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Old 22-11-2005, 06:04 PM posted to,talk.politics.animals,alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian
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Default wife swap vegan episode

Seeker wrote:

"Glorfindel" wrote in message

"As I said, the reasons why supporters of AR consider
using animals in research without their consent as unethical
are the same reasons they consider the use of humans
without their consent as unethical. You agree with the principle."

If this principle is true for using animals in medical research why not
in ALL cases?

It is true as a general principle, but extreme situations
cannot be used to define general, normal situations.

YOU are the one who introduced the extreme situation. It did not help your

You are trying to move from one example to another. The question of the
ethics of using animals for food in extreme circumstances (as in the
Arctic in winter for local subsistence hunters, vs consumers of factory
farmed meat in a Western industrialized society) was an example of
AR not being absolute. The issue of using animals in research is
different: it never involves an absolute necessity to use *this* animal
at *this* time, and it never has a *direct* effect on the survival of
any individual human or animal. Its potential benefits, if any, are
always hypothetical; its direct harm is always real.

Francione covers this well in his _Introduction to Animal
Rights:Your Child or The Dog_ The situations where human
interests genuinely conflict in life-or-death ways have
almost no relevance to the situation in everyday life, where
there are many other options.

Stop hiding behind quotes from sophists and use your own reasoning.

It's good to demonstrate that authorities in the field support
my own view.

Asking "Which would you save if
your ship were sinking and you had to choose between a stranger
or your mother" is not really relevant to questions about how
you should treat either a stranger or your mother in everyday

Actually there is a direct correlation between the two situations, the
difference is only in the extremity of the circumstances.

That is what you would like to claim, but you are wrong. In an
extreme case, one must make an either-or choice: if one person
or being is saved, the other must be killed, and *all* his
interests sacrificed in favor of the other. This is extremely
uncommon in real life situations. In most real situations, such
as buying products in our society, the interests of all can be
respected by making limited modifications in behavior. For
instance, the major interest of a cow or chicken in her life, or
her major interest in welfare, can be respected by not buying
meat at all, or by not buying factory-farmed meat. The interest
of the consumer in avoiding starvation is completely respected,
at the very minor cost of choosing a somewhat less attractive
form of food, or one slightly more inconvenient.

I may not ethically eat my neighbour if I am starving to death,

No, but the issue is different if one is starving and has no
other food source. There are also differences between members
of our own species and/or community (herd, pack, flock) and
members of other species. Most higher animals have stronger
inhibitions against killing members of their own social group
than members of other social groups or species. That is a
function of biological survival.

There is a difference between
someone who violates general ethical norms in extreme
situations, and someone who deliberately kills others and
eats them when there are many other options available to him
living in the middle of normal human society. That is part of
why ethics are not absolute in the real world.

So are you saying that you would not be morally permitted to kill and eat an
animal even if you were starving?

It would not be ethical, but it would be less unethical than to
kill one for convenience when other options are available.
That is not a choice anyone posting on the newsgroup is likely to

Not at all, what is absurd is to say that it is unethical to use animals
without their consent. Animals cannot give consent, it's a foreign concept
to an animal.

Which is a major reason why it is unethical to use them in
research (other than observation in the wild, which does not
usually harm them).

You may as well say it's unethical to pick flowers without
their consent.

Flowers are not sentient or conscious, so they have no interests
as individuals, and also picking a flower does not permanently
harm the plant.

If you want to toss insects in the mix you REALLY have an uphill battle
explaining your support for commercial farming.

I don't support commercial farming at all.

Of course you do, you buy groceries don't you?

I don't support commercial farming at all.

How do you know what is typical? Where are you getting your information?

A variety of sources: books, documentaries, personal
observation, government data (always suspect).

As am I, and I conclude that mistreatment of animals is the rare exception,
not the rule.

You conclude incorrectly. I conclude mistreatment of animals in modern
farming is almost universal and very severe.

Why should humans respond any differently from any other animal in

Because we have unique power over other beings, and ethical
obligations not to abuse it.

The power to kill and eat other animals is far from unique, every species
since the big bang has had it.

Well, not true.

Ipse dixit.

How would a worm kill other animals?

But we are the only species capable of
domesticating other animals, farming them, and keeping
them in large numbers

You have not given a coherent reason why that is necessarily immoral.

It is a violation of their individual freedom in the larger
sense, according to AR theory. By itself, it may not be a
a violation of their welfare, but it usually is in modern
farming. Note: you asked why humans should *respond differently*
than other animals, not why what they do/did is immoral. I
answer that they should respond differently because they have a
unique amount of power over other animals, and an ethical sense
which is probably unique in the animal kingdom.

to be killed at our convenience.

Convenience is not necessarily immoral, neither is killing.

Agreed. That was not the issue either in your question above.

We have not been like "every other animal" since we invented
weapons which kill at a distance and domestic animal breeds.

Neither of those things change of the essential nature of what we do.

They do. It is a difference in degree which is so great it
becomes a difference in kind.

People who are raised by vegans are at least if not more narrow-minded
than children of omnivores.

They may begin so. I was speaking of people who grew up in
omnivore families and became vegan, which is more common.
Even so, vegan children usually become aware they are
different as soon as they get to know non-vegan children.
Then they must consider the basis of their veganism. If
they are omnivores surrounded by other omnivores, the issue
often does not come up at all.

It comes up if they are exposed to vegan children, or veganism or AR are
reported in the media, as it often is.

It may. It may not.

You would not accept any explanation I gave. Your mind is
completely closed.

That's incorrect, his mind is OPEN, yours is closed. He already knows all
the explantions that you are likely to come up with. He is a strict
vegetarian by the way, he's just not hypocrite about it.

Bravo for him, if true. I commend him for that, and wish him
well in continuing.

Yes, Bravo for him indeed, he came here with the very same set of
misconceptions that you have, but he had the intellectual integrity to
listen and question his assumptions.

I listen; I do, and have, questioned my assumptions. I have modified
my beliefs and my behavior. What I have *not* done is conclude
the basic philosophy of AR is incorrect. You give no credit for
any intellectual questioning which does not lead to complete surrender
to your views.

I credit anyone who is a strict vegetarian with advancing animal rights
and welfare in practice, whatever his philosophical or health reason
for doing so. If everyone became strict vegetarian, and bought produce
with a low level of CDs, but no one, or only a few, accepted the
philosophy of AR, I would be happy. The practical result would
be similar to that which would exist if everyone accepted AR. I am
primarily interested in the effect on the animals, not bludgeoning
everyone into intellectual conformity.

Animal Welfare is another subject entirely, one I have great sympathy
for, but Animal Rights groups like PeTA do not own that issue,

First, PETA is no longer a strictly animal *rights* group;
they are primarily a "hard welfare" group.

The basic philosophy of PeTA is AR/veganism, it's as clear as day on their
site. It is obvious however that welfare causes generate the most response
and hence the most donations, so they are heavily focused on those issues.

The basic philosophy has been considerably diluted over the years.

Second, I did not
say animal rights groups "own" the issue of animal welfare.

I know you didn't, but the rhetoric of ARAs like you tends to assume
ownership of the issue, as if by mentioning welfare abuses in agriculture
you are advancing your own argument.

We are, because there is a relationship between the ethical status
animals are given and they way they are treated. The argument has
been explored extensively in various books on AR such as Francione's
_Animals, Property, and the Law_. The reason dogs are generally seen
differently than pigs has to do with the property status of animals.

AR and non-AR groups can and do work together on specific
animal welfare issues, and that is good.

I would agree.

That's encouraging.