Re: Future Pets

Dan Fabulich (
Wed, 22 Apr 1998 15:38:14 -0400


John K Clark wrote:
>Nothing wrong with that, anthropomorphizing is a useful tool, of course
>any tool it can be misused. I don't think my dog is just like me, but I
>think he's completely different either.

I don't claim that dogs are completely different, but rather sufficiently
different that we should not respect "animal rights." And by this I don't
mean that we shouldn't take care of animals, love them, respect their
space, etc., but rather that we should only do so when we gain utility from

>Not true, if it were animals would be in no need of a brain. Most animals
>that were born in captivity can never be released into the wild because they
>don't have the education to survive. A songbird that has never heard another
>bird only develops a stilted much simplified version of the song
>characteristic of its species. The song of the Humpback Whale consists of
>extremely elaborate variations on a simple theme, a Bach Fugue does the same
>thing and is no more complicated. The song changes from year to year,
>different tunes top the pop charts, and the difference is even greater from
>decade to decade, as great as the change in musical styles from Classical to
>Swing to Jazz to Rock.

I agree with much of this, and retract my point about animals following a
social code. However, it is still worth noting that many animals often do
not respect the rights of other animals or humans, and that it would be
practically impossible to teach them to do so, barring some intelligence
enhancing technology which, to the best of my knowledge, we do not wield.

>Not so. It would be in the self interest of a bitch to kill her puppies, yet
>she does not do so.

I disagree. A rational bitch will nurture her puppies if she gains a lot
of utility from it, as I believe she does; this is not contrary to her
self-interest. And while I also believe that dogs would benefit greatly
from agreeing to respect the rights of humans, I don't think that dogs are
capable of making that kind of agreement.

> >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.)
>Why not, seems an important point to me.

You're right. I should have said that not urinating indoors is
INSUFFICIENT; that urinating outside is not sufficient to show an
understanding or a respect of property rights. I grant that it is a step
in the right direction, but nowhere near the point where I could reasonably
say that dogs respect human rights.

>I've also noticed that when I walk my dogs on my (our) property and they
>a strange dog they're usually aggressive and the other dog submissive, but
>when we're far from my home the situation is reversed.

This is true. Dogs do have a sense of territory. However, this is again
not sufficient to show an understanding of property rights.

> >I would not find it at all acceptable if you killed another
> >even if you ate them afterwards. (In fact, especially not in
> >case.) So why exactly should we grant animals the same license?
>We don't. Sometimes humans engage in cannibalism but it's rare, the same is
>true of all mammals.

Actually, it was not the cannibalism which I was reacting to, but rather
the implicit assertion that some animals are justified in their killing,
because they "only kill others for food and self defense," (Russakoff) and
that there is or should be a system of universal rights for all living
things. If we accept this, then we conclude that killing is morally
acceptable if we eat our kill. Since this moral theory results in an
absurd conclusion, I reject the argument.

My point is this: if animals will not respect the "right" of other animals
not to be killed and eaten, then we have nothing to gain and much to lose
from respecting this special right of animals not to be killed and/or eaten
by people. In light of this, it does not make sense from a utilitarian
perspective to respect animal rights. In contrast, it does make sense for
humans to respect human rights, because (if done under voluntary contract)
it ensures that others will respect ones own rights.

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