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Your Opinion On Animal Rights

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Hi all,

I don't have any mega strong opinions on this but eager to see what other people say.

I've been speaking to some people who's opinions on animal rights surprise me.

A book called "Not a chimp" is the source of a lot of their opinions.

Humans are primates, and our closest relatives are the other African apes - chimpanzees closest of all. With the mapping of the human genome, and that of the chimp, a direct comparison of the differences between the two, letter by letter along the billions of As, Gs, Cs, and Ts of the DNA code, has led to the widely vaunted claim that we differ from chimps by a mere 1.6% of our genetic code. A mere hair's breadth genetically! To a rather older tradition of anthropomorphizing chimps, trying to get them to speak, dressing them up for 'tea parties', was added the stamp of genetic confirmation. It also began an international race to find that handful of genes that make up the difference - the genes that make us uniquely human. But what does that 1.6% really mean? And should it really lead us to consider extending limited human rights to chimps, as some have suggested? Are we, after all, just chimps with a few genetic tweaks? Is our language and our technology just an extension of the grunts and ant-collecting sticks of chimps? In this book, Jeremy Taylor sketches the picture that is emerging from cutting edge research in genetics, animal behaviour, and other fields. The indications are that the so-called 1.6% is much larger and leads to profound differences between the two species. We shared a common ancestor with chimps some 6-7 million years ago, but we humans have been racing away ever since. One in ten of our genes, says Taylor, has undergone evolution in the past 40,000 years! Some of the changes that happened since we split from chimpanzees are to genes that control the way whole orchestras of other genes are switched on and off, and where. Taylor shows, using studies of certain genes now associated with speech and with brain development and activity, that the story looks to be much more complicated than we first thought. This rapidly changing and exciting field has recently discovered a host of genetic mechanisms that make us different from other apes. As Taylor points out, for too long we have let our sentimentality for chimps get in the way of our understanding. Chimps use tools, but so do crows. Certainly chimps are our closest genetic relatives. But relatively small differences in genetic code can lead to profound differences in cognition and behaviour. Our abilities give us the responsibility to protect and preserve the natural world, including endangered primates. But for the purposes of human society and human concepts such as rights, let's not pretend that chimps are humans uneducated and undressed. We've changed a lot in those 12 million years.

My opinion...

I don't think genes matter. I'm not interested in that argument.

You can either look at pain/suffering objectively or subjectively. Objectively I can't tell if a chimp screaming in pain is any different from a human being in pain. The human can use advanced language to try to explain their pain but these are just gestures like screaming in my opinion. They don't prove consciousness exists. Nothing really tells me that both the human is doing anything much different that a computer program running subroutines associated with inputs.

Subjectively I know I feel pain and I believe in similarities in other humans. Being a human it feels natural to me to not want to see an animal "in pain" much different from a human. I can't explain it. It's subjective. There's no real science here. To claim to have a solid explanation and rules that humans have language so have pain and animals don't is just crazy.

By the way, I'm not a veggie, or completely against animal testing, but I am concerned about those things. There is no objective explanation. I'm simply worried (this is the inexplicable part of being human) that there are people that don't think animals simply don't feel pain and anyone that tries to make that point.

My opinion on human rights and animal rights...rights only exist in terms of human social arrangements. In that sense, if you attack a chimp and it screams for others to come over and they kill you, the chimp had rights and just exercised them. Our arrangements are just more complex.

Here is something a bloke of the street I know wrote...

More provocatively, however, subjective experience, including pain, cannot be directly inferred from biological measures because such measures do not account for the contents of experience in general, and of pain in particular. To understand pain experience there is a necessity to examine the psychology of pain. Pain, as experienced by conscious human beings, is a subjective experience with content. That content is embedded in a symbolic system of language that animals have no access to.

I really don't think language accesses subjectivity. It doesn't require the concept of conscious pain to explain why an animal (human in this instance) would speak our loud in language about their pain.

Your opinions please. Genuinely interested. I'm not even close to being an expert so feel free to rip me apart politely.

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IMO, when animals [and many humans] contribute to society in the form of paying taxes rather than just taking, they can have rights.rolleyes.gif

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Hi all,

I don't have any mega strong opinions on this but eager to see what other people say.

I've been speaking to some people who's opinions on animal rights surprise me.

A book called "Not a chimp" is the source of a lot of their opinions.

My opinion...

I don't think genes matter. I'm not interested in that argument.

You can either look at pain/suffering objectively or subjectively. Objectively I can't tell if a chimp screaming in pain is any different from a human being in pain. The human can use advanced language to try to explain their pain but these are just gestures like screaming in my opinion. They don't prove consciousness exists. Nothing really tells me that both the human is doing anything much different that a computer program running subroutines associated with inputs.

Subjectively I know I feel pain and I believe in similarities in other humans. Being a human it feels natural to me to not want to see an animal "in pain" much different from a human. I can't explain it. It's subjective. There's no real science here. To claim to have a solid explanation and rules that humans have language so have pain and animals don't is just crazy.

By the way, I'm not a veggie, or completely against animal testing, but I am concerned about those things. There is no objective explanation. I'm simply worried (this is the inexplicable part of being human) that there are people that don't think animals simply don't feel pain and anyone that tries to make that point.

My opinion on human rights and animal rights...rights only exist in terms of human social arrangements. In that sense, if you attack a chimp and it screams for others to come over and they kill you, the chimp had rights and just exercised them. Our arrangements are just more complex.

Here is something a bloke of the street I know wrote...

I really don't think language accesses subjectivity. It doesn't require the concept of conscious pain to explain why an animal (human in this instance) would speak our loud in language about their pain.

Your opinions please. Genuinely interested. I'm not even close to being an expert so feel free to rip me apart politely.

I would agree with most of what you've said. You can tell a lot about how someone will treat others from how they treat animals, I think it's just normal empathy and by definition will extend to all living things which feel pain.

On the subject of eating meat, it's part of nature. Is that hypocritical? The best justification I've heard is that eating meat is natural - we are part of the food chain and we should not feel guilty about it, however the key is respect for the animal - respect for its environment, treating it well when alive, killing it humanely, not wasting it.

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IMO, when animals [and many humans] contribute to society in the form of paying taxes rather than just taking, they can have rights.rolleyes.gif

Fair enough...are you offended when you see stories of horses starved/mistreated by their owners? I don't believe much in the concept of granting chimps human rights etc. but I am concerned. Are you not concerned at all? Serious question.

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hmm, i was reading an article today on a bikini posted having a burka painted on it in a muslim area of my town.

but on that article for consumption, does it bother me how an animal is killed for my consumption. not greatly tbh, after all the end result is that an animal HAS suffered.

and as for your mates article, i kind of agree, but not everything can be put into words, and that's why we fail as a species.

your point about animal testing is correct, there are many profit institutions that will not care, and many people that are happy to carry out their works on the promise of fiat.

money is the problem, and it's now so embedded in all cultures and religions that it's going to hard to get rid of.

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and as for your mates article, i kind of agree, but not everything can be put into words, and that's why we fail as a species.

Cool...but, I don't see the difference between a chimp screaming and a person using the words "this really hurts it's awful, it's not just a physical reflex, I am suffering and am conscious of it". Looking at that objectively still gives me no evidence of pain in one but not the other. I don't see an absolute answer where the guy thinks he is finding one. Thanks

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Cool...but, I don't see the difference between a chimp screaming and a person using the words "this really hurts it's awful, it's not just a physical reflex, I am suffering and am conscious of it". Looking at that objectively still gives me no evidence of pain in one but not the other. I don't see an absolute answer where the guy thinks he is finding one. Thanks

i'm not sure you've got me right but i'm not pro testing. i agree that if an ant is distressed it means they have some 'feeling'.

and i'll reiterate - money is the problem.

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Fair enough...are you offended when you see stories of horses starved/mistreated by their owners? I don't believe much in the concept of granting chimps human rights etc. but I am concerned. Are you not concerned at all? Serious question.

Of course I am.

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I think the amount of people who can be cruel to animals without a whim are really in a very small minority. If you think about how many humans are around and how often they come into contact with animals. It is very unusual. However clearly it does happen enough and is not very pleasant.

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Briefly put, I view animals as being conscious (but, of course, nowhere near as conscious as human beings) on a sliding scale that roughly reflects the complexity of their brains. They are therefore deserving of a degree of respect and consideration that corresponds to their level of consciousness.

Practically, this means that I do not oppose essential medical research on animals, so long as appropriate efforts are made to minimise their suffering. I don't necessarily condemn meat eating, but am uncomfortable enough about it to be vegetarian myself, given that it is not essential in order to maintain one's health.

I wouldn't go out of my way to avoid stepping on an ant, but neither would I deliberately kill one.

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Briefly put, I view animals as being conscious (but, of course, nowhere near as conscious as human beings) on a sliding scale that roughly reflects the complexity of their brains. They are therefore deserving of a degree of respect and consideration that corresponds to their level of consciousness.

Practically, this means that I do not oppose essential medical research on animals, so long as appropriate efforts are made to minimise their suffering. I don't necessarily condemn meat eating, but am uncomfortable enough about it to be vegetarian myself, given that it is not essential in order to maintain one's health.

I wouldn't go out of my way to avoid stepping on an ant, but neither would I deliberately kill one.

Pretty much my thoughts. It's not scientific nor do I think it can be and I worry about anyone with some strong opinion of animals not having the brain power to appreciate pain.

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Hi all,

I don't have any mega strong opinions on this but eager to see what other people say.

I've been speaking to some people who's opinions on animal rights surprise me.

A book called "Not a chimp" is the source of a lot of their opinions.

I find the whole concept of animal rights odd, when rights are a human concept.

Rights are simply our legal guidelines governing what privileges and protections we should be entitled to by the state.

If you say all animals should have the right to a pain free existence (for example), that is just us projecting our own human values (and power/control) onto the animal kingdom. I think we should be morally obliged to treat animals well.. and have laws perhaps where it is feasible and practical.. but essentially to say an animal has a right means nothing as we are not omnipotent. Our laws to protect animals are not recognised by the animal kingdom and if we say animals shouldn't suffer unnecessarily.. it implies we have a legal obligation to intervene in every lion/wilder-beast chase and protect the prey and feed an ethically suitable food replacement to the lion.

In the example of chimps.. is it really sensible or practical to say they are similar enough that they should have equal rights to us when we don't even have the ability to ensure that humans in China don't commit suicide on productions lines, or people in Africa don't die of HIV. Even if it is desirable to extend human rights to animals.. I don't think we are ready to take on the challenge of human enforcement of the animal kingdom yet.

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Pain is pain. Inflicting pain on anything isn't any more acceptable on an animal than on a human because there's no reason to think that it isn't just as unpleasant for a dog than it is for a human. Sometimes there might be a good reason for it, just as there sometimes is on a human (really unpleasant but acceptable examples abounded before anaesthetic, for example).

Animals are not humans. Anything we don't like that relies on our capability of thought doesn't apply to animals (probably; there's an argument that it may to a very few). So I simply don't understand what people are on about when they talk about an animal's dignity. It doesn't care.

Meat is a natural part of our diet. Killing for food is therefore acceptable; it isn't murder to kill something that isn't self-aware. If it can be shown that an animal is self-aware then it would be murder to kill it and unacceptable (again, other than in a few unusual circumstances). It's just as acceptable for a bear to try to kill and eat me - the self-aware bit doesn't apply to the bear because it doesn't and can't know about it.

All life is precious, so killing anything just as an end in its own right isn't acceptable to me, and I'd be rather worried about anyone who enjoyed it even if they were doing it for a reason I don't mind. Well, partially. There was an episode of Northern Exposure where one of the characters was taken on a hunting trip, rather reluctantly. His final opinion of it was that the killing was great, it was the dying that he couldn't handle, and I think that I can understand that.

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Can a Human show an animal is not self aware? Just becuase we cant communicate with it doesnt mean the animal is ignorant, their concepts will be different to ours just like different religions have different concepts but anything that is capable of continuing the species is intellligent in my books which is why the Turing Test for IT is flawed imo. :)

We are probably capable (eventually) of being able to show if the most obvious ones are self-aware. Some it's questionable, most there's absolutely no reason to think that they are. Anyway, I don't think that the difficulty in doing it invalidates the principal, even if it makes it a near-impossible one to reliably put into practice.

Plants continue their species. It's possible to envisage a not massively complicated machine that could do the same thing. It's not a sign of intelligence.

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There is inevitably as degree of hypocrisy and speciesism in this question.If we were overrun by locusts and the only way to kill them was a poison that made them die an agonising death would we use it? of course we would. Although I might venture to say that if the same criteria applied to a person attempting to break into our home to murder our family the answer would be the same.

I eat meat,but I do go out of my way,and pay considerably more,to ensure that the animal isn't maltreated.I agree with the contributor who said that the way we treat animals says a lot about us as people.I find those who ill treat animals generally to be unsavoury individuals.

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Whats your definition of self aware?

Whats your definition of intelligence?

I'm surprised that you even need to ask about the first one because it's a pretty well-established unambiguous term.

Intelligence is the ability to do more than sit there doing nothing, and to do more than react to stimuli, and to have at least some ability to adapt to their surroundings beyond what effectively pre-programmed instinct gives. All animals are arguably at least very, very slightly intelligent.

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I find the whole concept of animal rights odd, when rights are a human concept.

Rights are simply our legal guidelines governing what privileges and protections we should be entitled to by the state.

If you say all animals should have the right to a pain free existence (for example), that is just us projecting our own human values (and power/control) onto the animal kingdom. I think we should be morally obliged to treat animals well.. and have laws perhaps where it is feasible and practical.. but essentially to say an animal has a right means nothing as we are not omnipotent. Our laws to protect animals are not recognised by the animal kingdom and if we say animals shouldn't suffer unnecessarily.. it implies we have a legal obligation to intervene in every lion/wilder-beast chase and protect the prey and feed an ethically suitable food replacement to the lion.

In the example of chimps.. is it really sensible or practical to say they are similar enough that they should have equal rights to us when we don't even have the ability to ensure that humans in China don't commit suicide on productions lines, or people in Africa don't die of HIV. Even if it is desirable to extend human rights to animals.. I don't think we are ready to take on the challenge of human enforcement of the animal kingdom yet.

Rights are a human concept but they are real in that there are understood/expected rules of possible consequences to actions in our complex human society.

I'm not calling for strong rights for animals but I really do worry about those that think they don't matter. Are you offended by animal cruelty?

I get the impression that a few people are agreeing with me that there is definitely not even close to being an absolute science on consciousness and pain in different species regardless of claims about language/intelligence etc. and that we only have our human instincts to go on in this matter.

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I'm not calling for strong rights for animals but I really do worry about those that think they don't matter. Are you offended by animal cruelty?

I'm not offended by animal cruelty, so much as saddened by it. I think most pet owners understand that animals feel pain and emotion similarly to humans, and in fact although I'm not a vegetarian I avoid eating meat and would pay more for meat if I knew it meant a better standard of living for the animal involved (although food packaging is never clear or specific).

Things like keeping dogs locked up all their lives in a small back yard saddens me. Over weight pets are another example of animal cruelty.

I would like to see people treating animals better.. but "animal rights" as such.. you can perhaps influence how humans treat each other, but not how animals do. I think I would personally frame it as "should we take steps to prevent animal cruelty". In which case.. possibly. But the thing is I don't think most people are cruel to animals on purpose.. it's usually because we treat animals as toys or commodities rather than sentient beings.. usually out of disinterest or ignorance rather than spite.

Also, you run into the issue that breading creature so you can kill them and eat them is a pretty big violation of any rights you might like to afford them. In my experience people who are concerned about animal rights would be horrified at the idea of shooting rabbits or hunting for sport.. yet they would happily tuck into their M&S low fat chicken fajita and see no hypocrisy.

The first step towards preventing animal cruelty should be having public viewing areas in all abattoirs and intensive farms. Education is probably more important at this stage than regulation IMHO. If we had to watch each animal die as we ate it we might think differently about how we treat them.

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I'm not offended by animal cruelty, so much as saddened by it...

All fair enough.

Part of my interest in other people's opinions was down to people trying to justify certain beliefs with claims about subjectivity, science, language, and pain objectively whereas I don't think any such thing can be done.

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The first step towards preventing animal cruelty should be having public viewing areas in all abattoirs and intensive farms. Education is probably more important at this stage than regulation IMHO. If we had to watch each animal die as we ate it we might think differently about how we treat them.

Agreed. I think generally we are too separated from the consequences of our choices and actions, in nature and elsewhere.

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The following touches on some of the topics discussed

It is a bit long for a post, but a good read

Do horses gallop in their sleep

If you find the above abbreviated lecture interesting you can get the full lecture

HERE

I should also add that I am quite happy to kill an animal with my own hands, I have done so for food and to put an animal out of what I perceive to be a miserable situation, the type of situation where I would be quite happy if someone killed me, humanely. Having said that, I would never toy with an animal or inflict intentional pain, or if killing for food, take more that I need to eat at the time. I would never leave meat on the side of my plate; if an animal died to feed me it deserves not to be wasted. While I respect animals, they are animals, but then so are we.

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The following touches on some of the topics discussed

It is a bit long for a post, but a good read

Do horses gallop in their sleep

If you find the above abbreviated lecture interesting you can get the full lecture

HERE

I should also add that I am quite happy to kill an animal with my own hands, I have done so for food and to put an animal out of what I perceive to be a miserable situation, the type of situation where I would be quite happy if someone killed me, humanely. Having said that, I would never toy with an animal or inflict intentional pain, or if killing for food, take more that I need to eat at the time. I would never leave meat on the side of my plate; if an animal died to feed me it deserves not to be wasted. While I respect animals, they are animals, but then so are we.

Fascinating. Expresses a million times better the kind of thoughts I've been having. Thanks

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Apologies, not meaning to try to catch you out. Just making sure.

Accepted. I was being rather tongue in cheek. I love animals, but I don't think they should have the vote, or prisoners, for that matter.

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