How we treat other living things

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Wossname
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Wossname » August 7th, 2020, 8:04 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 6th, 2020, 1:02 pm
Pattern-chaser » Yesterday, 6:02 pm

We can? What assumptions do you think are reasonable, as we try to understand what it's like to be a bat (or whatever)?

If a thing cannot suffer or flourish and it has no interests to consider then how you treat it raises no moral issues in itself. But if creatures do have interests then how you choose to treat them does raise moral issues. We can ask whether it would it be right or good to increase suffering or to promote flourishing. In general the answer seems to be “it depends.” What it depends on seems a thorny question, and one influenced by cultural and personal attitudes. There are a couple of trends maybe:

One is enlightened self-interest. If we benefit from looking after each other then, other things being equal, it seems to make sense to do so. This might encourage the establishment of some principle of reciprocity. This may not necessarily lead to universal principles. We may see benefit in some areas and not others which may limit or constrain our concern. This is a kind of business model of morality. It lacks some charm, but I suggest that this is often how it is from the national to the personal level. From trade deals (or wars) to gang codes to personal relationships, there is often a cost-benefit analysis; what am I putting in, and what am I getting out? Am I being cheated or exploited? (I do this, this and this, what do you do)? For example, much of the concern about immigrants reflects worries that they will take more than they give. I have heard arguments that suggest that they do, in fact, usually give a great deal. Again, when a horse has reached the end of its working life then, perhaps, I can eat it. And it is reflected in discussion about whether animals are better off under our control. Debate from the perspective of self-interest tends to favour those who have power, (e.g. political, economic, personal) and who see no need for or benefit from compromise (might is right).

A second trend is emotional. We empathise and we care. H_k_s describes a good relationship of mutual self-interest with his/her cat. But I suspect the cat has come to be loved and would be cared for even when old and deaf or unable to hunt. (I may be wrong, I really don’t know for sure). But to the extent that we empathise with, and care for others, then we will correspondingly be concerned with their welfare. I think that by and large this is easier with some animals than others (e.g. it is, perhaps, easier with cats, dogs, horses etc.) which experience indicates may have subjective experiences not too different from our own. It’s harder (not, perhaps, impossible) with fish or spiders (perhaps it’s me) and harder still with viruses. Your point with regard to Nagel is well taken. I think we are forced to rely heavily on our intuition, and this may not be reliable. (What else can we do)? When we choose whose interests to protect first it will often come down to those we care about most.

It may be that ultimately, then, moral decisions are in some ways selfish. They hinge on perceived physical and emotional consequences that we experience following our treatment of others. This reflects cultural and personal influences, but also human ones, rooted in our human capacity for empathy and caring, and when we see this capacity reflected in other animals it ignites a spark of recognition. Ultimately what we deem moral reflects subjective preferences. Telling people they should promote the welfare of those they feel no concern for, and see no benefit from troubling with, will likely be an uphill struggle. I think it may help us to decide how to treat with each other and with others if we understand ourselves, and others, more clearly. And if we are looking to create a foundation for a moral philosophy, one that people will relate to and act upon, then that understanding is a reasonable place to begin.

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Angel Trismegistus
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Angel Trismegistus » August 7th, 2020, 12:27 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 6th, 2020, 8:12 am
Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 5th, 2020, 12:44 pm
Survival of the fittest, while I definitely don't challenge it, is not morality, but merely an empirical observation. The universe - what we often call "Nature" - is not moral or immoral, it just is. Humans are moral. Sometimes.
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
August 5th, 2020, 3:01 pm
Based solely on our exchange of posts, it seems to me that we are bound to talk past each other in a discussion of this matter. You see, I don't think morality is the special province of human being -- I find morality throughout the universe, in everything in it. Human morality is only a special case of morality. Moreover, human morality is, I would argue, objective in principle, originating in the drive of self-preservation, rationalized and acculturated over hundreds of thousands of years of socialization. I distinguish the objective principle of morality from the moral judgments based on that principle -- the moral judgments are subjective, but the principle they flow from is objective and universal. I am prepared to argue my case, but as I say, I wonder if we're not bound to talk past each other in a discussion of this matter, given our differing initial assumptions and no doubt our different conceptions of morality?
I agree. Our conceptions of morality, what we mean by morality, is probably a major cause of our differences. I tend to keep it simple: morality is about right and wrong, not good or bad, and not survival or well-being.

You say that you find morality throughout the universe. This seems to imply that you find it outside of humanity. If so, where?

You also assert that human morality originates "in the drive of self-preservation, rationalized and acculturated over hundreds of thousands of years of socialization". Now that may be so, I suppose, but is it anything more than a feeling, in your case? You feel that we developed concepts of right and wrong to forward self-preservation? Why might that be, do you think? How does a sense of right and wrong support self-preservation?
Our brief exchange of posts touching on morality has inspired me to start a thread on the subject in which I shall endeavor to answer the fair questions and demurrers in your post and present my argument for objective morality. It would please me if we can continue our discussion there.
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Angel Trismegistus
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Angel Trismegistus » August 7th, 2020, 12:31 pm

h_k_s wrote:
August 7th, 2020, 1:38 am
Angel Trismegistus wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 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.
In some cases, such as for meat on the table, it is survival yes. Ergo a necessity with no other choice.

But for my cat it is a symbiotic relationship based on mutual benefit, not survival.

I was surviving just fine with that unknown rat living in my hallway closet. But then again if he/she had plague fleas then it could have killed me and then it would have been survival.

But it's not always survival.
I plan to start a thread on this topic in which I shall argue for objective morality based on survival. I hope you will join me there. (See the post directly above this one.)
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h_k_s
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by h_k_s » August 7th, 2020, 6:03 pm

Angel Trismegistus wrote:
August 7th, 2020, 12:31 pm
h_k_s wrote:
August 7th, 2020, 1:38 am


In some cases, such as for meat on the table, it is survival yes. Ergo a necessity with no other choice.

But for my cat it is a symbiotic relationship based on mutual benefit, not survival.

I was surviving just fine with that unknown rat living in my hallway closet. But then again if he/she had plague fleas then it could have killed me and then it would have been survival.

But it's not always survival.
I plan to start a thread on this topic in which I shall argue for objective morality based on survival. I hope you will join me there. (See the post directly above this one.)
Sure thing. I always check the new threads and then chime in with my 2 bits. Looking forward to it. Thanks.

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Thrylix
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Thrylix » September 22nd, 2020, 2:53 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 1st, 2020, 10:14 am

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?
It depends on how important or significant you believe the animal in question is. For example, I have a dog who I love and would never hurt, because he's affectionate and intelligent. I couldn't justify hurting him.

Meanwhile, I step on bugs without a second thought all the time, often on purpose. If I'm out jogging and I seen some bustling little anthill, I'll even move over a little so I can plant my running shoe on it and demolish it as I go. I don't even see a need to justify why.

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Sculptor1
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Sculptor1 » September 27th, 2020, 8:23 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?
And those some people do not consider fully human...?

WARNING. This video shows a killing.

George Floyd was clearly in total panic fearing he would be shot or killed by the police - as are many black people in the USA.
Despite this the police get him in the police car, but decide to take him out.

The police dragged him out of the police car with the intention of stepping on his neck to make him unconscious, thus making his fears come true.

Around 20:18 they stand on his neck cutting of his air, and after 10 minutes he is dead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VhwxGzY ... 1601207635

For all those that can watch this and still think BLM is a communist plot, maybe you should consider your position? What is it you see when you see a black face? DO you see a human?

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