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Non-human organisms or humans

  1. Sep 13, 2006 #1
    This may be a vegetarian vs meat lover debate...

    Is it fair to kill animals for the sake of humans for reason such as medical tests and food?

    I'm asking this here because I need a good philosophical answer rather than a layman oppinion... I believe that life has priority over other lives according to potential and ability for change. But I also believe that when you have more potential, then your mission is to help those who have less.

    So this is a rather contradictory statement when it comes to the asked question.

    10x
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 13, 2006 #2

    Mech_Engineer

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    I don't think "fair" is the correct terminology for such a question... In the end, killing for food is just the food chain. Is it "fair" for a Lion (or any other predator) to kill an animal for food? As for medical testing, well, it comes down to whether a person believes in statements of greater good. It can be questioned whether killing another animal for reasons other than food is ethical, but the natural world also has examples of killing for reasons other than food.

    You should probably try thinking this out a little bit more, because there are many "fuzzy" terms in there. Potential according to whom? What sort of potential? What "ability to change" are you referring to? Ability to change what? As you pointed out, you are also contradicting yourself, that doesn't bode well for a philosophical discussion.
     
  4. Sep 13, 2006 #3
    Potential to change your surroundings. There are those who have a greater chance to do it than others. I believe that change is the reason for life. The most meaningful life is that which does the greatest change.

    I am contradicting myself because I say that those who have higher potential have greater priority to life yet I also say that those who have a higher potential have the responsability to help those who have less potential.

    Food chain is an instinctive activity. What I am talking about is higher intellect, whether it is right to kill for food or not. NOTICE: Plants are also killed for food so it doesn't matter whether you are vegeterian or not.

    Basically we don't have much choice but to accept the killing part, however it may still be wrong. So is it or is it not?
     
  5. Sep 13, 2006 #4

    Pythagorean

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    it's not 'fair', but 'fair' is a human expectation, and not necissarily part of some absolute law of the universe.
     
  6. Sep 13, 2006 #5

    Mech_Engineer

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    In philosophy, there isn't really any "right" or "wrong" answer, because moral contructs will vary widely based on belief systems and other things ("fair" is included in there). Ethics is a very deep subject in philosophy, just check out the forum dedicated to it. You need to be very deliberate in your wording around here...

    I'm not really sure you have though critically enough about your "belief that some life takes precedence over others" or "higher life forms have a responsibility to the lower ones." You haven't presented any arguments for these statements (look into Philosophy: Logic) you're just saying you believe in them, which doesn't work. WHY do you believe these things? What makes you think this way; what you've seen or experienced?

    And I wasn't looking for you to answer my questions explicitly in each case, I was throwing them out there to let you know what you might want to look in to.
     
  7. Sep 13, 2006 #6
    Heh, please excuse my mode of discussion for "I am quite a stranger to the ways of this place" (Socrates, The Apology). I have a scientific background and I tend to 'sum words up'.

    Allow me to rephrase myself. Right and wrong are two human created adjectives which are driven mostly by feeling. However logic can lead to what we consider things to be better than others, better quality you might say.

    Sacrifices are a part of life. Animals kill other animals for survival. Therefore a life is sacrificed for another life. Bacteria have less ability to change their surroundings than humans. It may thus be concluded that humans are better than bateria, for a lost life of a bacteria will affect less the future than a lost life of a human. Therefore humans have a higher precedance than bacteria. A whole list of priority may be generated of all matter in universe regarding importance of life/existance.

    As for responsability, the most affective way to reach change (preferably for the better), is by all the living creatures working together to reach their potential and thus do change together. In order to make sure that we reach our maximum potential, help may be needed. This is because we need unleased potential to free up more potential, like investing money you already have to profit more money (the reason for this I believe is out of point). Now it may be concluded that in order to unlease our potential for change, we need others to show us how to make the first step. This is evident in books, as we read books in order to learn already processed discoveries by others so that we can continue discovering from where the earlier discoverers left. Thus we would be unleasing our potential to do new things rather than rediscover the discovered. So where do the less able or potentialed find help? From the higher potentialed ones! It is in the interest of the less potentialed to be able to climb up the ladder of importance whilst the high potentialed ones should realise that unless everyone works together, change will be slow (scientific value of discovering for the sake of truth and not of achievement).

    Now the same goes for humans and non-humans. Humans should care for non-humans because it is their responsability, as high potentialed, to make sure that the less potentialed, non-humans, will reach the best of their abilities.

    Now since we have this responsability, is it right to kill the non-humans for our interest?

    NOTICE: I am using the word non-humans because humans are animals so I can say that and I am also refering to plants and all other organisms.

    Now is this still incomplete? Please guide me to the way of philosophy!
     
  8. Sep 13, 2006 #7

    chroot

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    Your argument is not sound, because it is fundamentally based on your subjective opinions of the world. Since, honestly, I think your subjective opinions are poorly developed, I discount the entirety of your argument.

    "The most meaningful life is that which does the greatest change" is a very unsettling statement. After all, no single change can be viewed by everyone on the planet in the same way. Sure, Abraham Lincoln helped free the slaves -- the slaves loved the change, yet the plantation owners did not. Spraying your countertop with bleach is beneficial to humans who use the countertop, but rather upsetting to the Salmonella that were living there. The only conclusion that I can draw is that you fancy that you alone are capable of deciding whether a life is "meaningful" or not, and therefore whether or not that life is disposable.

    I also must say that bacteria are capable of changing their environment to a much greater extent than are most human beings, including myself. Consider for a moment that a pathogenic bacterium is capable of reproducing itself rapidly, travelling from human to human, and killing millions of them every year. If that's not a tremendous capacity for changing the environment, I don't know what is. All such a bacterium has to do is find its way into someone's nostril.

    - Warren
     
  9. Sep 13, 2006 #8
    Change can be seen as good depending on the ratio of those who benefit from it to those who are harmed by it. Absolute good is when all benefit or remain neutral and none are harmed.

    Humans can kill and even breed bacteria, they can stop such a spread of disease as they had always done in the past. Therefore humans are superior. Of course there are illnesses which are superiour to humans, but since humans have the potential to fight it back with advances in medicine, then humans have a higher potential.

    You critique of my argument is not very constructive as I am finding difficulty to improve it based on your replies...
     
  10. Sep 13, 2006 #9

    Mech_Engineer

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    Personally, I think you're going in the worng direction to prove your point...

    Here's an idea- let's just drop "right" and "wrong" for the moment and ask another question, is it natural for humans to kill other animals for the betterment of the species?

    I would argue yes, and the reasoning would probably have something to do with the fact that almost all basic instincts in living organisms can be traced to the propogation of the species (competition for mates, survival instincts, camouflage, etc.). Natural selection dictates that the better adapted of the species survive, while the lesser adapted die (or at least don't pass along their genes as often as the stronger). By using animal testing to cure diseases, humans are helping to ensure the propogation of the species.

    By the way, even this is a slippery slope, its very hard to decide what might be a better adaptation...

    Abstracts ideas like "better" and "lesser" species are way too flimsy to hold up to criticism. All of this ambiguity needs to be removed from the argument for it to even think about flying.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2006
  11. Sep 13, 2006 #10

    Mech_Engineer

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    I'm telling ya, relative comparisons (especially arbitrary ones) will get you no where in a philosophy debate.
     
  12. Sep 13, 2006 #11

    chroot

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    This sounds like a rather ad hoc embellishment, a patch to keep your flawed idea afloat. Shouldn't you also consider the "value" of each entity that is harmed or helped?

    After all, there were many more slaves than slave-owners. If you assume that all people are of equal value, then freeing the slaves achieves a help/hurt ratio of more than one. However, if you assume that slaves are "less valuable" than slave-owners, as was the social status quo at that time, then the help/hurt ratio may be far below one.

    Again, the very concept of "value" is inherently subjective, and there's no way you can assign "absolute value" to any action.

    Except that, given a sufficient time period, every disease known seems capable of building up resistance to any antiobiotic or vaccine we can cook up. It sounds rather like you're advocating that we base value decisions on games of rock-paper-scissors.

    You don't know this. Who's to say we won't simply run out of ideas eventually, and will not be capable of producing any better antiobiotics or vaccines? How can you evaluate humankind's potential -- for all time -- without any information except our performance in the past? For all we know, we may end up being literally made extinct by some yet-to-be-discovered pathogen.

    I have no intention of helping you "improve" your argument. I have the intention of demonstrating how flawed and pointless it is, and accepting your inevitable resignation.

    - Warren
     
  13. Sep 13, 2006 #12

    Mech_Engineer

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    LOL Yes! That is awesome...

    Surrender or die :devil:
     
  14. Sep 13, 2006 #13
    I asked a question because I need guidance about it... Isn't that what foraa are for? Why are you taking such an offensive stance? Is this what you do? Keep people from getting answers?

    Fine then, lets ask this question in another way. Should humans be considered equal to the rest of the living species? Should humans act as such?

    You are obviously going to argue about the word 'should' but I have no idea what word you guys use for such a question.
     
  15. Sep 13, 2006 #14

    Mech_Engineer

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    I think I'm on to something with the following question:

    "Is it natural for humans to kill other animals for the betterment of the species?"

    Go with this, you might triumph over Warren yet!

    EDIT: Bravo on the plural of "forum" BTW...
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2006
  16. Sep 13, 2006 #15
    How about this...

    Many higher organisms are equipped with a mechanism that kind of "shuts off" suffering under certain conditions.

    I can personally attest to such an experience in the midst of a motorcycle accident many years ago. It was a distinctly different state of concious. I did not feel the impact. In fact, I felt mothing till I came to rest in a ditch. Then, I suppose as my consciousness returned to a more "normal" state, pain began to register, and shortly thereafter I went into shock.

    I strongly suspect such a mechanism might be in play in a hunter-hunted scenario. It just so happens I have no problem with killing for food; conceptually, if not practically. It is not easy at first to kill with your own hands; very different from buying that packaged chicken in the supermarket.


    As for testing, I view this a little differently. First, whether this is necessarily true or not, I associate suffering with testing on animals. I have questions about the necessity of testing in this way. I have questions about the treatment of these animals in general, even while not specifically undergoing tests.

    For me, the bottom line is killing for food is the natural order of things. Testing (whether killing the animal or not) has a great many ethical perturbations, and I really don't expect there to be an easy answer.

    I could give you my opinion, (I have one more or less), but it would be meaningless. It is based on my perceptions, values, and is necessarily subjective.

    But I think this demonstrates that killing animals for food and for testing are not equivalent issues. At least in my subjective opinion :)
     
  17. Sep 13, 2006 #16

    chroot

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    Because you're promulgating an offensive concept, that of absolute value.

    Anytime anyone tries to assign an absolute label of "good" or "bad" to any event or action, air raid sirens should automatically spring to life.

    - Warren
     
  18. Sep 13, 2006 #17
    Should not the events and actions of "life" as an end in itself be given the label as absolute good ?
     
  19. Sep 14, 2006 #18
    OK thanks for trying to answer, I appreciate it. So till now we concluded that killing and testing are natural since we want to ensure our propogation. This is so natural that when we kill, we enter a state of numbness to assist in our kill. Second, we might have concluded that we need to treat the testing animals humanily before testing on them (and possibly while testing). This makes testing sort of more human orientated.

    Now to further the topic, it is natural to do these things in a wild way and thus may be pardoned if we do so. However we raise animals and plants in farms in order to kill them for food. We do not follow the survival of the fittest law. We kill the fittest for food and dispose of the weak, no one has a chance. Animals are born imprisoned having no option but to accept to be killed and eaten which they could probably have avoided in the wild if they were fit.

    Now is this natural and thus acceptable?
     
  20. Sep 14, 2006 #19

    chroot

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    I still cannot understand why you are unable to distinguish your opinion from some kind of value system that should be agreed upon by everyone. Personally, I don't think "we" have concluded anything at all, but thanks for playing.

    - Warren
     
  21. Sep 14, 2006 #20
    So there is no way to generalise what starts as an oppinion? An oppinion will always remain an oppinion? Aren't philosophical discussions there to prove that your oppinion is the truth? If not than I am sorry to have ever started such a question...
     
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