moot as entropy wins in the end, but bear with me.) Destroying the Eiffel tower to create a building twice as complex is good, though not as good as creating that building without the destruction of the Eiffel tower. You get the idea - objective, quantifiable metrics for an objective system.
    If we go with this system, then animal experimentation can be easily justified as follows:
    1. Killing an animal is bad (you're destroying the complex organic structure of the animal, and the potential social structures that it could form)
    2. But the data provided by the experiment helps science (helping create complex abstract models of the world)
    3. Science then, suppose, prolongs the life of an architect, whoc designs one more building
    Net result - positive.
    The reason that animals are preferrable to babies is simple: humans are capable of more complex constructions than animals, and the potential gain of complexity from a baby is much higher than the potential complexity gained from a rat.
    Note that this system does imply that experimenting on non-social animals of high intelligence (like octopi) is probably preferrable to experementation on lower intelligence social animals - such as deer or cows.
    - answer to foreseen objection that this system is human-centric...it's not. It's beneficial to the species capable of developing the most complex systems. Currently that happens to be humans, but if an alien species more advanced than use would come around, they would have the moral high ground, as long as their disruption of our complex systems led to creation of a more complicated overall state.

    A couple unrelated points:
    1. In a system where we are maximizing pleasure while minimizing pain, it is moral to let a sociopath kill patients in comas, as he will derive a lot of pleasure from it, and they (being in a coma) feel none of it.
    2. The other resolution to the dilemma of subjective vs objective truths is that we conclude that morality is subjective, and then the only answer I could find that is consistant is that the only immoral act is an act that the perpetrator knows is immoral. And then unredeemable sociapaths on a murder spree aren't immoral, they just need to be kept away from society for practical reasons. But I think it's been mentioned multiple times that we're not interested in this type of resolution as it is not useful for applied objective ethics.

    Also, to adress TychoCelchuuu's favorite point: according to the proposed system kicking a dog is wrong as it lessens the chances that the dog in question will form positive complex social networks with other humans and/or animals. Since y'know, it'll be warier of strangers.

    Please pardon the post if it is not appropriate to the discussion and/or contains trivial concepts everyone already discussed - I haven't been lurking on this forum for long.

  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    You know, I think when we get to the point where we are making comparisons between horses and black people as if they are actually the same thing, the conversation has gone to a really weird place.

    Like, the whole argument strikes me as a sort of ethical shorthand for people too intellectually lazy to bother thinking about why we grant any entity moral value to begin with.
    ... As for myself I can say that I've certainly thought about that quite a bit too, and if I thought any of it was relevant to whether we can use non-human animals to experiment on, then I would be talking about it. I don't think any of it's really relevant, though, because Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer have a simple argument that I am appropriating: when it comes to causing pain, it is unacceptable to draw an arbitrary line between creatures it is okay to cause pain to and creatures that it is not okay to cause pain to, and to distinguish between humans and non-humans animals is to draw exactly such an arbitrary line and it is also to make the same mistake that a racist does when they draw an arbitrary line between members of their own race and those of other races.

    If there are rational criteria for drawing a line then that line is not arbitrary. It may be fuzzy, but that's different from arbitrary.

    You can't avoid the entire issue; because in the end you just end up with 2 one line arguments.
    Animals are morally equal to humans. & Animals are not morally equal to humans.

    You waving your hands and saying its the former doesn't settle the issue, no matter who you feel like name-dropping(wrongly).

    It's also substantially different from racism because racism is predicated on made up differences.

    You are saying either 1) that there are no differences between a wasp and a person(which is obviously false) or 2) That the difference between a person and another animal have no moral significance.

    Premises which would lead to such conclusions as: me spraying Raid at a wasps nest is morally equivalent to me misting VX over a New England city.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Just because something is adorable does not mean it deserves more special attention than something that isn't adorable. Trying to appeal to a better nature by using "kicking a dog" in place of the more general "harming an animal" is just cultural bias. I am prepared to say that kicking a dog is the same as shooting a deer with the exceptions of ownership and domestication which I outlined above, and anybody who thinks it's not morally wrong to kill a deer should think that it's not morally wrong to kick a dog, once all confounding factors are removed. This includes the desire to harm something to activate a pleasure center in your brain.

    The position that we shouldn't harm or cause pain anywhere ever is untenable. A lot of the building blocks of our society are sculpted with the pain of nonconsenting individuals. To actually draw the line, you have to get rid of culturally confounding imagery designed to evoke corrupt sympathy.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    @CptHamilton: you are saying that all morality is relative, we can choose whatever morality we want, and the one you've chosen is much more useful than mine. Fine, that's great, that's a very interesting metaethical argument but at this point you've given away the whole game because there is no right and wrong, just what we choose to make right and wrong, and we can never have a discussion because the racist can be just as correct as you and you can be just as correct as me because we all have our nice little systems that we've built up from axioms we chose and none of these can ever be ultimately incorrect. Great! An ultimate morality doesn't exist! So we're all right about everything because we can't be wrong!

    I'm not sure why you bothered posting in an applied ethics thread if you think all morality is just a matter of deducing consequences from arbitrarily chosen axioms, because what MY deductions are and what YOUR deductions are are irrelevant because they are both equally correct to each of us, so there doesn't seem to be any point in talking about them or disagreeing because there's no ultimate standpoint to determine who is right. It would be like coming into a thread where we're talking about math and saying "look, everything you say depends on 1+1=2, but that's only correct if you adopt a given set of mathematical axioms, and I reject your axioms and there is no truth about the correct set of axioms to use!" I mean, yes, you're right, but then the question is why did you come into the math thread if math is bullshit and nobody can ever disagree?

    A lack of ultimate morality doesn't say anything about the validity of competing relative moral systems. A system that prioritizes whites over every other human is objectively inferior to one that gives equal treatment to all people, since the latter system ensures a lower overall level of suffering (provided that there's not some kind of bizarre demographic going on, like there are 5 black guys in a world of 6 billion whites or something). From a purely abstract standpoint, a system that gives all living things equal treatment morally is also objectively better than one that favors humans only. And that's fine.

    But you said it yourself: it's applied ethics. Which system is best in application? A system that lets humans suffer and die to spare rats, or the converse? One system may be more moral than the other, but that doesn't make it a better system in application. The system that gives equal favor to the suffering of humans and rats isn't going to work out because the rats don't give a shit. Humans have to follow the laws imposed by the system and have to deal with the consequences; the rats are going to go on ratting whether we pick Column A or Column B and aren't going to kick up a fuss at their local lawmakers if we select not in their favor.

    Your arguments for why this isn't true all seem to boil down to: But then why don't we do it to babies and mentally handicapped people? Which I've addressed repeatedly and at length.

    Is it moral to murder a dog, for any reason? No, it's probably not. Is it ethical to murder a dog if doing so potentially will lessen the suffering of a number of humans? I dunno; I guess it depends. Is it a practically serviceable system of applied ethics to mandate picking in the dog's favor every time? I don't see how it possibly could be.
    Now I've completely lost the argument you're making. The idea is that ultimately, non-human animal pleasure and pain DOES matter as much as human pleasure and pain, but for practical reasons, we need to care about humans more, because rats can't follow laws or protest when we torture them? That seems kind of odd to me. If you agree that the ultimate balance of pleasure and pain matters, in the end, then it's just a numbers game: we run your "only care about humans" morality against my "care about all animals" morality and see which turns out better. You're claiming that mine is going to come out worse, but then you're just agreeing with me about EVERY SINGLE ETHICAL ISSUE and saying that the math will come out differently than I claim. That's totally fine! I'm glad we agree on everything! I think it's unlikely that treating animals much better is going to lead to a net decrease in pleasure and pain for everyone involved, and the reason I think this is because right now we do a lot of things that are very painful for animals in order to get a chance of making things less painful for some of us, but whatever.

    If you agree that in theory, a rat counts as much as a human, then it seems like you should be committed to veganism or at least much more careful meat selection for everyone in rich countries, donations to poor countries to allow farmers to replace beasts of burden with mechanical farming equipment, and so on, because this will lead to MUCH MORE pleasure for animals with almost no decrease in pleasure for humans, right? So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.
    Mortious wrote: »
    Just kicking a dog is wrong because it hurts the dog AND serves no purpose.

    Kicking* a dog that's attacking someone is not wrong.

    Kicking* a dog that's about to eat something poisonous is not wrong.

    *Assuming that kicking is the only available, or best available option.

    Context is everything here. It's your absolute statements that I can't agree with.
    Stances like "Experimentation on animals in regards to cosmetic products is wrong" I can agree with.

    Cancer studies though, not yet. We still have too far to go on this.
    I know, I know. It's very complex. I mentioned this a few pages back when I made the distinction between prima facie wrong and all things considered wrong. This is why I'm saying that replacing dogs with babies is a good rule of thumb. That way we can hold fixed the value of the experiment and just see whether prejudice is operating or not.
    Dolraith wrote: »
    I see a fundamental problem with the basis of the argument that is presented by TychoClechuu. Simply put, the problem is thus: pain, pleasure, fear, etc are all subjective parameters. The moral system we are trying to establish is objective. Trying to build an objective system on a subjective basis is much akin to trying to build a skyscraper on quicksand - if you're awesome, you can get it to go up, but the shifting of the base will cause it to come tumbling down eventually.
    Here is an example of an objective truth built on subjective parameters: in New York City, it is less expensive to purchase a pound of carrots than it is to purchase a pound of diamonds.

    In any case, the rest of your post is just as subjective: "complexity" is not an objective measure of anything, because there is no objective property of "complexity" in the world. Humans are not more "complex" than rats simpliciter. You must first define complexity, and there is no objective definition of the term.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    You know, I think when we get to the point where we are making comparisons between horses and black people as if they are actually the same thing, the conversation has gone to a really weird place.

    Like, the whole argument strikes me as a sort of ethical shorthand for people too intellectually lazy to bother thinking about why we grant any entity moral value to begin with.
    ... As for myself I can say that I've certainly thought about that quite a bit too, and if I thought any of it was relevant to whether we can use non-human animals to experiment on, then I would be talking about it. I don't think any of it's really relevant, though, because Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer have a simple argument that I am appropriating: when it comes to causing pain, it is unacceptable to draw an arbitrary line between creatures it is okay to cause pain to and creatures that it is not okay to cause pain to, and to distinguish between humans and non-humans animals is to draw exactly such an arbitrary line and it is also to make the same mistake that a racist does when they draw an arbitrary line between members of their own race and those of other races.

    If there are rational criteria for drawing a line then that line is not arbitrary. It may be fuzzy, but that's different from arbitrary.

    You can't avoid the entire issue; because in the end you just end up with 2 one line arguments.
    Animals are morally equal to humans. & Animals are not morally equal to humans.

    You waving your hands and saying its the former doesn't settle the issue, no matter who you feel like name-dropping(wrongly).
    I don't understand what you are saying. I argue that it is the former rather than the latter because to establish the latter is to draw an arbitrary line, whereas to establish the former is only to say that pain matters, which I take to be an assumption that can be easily confirmed by stabbing yourself with a fork. Also, please point out how I am misusing Singer and Bentham.
    It's also substantially different from racism because racism is predicated on made up differences.
    Sorry, what? Skin color is made up? Do white people not exist?
    You are saying either 1) that there are no differences between a wasp and a person(which is obviously false) or 2) That the difference between a person and another animal have no moral significance.

    Premises which would lead to such conclusions as: me spraying Raid at a wasps nest is morally equivalent to me misting VX over a New England city.
    There are no differences between two animals that can equally feel pain, when it comes to causing pain. I have said multiple times in this thread that there ARE differences between humans and non-human animals when it comes to stuff like voting. If wasps can feel pain just like us, though, then when it comes to spraying Raid vs misting VX, then yes, there aren't many differences.

  • DolraithDolraith Registered User
    1. The idea with objective systems on subjective parameters is that subjective parameters change, and the objective system that was derived from them has to change with them - making it subjective. And I do not see how market prices of X goods on Y day is subjective.

    2. By complexity of a system I mean the number of internal links in that system. For organic matter I will concede that this is not a reasonable definition and go with number of neural links in the system.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Dolraith wrote: »
    1. The idea with objective systems on subjective parameters is that subjective parameters change, and the objective system that was derived from them has to change with them - making it subjective. And I do not see how market prices of X goods on Y day is subjective.

    2. By complexity of a system I mean the number of internal links in that system. For organic matter I will concede that this is not a reasonable definition and go with number of neural links in the system.
    1. The price of goods is subjective because dollars don't exist outside of human creation. What a dollar is worth is based entirely on what humans think it is worth, which is to say, it is subjective.

    2. I don't see why a building with more internal links is better than one with fewer internal links. And I don't know what an internal link is. And I don't know what a neural link is and I think a whale has a FUCKTON more neural links than us because it's so much bigger.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    @CptHamilton: you are saying that all morality is relative, we can choose whatever morality we want, and the one you've chosen is much more useful than mine. Fine, that's great, that's a very interesting metaethical argument but at this point you've given away the whole game because there is no right and wrong, just what we choose to make right and wrong, and we can never have a discussion because the racist can be just as correct as you and you can be just as correct as me because we all have our nice little systems that we've built up from axioms we chose and none of these can ever be ultimately incorrect. Great! An ultimate morality doesn't exist! So we're all right about everything because we can't be wrong!

    I'm not sure why you bothered posting in an applied ethics thread if you think all morality is just a matter of deducing consequences from arbitrarily chosen axioms, because what MY deductions are and what YOUR deductions are are irrelevant because they are both equally correct to each of us, so there doesn't seem to be any point in talking about them or disagreeing because there's no ultimate standpoint to determine who is right. It would be like coming into a thread where we're talking about math and saying "look, everything you say depends on 1+1=2, but that's only correct if you adopt a given set of mathematical axioms, and I reject your axioms and there is no truth about the correct set of axioms to use!" I mean, yes, you're right, but then the question is why did you come into the math thread if math is bullshit and nobody can ever disagree?

    A lack of ultimate morality doesn't say anything about the validity of competing relative moral systems. A system that prioritizes whites over every other human is objectively inferior to one that gives equal treatment to all people, since the latter system ensures a lower overall level of suffering (provided that there's not some kind of bizarre demographic going on, like there are 5 black guys in a world of 6 billion whites or something). From a purely abstract standpoint, a system that gives all living things equal treatment morally is also objectively better than one that favors humans only. And that's fine.

    But you said it yourself: it's applied ethics. Which system is best in application? A system that lets humans suffer and die to spare rats, or the converse? One system may be more moral than the other, but that doesn't make it a better system in application. The system that gives equal favor to the suffering of humans and rats isn't going to work out because the rats don't give a shit. Humans have to follow the laws imposed by the system and have to deal with the consequences; the rats are going to go on ratting whether we pick Column A or Column B and aren't going to kick up a fuss at their local lawmakers if we select not in their favor.

    Your arguments for why this isn't true all seem to boil down to: But then why don't we do it to babies and mentally handicapped people? Which I've addressed repeatedly and at length.

    Is it moral to murder a dog, for any reason? No, it's probably not. Is it ethical to murder a dog if doing so potentially will lessen the suffering of a number of humans? I dunno; I guess it depends. Is it a practically serviceable system of applied ethics to mandate picking in the dog's favor every time? I don't see how it possibly could be.
    Now I've completely lost the argument you're making. The idea is that ultimately, non-human animal pleasure and pain DOES matter as much as human pleasure and pain, but for practical reasons, we need to care about humans more, because rats can't follow laws or protest when we torture them? That seems kind of odd to me. If you agree that the ultimate balance of pleasure and pain matters, in the end, then it's just a numbers game: we run your "only care about humans" morality against my "care about all animals" morality and see which turns out better. You're claiming that mine is going to come out worse, but then you're just agreeing with me about EVERY SINGLE ETHICAL ISSUE and saying that the math will come out differently than I claim. That's totally fine! I'm glad we agree on everything! I think it's unlikely that treating animals much better is going to lead to a net decrease in pleasure and pain for everyone involved, and the reason I think this is because right now we do a lot of things that are very painful for animals in order to get a chance of making things less painful for some of us, but whatever.

    If you agree that in theory, a rat counts as much as a human, then it seems like you should be committed to veganism or at least much more careful meat selection for everyone in rich countries, donations to poor countries to allow farmers to replace beasts of burden with mechanical farming equipment, and so on, because this will lead to MUCH MORE pleasure for animals with almost no decrease in pleasure for humans, right?

    If I believed that then yes, that would be the logical destination to arrive at. I don't actually believe that all animals are morally equivalent to humans, but I also don't think that we have the capability to non-arbitrarily place a dividing line between animals I'd consider morally equivalent and animals I wouldn't. But that's not actually the point.
    So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.

    Pretty much. You appear to think that there is no such thing as an experiment that has benefits which outweigh the moral values involved in hurting or killing a test animal. I think there are a shit ton of them. Do you have any idea how many studies are done every year using animal models wherein the expected outcome is death? They're used to determine safe concentrations and workplace guidelines for chemicals, food additives, etc. I think every one of them is more important than the rats that die in the process.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.

    Pretty much. You appear to think that there is no such thing as an experiment that has benefits which outweigh the moral values involved in hurting or killing a test animal. I think there are a shit ton of them. Do you have any idea how many studies are done every year using animal models wherein the expected outcome is death? They're used to determine safe concentrations and workplace guidelines for chemicals, food additives, etc. I think every one of them is more important than the rats that die in the process.
    I'm not denying that experiments can outweigh the costs of using animals. The line I've said god knows how many times in this thread is that we should only do experiments on non-human animals if we would also be willing to use non-consenting human beings in these experiments.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • DolraithDolraith Registered User
    1. Then the statement you made would be "At this point of time the social consensus in the city of New York is that carrots are worth less than diamonds." I suppose that means that you are correct and it is possible to derive an objective statement from subjective parameters. However it still requires an quantifying of said parameters. Therefore for your system to be viable we would need a scale for feelings of pain, as well as a way of measuring it. (a.k.a. pain-dollars if you will). Since we cannot ask animals to rate their pain on a scale of 1-100, we would have to rely on CAT scans, and intensity of activation of pain centers. This would clearly favor humans over the smaller animals, as they have less brain, therefore less cranial activity.

    2a. My answer comes in two parts: one being: in my system a whale is more valuable than a human....until you factor in the fact that the whale has practically no social networking (as compared to a human), and the fact that it will not leave anything lasting behind, whereas a human very well might leave a legacy.

    2b. Objective morality tells us what is wrong and what is right. Theoretically this is to promote the success of life. Now success of life can be measured in three ways that I am aware of:
    biological - number of specimens comprising a species and their health (biological viability)
    legacy - amount of change they made on the environment
    experience - statistical quality of life across the sample
    I think that this thread already covered the biological aspect - it does not interest us here.
    The legacy angle is what I'm trying to promote as it is more quantifiable, as well as allowing for gauging the success of a biome once it has died out.
    The experience is what I think you want to focus on, and I think it is not viable, as then the greatest good in the universe would be if every human dosed up on a pleasure-inducing drug and lived in complete euphoria until they died. As this is not helpful to any kind of spiritual, intellectual, or cultural advancement, and in fact results in mass extinction, I think I'll pass on this one.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.

    Pretty much. You appear to think that there is no such thing as an experiment that has benefits which outweigh the moral values involved in hurting or killing a test animal. I think there are a shit ton of them. Do you have any idea how many studies are done every year using animal models wherein the expected outcome is death? They're used to determine safe concentrations and workplace guidelines for chemicals, food additives, etc. I think every one of them is more important than the rats that die in the process.
    I'm not denying that experiments can outweigh the costs of using animals. The line I've said god knows how many times in this thread is that we should only do experiments on non-human animals if we would also be willing to use non-consenting human beings in these experiments.

    It harms society less to do these experiments on animals.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.

    Pretty much. You appear to think that there is no such thing as an experiment that has benefits which outweigh the moral values involved in hurting or killing a test animal. I think there are a shit ton of them. Do you have any idea how many studies are done every year using animal models wherein the expected outcome is death? They're used to determine safe concentrations and workplace guidelines for chemicals, food additives, etc. I think every one of them is more important than the rats that die in the process.
    I'm not denying that experiments can outweigh the costs of using animals. The line I've said god knows how many times in this thread is that we should only do experiments on non-human animals if we would also be willing to use non-consenting human beings in these experiments.

    Willing to use a non-consenting human? Or willing to use a human incapable of consenting?

    Because those are two different things. One involves a person who can consent but does not, and the other involves a person with severe brain damage. Also there are issues of consent being given by family members, etc. Like if grandma has a stroke and is rendered brain dead, then consent is no longer given by her, but by relatives. Anyway, that's not the point.

    So which is it?

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.

    Pretty much. You appear to think that there is no such thing as an experiment that has benefits which outweigh the moral values involved in hurting or killing a test animal. I think there are a shit ton of them. Do you have any idea how many studies are done every year using animal models wherein the expected outcome is death? They're used to determine safe concentrations and workplace guidelines for chemicals, food additives, etc. I think every one of them is more important than the rats that die in the process.
    I'm not denying that experiments can outweigh the costs of using animals. The line I've said god knows how many times in this thread is that we should only do experiments on non-human animals if we would also be willing to use non-consenting human beings in these experiments.

    It harms society less to do these experiments on animals.
    I thought we agreed that "society" doesn't matter, just the sum total of pleasure/pain.
    So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.

    Pretty much. You appear to think that there is no such thing as an experiment that has benefits which outweigh the moral values involved in hurting or killing a test animal. I think there are a shit ton of them. Do you have any idea how many studies are done every year using animal models wherein the expected outcome is death? They're used to determine safe concentrations and workplace guidelines for chemicals, food additives, etc. I think every one of them is more important than the rats that die in the process.
    I'm not denying that experiments can outweigh the costs of using animals. The line I've said god knows how many times in this thread is that we should only do experiments on non-human animals if we would also be willing to use non-consenting human beings in these experiments.

    Willing to use a non-consenting human? Or willing to use a human incapable of consenting?

    Because those are two different things. One involves a person who can consent but does not, and the other involves a person with severe brain damage. Also there are issues of consent being given by family members, etc. Like if grandma has a stroke and is rendered brain dead, then consent is no longer given by her, but by relatives. Anyway, that's not the point.

    So which is it?
    Yes, you are correct. I want to say "a human incapable of consenting." Like a baby or a severely mentally retarded person.
    Dolraith wrote: »
    1. Then the statement you made would be "At this point of time the social consensus in the city of New York is that carrots are worth less than diamonds." I suppose that means that you are correct and it is possible to derive an objective statement from subjective parameters. However it still requires an quantifying of said parameters. Therefore for your system to be viable we would need a scale for feelings of pain, as well as a way of measuring it. (a.k.a. pain-dollars if you will). Since we cannot ask animals to rate their pain on a scale of 1-100, we would have to rely on CAT scans, and intensity of activation of pain centers. This would clearly favor humans over the smaller animals, as they have less brain, therefore less cranial activity.
    Less brain activity does not mean less pain. You can't put someone in a CAT scan and figure out how much pain they are feeling. It is likely never going to be possible to do this, although if in the future somehow we figure it out, then that would be a great way to find out if I'm full of shit or if rats actually do feel just as hurt when you poke them with a fork compared to a human.
    Dolraith wrote: »
    2a. My answer comes in two parts: one being: in my system a whale is more valuable than a human....until you factor in the fact that the whale has practically no social networking (as compared to a human), and the fact that it will not leave anything lasting behind, whereas a human very well might leave a legacy.
    So if a human won't leave behind a legacy (say, they are a baby, or a hobo) it's better to kill them than a whale?

  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    Willing to use a non-consenting human? Or willing to use a human incapable of consenting?

    Because those are two different things. One involves a person who can consent but does not, and the other involves a person with severe brain damage. Also there are issues of consent being given by family members, etc. Like if grandma has a stroke and is rendered brain dead, then consent is no longer given by her, but by relatives. Anyway, that's not the point.

    So which is it?
    Yes, you are correct. I want to say "a human incapable of consenting." Like a baby or a severely mentally retarded person.

    The problem is though that for many reasons, we give the ability to consent on behalf of those kind of people to others. So parents consent on behalf of children. Children are used in experiments with parents permission. The same can be said of severely mentally retarded people. Actually the same is true of animals. You can't perform an experiment on my dog without my consent.

    There is also the issue of the fact that babies are only temporarily unable to consent. They reliably grow into consenting beings. It's not really reasonable to take advantage of a temporary inability to consent. Otherwise it would be okay to take advantage of drunks. Animals however not only cannot consent now, but will never be able to consent. Except possibly dolphins or some higher order primates. But we tend not to use them for too many dangerous experiments.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche
  • DolraithDolraith Registered User
    edited August 2012
    1. Then the statement you made would be "At this point of time the social consensus in the city of New York is that carrots are worth less than diamonds." I suppose that means that you are correct and it is possible to derive an objective statement from subjective parameters. However it still requires an quantifying of said parameters. Therefore for your system to be viable we would need a scale for feelings of pain, as well as a way of measuring it. (a.k.a. pain-dollars if you will). Since we cannot ask animals to rate their pain on a scale of 1-100, we would have to rely on CAT scans, and intensity of activation of pain centers. This would clearly favor humans over the smaller animals, as they have less brain, therefore less cranial activity.
    Less brain activity does not mean less pain. You can't put someone in a CAT scan and figure out how much pain they are feeling. It is likely never going to be possible to do this, although if in the future somehow we figure it out, then that would be a great way to find out if I'm full of shit or if rats actually do feel just as hurt when you poke them with a fork compared to a human.
    Then unless you propose that pain is binary, we have no way of telling how hurt animals feel. With no way of knowing just how much pain they are going through, we cannot do the calculation of moral profit vs moral debt, thereby making this system almost unusable. Because of physiological differences, we can safely project that the pain humans feel when shot with a 9 mil round is not identical to the pain that a cat feels when shot with same, as the amount of damage is different. The other option would be to scale the damage to the creature, but some things just don't scale well (what's a shot foot on a snake?).
    If objective measurements of pain are out, we have to resort to....statistical analysis of best guess of humans? As in show people creatures in different amounts of pain and ask them how much pain would they rate the creature is feeling rated on the same scale as the pain the human in question has experienced? Help me out here, I'm honestly trying to make this work. (srsly. no sarcasm. I just don't see a good way to do this).
    2a. My answer comes in two parts: one being: in my system a whale is more valuable than a human....until you factor in the fact that the whale has practically no social networking (as compared to a human), and the fact that it will not leave anything lasting behind, whereas a human very well might leave a legacy.
    So if a human won't leave behind a legacy (say, they are a baby, or a hobo) it's better to kill them than a whale?
    A baby has potential to leave a legacy. But yeah, I'd take a whale over a hobo if the hobo has given up on life and isn't going to reform, shape up, claw his way out of his position and do something useful. Unless he's hoboland's mr. popularity, in which case his social network has to be taken into account. The weighting of neuron linkages to abstract constructs to social networks would have to be worked out as well, and I concede that that wouldn't be easy either.

    Dolraith on
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.

    Pretty much. You appear to think that there is no such thing as an experiment that has benefits which outweigh the moral values involved in hurting or killing a test animal. I think there are a shit ton of them. Do you have any idea how many studies are done every year using animal models wherein the expected outcome is death? They're used to determine safe concentrations and workplace guidelines for chemicals, food additives, etc. I think every one of them is more important than the rats that die in the process.
    I'm not denying that experiments can outweigh the costs of using animals. The line I've said god knows how many times in this thread is that we should only do experiments on non-human animals if we would also be willing to use non-consenting human beings in these experiments.

    This is ridiculous even from a purely economic standpoint. Humans are vastly more costly than rats on a per-unit basis, and a study to determine, for example, acceptable air quality standards in asbestos abatement, would require the sacrifice of probably hundreds of models (be they human or rat). It would be prohibitively expensive to use humans even if everything else were hunky-dory.

    But economics aside, using humans isn't acceptable because we have a non-moralistic imperative to avoid human suffering. As I've said before, there is no evidence that, outside of limited cases, non-human suffering has any impact on human society. There's plenty of evidence that human suffering does. Morality and ethics aside, experimenting on humans when we could use a non-human instead is a socially untenable position. It stresses the community bonds we rely on to not dissolve into chaos, and while there may be no inherent value in humanity not descending into chaos, it's ridiculous to base an ethical code on positions that promote it.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • tinwhiskerstinwhiskers Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    You know, I think when we get to the point where we are making comparisons between horses and black people as if they are actually the same thing, the conversation has gone to a really weird place.

    Like, the whole argument strikes me as a sort of ethical shorthand for people too intellectually lazy to bother thinking about why we grant any entity moral value to begin with.
    ... As for myself I can say that I've certainly thought about that quite a bit too, and if I thought any of it was relevant to whether we can use non-human animals to experiment on, then I would be talking about it. I don't think any of it's really relevant, though, because Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer have a simple argument that I am appropriating: when it comes to causing pain, it is unacceptable to draw an arbitrary line between creatures it is okay to cause pain to and creatures that it is not okay to cause pain to, and to distinguish between humans and non-humans animals is to draw exactly such an arbitrary line and it is also to make the same mistake that a racist does when they draw an arbitrary line between members of their own race and those of other races.

    If there are rational criteria for drawing a line then that line is not arbitrary. It may be fuzzy, but that's different from arbitrary.

    You can't avoid the entire issue; because in the end you just end up with 2 one line arguments.
    Animals are morally equal to humans. & Animals are not morally equal to humans.

    You waving your hands and saying its the former doesn't settle the issue, no matter who you feel like name-dropping(wrongly).
    I don't understand what you are saying. I argue that it is the former rather than the latter because to establish the latter is to draw an arbitrary line, whereas to establish the former is only to say that pain matters, which I take to be an assumption that can be easily confirmed by stabbing yourself with a fork. Also, please point out how I am misusing Singer and Bentham.

    ar·bi·trar·y/ˈärbiˌtrerē/
    Adjective:
    Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

    If there is a rational basis for a line, then the line is not arbitrary. Saying "there can't be a rational basis for a line" is just a dodge to avoid talking about "why we grant any entity moral value to begin with."-ElJeffe

    Also Singer was originally okay with eating scallops and other bivalves(and is now in the don't know so better safe than sorry "no camp"). So clearly he thought there were meaningful distinctions between animals.
    It's also substantially different from racism because racism is predicated on made up differences.
    Sorry, what? Skin color is made up? Do white people not exist?

    The arguments for racism weren't 'black is not white, so we can do X'. They were stuff like "black people are intellectually children who can't function in society" or "black men can't control their primal urges and will rape everything". Which are not true unlike "deer don't have the same mental capacity as people".
    You are saying either 1) that there are no differences between a wasp and a person(which is obviously false) or 2) That the difference between a person and another animal have no moral significance.

    Premises which would lead to such conclusions as: me spraying Raid at a wasps nest is morally equivalent to me misting VX over a New England city.
    There are no differences between two animals that can equally feel pain, when it comes to causing pain. I have said multiple times in this thread that there ARE differences between humans and non-human animals when it comes to stuff like voting. If wasps can feel pain just like us, though, then when it comes to spraying Raid vs misting VX, then yes, there aren't many differences.

    If I swat a fly, does it's mother and father grieve? Do the other fly's near the garbage can get PSTD? After 50 targeted swattings do flies as a group feel persecuted for their species? Like outsiders? Afraid to go outside? Will flies only live on the north side of town so they feel safe as a group?

    Or to go another way: What if I kill the wasps instantaneously, say strapping a massive bomb to their nest obliterating them before they know whats happening leaving no survivors? Since there is no pain, this is okay? What if I were to do the same to a buss full of people?

    tinwhiskers on
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    ElJeffe wrote: »
    You know, I think when we get to the point where we are making comparisons between horses and black people as if they are actually the same thing, the conversation has gone to a really weird place.

    Like, the whole argument strikes me as a sort of ethical shorthand for people too intellectually lazy to bother thinking about why we grant any entity moral value to begin with.
    ... As for myself I can say that I've certainly thought about that quite a bit too, and if I thought any of it was relevant to whether we can use non-human animals to experiment on, then I would be talking about it. I don't think any of it's really relevant, though, because Jeremy Bentham and Peter Singer have a simple argument that I am appropriating: when it comes to causing pain, it is unacceptable to draw an arbitrary line between creatures it is okay to cause pain to and creatures that it is not okay to cause pain to, and to distinguish between humans and non-humans animals is to draw exactly such an arbitrary line and it is also to make the same mistake that a racist does when they draw an arbitrary line between members of their own race and those of other races.

    If there are rational criteria for drawing a line then that line is not arbitrary. It may be fuzzy, but that's different from arbitrary.

    You can't avoid the entire issue; because in the end you just end up with 2 one line arguments.
    Animals are morally equal to humans. & Animals are not morally equal to humans.

    You waving your hands and saying its the former doesn't settle the issue, no matter who you feel like name-dropping(wrongly).
    I don't understand what you are saying. I argue that it is the former rather than the latter because to establish the latter is to draw an arbitrary line, whereas to establish the former is only to say that pain matters, which I take to be an assumption that can be easily confirmed by stabbing yourself with a fork. Also, please point out how I am misusing Singer and Bentham.

    ar·bi·trar·y/ˈärbiˌtrerē/
    Adjective:
    Based on random choice or personal whim, rather than any reason or system.

    If there is a rational basis for a line, then the line is not arbitrary. Saying "there can't be a rational basis for a line" is just a dodge to avoid talking about "why we grant any entity moral value to begin with."-ElJeffe

    Also Singer was originally okay with eating scallops and other bivalves(and is now in the don't know so better safe than sorry "no camp"). So clearly he thought there were meaningful distinctions between animals.
    I disagree with all of the rational bases chosen to draw lines between humans and non-human animals for the purposes of pain infliction and I think I can argue against them by showing them to be irrelevant. Things like "non-human animals can't sign the social contract" for instance are irrelevant because I don't think this gives plausible results when we ask "is it okay to kick a dog in the ribs for fun."

    I don't see why Singer's stance on scallops and bivalves invalidates my point. I've been saying that for animals that can feel pain, there are no distinctions between them when it comes to pain infliction. My understanding was that he once thought scallops and bivalves likely did not feel pain but that he has now changed his mind. For the purposes of this thread I have been neutral on scallops and bivalves and instead have focused on animals that we know feel pain, like dogs and pigs and rats.

    Also I still don't see how I've misused Singer or Bentham.
    It's also substantially different from racism because racism is predicated on made up differences.
    Sorry, what? Skin color is made up? Do white people not exist?

    The arguments for racism weren't 'black is not white, so we can do X'. They were stuff like "black people are intellectually children who can't function in society" or "black men can't control their primal urges and will rape everything". Which are not true unlike "deer don't have the same mental capacity as people".
    What if I predicate racism on "black people have too much melanin to be treated like white people, who have much less melanin" or something like that? You would probably say something like "while it is true that black people have more melanin, the melanin content of an individual's body is irrelevant to determining whether it is morally acceptable to inflict pain on the individual in question." So now let's run the argument with intelligence. You might say something like "non-human animals are far too stupid to be treated like humans, who have a much greater intelligence." I would reply "while it is true that human beings are smarter than other animals, at least once the human beings have grown up a bit, this is irrelevant in terms of determining whether it is morally acceptable to inflict pain on the individual in question. We can see this by noting that we don't think it's okay to torture mentally retarded people or give dogs swift kicks to the ribs just for fun."
    You are saying either 1) that there are no differences between a wasp and a person(which is obviously false) or 2) That the difference between a person and another animal have no moral significance.

    Premises which would lead to such conclusions as: me spraying Raid at a wasps nest is morally equivalent to me misting VX over a New England city.
    There are no differences between two animals that can equally feel pain, when it comes to causing pain. I have said multiple times in this thread that there ARE differences between humans and non-human animals when it comes to stuff like voting. If wasps can feel pain just like us, though, then when it comes to spraying Raid vs misting VX, then yes, there aren't many differences.

    If I swat a fly, does it's mother and father grieve? Do the other fly's near the garbage can get PSTD? After 50 targeted swattings do flies as a group feel persecuted for their species? Like outsiders? Afraid to go outside? Will flies only live on the north side of town so they feel safe as a group?

    Or to go another way: What if I kill the wasps instantaneously, say strapping a massive bomb to their nest obliterating them before they know whats happening leaving no survivors? Since there is no pain, this is okay? What if I were to do the same to a buss full of people?
    I've dealt with this a bit in the thread but largely stayed away from it, because I consider death and pain to be two very different questions, but I've been running the Singer response plus what might be his response and what might not be his response because I can't remember: painlessly killing some kinds of animals is okay, while painlessly killing other kinds of animals is not okay. So for the purposes of this thread I'll just say that painlessly killing any non-human animal is okay. This still rules out lots of science experiments that cause pain to animals before killing them, which is all I'm trying to establish. If you want to go back and read through the thread you can find more that I've said about painless killing.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Willing to use a non-consenting human? Or willing to use a human incapable of consenting?

    Because those are two different things. One involves a person who can consent but does not, and the other involves a person with severe brain damage. Also there are issues of consent being given by family members, etc. Like if grandma has a stroke and is rendered brain dead, then consent is no longer given by her, but by relatives. Anyway, that's not the point.

    So which is it?
    Yes, you are correct. I want to say "a human incapable of consenting." Like a baby or a severely mentally retarded person.

    The problem is though that for many reasons, we give the ability to consent on behalf of those kind of people to others. So parents consent on behalf of children. Children are used in experiments with parents permission. The same can be said of severely mentally retarded people. Actually the same is true of animals. You can't perform an experiment on my dog without my consent.

    There is also the issue of the fact that babies are only temporarily unable to consent. They reliably grow into consenting beings. It's not really reasonable to take advantage of a temporary inability to consent. Otherwise it would be okay to take advantage of drunks. Animals however not only cannot consent now, but will never be able to consent. Except possibly dolphins or some higher order primates. But we tend not to use them for too many dangerous experiments.
    I accidentally deleted my response, so the short version is this: we already have institutions in place to provide "consent" on the part of non-human animals, but these institutions have fucked up priorities because they don't care about non-human animal pain as much as they care about human pain (I think. If this is not the case then I guess I'm fine). I think as long as we have safeguards in place to limit involvement of non-human animals in experiments to cases where someone would consent to, for instance, have their pet dog or pet rat experimented on, then we're fine. This isn't a great way of specifying it because I think there's a caretaker-independent standard (to deny this would be to deny that it would ever make sense to criticize someone for allowing their infant to be used in a very painful experiment with little benefit to the infant) and that this standard is what we should ultimately use.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Dolraith wrote: »
    1. Then the statement you made would be "At this point of time the social consensus in the city of New York is that carrots are worth less than diamonds." I suppose that means that you are correct and it is possible to derive an objective statement from subjective parameters. However it still requires an quantifying of said parameters. Therefore for your system to be viable we would need a scale for feelings of pain, as well as a way of measuring it. (a.k.a. pain-dollars if you will). Since we cannot ask animals to rate their pain on a scale of 1-100, we would have to rely on CAT scans, and intensity of activation of pain centers. This would clearly favor humans over the smaller animals, as they have less brain, therefore less cranial activity.
    Less brain activity does not mean less pain. You can't put someone in a CAT scan and figure out how much pain they are feeling. It is likely never going to be possible to do this, although if in the future somehow we figure it out, then that would be a great way to find out if I'm full of shit or if rats actually do feel just as hurt when you poke them with a fork compared to a human.
    Then unless you propose that pain is binary, we have no way of telling how hurt animals feel. With no way of knowing just how much pain they are going through, we cannot do the calculation of moral profit vs moral debt, thereby making this system almost unusable. Because of physiological differences, we can safely project that the pain humans feel when shot with a 9 mil round is not identical to the pain that a cat feels when shot with same, as the amount of damage is different. The other option would be to scale the damage to the creature, but some things just don't scale well (what's a shot foot on a snake?).
    If objective measurements of pain are out, we have to resort to....statistical analysis of best guess of humans? As in show people creatures in different amounts of pain and ask them how much pain would they rate the creature is feeling rated on the same scale as the pain the human in question has experienced? Help me out here, I'm honestly trying to make this work. (srsly. no sarcasm. I just don't see a good way to do this).
    I'll go ahead and blow your mind: not only is it impossible for us to know if the snake is experiencing the same amount of pain as we do when it's poked with a fork... we can't even tell if other human beings feel the same amount of pain! It's impossible! I can ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, but your 1 to 10 might be different from my 1 to 10. I could break your toe and break my toe and then ask you to rate all subsequent pains with respect to the broken toe, but we don't know that your broken toe feels like my broken toe! It's impossible to get inside someone else's head because experiences are specific to the mind experiencing them.

    Now, maybe this isn't right. Maybe there are fancy scientific ways of measuring pain. Fine. If there are, then we can hook animals up to the machine too.
    Dolraith wrote: »
    2a. My answer comes in two parts: one being: in my system a whale is more valuable than a human....until you factor in the fact that the whale has practically no social networking (as compared to a human), and the fact that it will not leave anything lasting behind, whereas a human very well might leave a legacy.
    So if a human won't leave behind a legacy (say, they are a baby, or a hobo) it's better to kill them than a whale?
    A baby has potential to leave a legacy. But yeah, I'd take a whale over a hobo if the hobo has given up on life and isn't going to reform, shape up, claw his way out of his position and do something useful. Unless he's hoboland's mr. popularity, in which case his social network has to be taken into account. The weighting of neuron linkages to abstract constructs to social networks would have to be worked out as well, and I concede that that wouldn't be easy either.
    This just seems like a silly way of choosing what matters in the world. You say that complexity is the most important thing. What if I say that complexity divided by time is the most important thing? That is, if the Eiffel Tower has 10 linkages and has existed for 10 years, it gets a "1" on the "what matters" scale. If the Washington Monument has 10 linkages and has existed for 5 years, it gets a "2" on the scale. So if someone comes to you and says that you have to blow one of them up, you should blow up the Eiffel Tower. This sounds arbitrary to me, because I could've made my measure "complexity divided by time squared" or something, but your method (just complexity, with no time component) also sounds silly. I mean, who gives a flying fuck about complexity?

  • LoserForHireXLoserForHireX Registered User regular
    Willing to use a non-consenting human? Or willing to use a human incapable of consenting?

    Because those are two different things. One involves a person who can consent but does not, and the other involves a person with severe brain damage. Also there are issues of consent being given by family members, etc. Like if grandma has a stroke and is rendered brain dead, then consent is no longer given by her, but by relatives. Anyway, that's not the point.

    So which is it?
    Yes, you are correct. I want to say "a human incapable of consenting." Like a baby or a severely mentally retarded person.

    The problem is though that for many reasons, we give the ability to consent on behalf of those kind of people to others. So parents consent on behalf of children. Children are used in experiments with parents permission. The same can be said of severely mentally retarded people. Actually the same is true of animals. You can't perform an experiment on my dog without my consent.

    There is also the issue of the fact that babies are only temporarily unable to consent. They reliably grow into consenting beings. It's not really reasonable to take advantage of a temporary inability to consent. Otherwise it would be okay to take advantage of drunks. Animals however not only cannot consent now, but will never be able to consent. Except possibly dolphins or some higher order primates. But we tend not to use them for too many dangerous experiments.
    I accidentally deleted my response, so the short version is this: we already have institutions in place to provide "consent" on the part of non-human animals, but these institutions have fucked up priorities because they don't care about non-human animal pain as much as they care about human pain (I think. If this is not the case then I guess I'm fine). I think as long as we have safeguards in place to limit involvement of non-human animals in experiments to cases where someone would consent to, for instance, have their pet dog or pet rat experimented on, then we're fine. This isn't a great way of specifying it because I think there's a caretaker-independent standard (do deny this would be to deny that it would ever make sense to criticize someone for allowing their infant to be used in a very painful experiment with little benefit to the infant) and that this standard is what we should ultimately use.

    Why did you put consent in quotations there? I suspect it's because consent isn't being given on behalf of the animals, but rather institutions are approving certain experiments be run. That isn't consent.

    Take the example of a human being and a medical procedure. The human being consents to the medical procedure being performed, the hospital does not consent to performing it.

    I do not believe that there are any institutions or agencies which presume to give consent on behalf of animal test subjects. Because they just aren't beings where consent is an issue. I need never get consent from a dog to do anything to it that I would have to with a normally functioning human being. Also, animals are not necessarily able to communicate consent or wishes for consent to anyone to act on their behalf. Also these institutions are not legal guardians for those animals. These are all problems with the notion of animals used for testing giving consent, or some human being giving consent on their behalf.

    "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to give into it." - Oscar Wilde
    "We believe in the people and their 'wisdom' as if there was some special secret entrance to knowledge that barred to anyone who had ever learned anything." - Friedrich Nietzsche
  • DolraithDolraith Registered User
    I'll go ahead and blow your mind: not only is it impossible for us to know if the snake is experiencing the same amount of pain as we do when it's poked with a fork... we can't even tell if other human beings feel the same amount of pain! It's impossible! I can ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, but your 1 to 10 might be different from my 1 to 10. I could break your toe and break my toe and then ask you to rate all subsequent pains with respect to the broken toe, but we don't know that your broken toe feels like my broken toe! It's impossible to get inside someone else's head because experiences are specific to the mind experiencing them.
    You haven't blown my mind....in fact you're right next to the point I was trying to make. We can't rate others' pain. You just said so yourself. So how on earth could you ever do the math that YOUR system necessitates? How can you possibly measure gains versus losses? This is why pain is a bad meter. I proposed the best objective meter I could find, so as to be constructive. You don't like it, that's fine. I am open to alternatives. Empirically measurable alternatives.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Willing to use a non-consenting human? Or willing to use a human incapable of consenting?

    Because those are two different things. One involves a person who can consent but does not, and the other involves a person with severe brain damage. Also there are issues of consent being given by family members, etc. Like if grandma has a stroke and is rendered brain dead, then consent is no longer given by her, but by relatives. Anyway, that's not the point.

    So which is it?
    Yes, you are correct. I want to say "a human incapable of consenting." Like a baby or a severely mentally retarded person.

    The problem is though that for many reasons, we give the ability to consent on behalf of those kind of people to others. So parents consent on behalf of children. Children are used in experiments with parents permission. The same can be said of severely mentally retarded people. Actually the same is true of animals. You can't perform an experiment on my dog without my consent.

    There is also the issue of the fact that babies are only temporarily unable to consent. They reliably grow into consenting beings. It's not really reasonable to take advantage of a temporary inability to consent. Otherwise it would be okay to take advantage of drunks. Animals however not only cannot consent now, but will never be able to consent. Except possibly dolphins or some higher order primates. But we tend not to use them for too many dangerous experiments.
    I accidentally deleted my response, so the short version is this: we already have institutions in place to provide "consent" on the part of non-human animals, but these institutions have fucked up priorities because they don't care about non-human animal pain as much as they care about human pain (I think. If this is not the case then I guess I'm fine). I think as long as we have safeguards in place to limit involvement of non-human animals in experiments to cases where someone would consent to, for instance, have their pet dog or pet rat experimented on, then we're fine. This isn't a great way of specifying it because I think there's a caretaker-independent standard (do deny this would be to deny that it would ever make sense to criticize someone for allowing their infant to be used in a very painful experiment with little benefit to the infant) and that this standard is what we should ultimately use.

    Why did you put consent in quotations there? I suspect it's because consent isn't being given on behalf of the animals, but rather institutions are approving certain experiments be run. That isn't consent.

    Take the example of a human being and a medical procedure. The human being consents to the medical procedure being performed, the hospital does not consent to performing it.

    I do not believe that there are any institutions or agencies which presume to give consent on behalf of animal test subjects. Because they just aren't beings where consent is an issue. I need never get consent from a dog to do anything to it that I would have to with a normally functioning human being. Also, animals are not necessarily able to communicate consent or wishes for consent to anyone to act on their behalf. Also these institutions are not legal guardians for those animals. These are all problems with the notion of animals used for testing giving consent, or some human being giving consent on their behalf.
    The institutions that regulate testing on non-human animals do care about the animal test subjects to some degree, so I used "consent" in quotes because to some extent it's like they're looking out for the animal's best interests just like a parent looks out for a baby's best interests. It's not like we can do whatever experiments on non-human animals that we want. There are standards. I'm arguing that these standards should be basically the same standards we would use if human babies were in the equation. Consent is a good shorthand for this, because generally parents look out for their babies, but really it's not the end-all: what we really care about is the interests of any individual that cannot give consent, and we use consent on the part of the parents or the pet owner to be a good indicator of what is likely to be in the best interests of the baby/the pet.

    Let's just move away from the consent language and express it in these terms: if you want to do a scientific experiment on something, you need to balance its interests against the gains from the experiment. Specifically you need to balance how much pain the subject will undergo against the benefits that will accrue, both to the subject and to third parties.

    This sounds like what we do now, right? Except that right now I don't think we care about non-human animal pain as much as we care about baby pain. I'm saying that we should care about both equally, at least insofar as both creatures can experience pain.

    (And although I hesitate to bring up this point, because consent is not the most useful concept, I think there are cases where you need to get a dog's consent before doing something to it. Playing fetch, for instance: if the dog doesn't want to pay fetch, it's not okay to shock it with a shock collar or whatever until it plays fetch with you.)
    Dolraith wrote: »
    I'll go ahead and blow your mind: not only is it impossible for us to know if the snake is experiencing the same amount of pain as we do when it's poked with a fork... we can't even tell if other human beings feel the same amount of pain! It's impossible! I can ask you to rate your pain on a scale of 1 to 10, but your 1 to 10 might be different from my 1 to 10. I could break your toe and break my toe and then ask you to rate all subsequent pains with respect to the broken toe, but we don't know that your broken toe feels like my broken toe! It's impossible to get inside someone else's head because experiences are specific to the mind experiencing them.
    You haven't blown my mind....in fact you're right next to the point I was trying to make. We can't rate others' pain. You just said so yourself. So how on earth could you ever do the math that YOUR system necessitates? How can you possibly measure gains versus losses? This is why pain is a bad meter. I proposed the best objective meter I could find, so as to be constructive. You don't like it, that's fine. I am open to alternatives. Empirically measurable alternatives.
    You are still under the mistaken impression that something has to be objective for us to build an objective system that relies on it. Pain is a subjective experience that can ground parts of our objective morality.

  • DolraithDolraith Registered User
    I do not see how you translate subjective experiences into consistent data, that you would need in order to establish an objective system, without use of statistics, for which we have no data, since we cannot know how much pain animals (or any other being really) feel.

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Dolraith wrote: »
    I do not see how you translate subjective experiences into consistent data, that you would need in order to establish an objective system, without use of statistics, for which we have no data, since we cannot know how much pain animals (or any other being really) feel.
    You estimate? You figure that a dog feels as much pain as you do when both of you get poked with a fork.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.

    Pretty much. You appear to think that there is no such thing as an experiment that has benefits which outweigh the moral values involved in hurting or killing a test animal. I think there are a shit ton of them. Do you have any idea how many studies are done every year using animal models wherein the expected outcome is death? They're used to determine safe concentrations and workplace guidelines for chemicals, food additives, etc. I think every one of them is more important than the rats that die in the process.
    I'm not denying that experiments can outweigh the costs of using animals. The line I've said god knows how many times in this thread is that we should only do experiments on non-human animals if we would also be willing to use non-consenting human beings in these experiments.

    It harms society less to do these experiments on animals.
    I thought we agreed that "society" doesn't matter, just the sum total of pleasure/pain.

    Actually we never did. If we accepted that, it would mean awful things about attempted rape and things like that. We're not going for Brave New World here.

    Marty: The future, it's where you're going?
    Doc: That's right, twenty five years into the future. I've always dreamed on seeing the future, looking beyond my years, seeing the progress of mankind. I'll also be able to see who wins the next twenty-five world series.
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    Is pain a subjective thing? It is nerve impulses, neurotransmitters and the like. You can do fMRIs to show pain responses.

    I mean, I understand it is a brain event, but so are strokes and nobody considers them subjective. I think we have to think carefully about brain events and how we apply the subjective/objective distinction.

    There are a lot of flat claims in this thread - pain cannot be measured, pain always serves a useful purpose etc - that are just not true. People with disabilities and chronic conditions suffer pain that is not only useless, but often the main problem. Computer-assisted scanning can detect pain.

    I also think that we shouldn't be so simplistic about pain. For example, killing babies makes more suffering and reduces utility more than killing rats. Because parents care about their babies more, and would probably be willing to kill to protect them.

    I figure I could take a bear.
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Paladin wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    So it seems like our disagreement is just about how much we get out of science experiments compared to how much displeasure it takes for us to do them.

    Pretty much. You appear to think that there is no such thing as an experiment that has benefits which outweigh the moral values involved in hurting or killing a test animal. I think there are a shit ton of them. Do you have any idea how many studies are done every year using animal models wherein the expected outcome is death? They're used to determine safe concentrations and workplace guidelines for chemicals, food additives, etc. I think every one of them is more important than the rats that die in the process.
    I'm not denying that experiments can outweigh the costs of using animals. The line I've said god knows how many times in this thread is that we should only do experiments on non-human animals if we would also be willing to use non-consenting human beings in these experiments.

    It harms society less to do these experiments on animals.
    I thought we agreed that "society" doesn't matter, just the sum total of pleasure/pain.

    Actually we never did. If we accepted that, it would mean awful things about attempted rape and things like that. We're not going for Brave New World here.
    Whoops, sorry, confused you with CptHamilton.

    Okay, then I want to claim that "society" doesn't matter any more than "white people society" matters.

    edit: I mean in terms of who we can inflict pain on. I mean obviously society matters in a lot of ways. When it comes to pain, though, I don't see why it's relevant.

    TychoCelchuuu on
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