View Single Post
  #13 (permalink)   [ ]
Old 04-07-2009, 05:25 AM
Scarrrrr Australia Scarrrrr is offline
Join Date: Jan 2009
View Posts: 10,507
Re: Dog dies horrific death - continuation of discussion

What's arbitrary about it?

Sentient creatures (unlike non-sentient ones) can feel pain and suffer.
Sapient creatures (unlike non-sapient ones) can feel fear, pain, and can suffer. (Sentient ones can also feel fear, but only if they're immediately threatened, essentially)

The amount of harm you do to an animal depends directly on how intelligent it is., suppose I have some machine that measures accurately how much "intelligence" a being has. Suppose one creature has one point extra in the intelligence department than another creature (ie. analogous to having an IQ of 110 as opposed to 109). So does that mean it then has one more "point" in terms of its capacity to feel pain? I'm sorry, but I don't buy that.

Also, just to back me up:


Some investigators claim that a sharp cut off line exists between those animals who experience pain and suffering, from those who do not. These arguments are based on the assumption that the capacity to suffer is related to the size and complexity of the brain, i.e., small brained animals feel less pain and potentially suffer less than animals with larger more complex brains. This paper refutes these claims and explains the concept that all hierarchical levels of the nervous system are built according to the same functional principles. The ability of an animal to suffer from pain may be related to the amount of associative neural circuitry linking sub-cortical structures to higher levels of the nervous system. A reasonable criteria for assessing pain induced suffering is does the animal actively seek pain relief. We propose that animals who protect injured parts, reduce activity when sick, or self administer opiate and non-opiate drugs are capable of suffering from pain. Some investigators claim that many mammals are in a “gray area” when it comes to suffering from pain. We propose that only fish, amphibians and reptiles may represent the “gray area” of understanding, pain, but they may suffer from fear because they will avoid a place where an aversive event has taken place.

I doubt you even hesitate before swatting a fly or putting down ant traps. Why, though? Why be fine with killing insects but not other animals?
If I see a spider in the house, I don't just kill it actually. I actually put a plastic cup over it, slide some paper beneath it, carry it outside and set it down away from the house. If I see a fly, I open the door or window until it flies outside. I never cause harm or kill something intentionally without need.

That's something that animals do all the time.

This great mystic "balance of nature" is nonsense. There's a reason that over 90% of the animals that ever lived are now extinct.

Are we making a mess of things? Yes.
Are we working to fix it? Yes. That's something no other animal has ever done.
And since when have I said that there's a "great mystic balance of nature" going on? And since when have I denied that the vast, vast majority of animals have gone extinct since the origin of life?

My point was, our species as a whole is doing an incredible amount of destructive damage to our planet. As far as I know, no other animal has caused such widespread destruction of forests and habitats, and so aversely affected the Earth's climate. We're even threatening our own existence!

We may be working to fix things (well, by "we", I really mean a small portion of the human population), but I don't know if the damage that we've already done can actually be repaired by us. Please note that I'm not saying that we all deserve to die, but I'm just using this as an example to further make the point that proclaiming intelligence to be the main factor in assessing what something's life is worth is indeed arbitrary, since there are negatives associated with intelligence as well as positives.

Humans are "superior" to animals in many ways.
Besides which, if you're going to argue that we're on the same plane as animals, then why can't we eat meat? Every other omnivore does.
I've never said that we can't eat meat.

(Just to forestall an inevitable objection – I don't think eating meat constitutes cruelty, because we are omnivores, and it's perfectly natural. Just because the lion kills the zebra to eat, it doesn't mean that it has more inherent worth than its prey (even though I do happen to like lions more than zebras ). Incidentally, if there was some way that all humans would suddenly become able and willing to replace their diet with alternatives to meat, then I would gladly prefer it.

What I do protest strongly against is this anthropocentric view that Homo sapiens is superior to the millions of other life forms on this planet, and more worthy of life. I think that the comparison that sea made between the human and the dog is perfectly valid. I also feel offended by comments such as “The fact of the matter is that a human life is more important than an animal's life”.)

(Just as a final word, can you please stop putting words in my mouth? It feels like you're arguing against a fictional hippie just for the convenience of using a prepared argument.)

There are polar extremes in regards to human behaviour towards animals, and neither is that great.
I do not represent a polar extreme. A polar extreme would be insisting that human beings are worthless and that we must venerate animals as being far more important than us. The other extreme is the reverse, of course, in which humans are far more important than any other life form and animals worth very little.

well like I said, it's inaccurate to arbitrarily exclude humans from the definition of animal. Even if the dictionary includes it as one of its definitions.
I think you're being a bit pedantic...if the dictionary has it as a definition, why complain? You may as well rail against the irrationality of the English language.

well first of all I don't think IQ is a very good way to measure actual intelligence.
It doesn't matter - substitute an "amazingly accurate indicator of intelligence" for IQ if you wish, but my point stands.

Secondly, I don't think intelligence is the only factor in deciding how much someone's life is worth. In the case I mentioned above, the only reason I would pick the more intelligent one, if I had to choose, is if intelligence were the only factor. In any case, there will certainly be much more factors invovled. If I had to pick between the lives of two humans, I don't think the first thing I'm going to want to know about them is their SAT scores.

no one inherently deserves to live more than anyone else, but if a choice has to be made you have to look at the factors, and intelligence is one of them.
...I'm sorry, but the bolded line really just contradicts what you said about putting a mentally impaired person to death as opposed to one of normal intelligence.

I am also pretty sure that they aren't the only ones that can destroy their own environment.
We have destroyed our environment on such a large scale - the drying up of lakes and rivers, rising sea levels, melting ice caps, the pollution of beaches, lakes and rivers, the cutting down of forests and an incredibly rapid mass extinction of other animals - that it beggars comparison with the damage done by any other species.

notice that the main cause of the destruction of our environment is the inventions we created with our superior intellect. I'd like to see a monkey build an internal combustion engine, or use coal to fuel anything for that matter.
Yes, I have noticed that the main cause of our destruction is our own intelligence. Thanks for making my point for me!

See the point I made earlier.

why does it not need justifying? Why do you want to reduce suffering? What makes you think suffering is bad? It's all based on your emotions.
Fine, if you want to get picky, then technically yes it's based on an emotion in that I don't want anything to suffer. But as I said also:

On the whole though, I think I have a far more rational response than most people on this issue, because most people simply believe in the superiority of humans to animals without even really thinking about it, and then construct faulty arguments (such as the existence of a "soul" in humans that's not there in animals) to defend themselves when asked about it.
well why not? Intelligence is what separates humans from all the other animals. If we had to pick between human and dog, every factor should be considered, and intelligence is definitely the major difference. As GDwarf said above, intelligence and suffering are rather linked. The more sapient creature is going to feel more pain and suffering in its death than the less sapient creature. The sapient one has more to lose, deeper emotions and relationships, and a greater purpose to life than the simple "survive and reproduce" that most animals live by.
Right. First, see the link I posted above.

So, scrapped of the argument that intelligence is linked to the ability to suffer, your argument can be ultimately be boiled down to the following:

1) Intelligence is the only major thing that separates a human from an animal
2) Thus, we define the factor that makes humans superior to animals to be intelligence (otherwise we wouldn't have a basis to define humans as being superior to animals)
3) Thus, humans are superior to animals


Anyway, I've dedicated more time to this discussion than I would have liked, since I've got a physics assignment that needs my urgent attention. I hope I've made my point clear.
Last Edited by Scarrrrr; 04-07-2009 at 05:32 AM. Reason: Reply With Quote