Re: Extropians and animal rights

E. Shaun Russell (
Sat, 9 Jan 1999 23:56:15 -0800

Samael wrote:

>The majority of extropians on this list are in favour of perfect human
>inviolability (ie people never have the right to affect another person
>without their permission - except in self defence).
>I'd be interested to hear peoples opinions on the rights of animals. Do you
>believe that animals have no rights and can be ignored, that animals have a
>sliding scale of rights based upon their intelligence, or some other system?

That is a tough question. I think that domestic animals such as dogs, cats, cattle etc. could be considered "property" of a sort. As a general rule, domestic animals are bought for a price and treated in whatever way the owner wishes to treat them. Most of the time it is in a decent and humane fashion, though there are certainly exceptions. If the animal is treated well, it will provide years of enjoyment --a good investment. And, like any kind of "property," if it is treated poorly, then it will have less usefulness --poor return value.

It seems that, compared to humans, most animals have only a minimal ability to reason with and comprehend events, and are ultimately unable to assert themselves in any non-physical way. Furthermore, animals are either dependent on humans (domestic) or are predators or prey. If they are predators and they attack, there is little choice for a human but to defend his life...if this means killing the animal, so be it (many on this list would not hesitate to kill another human in the same situation.) But that is the nature of *any* animal --humans included. Survival of the fittest. By attacking, the animal has temporarily revoked its basic right to has exposed itself to the (often necessary) risk of being killed to survive. As for prey such as cattle etc., the same is true. A cow has the ability to kill a human if provoked, though a cow's disposition is usually placid.

The crux of the matter is that there is no real need for a human to kill an animal unless it is for food, or out of protection. Animals have their own "rights" which are shades of those possessed by humans: territories, nourishment, procreation, survival. Unless an animal is domestic --property-- or game --prey-- then the way they deal with their "rights" should be within the species and not on a human scale.

E. Shaun Russell Musician, Poet, ExI Member
==============================>    Transhumanities editor for Homo Excelsior
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