RE: future pets

Dan Fabulich (
Tue, 21 Apr 1998 04:06:30 -0400


Andrew Russakoff wrote:
>> What I can say is this: animals cannot and do not respect law, contract or
>> the utility of other animals. Some animals do respect the land of others
>> or engage in "altruistic" behavior with respect to other animals, but
>> others are carnivorous, aggressive and/or selfish to the point of killing
>> others to achieve their ends. We would not accept such behavior if it were
>> a human doing so to others.
>Animals do not kill meaninglessly and aggressively.

Depends on what you classify as "meaningful," I'd say.

>Within an animal
>society, even dyads and trios, indivduals must conform to a social code
>which obviously, however, differs from our social code.

Anthropomorphizing a bit, aren't we? The behaviors animals adopt towards
one another are genetically based and not at all memetic, which I'd say is
a prerequisite for any meaningful definition of a social code. Why not try
Dawkins's _Selfish Gene_?

>If you are saying
>that we can not "contract" animals into conforming into our social code
>you are right but it is silly to even suggest that. Actually, I think it
>is outright wrong in the egocentric human sense to think that everyone and
>thing should conform to self.

I don't think everything should conform to humanity. Animals are not at
all human, nor would I expect them to be so. My whole point is that
animals have no qualms over killing one another if it is in their own self
interest, and that they would continue to do so if we chose to respect
their utility.

(To this extent, animals are MORE ruthless than humans: at least some of
the humans think they're killing for a noble cause. A dubious distinction,
but worth noting.)

What it boils down to is this: by respecting animal rights, the animals
have everything to gain, and we have everything to lose. Think about all
the goods which we use and work with which have been taken away from the
use of animals. The cities we work in were once wilderness which housed
animals. The food we eat is grown on farms which were once prairies. The
highways have paved over buffalo trails. The woodlands, the swamplands,
the open plains, even the deserts were first held by animals; to take from
them and theirs would be to deprive them of any meaningful sense of private

And what do we have to gain by respecting such rights? Nothing, unless you
gain a whole lot of utility from depriving yourself of almost all of the
technological advances mankind has ever wrought. In this case, it seems
that we suffer from at best a zero sum game, if not a net utility LOSS for
respecting animal rights.

HUMANS get around this problem through contract and cooperation, but
animals cannot be contracted; it is silly to suggest that they could be.
Nor can they cooperate with humans in a way which respects the life,
liberty and property of others. I will stand by this point until you can
find me an animal which understands and respects property rights. (Not
urinating indoors does not count.) And unless animals are prepared to
respect human rights, it seems morally dubious that humans should respect
animal rights.

>Furthermore, animals only kill others for
>food or defense.

I would not find it at all acceptable if you killed another human, even if
you ate them afterwards. (In fact, especially not in that case.) So why
exactly should we grant animals the same license?

>There are two and only two species that kill others of
>the same kind in a ruthless manner. Ironically, they are very related
>species, chimpanzees and humans (See Richard Wrangham's Demonic Males)

Some humans are ruthless. Some aren't. Personally, I'm proud to be a
member of the human race, happy to be alive, and don't consider myself
"egocentric" for thinking so. How about you?

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