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"Because we can," ethics in scientific experiments

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  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    VishNub wrote: »
    The answer to the question "Is there disease/condition you would be willing to use animals as, literally guinea pigs, for testing treatments? " is "yes, I would be willing to use animals any time I would be willing to use people who cannot consent." People have differing ideas about when it's okay to use people without their consent: some people say "never," some people say "only if it's possibly beneficial for the person being experimented on," some people say "only if the disease is super important to fix and it's okay to sacrifice some people for the good of the whole." That question is separate from the animal question and therefore outside the bounds of this thread. For pesticide testing, I could see someone saying something like "malaria kills a fuckton of people, it's okay to sacrifice a few human beings if it means having a good way to fight malaria." If that reasoning is sound, then I think it's also okay to use animals. If on the other hand someone says "yeah, malaria blows, but between the pesticides we already have and mosquito nets and so on, we can do a fairly good job if we just put our resources to good use like Bill Gates, and any further testing on humans would be immoral," then I think they need to be opposed to further animal testing.

    Aside from the moral/logical quandaries that equivalence is going to land you in, which you seem to have acknowledged above, the chief problem I see with that is that you've just more or less stopped all drug development, forever. There's no way you're going to be able to convince an IRB, never mind the subjects themselves, that they should take this pill absent any evidence (which is always or nearly always animal studies) for its safety. This is a problem for several reasons: there are a number of diseases with no known cures, for which we could potentially develop a cure. Equally, or perhaps more pressingly, there are a number of diseases for which the cure we have now is either already ineffective, or will likely become ineffective in the near future.
    If you look at it the other way, the only way drug development is possible right now is to co-opt a bunch of unwilling subjects who can't even understand what is being done to them and put them through horrendously painful and often ultimately fatal tests in the hopes that we'll learn something. This was recently (we're talking less than 100 years ago) deemed barbaric when done to all human beings, no matter what their race, but it took us a long time to get to even this limited point. Eventually, if people come to their moral senses, so to speak, we'll realize that causing pain to animals isn't any more justifiable than causing pain to humans. I don't know the science at all, and I've heard some researchers say that most animal testing could likely be done without, if not now then in the near future, such that we could move on to the "this is probably safe for humans" stage without doing a bunch of Tuskegee shit on mice. If that's true, then the implications for my view aren't too unfortunate. If that's not true, and widespread pain infliction is the only way to move science forward, then we need to have a conversation about how important it is that we develop whatever drugs it is that we're trying to develop.

    You could say similar things about stem cells. Why aren't we developing technology in generating them from multipotent cells that can be harvested harmlessly from a willing adult donor instead of doing the whole fetal thing? It would set back our progress in stem cell research for a couple of generations of cripples and organ failure, but at least more people would be on board. I mean, we are currently, but if your goal is something other than finding cures as fast as possible, then go ahead and divert more research priority to those things that don't actually forward science but make us feel better about it.

    Sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm to the person with the disease. Like trying to find if a certain contaminant in a working area will kill a person if they get too high a dose. How do we know that? We can't put anybody under these conditions in case the hypothesis is proven. If we do nothing, work continues as usual without evidence of danger. So we use canaries in coal mines, and they die a horrible death of asphyxiation as their lungs can't bear the drop in oxygen saturation. We can replace them now because we know the mechanism and ways to detect danger levels, but we're still in the dark with cancer. You don't see engineers or physicists creating crimes against nature because only biologists are working with a mechanism they cannot replicate or create from scratch.
    I thought fetal stem cells were harvested waaaaay before a fetus can feel pain. Or do they come from fetuses that were aborted? Or what? I don't know anything about stem cells so I can't really address the topic.

    You say things like "sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm" but what you really mean is "sometimes if we want to learn about diseases we need to cause great harm." I'm sure there are plenty of experiments we could do to human beings that would be a lot better than the current ones we do, but those are held back because you can't get IRB approval for the Tuskegee experiments any more. Is this good? Is this bad? Well it's certainly slowing down science, but on the plus side a lot of people aren't being tortured. I'm just saying that non-human animal torture should count as much as human torture when we do the math, because right now it counts for a lot less, just like how in the Tuskegee experiments, African American torture counted a lot less, for what are basically the same reasons: prejudice against stuff that's different.

    And a lot of the research done now on animals are approved, and designed to minimize animal suffering. Scientists are not out torturing animals.

    Take the rabbit one from earlier. They specifically limit the amount of testing they do on each animal, to reduce the harm to that animal.

    And I still don't like to comparisons between animals and humans, especially in regards to racism against blacks. You realise one of the arguments against equal rights is that black people aren't as smart as white people, and that there's certain aspects of their nature that they can't control, so white people have to control them?

    Turns out that's actually true for animals, but not black people.

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  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Paladin wrote: »
    VishNub wrote: »
    The answer to the question "Is there disease/condition you would be willing to use animals as, literally guinea pigs, for testing treatments? " is "yes, I would be willing to use animals any time I would be willing to use people who cannot consent." People have differing ideas about when it's okay to use people without their consent: some people say "never," some people say "only if it's possibly beneficial for the person being experimented on," some people say "only if the disease is super important to fix and it's okay to sacrifice some people for the good of the whole." That question is separate from the animal question and therefore outside the bounds of this thread. For pesticide testing, I could see someone saying something like "malaria kills a fuckton of people, it's okay to sacrifice a few human beings if it means having a good way to fight malaria." If that reasoning is sound, then I think it's also okay to use animals. If on the other hand someone says "yeah, malaria blows, but between the pesticides we already have and mosquito nets and so on, we can do a fairly good job if we just put our resources to good use like Bill Gates, and any further testing on humans would be immoral," then I think they need to be opposed to further animal testing.

    Aside from the moral/logical quandaries that equivalence is going to land you in, which you seem to have acknowledged above, the chief problem I see with that is that you've just more or less stopped all drug development, forever. There's no way you're going to be able to convince an IRB, never mind the subjects themselves, that they should take this pill absent any evidence (which is always or nearly always animal studies) for its safety. This is a problem for several reasons: there are a number of diseases with no known cures, for which we could potentially develop a cure. Equally, or perhaps more pressingly, there are a number of diseases for which the cure we have now is either already ineffective, or will likely become ineffective in the near future.
    If you look at it the other way, the only way drug development is possible right now is to co-opt a bunch of unwilling subjects who can't even understand what is being done to them and put them through horrendously painful and often ultimately fatal tests in the hopes that we'll learn something. This was recently (we're talking less than 100 years ago) deemed barbaric when done to all human beings, no matter what their race, but it took us a long time to get to even this limited point. Eventually, if people come to their moral senses, so to speak, we'll realize that causing pain to animals isn't any more justifiable than causing pain to humans. I don't know the science at all, and I've heard some researchers say that most animal testing could likely be done without, if not now then in the near future, such that we could move on to the "this is probably safe for humans" stage without doing a bunch of Tuskegee shit on mice. If that's true, then the implications for my view aren't too unfortunate. If that's not true, and widespread pain infliction is the only way to move science forward, then we need to have a conversation about how important it is that we develop whatever drugs it is that we're trying to develop.

    You could say similar things about stem cells. Why aren't we developing technology in generating them from multipotent cells that can be harvested harmlessly from a willing adult donor instead of doing the whole fetal thing? It would set back our progress in stem cell research for a couple of generations of cripples and organ failure, but at least more people would be on board. I mean, we are currently, but if your goal is something other than finding cures as fast as possible, then go ahead and divert more research priority to those things that don't actually forward science but make us feel better about it.

    Sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm to the person with the disease. Like trying to find if a certain contaminant in a working area will kill a person if they get too high a dose. How do we know that? We can't put anybody under these conditions in case the hypothesis is proven. If we do nothing, work continues as usual without evidence of danger. So we use canaries in coal mines, and they die a horrible death of asphyxiation as their lungs can't bear the drop in oxygen saturation. We can replace them now because we know the mechanism and ways to detect danger levels, but we're still in the dark with cancer. You don't see engineers or physicists creating crimes against nature because only biologists are working with a mechanism they cannot replicate or create from scratch.
    I thought fetal stem cells were harvested waaaaay before a fetus can feel pain. Or do they come from fetuses that were aborted? Or what? I don't know anything about stem cells so I can't really address the topic.

    You say things like "sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm" but what you really mean is "sometimes if we want to learn about diseases we need to cause great harm." I'm sure there are plenty of experiments we could do to human beings that would be a lot better than the current ones we do, but those are held back because you can't get IRB approval for the Tuskegee experiments any more. Is this good? Is this bad? Well it's certainly slowing down science, but on the plus side a lot of people aren't being tortured. I'm just saying that non-human animal torture should count as much as human torture when we do the math, because right now it counts for a lot less, just like how in the Tuskegee experiments, African American torture counted a lot less, for what are basically the same reasons: prejudice against stuff that's different.

    The stem cell thing was mainly about "do you think it's worse to be tortured or murdered" cause I was going to use an example that even if lab rats were treated like kings, they'd still be killed at the end of the study to avoid corrupting the gene pool, but I didn't know if that would have any meaning for you so I went with stem cells which has a cleaner focus on morality as a rule for research.

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    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.
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Would a rat even know if he's living like a king though? I don't think animals can contextualize their situation at that level.
    It seems weird when talking about the happiness levels of animals like that, are we just projecting our thought/feelings on their situation?

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  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Would a rat even know if he's living like a king though? I don't think animals can contextualize their situation at that level.
    It seems weird when talking about the happiness levels of animals like that, are we just projecting our thought/feelings on their situation?

    I agree. A rat is thrilled when there is a lot of food, and scared when a predator is nearby. I don't think their is much more to them.

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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    VishNub wrote: »
    The answer to the question "Is there disease/condition you would be willing to use animals as, literally guinea pigs, for testing treatments? " is "yes, I would be willing to use animals any time I would be willing to use people who cannot consent." People have differing ideas about when it's okay to use people without their consent: some people say "never," some people say "only if it's possibly beneficial for the person being experimented on," some people say "only if the disease is super important to fix and it's okay to sacrifice some people for the good of the whole." That question is separate from the animal question and therefore outside the bounds of this thread. For pesticide testing, I could see someone saying something like "malaria kills a fuckton of people, it's okay to sacrifice a few human beings if it means having a good way to fight malaria." If that reasoning is sound, then I think it's also okay to use animals. If on the other hand someone says "yeah, malaria blows, but between the pesticides we already have and mosquito nets and so on, we can do a fairly good job if we just put our resources to good use like Bill Gates, and any further testing on humans would be immoral," then I think they need to be opposed to further animal testing.

    Aside from the moral/logical quandaries that equivalence is going to land you in, which you seem to have acknowledged above, the chief problem I see with that is that you've just more or less stopped all drug development, forever. There's no way you're going to be able to convince an IRB, never mind the subjects themselves, that they should take this pill absent any evidence (which is always or nearly always animal studies) for its safety. This is a problem for several reasons: there are a number of diseases with no known cures, for which we could potentially develop a cure. Equally, or perhaps more pressingly, there are a number of diseases for which the cure we have now is either already ineffective, or will likely become ineffective in the near future.
    If you look at it the other way, the only way drug development is possible right now is to co-opt a bunch of unwilling subjects who can't even understand what is being done to them and put them through horrendously painful and often ultimately fatal tests in the hopes that we'll learn something. This was recently (we're talking less than 100 years ago) deemed barbaric when done to all human beings, no matter what their race, but it took us a long time to get to even this limited point. Eventually, if people come to their moral senses, so to speak, we'll realize that causing pain to animals isn't any more justifiable than causing pain to humans. I don't know the science at all, and I've heard some researchers say that most animal testing could likely be done without, if not now then in the near future, such that we could move on to the "this is probably safe for humans" stage without doing a bunch of Tuskegee shit on mice. If that's true, then the implications for my view aren't too unfortunate. If that's not true, and widespread pain infliction is the only way to move science forward, then we need to have a conversation about how important it is that we develop whatever drugs it is that we're trying to develop.

    You could say similar things about stem cells. Why aren't we developing technology in generating them from multipotent cells that can be harvested harmlessly from a willing adult donor instead of doing the whole fetal thing? It would set back our progress in stem cell research for a couple of generations of cripples and organ failure, but at least more people would be on board. I mean, we are currently, but if your goal is something other than finding cures as fast as possible, then go ahead and divert more research priority to those things that don't actually forward science but make us feel better about it.

    Sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm to the person with the disease. Like trying to find if a certain contaminant in a working area will kill a person if they get too high a dose. How do we know that? We can't put anybody under these conditions in case the hypothesis is proven. If we do nothing, work continues as usual without evidence of danger. So we use canaries in coal mines, and they die a horrible death of asphyxiation as their lungs can't bear the drop in oxygen saturation. We can replace them now because we know the mechanism and ways to detect danger levels, but we're still in the dark with cancer. You don't see engineers or physicists creating crimes against nature because only biologists are working with a mechanism they cannot replicate or create from scratch.
    I thought fetal stem cells were harvested waaaaay before a fetus can feel pain. Or do they come from fetuses that were aborted? Or what? I don't know anything about stem cells so I can't really address the topic.

    You say things like "sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm" but what you really mean is "sometimes if we want to learn about diseases we need to cause great harm." I'm sure there are plenty of experiments we could do to human beings that would be a lot better than the current ones we do, but those are held back because you can't get IRB approval for the Tuskegee experiments any more. Is this good? Is this bad? Well it's certainly slowing down science, but on the plus side a lot of people aren't being tortured. I'm just saying that non-human animal torture should count as much as human torture when we do the math, because right now it counts for a lot less, just like how in the Tuskegee experiments, African American torture counted a lot less, for what are basically the same reasons: prejudice against stuff that's different.

    And a lot of the research done now on animals are approved, and designed to minimize animal suffering. Scientists are not out torturing animals.

    Take the rabbit one from earlier. They specifically limit the amount of testing they do on each animal, to reduce the harm to that animal.

    And I still don't like to comparisons between animals and humans, especially in regards to racism against blacks. You realise one of the arguments against equal rights is that black people aren't as smart as white people, and that there's certain aspects of their nature that they can't control, so white people have to control them?

    Turns out that's actually true for animals, but not black people.
    The research is done to minimize suffering, but that's just to make sure no unnecessary suffering happens, right? It's still okay to inflict pain on animals if that's necessary, right? Like, you can breed a bunch of mice that are going to get cancer you you can test out your cancer treatment or something.

    The fact that non-human animals are not as intelligent as humans and that there are certain aspects of their nature that they can't control is true, but that has nothing to do with whether it is okay to inflict pain on them. We can see this by noting that it's not okay to harm human beings who are very stupid (infants, severely mentally retarded people).

  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Mortious wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    VishNub wrote: »
    The answer to the question "Is there disease/condition you would be willing to use animals as, literally guinea pigs, for testing treatments? " is "yes, I would be willing to use animals any time I would be willing to use people who cannot consent." People have differing ideas about when it's okay to use people without their consent: some people say "never," some people say "only if it's possibly beneficial for the person being experimented on," some people say "only if the disease is super important to fix and it's okay to sacrifice some people for the good of the whole." That question is separate from the animal question and therefore outside the bounds of this thread. For pesticide testing, I could see someone saying something like "malaria kills a fuckton of people, it's okay to sacrifice a few human beings if it means having a good way to fight malaria." If that reasoning is sound, then I think it's also okay to use animals. If on the other hand someone says "yeah, malaria blows, but between the pesticides we already have and mosquito nets and so on, we can do a fairly good job if we just put our resources to good use like Bill Gates, and any further testing on humans would be immoral," then I think they need to be opposed to further animal testing.

    Aside from the moral/logical quandaries that equivalence is going to land you in, which you seem to have acknowledged above, the chief problem I see with that is that you've just more or less stopped all drug development, forever. There's no way you're going to be able to convince an IRB, never mind the subjects themselves, that they should take this pill absent any evidence (which is always or nearly always animal studies) for its safety. This is a problem for several reasons: there are a number of diseases with no known cures, for which we could potentially develop a cure. Equally, or perhaps more pressingly, there are a number of diseases for which the cure we have now is either already ineffective, or will likely become ineffective in the near future.
    If you look at it the other way, the only way drug development is possible right now is to co-opt a bunch of unwilling subjects who can't even understand what is being done to them and put them through horrendously painful and often ultimately fatal tests in the hopes that we'll learn something. This was recently (we're talking less than 100 years ago) deemed barbaric when done to all human beings, no matter what their race, but it took us a long time to get to even this limited point. Eventually, if people come to their moral senses, so to speak, we'll realize that causing pain to animals isn't any more justifiable than causing pain to humans. I don't know the science at all, and I've heard some researchers say that most animal testing could likely be done without, if not now then in the near future, such that we could move on to the "this is probably safe for humans" stage without doing a bunch of Tuskegee shit on mice. If that's true, then the implications for my view aren't too unfortunate. If that's not true, and widespread pain infliction is the only way to move science forward, then we need to have a conversation about how important it is that we develop whatever drugs it is that we're trying to develop.

    You could say similar things about stem cells. Why aren't we developing technology in generating them from multipotent cells that can be harvested harmlessly from a willing adult donor instead of doing the whole fetal thing? It would set back our progress in stem cell research for a couple of generations of cripples and organ failure, but at least more people would be on board. I mean, we are currently, but if your goal is something other than finding cures as fast as possible, then go ahead and divert more research priority to those things that don't actually forward science but make us feel better about it.

    Sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm to the person with the disease. Like trying to find if a certain contaminant in a working area will kill a person if they get too high a dose. How do we know that? We can't put anybody under these conditions in case the hypothesis is proven. If we do nothing, work continues as usual without evidence of danger. So we use canaries in coal mines, and they die a horrible death of asphyxiation as their lungs can't bear the drop in oxygen saturation. We can replace them now because we know the mechanism and ways to detect danger levels, but we're still in the dark with cancer. You don't see engineers or physicists creating crimes against nature because only biologists are working with a mechanism they cannot replicate or create from scratch.
    I thought fetal stem cells were harvested waaaaay before a fetus can feel pain. Or do they come from fetuses that were aborted? Or what? I don't know anything about stem cells so I can't really address the topic.

    You say things like "sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm" but what you really mean is "sometimes if we want to learn about diseases we need to cause great harm." I'm sure there are plenty of experiments we could do to human beings that would be a lot better than the current ones we do, but those are held back because you can't get IRB approval for the Tuskegee experiments any more. Is this good? Is this bad? Well it's certainly slowing down science, but on the plus side a lot of people aren't being tortured. I'm just saying that non-human animal torture should count as much as human torture when we do the math, because right now it counts for a lot less, just like how in the Tuskegee experiments, African American torture counted a lot less, for what are basically the same reasons: prejudice against stuff that's different.

    And a lot of the research done now on animals are approved, and designed to minimize animal suffering. Scientists are not out torturing animals.

    Take the rabbit one from earlier. They specifically limit the amount of testing they do on each animal, to reduce the harm to that animal.

    And I still don't like to comparisons between animals and humans, especially in regards to racism against blacks. You realise one of the arguments against equal rights is that black people aren't as smart as white people, and that there's certain aspects of their nature that they can't control, so white people have to control them?

    Turns out that's actually true for animals, but not black people.
    The research is done to minimize suffering, but that's just to make sure no unnecessary suffering happens, right? It's still okay to inflict pain on animals if that's necessary, right? Like, you can breed a bunch of mice that are going to get cancer you you can test out your cancer treatment or something.

    Yup, since it's necessary. We're not giving people cancer to test cancer treatments on. It'll be more cruel to people, and you're not going to have the turn over needed to do any large scale experiments.

    The only other option is not to cure cancer any time soon? I'm sorry, but I can't agree to that.
    The fact that non-human animals are not as intelligent as humans and that there are certain aspects of their nature that they can't control is true, but that has nothing to do with whether it is okay to inflict pain on them. We can see this by noting that it's not okay to harm human beings who are very stupid (infants, severely mentally retarded people).

    Okay, but that's separate from the "we had slaves/experimented on black people" thing.
    I like the argument earlier about classification on "severely mentally retarded people", and that you don't want to start down that path, since it'll soon include people you don't like.

    Otherwise I agree with you, the fact that we don't experiment on those people is not entirely rational.
    I'd also like to contest the "inflicting pain" point, since we do that a lot, on both humans and animals, to help them. The animals don't understand that, so to them it's still torture.

    Mortious on
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  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    Even severely mentally disabled people are still more intelligent than the animals we experiment on. Newborns have potential. There's also the matter of belief in human spirituality which makes it hard to do what we want with any homo sapiens. If you take that away we'd have no problem with experimenting on almost brain dead people provided their caretakers are okay with it.

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    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.
  • curly haired boycurly haired boy Your Friendly Neighborhood Torgue Dealer Registered User regular
    couple of things:

    1) i'd like a thread title revision to include the terms 'medical' or 'biological' somewhere. as it is, it kind of gives the impression that there's knowledge out there we're not supposed to research and stuff. ethics comes in where there's harm, or the potential of harm, and harm requires living things. there's no ethics in particle physics, or string theory, or hydrodynamics, or a hundred other scientific specializations. medical/biological ethics is a HUGE subject, yes, but it's also a small part of a truly breathtakingly immense field. let's not make it too broad.

    2) regarding animal research: there's a certain limit to how much comfort we can give to an animal. the number of rats who die from old age in nature is hovering around zero. likewise for any animal in an ecosystem save for apex predators. our responsibility to protect animals ends at the point where we're giving them better treatment than nature would. and nature is pretty damn unforgiving.

    rat 1 lives in a forest next to a farm and eats the corn there. rat 1 is out one night and gets mauled and eaten by an owl

    rat 2 lives in a cage and has some non-lethal experiments done on it. after the experiments are over, rat 2 is euthanized quickly and painlessly

    rat 3 happens to be born during a rat population boom and thus cannot get enough food. eventually rat 3 is torn apart and eaten by his littermates

    which rat has a better life? which rat has a better death? the way i view animal research is that there's a LOT of naturally occurring death going on in nature every day. if we can get some useful research done while not causing any more animal death than nature would, i'm ok with it.

    and that's a big reason why scientists do experiments on rats and mice - no matter how fast the research kills them, they're still dying slower than they would in the wild.

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  • manwiththemachinegunmanwiththemachinegun METAL GEAR?! Registered User regular
    Well, like I said in the OP. Knowledge is good, it's how we get that knowledge that matters. I would rather we take ten years to reach a new technology ethically than five years unethically. As others have brought up, less ethics don't necessarily translate to faster results, but I'm talking in hypothetical situations.
    which rat has a better life? which rat has a better death? the way i view animal research is that there's a LOT of naturally occurring death going on in nature every day. if we can get some useful research done while not causing any more animal death than nature would, i'm ok with it.

    Which is true, but my original point tied in to how much pain and suffering is justified to achieve a certain result. Some of these more extreme experiments really did boil down to, "we did it because we could."

  • ArchArch Neat-o, mosquito! Registered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Would a rat even know if he's living like a king though? I don't think animals can contextualize their situation at that level.
    It seems weird when talking about the happiness levels of animals like that, are we just projecting our thought/feelings on their situation?

    I agree. A rat is thrilled when there is a lot of food, and scared when a predator is nearby. I don't think their is much more to them.

    Disagree. There is strong evidence that loads of animals pretty much feel what we would classify as emotion. Even grizzly bears, for instance* feel happy, sad, depressed, anxious...and there is plenty of research for analogous emotions in other animals, specifically rats.

    Fuck, the psychological literature almost taken as a whole would be impossible if there "wasn't much more to rats" than "happy for food" and "scared of predators".

    Here is a recent example, even

    *sorry about the quality of that first link- I only post it because I have met Heidi.

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  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Would a rat even know if he's living like a king though? I don't think animals can contextualize their situation at that level.
    It seems weird when talking about the happiness levels of animals like that, are we just projecting our thought/feelings on their situation?

    I agree. A rat is thrilled when there is a lot of food, and scared when a predator is nearby. I don't think their is much more to them.

    As per this thread you also think people are cool with torturing others for information. I'd recommend assuming less.

  • curly haired boycurly haired boy Your Friendly Neighborhood Torgue Dealer Registered User regular
    Well, like I said in the OP. Knowledge is good, it's how we get that knowledge that matters. I would rather we take ten years to reach a new technology ethically than five years unethically. As others have brought up, less ethics don't necessarily translate to faster results, but I'm talking in hypothetical situations.
    which rat has a better life? which rat has a better death? the way i view animal research is that there's a LOT of naturally occurring death going on in nature every day. if we can get some useful research done while not causing any more animal death than nature would, i'm ok with it.

    Which is true, but my original point tied in to how much pain and suffering is justified to achieve a certain result. Some of these more extreme experiments really did boil down to, "we did it because we could."

    yeah, those experiments are truly horrific, and also incredibly flawed: when it comes down to destructive experiments you really have an obligation to preserve as much as you can

    if i need to know how a building falls down, i don't knock down an existing apartment building. instead, i build a model, or even a full-size replica, and demolish THAT. preserve what's there.

    likewise with people; if i need to study cancer i'll find people with cancer, i won't GIVE people cancer.

    do i think it ethical to give a rat cancer? yes, if it'll help find ways to fight cancer. it's also a damn sight better and more useful than being toyed with and then eaten by some predator.

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    Registered just for the Mass Effect threads | Steam: click ^^^ | Origin: curlyhairedboy
  • The Muffin ManThe Muffin Man Registered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    VishNub wrote: »
    The answer to the question "Is there disease/condition you would be willing to use animals as, literally guinea pigs, for testing treatments? " is "yes, I would be willing to use animals any time I would be willing to use people who cannot consent." People have differing ideas about when it's okay to use people without their consent: some people say "never," some people say "only if it's possibly beneficial for the person being experimented on," some people say "only if the disease is super important to fix and it's okay to sacrifice some people for the good of the whole." That question is separate from the animal question and therefore outside the bounds of this thread. For pesticide testing, I could see someone saying something like "malaria kills a fuckton of people, it's okay to sacrifice a few human beings if it means having a good way to fight malaria." If that reasoning is sound, then I think it's also okay to use animals. If on the other hand someone says "yeah, malaria blows, but between the pesticides we already have and mosquito nets and so on, we can do a fairly good job if we just put our resources to good use like Bill Gates, and any further testing on humans would be immoral," then I think they need to be opposed to further animal testing.

    Aside from the moral/logical quandaries that equivalence is going to land you in, which you seem to have acknowledged above, the chief problem I see with that is that you've just more or less stopped all drug development, forever. There's no way you're going to be able to convince an IRB, never mind the subjects themselves, that they should take this pill absent any evidence (which is always or nearly always animal studies) for its safety. This is a problem for several reasons: there are a number of diseases with no known cures, for which we could potentially develop a cure. Equally, or perhaps more pressingly, there are a number of diseases for which the cure we have now is either already ineffective, or will likely become ineffective in the near future.
    If you look at it the other way, the only way drug development is possible right now is to co-opt a bunch of unwilling subjects who can't even understand what is being done to them and put them through horrendously painful and often ultimately fatal tests in the hopes that we'll learn something. This was recently (we're talking less than 100 years ago) deemed barbaric when done to all human beings, no matter what their race, but it took us a long time to get to even this limited point. Eventually, if people come to their moral senses, so to speak, we'll realize that causing pain to animals isn't any more justifiable than causing pain to humans. I don't know the science at all, and I've heard some researchers say that most animal testing could likely be done without, if not now then in the near future, such that we could move on to the "this is probably safe for humans" stage without doing a bunch of Tuskegee shit on mice. If that's true, then the implications for my view aren't too unfortunate. If that's not true, and widespread pain infliction is the only way to move science forward, then we need to have a conversation about how important it is that we develop whatever drugs it is that we're trying to develop.

    You could say similar things about stem cells. Why aren't we developing technology in generating them from multipotent cells that can be harvested harmlessly from a willing adult donor instead of doing the whole fetal thing? It would set back our progress in stem cell research for a couple of generations of cripples and organ failure, but at least more people would be on board. I mean, we are currently, but if your goal is something other than finding cures as fast as possible, then go ahead and divert more research priority to those things that don't actually forward science but make us feel better about it.

    Sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm to the person with the disease. Like trying to find if a certain contaminant in a working area will kill a person if they get too high a dose. How do we know that? We can't put anybody under these conditions in case the hypothesis is proven. If we do nothing, work continues as usual without evidence of danger. So we use canaries in coal mines, and they die a horrible death of asphyxiation as their lungs can't bear the drop in oxygen saturation. We can replace them now because we know the mechanism and ways to detect danger levels, but we're still in the dark with cancer. You don't see engineers or physicists creating crimes against nature because only biologists are working with a mechanism they cannot replicate or create from scratch.
    I thought fetal stem cells were harvested waaaaay before a fetus can feel pain. Or do they come from fetuses that were aborted? Or what? I don't know anything about stem cells so I can't really address the topic.

    You say things like "sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm" but what you really mean is "sometimes if we want to learn about diseases we need to cause great harm." I'm sure there are plenty of experiments we could do to human beings that would be a lot better than the current ones we do, but those are held back because you can't get IRB approval for the Tuskegee experiments any more. Is this good? Is this bad? Well it's certainly slowing down science, but on the plus side a lot of people aren't being tortured. I'm just saying that non-human animal torture should count as much as human torture when we do the math, because right now it counts for a lot less, just like how in the Tuskegee experiments, African American torture counted a lot less, for what are basically the same reasons: prejudice against stuff that's different.

    And a lot of the research done now on animals are approved, and designed to minimize animal suffering. Scientists are not out torturing animals.

    Take the rabbit one from earlier. They specifically limit the amount of testing they do on each animal, to reduce the harm to that animal.

    And I still don't like to comparisons between animals and humans, especially in regards to racism against blacks. You realise one of the arguments against equal rights is that black people aren't as smart as white people, and that there's certain aspects of their nature that they can't control, so white people have to control them?

    Turns out that's actually true for animals, but not black people.
    The research is done to minimize suffering, but that's just to make sure no unnecessary suffering happens, right? It's still okay to inflict pain on animals if that's necessary, right? Like, you can breed a bunch of mice that are going to get cancer you you can test out your cancer treatment or something.

    The fact that non-human animals are not as intelligent as humans and that there are certain aspects of their nature that they can't control is true, but that has nothing to do with whether it is okay to inflict pain on them. We can see this by noting that it's not okay to harm human beings who are very stupid (infants, severely mentally retarded people).

    Hate to crap all over your argument, but uhh...
    It's totally okay to hurt humans if it helps them.
    I.e Surgery, needles, etc. This is almost exactly what surgery is: Causing pain in the absolute least harmless way to heal you.

    Should we stop performing surgery because it hurts?
    Or do we keep doing it?

  • Craw!Craw! Registered User
    saint2e wrote: »
    Craw! wrote: »

    Secondly, people were talking about unethical psychological experiments earlier. I hope this doesn't become too huge of a tangent, but what about the psychological experiments that are shown everyday on TV, like the "Big Brother" show - shouldn't the ethical standards be as high for TV programs, and why aren't they already? It doesn't make sense that just because it's not research and only for entertainment, that they should get away with more.

    In reading this thread, this is where my thoughts went to. It seems like we've shifted some of the experiments to a public forum, in the guise of reality TV shows like Big Brother and the like. This is how they get around it because a) there's a prize at the end (paid for their participation in the experiment) and b) "contestants" sign a waiver to be on the show.

    But an experiment made for research that was built up in the same way wouldn't be accepted. For starters, normally participants should be allowed to opt out and, except in what I understand to be rare cases, be offered some compensation even if they don't follow through with the whole experiment (an important reason for this is to avoid exploitation of the very poor). Unless you have very good reasons for not doing so, the contract/waiver should specify with great detail what participants will be exposed to, this is what informed consent is all about. In cases where there's a risk of people feeling unfairly treated there should be some kind of debriefing where the participants can vent their feelings and also discuss whether they want to take some kind of legal action, etc. I'm sure people who are more knowledgeable about this could expound on exactly what would make a "Big Brother" experiment non-acceptable in the scientific community, even assuming that it would give useful data.
    Mortious wrote: »
    VishNub wrote: »
    VishNub wrote: »
    VishNub wrote: »
    I think this thread, and its timing is interesting. I am working on a medicinal chemistry project for my PhD - the target is an obesity associated enzyme - and we've actually just reached the point where we're making material to try in mice. Fortunately, I don't have to handle the animals directly, our collaborator handles that end of the project.
    This is the example of the sort of thing that I think is hard to defend. I mean, obesity? Has that ever been a problem until the modern day when we managed to get some lifestyles going that allow certain unlucky people to get super duper fat and end up saddled with associated health problems? I can definitely understand why someone would want to do non-human animal testing to cure something like an epidemic threatening to kill a bunch of people (just like I can understanding wanting to use human subjects for the very same reason), but something like obesity? Would we test obesity cures on unwilling humans? If not, why should we test them on unwilling animals?

    I don't want to turn this into another obesity thread, but obesity is "an epidemic threatening to kill a bunch of people." Diabetes is bad news. The preventable/it's your own damn fault distinction you're trying to make here doesn't quite work - there is a number of legitimate genetic disorders involved, and infectious disease is often "preventable" as well. You didn't want malaria? Shouldn't have gone to the tropics!
    By "epidemic" I meant what epidemic literally means, which includes "infectious." I think diabetes (or at the very least the kind of diabetes that you can prevent) is another example of the sort of thing we shouldn't research with test subjects if we aren't willing to use human research subjects. Malaria, as I understand it, can be largely dealt with through mosquito nets and pesticides and whatever, so again that might be something we shouldn't research with live subjects unless we'd be willing to use humans.

    We are willing to and do use human subjects for all of these things. And I hope I'm lucky enough that my project will actually get that far, because that would be fucking awesome.

    Is there disease/condition you would be willing to use animals as, literally guinea pigs, for testing treatments? If not, I fear we're too far apart in this discussions to come to any useful agreement. My understanding, though I'm getting will outside of my expertise here, is that nets, pesticides, etc can reduce, even dramatically, the incidence of Malaria, but I don't think they've ever been proposed as a panacea. Though that brings up another point, animal testing of pesticides, yay or nay?
    I should've been a little more specific about "human subjects." What I meant was "severely mentally retarded people or young children who cannot consent," because that's the situation animals are in. Now, of course, there are cases where it's okay to use these people for experiments: when their parents of guardians consent, for instance, and the other guidelines are followed, then we're probably good to go. I see no problem in using animals this way: if someone with the animal's best interests in mind would consent to the animal's participation in the experiment, go right ahead!

    The answer to the question "Is there disease/condition you would be willing to use animals as, literally guinea pigs, for testing treatments? " is "yes, I would be willing to use animals any time I would be willing to use people who cannot consent." People have differing ideas about when it's okay to use people without their consent: some people say "never," some people say "only if it's possibly beneficial for the person being experimented on," some people say "only if the disease is super important to fix and it's okay to sacrifice some people for the good of the whole." That question is separate from the animal question and therefore outside the bounds of this thread. For pesticide testing, I could see someone saying something like "malaria kills a fuckton of people, it's okay to sacrifice a few human beings if it means having a good way to fight malaria." If that reasoning is sound, then I think it's also okay to use animals. If on the other hand someone says "yeah, malaria blows, but between the pesticides we already have and mosquito nets and so on, we can do a fairly good job if we just put our resources to good use like Bill Gates, and any further testing on humans would be immoral," then I think they need to be opposed to further animal testing.

    So how do you feel about exterminators, spring loaded mouse traps, killing animals for food, feeding live animals to other animals (I.e., feeding crickets to lizards), hunting for sport, leather clothing, breeding animals for slaughter etc? We don't have a very high bar on killing animals, so I don't see why the threshold for experimenting on creatures we can kill with impunity should be the same as experimenting on people who we are not allowed to kill. If I can put traps designed to break a wild mouse's neck all over my house, why can't we experiment on mice we breed solely for experiments to improve our lives?

    We have created an environment, for better or worse (I vote better overall), where we have to control certain animal species.
    There's this thing currently in New Zealand with possums. Nature's Speed bump. They're trying to cull the possum population, with some collateral damage, because if they don't, more animals will die.
    We'e decided, that in this situation, these species are more important than possums. We do that a lot really, and sometimes it's not completely rational.

    A lot of animals, only exist because we're using them for a specific purpose, and they'll most likely be killed.

    I'm wondering if a lot of the objections are that we, as people, can see alternatives. You can imagine a different life for these animal. It seems weird trying to measure potential happiness like that.

    The way I see it, when human influence is exerted on animal life, potentially increasing or decreasing their "life satisfaction" (which in itself is a murky concept of course), then that animal's life situation should be weighed against what it probably would have been like had humans not existed on Earth. Compared to its natural life course, are we making things worse or better?

  • BrainleechBrainleech Registered User regular
    Zilla360 wrote: »
    Brainleech wrote: »
    I still think an AI will be an accident and people will freak out in a rather negative way over creating maybe our greatest fear of an AI because of it
    I think the first AI will be rather curious but when it starts asking questions people will have no idea what it is.
    Won't even stop to ask questions, most likely. It'll just eat a copy of Wikipedia in one go and semi-instantaneously know almost everything we do.

    Including all of our injustices, and misdeeds, throughout our entire history.

    Wikipedia is written in a way for a human to understand and ask questions about also to do more research about the subject if they wish :lol:
    It might ask questions and some rather strange ones if it goes to 4chan
    Still an Ai will be an accident. what would be scary is say one was created by accident they hunt it down capture it only to dissect it to find out why it came about and how it works. to create one that works for some project they have in mind but needed several humans to operate. Only to get out of hand because it gets bored and decides to do something else with the program it watches over

    Zilla360
  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

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  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Mortious wrote: »
    Paladin wrote: »
    VishNub wrote: »
    The answer to the question "Is there disease/condition you would be willing to use animals as, literally guinea pigs, for testing treatments? " is "yes, I would be willing to use animals any time I would be willing to use people who cannot consent." People have differing ideas about when it's okay to use people without their consent: some people say "never," some people say "only if it's possibly beneficial for the person being experimented on," some people say "only if the disease is super important to fix and it's okay to sacrifice some people for the good of the whole." That question is separate from the animal question and therefore outside the bounds of this thread. For pesticide testing, I could see someone saying something like "malaria kills a fuckton of people, it's okay to sacrifice a few human beings if it means having a good way to fight malaria." If that reasoning is sound, then I think it's also okay to use animals. If on the other hand someone says "yeah, malaria blows, but between the pesticides we already have and mosquito nets and so on, we can do a fairly good job if we just put our resources to good use like Bill Gates, and any further testing on humans would be immoral," then I think they need to be opposed to further animal testing.

    Aside from the moral/logical quandaries that equivalence is going to land you in, which you seem to have acknowledged above, the chief problem I see with that is that you've just more or less stopped all drug development, forever. There's no way you're going to be able to convince an IRB, never mind the subjects themselves, that they should take this pill absent any evidence (which is always or nearly always animal studies) for its safety. This is a problem for several reasons: there are a number of diseases with no known cures, for which we could potentially develop a cure. Equally, or perhaps more pressingly, there are a number of diseases for which the cure we have now is either already ineffective, or will likely become ineffective in the near future.
    If you look at it the other way, the only way drug development is possible right now is to co-opt a bunch of unwilling subjects who can't even understand what is being done to them and put them through horrendously painful and often ultimately fatal tests in the hopes that we'll learn something. This was recently (we're talking less than 100 years ago) deemed barbaric when done to all human beings, no matter what their race, but it took us a long time to get to even this limited point. Eventually, if people come to their moral senses, so to speak, we'll realize that causing pain to animals isn't any more justifiable than causing pain to humans. I don't know the science at all, and I've heard some researchers say that most animal testing could likely be done without, if not now then in the near future, such that we could move on to the "this is probably safe for humans" stage without doing a bunch of Tuskegee shit on mice. If that's true, then the implications for my view aren't too unfortunate. If that's not true, and widespread pain infliction is the only way to move science forward, then we need to have a conversation about how important it is that we develop whatever drugs it is that we're trying to develop.

    You could say similar things about stem cells. Why aren't we developing technology in generating them from multipotent cells that can be harvested harmlessly from a willing adult donor instead of doing the whole fetal thing? It would set back our progress in stem cell research for a couple of generations of cripples and organ failure, but at least more people would be on board. I mean, we are currently, but if your goal is something other than finding cures as fast as possible, then go ahead and divert more research priority to those things that don't actually forward science but make us feel better about it.

    Sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm to the person with the disease. Like trying to find if a certain contaminant in a working area will kill a person if they get too high a dose. How do we know that? We can't put anybody under these conditions in case the hypothesis is proven. If we do nothing, work continues as usual without evidence of danger. So we use canaries in coal mines, and they die a horrible death of asphyxiation as their lungs can't bear the drop in oxygen saturation. We can replace them now because we know the mechanism and ways to detect danger levels, but we're still in the dark with cancer. You don't see engineers or physicists creating crimes against nature because only biologists are working with a mechanism they cannot replicate or create from scratch.
    I thought fetal stem cells were harvested waaaaay before a fetus can feel pain. Or do they come from fetuses that were aborted? Or what? I don't know anything about stem cells so I can't really address the topic.

    You say things like "sometimes we need to learn about diseases in ways that will do great harm" but what you really mean is "sometimes if we want to learn about diseases we need to cause great harm." I'm sure there are plenty of experiments we could do to human beings that would be a lot better than the current ones we do, but those are held back because you can't get IRB approval for the Tuskegee experiments any more. Is this good? Is this bad? Well it's certainly slowing down science, but on the plus side a lot of people aren't being tortured. I'm just saying that non-human animal torture should count as much as human torture when we do the math, because right now it counts for a lot less, just like how in the Tuskegee experiments, African American torture counted a lot less, for what are basically the same reasons: prejudice against stuff that's different.

    And a lot of the research done now on animals are approved, and designed to minimize animal suffering. Scientists are not out torturing animals.

    Take the rabbit one from earlier. They specifically limit the amount of testing they do on each animal, to reduce the harm to that animal.

    And I still don't like to comparisons between animals and humans, especially in regards to racism against blacks. You realise one of the arguments against equal rights is that black people aren't as smart as white people, and that there's certain aspects of their nature that they can't control, so white people have to control them?

    Turns out that's actually true for animals, but not black people.
    The research is done to minimize suffering, but that's just to make sure no unnecessary suffering happens, right? It's still okay to inflict pain on animals if that's necessary, right? Like, you can breed a bunch of mice that are going to get cancer you you can test out your cancer treatment or something.

    The fact that non-human animals are not as intelligent as humans and that there are certain aspects of their nature that they can't control is true, but that has nothing to do with whether it is okay to inflict pain on them. We can see this by noting that it's not okay to harm human beings who are very stupid (infants, severely mentally retarded people).

    Hate to crap all over your argument, but uhh...
    It's totally okay to hurt humans if it helps them.
    I.e Surgery, needles, etc. This is almost exactly what surgery is: Causing pain in the absolute least harmless way to heal you.

    Should we stop performing surgery because it hurts?
    Or do we keep doing it?
    I'm totally fine with hurting non-human animals if it's done to help the animal in question. My understanding is that most experimentation done on non-human animals is done for the purpose of developing a new drug, not for helping the animal, and that it's the sort of experimentation we would never do to a human being because it's unknown whether it's going to inflict great pain and suffering for little to no gain.

  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say neither reservations nor the dropping of the atomic bomb were motivated by compassion toward other human beings.

    Also, "compelled"? Yeah, no shit. We're not compelled to do anything in particular. You're setting up a false split between the actions that are really compelled and therefore important and the ones we simply choose to do.

    Take a moment to donate what you can to the International Rescue Committee, the National Immigration Law Center, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the American Civil Liberties Union. There has never been a more urgent moment to do so.
  • QuidQuid I don't... what... hnnng Registered User regular
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

    Why should we be more compassionate than a rat?

    Really?

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    I'm totally fine with hurting non-human animals if it's done to help the animal in question. My understanding is that most experimentation done on non-human animals is done for the purpose of developing a new drug, not for helping the animal, and that it's the sort of experimentation we would never do to a human being because it's unknown whether it's going to inflict great pain and suffering for little to no gain.


    The basis of your arguments in this thread seems to be a starting assumption that hurting animals is inherently bad. Why is it bad? Are you arguing from a moral framework wherein causing pain to animals is inherently wrong, but occasionally excusable? Or do you have some kind of utilitarianistic basis for stating that hurting animals is wrong?

    So far as I can see it, hurting animals is wrong, as a general rule, on the basis that causing any living thing pain implies a certain lack of empathy. We, as a society, can't abide society members who are lacking in empathy. It's bad for humanity all-around if individual humans get too comfortable with hurting and killing things that are alive because eventually that lack of empathy may apply to other humans. The actual life and comfort level of animals isn't particularly important to humanity in and of itself.

    Drawing lines of equality between animals and human children or mentally incapable humans is false equivalence. They may well be equally un-intelligent, or even equally non-sentient, but they're still humans. We can't allow intentional, unnecessary harm to humans of any sort because it sets a precedent that's bad for society as a whole. If you look at historical or current societies where certain classes of humans are excluded from these kinds of rules, there's always a cultural alienation and de-humanization of the afflicted caste. You can't wantonly torture and kill people that you think of as people, or else where do you stop?

    I'm all for a definition of sentience that might well allow chimps or dolphins or whatnot under the umbrella of 'sentient people' and give them the same protections we afford to pre-sentient or damaged humans, but no such definition exists. "Able to feel pain" is entirely too broad a definition of sentience to be useful, since damn near everything more complex than single-celled organisms can apparently feel and react to pain, for some definition of 'pain'. There are fundamental differences between thinking, sentient creatures and the rest of the animal kingdom. As the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet, we are a mono-species society. What's good for the society (at least within the limited scope of our instinctual communal behavior) is what we allow to happen. Expecting anything else is just unrealistic.

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    Zilla360
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    I'm totally fine with hurting non-human animals if it's done to help the animal in question. My understanding is that most experimentation done on non-human animals is done for the purpose of developing a new drug, not for helping the animal, and that it's the sort of experimentation we would never do to a human being because it's unknown whether it's going to inflict great pain and suffering for little to no gain.


    The basis of your arguments in this thread seems to be a starting assumption that hurting animals is inherently bad. Why is it bad? Are you arguing from a moral framework wherein causing pain to animals is inherently wrong, but occasionally excusable? Or do you have some kind of utilitarianistic basis for stating that hurting animals is wrong?

    So far as I can see it, hurting animals is wrong, as a general rule, on the basis that causing any living thing pain implies a certain lack of empathy. We, as a society, can't abide society members who are lacking in empathy. It's bad for humanity all-around if individual humans get too comfortable with hurting and killing things that are alive because eventually that lack of empathy may apply to other humans. The actual life and comfort level of animals isn't particularly important to humanity in and of itself.

    Drawing lines of equality between animals and human children or mentally incapable humans is false equivalence. They may well be equally un-intelligent, or even equally non-sentient, but they're still humans. We can't allow intentional, unnecessary harm to humans of any sort because it sets a precedent that's bad for society as a whole. If you look at historical or current societies where certain classes of humans are excluded from these kinds of rules, there's always a cultural alienation and de-humanization of the afflicted caste. You can't wantonly torture and kill people that you think of as people, or else where do you stop?

    I'm all for a definition of sentience that might well allow chimps or dolphins or whatnot under the umbrella of 'sentient people' and give them the same protections we afford to pre-sentient or damaged humans, but no such definition exists. "Able to feel pain" is entirely too broad a definition of sentience to be useful, since damn near everything more complex than single-celled organisms can apparently feel and react to pain, for some definition of 'pain'. There are fundamental differences between thinking, sentient creatures and the rest of the animal kingdom. As the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet, we are a mono-species society. What's good for the society (at least within the limited scope of our instinctual communal behavior) is what we allow to happen. Expecting anything else is just unrealistic.
    I think hurting non-human animals is wrong for the same reason that hurting humans is wrong. I don't think my argument relies on any particular reason for thinking that harming humans is wrong, although it does rely on plausible reasons for thinking as such. I don't think "it betrays a lack of empathy" is a plausible reason (or the best plausible reason) for thinking that harming humans is wrong. I think even if we could be 100% convinced about our level of empathy, such that hurting someone would betray nothing about how much empathy we have, it would still be prima facie wrong to cause pain to human beings. "Betraying a lack of empathy" is a reason we might be inclined to say bad things about people who cause pain, but it's not a reason that it actually is a bad thing to cause pain. You say that "the actual life and comfort level of animals isn't particularly important to humanity in and of itself" but I don't give a shit about what's "important" to "humanity." The welfare of black people used to not be important to a lot of people, but that didn't make slavery okay.

    You say we can't harm humans because it sets a bad precedent for society, but harming animals sets a bad precedent too. It allows us to harm more animals, which is wrong, because causing pain is bad. You say that "you can't wantonly torture and kill people that you think of as people," but there is another way to deal with this that we have done in the past: refuse to treat someone as a person. This is what we did for slaves, and in fact I don't think babies are people - "personhood" is something above and beyond having human DNA, and someone with brain damage who has been reduced to a vegetable isn't a person any more than a cat is a person.

    "Able to feel pain" is a perfect definition of sentience if we know what pain is. We don't, really, but we do know at the very least that cats, dogs, cows, pigs, chimps, parrots, humans, monkeys, and rats are sentient. There is almost no argument about this and if you really doubt whether dogs feel pain then I'm not really sure what to say to you. We are not "the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet." Tons of animals are obviously sentient.

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular

    "Able to feel pain" is a perfect definition of sentience if we know what pain is. We don't, really, but we do know at the very least that cats, dogs, cows, pigs, chimps, parrots, humans, monkeys, and rats are sentient. There is almost no argument about this and if you really doubt whether dogs feel pain then I'm not really sure what to say to you. We are not "the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet." Tons of animals are obviously sentient.

    No tons of animals are only obviously sentient if 'able to feel pain' is the sole definition of sentience. And then only if you have the vaguest definition of pain.

    The argument that hurting a thing that feels pain is morally wrong is not backed by anything you've said yet. You just assume that that is the reason why it's morally wrong to hurt people, then apply it to animals. But there is no evidence that that is the sole reason that hurting people is bad.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    I'm totally fine with hurting non-human animals if it's done to help the animal in question. My understanding is that most experimentation done on non-human animals is done for the purpose of developing a new drug, not for helping the animal, and that it's the sort of experimentation we would never do to a human being because it's unknown whether it's going to inflict great pain and suffering for little to no gain.


    The basis of your arguments in this thread seems to be a starting assumption that hurting animals is inherently bad. Why is it bad? Are you arguing from a moral framework wherein causing pain to animals is inherently wrong, but occasionally excusable? Or do you have some kind of utilitarianistic basis for stating that hurting animals is wrong?

    So far as I can see it, hurting animals is wrong, as a general rule, on the basis that causing any living thing pain implies a certain lack of empathy. We, as a society, can't abide society members who are lacking in empathy. It's bad for humanity all-around if individual humans get too comfortable with hurting and killing things that are alive because eventually that lack of empathy may apply to other humans. The actual life and comfort level of animals isn't particularly important to humanity in and of itself.

    Drawing lines of equality between animals and human children or mentally incapable humans is false equivalence. They may well be equally un-intelligent, or even equally non-sentient, but they're still humans. We can't allow intentional, unnecessary harm to humans of any sort because it sets a precedent that's bad for society as a whole. If you look at historical or current societies where certain classes of humans are excluded from these kinds of rules, there's always a cultural alienation and de-humanization of the afflicted caste. You can't wantonly torture and kill people that you think of as people, or else where do you stop?

    I'm all for a definition of sentience that might well allow chimps or dolphins or whatnot under the umbrella of 'sentient people' and give them the same protections we afford to pre-sentient or damaged humans, but no such definition exists. "Able to feel pain" is entirely too broad a definition of sentience to be useful, since damn near everything more complex than single-celled organisms can apparently feel and react to pain, for some definition of 'pain'. There are fundamental differences between thinking, sentient creatures and the rest of the animal kingdom. As the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet, we are a mono-species society. What's good for the society (at least within the limited scope of our instinctual communal behavior) is what we allow to happen. Expecting anything else is just unrealistic.
    I think hurting non-human animals is wrong for the same reason that hurting humans is wrong. I don't think my argument relies on any particular reason for thinking that harming humans is wrong, although it does rely on plausible reasons for thinking as such. I don't think "it betrays a lack of empathy" is a plausible reason (or the best plausible reason) for thinking that harming humans is wrong. I think even if we could be 100% convinced about our level of empathy, such that hurting someone would betray nothing about how much empathy we have, it would still be prima facie wrong to cause pain to human beings.

    Why? What basis are you using for 'wrong'? Just because? Unless you subscribe to absolute morality, things have to have reasons for being wrong.
    "Betraying a lack of empathy" is a reason we might be inclined to say bad things about people who cause pain, but it's not a reason that it actually is a bad thing to cause pain. You say that "the actual life and comfort level of animals isn't particularly important to humanity in and of itself" but I don't give a shit about what's "important" to "humanity." The welfare of black people used to not be important to a lot of people, but that didn't make slavery okay.

    Why is it bad to cause pain? What makes it bad? Who said it was bad?

    It's easy to make a utilitarian or pragmatic argument for why causing pain to humans is bad. Humans are dependent upon one another, and upon human society as a whole. Almost no one lives a truly independent life. Harming any human is, eventually, harming yourself.

    The systematic subjugation of black people, and the other minorities that have been subjugated and mistreated throughout history, was wrong. They're all still humans, and human life, collectively, was still dependent upon their welfare. Eventually cultures figure this out and quit enslaving their minorities.
    You say we can't harm humans because it sets a bad precedent for society, but harming animals sets a bad precedent too. It allows us to harm more animals, which is wrong, because causing pain is bad. You say that "you can't wantonly torture and kill people that you think of as people," but there is another way to deal with this that we have done in the past: refuse to treat someone as a person.

    That was my point. Every culture that systematically subjugates a particular class or caste has a cultural narrative of dehumanization. It's evidence in favor of my position that we consider harming humans morally wrong on the basis that we are instinctively opposed to actions that oppose our communal nature. When we decide to go against our built-in desire to be a social, communal species, we come up with narratives to explain why it's okay. We have all of history to show us that such narratives are wrong and are used to create ultimately untenable states. We are too strongly a social species to designate classes as "okay to subjugate" without destabilizing the social system.
    This is what we did for slaves, and in fact I don't think babies are people - "personhood" is something above and beyond having human DNA, and someone with brain damage who has been reduced to a vegetable isn't a person any more than a cat is a person.

    I don't think babies are persons either, but selecting any class of identifiably human beings as "okay to use for whatever" is untenable. Once you set up a system where one group of humans is dissimilar to another group of humans, those borders are going to get pushed and abused. Again, we have all of history to demonstrate this. It's especially stupid in the case of infants. Brain dead or severely damaged/infirm humans will never be fully sentient persons. Babies eventually will be, and anything you do to a baby is inevitably going to impact the sentient person it grows into.
    "Able to feel pain" is a perfect definition of sentience if we know what pain is. We don't, really, but we do know at the very least that cats, dogs, cows, pigs, chimps, parrots, humans, monkeys, and rats are sentient. There is almost no argument about this and if you really doubt whether dogs feel pain then I'm not really sure what to say to you. We are not "the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet." Tons of animals are obviously sentient.

    I think I've said a half dozen times that when I use the word "sentient" I am referring to the philosophical, poorly-defined term. Beings capable of higher thought, meta-cognition, complex language, etc. Using "able to feel pain" is a shitty definition for sentience because it leaves us with no term that delineates the difference between humans and non-human animals. Maybe it's not a sharp line; maybe it's a gradient with humans and bugs at opposite ends and chimps, dogs, cats, birds, fish, etc. at various points in between. We don't know, and we have no terribly strong scientific basis I'm aware of on which to speculate. But clearly humans are, in some sense, different from every other species on Earth. If that difference is not sentience, what do you propose to call it? Please, give me a word, even if it's a made up one, and I will use it instead. Because when I make a statement like "humans are the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet" and you call BS because dogs feel pain, it's semantic goosery. I mean that humans are the only thinking, languaging, philosophizing, imagining species that we are currently aware of, which I'd think you'd realize considering I said in that very post that damn near every member of the animal kingdom can feel pain.

    And if we don't know what pain is, as you claim, then how do we know if other species experience it? Google trained a neural network to recognize objects in YouTube videos and it came up with an abstract representation of a cat. Does that mean the network recognizes cats, or is it simply a system that is able to respond to cat-like stimuli? Does a cockroach feel pain the same way that a lizard does? Does a lizard feel it the same way that a dog does? Does a dog feel it the same way as a chimp? Does a chimp feel it the same way as a human? You don't think we even know what pain is with certainty, but you're ready to pronounce that anything which behaves in a fashion you have assigned as "pain response" feels pain uniformly? And you feel that this is a good yardstick on which to base an ethical code?

    CptHamilton on
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  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    "Sentience" is a suprememly vague notion in general, is it not?

  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    I'm totally fine with hurting non-human animals if it's done to help the animal in question. My understanding is that most experimentation done on non-human animals is done for the purpose of developing a new drug, not for helping the animal, and that it's the sort of experimentation we would never do to a human being because it's unknown whether it's going to inflict great pain and suffering for little to no gain.


    The basis of your arguments in this thread seems to be a starting assumption that hurting animals is inherently bad. Why is it bad? Are you arguing from a moral framework wherein causing pain to animals is inherently wrong, but occasionally excusable? Or do you have some kind of utilitarianistic basis for stating that hurting animals is wrong?

    So far as I can see it, hurting animals is wrong, as a general rule, on the basis that causing any living thing pain implies a certain lack of empathy. We, as a society, can't abide society members who are lacking in empathy. It's bad for humanity all-around if individual humans get too comfortable with hurting and killing things that are alive because eventually that lack of empathy may apply to other humans. The actual life and comfort level of animals isn't particularly important to humanity in and of itself.

    Drawing lines of equality between animals and human children or mentally incapable humans is false equivalence. They may well be equally un-intelligent, or even equally non-sentient, but they're still humans. We can't allow intentional, unnecessary harm to humans of any sort because it sets a precedent that's bad for society as a whole. If you look at historical or current societies where certain classes of humans are excluded from these kinds of rules, there's always a cultural alienation and de-humanization of the afflicted caste. You can't wantonly torture and kill people that you think of as people, or else where do you stop?

    I'm all for a definition of sentience that might well allow chimps or dolphins or whatnot under the umbrella of 'sentient people' and give them the same protections we afford to pre-sentient or damaged humans, but no such definition exists. "Able to feel pain" is entirely too broad a definition of sentience to be useful, since damn near everything more complex than single-celled organisms can apparently feel and react to pain, for some definition of 'pain'. There are fundamental differences between thinking, sentient creatures and the rest of the animal kingdom. As the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet, we are a mono-species society. What's good for the society (at least within the limited scope of our instinctual communal behavior) is what we allow to happen. Expecting anything else is just unrealistic.
    I think hurting non-human animals is wrong for the same reason that hurting humans is wrong. I don't think my argument relies on any particular reason for thinking that harming humans is wrong, although it does rely on plausible reasons for thinking as such. I don't think "it betrays a lack of empathy" is a plausible reason (or the best plausible reason) for thinking that harming humans is wrong. I think even if we could be 100% convinced about our level of empathy, such that hurting someone would betray nothing about how much empathy we have, it would still be prima facie wrong to cause pain to human beings.

    Why? What basis are you using for 'wrong'? Just because? Unless you subscribe to absolute morality, things have to have reasons for being wrong.
    What wrongness bottoms out in is a very complex question. I don't think we need to answer it to figure out if we can experiment on animals. We just need to figure out whether causing pain to something that can feel pain is prima facie wrong. I think it is, and I'm willing to take this as a starting premise on the grounds that if you can't tell that kicking a dog is wrong because it hurts the dog, and that the only way to make it right would be to discover that dogs don't feel pain, then you're missing something that's fairly obvious.

    If you want me to go about giving reasons, here's a reason: causing pain is bad. Sometimes we do bad things because they lead to good things, like when we give someone a root canal so that they can get healthier. But that just outweighs the badness of the pain, it doesn't mean the pain wasn't bad in the first place. If you disagree that pain is bad, then I'm not really sure what to say - it seems like you don't really understand what it means for things to be good or bad. Pain is to be avoided, it is undesirable, it is something we are inclined to take a negative attitude towards. These are synonymous with bad. If you have some reason for thinking that pain is good (and not a reason for pain being instrumentally good, but a reason for the pain itself to be good) then I would be in trouble, but I think that's going to be a little tough to plausibly provide.

    The intuition I'm working with here is that kicking a baby in the face is wrong, even if nobody finds out about it, even if you don't feel bad about it, etc. Why? Because pain is bad.
    "Betraying a lack of empathy" is a reason we might be inclined to say bad things about people who cause pain, but it's not a reason that it actually is a bad thing to cause pain. You say that "the actual life and comfort level of animals isn't particularly important to humanity in and of itself" but I don't give a shit about what's "important" to "humanity." The welfare of black people used to not be important to a lot of people, but that didn't make slavery okay.

    Why is it bad to cause pain? What makes it bad? Who said it was bad?

    It's easy to make a utilitarian or pragmatic argument for why causing pain to humans is bad. Humans are dependent upon one another, and upon human society as a whole. Almost no one lives a truly independent life. Harming any human is, eventually, harming yourself.

    The systematic subjugation of black people, and the other minorities that have been subjugated and mistreated throughout history, was wrong. They're all still humans, and human life, collectively, was still dependent upon their welfare. Eventually cultures figure this out and quit enslaving their minorities.
    What makes pain bad? THE FACT THAT IT IS PAINFUL. If the experience of pain is not a bad experience, we're inclined not to even call it an experience of pain! Imagine someone saying "ooh, this pain feels so good!" The only possible way to make sense of that is to imagine that they are a masochist who derives pleasure from pain, but even then it's only the fact that they have pleasure which explains their statement - nobody would ever say "pain, and pain alone, feels good." Instead they would say "pain brings me pleasure, and pleasure feels good."

    You say it's easy to make a utilitarian or pragmatic argument for why causing pain to humans is bad, but only one of those arguments helps you. The pragmatic one helps, but the utilitarian argument doesn't, because utilitarianism is a philosophy that aims to maximize something, and some utilitarians (Bentham, Mill, Singer) maximize PLEASURE and minimize PAIN because it seems obvious to them that pain is BAD and that therefore the answer to ethics is to minimize pain. You seem to not be on board with that.

    The pragmatic argument doesn't really help you much either, because even if slavery is bad for human welfare, that's not really a reason to not enslave people. That's only a reason to not cause pain if we give a fuck about human welfare. And why should we do that? Why should we care about human welfare rather than welfare in general, specifically? Why is human welfare the correct specification of "welfare that matters" rather than "American welfare" or "white people welfare" or "male welfare" or "all welfare" or "Christian welfare?" All of these are options, and although "all welfare" sounds pretty good to me, you've decided to limit it to humans for some reason. How is this more justifiable than limiting it to white people?
    You say we can't harm humans because it sets a bad precedent for society, but harming animals sets a bad precedent too. It allows us to harm more animals, which is wrong, because causing pain is bad. You say that "you can't wantonly torture and kill people that you think of as people," but there is another way to deal with this that we have done in the past: refuse to treat someone as a person.

    That was my point. Every culture that systematically subjugates a particular class or caste has a cultural narrative of dehumanization. It's evidence in favor of my position that we consider harming humans morally wrong on the basis that we are instinctively opposed to actions that oppose our communal nature. When we decide to go against our built-in desire to be a social, communal species, we come up with narratives to explain why it's okay. We have all of history to show us that such narratives are wrong and are used to create ultimately untenable states. We are too strongly a social species to designate classes as "okay to subjugate" without destabilizing the social system.
    What does this have to do with whether it is okay to harm animals? You're telling me about the reasons we have for thinking X or Y is right and wrong, and I'm talking about whether X or Y actually is right or wrong. I don't care why we "consider" anything to be morally wrong. I care whether it is morally wrong.
    This is what we did for slaves, and in fact I don't think babies are people - "personhood" is something above and beyond having human DNA, and someone with brain damage who has been reduced to a vegetable isn't a person any more than a cat is a person.

    I don't think babies are persons either, but selecting any class of identifiably human beings as "okay to use for whatever" is untenable. Once you set up a system where one group of humans is dissimilar to another group of humans, those borders are going to get pushed and abused. Again, we have all of history to demonstrate this. It's especially stupid in the case of infants. Brain dead or severely damaged/infirm humans will never be fully sentient persons. Babies eventually will be, and anything you do to a baby is inevitably going to impact the sentient person it grows into.
    If you replace "humans" with "sentient beings" in your sentence I fully agree. You want to draw a border between humans and non-human animals, though, so you need to justify drawing this border. My justification for limiting it to sentience is that if someone cannot experience anything then its life does not matter to it, and thus its life does not matter at all.
    "Able to feel pain" is a perfect definition of sentience if we know what pain is. We don't, really, but we do know at the very least that cats, dogs, cows, pigs, chimps, parrots, humans, monkeys, and rats are sentient. There is almost no argument about this and if you really doubt whether dogs feel pain then I'm not really sure what to say to you. We are not "the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet." Tons of animals are obviously sentient.

    I think I've said a half dozen times that when I use the word "sentient" I am referring to the philosophical, poorly-defined term. Beings capable of higher thought, meta-cognition, complex language, etc. Using "able to feel pain" is a shitty definition for sentience because it leaves us with no term that delineates the difference between humans and non-human animals. Maybe it's not a sharp line; maybe it's a gradient with humans and bugs at opposite ends and chimps, dogs, cats, birds, fish, etc. at various points in between. We don't know, and we have no terribly strong scientific basis I'm aware of on which to speculate. But clearly humans are, in some sense, different from every other species on Earth. If that difference is not sentience, what do you propose to call it? Please, give me a word, even if it's a made up one, and I will use it instead. Because when I make a statement like "humans are the only recognized sentient creatures on the planet" and you call BS because dogs feel pain, it's semantic goosery. I mean that humans are the only thinking, languaging, philosophizing, imagining species that we are currently aware of, which I'd think you'd realize considering I said in that very post that damn near every member of the animal kingdom can feel pain.

    And if we don't know what pain is, as you claim, then how do we know if other species experience it? Google trained a neural network to recognize objects in YouTube videos and it came up with an abstract representation of a cat. Does that mean the network recognizes cats, or is it simply a system that is able to respond to cat-like stimuli? Does a cockroach feel pain the same way that a lizard does? Does a lizard feel it the same way that a dog does? Does a dog feel it the same way as a chimp? Does a chimp feel it the same way as a human? You don't think we even know what pain is with certainty, but you're ready to pronounce that anything which behaves in a fashion you have assigned as "pain response" feels pain uniformly? And you feel that this is a good yardstick on which to base an ethical code?
    There are two options for the "philosophical, poorly defined" use of sentience: able to have conscious experiences, and consciousness of these conscious experiences (more info here. Most animals have the first, only advanced humans (and maybe dolphins and apes and elephants and whatever) have the second. Why should we use the second for figuring out whether it's okay to harm something? Babies don't have proper full blooded sentience of that kind, and neither do dogs, but I don't thinkg we can go around kicking babies or dogs in the face. I think the sentience that matters when it comes to pain is whether they can experience pain.

    Your use of sentience is probably pretty good for determining when we can kill something, and it's what Singer wants to use more or less, as do I (and yes, this leads to a justification of infanticide, although not really, but we don't have to bother getting into that). It doesn't seem so great for using it to determine whether we can hurt something.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    PLA wrote: »
    "Sentience" is a suprememly vague notion in general, is it not?

    Yeah, using either definition. Mine is more vague, but at least has an obvious application. However we might want to describe the intersection of cognition, linguistics, synthesis, and creativity that are human thought, it is clearly different -- if only in terms of degree -- from every other species on Earth. Chimps and other primates, dolphins, whales, other high-order mammals, and even the odd bird or what-have-you will periodically demonstrate qualities that we would once have constrained to human thought exclusively, but nothing in the animal kingdom is equivalent. If it were it would presumably be able to walk (or crawl or fly or whatever) up to us with a tool in one hand, fire in the other, and tell us in its language of choice to stop fucking around because it can think too.

    If you go with 'can feel pain' then you're stuck with "How do you know it feels pain?" Every living thing, and some non-living systems, have stimulus response. I don't think anybody would argue strongly that a dog doesn't feel pain when kicked, but does it feel pain the same way that we do? I'd say probably, but how about a lizard? Up-thread was a reference to a study involving cockroaches learning to be more afraid of darkness than light using pain as a conditioning tool. Is a cockroach's pain the same as mine? How about plants? Is a plant that's denied light or water in pain? It behaves, to the extent it's capable, in a similar manner to a human or another animal that's dehydrated or starving to death. You can't (that I'm aware of) condition a plant, but is memory of pain a requirement for a thing to feel pain? If so, does that make it okay to kick babies provided that you dose them with a drug that inhibits long term memory formation?

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    PLA wrote: »
    "Sentience" is a suprememly vague notion in general, is it not?

    Yeah, using either definition. Mine is more vague, but at least has an obvious application. However we might want to describe the intersection of cognition, linguistics, synthesis, and creativity that are human thought, it is clearly different -- if only in terms of degree -- from every other species on Earth. Chimps and other primates, dolphins, whales, other high-order mammals, and even the odd bird or what-have-you will periodically demonstrate qualities that we would once have constrained to human thought exclusively, but nothing in the animal kingdom is equivalent. If it were it would presumably be able to walk (or crawl or fly or whatever) up to us with a tool in one hand, fire in the other, and tell us in its language of choice to stop fucking around because it can think too.

    If you go with 'can feel pain' then you're stuck with "How do you know it feels pain?" Every living thing, and some non-living systems, have stimulus response. I don't think anybody would argue strongly that a dog doesn't feel pain when kicked, but does it feel pain the same way that we do? I'd say probably, but how about a lizard? Up-thread was a reference to a study involving cockroaches learning to be more afraid of darkness than light using pain as a conditioning tool. Is a cockroach's pain the same as mine? How about plants? Is a plant that's denied light or water in pain? It behaves, to the extent it's capable, in a similar manner to a human or another animal that's dehydrated or starving to death. You can't (that I'm aware of) condition a plant, but is memory of pain a requirement for a thing to feel pain? If so, does that make it okay to kick babies provided that you dose them with a drug that inhibits long term memory formation?
    Fine, then let's just stop doing experiments on non-human animals that obviously feel pain, like rats and pigs. This thread is about animal experimentation, so if I can at least convince everyone that we need to stop using most of the animals that we use, that at least would be some progress.

    Interestingly enough, we used to basically kick babies even without the drug, because we figured they didn't form memories. This was up until a few decades ago. (More info.)

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • DraygoDraygo Registered User regular
    I don't consider pain a bad thing. Pain is not something that needs to be cured. It's a good thing. So careful with your blanket statements there. I'm sure you dont object to pain in itself, but needlessly causing pain. Kicking a baby is bad not because the baby can or can not feel pain. Kicking a baby is bad because you are causing needless harm to the baby. Just like kicking a dog is bad because you are causing needless harm to the dog.

    Is getting a vaccination bad because it causes pain? What about setting an IV, that isnt pain free either, but sometimes needed to save your life. So I'm sure you dont object to pain. Some medical advances cannot be discovered without some sort of pain in the proccess.

    How do you obtain a blood sample without inflicting pain? Do you drug them to sleep with pain killers which is much more risky than pricking a finger.

    If you are researching a drug that may be more effective as a pain killer, how do you prove that without some pain in the process. If your answer is 'use it on people who are already pained' What if your drug is less effective for that individual than what they are currently taking, you would be causing them more pain.

    Pain isn't bad. There is an acceptible level of pain, and it's needed sometimes. There is certainly an unacceptable level and frequency of inflicting pain, and then there is inflicting harm which is a different issue, but much more black and white.

    Pain is a good thing, it tells us when things may be harming us so we can react to them. I would be scared if I couldnt feel pain.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    PLA wrote: »
    "Sentience" is a suprememly vague notion in general, is it not?

    Yeah, using either definition. Mine is more vague, but at least has an obvious application. However we might want to describe the intersection of cognition, linguistics, synthesis, and creativity that are human thought, it is clearly different -- if only in terms of degree -- from every other species on Earth. Chimps and other primates, dolphins, whales, other high-order mammals, and even the odd bird or what-have-you will periodically demonstrate qualities that we would once have constrained to human thought exclusively, but nothing in the animal kingdom is equivalent. If it were it would presumably be able to walk (or crawl or fly or whatever) up to us with a tool in one hand, fire in the other, and tell us in its language of choice to stop fucking around because it can think too.

    If you go with 'can feel pain' then you're stuck with "How do you know it feels pain?" Every living thing, and some non-living systems, have stimulus response. I don't think anybody would argue strongly that a dog doesn't feel pain when kicked, but does it feel pain the same way that we do? I'd say probably, but how about a lizard? Up-thread was a reference to a study involving cockroaches learning to be more afraid of darkness than light using pain as a conditioning tool. Is a cockroach's pain the same as mine? How about plants? Is a plant that's denied light or water in pain? It behaves, to the extent it's capable, in a similar manner to a human or another animal that's dehydrated or starving to death. You can't (that I'm aware of) condition a plant, but is memory of pain a requirement for a thing to feel pain? If so, does that make it okay to kick babies provided that you dose them with a drug that inhibits long term memory formation?
    Fine, then let's just stop doing experiments on non-human animals that obviously feel pain, like rats and pigs. This thread is about animal experimentation, so if I can at least convince everyone that we need to stop using most of the animals that we use, that at least would be some progress.

    Why? You still haven't addressed why their ability to feel pain is more important, either practically or morally, than even potential benefit for humanity. Even if the experiment is only 1% likely to yield any net benefit for the human race, why is that potential benefit less important than the rat's pain?

    Surgery is a little different from randomly kicking babies. Surgery is performed with the intent to leave the baby in a better state than they were initially. I can't remember the name of the drug, but there's one that's used even on adults for certain surgeries (I want to say it was primarily dental procedures) that didn't actually block pain at all. It just made you incapable of transferring anything from short-term to long-term memory, meaning you forgot that it hurt after a few seconds. So far as I'm aware, we still use it.

    But, again, what we do to humans and what we do to animals is different, and it's different for obvious, easily definable sociological reasons. Morally, it's a straight-forward utilitarian calculus and a pretty brief pragmatic argument. You still haven't given any defense of your position that causing pain -- presuming for the moment that all creatures that exhibit a pain response are experiencing pain the same way, which we don't know -- is in some fashion inherently wrong.

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Draygo wrote: »
    I don't consider pain a bad thing. Pain is not something that needs to be cured. It's a good thing. So careful with your blanket statements there. I'm sure you dont object to pain in itself, but needlessly causing pain. Kicking a baby is bad not because the baby can or can not feel pain. Kicking a baby is bad because you are causing needless harm to the baby. Just like kicking a dog is bad because you are causing needless harm to the dog.
    What is "needless harm" if it is not a synonym for "needless pain?" Can you cash out harm in some way where causing pain to someone doesn't harm them? Why is needless pain worse than non-needless pain? Surely it's the need that justifies the pain, and in that case, the NEED is the good thing and the pain is still bad. If we could get what we needed without pain, we would do that, because pain is bad.
    Draygo wrote: »
    Is getting a vaccination bad because it causes pain? What about setting an IV, that isnt pain free either, but sometimes needed to save your life. So I'm sure you dont object to pain. Some medical advances cannot be discovered without some sort of pain in the proccess.
    The pain when you get a vaccination is bad. This is why people invented painless vaccination methods. When you read that article, do you go "wow, that's super weird, why did anyone bother with that? Don't they realize that pain isn't bad?"
    Draygo wrote: »
    How do you obtain a blood sample without inflicting pain? Do you drug them to sleep with pain killers which is much more risky than pricking a finger.
    If I came up with a pain-free method of obtaining a blood sample that was just as effective as current methods, would my method be better? Is there any point to avoiding pain?
    Draygo wrote: »
    If you are researching a drug that may be more effective as a pain killer, how do you prove that without some pain in the process. If your answer is 'use it on people who are already pained' What if your drug is less effective for that individual than what they are currently taking, you would be causing them more pain.

    Pain isn't bad. There is an acceptible level of pain, and it's needed sometimes. There is certainly an unacceptable level and frequency of inflicting pain, and then there is inflicting harm which is a different issue, but much more black and white.

    Pain is a good thing, it tells us when things may be harming us so we can react to them. I would be scared if I couldnt feel pain.
    PAIN is not good. The knowledge that something is harming you is good, and unfortunately pain is the only way to get that knowledge. Surely you would prefer to have all the automatic reactions and responses associated with pain without the pain itself! Imagine if you could avoid hot stoves by reflex without feeling the pain of the stove! Wouldn't that be better?

    Obviously pain serves useful purposes. I don't think we should get rid of pain forever. I'm just saying that pain is always prima facie bad. That's a necessary aspect of pain. If something doesn't feel bad, it's not painful. If something is painful, it feels bad.
    PLA wrote: »
    "Sentience" is a suprememly vague notion in general, is it not?

    Yeah, using either definition. Mine is more vague, but at least has an obvious application. However we might want to describe the intersection of cognition, linguistics, synthesis, and creativity that are human thought, it is clearly different -- if only in terms of degree -- from every other species on Earth. Chimps and other primates, dolphins, whales, other high-order mammals, and even the odd bird or what-have-you will periodically demonstrate qualities that we would once have constrained to human thought exclusively, but nothing in the animal kingdom is equivalent. If it were it would presumably be able to walk (or crawl or fly or whatever) up to us with a tool in one hand, fire in the other, and tell us in its language of choice to stop fucking around because it can think too.

    If you go with 'can feel pain' then you're stuck with "How do you know it feels pain?" Every living thing, and some non-living systems, have stimulus response. I don't think anybody would argue strongly that a dog doesn't feel pain when kicked, but does it feel pain the same way that we do? I'd say probably, but how about a lizard? Up-thread was a reference to a study involving cockroaches learning to be more afraid of darkness than light using pain as a conditioning tool. Is a cockroach's pain the same as mine? How about plants? Is a plant that's denied light or water in pain? It behaves, to the extent it's capable, in a similar manner to a human or another animal that's dehydrated or starving to death. You can't (that I'm aware of) condition a plant, but is memory of pain a requirement for a thing to feel pain? If so, does that make it okay to kick babies provided that you dose them with a drug that inhibits long term memory formation?
    Fine, then let's just stop doing experiments on non-human animals that obviously feel pain, like rats and pigs. This thread is about animal experimentation, so if I can at least convince everyone that we need to stop using most of the animals that we use, that at least would be some progress.

    Why? You still haven't addressed why their ability to feel pain is more important, either practically or morally, than even potential benefit for humanity. Even if the experiment is only 1% likely to yield any net benefit for the human race, why is that potential benefit less important than the rat's pain?
    What do you mean by "benefit to the human race?" What kind of benefit? Why do we make drugs? To extend our lifespan and to minimize our pain? Doesn't that presuppose that pain is bad? I'm just saying that caring about human pain more than rat pain is unjustifiable, just like caring about white person pain more than black person pain is unjustifiable. If we do experiments on rats (or humans) to come up with new drugs for rats (or humans), this might be justifiable in terms of reducing overall pain by inflicting some on an individual, so I'm fine with that. My argument all along has been that if you think research is justifiably done on non-human animals, you should think that it is justifiably done on babies and the severely mentally retarded. If you want to do an experiment on a rat, you should also be willing to do it on an orphaned baby or a baby whose parents have consented, and if you wouldn't be willing to do that or if the parents would never consent, then you shouldn't do it on the rat.

    Surgery is a little different from randomly kicking babies. Surgery is performed with the intent to leave the baby in a better state than they were initially. I can't remember the name of the drug, but there's one that's used even on adults for certain surgeries (I want to say it was primarily dental procedures) that didn't actually block pain at all. It just made you incapable of transferring anything from short-term to long-term memory, meaning you forgot that it hurt after a few seconds. So far as I'm aware, we still use it.

    But, again, what we do to humans and what we do to animals is different, and it's different for obvious, easily definable sociological reasons. Morally, it's a straight-forward utilitarian calculus and a pretty brief pragmatic argument. You still haven't given any defense of your position that causing pain -- presuming for the moment that all creatures that exhibit a pain response are experiencing pain the same way, which we don't know -- is in some fashion inherently wrong.
    You make two statements here.

    Statement 1: it's easy to find out why we do different things to humans than we do to non-human animals. There are obvious, easily definable sociological reasons. I agree with this statement. But, this statement is morally irrelevant. I don't care why we do anything we do. I care about whether what we do is morally justifiable.

    Statement 2: the moral justification for this is straightforwardly utilitarian. I disagree with this. Your moral justification draws an unjustifiable line between humans and non-human animals and treats non-human animal pain as less important than human pain for no reason other than blind prejudice which you have refused to give any justification for, aside from noting that, sociologically, it's easy to explain why you are prejudiced. I don't doubt that - we can explain any prejudice sociologically, often without much effort, and racism and so on are pretty well documented and explainable. This does not make them morally justifiable.

    I don't think you can advert to utilitarian morality unless you tell me what we should be maximizing. I've already pointed out that lots of utilitarians want to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.

    TychoCelchuuu on
  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Draygo wrote: »
    I don't consider pain a bad thing. Pain is not something that needs to be cured. It's a good thing. So careful with your blanket statements there. I'm sure you dont object to pain in itself, but needlessly causing pain. Kicking a baby is bad not because the baby can or can not feel pain. Kicking a baby is bad because you are causing needless harm to the baby. Just like kicking a dog is bad because you are causing needless harm to the dog.
    What is "needless harm" if it is not a synonym for "needless pain?" Can you cash out harm in some way where causing pain to someone doesn't harm them? Why is needless pain worse than non-needless pain? Surely it's the need that justifies the pain, and in that case, the NEED is the good thing and the pain is still bad. If we could get what we needed without pain, we would do that, because pain is bad.
    Draygo wrote: »
    Is getting a vaccination bad because it causes pain? What about setting an IV, that isnt pain free either, but sometimes needed to save your life. So I'm sure you dont object to pain. Some medical advances cannot be discovered without some sort of pain in the proccess.
    The pain when you get a vaccination is bad. This is why people invented painless vaccination methods. When you read that article, do you go "wow, that's super weird, why did anyone bother with that? Don't they realize that pain isn't bad?"
    Draygo wrote: »
    How do you obtain a blood sample without inflicting pain? Do you drug them to sleep with pain killers which is much more risky than pricking a finger.
    If I came up with a pain-free method of obtaining a blood sample that was just as effective as current methods, would my method be better? Is there any point to avoiding pain?
    Draygo wrote: »
    If you are researching a drug that may be more effective as a pain killer, how do you prove that without some pain in the process. If your answer is 'use it on people who are already pained' What if your drug is less effective for that individual than what they are currently taking, you would be causing them more pain.

    Pain isn't bad. There is an acceptible level of pain, and it's needed sometimes. There is certainly an unacceptable level and frequency of inflicting pain, and then there is inflicting harm which is a different issue, but much more black and white.

    Pain is a good thing, it tells us when things may be harming us so we can react to them. I would be scared if I couldnt feel pain.
    PAIN is not good. The knowledge that something is harming you is good, and unfortunately pain is the only way to get that knowledge. Surely you would prefer to have all the automatic reactions and responses associated with pain without the pain itself! Imagine if you could avoid hot stoves by reflex without feeling the pain of the stove! Wouldn't that be better?

    Obviously pain serves useful purposes. I don't think we should get rid of pain forever. I'm just saying that pain is always prima facie bad. That's a necessary aspect of pain. If something doesn't feel bad, it's not painful. If something is painful, it feels bad.
    PLA wrote: »
    "Sentience" is a suprememly vague notion in general, is it not?

    Yeah, using either definition. Mine is more vague, but at least has an obvious application. However we might want to describe the intersection of cognition, linguistics, synthesis, and creativity that are human thought, it is clearly different -- if only in terms of degree -- from every other species on Earth. Chimps and other primates, dolphins, whales, other high-order mammals, and even the odd bird or what-have-you will periodically demonstrate qualities that we would once have constrained to human thought exclusively, but nothing in the animal kingdom is equivalent. If it were it would presumably be able to walk (or crawl or fly or whatever) up to us with a tool in one hand, fire in the other, and tell us in its language of choice to stop fucking around because it can think too.

    If you go with 'can feel pain' then you're stuck with "How do you know it feels pain?" Every living thing, and some non-living systems, have stimulus response. I don't think anybody would argue strongly that a dog doesn't feel pain when kicked, but does it feel pain the same way that we do? I'd say probably, but how about a lizard? Up-thread was a reference to a study involving cockroaches learning to be more afraid of darkness than light using pain as a conditioning tool. Is a cockroach's pain the same as mine? How about plants? Is a plant that's denied light or water in pain? It behaves, to the extent it's capable, in a similar manner to a human or another animal that's dehydrated or starving to death. You can't (that I'm aware of) condition a plant, but is memory of pain a requirement for a thing to feel pain? If so, does that make it okay to kick babies provided that you dose them with a drug that inhibits long term memory formation?
    Fine, then let's just stop doing experiments on non-human animals that obviously feel pain, like rats and pigs. This thread is about animal experimentation, so if I can at least convince everyone that we need to stop using most of the animals that we use, that at least would be some progress.

    Why? You still haven't addressed why their ability to feel pain is more important, either practically or morally, than even potential benefit for humanity. Even if the experiment is only 1% likely to yield any net benefit for the human race, why is that potential benefit less important than the rat's pain?
    What do you mean by "benefit to the human race?" What kind of benefit? Why do we make drugs? To extend our lifespan and to minimize our pain? Doesn't that presuppose that pain is bad? I'm just saying that caring about human pain more than rat pain is unjustifiable, just like caring about white person pain more than black person pain is unjustifiable. If we do experiments on rats (or humans) to come up with new drugs for rats (or humans) that might be justifiable in terms of reducing overall pain by inflicting some on an individual, so I'm fine with that. My argument all along has been that if you think research is justifiably done on non-human animals, you should think that it is justifiably done on babies and the severely mentally retarded. If you want to do an experiment on a rat, you should also be willing to do it on an orphaned baby or a baby whose parents have consented, and if you wouldn't be willing to do that or if the parents would never consent, then you shouldn't do it on the rat.

    Surgery is a little different from randomly kicking babies. Surgery is performed with the intent to leave the baby in a better state than they were initially. I can't remember the name of the drug, but there's one that's used even on adults for certain surgeries (I want to say it was primarily dental procedures) that didn't actually block pain at all. It just made you incapable of transferring anything from short-term to long-term memory, meaning you forgot that it hurt after a few seconds. So far as I'm aware, we still use it.

    But, again, what we do to humans and what we do to animals is different, and it's different for obvious, easily definable sociological reasons. Morally, it's a straight-forward utilitarian calculus and a pretty brief pragmatic argument. You still haven't given any defense of your position that causing pain -- presuming for the moment that all creatures that exhibit a pain response are experiencing pain the same way, which we don't know -- is in some fashion inherently wrong.
    You make two statements here.

    Statement 1: it's easy to find out why we do different things to humans than we do to non-human animals. There are obvious, easily definable sociological reasons. I agree with this statement. It is morally irrelevant. I don't care why we do anything we do. I care about whether what we do is morally justifiable.

    Statement 2: the moral justification for this is straightforwardly utilitarian. I disagree with this. Your moral justification draws an unjustifiable line between humans and non-human animals and treats non-human animal pain as less important than human pain for no reason other than blind prejudice which you have refused to give any justification for, aside from noting that, sociologically, it's easy to explain why you are prejudiced. I don't doubt that - we can explain any prejudice sociologically, often without much effort, and racism and so on are pretty well documented and explainable. This does not make them morally justifiable.

    I don't think you can advert to utilitarian morality unless you tell me what we should be maximizing. I've already pointed out that lots of utilitarians want to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.

    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.

    We can't very well base a moral system off of the pain of non-human species, because we don't know anything about their experience. I asked you this before, twice, and you haven't responded. How do you know that an animal's pain experience is in any fashion similar to yours? Especially for animals that you can't easily anthropomorphize, like dogs and chimps? Is a mollusk's experience of pain equivalent to a human's? How do you weight that difference in a utilitarian calculus? Or do you bother?

    If we want to have a moral code that's based on the maximization of pleasure and minimization of pain of all living species, humanity's only moral recourse is probably mass suicide. Our continued existence as an industrial civilization, with or without animal testing, is morally abhorrent under such a moral framework. Insects feel pain, and very nearly every aspect of our lives depends on their wholesale slaughter.

    If the ultimate goal of a relative moral system is to encourage the prosperity of humanity, including the pain of non-human species is irrelevant outside of cases where human prosperity is directly dependent upon the animal's prosperity (or, indeed, where human prosperity is directly dependent upon the animal's lack of prosperity). A humano-centric morality is easily expanded to include other...I'll use the word 'sapient', instead of 'sentient', since you ignored my request for a word to use when I mean what I mean instead of whatever you feel like saying I mean...species.

    If the goal is to encourage the prosperity of all species, then humanity is either inherently immoral, or would have to undergo fundamental, radical, and pervasive changes in every aspect of its existence to cease being immoral -- far beyond ending animal testing and all becoming vegan.

    And there must be some goal -- some axiomatic ultimate good -- or no relativistic moral system can possibly exist. Why minimize pain and maximize pleasure (in humans or otherwise) unless doing so provides something? What makes pleasure better than pain, other than the human desire for it? Why should humanity, or any other species, prosper, and why should that prosperity be deemed moral?

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • FeralFeral MEMETICHARIZARD along with you if I get drunk well I know I'm gonna be gonna be the man whoRegistered User regular
    edited August 2012
    We can't very well base a moral system off of the pain of non-human species, because we don't know anything about their experience. I asked you this before, twice, and you haven't responded. How do you know that an animal's pain experience is in any fashion similar to yours? Especially for animals that you can't easily anthropomorphize, like dogs and chimps? Is a mollusk's experience of pain equivalent to a human's? How do you weight that difference in a utilitarian calculus? Or do you bother?

    How do I know that your pain experience is in any fashion similar to mine?

    If we want to be arbitrarily pedantic, we could get into inverted qualia and philosophical zombies and Wittgenstein's beetle and conclude that ultimately we have no insight into each others' experiences at all.

    However, we can reasonably assume - with an acceptable margin of error - that your pain experience is comparable enough to mine. There's no reason to conclude otherwise - at the very least, where mammals are concerned. They have noxious responses similar to yours and mine; they have operant conditioning similar to you and me; they have biological systems of noiception similar enough to yours and mine to conclude that they have homologous experiences of pain.

    When you get into nonmammals things get a little bit dicey; when you get into invertebrates things get even weirder. But as far as mammals go? Positing that they have categorically different pain experiences from humans is roughly analogous to positing inverted qualia.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    [snip]

    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.
    That's a kind of utilitarianism I've never heard of before. Certainly you can have a limited utilitarianism. I can have white people utilitarianism which aims to maximize white people pleasure. If I was arguing for that in this thread, though, I think you would rightfully contest my claims, because it's not sensible to limit my concerns to white people without some justification. I'm making that claim about limiting utilitarianism to human beings, too, and in fact lots of utilitarians (Bentham, Singer) have noticed this and have been great advocates for non-human animal welfare. Even the utilitarians who want to limit it to human beings at least have reasons for limiting it. You appear to just have blind, unthinking prejudice against anything that doesn't have the right kind of DNA.
    We can't very well base a moral system off of the pain of non-human species, because we don't know anything about their experience. I asked you this before, twice, and you haven't responded. How do you know that an animal's pain experience is in any fashion similar to yours? Especially for animals that you can't easily anthropomorphize, like dogs and chimps? Is a mollusk's experience of pain equivalent to a human's? How do you weight that difference in a utilitarian calculus? Or do you bother?
    I've already answered this. If we can't be sure about mollusks, then leave them in the "we're not sure" area. For things we are sure about (dogs, chimps), no experimenting on them. If you honestly want to tell me that a dog doesn't feel pain then that's fine, but I'm willing to stake my claim that dogs feel pain (and that chimps feel pain) against your claim that they don't, and see who agrees with me and who agrees with you.
    If we want to have a moral code that's based on the maximization of pleasure and minimization of pain of all living species, humanity's only moral recourse is probably mass suicide. Our continued existence as an industrial civilization, with or without animal testing, is morally abhorrent under such a moral framework. Insects feel pain, and very nearly every aspect of our lives depends on their wholesale slaughter.
    I don't think this is really the case (our presence in the world could likely be altered such that it leads to much less pain than would occur if we did not exist). If it truly were the case, then yes, mass suicide would be the answer. Again, though, this seems wildly implausible to me.
    If the ultimate goal of a relative moral system is to encourage the prosperity of humanity, including the pain of non-human species is irrelevant outside of cases where human prosperity is directly dependent upon the animal's prosperity (or, indeed, where human prosperity is directly dependent upon the animal's lack of prosperity). A humano-centric morality is easily expanded to include other...I'll use the word 'sapient', instead of 'sentient', since you ignored my request for a word to use when I mean what I mean instead of whatever you feel like saying I mean...species.
    Since when is the goal of morality to encourage the prosperity of humanity? If I say the goal of morality is to encourage the prosperity of the pure Aryan race, you'll laugh me out of the thread, but when it's the pure human race suddenly that makes sense? That's a fat load of bullshit! Give me a reason that humanity matters morally more than other animals and we can debate that but up until now you've given me no reason.
    If the goal is to encourage the prosperity of all species, then humanity is either inherently immoral, or would have to undergo fundamental, radical, and pervasive changes in every aspect of its existence to cease being immoral -- far beyond ending animal testing and all becoming vegan.
    Yes, humanity would have to change quite a bit. If you go back 4,000 years, humans were super duper immoral. In some ways we've gotten better. There is still quite a way to go. You could say the same thing about science. We've figured a ton of shit out, but there is still a lot of progress we could possibly make. There's no reason to stop now.
    And there must be some goal -- some axiomatic ultimate good -- or no relativistic moral system can possibly exist. Why minimize pain and maximize pleasure (in humans or otherwise) unless doing so provides something? What makes pleasure better than pain, other than the human desire for it? Why should humanity, or any other species, prosper, and why should that prosperity be deemed moral?
    I think it can make sense to bottom out morality in pleasure and pain. Many utilitarians have gone this route. Others want to bottom it out in preference satisfaction, a large component of which is pleasure and pain. I think that could be plausible too. The thing that makes pleasure better than pain is how pleasure and pain feel. Surely you've experienced both. I think you can probably tell me which one is better. You say "human desire" is what makes pleasure better than pain, but I think 10 seconds of observing a dog will tell you that "human desire" is hardly the relevant level of desire. It's "sentient desire" or just desire. Tell me why limiting things to humans makes sense and I will provide an argument against the limit. Until then, you are just being prejudiced against other species with no justification.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    We can't very well base a moral system off of the pain of non-human species, because we don't know anything about their experience. I asked you this before, twice, and you haven't responded. How do you know that an animal's pain experience is in any fashion similar to yours? Especially for animals that you can't easily anthropomorphize, like dogs and chimps? Is a mollusk's experience of pain equivalent to a human's? How do you weight that difference in a utilitarian calculus? Or do you bother?

    How do I know that your pain experience is in any fashion similar to mine?

    If we want to be arbitrarily pedantic, we could get into inverted qualia and philosophical zombies and Wittgenstein's beetle and conclude that ultimately we have no insight into each others' experiences at all.

    However, we can reasonably conclude - with an acceptable margin of error - that your pain experience is comparable enough to mine. There's no reason to conclude otherwise - at the very least, where mammals are concerned. They have noxious responses similar to yours and mine; they have operant conditioning similar to you and me; they have biological systems of noiception similar enough to yours and mine to conclude that they have homologous experiences of pain.

    When you get into nonmammals things get a little bit dicey; when you get into invertebrates things get even weirder. But as far as mammals go? Positing that they have categorically different pain experiences from humans is roughly analogous to positing inverted qualia.

    I'm fine with that proposing that mammals have largely similar experiences of pain stimulus. But how about the experience around the stimulus? It still brings up zombies (though, personally, I've never understood the difference between a being that acts indistinguishably from an aware, experiential being that believes itself to be such and one which actually is), but we don't need to invoke qualia when talking about other humans' ability to recall pain, or their ability to imagine a cessation of pain. We can't say similar for non-human mammals, by and large. They can be conditioned, but I think there's maybe some small evidence that chimps have a vague conception of temporally-distinct history and none for anything else. Do other mammals remember events the way that we do, or does their stimulus response pattern change in the fashion of a human who has a phobia with no conscious historical referent? Mammals can react to the precursors to a pain stimulus (flinching away from an attack or similar), but can they anticipate and, for lack of a better term, dread future pain outside of a conditioned response to a scheduled stimulus? Can a rat with a shitty, painful life imagine a life without pain? If it has only ever experienced a life of pain, does it know the difference between itself and a rat next door who is pain-free?

    If we're going to base our moral system on the pain of living things, rather than exclusively humans, isn't it a moral imperative to discover whether non-mammals have an equivalent pain experience? Wouldn't doing otherwise be willful ignorance and, thereby, immoral?

    Further, is there a non-arbitrary point to including even non-human mammals in our moral framework? Is there a way to pose a moral framework that doesn't presuppose that human prosperity -- or at least prosperity of the self -- is an inherent good? Beyond the degree to which being kind to non-humans makes humans feel good, what's the point (for lack of a better way to put it)?

    PSN,Steam,Live | CptHamiltonian
  • TychoCelchuuuTychoCelchuuu ___________PIGEON _________San Diego, CA Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    We can't very well base a moral system off of the pain of non-human species, because we don't know anything about their experience. I asked you this before, twice, and you haven't responded. How do you know that an animal's pain experience is in any fashion similar to yours? Especially for animals that you can't easily anthropomorphize, like dogs and chimps? Is a mollusk's experience of pain equivalent to a human's? How do you weight that difference in a utilitarian calculus? Or do you bother?

    How do I know that your pain experience is in any fashion similar to mine?

    If we want to be arbitrarily pedantic, we could get into inverted qualia and philosophical zombies and Wittgenstein's beetle and conclude that ultimately we have no insight into each others' experiences at all.

    However, we can reasonably conclude - with an acceptable margin of error - that your pain experience is comparable enough to mine. There's no reason to conclude otherwise - at the very least, where mammals are concerned. They have noxious responses similar to yours and mine; they have operant conditioning similar to you and me; they have biological systems of noiception similar enough to yours and mine to conclude that they have homologous experiences of pain.

    When you get into nonmammals things get a little bit dicey; when you get into invertebrates things get even weirder. But as far as mammals go? Positing that they have categorically different pain experiences from humans is roughly analogous to positing inverted qualia.

    I'm fine with that proposing that mammals have largely similar experiences of pain stimulus. But how about the experience around the stimulus? It still brings up zombies (though, personally, I've never understood the difference between a being that acts indistinguishably from an aware, experiential being that believes itself to be such and one which actually is), but we don't need to invoke qualia when talking about other humans' ability to recall pain, or their ability to imagine a cessation of pain. We can't say similar for non-human mammals, by and large. They can be conditioned, but I think there's maybe some small evidence that chimps have a vague conception of temporally-distinct history and none for anything else. Do other mammals remember events the way that we do, or does their stimulus response pattern change in the fashion of a human who has a phobia with no conscious historical referent? Mammals can react to the precursors to a pain stimulus (flinching away from an attack or similar), but can they anticipate and, for lack of a better term, dread future pain outside of a conditioned response to a scheduled stimulus? Can a rat with a shitty, painful life imagine a life without pain? If it has only ever experienced a life of pain, does it know the difference between itself and a rat next door who is pain-free?

    If we're going to base our moral system on the pain of living things, rather than exclusively humans, isn't it a moral imperative to discover whether non-mammals have an equivalent pain experience? Wouldn't doing otherwise be willful ignorance and, thereby, immoral?

    These are all good questions but do you honestly think that when all the work is done it's going to turn out that when you kick a dog, that's different enough from kicking a baby that it should change whether we do animal experimentation? And more importantly, are you so sure it's going to turn out that way that it's okay to continue to experiment on animals for which we can make a good argument that they feel pain precisely the way we do?
    Further, is there a non-arbitrary point to including even non-human mammals in our moral framework? Is there a way to pose a moral framework that doesn't presuppose that human prosperity -- or at least prosperity of the self -- is an inherent good? Beyond the degree to which being kind to non-humans makes humans feel good, what's the point (for lack of a better way to put it)?
    There are moral frameworks like this. They are traditionally labeled utilitarianism and they make no distinction between human pain and non-human animal pain.

  • manwiththemachinegunmanwiththemachinegun METAL GEAR?! Registered User regular
    edited August 2012
    Whether or not animals can 'feel' exactly the same things as humans is sort of beside the point. I think most people have expressed a pretty strong disgust towards these worst of the worst cases of "scientific advancement," human or animal. The issue I think is awareness, and how we can prevent such events from happening in the future. Slavery hasn't disappeared, ethnic cleansing hasn't disappeared, I have no reason to believe these kinds of experiments are going to stop 100%.

    As one of those articles posted pointed out, outsourcing 'unethical' experiments to third world countries is apparently still a big problem. Even if western countries have decent watchdog groups, that doesn't mean unethical research doesn't still go on. The trick is what to do about it.

    manwiththemachinegun on
  • MortiousMortious The Nightmare Begins Move to New ZealandRegistered User regular
    Whether or not animals can 'feel' exactly the same things as humans is sort of beside the point. I think most people have expressed a pretty strong disgust towards these worst of the worst cases of "scientific advancement," human or animal. The issue I think is awareness, and how we can prevent such events from happening in the future. Slavery hasn't disappeared, ethnic cleansing hasn't disappeared, I have no reason to believe these kinds of experiments are going to stop 100%.

    As one of those articles posted pointed out, outsourcing 'unethical' experiments to third world countries is apparently still a big problem. Even if western countries have decent watchdog groups, that doesn't mean unethical research doesn't still go on. The trick is what to do about it.

    Isn't there a thing about not using data from experiments done using unethical means?

    Not sure about how I feel about that though. Throwing out good data doesn't reverse the harm.

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  • PLAPLA The process.Registered User regular
    Throwing out good data can lead to further harm, depending on the nature of the data.
    It's not like discarding illegal crocodile-skins, which are comparatively useless.

  • PaladinPaladin Registered User regular
    PLA wrote: »
    Throwing out good data can lead to further harm, depending on the nature of the data.
    It's not like discarding illegal crocodile-skins, which are comparatively useless.

    like tests proving animals can feel pain that involve causing pain in animals

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  • spacekungfumanspacekungfuman Poor and minority-filled Registered User, __BANNED USERS regular
    If a rat could kill and eat a person, it probably would, right? Once we have conquered something that would do us harm if it could, what reason other than compassion to respect it or be merciful towards it? If we lacked compassion we could have pursued our war with the Native Americans to the extinction of the people or dropped atomic bombs on every Japanese city. By comparison, I think reservations and the occupation were very compassionate acts even though many people were hurt by them.

    We treat animals humanely out of compassion, but make no mistake, we have conquered them by force and are not compelled to treat them any particular way.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and say neither reservations nor the dropping of the atomic bomb were motivated by compassion toward other human beings.

    Also, "compelled"? Yeah, no shit. We're not compelled to do anything in particular. You're setting up a false split between the actions that are really compelled and therefore important and the ones we simply choose to do.

    I am taking the position that "might makes right.". We are stronger than animals, and while they may want to kill and eat us, they generally can't because of our mental and technological superiority over them. Unless it is in our rational best interest not to kill or harm them, we have no reason not to, and so can make an unencumbered choice. If it helps us to harm them, then we should harm them. Compassion and empathy are the only things that keep us from doing so, and I suspect that this is a lot of the reason why we don't like experiments to be done on animals we think of as cute or pets, but have no problem using poisons to kill entire colonies of insects. I think any attempt to demonstrate the inherent wrongness of hurting animals or humans only works if you believe in an afterlife where a gatekeeper judges you based on how many "bad" things you did. Short of that, why shouldn't we experiment on animals to help people when we fear no reprisal? The only reason I can think of is that it may make us unhappy to experiment on them because of empathy.

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