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All of them are based on scientific facts about the human mind that are slowly being unraveled by neuroscience, not on religious beliefs or on ideology. However, what cannot be based on science is the value we attribute to those differences. Ultimately, this is a decision based on our ethical intuition. Still, for most people what determines how much consideration we should give to a being is its ability to be conscious; to feel empathy; to feel guilt and pride and shame and all other human emotions; to be happy as we are happy and to suffer like we suffer.

Thus, even when a human brain is damaged by disease, accident or old age, most of the properties that I have listed here remain because they are deeply engrained in the way the human brain works. Theory of mind and extended consciousness appear early in human life and are the last things to go in a deteriorating brain. It takes coma to deprive us of them. That is why when we encounter those people we recognize them as humans and we know we should treat them as humans.

They are not animals and should never be treated as such. Intelligence is just a tiny part of what it means to be human. Another important idea is that there are vast differences in the mental abilities of animals and, therefore, in the way they should be treated. Many animals, like jellyfish, worms and clams, do not have any mental capabilities at all, do not feel pain, and can be treated the same as plants. In the other side of the mental spectrum, it is possible that we will find that the great apes, dolphins and elephants have some form of theory of mind and extended consciousness, and therefore deserve a special treatment compared to other animals.

Dog and cats have evolved special ways to communicate with humans that make them special in our eyes. So, when it comes to ethical consideration, animals should not be put in a general category, but each species should be assigned its own value. This is, in fact, what we have been doing all along: Speciesism is unavoidable because we cannot treat different species of animals the same way. Let me finish by saying that this is not an argument to treat animals cruelly or poorly.

It is only an argument to treat humans better than animals and to keep using animals for our benefit. We should care about the welfare of animals, even as we try to understand how similar and how different they are from ourselves. What moves us to treat animals well is our empathy, our compassion, our sense of fairness and our cultural values.

Things that animals do not have. Ultimately, we must treat animals right not because of what they are, but because of who we are. A Duty to Engage. Blackmore S Consciousness: Call J, Tomasello M Does the chimpanzee have a theory of mind? Trends Cogn Sci Craig AD A new view of pain as a homeostatic emotion. Craig AD Significance of the insula for the evolution of human awareness of feelings from the body. Ann N Y Acad Sci Gazzaniga MS Human: The Behavioral and Brain Sciences Rachels J Created from Animals: The Moral Implication of Darwinism.

In Defence of Animals Singer P, ed , pp Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci 7: American Journal of Medical Sciences Ryder R Speciecism. What is mental time travel, and is it unique to humans? Behav Brain Sci What is clear is that they can suffer greatly, any human who is of goodness should and would care and have compassion on them regardless of what value that individual deems the animals have.

This article although extensive is nothing more than a long winded attempt to confuse what is a most simple concept, that animals and suffer and any human that is good would care. The only fact is that humanity deserves this violent disease ridde world it lives in. The living world would be better off with animals and without people. The opinion that humans deserve better than animals is nothing but a selfish one steeped in ignorance. Your thoughts about animals and their abilities to perceive emotion, empathy, compassion, and to possess thought are archaic at best.

As someone who has raised and trained border collies to herd sheep, and who has owned horses, cows, chickens, etc, I can say with confidence and certainty that your perception of animals is off. I have also studied cougars, and coyotes, and both are some of the smartest beings on the planet. Perhaps the studies you quote are flawed or limited. Animals especially mammals certainly feel more than six emotions.

I am sorry that you have either not been exposed to animals as a child or that you lack empathy for them. But they are not on the planet for human use. What a sick and unhealthy perspective. Your points , all inaccurate. Of course animals feel empathy, and understand what others are going through.

And of course they communicate. They communicate in more diverse modes than humans. As far as 6 goes, you state this point about asthetics as though there were one definition of beauty. Every culture has a different definition so of course animals have their own. And that usually applies to physical qualities in a mate. But animals can create art, just like humans. Elephants and monkeys have been trained to.

The animal kindgom has a code. They do not skin alive other animals. They do not electrocute other animals. They do not shoot other animals. There are multiple videos of animals helping animals of another kind, ones they would normally eat. Do you know that animals dream? Mammals dream they are running, playing, in danger, feeling loved and happy, scared, adventuring, etc.

They absolutely have different levels of consciousness. I get that you are saying humans need to elevate treatment of other humans, but it is really dispicable that you would take this angle as a way to pitch that message. And I disagree that humans should continue to treat animals poorly for their benefit. This argument seems sociopathic.

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Clearly you dont have experience with animals, especially mammals. I mean, we dont even know the full capacity of the human brain. How do you think we would have all answers about all animals? I really hope you consider deleting this entire post because if even just one ignorant person believes it to be true, that could have a real negative impact. In a world where we can measure individual brain cells firing, we have learnt a lot — some of which has turned traditional understanding on its head. You might look at some of the arguments around abortion and why women matter more than fetuses—are extreme animal rights people often anti-choice?

Also, Martha Nussbaum has some, well a lot, of discussion of why and how extremely intellectually disabled people letter in her book Frontiers of Justice. Your argument that human deserve to be treated better because we are more intelligent is like saying it was better that the American Indians were usurped by white colonists because they were more adavanced.

Well humans are better than animals, we are far better at wasting, we are the ultimate destroyers of the environment so we are far better than animals in that respect, you would be hard pressed to find a more self indulgent, depraved, sexually deviant, brutal,hypocritical, sanctimonious, insincere, dishonest creature than human beings. We are the only species that practises war, we can kill each other off in the millions in the most horrific of ways imaginable. Your hatred for the human species is truly remarkable.

It must be very hard to live with those thoughts knowing that you are irrevocably human. Maybe you should reflect on how specious your arguments are. Ethical concepts can only be applied to humans, animals are completely oblivious to them so they cannot be judged to be good or evil. Some of the things you say are factually wrong: In any case, I will keep your comments in mind as an example of how animal rights activists are more about hating humans than loving animals.

We can apply ethical concepts to animals without expecting them to apply such concepts to themselves. That is what you do in this piece. I and many others are against all forms of animal cruelty and if you have a problem with that than just ignore me. Also, using your argument, if you like animal testing so much, you should just ignore the opposition to it. Imagine if a human, though congenital disease or otherwise, were to have the mind comparable to that of an animal.

We still give them rights, and those rights mean that individual has the freedom not to be killed for medical purposes for example. Rights give meaningful protections, even if the individuals dont understand what a right is. Species are merely groups of individuals with a degree of genetic dissimilarity to our own group, to give rights then to the human with the mind of the animal but deny them to the animal itself is simply genetic discrimination.

Whether or not we can be perfect in not discriminating based on genetics is irreverent, that would be the nirvana fallacy. The perfect is not the enemy of the good, its always better to do as good as we can. How good can we be? We can start by disregarding the logical fallacies like the nirvana fallacy to justify discrimination. As for some of your points on the science of cognition, regarding animal suffering and happiness.

We dont know its exactly like to be an animal with these abilities. For all we know their relative lack of self consciousness makes them more senstitive to feeling suffering. We have no idea. But if a human were to have such abilities but lack language ect, we would again treat that human with respect and kindness, not exploitation. Imagine one day in the future we are a space traveling civilisation. We come across a species on a planet, creatures with all the capabilities of animals. Those animal capabilities are rich and varied, for example while you appear to just discard evidence of empathy in non primate animals, in fact it is an area of research that is quite contentious http: For vegans the answer is obvious.

What reasons would you give to exploit them? A paltry dismissal of their capabilities and logical fallacies? Thank you Juan for that interesting walk through comparative psychology but most of it is beside the point.

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Their main use in animal rights literature is to demonstrate affinities between ourselves and other animals, thereby making it easier for us to empathise with their suffering. It is suffering alone, which defines whether an ethical issue — and hence a question of rights — exists. If an entity is non-sentient, it cannot suffer or be wronged — hence no ethical dilemma however smart it is a brilliant robot, for example. But wherever suffering exists — whoever the victim is — a moral question is automatically triggered: Yes, humans do have some mental capacities that may or not be present in other animals but it does not logically follow that these entitle us to greater respect or protection.

The more widely held view is that enhanced powers of reasoning, empathy, theory of mind etc. Within our own species, fundamental protections call them rights if you will are not accorded hierarchically on the basis of mental capacities, such as empathy or theory of mind. They are accorded equally on the basis of sentience. The baby does not have to demonstrate an equivalent or greater capacity to suffer.

THAT it can suffer is sufficient. Suffering is the great leveller, between babies and brain surgeons, and between humans and other sentient animals. Suffering is phenomenologically the same for brain surgeon, baby or mouse — all have the same desire to avoid it. Ethics is all about making non-discriminatory, non-self-serving, decisions on how best to respect this desire in others. There are various approaches to this of course but, when considering vivisection, the best one might be this simple question: If the answer is yes, go for it.

If suffering were the only point of ethical importance then surely humans have a duty to prevent animals killing other animals in the wild. Some utilitarians do indeed say we should reduce wild animal suffering. Some would ofcourse claim that is impossible and therfore absurd, but then it might also be impossible to prevent all disease in humans, at least now. Just because something is impossible, does not mean that it would not be better to do our best. Perfection is often impossible, but to use that to reject an argument would be the nirvana fallacy. On the other hand, others say that we are only responsibly for the suffering we cause not that we merely let happen.

So we have a obligation not to kill, but we are not obliged to give all our money to charity to save lives. It would mean the extinction of all carnivore species and, in the long run, most of herbivores as well. These are worse evils than the suffering of animals that are killed by other animals that prey on them. I don think that is fair at all, and I find your last sentence quite irritating in its obtuseness. Vegan utilitarians are not ignorant of the the fact there exists no way to currently stop all killing of herbivores.

Nor are they unaware that there would be unintended consequences. Such a vegan utilitarian would therefore agree with you, causing more harm by interfering in wild animal suffering could indeed be counter productive and therefore not justified. And again as I said, a rights based vegan might not support a duty to stop wild animal suffering at all given people like Tom Regan make the argument that we are only really responsible for the suffering we cause and not that we merely let happen. Please stop with the strawmen, the vegans that do advocate large scale intervention in wild animal suffering which is certainly not all of them are fully aware of the problems you raise.

They see such intervention as something to be done incrementally and with care. That could start with for example contraceptive darting of deer instead of shooting them. A vegan diet is the best way to ensure we dont cause any further deforestation. It uses just a fraction of the land and a fraction of the GHG emissions. This is not true for several reasons. In fact, these are precisely the rights that the animal rights proponents want to give animals. Then the question of whether animals have the mental capacities to know that they are free or to care about whether they are being used are completely relevant.

Second, the way we treat a being is also determined by the intrinsic value we give to that being. For example, a species has an intrinsic value, so when a species goes extinct this means a terrible loss, it is a deep moral wrong independent of the suffering of the animals in that species.

Humans deserve respect not just because they suffer, but because of their intrinsic value. And that intrinsic value is based on our rich mental lives, our ability not just to suffer but also to be happy, to enjoy beauty, to find meaning in our lives. Therefore, mental capacities beyond the ability to suffer or to think intelligently are fundamental. But even if we accept your narrow framing that suffering is the only relevant question, let me point out that suffering does not exist in isolation of all other mental functions.

Suffering and pain are very different things. In particular, there cannot be suffering without consciousness because if there is no subjective awareness of the suffering, then it is not taking place. Also, suffering, like happiness, acquires a deeper meaning for beings like us that can put it in a context of a life with a past and a future, in the middle of a society and a culture that creates a much richer context for any of our experiences.

Ultimately, the thing that worries me the most about the whole animal rights movement is how it has come to degrade the idea of what it means to be human by making us equals to animals. It has done that not by elevating the animals to human status, but by degrading humans to animal status. By denying the valuable things about being human. Even assuming everything in your article is correct, how does that entitle humans to be treated better than animals? The nitpicky point first. Now the big important point. Less horrifically, an anthropologist or certain sort of journalist needs these capabilities to understand the behavior and feelings of people to whom she may be indifferent, or even hostile, or cares no more about the other than she cares about any human being.

I think empathy is related to compassion, to seeing and feeling sympathetically, a kind of mirroring of the feelings and perspectives that one might not oneself, apart from the interaction, have at all. It involves caring that the other person is fearful or hurt, or happy and delighted, even though the things that frighten, hurt, delight the other are not necessarily the ones that frighten, hurt, delight you.

And this is a different capability and much more morally significant.

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It may in a sense be the basis of morality. If empathy so understood is something like the basis of morality, it might be very important in explaining why humans are entitled to more consideration than animals. But our ability to see things from their point of view and care about how things seem and feel to them must be large part of their claim to our concern and respect. Btw the philosophers who are best on this include Hegel in his theory of self-consciousness and people in his broad tradition, such as Sartre.

But this is pure speculation on my part. Of course, adopting this particular expression creates confusion with the theories of mind elaborated by philosophers and scientists, which are theories in the scientific sense of the word. In my article I use the first meaning, which is not my own choice but a long-established convention. Your second point is much more interesting. Current thinking is that theory of mind, empathy and compassion are three different things.

In fact, there may be two different forms of empathy. It has long been known that animals like rats, when exposed to cries of distress of other rats, become distressed themselves. However, this is an automatic physiological reaction similar to our visceral reaction when we are exposed to gore, like the sight of disemboweled or mutilated bodies. Another kind of empathy is felt by humans by imagining how the other person is feeling. I recently attended the International Symposium of Contemplative Science, where they presented studies on the interaction between science, the humanities and contemplative religions like Buddhism.

They made a big deal about the difference between empathy and compassion. In particular, I had an interesting conversation with the famous Tibetan Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard http: He remarked that empathy leads to distress in care-givers, whereas compassion can relive that stress. Whereas empathy is a immediate reaction, compassion is a long-term, culturally-based state of mind that can be learned and developed. As for torturers and cruel people, some of them may be psychopaths with a blunted ability for empathy.

Others do feel empathy and ultimately pay a price for their actions by developing neuroses. Suppose through further evolution, humanity split into two species with very different characteristics. So — species A looks like us today, with some minor differences in, say, skin pigmentation, physical strength etc.

Basically, species A is us. Thus, if one person suffers greatly, their suffering is the suffering of anyone else tuning in. Because of this, their morality has evolved in ways species B cannot understand. Instead the way their species operates resembles more one large organism rather than a collection of individuals.


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Also, it turns out there is something like a soul, and they are capable of communing with the souls of the deceased. What happens when they do that is beyond our understanding. So — should species B assume the moral right to use species A for food, scientific experiments etc?

Should species A be excluded from any moral or legal rights that species B accord to themselves, even rights that obviously matter to species A although perhaps not in the sophisticated ways that those rights matter to members of species B? But I think my meaning is clear anyway.


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I think what would happen in that scenario is that species A lower cognitive faculties will still be able to advocate their interests to species B higher cognition. If species B has any sort of morality similar to ours, it would protect those interests. However, species B may have some interests and rights that and are completely incomprehensible to species A, those would not be granted because species B have no use for them. Now, comparing our human species to animals, not having episodic memory, theory of mind and extended consciousness, animals cannot comprehend interest and rights, much less advocate for them, so the analogy breaks there.

We may attribute some interest to animals, like the interest of being free for pain, and protect those interests. But it is us doing it, it is not the animal. All mammals and birds at least can suffer. Most AR advocates consider it prudent to extend the benefit of doubt to all vertebrates and to any other species such as octopus where the nervous system present may endow them with that capacity.

It is enough that they can suffer in their own ways. They have an interest in avoiding that suffering, and that is morally relevant. I have also read your other post about animal suffering but am still uncertain what your overall position regarding the use of animals is. You are very clear in that you support animal testing for medical purposes but you are less clear on what your position is regarding raising and killing animals for food. Even Peter Singer does not object to animal testing as long as it is really necessary to make advances that may greatly reduce suffering among humans and other animals.

My own view is that testing can be justified in reasonable ways. Raising animals for food, especially in developed countries, cannot. It is solely done out of convention and for the pleasure of our palates. However, this is not as obvious as it may seem. Death is part of life and all animals inevitably die. However, few animals in the wild live to old age, most are victims of predators, accidents or disease. Therefore, the killing in itself is not morally wrong.

Making them suffer is a different story. But, in fact, animals used in scientific research suffer much less than they would in the wild, because they have ready access to food and water, are sheltered from predation, and are killed painlessly. Ideally, the same thing would be done for animals raised for food, and I believe much progress has been done in that regard despite the exaggerated claims of animal right activists. The argument that killing an animal is wrong is not just an assumption though, it is the conclusion of a logical argument.

Appealing to what happens to nature however is just a logical fallacy. And as for saying its ok because they were bred for that purpose, we would not use that reason to justify such treatment of humans were we bred for such a purpose. As such all your arguments could equally be applied to humans, eg we suffer greatly and will eventually die ect ect. Yet all you offer to reject such a comparison is begging the question. New undercover videos surface with regular frequency showing things that must leave any decent human being in tears.

The way you portray the movement is more a caricature than a realistic appreciation. As I mentioned, Singer, e. Singer is actually an ally to you, not an opponent. David DeGrazia is one of the leading philosophers concerned with animal ethics, and his views, too, are in some ways compatible with your own. In order to come to a realistic appreciation of the movement, you might want to turn your attention away from its shrillest elements toward those who are the thought leaders with views quite sympathetic to your core concern. As Simon said you have been committed a fallacy in your argument, giving the example with the nature.

I am sorry but your point of view does not make sense at all.. Axel, we have exposed here at Speaking of Research a number of bogus undercover videos made by animal rights activists at research facilities. The deceitful, immoral and often illegal way these people operate has become quite clear. They would go to any lengths to get the footage that they want, including distressing and abusing the animals to get a reaction from them. A Brief History of Humankind: Based on the Book by Yuval Noah Harari.

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