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Thread: Animal welfare and animal rights

  1. #1
    fiver's Avatar
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    Default Animal welfare and animal rights

    This is my first post.

    I participated in an internet discussion about eating meat a few months ago. I presented my pro-AR case in a polite manner and for the most part my arguments were well received. The people involved in this conversation didn't necessarily agree with me (this occured on a mainstream forum), but the conversation was largely civil and free of the personal attacks which sometimes occur in these exchanges.

    One of the points made by someone who eats meat threw me a bit. It concerns the phasing out of animal farms. It also relates to the strict or adaptive adherence to principles. One of these topics is discussed in the following threads, but I do not feel that I have personally come to grips with these two issues:

    http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11843
    http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=11081

    This person argued that ending the meat industry would leave us with many living animals. I pointed out that if breeding were to cease, there would not be a huge surplus, but there are at least two hypothetical scenarios (these being theoretical, rather than realistic):


    (a) In response to animal activism and/or increasing recognition of the plight of animals in human communities, animal resarch/husbandry laws are amended to bring them into line with other laws concerning animal cruelty. The meat industry is outlawed.

    (b) More and more people become vegetarian/vegan until it no longer becomes financially viable to produce meat. Farming gradually slows and stops.


    It is more certain in scenario A that we would be left with a surplus of animals. In scenario B, this is also a possibility albeit on a much smaller scale. There are a number of ways to respond, I think. The first is that the farmers brought these animals into the world so they are responsible for caring for them until their natural deaths. This presents another problem (keeping them in captivity@), which I will discuss shortly. One problem with this response is that it is unrealistic to assume that the farmers will in fact spend their own money to care for the animals for the duration of their lives. Farmers like everyone else have to make a living and in the past, the cost of caring for the animals would be covered by the sale of their meat. Without such an incentive, they might simply abandon the animals or seek to transfer the responsibility for their welfare to people like us, who claim to know what is just. Who would pay for the housing & feeding of the animals? The second response is to suggest that the animals be released into the wild. Some of them may have become dependent on humans (eg. for sustenance) and might not be able to look after themselves. They may also be exposed to predators. They may damage the environment. Without any limits on their breeding@ (this is also a problem with the first captive solution listed here), they may multiply and over-populate, thus becoming susceptible to starvation. Wouldn't releasing them make them suffer more than simply killing them? The last response is to let any remaining farm animals be killed for their meat@, with the understanding that there will be no more livestock henceforth.

    @Wouldn't allowing these animals to be killed be contrary to our philosophy? I know that we would not be killing them personally, but we are asked whether we condone such action in the process of eradicating animal farms. Wouldn't keeping the animals in captivity and/or forcibly neutering them represent a restriction of their freedom and be at odds with animal 'liberation'? How are we to respond when asked these questions&?

    I have only recently become aware of this distinction that is made between 'animal welfare' (minimising the suffering of animals, possibly at the same time as exploiting them) and 'animal rights' (giving animals absolute freedom from humans). We are encouraged to choose between allowing the suffering of animals released into the wild ('unfeeling vegans') or compromising our attitude to liberation ('hypocritical vegans'). These points are being made more and more often to marginalise us "extremists" and undermine our cause. As I see it, some of the people questioning animal rights (and its repercussions) are motivated by genuine compassion. How can someone who says that they care about animal suffering enough to change their diet, leave animals to starve and die in the wild? These dilemmas are also used by pro-abusers to protect their interests. I know that these people will say anything not to change their ways, but we must address these issues in a satisfactory manner.

    &I have been wondering lately whether the only way to avoid this 'vegans are happy to let animals suffer (after releasing them into the wild)' argument is to restrict animal freedom. By weakening our stance on 'full-blown' liberation, we prove that we care (minimising suffering is the primary goal of our philosophy, surely?). This might take the form of 'mutually beneficial relationships' - the sort of transactions which occur in human society (those involving animal slaughter and testing would be regarded as blatantly one-sided contracts of little benefit to animals). Are guide dogs mistreated? People benefit from them and they benefit from being looked after. Lastly, I am writing this last part not because I am trying to justify some forms of exploitation, but because I am grappling with these issues - whether I should pick one or the other (welfare, rights) or try to reconcile the two. I am looking for guidance.

    fiver.

  2. #2
    treehugga's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Vegan's do not advocate for the killing of animals for their own purpose.
    Nor do they believe in the exploitation of animals, although along those lines there is some dispute re animals kept as pets and the definition of exploitation.
    My own view is that we have gone past the point of animals having no human contact now and all we can do is try and minimise harm in our interactions. Personally, I'd rather see an animal in the wild than as a pet. Although I have a group of very aged animals that I care for and don't intend replacing, but who knows if I inherit one I may end up caring for it.

  3. #3
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Fiver, a few points to consider:

    When slavery was ended what became of all the slaves? "If we send them out on to the streets they'll starve to death." So does that mean we should continue slavery?

    We are in complete control of current domesticated animal populations. If we need more we breed more, if we need less we breed less. A worldwide conversion to veganism I doubt would be an overnight occurrence. Animals would slowly be phased out.

    "But dogs, cats, horses, cows, pig, chickens can't exist in the wild. All those species would die if we don't tend them." WRONG! They all exist in the wild right now! I provide photographic evidence, generated be placing the word "wild" in front of each of these animals' names and doing a google search here. Yes there are certain genetically modified chickens, for example, that are so breast heavy they can barely walk and they as a sub species would indeed probably die off (or more specifically should no longer be breed and existing ones are "grandfathered" and kept in animal sanctuaries for their last years, neutered so they don't make more.)

    Welcome aboard BTW!

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    我看得懂 mariana's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote fiver View Post

    (b) More and more people become vegetarian/vegan until it no longer becomes financially viable to produce meat. Farming gradually slows and stops.

    It is more certain in scenario A that we would be left with a surplus of animals. In scenario B, this is also a possibility albeit on a much smaller scale.
    I think there is a slim to none chance that everyone in the world will become vegan overnight, so Scenario B is much, much more likely. What I don't understand is how even in scenario B there will be a "surplus" of animals. Could you explain what you mean, fiver? I don't quite get it, because you don't hear about there being a surplus of animals now because of an increasing number of veg*ns. If each year the percentage of vegans slowly increases, farmers will slowly start producing less animals, and thus animals will slowly be phased out, without producing a surplus.

  5. #5
    fiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Thanks for the replies.

    Quote treehugga
    "although along those lines there is some dispute re animals kept as pets and the definition of exploitation."
    Yes. There may be situations which are contrary to the idea of liberation (as you say, companion animals) and this might bother some AR proponents, but these give-and-take relationships could not really be considered cruel or exploitative (bar neutering).

    Quote Mahk
    "When slavery was ended what became of all the slaves? "If we send them out on to the streets they'll starve to death." So does that mean we should continue slavery?"
    Is that a sound comparison? Slaves weren't "released" into the wild so much as assimilated into human societies with existing infrastructure and support. I think there is a real risk that some of the animals would suffer and die. It is possible that others would thrive, but perhaps they would then face the problems I described above (as with rabbits & seals which are culled at present)?

    Anyway, I do not support the continuation of the meat industry at all. Rather, I am wondering what is in the best interests of any existing farmed animals and whether it conflicts with some of our beliefs. Whether these can or cannot be diluted, even weakly. See my next point, as your answer may help me choose.

    Quote Mahk
    "Yes there are certain genetically modified chickens, for example, that are so breast heavy they can barely walk and they as a sub species would indeed probably die off (or more specifically should no longer be breed and existing ones are "grandfathered" and kept in animal sanctuaries for their last years, neutered so they don't make more.)"
    I take it you do not propose complete animal 'liberation' then, but rather take a pragmatic approach which limits their freedom to improve their welfare, as our own place in society is a compromise of freedom for security?

    Quote mariana
    "I think there is a slim to none chance that everyone in the world will become vegan overnight, so Scenario B is much, much more likely."
    I included scenario A because someone asked me what would happen if vegetarians were able to challenge and change animal cruelty laws so that they applied without exception to the meat industry. That was in the back of my mind & as I acknowledged it's not necessarily a realistic scenario...yet people still ask these questions. How to respond?

    Quote mariana
    "What I don't understand is how even in scenario B there will be a "surplus" of animals. Could you explain what you mean, fiver? I don't quite get it, because you don't hear about there being a surplus of animals now because of an increasing number of veg*ns. If each year the percentage of vegans slowly increases, farmers will slowly start producing less animals, and thus animals will slowly be phased out, without producing a surplus."
    I assume that the producers do not stop producing until there is little or no demand for their products. There is already a surplus of food on our supermarket shelves and since cows/pigs/chickens etc... must grow, it is likely that young animals will exist at the time that a business decides to fold.

    fiver.

  6. #6
    I eve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Welcome fiver, but obviously you are looking into the far distant future by raising these scenarios. There's no way that a few more vegans here and there aren't countered by the greater increase in meat eaters around the world. People in countries that until the last 10 or so years ate very little meat, are now far better off and they demand the SAD. Countries like Japan, China, Thailand, etc, that have great populations. And not only meat, but dairy produce too.
    Eve

  7. #7
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Eve, what is "SAD"?

    Meat consumption is expected to double by the year 2050, if I remember correctly. [But if the world population is also doubled by then, in a sense the meat consumption will have stayed stagnant)

    Fiver,

    Is that a sound comparison?
    100%, no. The point is "But there's no place to put them all if we freed them." is not a valid argument against ending human/animal slavery. Also, since everyone seems to be in agreement that scenario "A" won't happen, we don't really need a contingency plan, in my view.

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    我看得懂 mariana's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote fiver View Post
    I included scenario A because someone asked me what would happen if vegetarians were able to challenge and change animal cruelty laws so that they applied without exception to the meat industry. That was in the back of my mind & as I acknowledged it's not necessarily a realistic scenario...yet people still ask these questions. How to respond?

    I assume that the producers do not stop producing until there is little or no demand for their products. There is already a surplus of food on our supermarket shelves and since cows/pigs/chickens etc... must grow, it is likely that young animals will exist at the time that a business decides to fold.

    fiver.
    Ok, I see. Well, the way I always respond to scenario A is by just saying that it's completely unlikely and that usually ends the discussion. But I don't know how you want to respond.

    As for scenario B, I still feel like from an economic point of view businesses would just start producing less and less. Businesses are very sensitive to fluctuations in demand, so I don't think they'd keep producing animals until there is little or no demand, I think they'd decrease production as demand slowly declined. However, the question of an individual company going out of business is an interesting one (if this is what you were saying; I'm not sure). I wonder what happens now if a meat company goes out of business; what do they do with their animals? It's an interesting thought to ponder. Thanks for the food for thought, fiver.

  9. #9
    [LMNOP] ellaminnowpea's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    SAD = standard american diet
    meat, potatoes, eggs, bacon, dairy, etc...
    I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship. ~ Alcott

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    fiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote Mahk
    "The point is "But there's no place to put them all if we freed them." is not a valid argument against ending human/animal slavery."
    I totally agree.

    Can you answer my other question? (below) You said that you would not oppose keeping some animals in captivity and neutering them (which seems contrary to liberation?).

    Quote fiver
    "I take it you do not propose complete animal 'liberation' then, but rather take a pragmatic approach which limits their freedom to improve their welfare, as our own place in society is a compromise of freedom for security?"
    Also, does liberation entail letting some of the released animals starve/be eaten and die? Do you think there is a humane alternative to culling when wild animals do overpopulate (and food is short)?



    Quote mariana
    "However, the question of an individual company going out of business is an interesting one (if this is what you were saying; I'm not sure). I wonder what happens now if a meat company goes out of business; what do they do with their animals? It's an interesting thought to ponder. Thanks for the food for thought, fiver."
    Yes, that's what I had in mind, only there could be many individual companies (which collectively compose the industry).

    Thanks again,

    fiver.

  11. #11
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote fiver View Post
    You said that you would not oppose keeping some animals in captivity and neutering them (which seems contrary to liberation)
    Us vegans don't like these hypothetical questions, that more typically start off with "Say you were stuck alone on a desert island with no vegetation but with some animals..." (yeah right, so how are they alive? ) but I'll grant you a little leeway and attempt to give some of my thoughts on how scenario "A" might go down. To answer your question in full would take a whole book (that I may write some day). Anyway, here are my thoughts.

    In a vegan utopia of the future, perhaps decades or centuries from now, I support total 100% animal liberation personally, but others here may disagree. There is no right or wrong and I recommend you should form your own views independently from others. Me? I've made it a point not to read the well known authors on these topics I hear people mention like Singer and Francione because I like knowing that all my views on animals and veganism were independently formulated from my own views and opinion and I'm not just blindly following some dogma. I also try to keep an open mind and change my views on certain aspects.

    During these intermediate pre-Utopian times where animals do live within our homes and societies, some even being raised for food for omnis, I think their welfare is important and should be regulated, but that doesn't make me a "welfarist" in the big, long term goals picture. Vegans should, IMO, feel free to adopt rescued animals, work in animal support/care/health industries and support animal welfare rules/laws for now. And while animals are around with us we unfortunately need things like leashes, collars, cages, crates, periods of boredom/isolation, sexual confinement and/or de-sexing, etc [use of animal birth control pills are just now starting to appear though].

    Ideally the next stage after this current one we are in would be the "grandfathering stage". It is a temporary transitional period which lasts for only one average animal life cycle of that particular animal, roughly a decade for most mammals and half that for birds (?), I think. The animals from the factory farms are kept alive until they die of natural causes in what we call "animal sanctuaries". Many exist today but obviously we'd need tons more for your scenario "A" overnight conversion. [Here's a small one I plan to visit, BTW]. The animals are kept in a state I'd call more "semi-confinement" and assuming we speak animal by then should be told they are free to leave and fend for themselves at any time if they feel like it. Breeding is stopped either by de-sexing or if you oppose that, birth-control shots/pills, or a large fence that isolates the two sexes splitting the sanctuary in half. Single sex sanctuaries would also solve that issue.

    The important thing to note is that with the grandfathering of existing animals and the cessation of breeding: no sentient animals are killed or placed in harms way.

    Also, does liberation entail letting some of the released animals starve/be eaten and die? Do you think there is a humane alternative to culling when wild animals do overpopulate (and food is short)?
    See above for one option which has no killing at all. Another might be to evenly distribute the existing animals into a natural habitat, letting them fend for them selves, and letting mother nature take care of the "starve/be eaten and die" part that she has been doing for millions of years, 24/7, in her attempt to keep all ecosystems in a constant state of re-balancing the carnivore to prey animal ratio. I actually don't like it when meddlesome humans step in and attempt to take control by culling/breeding etc unless it is a 100% fact (that would mean almost never) that the over/under population is a direct fault of human activity. Then I suppose we may have some obligation to fix something we "broke".

  12. #12
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote mariana View Post
    As for scenario B, I still feel like from an economic point of view businesses would just start producing less and less. Businesses are very sensitive to fluctuations in demand, so I don't think they'd keep producing animals until there is little or no demand, I think they'd decrease production as demand slowly declined. However, the question of an individual company going out of business is an interesting one (if this is what you were saying; I'm not sure). I wonder what happens now if a meat company goes out of business; what do they do with their animals? It's an interesting thought to ponder. Thanks for the food for thought, fiver.
    Yes, I agree, scenario B is no problem and as demand dwindles breeding is curtailed. As for what becomes of the cattle of a bankrupt factory farm I assume they are auctioned off to the competing, remaining factory farms and they in turn curtail their breeding for a while due to the influx of new "inmates". Keep in mind a cow has a large monetary value in the thousands of dollars each.

    LMNOP, thanks for the acronym definition of "SAD".

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    我看得懂 mariana's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote Mahk View Post
    Yes, I agree, scenario B is no problem and as demand dwindles breeding is curtailed. As for what becomes of the cattle of a bankrupt factory farm I assume they are auctioned off to the competing, remaining factory farms and they in turn curtail their breeding for a while due to the influx of new "inmates". Keep in mind a cow has a large monetary value in the thousands of dollars each.

    LMNOP, thanks for the acronym definition of "SAD".
    Ok, that's what I assumed happened in the case of a factory farm closing but I wasn't sure. So scenario B really isn't a problem at all and I agree with you on scenario A--that's exactly the kind of question I don't like hearing from meat eaters! (Because generally when they ask those types of questions, they're not interested in actually hearing your thoughts, but just in trying to "trick" you into saying you'd eat meat on a desert island, or kill off the animals in scenario A.) But thanks for sharing your thoughts on scenario A--very interesting.

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    I eve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Mahk says: 'Us vegans don't like these hypothetical questions, that more typically start off with "Say you were stuck alone on a desert island with no vegetation but with some animals..." (yeah right, so how are they alive?)'
    I totally agree Mahk, discussions on such hypothetical situations are pointless. However, those of you who like this sort of thing, enjoy!
    Eve

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Just FYI... some of the topics here (spaying and neutering, keeping domesticated animals, and returning domesticated animals to the wilderness), are discussed ad nauseum on the pet keeping poll. I am too stupid to post a link.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    fiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Mahk,

    Thankyou for taking the time to respond in such detail! Especially since you don't like answering these hypothetical questions. Your last post is exactly the type of dialogue I was hoping would ensue.

    I like to hear a range of views so that I can examine the principles involved & weigh the consequences of decisions, before seeing what does and doesn't fit with my own beliefs. Sometimes I find it necessary to change my priorities, but not before I have examined the resulting consequences in other scenarios.

    If anyone else wants to chime in about this subject, feel free!

    fiver.

    @ALexiconofLove - I will definitely take a look at the pet keeping poll, ta.

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    pat sommer's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    ....a short reply when I get what-if questions:

    if we are so smart and caring for that to happen then figuring out the solution should also be no problem.
    the only animal ingredient in my food is cat hair

  18. #18
    Klytemnest
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    I agree with Mahk.

    Now let me ask you this. Why is it that we are vegans? What is the point? Personally, I do it because I do not like the idea of innocent animals suffering for me - especially since their suffering is unnecessary. So, for me it's mostly about suffering, about sentience.

    Some people have made the argument that in nature, animal suffering abounds. So, it is not like by enslaving animals we are keeping them from enjoying a peaceful, idyllic existence in the wild. Furthermore, death for an animal in the wild is often a gruesome, horrific thing, and some would argue, less "clean", less humane than what happens when we slaughter animals.

    So, would liberating farm animals really be doing them a favor? They would have to find their own food (rather than have it provided for them), they would have to protect themselves from predators, they would have to deal with their own injuries, and eventually they will most likely be killed by a predator. And so, some have argued, isn't it better to raise farm animals humanely, treat them well, take good care of their health and needs, and one day, kill them in as humane a way as possible? After all, this is a better treatment than what the one they would get by Mother Nature. This is the argument made in a good I saw at the bookstore some time ago, called Meat.

    How would you all respond? And again, IF the point of vegan living is compassion, then is it not less compassionate to abandon animals to their predators? Or IS compassion the point? Is it something else?

  19. #19
    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    I'm okay with it as long as we do not continue to breed the domestic animals. I don't really know if a cat/dog/pig/cow would prefer living safely in captivity to living in the wild... I can only make my best guess. And it's really not a choice we should have to make for other adult animals, but domesticated animals exist, so....

    For me, the problem with the "compassion" approach is that it involves humans deciding what is best for animals, when we may not be in a position to do so (or have a right to do so). How do I know the cow would not prefer to go wherever it pleases and take its chances with the wolves?

    So, I have qualms, but my prevailing thought is that releasing domesticated animals into non-natural habitats where they may prey (or be preyed upon by) other animals is a no-no.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

  20. #20
    Mahk
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote Klytemnest View Post
    So, would liberating farm animals really be doing them a favor? They would have to find their own food (rather than have it provided for them), they would have to protect themselves from predators, they would have to deal with their own injuries, and eventually they will most likely be killed by a predator...
    By this twisted logic (of that book) we humans should gather up all the world's prey animals and put them into "protective custody" so predators don't get them. Then what happens? Oh yeah, all the predators of the world die (of starvation).

    And so, some have argued, isn't it better to raise farm animals humanely, treat them well, take good care of their health and needs, and one day, kill them in as humane a way as possible? After all, this is a better treatment than what the one they would get by Mother Nature. This is the argument made...
    I guess this book's author never read Patrick Henry: "Give me Liberty, or give me Death!"

    Also, this sounds almost verbatim like the rationalization I'd expect other slave owners would say about their captives. "No but it's in their best interest; they want to be here. I treat them very humanly." Then why all the fences, huh? [This all reminds me of current events about that sicko father in Austria who admits to enslaving his daughter as a sex slave in the family's basement for 24 years and repeatedly raping her and fathering his own grandchildren]:

    "I am not a monster", he says, [the media] "is completely one sided".

    "Without me (she) would not be alive anymore... I was the one who made sure that she was taken to a hospital," said Fritzl, ...
    "I could have killed all of them — then nothing would have happened. No one would have ever known about it."


    Christ, it sounds like he wants a medal or something!

    Remember:
    The important thing to note is that with the grandfathering of existing animals and the cessation of breeding: no sentient animals are killed or placed in harms way.
    And the existing grandfathered ones get to live out their natural lives in these protective, 4-star, luxurious resorts we've built for them. No animal is harmed, starved, or faces predators, and they get a balanced gourmet diet their whole life.



    Now let me ask you this. Why is it that we are vegans? What is the point? Personally, I do it because I do not like the idea of innocent animals suffering for me - especially since their suffering is unnecessary. So, for me it's mostly about suffering, about sentience.
    So is killing a person in a short term coma OK? They wouldn't feel any pain, after all. No. Animals have every right to go about their business, eat, sleep, procreate or do whatever they want. They are not our toys to manipulate, torture, kill, eat, subjugate, test drugs on, shoot into orbit to see if outer-space is safe, or exhibit in cages (zoos/circuses).

    Like that famous Alice Walker quote puts it:

    The animals of the world exist for their own reasons. They were not made for humans any more than black people were made for white, or women created for men.

    Carnivores don't have a choice; we do.

  21. #21
    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    I apologize... this is *so* off topic.

    Quote Mahk View Post
    Carnivores don't have a choice; we do.
    Ah, I've always wondered about this. Do you mean they don't have a choice because meat is biologically necessary for them, or do you mean they don't have a choice because they are not moral beings (beings capable of making moral decisions and being held to a code of conduct)? Or both?

    Because if you mean the former, then we have to ask... if humans were obligate carnivores and *had* to eat meat to live, would it be okay for them to eat animals? Obviously a silly question, b/c probably noone in his or her right mind would come up with being vegetarian or vegan in the first place. But does necessity make killing okay? What constitutes necessity?

    Would like to type more, but I'm off to work.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    fiver's Avatar
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote Klytemnest
    "And so, some have argued, isn't it better to raise farm animals humanely, treat them well, take good care of their health and needs, and one day, kill them in as humane a way as possible? After all, this is a better treatment than what the one they would get by Mother Nature. This is the argument made in a good I saw at the bookstore some time ago, called Meat.

    How would you all respond? And again, IF the point of vegan living is compassion, then is it not less compassionate to abandon animals to their predators? Or IS compassion the point? Is it something else?"
    Compassion plays a role in my choices.

    My instinct is that some actions commonly regarded as detrimental to a beings interests (including incarceration & killing) may be morally permissable -if someone is genuinely acting in the interests of this being-. For example, it might be acceptable to temporarily sedate/restrain/imprison someone who is having a mental episode and who would otherwise be a threat to themselves (or others). It might be just to assist a terminally-ill patient in dying if that is their wish: to stop suffering.

    Some beings (for example, the comatose, new-born infants & animals) are in a position where they are unable to communicate their wishes (assume they didn't do so at an earlier time) so there is a grey area there where we can't determine which choice they would prefer. That is the source of the ambiguity. What we are often seeking in these cases is CONSENT.

    I think a case could be made for the mutually beneficial relationships I mentioned earlier and Klytemnest's comments serve as a good example, re: the supply of food to animals and protecting them from predators and what that could mean for their overall quality of life. Another aspect which is relevant here is the custodian. We feel responsible for domesticated animals, having brought them into the world. Once a being is in our care, it is hard for us to (know when to?) relinquish responsibility.

    I completely disagree with what I assume is the conclusion of the meat book though, which seems totally self-serving. Since we don't need the flesh of other creatures to survive, the humane/compassionate thing to do is choose not to kill them after treating them nicely. I don't see how a perfectly healthy being could ever be agreeable to having its life terminated simply so someone else can experience a flavour, regardless of prior treatment. Unlike in other cases, the slaughter has no positive result (payback) for the subject. It is humans who argue that the animals should be grateful for what they are given, even as they are royally screwed.

    Peter Singer seems to judge actions according to whether there are/were less harmful alternatives available. I agree with that sentiment.

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  23. #23
    Mahk
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    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    Ah, I've always wondered about this. Do you mean they don't have a choice because meat is biologically necessary for them, or do you mean they don't have a choice because they are not moral beings (beings capable of making moral decisions and being held to a code of conduct)? Or both?
    The first one. Carnivores, omnivores (us), and herbivores are biologically very different in terms of their digestive track and much more importantly their nutritional needs. A carnivore, like a cat for example, needs taurine and other compounds that simply do not exist in plants in any substantial quantities. Only through elaborate chemical processes are we able to make synthetic taurine from vegan sources for manufacturing "vegan cat food". But even the makers of this stuff often warn, "Don't use our vegan cat food exclusively, still feed your cat meat, or the cat will suffer medical problems like urinary tract infections; possibly death".

    I don't think carnivores are immoral; they have to eat meat or commit suicide. Those are their only two options. They were put on this planet for a reason, help balance the ecosystems they live in, and have a right to be. We however are biologically omnivores and for us meat eating is optional. [Although I don't know if that is true for all omnivores. Some may be more akin to cats and need certain compounds only found in meat.]

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    I go back and forth. Carnivorous animals need meat, but they are also incapable of making a moral decision about it one way or another.

    If human beings were carnivores and needed to eat meat to live, that wouldn't change the fact that animals are sentient and don't deserve to be killed. If it were necessary for me to kill another human being in order to preserve my own life, that action would still be wrong, wouldn't it? Or no?
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    I go back and forth. Carnivorous animals need meat, but they are also incapable of making a moral decision about it one way or another.

    If human beings were carnivores and needed to eat meat to live, that wouldn't change the fact that animals are sentient and don't deserve to be killed. If it were necessary for me to kill another human being in order to preserve my own life, that action would still be wrong, wouldn't it? Or no?
    I'm tired and should not be attempting to reply to anything that requires thought. OK then... A predator does have a useful function not entirely confined to itself or even to itself and its offspring/flock/group - - what would be the effect of the increased population of animals if there were no predators? IOW, though the predator does not do its prey any favors by killing it there is a case I believe to be made that by thinning out the population a benefit is derived by those still alive. IOW, again, if all species were as fruitful as humans (as an example of a species that has no natural predator) would there be anything left at all?; and by that I mean in particular living space, food, and resources.

    If it were necessary for me to kill another human being in order to preserve my own life, that action would still be wrong, wouldn't it?

    I'm looking at it as the question being this:

    If it were necessary for me to kill would that action still be wrong?

    And my answer is - - maybe. The maybe depends on the defintion and exposition of what "necessary" involves.

    Self-preservation? I do not believe it is wrong to kill if your life truly depends on your doing so. Thankfully however, I haven't yet found myself to be anywhere near such a position.

  26. #26
    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Quote Kevin2 View Post
    Self-preservation? I do not believe it is wrong to kill if your life truly depends on your doing so. Thankfully however, I haven't yet found myself to be anywhere near such a position.
    If I agree with this statement, then I think I have to agree with some (not all!) animal testing in experiments, because it's an issue of self-preservation.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    If I agree with this statement, then I think I have to agree with some (not all!) animal testing in experiments, because it's an issue of self-preservation.
    Which animal tests do you consider to be a matter of self-preservation? I am operating under the impression (perhaps a mistaken one) that nonhuman animal reactions to tests don't correlate well to human reactions.

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    My understanding is... sometimes yes, sometimes no.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Testing on animals is not analogous to eating them.

    I don't think it's acceptable to use non-consenting severely mentally retarded humans for testing, which would frankly deliver more reproducible results, and therefore I don't think it's acceptable to use nonhuman beings for testing. The basis for this belief is that both humans and non-humans are sentient, the testing would cause harm to the being on my behalf and, whether or not it was necessary to my continued existence, it is wrong to use others as a means to our own ends (it violates their moral rights).

    You know, before we discovered medicine, we just sort of died when we became severely ill. You know? It's that niggling part of life people don't seem to be able to accept. Sure, most of us would like to be able to continue to live, if given the chance to do so without any severe pain or limitations, but I just don't see how we can consider it just to do so at the cost of others.
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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    So the argument is, if we were carnivores we would need to (by design, nature, etc.) extend our lives by eating other animals, whereas testing on animals to extend our lives is unnatural?
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    RubyDuby
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    thats like comparing a lion eating meat to humans giving rats cancer to extend human life.
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    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    So the argument is, if we were carnivores we would need to (by design, nature, etc.) extend our lives by eating other animals, whereas testing on animals to extend our lives is unnatural?
    I'm not convinced that testing on animals is necessary to produce the desired medical research. I also don't believe you've demonstrated that there is a self-preservation aspect to animal testing.

    That's the argument I'm making anyway.

    I mean, you equated animal testing with self-preservation without giving any reasoning behind what lead you to do so. Are you saying that if not for animal testing you'd be dead? It's not enough to say that such-and-such drugs were developed through animal testing (they all have, haven't they?) but rather that without animal testing there would be no way to achieve those results.

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    Quote powder View Post

    I don't think it's acceptable to use non-consenting severely mentally retarded humans for testing, which would frankly deliver more reproducible results, and therefore I don't think it's acceptable to use nonhuman beings for testing. The basis for this belief is that both humans and non-humans are sentient, the testing would cause harm to the being on my behalf and, whether or not it was necessary to my continued existence, it is wrong to use others as a means to our own ends (it violates their moral rights).

    Great paragraph and well put. I agree.

  34. #34
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    Yeah, so folks have covered the bases for my answer, but I would add that talking about things in terms of how "natural" they are is a red herring.

    Also, what we are talking about is the difference between what is normal and necessary for all beings and what is not. In other words, all carnivores need flesh to survive, while humans do not. And it is not necessary for most beings to be cured of a disease that in all likelihood is related to either consuming animal products in the first place, or old age, which is a perfectly normal and necessary part of existence. We shouldn't, as a rule, be sacrificing the interests of all sentient beings in order to serve the interests of a select class of one particular species.
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    cobweb
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    well put, Powder.

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    Quote powder View Post
    We shouldn't, as a rule, be sacrificing the interests of all sentient beings in order to serve the interests of a select class of one particular species.
    But if human beings were carnivores and needed to eat meat to live, then eating meat would still constitute sacrificing the interests of many sentient beings in order to serve the interests of one particular species. Wouldn't it still be wrong? If not, why not?
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    humans do not need meat, so that's irrelevant.

    if this hypothetical situation weren't hypothetical, and we bred and abused animals like we do now, instead of hunting them in their own habitat... yes i guess that would be wrong.
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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    So being carnivores would negate animal rights but not animal welfare? Or only negate animal rights in certain situations?

    People can just ignore me if they want too... I realize not everyone likes hypothetical questions, and some people absolutely loath them. I just like having my mind pushed in different directions.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    But if human beings were carnivores and needed to eat meat to live, then eating meat would still constitute sacrificing the interests of many sentient beings in order to serve the interests of one particular species. Wouldn't it still be wrong? If not, why not?
    The crux of the matter is our justification, in this case necessity. Because it is unnecessary to harm other beings, under the moral requirement for equal consideration we know that doing so is wrong.

    Even if we were vampires, and thus had a "need" to harm other human beings** we would probably still (given an identical set of ethics) want to find a way around humans attacking and killing other humans. Synthetic blood, anyone?
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  40. #40
    RubyDuby
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    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    So being carnivores would negate animal rights but not animal welfare? Or only negate animal rights in certain situations?
    hmmm... i guess... if u think a lion is taking away a gazelle right to live by eating it...
    but yes synthetic blood would be better.

    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    People can just ignore me if they want too... I realize not everyone likes hypothetical questions, and some people absolutely loath them. I just like having my mind pushed in different directions.
    oh, i don't have a problem with hypotheticals per se. just can't really defend something like animal testing with a hypothetical 'what if we had to eat meat'...
    Last edited by RubyDuby; May 19th, 2008 at 09:57 PM. Reason: added
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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    But I doubt we would stop sucking blood unless we found the substitute (synthetic blood). Sort of like... in the US, the North opposed slavery for ethical reasons, but also because slavery was no longer necessary for a strong economy. The South wasn't ready to give it up, because they needed it from an economic stand point. And the effects of the war (and the ending of slavery) on the South have been (and continue to be) huge. But was slavery still wrong the whole time? Just as sucking the blood of other humans would be wrong all along? Is animal testing okay when other alternatives don't exist (or was it okay in the past when they didn't exist) or is it always wrong? Is it sometimes right to do the wrong thing for a little while until the alternative/substitute exists?
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Quote RubyDuby View Post
    oh, i don't have a problem with hypotheticals per se. just can't really defend something like animal testing with a hypothetical 'what if we had to eat meat'...
    I guess the root of the hypothetical is the question, can we deprive another species of its rights in order to preserve our own lives if there is no other way to do so?

    Somewhere on the forum someone mentioned a hypothetical situation in which aliens came to earth and needed human flesh to live and nothing else would do... what would be the right thing for the aliens to do? What would be the right thing for the humans to do? Cause either way, someone's gonna die.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    Mahk
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    Default Re: Animal welfare and animal rights

    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    I guess the root of the hypothetical is the question, can we deprive another species of its rights in order to preserve our own lives if there is no other way to do so?
    Under certain circumstances the answer is yes. If a great white shark is eating my calf, I wouldn't hesitate to stab it in the head to kill it. Self defense is OK in my book. That's the only exception I can think of though.


    But was slavery still wrong the whole time?
    Uh, yeah!

  44. #44
    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    So if it is your life or the other person's (animal's, whatever) it's okay? Or is it only okay if the other person or animal is the active cause of the threat to your life? Meaning... you can stab a shark that's chewing on your leg, but you can't kill and eat another animal if it's necessary for you to live (on a desert island or whatever other crazy scenario puts you in this position).
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

  45. #45
    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    Just to clarify, I agree that slavery is always wrong, but if we look back at what happened historically, populations didn't give it up until they no longer needed it (or were forced to give it up).

    Similarly, though I think a veg*n diet is the right choice, I know that many of the people who make that choice are not huge meat-eaters before the switch (some are, of course, but they seem to be in the minority). People who love meat and hate vegetables and beans seldom become vegetarian/vegan.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

  46. #46
    Mahk
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    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    Or is it only okay if the other person or animal is the active cause of the threat to your life?
    It's OK by me to kill a shark that is actively chewing my flesh but not OK to kill a shark who I think is contemplating the action.
    -------------------------------------------------------------

    "Let's say you are stuck alone on desert island, aliens land and although they have the technology to travel great distances they forgot to pack enough food for their journey and they want to drink your blood till you die unless you, a vegan, kills a goat for their amusement which will magically make them no longer need food. Is it OK to kill the goat?"

    I agree with Eve that these sorts of hypothetical scenarios are rather silly/pointless and I have decided to no longer consider them for the time being. They often seem designed to corner a vegan into an impossible situation that could never happen just to torment the vegan for the cruel amusement of others [not to say that's your intention, ALexiconofLove]. It reminds me of Sophie's Choice: "Should we kill your son or your daughter and if you refuse to choose, we'll kill both of them!"

  47. #47
    Alex ALexiconofLove's Avatar
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    I think I find hypotheticals interesting because no one's ethical system seems set up to deal with every scenario one could encounter. Most people think that all human life is equal, but then that ethical idea breaks down if a person has to choose between two human lives (like the Sophie's Choice thing). Our ethical systems only have to work for the choices we are faced with everyday. But if we think about the hypotheticals (extreme cases) that cannot be answered with our ethical system, we learn something about what we believe or don't believe or about what we cannot face believing.
    "Lovers, givers, what minds have we made/ that make us hate/ a slaughterhouse for torturing a river?" ==AF

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    RubyDuby
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    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    I think I find hypotheticals interesting because no one's ethical system seems set up to deal with every scenario one could encounter. Most people think that all human life is equal, but then that ethical idea breaks down if a person has to choose between two human lives (like the Sophie's Choice thing). Our ethical systems only have to work for the choices we are faced with everyday. But if we think about the hypotheticals (extreme cases) that cannot be answered with our ethical system, we learn something about what we believe or don't believe or about what we cannot face believing.
    i agree we should think about hypotheticals that could happen... but humans don't need to eat meat, so... I guess I'll stay out of this one.
    Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.

  49. #49
    RubyDuby
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    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    I guess the root of the hypothetical is the question, can we deprive another species of its rights in order to preserve our own lives if there is no other way to do so?
    not another species, but an individual animal such as in a self defense situation.
    we were talking about ticks on another thread. I have killed ticks (sadly) that were sucking on my animal friends.
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  50. #50
    RubyDuby
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    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    Just to clarify, I agree that slavery is always wrong, but if we look back at what happened historically, populations didn't give it up until they no longer needed it (or were forced to give it up).
    ur talking about an entire populations... not the beliefs of the individual citizens. we are just individual citizens making individual decisions.
    if it were up to vegans animals wouldn't suffer for our taste buds, just as those who didn't believe slavery was ethical. don't u think those ppl existed too? although it is neseccary to come up with practical reasons to appeal to the decision-makers in order to stop suffering...

    Quote ALexiconofLove View Post
    Similarly, though I think a veg*n diet is the right choice, I know that many of the people who make that choice are not huge meat-eaters before the switch (some are, of course, but they seem to be in the minority). People who love meat and hate vegetables and beans seldom become vegetarian/vegan.
    I wonder what the numbers are on that? I was a huge meat eater, as was my ex... I didn't really care for beans, rice, pasta, and a lot of the vegetables I eat now. I think its more education and compassion that creates veg*ns, instead of dislike of the taste of animals...
    Each snowflake in an avalanche pleads not guilty.

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