speciesism as a moral illusion?
Posted: 25 February 2012 02:47 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Hi all, I am a PhD student in moral science, working on the consistency of principles of equality applied to animal ethics. One of my research topics is moral illusions. As far as I am aware, Sam Harris is one of the very few people explicitly mentioning the existence moral illusions (as analogous to optical illusions). I want to argue that speciesism is also a moral illusion. A brief summary of that idea can be read on my website http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2011/05/29/speciesism-and-moral-illusions/
(at the end of that link, you find a more elaborated article)

A second thing that I want to mention: I am develloping an ethical system that consists in a coherent set of universalized ethical principles that best fits my strongest moral intuitions. This is not a “science of ethics”, but I am curious how far those two approaches (mine and a science of ethics) would overlap. A systematic construction of a coherent theory of equality can be found here http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/towards-a-coherent-theory-of-animal-equality/
And below are 8 basic principles that summarizes my ethical system.

1) A just distribution of quality of life. Maximize the qualities of life (values of well-being) of all sentient beings, giving a strong priority on increasing the lowest values of well being. I.e. maximize the qualities of life of the worst off individuals, unless this is at the expense of much more well-being of others. Sentient beings are all beings who have a functioning complex nervous system (they developed the capacity to feel and have not yet permanently lost this capacity). These include future generations, vertebrate animals, some squids,.. See ‘quasi-maximin principle’ in http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/a-model-for-a-theory-of-justice/

2) The basic right of living beings (plants and all beings with complex interests, such as staying alive). Never allow the killing or injuring a non-sentient living being for luxury needs. Especially don’t kill a living being to manipulate your social status (fashion, status consumption, commercial advertisements). We are allowed to use plants for basic needs (sharing knowledge,…).

3) The basic right of sentient beings (beings with complex interests and the capacity to subjectively experience their needs). Never allow the use of sentient beings as merely means to someone else’s ends (including both luxury, basic and vital needs). We should not treat someone as property or violate its bodily integrity or freedom without permission in order to achieve a goal. One exception: sentient beings who became dependent (by evolution) on other animals in order to survive, are allowed to hunt for their vital needs, until feasible alternatives exist (but we are allowed to defend the prey, if we feel compassion). See ‘basic right principle’ in http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/a-model-for-a-theory-of-justice/ and http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/the-basic-right/

4) The intrinsic value of biodiversity. Protect the biodiversity, because the biodiversity for ecosystems is analogous to well-being for sentient beings: both are intrinsically valuable properties of an entity (ecosystem, sentient being) that is unique and irreplaceable.

5) Restorative justice. Strive for reconciliation, forgiveness, non-violence, and moral growth, instead of retributions and punishment.

6) Universal love. Develop a feeling of universal love, a solidarity and compassion with all life, even with humans doing highly immoral things. Never regard someone as an enemy. This love is like the unconditional care of a mother for her children: Even when her son does the most terrible things, the mother still loves him deeply, she has no hatred or disdain but empathy and respect, but she’ll do whatever she can to stop his immoral behavior. She will not trust her son, and she may use violence, as long as the violence is accompanied with love. See http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/the-essentials-of-universal-love/

7) Just caring. When helping others, you are allowed to give (to some level) priority to those with whom you feel a personal or emotional concern or involvement, on the condition that you should tolerate the choice of other caregivers to give priority to whom they prefer. So you should tolerate the choice of other helpers. See ‘tolerated choice equality’ in http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/a-model-for-a-theory-of-justice/

8 ) The golden rule. Abide by those principles which we would like that everyone abides them. Give the good example and do that what every moral being should have to do, even if no-one else does so. This is an unconditional commitment and we should, if need be, swim up against the stream. We should abide by those principles which are generalizable, which means that if every moral being should follow those principles and consequently apply them, there will be no undesirable consequences that violate one of the above principles.

Note that the above 8 principles are a combination of consequentialist ethics (principles 1 and 4), deontological ethics (principles 2, 3 and 8), virtue ethics (principle 6) and ethics of care (principles 5 and 7). Let’s illustrate a few implications that can be derived from the above principles:

-Eat vegan (100% plant based diet). We don’t need animal products to have a healthy life (American Dietetic Association). Inform yourself about healthy, well-planned vegan diets. Don’t use animals for things we would not use humans for: clothing, experimenting, amusement, trade, slavery,…

-Only use environmentally friendly technology.

-No overconsumption, but sobriety and voluntary simplicity. Lower your ecological footprint, don’t use luxury (all products used to increase social status, needs created by commercial advertisement, fashion trends,…). By consuming less, the saved money should be given to help the most vulnerable life (poor people, animals, nature,…).

-No overpopulation. Help create fair conditions for a worldwide voluntary pregnancy limitation. Financially support organizations working on reproductive health an family planning, especially in countries with high fertility rates.

-Do actions to help vulnerable life (humans, non-human sentient beings and nature)

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Posted: 25 February 2012 07:42 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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Interesting post. What exactly would you define as luxury ? I dislike excessive avariciousness and conspicuous consumption but I think we have the right to live civilised lives. I believe that aesthetic pleasure is a deep human need and enjoyment of beauty is an important part of human flourishing. To what extent does the desire for beauty justify certain expenditures such as attractive furnishings, gardens, enjoyment of the arts, etc.? Or would you regard these things as frivolous luxuries?
On one end of the scale we might say that all expenditure that is not essential to our basic needs is ethically unacceptable when that money could help to save a single child from starvation (Peter Singer seems to be pretty close to this point of view).
On the other end of the scale perhaps we are justified in buying a Ferrari sports car because in doing so we are supporting excellence in design and engineering. And of course most of us fall somewhere between these extremes.
I’m curious as to where you stand on these questions.

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Posted: 25 February 2012 09:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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cosmobonobo - 25 February 2012 07:42 AM

Interesting post. What exactly would you define as luxury ? I dislike excessive avariciousness and conspicuous consumption but I think we have the right to live civilised lives. I believe that aesthetic pleasure is a deep human need and enjoyment of beauty is an important part of human flourishing. To what extent does the desire for beauty justify certain expenditures such as attractive furnishings, gardens, enjoyment of the arts, etc.? Or would you regard these things as frivolous luxuries?
On one end of the scale we might say that all expenditure that is not essential to our basic needs is ethically unacceptable when that money could help to save a single child from starvation (Peter Singer seems to be pretty close to this point of view).
On the other end of the scale perhaps we are justified in buying a Ferrari sports car because in doing so we are supporting excellence in design and engineering. And of course most of us fall somewhere between these extremes.
I’m curious as to where you stand on these questions.

I am at Singer’s side of the scale: we should lower our consumption drastically and give the money to help poor people, wounded animals,...
Concerning luxury: I gave a description here http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/the-basic-right/
“Luxury: these are needs that have a positive contribution to someone’s well-being when satisfied, but these needs are created by society and we can create circumstances where these needs no longer need to be satisfied in order to have an increase in well-being. Luxury needs are volatile, relative and variable. Examples are fashion, social status symbols and needs created by commercial advertisements.” So conspicious consumption is included. Luxury needs are not to be confused with basic, vital and survival needs.
“Basic needs: these are needs that are not required in order to stay healthy and alive, that have a positive contribution to someone’s well-being, are stable and not determined by society. Examples are social contact, knowledge, recreation,…
Vital needs: these are needs that need to be satisfied in order to stay alive and healthy, such as medicines and health care.
Survival ends: these are vital needs that are not only important for individuals, but are also important for biodiversity (survival of species,…). Examples are food, water, air, sexual activity,…”
This gradation of needs can be coupled to other gradations that we encounter in ethics (e.g. a gradation in mental capacities of individuals)

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Posted: 25 February 2012 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Stijn Bruers,

I lean in your direction in these matters but I must say I detect a certain puritanical zeal in your ethics that seems excessive in my view. You include education and recreation amongst your list of basic needs, so I suppose there is room for manoeuvre there but I think you undervalue enjoyment of nature and the arts in a well - rounded life. And I don’t share your complete aversion towards fashion or socially constructed desires. These seem to me to be mostly innocent pleasures that can be incorporated into an ethically sound life. Indeed ‘fashion’ in the broadest sense includes important developments and innovations in cultural life that are often very good things.
Furthermore there is a tactical element that is important here. Asking too much from people may well backfire. The net gain in charitable contributions will probably be greater if those contributions only require a small personal sacrifice than if people believe that too much is being demanded of them. 
Am I right in thinking that you base your ethics upon a scarcity model of natural resources?
I doubt there is an imminent limit to our capacity to exploit the available resources in the solar system. Notwithstanding the very real problems posed by climate change and ecosystem degradation, I believe that progressive changes in our political arrangements could vanquish poverty and much other suffering. And technologies that are very close to fruition such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology and efficient solar energy should enable us, and other animals,  to enjoy increasingly abundant and happy lives.
In the meantime we can each adopt moderate, but not necessarily frugal, lifestyles and do our best to bring about a better world. 

[ Edited: 25 February 2012 12:24 PM by cosmobonobo]
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Posted: 25 February 2012 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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cosmobonobo - 25 February 2012 12:13 PM

Stijn Bruers,

I lean in your direction in these matters but I must say I detect a certain puritanical zeal in your ethics that seems excessive in my view. You include education and recreation amongst your list of basic needs, so I suppose there is room for manoeuvre there but I think you undervalue enjoyment of nature and the arts in a well - rounded life. And I don’t share your complete aversion towards fashion or socially constructed desires. These seem to me to be mostly innocent pleasures that can be incorporated into an ethically sound life. Indeed ‘fashion’ in the broadest sense includes important developments and innovations in cultural life that are often very good things.


except that it increases our environmental footprint and decreases our availability to help others. I’d say moral development is much better for cultural life than status consumption.

Furthermore there is a tactical element that is important here. Asking too much from people may well backfire.

Yes, but I want to be honest towards everyone, and I value moral consistency.

The net gain in charitable contributions will probably be greater if those contributions only require a small personal sacrifice than if people believe that too much is being demanded of them.

is that an emprical claim?

Am I right in thinking that you base your ethics upon a scarcity model of natural resources?

that’s right

I doubt there is an imminent limit to our capacity to exploit the available resources in the solar system. Notwithstanding the very real problems posed by climate change and ecosystem degradation, I believe that progressive changes in our political arrangements could vanquish poverty and much other suffering. And technologies that are very close to fruition such as nanotechnology, synthetic biology and efficient solar energy should enable us, and other animals,  to enjoy increasingly abundant and happy lives.

I’d suggest not to be too optimistic about technological innovations. No-one has ever proven that we can invent and devellop new technologies fast enough (and morally speaking, we should be very impatient, because today sentient beings die, biodiversity decreases,...) when those technologies should be biologically-physically possible (there are limits to efficiencies of engines, growth rates of plants,...), ecologically sustainable (no use of scarce resources), ethically permissible, economically-financially possible (not too expencive). We are not intelligent enough. But on the other hand, the most stupid person can decide already today to take the bike instead of the car, to eat vegan instead of meat, to consume less and give the saved money to charity(eg family planning),...

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Posted: 26 February 2012 11:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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1) A just distribution of quality of life. Maximize the qualities of life (values of well-being) of all sentient beings


Asking people to consider the plight of squid is DOA on arrival.


One thing any moral system has to be is implementable at least in theory, at least, that is, in some plausible theoretical world. The reason it has to be implementable is because to qualify as a moral system, it has to effect the world for the (some definition of ) better. If it’s fundamentally unworkable, it’s not a moral system. It’s a day dream , or a fantasy or something else.

2) The basic right of living beings (plants and all beings with complex interests, such as staying alive). Never allow the killing or injuring a non-sentient living being for luxury needs. Especially don’t kill a living being to manipulate your social status (fashion, status consumption, commercial advertisements). We are allowed to use plants for basic needs (sharing knowledge,…).

 


Look at nature. Is what you see what happens without human intervention? Do they have “rights” No. It’s nature red in tooth and claw; animals and all biological organisms prey on each other in the most opportunistic way. Apparently you think it’s OK to have animals die of every kind of horrible disease and vicious predator, so long as that predator’s name is not “human” and that disease is not something we caused inadvertently through changing the environment of the ‘sentient” creature.


So the only speciesism that’s gong on here is yours- you’re a species who participates empathetically in the suffering of other creatures and wants to reach out and change the circumstances of every other creature in the animal kingdom to accord with   your personal feelings. That desire, my friend,  is speciesism- the unbidden injection,  the forcing, the superpositioning of your own species specific moral framework on other species.

 

 

Is it rational or moral? No, not in the least. In fact, it makes zero sense at all. The whole of nature’s balance between competing species is predicated upon a lot of suffering. Apparently nature could give a crap about the suffering of individuals . That’s the difference between brute nature and us. We do care about this. So caring about suffering is specieisism since we’re the only source of that caring.


You can’t relieve the suffering of protozoa and squid and raccoons and rats and every other species and vertebrate and invertebrate and so on and so on; it’ s a really silly thought. You don’t want to shit on the world the way our civilization is doing right now, but that’s a completely different proposition from what you’re putting forward . What you’re saying is completely silly and unworkable even in theory, not to mention destructive of the very thing it’s trying to “protect”.  You don’t know how the ecosystem works and you don’t understand anything about predator/prey balances or really anything about anything. It’s quite disturbing.

 

Look, it’s enough to say “don’t use the earth as your fucking toilet. Don’t pollute the earth so much you and everything else in it dies.” If we could get THAT idea to take hold, then we’d be winning this war.


The worst thing about your ideas is that they make anyone who starts sprouting them look like eco-morons of the sort that the right is always saying we are. So these ideas, should anyone ever take them seriously, which I don’t think we’re in any real danger of,  would be a net LOSS to the side who actually wants to take care of the earth.

 

Nice going.

 

It’s like people who object to deer hunting. They’re naive. Do you know how deer die in the winter if they’re not shot by hunters? They’re torn apart by wolves and dogs or they starve slowly to death. Even if man weren’t here, it’ would still be the same fate for them. Shooting them is no worse than the other fates they have available to them.

3) The basic right of sentient beings (beings with complex interests and the capacity to subjectively experience their needs). Never allow the use of sentient beings as merely means to someone else’s ends (including both luxury, basic and vital needs).


Have you worked this out across all domains to understand what impact it would have on science, medicine the lives of fellow humans etc? Seriously.

We should not treat someone as property or violate its bodily integrity or freedom without permission in order to achieve a goal.

And just how would you like to ask permission?

One exception: sentient beings who became dependent (by evolution) on other animals in order to survive, are allowed to hunt for their vital needs, until feasible alternatives exist (but we are allowed to defend the prey, if we feel compassion). See ‘basic right principle’ in http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2010/10/17/a-model-for-a-theory-of-justice/ and http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2011/12/25/the-basic-right/

Dude you nee to take a class in earth science and ecology . You’re so totally ignorant of everything that comes before you and all the knowledge we have of how complex ecosystems work and you think that somehow that ignorance is OK.  Literally, you have no idea about the real nature of the things you are expounding on. Is there a worse indictment of an idea?

 

4) The intrinsic value of biodiversity. Protect the biodiversity, because the biodiversity for ecosystems is analogous to well-being for sentient beings: both are intrinsically valuable properties of an entity (ecosystem, sentient being) that is unique and irreplaceable.

 

Biodiversity is important for humans. But elevating “all sentient beings” to the same moral level as humans is speciesism.

 

5) Restorative justice. Strive for reconciliation, forgiveness, non-violence, and moral growth, instead of retributions and punishment.

 

Be nice to forgiving and nice to everyone and try not to start shit. There, fixed that for you.

6) Universal love. Develop a feeling of universal love, a solidarity and compassion with all life, even with humans doing highly immoral things. Never regard someone as an enemy. This love is like the unconditional care of a mother for her children: Even when her son does the most terrible things, the mother still loves him deeply, she has no hatred or disdain but empathy and respect, but she’ll do whatever she can to stop his immoral behavior. She will not trust her son, and she may use violence, as long as the violence is accompanied with love. See http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2010/05/15/the-essentials-of-universal-love/

 

I am having a hard time now believing you are at any university majoring in anything. I hate being lied to.

 

Blah blah blah and more of the same .

 

Sorry to be harsh but you just have to go out into the world of hard won knowledge AKA science and learn what we already know and start your thinking after you actually understand a little about the things you are interested in. and stop thinking you can make huge sweeping changes to just everything while skipping that step. 

 

What you’re doing is how you you get the Pol Pots and the Maos and the Hitlers and the Religions and all this other crap. Thinking you can think and intuit your way to knowledge is just so…. 18tth century… dude.

 

People thinking they can create huge sweeping societal programs that will effect everyone without bothering to learn anything about the nature of the things their’ pontificating on and just pulling shit out of their asses. This is a bad thing. Stop doing it.

Right now, you’re just naive in the extreme. If you continue down the road of holding forth on how everyone should live and interact with everything in the world while knowing nothing about anything in the world except how you feel internally, you’ll begin to qualify as evil.

 

 

[ Edited: 26 February 2012 01:06 PM by softwarevisualization]
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Posted: 26 February 2012 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 26 February 2012 11:15 AM

One thing any moral system has to be is implementable at least in theory, at least, that is, in some plausible theoretical world. The reason it has to be implementable is because to qualify as a moral system, it has to effect the world for the (some definition of ) better. If it’s fundamentally unworkable, it’s not a moral system. It’s a day dream , or a fantasy or something else.

I can live up to this ethics to a high degree, so that level is not unworkable. And I am not superman; I don’t have special powers that others lack.

Look at nature. Is what you see what happens without human intervention? Do they have “rights” No. It’s nature red in tooth and claw; animals and all biological organisms prey on each other in the most opportunistic way. Apparently you think it’s OK to have animals die of every kind of horrible disease and vicious predator, so long as that predator’s name is not “human” and that disease is not something we caused inadvertently through changing the environment of the ‘sentient” creature.

concerning predation: if a sentient being (predator) became (by evolution) dependent on the use of other sentient beings for survival, then it is allowed to use other sentient beings. The reason is that if they did not have the right to hunt, then I should be willing to prefer a world where all predators go extinct (I have to universalize that prohibition). That would violate two things
1) the intrinsic value of biodiversity (biodiversity is everything that evolved by natural evolution, so predation contributes to biodiversity), 2) my uncertainty aversion (there are lots of ecological side effects when all predators go extinct, so it is not clear what the impact on well-being will be, so it might violate the first principle)
Neither the human species, nor the family of great apes, nor the order of primates go extinct when they are not allowed to eat meat. That is a morally relevant difference with real predators (carnivores and some omnivores).

So the only speciesism that’s gong on here is yours- you’re a species who participates empathetically in the suffering of other creatures and wants to reach out and change the circumstances of every other creature in the animal kingdom to accord with   your personal feelings. That desire, my friend,  is speciesism- the unbidden injection,  the forcing, the superpositioning of your own species specific moral framework on other species.

you make two steps: 1) my ethics is based on my personal feelings, 2) my personnal feelings and ethics is speciesism. The first one I can agree to some degree: my ethics is based on moral intuitions, turned into a coherent set of universalized ethical principles. But you did not clearly demonstrate that this is also speciesism. I can simply argue that it is not speciesism, but at this moment this seems very trivial, so i’m not sure to give the argument.

Is it rational or moral? No, not in the least. In fact, it makes zero sense at all. The whole of nature’s balance between competing species is predicated upon a lot of suffering. Apparently nature could give a crap about the suffering of individuals . That’s the difference between brute nature and us. We do care about this. So caring about suffering is specieisism since we’re the only source of that caring.

it’s not speciesism: not all members of our species are able to care about suffering, and not only members of our species are able to care about suffering. So there is really no overlap between the set of homo sapiens and the set of beings able to care about suffering.
Overall: all of my ethics can be framed and stated without any reference to the species homo sapiens. What you can do, is derive from my ethics that the species homo sapiens is not a morally relevant criterion.

You can’t relieve the suffering of protozoa and squid and raccoons and rats and every other species and vertebrate and invertebrate and so on and so on; it’ s a really silly thought.

we have a duty to help others as best as we can, to some large degree. You can’t relieve the suffering of all humans; does that imply that human rights or justice are silly thoughts?

You don’t want to shit on the world the way our civilization is doing right now, but that’s a completely different proposition from what you’re putting forward . What you’re saying is completely silly and unworkable even in theory,

I am able to do voluntary work in a wildlife rescue center…

not to mention destructive of the very thing it’s trying to “protect”.  You don’t know how the ecosystem works and you don’t understand anything about predator/prey balances or really anything about anything. It’s quite disturbing.

can you give some evidence why you say this? I have a PhD in theoretical ecology, so I do know something about the complexities of ecosystems and predator-prey relations….

It’s like people who object to deer hunting. They’re naive. Do you know how deer die in the winter if they’re not shot by hunters? They’re torn apart by wolves and dogs or they starve slowly to death. Even if man weren’t here, it’ would still be the same fate for them. Shooting them is no worse than the other fates they have available to them.

wolves have to eat, otherwise they go extinct. If you can help a hungry animal in winter, then please do so, because you’d also like to be helped when you’re hungry. And you do not want to switch position with a wounded animal who is shot. It’s a violation of the golden rule: do not do unto others what you don’t want others do to you. You don’t want others to shoot at you, so you should not shoot at others.
I don’t know of any hunter who hunts deer in order to spare them a slow death. If you think that’s a good motive to hunt, then please be consistent, and start shooting humans as well, because if you don’t shoot them, they eventually become ill and die with pain and misery, you know all that. And definitely start shooting at all the homeless people in winter. Just be consistent, because if you don’t have to be consistent, then neither do I have to…

Have you worked this out across all domains to understand what impact it would have on science, medicine the lives of fellow humans etc? Seriously.

yes, seriously. It means that we cannot use animals in lots of experiments, because we would never be willing to use humans (e.g. mentally disabled persons) in such experiments. So it would be discrimination to use non-human animals but not humans. No-one has ever given me a valid argument that there is a morally relevant difference between humans and non-human animals. On the other hand, I can give 5 arguments why species is not morally relevant and 5 arguments why sentience is: http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/ten-arguments-against-speciesism/

And just how would you like to ask permission?

how do you mean? With words and language, I guess…

Dude you nee to take a class in earth science and ecology . You’re so totally ignorant of everything that comes before you and all the knowledge we have of how complex ecosystems work and you think that somehow that ignorance is OK.  Literally, you have no idea about the real nature of the things you are expounding on. Is there a worse indictment of an idea?

can you give me evidence to justify your claims that you make here? I do know something about science and ecology; more than simply by following a class…

Biodiversity is important for humans.

that’s also true to some degree; but I was refering to intrinsic value, opposite to instrumental value. This intrinsic value is something that I added in order to cope with the predation problem (see above)

But elevating “all sentient beings” to the same moral level as humans is speciesism.

Is it racism to elevate all humans (including black people) to the same level as white people? I guess you have a wrong conception of racism and speciesism…

I am having a hard time now believing you are at any university majoring in anything. I hate being lied to.

can you give me some of your evidence to back up your belief? Or is it an irrational belief?

Sorry to be harsh but you just have to go out into the world of hard won knowledge AKA science and learn what we already know and start your thinking after you actually understand a little about the things you are interested in. and stop thinking you can make huge sweeping changes to just everything while skipping that step.

...and also evidence to justify these claims???

What you’re doing is how you you get the Pol Pots and the Maos and the Hitlers and the Religions and all this other crap. Thinking you can think and intuit your way to knowledge is just so…. 18tth century… dude.

...and also evidence to justify these claims…

Right now, you’re just naive in the extreme. If you continue down the road of holding forth on how everyone should live and interact with everything in the world while knowing nothing about anything in the world except how you feel internally, you’ll begin to qualify as evil.

...and also evidence to justify these claims…

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Posted: 26 February 2012 05:48 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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I can live up to this ethics to a high degree, so that level is not unworkable. And I am not superman; I don’t have special powers that others lack.

 

Eh, no you can’t. You rely on other people to kill everything from vermin which would overwhelm you, to pests which would overwhelm you to the larger predator animals that would like to take what you have to the small organisms in your water which would make you sick to the jihadis that would kill you for their religion and on and on and on. You can’t live without these things being done. Because someone else does it, you kid yourself into believing it’s not necessary for your survival, when it is.

concerning predation: if a sentient being (predator) became (by evolution) dependent on the use of other sentient beings for survival, then it is allowed to use other sentient beings.


If you don’t want to eat meat, great. I don’t eat meat either.. it’s a global warming thing with me. But what do you think is going to happen to a cow I set free? Or one born wild? Think it’s suffering is going to be any less for humans ignoring it? Think it’s death is going to be any less painful for humans ignoring it? Wrong and wrong. Cows die of horrible diseases, cows die long suffering deaths. Once an animal is born, if it’s left alone by man, it’s going to suffer in unspeakable ways. Killing animals for meat is not bad because we inflict suffering on cows as a necessary part of that process. It’s bad because factory farms we inflict unnecessary suffering and because it uses a ton of oil resources to raise a cow to adulthood.


If we could eliminate the oil part of the equation and we bought meat from non-factory farms with real free range animals living their normal lives, then the cows raised under those circumstances and killed under those circumstances are are the luckiest cows in the world. Once a cow is born, once it exists, horrible suffering is its destiny and not more so because we kill them and eat them, only, potentially, less so.

The first one I can agree to some degree: my ethics is based on moral intuitions, turned into a coherent set of universalized ethical principles

.


Dont’ do that. You aren’t born with superhuman knowetic powers that can proceed safely without the empirical testing of your unconscious hypothesis and the input from other smart people who will point out the inadvertant consequences of what “intuit and feel” is right. So don’t do it.

But you did not clearly demonstrate that this is also speciesism.

Sure it is. It’s speciesism to the core. That’s what anthropomorphication IS> It’s projecting your feelings- which are common t our species.. empathy etc.. onto other species. In your case, your projecting your VALUES onto all of nature when as I said, nature really doesn’t measure things the way humans do, in terms of minimizing suffering. It’s survival of the fittest in nature and screw those who aren’t fit. That’s what nature does. Now you come along and you want to interfere wit that. That;‘s because that’ what the part of nature called human just wants to do. But that doesn’t mean it’s not speciesism to project that value system onto the rest of nature, because it is.

 

Literally, you personally are not able to separate what you feel from what is objective reality. You feel something strongly and then project it. That’s just immature that’s all.

 

Is it rational or moral? No, not in the least. In fact, it makes zero sense at all. The whole of nature’s balance between competing species is predicated upon a lot of suffering. Apparently nature could give a crap about the suffering of individuals . That’s the difference between brute nature and us. We do care about this. So caring about suffering is specieisism since we’re the only source of that caring.

it’s not speciesism: not all members of our species are able to care about suffering,

Yeah that’s a lie of generalization. You’re taking a few rabid and notable exceptions- specifically people who don’t care about other’s suffering are called sociopaths and they are a tiny minority of humans - and using it to assert something about the vast majority that is UNTRUE. The rest of humanity DOES care about other’s suffering, at least as it applies to people they identify with.

 

This technique of using an exception to deny a true property about the rest of the group is a known logical fallacy.  So your statement is exactly false. In fact, it’s a defining characteristic of our species that we care about suffering.


and not only members of our species are able to care about suffering.

Again you’re generalizing to a group the properties of a notable exception. Some great apes appear to display empathy to some members of their group sometimes and some other animals do to their young and kin but this is kinship empathy owing to evolution, and NOT the general concern for suffering that humans display towards other people and animals generally.


So you falsely characterized a group by its exceptions and then distorted the extent and nature of the empathy animals display and thus having engaged in logical fallacies and distortions of reality, you arrive at this:

So there is really no overlap between the set of homo sapiens and the set of beings able to care about suffering.


Bull fucking shit.  Caring about suffering of other creatures and people is one of the clear defining characteristics of human beings.

Overall: all of my ethics can be framed and stated without any reference to the species homo sapiens. What you can do, is derive from my ethics that the species homo sapiens is not a morally relevant criterion.


Yeah you can leave mention of them out but you can’t defend the proposition that ethics is a distinctly and specifcally human concern, so it’s a hollow accomplishment to merely edit out mention of the underlying source of morality.

You can’t relieve the suffering of protozoa and squid and raccoons and rats and every other species and vertebrate and invertebrate and so on and so on; it’ s a really silly thought.

we have a duty to help others as best as we can, to some large degree. You can’t relieve the suffering of all humans; does that imply that human rights or justice are silly thoughts?


Again you just have trouble keeping perspective. Nothing I said implies jack for human rights or justice. Are you seriously implying (yes, you are!) that if I could give a shit about protozoa I could give a shit about people?

You don’t want to shit on the world the way our civilization is doing right now, but that’s a completely different proposition from what you’re putting forward . What you’re saying is completely silly and unworkable even in theory,

I am able to do voluntary work in a wildlife rescue center…


Let’s agree to pretend for a moment that I believe you and I don’t think you’re slipping a lie into the argument in order to gain rhetorical advantage. Yes, I know it’ s a stretch, but just play along fro now.


What exactly do you think you’re doing at the wildlife refuge center? You’re killing things so that other things acn live, that’s what you’re doing. You’re managing the ecosystem and the balance of nature because if we don’t play god and pick winners and losers as our science permits us then things will go all to hell. We kill invasive species, we kill the “biodiverse” organisms that want to hurt the animals we have selected to live, we intorduce new predators to keep populations down and hunt other predators that overpopulate. We play fucking god to the best of our ability by choosing who lives and who dies and in what proportions.

 

 

 

It’s like people who object to deer hunting. They’re naive. Do you know how deer die in the winter if they’re not shot by hunters? They’re torn apart by wolves and dogs or they starve slowly to death. Even if man weren’t here, it’ would still be the same fate for them. Shooting them is no worse than the other fates they have available to them.

wolves have to eat, otherwise they go extinct. If you can help a hungry animal in winter, then please do so, because you’d also like to be helped when you’re hungry. And you do not want to switch position with a wounded animal who is shot. It’s a violation of the golden rule: do not do unto others what you don’t want others do to you. You don’t want others to shoot at you, so you should not shoot at others.

I don’t know of any hunter who hunts deer in order to spare them a slow death.


Ok so let me get this straight. You’re saying you ahve a PhD in theoretical ecology but you can’t imagine why it desirable to hunt deer during deer season. Is that right? We have a deer season because the deer are over populated relative to the land’s ability to sustain them. They are going to starve or they’re going to be torn apart while still alive.

 

It’s irrelevant what the motivations of human hunters are; they’re certainly no worse than the motivations of wolves or the motivations of opportuistic baterial infections that will eventually kill the starving deer.

If you think that’s a good motive to hunt, then please be consistent, and start shooting humans as well, because if you don’t shoot them, they eventually become ill and die with pain and misery, you know all that. And definitely start shooting at all the homeless people in winter. Just be consistent, because if you don’t have to be consistent, then neither do I have to…

 

For one, you’re just factually wrong again. People dont die with huge amounts of suffering anymore unless they dn’t have access to hospitals. Perhaps you need to go to a hospital and see some people who are dying. They’re not writhing around in agony. We can control almost any pain now. So you’re just factually wrong fro peopel living in first and second world nations, and increasingly thrid world nations, but that’s not the least bad part of what you just said.



The idea I am not being consistent because I abjure shooting humans but not deer is nuts. I assert that human and animal life is not a morally equivalent set. So of course I am being consistent by saying we should shoot deer but not people. 


In fact, by your own meausre, it’s you who are being inconsistent by assertign that we ought to spend more money and attention taking care of humans than animals. Unless you dont’ believe that, which is fine with me because I only have to ever show that my worthy opponent is wrong for some reason and being a prima fasica lunatic is a proper subset of being “wrong”. So please, do me the favor ....

 

No-one has ever given me a valid argument that there is a morally relevant difference between humans and non-human animals.

 

Yeah where “valid” means “you accept it”. Of course, that’s qa definition of “valid” that is of interest to exactly one person on this planet, yourself.


Back on planet earth, there are lots of valid reasons why humans are more important than non-humans the first one being we’re the only species that shows compassion and concern for other species. Your entire argument- that human and animal life is morally equivalent, is self-defeating because ONLY humans care about other species and the argument is predicated on caring for other species. So by your own measure of moral goodness, humans are superior. If you have a choice to save a creature that cares about its owmn AND other species, and one that doesn’t, it would be immoral to chose to help the one that doesn’t care about other species as measured BY YOUR OWN MEASURE OF MORALITY.

 

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Posted: 26 February 2012 05:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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And just how would you like to ask permission?

how do you mean? With words and language, I guess…

Unless you’re going Dr. Doolittle on me, I think we’re not communicating here. Clarify?

 

But elevating “all sentient beings” to the same moral level as humans is speciesism.

Is it racism to elevate all humans (including black people) to the same level as white people? I guess you have a wrong conception of racism and speciesism…

You’re begging the question here, but nice try The question is- should humans be elevated in concern over other species. Your question to me ASSUMES that they should not be and THEREFORE makes an equivalence between equality between race and equality between species.

Then once you’ve assumed that equivalnce , you let go with the very painful question above, as though it proved anything.

 

The only thing it proves is that you made a specious argument- one that assumed the consequent.

 

I am having a hard time now believing you are at any university majoring in anything. I hate being lied to.

can you give me some of your evidence to back up your belief? Or is it an irrational belief?


OK well either you’ve faked the shit out of numerous sources or you havea degree in something or other as you assert.

From the degree of naivety in your philosophical meanderings and the ease with which you offer confused arguments and the amusing romanticism with which you approach even basic issues like deer overpopulation during winter time, i just made certain assumptions which , hey, let me be the first to say were incorrect.

 

My only defense was that those assumptions were more probable than the certain conclusion I am forced to now, which is you went through all that education and didn’t learn a   thing, which basically means you’re some species of crazy.

 

Since you’re giving equal moral weight to bacterium - which are animals btw- and humans or, don’t let me make fun of you, protozoa and humans , or OK OK ... let’s say a cockroach or a rat and a human, then I am also forced to the conclusion that I’ll probably read about some terrorist act or antoher you’ve engaged in to “stop the species-centric slaughter of innocent bacterium / protozoa / cockroaches / rats” on the front page of some paper at some time, so please, people ... this little tete-a-tete is evidence people, it’s evidence… dont’ delete it.

 

What you’re doing is how you you get the Pol Pots and the Maos and the Hitlers and the Religions and all this other crap. Thinking you can think and intuit your way to knowledge is just so…. 18tth century… dude.

...and also evidence to justify these claims…


Which claims? that Pol Pot and Mao and Hitler and religious leader X just dreamt up their own version of reality and then started acting as though those versions of reality were real? That people who do this are basically crazy? That people who do things like this are dangerous to the extent that they have any power? What is it you’d like me to prove exactly?

 

That you appear to have exactly zero understanding of basic ecology in your Romanticizaton of lower life forms and wish to elevate them in time caring attention and resources with humans?


Let me play the same “be consistent” game with you that you tried- and failed - to play with me.

 

OK so if all sentient beings are equal then the sentient being that consciously decides to hurt other sentient beings is the least moral.


Humans consciously decide to hurt other sentient being every time they take a shower.

Humans conscioulsy decide to hurt other sentient beings every time they build any structure whatsoever, walk anywhere, fly anywhere, buy anything, etc etc because all these, any human would agree, results in death to some sentient being which would otherwise ahve been alive except for the human activity.


Therefore humans are the least moral species on the planet because they could avoid to kill but choose not to.

Therefore there is no difference between stopping Hitler and stopping ALL human beings.

 

The difference between the above absurdities and what you tried to palm off on me is that the above actually, ARE the logical conclusions of your axioms of species equivalence.


Humans are the only creature with a moral code that includes other species;  we care about other species irrespective of their utilitarian value to us. No other species has anything like this moral code, nor the moral code that the vast vast majority of humans keep for each other.


If you care about morality and compassion and that there be in existence somewhere something that possesses good wil, disinterested knowledge seeking, a willingness to fight for moral good, a willingness to fight selflessly for things other than their own kind, if anything of that means anything to you then you will be keen in helping humans continue their journey towards understanding themselves and their world so that we can one day have a world in which humans do show universal compassion for each other without exception, a world in which humans desire to have and are able to achieve good stewardship of the earth and in the end are able to preserve the existence of ourselves and other species through the advancement of scientific knowledge when the sun supernovas which it will do one day. Without us, every species is destined to be wiped out forever. With us, they and we have a chance to live on in other worlds.


Humans are the only ones that are going to do any of this. If we lose humans, if we give up on them in some fundamental sense then we are just setting back the clock of evolution hundreds of millions of years. Even if something else did eventually evolve to take our place the exact same forces that led us to have our too clear flaws will be present in the “new” human since the same forces of evolution - selfish genes and all that - will have been at work.


We’re not perfect, but we’ve got frogs cats and bats beat hands down. For this reason, we’re special and are deserving of our own best efforts, material, time and attention. It is us and only us who are going to look out over the world and yearn for a moral,. just and equitable existence for all creatures. No one is saying “torture animals, it doesn’t matter” But what you’re saying is so so far away from anything like that it’s basically a from of being crazy.

 

 

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Posted: 26 February 2012 07:27 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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Impressive work, softwarevisualization. My tiny addition to this thread is that, in a sense, every species acts in ways that could be considered speciesist as portrayed by Singer. Why should we act differently? Taking things to a Singerian logical extreme and forfeiting our speciesist ways would cause us to go extinct, wouldn’t it? That could very well happen all by itself so why push the envelope unless you have destructive intent toward humanity?

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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Posted: 27 February 2012 02:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 26 February 2012 05:48 PM

Eh, no you can’t. You rely on other people to kill everything from vermin which would overwhelm you, to pests which would overwhelm you to the larger predator animals that would like to take what you have to the small organisms in your water which would make you sick to the jihadis that would kill you for their religion and on and on and on. You can’t live without these things being done. Because someone else does it, you kid yourself into believing it’s not necessary for your survival, when it is.

but when it is necessary for survival, it is not yet in contradiction with my ethics. The only thing that matters is that in some of the practices you mention, some strategies are no longer allowed.

If you don’t want to eat meat, great. I don’t eat meat either.. it’s a global warming thing with me. But what do you think is going to happen to a cow I set free? Or one born wild? Think it’s suffering is going to be any less for humans ignoring it? Think it’s death is going to be any less painful for humans ignoring it? Wrong and wrong. Cows die of horrible diseases, cows die long suffering deaths. Once an animal is born, if it’s left alone by man, it’s going to suffer in unspeakable ways. Killing animals for meat is not bad because we inflict suffering on cows as a necessary part of that process.

just be consistent: by that line of reasoning: it is good to capture indigenous people and breed them for their milk and meat. Take tha Masai, they live in horrible conditions in Africa, don’t they? They have predators, parasites, diseases, drought. So let’s imprison them and eat them or breed the women for their milk, shall we? Then they will be the luckiest masai in the world…

Dont’ do that. You aren’t born with superhuman knowetic powers that can proceed safely without the empirical testing of your unconscious hypothesis and the input from other smart people who will point out the inadvertant consequences of what “intuit and feel” is right. So don’t do it.

than you have to give another better approach in ethics, but I bet that you also ultimately base your judgments on intuitions that cannot be justified any further.

Sure it is. It’s speciesism to the core. That’s what anthropomorphication IS> It’s projecting your feelings- which are common t our species.. empathy etc.. onto other species.

my feelings are not common to all and only human beings. You could call it egocentrism, in a way, because in the end I only know my feelings. But it is not greed, and it is not discrimination, and definitely not speciesism. It seems you don’t understand the notions of discrimination, racism and speciesism.

In your case, your projecting your VALUES onto all of nature when as I said, nature really doesn’t measure things the way humans do,

and what’s wrong with projecting my values to other sentient beings? Why is this discrimination? Is it racist to do that?

in terms of minimizing suffering. It’s survival of the fittest in nature and screw those who aren’t fit.

if you prefer that ethics, than consistently live by it, and allow me to do the same. Can you want that?

That’s what nature does. Now you come along and you want to interfere wit that. That;‘s because that’ what the part of nature called human just wants to do. But that doesn’t mean it’s not speciesism to project that value system onto the rest of nature, because it is.

why do you so often refer to humans while you know well that there are mentally disabled people who are not able to project their values that way. Do mentally disabled humans belong to the species homo sapiens or not?

Literally, you personally are not able to separate what you feel from what is objective reality. You feel something strongly and then project it. That’s just immature that’s all.

can you give evidence for me not being ablo to separate feelings from reality?

Yeah that’s a lie of generalization. You’re taking a few rabid and notable exceptions- specifically people who don’t care about other’s suffering are called sociopaths and they are a tiny minority of humans - and using it to assert something about the vast majority that is UNTRUE. The rest of humanity DOES care about other’s suffering, at least as it applies to people they identify with.

but the vast majority of primates is also able to project values (just count the primates). So isn’t it “orderism” (referring the order of primates) as well? And the majority of white people are also able to project values, so isn’t it racist as well? Is that what you would call discrimination? Or are you just fuzzying up some words?

This technique of using an exception to deny a true property about the rest of the group is a known logical fallacy.  So your statement is exactly false. In fact, it’s a defining characteristic of our species that we care about suffering.

your fallacy is essentialist thinking. There is no essence related to a species. Look at my 10 arguments against speciesism. http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/ten-arguments-against-speciesism/ Look how arbitrary and far fetched and fuzzy the species criterion is…
And it definitelly is no logical fallacy to show that not all elements of a set can be characterized by a criteria that you mention.

Again you’re generalizing to a group the properties of a notable exception. Some great apes appear to display empathy to some members of their group sometimes and some other animals do to their young and kin but this is kinship empathy owing to evolution, and NOT the general concern for suffering that humans display towards other people and animals generally.

it’s not only empathy towards their families (see recent developments in cognitive ethology). But that in fact doesn’t matter. The crucial point is: is my ethics discriminating non-human animals, and why? Value projections are not discriminatory, otherwise we would also be racists.

So you falsely characterized a group by its exceptions

no, I didn’t characterise a group. You are insisting that there is a characteristic to the group that you mention.
The only group I characterized is the group of individuals with some mental capacities (sentience,...). And the reason why I am allowed to do this, is because I have 5 arguments to justify this.

Bull fucking shit.  Caring about suffering of other creatures and people is one of the clear defining characteristics of human beings.

it’s not a good definition because not all elements of your set (the set of homo sapiens) satisfy that criterion. So why do you not restrict your set to all and only those individuals who are able to care about suffering? Why do you constantly refer to a set that is not appropriate? If you say that mentally disabled persons are exceptions and you are allowed to take up exceptions in your set, than I am allowed to do a similar thing as well, right? So I’d say bonobo’s are also exceptions to be taken up in the set. And pigs also. And rats also. And tomatoes also… You see where it’s heading to?  None of the latter are able to care about suffering, but I simply declare them to be exceptions of the set.

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Posted: 27 February 2012 03:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 26 February 2012 05:48 PM

Yeah you can leave mention of them out but you can’t defend the proposition that ethics is a distinctly and specifcally human concern, so it’s a hollow accomplishment to merely edit out mention of the underlying source of morality.

and can you argue that it is discrimination?

Again you just have trouble keeping perspective. Nothing I said implies jack for human rights or justice. Are you seriously implying (yes, you are!) that if I could give a shit about protozoa I could give a shit about people?

perhaps I did’nt understand the point of your argument, but with the best of my intentions, the only logical conclusion of the only consistent interpretation that I have of your words, is indeed that we should not care about human rights either.

Let’s agree to pretend for a moment that I believe you and I don’t think you’re slipping a lie into the argument in order to gain rhetorical advantage. Yes, I know it’ s a stretch, but just play along fro now.

I didn’t lie. I work every tuesday in a bird care center.

What exactly do you think you’re doing at the wildlife refuge center? You’re killing things so that other things acn live, that’s what you’re doing.

yep, like in a hospital. You have problems with hospitals?

You’re managing the ecosystem and the balance of nature because if we don’t play god and pick winners and losers as our science permits us then things will go all to hell.

then hospitals are also managing our ecosystems…

We kill invasive species, we kill the “biodiverse” organisms that want to hurt the animals we have selected to live, we intorduce new predators to keep populations down and hunt other predators that overpopulate. We play fucking god to the best of our ability by choosing who lives and who dies and in what proportions.

some of the things you mentioned here are immoral.

Ok so let me get this straight. You’re saying you ahve a PhD in theoretical ecology but you can’t imagine why it desirable to hunt deer during deer season. Is that right?

yep, you don’t want to be a deer if they’d shoot you.

We have a deer season because the deer are over populated relative to the land’s ability to sustain them. They are going to starve or they’re going to be torn apart while still alive.

than be consistent and translate the word “deer” into the word “human” and see if it still makes sense what you say.
Anyway, there are far more animal friendlier strategies for the deer than just shooting them. In the end, hunters just shoot for the adrenaline kick, they don’t care much about animal suffering or ecosystems. I have never met a vegan hunter having a low ecological footprint. All the hunters that I know, do eat meat, although of all human activities, livestock industry is the most important threat to ecosystems and biodiversity (says FAO). So they are not consistent, they lose their moral high ground and credibility when they say they hunt to protect nature, although they support an industry that is a serious threat to nature.
Do you know a vegan hunter?

It’s irrelevant what the motivations of human hunters are; they’re certainly no worse than the motivations of wolves or the motivations of opportuistic baterial infections that will eventually kill the starving deer.

with that difference that wolves need meat in order to survive, and this is a relevant difference, because extinction of predators lowers biodiversity and biodiversity has intrinsic value.

For one, you’re just factually wrong again. People dont die with huge amounts of suffering anymore unless they dn’t have access to hospitals.

so that’s why I referred to wildlife rescue centers. If you are against those hospitals for deer, then you should be against hospitals for humans as well.

Perhaps you need to go to a hospital and see some people who are dying. They’re not writhing around in agony. We can control almost any pain now.

so perhaps you should go to a wildlife rescue center…

The idea I am not being consistent because I abjure shooting humans but not deer is nuts. I assert that human and animal life is not a morally equivalent set. So of course I am being consistent by saying we should shoot deer but not people.

well, here comes the central question: on what grounds do you say that human and animal life are not morally equivalent? I gave 10 arguments why they are equivalent

In fact, by your own meausre, it’s you who are being inconsistent by assertign that we ought to spend more money and attention taking care of humans than animals. Unless you dont’ believe that, which is fine with me because I only have to ever show that my worthy opponent is wrong for some reason and being a prima fasica lunatic is a proper subset of being “wrong”. So please, do me the favor ....

my ethics says that we should give a lot of money to help sentient beings, and that we should to some degree be tolerant to whom we send the money. If you want to spend more money for humans, I can tolerate that, as long as you’d tolerate my choice to spend more money to animals.

Yeah where “valid” means “you accept it”. Of course, that’s qa definition of “valid” that is of interest to exactly one person on this planet, yourself.

valid means coherent with a set of important moral intuitions and principles that you and I share. Would you try giving an argument that fits this criterion? If you want to know more about my intuitions and principles: http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/towards-a-coherent-theory-of-animal-equality/
I’m sure there are some that you share…

Back on planet earth, there are lots of valid reasons why humans are more important than non-humans the first one being we’re the only species that shows compassion and concern for other species.

that was not true. First, a species is an abstract arbitrary set, and abstract sets cannot show compassion; only individuals can. Second, an abstract set does not have feelings, so we cannot have compassion with abstract sets. Third, and most important: some elements of the set of homo sapiens are not able to show compassion (eg mentally disabled persoins, babies)

Your entire argument- that human and animal life is morally equivalent, is self-defeating because ONLY humans care about other species and the argument is predicated on caring for other species.

why are you constantly referring to species? Why not referring to populations, genera, families, infraorders, orders, classes,...? What is so special about the category species?

So by your own measure of moral goodness, humans are superior.

no: moral agents are superior in that sense. But the set of moral agents does not equal the set of homo sapiens.

If you have a choice to save a creature that cares about its owmn AND other species, and one that doesn’t, it would be immoral to chose to help the one that doesn’t care about other species as measured BY YOUR OWN MEASURE OF MORALITY.

we could say that this is a valid criterion, yes. So when choosing betwen helping a moral agent and an amoral agent, we might prefer the moral agent. But that does not imply that we are allowed to use amoral agents as merely means (don’t use mentally disabled persons as merely means), or you are allowed to shoot amoral agents (you don’t want to shoot babies to combat overpopulation)

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Posted: 27 February 2012 03:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
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softwarevisualization - 26 February 2012 05:59 PM

Unless you’re going Dr. Doolittle on me, I think we’re not communicating here. Clarify?

difficult to clarify myself when the question was not clear to me. We can ask permission to someone by speaking with him, that’s all. We can be confident that none of the pigs in the livestock industry gave their voluntary permission.

You’re begging the question here, but nice try The question is- should humans be elevated in concern over other species. Your question to me ASSUMES that they should not be and THEREFORE makes an equivalence between equality between race and equality between species.

I don’t simply ASSUME that, I can give 10 arguments for it: http://stijnbruers.wordpress.com/2012/01/13/ten-arguments-against-speciesism/
And yes, it is begging the question: I can compare equality between race with equality between species, unless you give me a morally relevant distinction between race and species. I already gave morally relevant similarities: both are arbitrary abstract biological classifications based on genes or appearance. They are arbitrary in the sense that there are many similar biological classifications. And they are abstract because there is no essence related to race or species.

The only thing it proves is that you made a specious argument- one that assumed the consequent.

I didn’t assume the consequent. I assumed some moral intuitions and principles, and these are not related to the consequent.

From the degree of naivety in your philosophical meanderings and the ease with which you offer confused arguments and the amusing romanticism with which you approach even basic issues like deer overpopulation during winter time, i just made certain assumptions which , hey, let me be the first to say were incorrect.

why romanticism about deer overpopulation? What evidence do you have to think that I am romatic about that? Why not saying that I am also romantic about the Masai in africa, or the human overpopulation in general?
And again: if a hunter kills deer to stop overpopulation and ecological damage, and if he eats meat, then he loses credibility, because he financially support a system with huge amounts of overpopulation: farmers are destroying forests of the deer in order to grow crops for the pigs and cows - there are way too many livestock animals, and livestock is the most important threat to biodiversity.

My only defense was that those assumptions were more probable than the certain conclusion I am forced to now, which is you went through all that education and didn’t learn a   thing, which basically means you’re some species of crazy.

unless you give evidence to back up these claims, you are using an ad hominem.

Since you’re giving equal moral weight to bacterium - which are animals btw-

do you misinterpret me on purpose? I was talking about sentient beings. Do you think that I believe that bacteria are sentient?

and humans or, don’t let me make fun of you, protozoa and humans , or OK OK ... let’s say a cockroach or a rat and a human, then I am also forced to the conclusion that I’ll probably read about some terrorist act or antoher you’ve engaged in to “stop the species-centric slaughter of innocent bacterium / protozoa / cockroaches / rats” on the front page of some paper at some time, so please, people ... this little tete-a-tete is evidence people, it’s evidence… dont’ delete it.

aren’t these serious accusation?

Which claims? that Pol Pot and Mao and Hitler and religious leader X just dreamt up their own version of reality and then started acting as though those versions of reality were real? That people who do this are basically crazy? That people who do things like this are dangerous to the extent that they have any power? What is it you’d like me to prove exactly?

the things you mention do not need prove, of course. But you mentioned Pol Pot in a conversation with me, and that’s bizare? Let me mention that Barbie has blond hair. Wouldn’t it be strange if I just mentiond this in a discussion? What the hell is Barbie doing here now? But it’s true, if you like me to prove she has blonde hair, I can prove it.
So what are Pol Pot and Mao doing here? Hitoer I can understand, that’s Godwin’s law, and laws need to be respected grin

That you appear to have exactly zero understanding of basic ecology in your Romanticizaton of lower life forms and wish to elevate them in time caring attention and resources with humans?

about time caring attention and resources to help humans and other animals: consider principle 7 in my opening post

OK so if all sentient beings are equal then the sentient being that consciously decides to hurt other sentient beings is the least moral.

as a prima facie claim yes, but you’ll see this proinciple can be overriden

Humans consciously decide to hurt other sentient being every time they take a shower.
Humans conscioulsy decide to hurt other sentient beings every time they build any structure whatsoever, walk anywhere, fly anywhere, buy anything, etc etc because all these, any human would agree, results in death to some sentient being which would otherwise ahve been alive except for the human activity.
Therefore humans are the least moral species on the planet because they could avoid to kill but choose not to.

if those humans don’t help vulnerable sentient beings, and try to limit collateral damage, then it is immoral, yes.

Therefore there is no difference between stopping Hitler and stopping ALL human beings.

that I don’t see. I see a lot of morally relevant differences between sending people into gas chambers versus taking a shower. The intention, for example.

The difference between the above absurdities and what you tried to palm off on me is that the above actually, ARE the logical conclusions of your axioms of species equivalence.

sorry, that I really don’t see.
Are you against all use of cars and materials? Because cars sometimes kill humans. Or are you against human equality?
I’d say: only use a car when really necessary, and drive really safely. So I use the train, because trains kill less humans and animals than cars do. But yes, they also kill humans. So are you against trains also? I wouldn’t say that you are inconsistent when you are pro human rights and at the same time pro trains. Do you understand why I would then not say you are inconsistent?

If you care about morality and compassion and that there be in existence somewhere something that possesses good wil, disinterested knowledge seeking, a willingness to fight for moral good, a willingness to fight selflessly for things other than their own kind, if anything of that means anything to you then you will be keen in helping humans continue their journey towards understanding themselves and their world so that we can one day have a world in which humans do show universal compassion for each other without exception, a world in which humans desire to have and are able to achieve good stewardship of the earth and in the end are able to preserve the existence of ourselves and other species through the advancement of scientific knowledge when the sun supernovas which it will do one day. Without us, every species is destined to be wiped out forever. With us, they and we have a chance to live on in other worlds.

don’t worry, I help humans and will protect the homo sapiens when they become an endangered species.

Humans are the only ones that are going to do any of this. If we lose humans, if we give up on them in some fundamental sense then we are just setting back the clock of evolution hundreds of millions of years. Even if something else did eventually evolve to take our place the exact same forces that led us to have our too clear flaws will be present in the “new” human since the same forces of evolution - selfish genes and all that - will have been at work.

why are you talking about the extinction of humans here? That was not the issue, was it?

We’re not perfect, but we’ve got frogs cats and bats beat hands down. For this reason, we’re special and are deserving of our own best efforts, material, time and attention. It is us and only us who are going to look out over the world and yearn for a moral,. just and equitable existence for all creatures. No one is saying “torture animals, it doesn’t matter” But what you’re saying is so so far away from anything like that it’s basically a from of being crazy

you know what people said about the slave abolitionists? That was crazy. I understand that intelligent beings are special in the ways you mention, but that does not mean that they can use and exploit and kill less intelligent beings. What about mentally disabled humans? They don’t understand science and all that… But they have fundamental rights, no?

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Posted: 27 February 2012 03:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
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nonverbal - 26 February 2012 07:27 PM

Impressive work, softwarevisualization. My tiny addition to this thread is that, in a sense, every species acts in ways that could be considered speciesist as portrayed by Singer.

can you give an example of a non-human person (or mentally disabled human person) who says that all and only individuals of his species have an equal moral status that is higher than the rest?

Why should we act differently?

are you saying that if animals in nature do something, then we are allowed to act in similar ways? Is that a principle that you would like to apply consistently?

Taking things to a Singerian logical extreme and forfeiting our speciesist ways would cause us to go extinct, wouldn’t it?

I have never seen any evidence for that claim that humans would go extinct when we give rights to non-humans. The white people did not go extinct by giving black people rights.

That could very well happen all by itself so why push the envelope

what are you afraid of in my ethics that pushes the envelope?

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Posted: 27 February 2012 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
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I’d continue this conversation, Stijn, except that my sense of humor today is not quite up to it.

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Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

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