animal rights

Wed Jul 7 09:16:00 EST 1993

To play devils advocate re. some recent arguments, while animals
*must* eat other beings to survive, and some, in nature, eat
other animals, animals lack reason at the human nature - they
are not capable of considering these ethics that we now discuss.
So for us to say that because (non-human) animals eat other
animals to survive, it is justifiable for humans to do so as well,
is a weak argument.  Given current technology, humans do not need
to eat other animals and are capable of making the reasoned decision
not to do so.  That is, becuase we are capable of distinguishing
between 'right' and 'wrong', while animals are not, we have the
'moral obligation' to choose the 'right', even if animals do not.

My argument against strcit vegetariansism is as follows:  if it is
morally wrong to eat another being for one's own sustenance, then
the most moral ('highest') beings on earth are the plants.  Therefore,
eating plants is eating the 'highest' life form, while eating
animals is eating a 'lower' life form.  Shouldn't plants, as the
most 'moral' of life forms, receive protection equal to animals?
Consider what we do to a potato:  first we dig it out of its lovely
home in the soil, throw it in bags, and ship it allover; then we
stick it in a dark closest were it 'thinks' that it might be back
in a nice environment, and starts growing again (it remains alive
through all of this); but no, it is not free, and we cut out its
'eyes' and plunge it still-living into boiling water or hot oil.
Is this treatment any worse than that which an animal might 
receive? (Oops, that should be "any *better* than ...")

Animal rights is based on the idea that it is wrong to eat or make
use of another being (particularly one that can exhibit a reaction
to pain or stress which is recognizable to us as humans).  In
general, I don't agree with this.  We do know that some of the
most intelligent animals are only distinguishable from humans in the
degree to which they can reason and communicate, and not in any
basic qualitative way.  I don't think that a choice of who gets to
eat/experiment on who should be made by a strict ranking of 
intelligence (so super-intelligent dogs shouldn't get to experiment
on us) but that a 'line' be drawn on some measure of reasoning
capability, so that all beings above the line are not allowed to make
use of other beings above the line, given that they all have this 
'minimal' level of reasoning, but that all beings below the line are
'fair game' to those above.  Where and how this line should be drawn
I'll leave to others.

Paul S.
just my opinion

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