Thread: Animal Rights
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Unread 4 Aug 2006, 12:53   #34
Dante Hicks
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Re: Animal Rights

We've had this discussion many times before (if you have a look through the archives this could be in the top ten most discussed topics). But anyway, a few issues which I normally mention :

1. I would distinguish between 'pain' and 'suffering'. I don't think anyone is seriously suggesting an animal can't feel pain, because usually that's defined to mean "sense damage / harm" or something like that. And as I usually point out, that doesn't mean an awful lot. An NPC in a computer game can sense when it is being "damaged" and can even cry out, if so programmed. Yet no-one (yet) calls for rights for NPCs. I suspect some idiot will though, and will use the same dismal line of argument as most animal rights advocates ("OMFG, it purred when I stroked it!!!")

But suffering is not sensing pain. Humans can suffer, animals & NPCs (I would suggest) cannot. They cannot think (in any meaningful sense) about pain, they cannot reflect on damage to them, there is no emotional response. And that is where I draw the line. I concede that in the future some scientific research could show some that (say) some primates do have the ability to "think" in the sense I am talking, but I won't hold my breath.

2. I would avoid terms like "higher" or "lower" in this sort of context. They're needlessly loaded terms. I have no idea what "higher life form" means but it doesn't sound like a very scientific term.

3. Saying things like "We're just animals" is pretty meaningless. You might as well say "We're just collections of atoms". It's true, in a sense, but it doesn't help us really answer the question of whether we should treat a lump of coal any different from a human being.

Otherwise, see my previous posts on this topic. In general I care a lot less about animal rights than I used to, although I do tend towards the belief that anyone who supports the prospect of rights for insects (or whatever) is probably borderline mentally ill. I concede this is grossly unfair however.
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