How we treat other living things

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Pattern-chaser
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How we treat other living things

Post by Pattern-chaser » August 1st, 2020, 10:14 am

I'm interested in the morality of how we humans treat other living things. I'm wondering what are the moral justifications, if any, for our conduct?

I'm not offering anything super-clever here, only a simple description of my own moral perspective, for your scrutiny, and hopefully for your suggestions for improvement.

The most obvious way that we treat other living things is that we eat them. I propose that we ignore this (for the purpose of this discussion about morals); nearly all living things do this to survive, and we humans are no different. This is the way our world works. I see no point in considering its morality.

It's the other ways we treat living things that concern me.

● I have no problem with killing and eating a horse, but what gives me the right to capture and imprison it, and force it to carry me around, with a painful bit of steel in its mouth so that I can hurt it if it does not do my will?

● How is it alright for us to exterminate mosquitoes because they carry a disease that could harm us? Should we not target the disease directly, or just keep away from mosquitoes?

There are lots more examples, but my question reduces to this: what is the moral justification for humans using other living creatures as we see fit? I can see only two:

1. Might means right. I can do this, so I may do this, and I will do it, if I choose.

2. Some Christians believe that God gave humans "dominion over the animals".

I can't see how either of these is a convincing moral justification for us to act as we do. Can you? Or can you offer some other way of justifying our behaviour?
Pattern-chaser

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evolution
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by evolution » August 1st, 2020, 9:34 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 1st, 2020, 10:14 am
I'm interested in the morality of how we humans treat other living things. I'm wondering what are the moral justifications, if any, for our conduct?

I'm not offering anything super-clever here, only a simple description of my own moral perspective, for your scrutiny, and hopefully for your suggestions for improvement.

The most obvious way that we treat other living things is that we eat them. I propose that we ignore this (for the purpose of this discussion about morals); nearly all living things do this to survive, and we humans are no different. This is the way our world works. I see no point in considering its morality.

It's the other ways we treat living things that concern me.

● I have no problem with killing and eating a horse, but what gives me the right to capture and imprison it, and force it to carry me around, with a painful bit of steel in its mouth so that I can hurt it if it does not do my will?

● How is it alright for us to exterminate mosquitoes because they carry a disease that could harm us? Should we not target the disease directly, or just keep away from mosquitoes?

There are lots more examples, but my question reduces to this: what is the moral justification for humans using other living creatures as we see fit? I can see only two:

1. Might means right. I can do this, so I may do this, and I will do it, if I choose.

2. Some Christians believe that God gave humans "dominion over the animals".

I can't see how either of these is a convincing moral justification for us to act as we do. Can you? Or can you offer some other way of justifying our behaviour?
Human beings can NOT actually justify their wrong behaviors. But, they can, and certainly do, TRY TO justify their wrong behaviors. You have evidenced this above. By you not wanting to consider one form of wrong behaving, this is one way how human beings TRY TO, and actually DO, "justify" their wrong behaviors. But, it is "justified" to their selves ONLY, and therefore NOT Truly justified.

Only 'that' what is just, and fair, for ALL can be and is what IS 'Truly justified'.

By the way, there is NO moral justification for human beings to use other things as they see fit. Unless, of course, that is until human beings start SEEING what is just, or fair, for ALL things, then human beings will start to use other things 'as they see fit', which in turn makes the 'world' begin to be a healthy one again. But, if human beings keep going the way they are now, when this is being written, then the 'world' will keep becoming more ill and completely unhealthy, for ANY living creature.

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chewybrian
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by chewybrian » Yesterday, 6:16 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 1st, 2020, 10:14 am
I'm interested in the morality of how we humans treat other living things. I'm wondering what are the moral justifications, if any, for our conduct?

I'm not offering anything super-clever here, only a simple description of my own moral perspective, for your scrutiny, and hopefully for your suggestions for improvement.

The most obvious way that we treat other living things is that we eat them. I propose that we ignore this (for the purpose of this discussion about morals); nearly all living things do this to survive, and we humans are no different. This is the way our world works. I see no point in considering its morality.

It's the other ways we treat living things that concern me.

● I have no problem with killing and eating a horse, but what gives me the right to capture and imprison it, and force it to carry me around, with a painful bit of steel in its mouth so that I can hurt it if it does not do my will?

● How is it alright for us to exterminate mosquitoes because they carry a disease that could harm us? Should we not target the disease directly, or just keep away from mosquitoes?

There are lots more examples, but my question reduces to this: what is the moral justification for humans using other living creatures as we see fit? I can see only two:

1. Might means right. I can do this, so I may do this, and I will do it, if I choose.

2. Some Christians believe that God gave humans "dominion over the animals".

I can't see how either of these is a convincing moral justification for us to act as we do. Can you? Or can you offer some other way of justifying our behaviour?
I'll just play a bit of devil's advocate. It seems you are implicitly deciding that the animals would be better off if they were not in our care and under our control. But, you haven't really made the case. In the past, dogs stayed with us for mutual benefit, helping to protect us and guard our stuff while living in relative comfort as part of the package. Not all animals come to live with us willingly, but in many cases, you could make a case that their lives are more comfortable than they might be in the wild. These days, at least, most horses get pretty good care, for example. Perhaps you are simply projecting our human ideas of freedom onto the animals. Most of them, once they realize they will get three squares and a comfy bed, will stay with us willingly. (Ever feed a stray cat, a squirrel, a duck, a crow...?) So, this implies that they must be happy with the deal. You have not made the case that life is worse, on the whole, for domesticated animals when compared to those in the wild. If we make their lives better, then we have not imposed any injustice upon them, have we?

This is completely off topic, but I see that your favorite philosopher is Heidegger. I assume you must be aware of his membership in the Nazi party, and the fact that his private memoirs show that he was anti-semitic to the end. Though I have a strong interest in existentialism, I have chosen not to study him for these reasons. I wonder if you have considered him from this perspective, and whether we should wish to learn from such a damaged source, when others are available. What insight do you think you gained from him, and do you think there is any reason to avoid a philosopher based on (at least some of) their ideas being offensive?
"If determinism holds, then past events have conspired to cause me to hold this view--it is out of my control. Either I am right about free will, or it is not my fault that I am wrong."

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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Gertie » Yesterday, 2:38 pm

PC
● I have no problem with killing and eating a horse, but what gives me the right to capture and imprison it, and force it to carry me around, with a painful bit of steel in its mouth so that I can hurt it if it does not do my will?

● How is it alright for us to exterminate mosquitoes because they carry a disease that could harm us? Should we not target the disease directly, or just keep away from mosquitoes?

There are lots more examples, but my question reduces to this: what is the moral justification for humans using other living creatures as we see fit? I can see only two:

1. Might means right. I can do this, so I may do this, and I will do it, if I choose.

2. Some Christians believe that God gave humans "dominion over the animals".

I can't see how either of these is a convincing moral justification for us to act as we do. Can you? Or can you offer some other way of justifying our behaviour?
If you have no underlying foundation for Oughts to apply to such situations, you can justify it whatever way you want can't you? Likewise societies.

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Angel Trismegistus
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Angel Trismegistus » Today, 1:02 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 1st, 2020, 10:14 am
I'm interested in the morality of how we humans treat other living things. I'm wondering what are the moral justifications, if any, for our conduct?

...[M]y question reduces to this: what is the moral justification for humans using other living creatures as we see fit? I can see only two:

1. Might means right. I can do this, so I may do this, and I will do it, if I choose.

2. Some Christians believe that God gave humans "dominion over the animals".

I can't see how either of these is a convincing moral justification for us to act as we do. Can you? Or can you offer some other way of justifying our behaviour?
Humankind's treatment of the fauna and flora of the world is clearly exploitative and egocentric. The thread question, therefore, further reduces to this: What is the moral justification for conduct that is exploitative and egocentric? And the answer that suggests itself is the answer offered by the popular evolutionary narrative of our time -- survival.

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Pattern-chaser
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Pattern-chaser » 36 minutes ago

chewybrian wrote:
Yesterday, 6:16 am
It seems you are implicitly deciding that the animals would be better off if they were not in our care and under our control. But, you haven't really made the case. In the past, dogs stayed with us for mutual benefit, helping to protect us and guard our stuff while living in relative comfort as part of the package. Not all animals come to live with us willingly, but in many cases, you could make a case that their lives are more comfortable than they might be in the wild. These days, at least, most horses get pretty good care, for example. Perhaps you are simply projecting our human ideas of freedom onto the animals. Most of them, once they realize they will get three squares and a comfy bed, will stay with us willingly. (Ever feed a stray cat, a squirrel, a duck, a crow...?) So, this implies that they must be happy with the deal. You have not made the case that life is worse, on the whole, for domesticated animals when compared to those in the wild. If we make their lives better, then we have not imposed any injustice upon them, have we?
I'm not even considering whether animals might be better off if they were not under our control. I'm addressing the "under our control" here, and asking if that is morally acceptable. I see this as pretty much equivalent to asking if slavery is morally acceptable, and I end up with the same answer to both. I don't think I'm projecting our ideas onto other living things either. I'm not asking the living things for their moral judgement - perhaps I should? 🤔 - I'm asking our judgement on ourselves. Is it OK for us to use other, non-human, living things? I can't see how it could be.

============================================================================================================

chewybrian wrote:
Yesterday, 6:16 am
This is completely off topic, but I see that your favorite philosopher is Heidegger. I assume you must be aware of his membership in the Nazi party, and the fact that his private memoirs show that he was anti-semitic to the end. Though I have a strong interest in existentialism, I have chosen not to study him for these reasons. I wonder if you have considered him from this perspective, and whether we should wish to learn from such a damaged source, when others are available. What insight do you think you gained from him, and do you think there is any reason to avoid a philosopher based on (at least some of) their ideas being offensive?
My interest in Heidegger is not affected by his Nazi affiliations, any more than my interest in Einstein is influenced by his reportedly misogynistic behaviour. I admire the latter for relativity, and so forth, and the former for this.
Where Heidegger’s and Carnap’s views came together, and where and why they fractured, illuminates two radically opposing ways of doing philosophy. This dispute cleaved Western thought in two, and continues to reverberate to this day. Does philosophy begin from a place of awe, with its sights trained on trying to describe the clamour and confusion of what it’s like to be alive? Or is it the precise, sober and rational pursuit of truth, in which we eke out logical, painstaking arguments in order to achieve scientific clarity about how the world really is?

Here's a link to the whole article. Please don't rely on this single quote to describe the whole thing. Here's another taster.

Carnap’s broader project was to redefine philosophy itself. He wanted to make it a ‘logic of science’, and dissolve many philosophical problems by demonstrating that they only appeared to be problems. Logical analysis – as well as an ideal logical language – would cut away at the messiness of how we use words in everyday speech, purifying them and making them clear. In the end, most philosophical problems will disappear in the solvent of logic, shown to be non-problems caused by abuses of language.

[...]

For Heidegger, logic is useful but not sufficient. There is so much more to say, so much more to question, so much more bound up with the business of being alive.

For me, this is wholly about the philosophy. Just as I recently enjoyed reading the Harry Potter books again, even though Jo Rowling has been spouting hate-speech at transgender people. But if our topic of thought turns from the philosophy to Naziism, or to transgender hate speech, I will speak out strongly against both. We cannot afford to lose ideas because the person who brought them to us is imperfect (i.e. human). Just as Christians 'hate the sin but love the sinner', I think we must 'hate the prejudice but love the (unconnected and innocent) idea'. And this is another philosophical moral judgement to consider, but possibly one that belongs in its own topic, not this one (as you say 👍)? 😉

When my profile says Heidegger is my favourite philosopher, it means specifically and only that I strongly oppose the view that logic and science can deliver all knowledge and all understanding, and that they, as investigative tools of discovery, are complete; that no other tools are necessary, desirable or appropriate. Open eyes and open minds can accomplish much too. And that's just the start of it. To don the straitjacket of science and logic is not (necessarily) to see wrongly, but it is to see incompletely, in my view.

I'll end with an equally illustrative quote from my favourite scientist.
Feynman wrote:I can live with doubt and uncertainty and not knowing. I think it is much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers that might be wrong. If we will only allow that, as we progress, we remain unsure, we will leave opportunities for alternatives. We will not become enthusiastic for the fact, the knowledge, the absolute truth of the day, but remain always uncertain … In order to make progress, one must leave the door to the unknown ajar.
Pattern-chaser

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Pattern-chaser
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Pattern-chaser » 23 minutes ago

Gertie wrote:
Yesterday, 2:38 pm
PC, if you have no underlying foundation for Oughts to apply to such situations, you can justify it whatever way you want can't you? Likewise societies.
Yes, I would say so. Moral thinking is a human invention. It could even prove to be uniquely human, we don't know. But we invented morals, so they say whatever we create them to say. But this, of course, is justification by unfounded assertion, and I don't think this 'justification' is anything close to acceptable, morally.

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
Today, 1:02 am
Humankind's treatment of the fauna and flora of the world is clearly exploitative and egocentric. The thread question, therefore, further reduces to this: What is the moral justification for conduct that is exploitative and egocentric? And the answer that suggests itself is the answer offered by the popular evolutionary narrative of our time -- survival.
Survival? I can't see that. Our present course is taking us, and all the other living things, in the direction of extinction, away from survival. We do not need to use other living things in order to survive, although we probably do need to eat some of them, as nearly all life must do. By choosing to use other living things, we equate them with the flint we use to nap our tools from. I cannot accept this moral equivalence as being right, or anything close to right.
Pattern-chaser

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