Re: Moo/Boo! Was: Agricultural Skyscrapers

Charlie Stross (
Wed, 28 Jan 1998 16:28:33 +0000

On Wed, Jan 28, 1998 at 10:24:22AM -0500, Michael Lorrey wrote:
> Thus spake under the greatest rhetorical error/intentional fraud the liberal
> nuts can muster: that animals are sentient. If something cannot come up to me
> and discuss the weather, its not sentient.

I hear your challenge and raise you one Hellen Keller. Failing that, try
looking into the treatment of blind people back before Braile was invented,
or deaf-blind people for that matter.

Human beings are sentient and can communicate. The organs of communication
are not essential for sentient existence. Ergo, here is an existence
proof for sentience in the absence of communication.

Of course, using this as an argument against eating cattle is highly
suspect; it can be taken to ridiculous extremes. ("Here's my pet rock,
Elmer. Say hello to Elmer. Sorry he can't hear you, but I assure you he's
pleased to meet you.") However, I'm deeply uneasy about arguments based
on the idea that anything that can't talk or write isn't worthy of some
consideration; and I suspect that if she could form grammatically correct
structures and communicate them my pet cat would agree with me.

(As an aside, however, I _do_ apply your communication/sentience argument
to the oxymoronic topic of "animal rights". Rights imply a contractual
arrangement; if I can enter into an agreement with another species, then,
well, I'll concede it has rights. If it can't enter into an agreement with
me, though, any concessions I make to it can't, by definition, be contractual

> ........ Since your typical vegan
> is also an atheist, or at best, a rational non-dietical buddhist, they cannot
> claim the protections of the Natural Law doctrine, so they must then agree
> that rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness only applies to
> individuals who are willing to use force, or employ others to use force, to
> attain and protect those rights for themselves, i.e. the Force Doctrine.


You're assuming a rights-based transaction between humans and their prey.
But what's to stop the humans simply voluntarily conceding that they * will
not eat meat *, no matter what? Like, maybe, because they don't like the
taste? They need concede no rights whatsoever to the animals in order to
justify not eating them.

My cat is a carnivore. She 'thinks' anything that moves and is smaller
than her is food -- simple as that. (I have no _idea_ what she thinks I
am.) I am an omnivore, but I don't feel any urge to eat my cat, even though
I'm told cats are edible. Just to add to the picture, my girlfriend is
a vegan, _but_ when quizzed about it confesses to not knowing how she'd
react if anyone came up with a way of farming anencephalic cattle (which
opens another can of worms, as genetically engineered anencephalic frogs
and mice are yesterday's headlines).

> If the human race becomes all herbivores, what species will then claim the job
> of top carnivore???

The species that have already got it. Remember, we're all food for the
prokaryotes in the end. (At least until we manage to develop uploading.
And even then, we might find there's something that eats human minds ...)

-- Charlie