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No problem. The quote button is the one that looks like a text bubble, next to the mountain (insert image) icon.
Conversely, the statement "killing cats is wrong," is a normative/ethical claim, because it goes beyond the facts, as all moral judgments necessarily do. In moral discourse we provide reasons for accepting a particular premise, not empirical support. Of course, when some people observe cats being tortured, they express moral outrage.
I think there's some confusion here. The "prima facie" clause in premise (1) is a provision set aside for conditions under which the wrongness of causing harm to sentient beings may be overidden. That's it. Furthermore, the premise does not assume that all harms are wrong. A mother may subject her child to the painful prick of the innoculation syringe, but the resulting immunization from disease is morally compensatory. ........
..........Harming others is bad because it's harmful, and what's harmful is bad. This is a circular statement, to be sure; but the reason is precisely that it is meant to convey a self-evident truth, not an argument.
.........I'm not sure what you're talking about. This is the updated argument:
P1: Causing harm is prima facie morally wrong.
P2: Killing sentient nonhuman animals causes them harm.
C.: Therefore, killing sentient nonhuman animals is prima facie morally wrong.
According to elementary logic, this is a valid argument. The conclusion follows logically from the premise:
1. A is B,
2. C is A,
3. Therefore, A is B.
So if the premises are true, the conclusion must be true. The dispute here isn't over the form of the moral argument, but its content.
In other words, why should anyone care about the suffering of sentient beings? Well, the reason is that pain and suffering hurt and violate basic welfare interests; they are "aversive stimuli" or experiences that have a negative impact, are disvalued by us, and that we seek to avoid if at all possible.
But the point here is not to engage in name-calling or laying on guilt-trips. Rather, it's to realize that nonhuman animals can be hurt, that it matters to them, and therefore, should matter to us.
To paraphrase the above: "If you disagree we me, you are a monster, but there's no reason to dwell on how terrible you are because there's still a chance for you to learn the error of your ways."
My argument appeals to those people who already hold to the conviction that being morally compassionate is a laudable activity; and I am trying to persuade those same people to extend the scope of their moral concerns to the interests of other sentient species. What I am not attempting to do is convince moral skeptics why they ought to be morally compassionate in the first place. That kind of meta-ethical discussion is appropriate for another thread.
You don't have to kill an animal to eat one. You can eat a dead animal. A dead animal cannot feel pain, and since you did not kill it, you caused no pain. I don't know why an animal that died naturally can not be consumed.
Who said you couldn't eat an animal who died from natural causes? The OP says the opposite.
If you can eat an already-dead animal, then you should.
Note: premise (4) allows for eating animals who died due to accidents, natural causes, or other sources which do not involve the deliberate actions of moral agents.
Also, is killing pests such as mosquitoes wrong? Honestly, they spread disease and annoy people. The only thing they do is feed bats, and there are plenty of other things for bats to eat.
Secondly, by "prima facie" is meant that the principle [premise 1] can be overriden in certain cases (e.g., self-defense).
I think that it is reasonable for humans not to kill each other assuming we can reach a social contract (which we can and have) and that the social contract holds until violated by a party (in which case the protection of the contract is forfeit; e.g. killing in self defense), but that is entirely distinct from my compassion.
Contractarianism is based on the idea that rationality is the characteristic deemed necessary for inclusion in the moral sphere and that only humans are capable of rationality. Only those beings capable of moral agency are able to enter into the contract, and as rationality is required for moral agency, it follows that only humans are bound by the contract. Fair enough?
This view is mistaken and inconsistent for two reasons. Let's take them in turn.
(1) Appeals to differences between "them" and "us," like rationality or moral agency (as justification for animal suffering), will just not do. Obviously there are many humans whom we would not consider rational or moral agents, such as fetuses, newborns, young children, and mentally impaired adults. However, I think it goes without saying that it would be wrong if we did not give such humans moral consideration and mistreated them in any way we liked. How can we eat or experiment on animals because they have a lesser degree of rationality than (most) humans when we would see eating or experimenting on newborns as morally wrong? In other words, if rationality is the criterion for moral standing, how can we say that babies, or the mentally impaired, are to be given the same moral consideration as healthy, adult humans? Given such problems, why insist on using these characteristics as the criteria that make it justified to cause, or not to cause, suffering?
(2) Also, how is one to judge what level of rationality entitles a being to be an object of moral concern? There are problems concerning the quantification of rationality, and whether the level of rationality has to be high or low for moral entitlement, there will always be at least some animals who qualify.
By restricting members of the contract to rational humans capable of moral agency it would seem that contractarianism denies moral consideration to nonrational humans who lack moral agency. Here's a possible response: "humans who are not capable of moral agency or rationality can be accounted for in the contract by humans that are capable and who care about them; therefore, we should respect their wishes." But this leaves contractarianism open to the question of why animals should be excluded from the contract--many people also care about animals, and they are upset by animal suffering, so we should, therefore, not treat them in any way we please.
Appeals to characteristics cannot be used as a means for the justification of animal suffering. The possession of particular capacities, such as rationality or moral agency, is not what gives a being standing in the moral sphere. It is a being's interests that make that being an object of moral concern. And animals clearly do have interests--no one is prepared to deny that. Like humans, they have an interest in physical health and vigor, normal bodily integrity and functioning, absence of pain and suffering, emotional stability and well-being, tolerable social and physical environment, a certain amount of freedom from interference and coercion, and so on and so forth. They, therefore, do qualify as candidates for our moral concern. And the fact that they do have interests means that there are moral questions that should be asked about our mistreatment of them in modern day practices.
No, the line is defined over time through social convention. I draw the line a humans, subjectively. I state the social contract in terms of its practice, not the theory behind it.
In the United State, I would be very unsatisfied with the results of breaking the established social contract.
Because thus far I see very few practical reasons not to eat meat.
I draw the line with genetics...
...until it comes to pass that a highly advanced alien race comes to visit us.
...I think that it is perfectly fine to continue to use cows and chickens for meat, I think that it is wrong to torture them. I think that pigs are good for eating as well.
...is it to be a crime that I step on a cockroach?
If you cannot draw the line at the top of the spectrum, you cannot very easily draw it at the bottom(or can you).
In other words, simply reporting current social practice or legality does not absolve you from making a genuine moral argument (in a serious philosophy forum) about which entities should be entitled to moral consideration.
Human slavery was once current practice, but no one really thinks that slavery is morally justifiable in modern society just because it was once socially accepted. That's an odd form of begging the question. We're interested in the moral question of nonhuman moral status--not the legal question. The same goes for virtually any debate. For example, when philosophers discuss the moral question of abortion, they don't attempt to validate their claims by appealing to whatever the current legality, social practice, or consensus happens to be.
Besides, this position of yours, if taken to its logical conclusion, actually commands your attention. Why? Almost everyone agrees that it is morally wrong to inflict unnecessary suffering on nonhuman animals. Indeed, this moral rule is so uncontroversial that it is currently embodied in established anticruelty laws and other laws that regulate our treatment of nonhumans. According to the social contract, we are bound by these established laws. However, current social practices violate them everyday. Therefore, you do have reason to be "unsatisifed" about animal suffering. That said, no serious arguer in moral debates justifies his position on the basis of whether its propositions are reflected in the current legality/social practice.
It is also practical and rational for someone to violate the law when it suits their interests, provided that the threat of getting caught is minimal. Not much moral foundation for a social contract here. If you base the social contract on practicality instead of social justice, you get moral freeloaders. But look, in the next sentence you say it's genetics, not practicality. Which is it, Zetetic? Let's have some consistency from you for a change.
Okay, so now you want to arbitrarily draw the line at genetic humanity for inclusion in the moral sphere. This is speciesism, pure and simple. It is both morally and logically indistinguishable from the kind of justification that sought to prolong human slavery on the perceived basis that Africans were less intelligent than whites, or "subhuman." At least with characteristics like rationality and moral agency you have a prima facie defensible position. But it's not really about genetics, is it? Even you can detect the weakness in that. No, it's about intelligence level now. Deny it? Your words say it all. Let's see...
So you have inserted yet another criterion into your quasi-argument: intelligence level (this is evident because you'll clearly make an exception for highly intelligent aliens who share no genetic relatedness with humans). Let's review this conceptual rollercoaster: you've denied that rationality or moral agency are relevant in social contracts because, apparently, reporting current practice is sufficient to make a convincing moral argument. So then you appeal to practicality as a moral compass, which is untenable, but wait, we're not done. In the following sentence you make the philosophically unmotivated case for genetic humanity (speciescism) as the morally relevant criterion. Perhaps "made the case for" is too generous here, you merely asserted it. Finally, you surreptitiously reinsert yet another criterion--intelligence level--for inclusion in the moral sphere. So which is it: rationality, moral agency, status quo, practicality, genetics, intelligence level? This is called the "moving target" fallacy. Here's a useful analogy:
"Computers might be able to understand Chinese and think about numbers but cannot do the crucially human things, such as...." - and then follows his favorite human specialty - falling in love, having a sense of humor, etc. But as soon as an artificial intelligence simulation succeeds, a new "crucial" element is selected (the target is moved). Thus the perpetrators of this fallacy will never have to admit to the existence of artificial intelligence.The proponents keep changing their definition, presenting you always with a moving target of criteria that you can never get hold of. It's like trying to grasp the fog.
The moving target (i.e., moving criteria) fallacy is a fantastic way to shield your position from rational inquiry. Either way, my earlier objections still apply. If we set up intelligence level as the new criterion, we exclude many humans. Who judges what degree of intelligence is sufficient for moral consideration? Indeed, some nonhumans have greater intelligence levels than humans, such as newborns and mentally impaired adults. The speciesist strategy is an attempt to forestall further discussion--it isn't based on substantive reasoning, but bias. As you'll see below, I give reasons for why sentience and interests are the morally relevant criteria for ethical consideration. I don't just air my moral opinions as assertions and leave it at that. You seem to be posting responses without serious thought beforehand. As we've seen, your position is largely inconsistent, is incoherent in places, and is poorly argued.
Lastly, suppose those aliens wanted to enslave you. What kind of appeal would you make in your defense? You'd state that your interests make you an object of moral concern, not your genes or intelligence level. After all, the aliens are far more intelligent than you, and you don't share their genetic code. You could be their lunch.
...we must first establish whether the animal is being killed painlessly or painfully. If that case is painlessly, then i do not see any moral conflict involved.
If situation is one in which pain is caused to the animal, which is the direction i assume this arguments leans more towards, then i still stand for my belief of it not being morally wrong.
The basics of biology establish the idea of the food chain, energy is passed from one organism to the other starting with our sun. The conflict seems to stem from the fact that some organism (animals) can feel pain while others such as the figurative opposite (plants) don't feel pain. Killing an animal absolutely painlessly is the exact same thing as eating plants because both bypass any sort of reaction or feeling from a nervous system. And in our world, we must consume to survive so choosing not to eat anything living is absurd.
Now back to the question of whether killing and eating animals is wrong or right. On earth, it is natural to kill and consume. We humans have the intelligence to realize this is hurtful to the animals and therefore feel it goes against a moral obligation. But you have to remember animals consume other animals which makes them no more innocent than we are.
A counter-argument might possibly state that you may get the proper nutrition from various plants, while plants may contain some of what we need, they in truth, do not suffice nutritional needs of humans.