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?
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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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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by chewybrian » August 2nd, 2020, 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?
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Gertie » August 2nd, 2020, 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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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Angel Trismegistus » August 3rd, 2020, 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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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Pattern-chaser » August 3rd, 2020, 10:33 am

chewybrian wrote:
August 2nd, 2020, 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:
August 2nd, 2020, 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.
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Pattern-chaser » August 3rd, 2020, 10:46 am

Gertie wrote:
August 2nd, 2020, 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:
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.
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.
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by chewybrian » August 3rd, 2020, 12:26 pm

Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 10:33 am
chewybrian wrote:
August 2nd, 2020, 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.
Well, I was mostly playing devil's advocate, as I said. I think you are on the right track, and I don't know where exactly to draw the line correctly. I mean, you did say that you were OK with eating animals, which means we are going to kill them. If you had the choice, would you prefer to be dinner, or a pet, or a race horse? Since we can't ask them, are we wrong to do for them what we think we would want in their place? Should I release my dog in the wild, or continue to care for her? If those are the choices, I think she would rather stay.

If we are treating the animals we use humanely, and their lives are, on the whole, longer and better than they might have been in the wild, then we could argue that we have done them a favor. To take this side, I suppose you must concede that we know better than them what is good for them, which sounds conceited yet may be true, at least in some cases.

Side note on this. It seemed quite egotistical of us to send out greetings in the Voyager space craft--"Here is where we are, and what we look like and such, and you are sure to want to come and greet us in peace". As if! Turn it around and imagine that you received a greeting from the roaches behind your kitchen counter, or from your case of athlete's foot. What has our response been to discovering new species, and why would we assume that alien life would be better than us?
Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 10:33 am

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....

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.
There I think you and he are right on the mark. My interest in philosophy tilts toward psychology and away from science. I am not anti-science, but your straight jacket analogy says a lot about how many, if not most, folks proceed in philosophy.

As appealing as these ideas sound, I don't think I will be reading him. We are off the chart with the political correctness these days, and I think we need to slow down, but when you hit the low mark of 'Nazi", I will draw a line. In fact, though, I am less offended by his party membership than his refusal to retract the ideas and apologize for his involvement in the several decades after the war that he lived on. I'm not judging you or anyone else for reading him, though. Hopefully I can get some of the same ideas from Sartre or someone else, even myself! From your description, I'm fairly certain that I already have some of them.

My own favorite is Epictetus because he is a sort of patron saint of self-improvement. He seeks to show you that though you have knowledge and you are using logic, you inevitably proceed with conceit, stacking logic on top of unproven assumptions. We all have cognitive biases or even cognitive distortions that need to be ironed out, even those of us wearing the straight jacket of science. When you set aside all the preconceptions, you are forced to admit how little you really know, and then you can begin to learn a few things that you would have missed with the preconceptions still in place. Most importantly, you can live better and focus on your true priorities when you are not allowing the world to pull you in 1000 directions. So many of us need to work on ourselves, yet we are out trying to 'fix' the world first. Epictetus, like Redd Foxx in a tunic, says "you big dummy!" You can't solve anything until you get yourself on the right track, and this is no small task. If you take his ideas to heart, you can be happy (or at least less pissed off!) right here and now, instead of waiting for the stars to align so the universe suddenly allows you to get what you *think* you want, some trivial crap that you assume will make you happy.
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Gertie » August 3rd, 2020, 6:13 pm

PC
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.
Yeah I agree, I think most people would agree that morality is still meaningful, still matters, even if it's a human invention, rather than an independent 'objective fact' about the world. So philosophically, we need to consider what a justifiable foundation might be, and then apply it to the issues we face like this one.


I think morality is basically about wellbeing and flourishing, that this is good, and harm and suffering are bad. And this is applicable to all sentient beings which are capable of flourishing or being harmed, human or other species. Not equally in exactly the same way, but appropriately to their circumstances. So the 'enslavement' of pets is probably a mixed bag from the pov of those species we're fond of. Where-as the use of sentient animals as objects for our benefit with no regard for their welfare is not moral, or as you say, it's the morality of 'might is right'. (I'd apply this wellbeing criterion to unnecessarily killing sentient animals for food too, when alternatives are available - which deprives them completely of the opportunity to experience wellbeing. Just because it's 'natural', doesn't mean it's moral, that's what marks the moral distinction between Is and Ought). As regards mosquitos, I'm not sure we can say a mosquito has the neurological kit to be capable of a quality of life, but the humans they harm do, so we should protect ourselves as necessary.


It's a messy and inexact foundation for morality. Because sentient beings like us and horses are subjects with varying interests which can't be objectively measured and weighed against each other. That's the nature of being a conscious being, and I think we have to accept that. Doesn;t mean we should give up tho. It really boils down to ''Try to be kind'', realising that can be complicated.

I got the impression you're sceptical of my views on this type of moral foundation, at least how I present it, do you think there's a better approach?

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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Angel Trismegistus » August 4th, 2020, 4:36 am

Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 10:46 am
Gertie wrote:
August 2nd, 2020, 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.
If the several opinions on morality you deliver here are not themselves a matter of "justification by unfounded assertion," then perhaps it will please you to adumbrate for us the arguments for 1) morality as human invention, 2) morality as a uniquely human invention, and 3) morality as "say[ing] whatever we create [it] to say."
Pattern-chaser wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 10:46 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.
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.
Well, according to one scientific oracle, the universe along with every living thing in it is doomed to extinction, yes? Extinction can no more be laid at the feet of mankind than it can at the feet of the dinosaur. What's more, prophecies of imminent extinction smack of Chicken-Littleness.

Moreover, according to another scientific oracle, all living things are engaged in a competition for survival, decided by fitness for survival, which is another way of saying decided by what survives. Exploitativeness and ego-centrism are traits favored by nature in that competition to this extent -- they managed to get humankind out of the cave and onto the streets of Paris, London and New York in an evolutionary blink of an eye.
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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Terrapin Station » August 4th, 2020, 8:23 am

Two of the more important issues here in my view are these:

(1) We have to be careful when it comes to figuring that we know how other animals think/feel about anything--or even if they're capable of thought (in the case of something like mosquitoes, for example). And if we're going to say that we need to treat other things like moral agents even if they don't really think or feel anything, then why wouldn't we think that we need to treat all inanimate objects as moral agents, too? Moral agency usually hinges on personhood, but it's not at all clear that creatures like mosquitoes have personhood.

(2) We can just as easily turn many of these sorts of questions around towards humans. What gives anyone the right to hold children in captivity, to force them to go to school, etc.? What gives us the right to imprison other humans just in case they murder someone? Why not "target the tendency to do violence directly" or just stay away from those people? The sorts of answers you come up with for those questions could apply just as well to non-human creatures.

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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Steve3007 » August 5th, 2020, 5:58 am

Pattern-chaser wrote: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?
The malaria carried by mosquitoes is a living thing - a single celled organism. Why might we consider it acceptable to attack that living thing but not the mosquito? Is it because we might regard mosquitoes as having a capacity for suffering that the single celled organism lacks, perhaps due to its relative complexity and possession of a nervous system? Suppose that single celled organism was itself only a danger because of an even smaller parasite infecting it, just as it infects the mosquito. Should we then attack only that even simpler organism?
What is the moral justification for humans using other living creatures as we see fit?
Do you regard moral justifications as necessary in order to act, such that, as a general rule, we can't do anything unless there is a moral justification for it? Or do you regard moral prohibitions as necessary in order to refrain from acting? I'd tend to go with the latter.

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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Steve3007 » August 5th, 2020, 6:14 am

Pattern-chaser wrote: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.
Here, you appear to be saying that morals are invented by humans and they therefore have no moral justification or basis. But obviously they couldn't. To say that a moral system is itself morally either acceptable or unacceptable would make no sense. That would be like lifting yourself up by your own bootstraps.

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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Pattern-chaser » August 5th, 2020, 12:26 pm

chewybrian wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 12:26 pm
I think you are on the right track, and I don't know where exactly to draw the line correctly.
Agreed. That's the kind of topic this thread is about, yes? There is no exact place to draw the line.

chewybrian wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 12:26 pm
I mean, you did say that you were OK with eating animals, which means we are going to kill them. If you had the choice, would you prefer to be dinner, or a pet, or a race horse? Since we can't ask them, are we wrong to do for them what we think we would want in their place? Should I release my dog in the wild, or continue to care for her? If those are the choices, I think she would rather stay.
My preferences are not relevant here, I don't think. Nor, IMO, should we try to guess what other living creatures might prefer. I'm with Nagel on this one.

Dogs are a special case. We started off by capturing and enslaving wolves, and we created a new species, after so many generations passed. So the current situation is unavoidably influenced by the history that lead us here. But Herr Nagel's thoughts still apply, I think.

We really have no idea what other living creatures might want or feel, so to try is arrogant, and not especially likely to lead to a positive outcome, IMO.
Pattern-chaser

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Re: How we treat other living things

Post by Pattern-chaser » August 5th, 2020, 12:36 pm

Gertie wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 6:13 pm
Pattern-chaser wrote:
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.
Yeah I agree, I think most people would agree that morality is still meaningful, still matters, even if it's a human invention, rather than an independent 'objective fact' about the world. So philosophically, we need to consider what a justifiable foundation might be, and then apply it to the issues we face like this one.
I agree with the first bit, but I wonder if you're evading your own conclusions with the latter? I think, because morality is not 'objective', that there are no "justifiable" foundations, philosophical or otherwise. It seems to me that we are reliant here on 'common sense', 'common decency' and on such consensus as exists. Nothing more rigorous than this seems to apply....

Gertie wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 6:13 pm
I think morality is basically about wellbeing and flourishing, that this is good, and harm and suffering are bad. And this is applicable to all sentient beings...
But good for one creature is bad for another. By this analysis, morality is a compromise, at best.

Gertie wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 6:13 pm
So the 'enslavement' of pets is probably a mixed bag from the pov of those species we're fond of.
You say "probably", but I wonder how we can/could be confident in your assessment? Nagel again.

Gertie wrote:
August 3rd, 2020, 6:13 pm
As regards mosquitos, I'm not sure we can say a mosquito has the neurological kit to be capable of a quality of life, but the humans they harm do, so we should protect ourselves as necessary.
But mosquitoes offer us no harm, in and of themselves. They unwittingly carry something that does. So should we target the unwitting carrier, or the disease itself?
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