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Thread: Do you think that animals and people are "equal"?

  1. #1
    julieruble
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    Default Do you think that animals and people are "equal"?

    I think this is a pretty fundamental question and that there will be differing responses even within the vegan community.

    Do you think that animals and people are "equal"? If so, in what ways? For instance, do you think that torturing an animal is equally as reprehensible as torturing a human? This might manifest itself in other ways as well. For instance, do you think that comparing the meat industry to the Holocaust is an appropriate comparison? Or is your position more like "it's wrong to kill an animal just like it's wrong to kill a person, but the two crimes are not necessarily equally reprehensible."

    Also, just an interesting, and maybe really difficult, question...If you do believe that it is equally horrible to kill a person or a human, would you feel the same if your sister versus your pet died? Of course, it's possible that you WOULD feel differently, but recognize that you SHOULDN'T, so it's entirely possible to believe it is equally horrible and still feel worse if your sister dies, I guess.

  2. #2

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    no, i wouldn't consider non-human animals and humans equal. animals don't have intellect that most humans do. none can think abstractly (except for possibly some of the great apes, and even they can't grasp more than simple abstract concepts). there's alot more to it than that, but it's probably too long to get into right now. but when it comes to equal rights with animals, i think peter singer has it right. animals deserve equal consideration. studies have shown that they do have emotions and they do feel pain, in some instances probably worse that human do.

    equal consideration doesn't mean completely equal treatment. animals obviously don't have the ability to vote, protest, and speak in public among other things. so it'd be stupid to give them these rights. the rights they should have are the rights to live as close to a "natural" life as possible. to live a life where humans don't have a negative impact on the quality of their being.

    in regards to animal or human torture, murder, ect. i guess if i had to choose, in most cases i would rather have a human saved from that. and i think thats a natural response for anyone to have. most animals are going to have a much closer emotional attachment to memebers of their own species than others. we can relate to how other humans feel more than how other non-human animals feel. i'm not saying it doesn't break my heart to see a video of a little kitten crying its eyes out in a lab for some number of unneeded "scientific" experiments, but i think it'd be even worse for me if i saw them doing it to a human infant.

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    I think that profesors Gary Francione, Peter Singer and Tom Regan, main theorists of animal rights/liberation movement, already answered the questions brought up by Julie. Suffice to say that none of them claims that all animals (human and non-human) are "equal" which is something that animal rights/liberation activists are very often accused of.

  4. #4
    julieruble
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    Thanks for the links, but I'm also interested to know what individuals here think about the subject. The question arose again when someone was talking about a project they were doing that roughly equated human suffering with animal suffering.

  5. #5
    julieruble
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    And as a side note,

    But think about it. Most people, if confronted with a choice of whether to save their child or someone else's child, or a thousand other children, would choose to save their own over ALL others. That is simply how people behave and that behavior is understandable
    That's actually, as a side note, the very reason I didn't make it your "child." Frankly, I think of my dog as a closer familial tie than my sister. I live with my dog and see her a lot more often. So I was trying to offset this point by playing with the relations a bit.

    As for the question not being realistic -- most questions that theory come from are theoretical. Thinking about reactions in different circumstances is the way you test a theory, i.e. the way people realized psychoanalytic theory broke down: because they thought, what would happen if you tried to apply this to a girl? How about someone from a different culture? It doesn't have to be something that would happen to be an enlightening question.

  6. #6
    julieruble
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    Quote mattd
    no, i wouldn't consider non-human animals and humans equal. animals don't have intellect that most humans do. none can think abstractly (except for possibly some of the great apes, and even they can't grasp more than simple abstract concepts). there's alot more to it than that, but it's probably too long to get into right now. but when it comes to equal rights with animals, i think peter singer has it right. animals deserve equal consideration. studies have shown that they do have emotions and they do feel pain, in some instances probably worse that human do.
    Makes sense.

    in regards to animal or human torture, murder, ect. i guess if i had to choose, in most cases i would rather have a human saved from that. and i think thats a natural response for anyone to have. most animals are going to have a much closer emotional attachment to memebers of their own species than others. we can relate to how other humans feel more than how other non-human animals feel. i'm not saying it doesn't break my heart to see a video of a little kitten crying its eyes out in a lab for some number of unneeded "scientific" experiments, but i think it'd be even worse for me if i saw them doing it to a human infant.
    Understandable. This is sort of how I feel about the subject as well. But I get the feeling (in the midst of all the holocaust implications, etc.) that some people feel differently.

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    Exclamation Shocking

    It is shocking to see how many of you think that animal's aren't equal. I, of course, think they are just as good and equal as humans, if not better because they don't intentually (right word?) hurt us like some of us do to them. And yes, I've actually felt worse when one of my chickens died or one of my cats WAS LOST than I have when my grandparents (both) died. I know this may sound horrible and just mean to some people, but it's true for me. I'm only 15 and I know that my feelings may change about some things, including that, but I will NEVER become a meat-eater again and be able to live with myself. There actually was a point where I loved my chickens more than some of my family members, and now my cat is the most important thing in my life. And, no, I'm not just saying these things, I feel them, and express them each and every day. When you are sick, animals (and MAYBE people) care. When you are sad and need to talk about things, animals listen. People CHOOSE to listen if they WANT. It does not matter WHO you are or WHAT you do animals will always be there. People won't. I've had friends before that have disowned me for things I've done. I've also had some people do VERY mean things to me and show me pictures of dead animals and chant "KFC" at lunch, when I was at school, and I left. (Again, I'm 15). ANIMALS HAVE NEVER DONE THAT TO ME. If not anything else, they WERE THERE FOR ME. So yes, I definately think that animals are very equal to us, and it does not matter WHAT stupid experts say, it is up to our own opinions. DON'T let other people rule your thoughts and beliefs.

  8. #8
    Las Vegan
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    Quote julieruble
    Do you think that animals and people are "equal"?
    Why is this interesting? Even if a group of animals is not equal to another group, or humans are not equal to animals, or my neighbor is not equal to my grandmother.... so what? Should we harm or kill someone because they're not "equal" to someone else?

    If you are against killing and imposing pain onto others, why does it matter if they are superior or inferior? I don't think it's OK to harm someone even if they were "inferior".

  9. #9
    julieruble
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    Why is this interesting? Even if a group of animals is not equal to another group, or humans are not equal to animals, or my neighbor is not equal to my grandmother.... so what? Should we harm or kill someone because they're not "equal" to someone else?

    If you are against killing and imposing pain onto others, why does it matter if they are superior or inferior? I don't think it's OK to harm someone even if they were "inferior".
    It's not interesting because "if you don't believe animals and people are equal, it's all right to kill animals." It's interesting in light of things I mentioned such as comparing human torture to animal torture. I'm interested in vegan opinions on whether or not an act like that is justified. It has nothing to do with justifying killing animals.

    Also, as you can see, there are already differing opinions even among people here. I think that's interesting.

  10. #10
    julieruble
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    Quote Veggie4Life139
    It is shocking to see how many of you think that animal's aren't equal. I, of course, think they are just as good and equal as humans, if not better because they don't intentually (right word?) hurt us like some of us do to them.
    That's a valid opinion, Veggie. I understand your reasoning. So you do feel like things comparing the holocaust with the meat industry are justified?

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    Lightbulb Holocaust

    Quote julieruble
    That's a valid opinion, Veggie. I understand your reasoning. So you do feel like things comparing the holocaust with the meat industry are justified?
    Yeah, before I even heard that the meat industry was compared to the Holocaust, I called it that. I think, however, that in some ways it's worse because about 6 million (if I'm correct?) people died in the Holocaust, and probably trillions of animals have been killed since humans first walked the earth. So in ways, yes it's like the holocaust in being tragic, horrible, gross, sickening...(I could go on)...but in more ways it's worse. Even if some people believe that humans are better than animals, 6 million compared to some hundred million/billion/trillion animals...that's about a 1:16 ratio to a 1:216 ratio. (I really don't think I'm doing my math correctly...it's most likely worse than that.) I think it's really more like a 1:1666666 ratio. (I think that's about right) I mean, wow, that's pretty bad on our conscious's, don't you think?

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    Peta organized a demonstration here in Vienna that compared the animal industry to the holocaust- It was organzed by the grandson of a holocaust survivor, but the media and most people who saw the demo were aghast. Since this was a central place for the horror of WWII, and there are many holocaust survivors and/or their children living here, it was quite dramatic.

    The only difference that I can see between the two is that the purpose of the holocaust was to annihilate a race - the purpose of the animal industry is to make money. HMMMM...

    There is a holocaust survivor, from Auschwitz, who first made the comparison - I am sorry Ive forgotten his name, but will try to find it. He said that what he saw in the animal industry was the same as Auschwitz - he became vegan.

    regards,
    globesetter

  13. #13

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    Globsetter, his name was Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Noble Prize winner. For more info see http://www.masskilling.com/ and a book "Eternal Treblinka" by Charles Patterson (www.eternaltreblinka.com).

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    Quote veganmike
    Globsetter, his name was Isaac Bashevis Singer, a Noble Prize winner. For more info see http://www.masskilling.com/ and a book "Eternal Treblinka" by Charles Patterson (www.eternaltreblinka.com).
    Thanks veganmike - I was drawing a blank How could I forget Isaac?!?!?


    I think there was another one though, who is not so famous....


    regards,
    globesetter

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    Quote globesetter
    I think there was another one though, who is not so famous....
    That'd be John Maxwell Coetzee, I think. He won Nobel Prize in literature in 2003.

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    Quote Veggie4Life139
    It is shocking to see how many of you think that animal's aren't equal. I, of course, think they are just as good and equal as humans, if not better because they don't intentually (right word?) hurt us like some of us do to them. And yes, I've actually felt worse when one of my chickens died or one of my cats WAS LOST than I have when my grandparents (both) died. I know this may sound horrible and just mean to some people, but it's true for me. I'm only 15 and I know that my feelings may change about some things, including that, but I will NEVER become a meat-eater again and be able to live with myself. There actually was a point where I loved my chickens more than some of my family members, and now my cat is the most important thing in my life. And, no, I'm not just saying these things, I feel them, and express them each and every day. When you are sick, animals (and MAYBE people) care. When you are sad and need to talk about things, animals listen. People CHOOSE to listen if they WANT. It does not matter WHO you are or WHAT you do animals will always be there. People won't. I've had friends before that have disowned me for things I've done. I've also had some people do VERY mean things to me and show me pictures of dead animals and chant "KFC" at lunch, when I was at school, and I left. (Again, I'm 15). ANIMALS HAVE NEVER DONE THAT TO ME. If not anything else, they WERE THERE FOR ME. So yes, I definately think that animals are very equal to us, and it does not matter WHAT stupid experts say, it is up to our own opinions. DON'T let other people rule your thoughts and beliefs.
    well i'm not trying to get into an arguement here, but non-human animals and humans are not equal. dogs and cats aren't equal. a fish and an ape aren't equal. but just because they aren't equal doesn't mean one is inferior to the other. thats one thing that i'm not sure alot of people get when it comes to animal rights. you need to take into consideration how each type of animal differs from us. you can't expect to be able to treat a domestic dog the same as an elephant and come out in tact.

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    is equality the point? hurting is the point. "can we hurt someone considered as inferior?" are we allowed to hurt? do we know what we are doing when we are hurting someone else (animals or human-animals)? is it really different an holocaust for ideas and an other for food? people who came back told us that life was precious; they saw the other side of the world: they were treated like animals and in our world this is not paradise when you're treated as an inferior one. human-animals hurt the inferiors and respect the superiors.
    nothing on earth is equal with an other. differences are the common basis. the intellect is the main difference:
    as good as it gets... so, sure, we have more responsabilities to treat animals right. people who can't see the point or who simply don't bother with it are not full-time humans.
    stephanie loves chocolate

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    Quote mattd
    well i'm not trying to get into an arguement here, but non-human animals and humans are not equal. dogs and cats aren't equal. a fish and an ape aren't equal. but just because they aren't equal doesn't mean one is inferior to the other. thats one thing that i'm not sure alot of people get when it comes to animal rights. you need to take into consideration how each type of animal differs from us. you can't expect to be able to treat a domestic dog the same as an elephant and come out in tact.
    Just because you have to treat them different, like you can't really train a bug to do what you want rather than a dog, DOES NOT mean they aren't equal. Also, keep in mind that these posts are all our OPINIONS. Only God knows what is right. Yes, you CAN treat some animals alike as other animals, but that doesn't mean it's right, but it does mean they're equal. We are all equal in God's eyes, because we are all living beings/creatures. To be totally honest I treat animals way better than I do humans because of what humans have done TO me, and what animals have done FOR me. There is not one human I have known that has not done SOMETHING to hurt me...and not one animal I have known that has not done something to help me or to show me he/she loves me. THAT is how I formed MY OWN opinion.

  19. #19
    julieruble
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    We are all equal in God's eyes, because we are all living beings/creatures.
    Just wondering how you decided this. Also, equal in what way? I think what mattd was saying was that they're obviously not biologically or cognitively equal but that's not a logical foundation on which to base a decision that it's okay to kill cows but not humans.

    Basically, his argument seems the same as saying people are not all equal--they have differences and unique traits and abilities--but that's not a reason to treat some people inferior to others. In other words, the fact that they are different DOES mean that they aren't equal, because the definition of equal (or equivalent) is 'not different.' But not being equal does not mean one should treat certain people (or animals) as if they inferior, necessarily.

  20. #20
    Pooh
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    No two animals (or humans) are toally equal. What do you mean my "not different"? Fortunately we are all different from each other.

    Isn't the question "For instance, do you think that torturing an animal is equally as reprehensible as torturing a human?" best answered by "It doesn't matter, because torturing is bad anyway"?

    If two persons were about do drown in a river, and you could save the life of only one of them, you would discover something about priorities. If a child and an insect was about to drown in a river, I'd try to save the life of the child. Does that mean that I kill insects? No, I don't.

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    is equality the point? hurting is the point
    I guess thats what I was saying, but in more words. We shouldn't be getting so wrapped around whether or not humans and animals are equal or not. Equality is a human concept, not a fact. To argue what creatures are equal is like arguing the ethics of abortion, it'll never end.

    Quote Veggie4Life139
    Just because you have to treat them different, like you can't really train a bug to do what you want rather than a dog, DOES NOT mean they aren't equal. Also, keep in mind that these posts are all our OPINIONS. Only God knows what is right. Yes, you CAN treat some animals alike as other animals, but that doesn't mean it's right, but it does mean they're equal. We are all equal in God's eyes, because we are all living beings/creatures. To be totally honest I treat animals way better than I do humans because of what humans have done TO me, and what animals have done FOR me. There is not one human I have known that has not done SOMETHING to hurt me...and not one animal I have known that has not done something to help me or to show me he/she loves me. THAT is how I formed MY OWN opinion.
    As I just stated, equality is a human concept. And I guess it does come down to what each individual person thinks equality means. So if you use human-animal equality to express why you treat animals with respect, then there's nothing wrong with that. It all comes down to how we treat them. I think actions speak louder than words. Our beliefs may differ, but our goals are pretty much the same.

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    Quote mattd
    As I just stated, equality is a human concept. And I guess it does come down to what each individual person thinks equality means. So if you use human-animal equality to express why you treat animals with respect, then there's nothing wrong with that. It all comes down to how we treat them. I think actions speak louder than words. Our beliefs may differ, but our goals are pretty much the same.
    I think that you're right, it does come down to how we treat them, but I still believe that animals are just as good as humans if not better.

  23. #23
    julieruble
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    No two animals (or humans) are toally equal. What do you mean my "not different"? Fortunately we are all different from each other.
    So we agree. Veggie had been saying that animals and people were equal, and I wanted to note that mattd was trying to point out that they are not equal, because they are different in plenty of ways, but that difference is not a good basis for killing.

    Who are you disagreeing with? Because it sounds like you're agreeing with mattd, whose reply I was trying to elaborate.

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    Quote julieruble
    So we agree. Veggie had been saying that animals and people were equal, and I wanted to note that mattd was trying to point out that they are not equal, because they are different in plenty of ways, but that difference is not a good basis for killing.

    Who are you disagreeing with? Because it sounds like you're agreeing with mattd, whose reply I was trying to elaborate.
    I'm not sure if you were talking to me or not, julieruble, but I understand mattd's point of view to where we're all different in our "special" little ways. However, I'm just saying I think we're all equal in God's eyes and we should be in everyone else's eyes. Like if I had to eat either a human or a chicken, I wouldn't eat either if my life depended on it. That's how I figure they're equal. I hate to sound like I'm putting down my own species, but hey, with all the evil stuff they do, I can't help it.

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    In one way that question is very easy to answer, but then when you actually contemplate it for a little while, it becomes not quite as easy. To me, life is life. I believe that a persons life is in no way more precious or valuable then that of another animals. I just try to ground myself back to nature when i think about these topics. And i would find it very unlikely that nature intended one species life to represent more worth then that of anothers. Yeah it might be more convenient to view human life with more respect, but thats only because one can relate to it. When you think of a person dieing, you instently relate it to your value of your own life- - and no one wants to die. But when most think about an animal dieing or suffering, that relation on self-life dosnt occure. So i try very hard not to hold that common judgment. I try not to be ignorant to the fact that life is life and death is death, no matter where it occures. Just something i ponder. : ) Peace.

  26. #26
    julieruble
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    Thanks for your response, suezin. One thing that interested me was that you said "nature intended." Do you think of nature as an entity with intentions?

    Also, personally, I don't think it's because of my own fear of dying that I care about another person dying. When I think about one of my family members dying, it concerns me because of a deep love for them and a desire for their safety. I think this is why people often say they'd rather die themselves than have one of their family members die. That being said, I think the relationship that causes this feeling is easier to see when it involves you (i.e. me and my sister) than when it doesn't (i.e. someone else and their sister), which is why you might not be as sad when someone else's sister dies--you don't have the deep love for her. I think this same phenomenon occurs when we think about animals -- some random deer or cow has no deep connection with me, but my dog does. I think as a result of this relationship thing, you might feel worse when your dog dies than you would if some random person dies. Whether or not that's (i.e. closeness of relationship) the sole reason for the depth of feeling when someone (animal or person) dies, I'm unsure.

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    I'm not sure if i'd consider nature an entity. I dont really like using that word. But i deffinately think of nature as holding power/controll, and yes i guess intentions aswell. I believe that when it comes to nature there are no mistakes. The concept of a 'mistake' is solely human. I'm not conveying that i think nature is this force that watches over people and punishes/rewards our actions. I jus believe nature is everything basic. It is everything around us and everything that we are.
    I totaly believe/share your view about haveing stronger feelings for the death of closer family/pets then for jus ppl/aminals that are unknown. i was jus kinda talking about people and animals in general, not thoes that are close to you. i jus think that its easier for most people to relate thier life to that of other people rather then that of an animal. life in general i mean...life...living. and i think thats why some people dont seem to hold much worth for the life of animals, because they dont compare it or link it with the 'life' that they know or value as their own.

    i hope i explained that a bit clear.

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