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Archive through November 12, 2005Felicia Nimue Ackerm22 11-12-05  9:23 pm
Archive through November 21, 2005Felicia Nimue Ackerm22 11-21-05  7:55 pm
Archive through November 30, 2005Johanna22 11-30-05  3:51 pm
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David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 12:07 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

My apologies :( This:

If we take it as a given that it is morally repugnant to disregard harm done to members of another race when advancing the interests of one's own race, why is it a moral imperative (or even morally acceptable) to disregard harm done to members of another species when advancing the interests of one's own species?

appeared to me to be an argument against "speciesism" as the word was coined by Ryder and interpreted by Singer and others. It seemed to me to be a useful shorthand.

I will rephrase my point in order to avoid technical terms:

It is possible that the differences D1 between humans and animals differ sufficiently in quality from the differences D2 between races, or the differences D3 between genders, that any analogy between D1 and D2, or between D1 and D3, is invalid.

I hope that in view of the above, I may be forgiven for having tried to adpot a more concise approach. I would remark also that Felicia Nimue seems largely to believe what I have suggested above, while Buzzard seems largely not to believe it, which is why this interesting discussion seems to me to have started in the middle :)
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 1:33 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

The philosophical justification for not disregarding suffering inflicted on non-human animals is based on the assumption that non-human animals, like human animals, are capable of suffering. No one here has even claimed that that assumption is false.

No other assumption of similarity between humans and non-humans is required.
David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 2:45 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't think that anyone has claimed either that suffering inflicted on animals should be disregarded. You may consider that "this cosmetic is worth having even though rats suffer for it" implies a disregard for the suffering of rats, and I may agree with you, but this may be because neither of us holds the possession of cosmetics in particularly high regard, and we both find it hard to imagine that a human could suffer through not having a particular cosmetic.

Of course, the vast majority of people who wear cosmetics do not "disregard" the suffering of rats - they do not regard it at all, for they are unaware that it exists as a consequence of their desire for the cosmetic. While this remains the case, such people will continue to require new and better cosmetics, and while this in turn remains the case, it may be better that the cosmetic harms a few rats, lest it otherwise harm many people.
Jens Weber (Sundowner)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 4:45 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Gosh, what have I done? I triggered a discussion that is already longer than the puzzle itself (and considerably lacks some poetry).

I just wanted to make the point that talking about moral imperatives is walking on thin ice, as this is always based on some assumptions or beliefs that are not necessarily shared by other people. And discussing the way "in my moral beliefs is .." -- "no, in my moral beliefs is .." is somewhat pointless. Even Kant avoided the term moral imperative, using categoric imperative instead and resorting to efficiency/well-functioning/acceptance of the society as yardstick.

For me, as a Christian, the Sermon on the Mount has two moral imperatives, if you would call it this way: to care about my fellow humans, and (indirectly) to care about all beings in the world, as they are God's creation. And these two imperatives are of equal weight. But I do not expect everyone to share my belief.

Nevertheless, I believe that there is way too much animal research, given the fact that noone really knows to what extent the results hold for human beings, too.

And to engage in some hair splitting, Johanna: New-born babies can of course own property; they can inherit it, for instance. (but maybe this is different in the US)
Lynne (Lynne)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 4:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sundowner, it's interesting though, (speaking as a Christian myself), that Jesus was willing to fill a whole herd of Gadarene swine with the demons that were possessing just one man. The life of one man was worth all the swine that fell to their death over a cliff.

It's an imperfect world that we live in, and I hate cruelty to animals as much as the next person, and am certainly dismayed at the idea of washing up liquid and cosmetics being squirted into the eyes of laboratory animals.

If we are to take caring for animals to one of its logical conclusions, though, we should use more of 'our' drugs in looking after them. They can suffer many of the same diseases as humans. But how would you feel if you were told that you were behind a dozen rats in the queue for insulin?
David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 5:32 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Did someone say poetry?

Higgledy piggledy
Singer's philosophy
Said that a human is
Just like a rat.
"Nonsense!", cried rodents, "this
Anthropological
Aussie's quite wrong. We're much
Better than that!"
Lynne (Lynne)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 5:33 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

:O
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 5:46 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't disregard the suffering of animals. I just think the suffering of rats is overidden by the suffering of people, for the resons I've given. I think it can be reasonable not to hold cosmetics in high regard, which is why I don't regard animal testing of cosmetics as a moral imperative. (although I also don't oppose it). But I DO hold human life in high regard, which is why I wonder how Johanna would asnwer my question abiout whether she'd be willing to tell an AIDS parient that she'd rather have him die in agony than have rats be experimented on.Also, I have no doubt that there's a lot of superfluous animal research by jerks who just want to get tenure. As for thalidomide, of course animal research is fallible & in some instances may harm those it aims to help. The same is true of medical care.But just as people would be worse off if there were no doctors, we'd be worse off if there were no animal research
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 6:40 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

If it seemed plausible that experiments on a reasonably small number of rats could lead to a cure for AIDS, then I would probably be in favor of it. But it is my understanding that AIDS is a disease that is particularly difficult to study via vivisection, because so much about it is uniquely human. (Animals can be infected with HIV, but they rarely or never go on to develop AIDS.)

It is my understanding that just about every development that has been made in the understanding and treatment of AIDS was achieved without the use of lab animals. Furthermore, it seems (I say "it seems" because it's very difficult to find unbiased information on this) that the development of protease inhibitors (which delay or prevent HIV's progression to AIDS) was delayed by four years as a result of animal testing.

The first protease inhibitor was toxic to lab animals, so research on it was abandoned until much later, when scientists realized using human cell cultures that it would probably not be similarly toxic to humans. Would you be willing to tell the families of everyone who died of AIDS between 1989 and 1993 that these drugs could have been available much sooner if researchers had not been preoccupied with your "moral imperative"?
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 8:19 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Of course I'd be willing to tell AIDS patients that researchers goofed. Why not? But this is no argument for banning animal experimentation I said animal experimentation should be used when it seems likely to help people, not that it's infallible.My impression (from AIDS activists) is that animal research has helped AIDS treatment a lot. But I'm not a scientist (to put it mildly) so I'm not equipped to argue this.If the AIDS example doesn't work, use another one. Insulin was discovered throiugh research on dogs. Would you be willing to tell diabetics you'd rather they died very young than have dogs be used?
Vae (Vaetrus)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 8:29 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Of course, the vast majority of people who wear cosmetics do not "disregard" the suffering of rats - they do not regard it at all, for they are unaware that it exists as a consequence of their desire for the cosmetic. While this remains the case, such people will continue to require new and better cosmetics, and while this in turn remains the case, it may be better that the cosmetic harms a few rats, lest it otherwise harm many people.

I agree this is true (side-bar here). But harm, if any, that come unto people because of a lack of cosmetics can will go away with time. Because I believe we can live without cosmetics. Some people do live without electricity, and many do without either food or water or shelter, what's some make-up?

But to the rest of the argument?
None of us want huge amounts of people to die.
We are willing to give up some animal/other life-form, to preserve our lives, to save the people.
For the small and pointless stuff, cosmetics and diseases that don't need animal testing, and people that do it for the money or fame, we all agree that it's not worth it.
And finally, all life is precious and not to be disregarded.
Is this true for everyone? (And I hope I didn't simpify it too much for anyone.)

Where are the disagreements?
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 8:59 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Here are some disagreements:
1. I don't think all life is precious & not to be disregarded. Viruses, such as the AIDS virus & smallpox virus, are alive. I don't find them precious & I'm happy to disregard them. Change that to "sentient life" & I'll be much closer to agreeing.
2. Johanna & I genuinely disagree about whether, or at least to what extent, humans should have priority over other mammals.
3. About cosmetics (sinc e I haven't really answered Johanna's question about my views on this), I do favor (but don't morally require) a limited amount of animal testing. I don't know what you look like, Johanna, but life is very hard for ugly women, & cosmetics help A LOT. I agree that we don't need as much cosmetics testing as is actually done.
4.Jens--If putting forth moral imperatives meant everyone had to agree, then there would be no moral imperative not to emulate Hitler, or Pol Pot, or....Do you really want to endorse that? And do you think we can't say the earth is round as long as some people think it's flat??
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Friday, December 02, 2005 - 9:38 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I look pretty much like the picture that's in my profile.
Mosquito (Mosquito)
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 1:19 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Disputing the value of the life of malignant viruses seems to be a bit of a distraction (no, I didn't say straw man!)

Wikipedia offers up the following definition of a moral imperative
A moral imperative is an ethical responsibility. A line of conduct or behavior judged as the right one, by a majority of people within a community.

Not emulating Hitler would seem to qualify rather more clearly than carrying out various kinds of research on animals.

Depending, of course, on the community.
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 10:26 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Anyway, I don't think it's really fair to say that whenever vivisection is involved in a development that's done a lot of good for people, it's because vivisection is wonderful, but whenever vivisection gives misleading results that end up harming a lot of people, it's because the scientists are incompetent. If you're going to evaluate the merits of vivisection as a technique, you need to take into account the harm done to humans in addition to the good done for humans (and the harm done to animals, of course).

I also don't think it's fair to assume that advances in which vivisection was involved could never have been achieved any other way. A world without vivisection would not at all be a world without medical progress, and it wouldn't even be a matter of just accepting the advances that are currently being made without vivisection, since all the researchers currently doing vivisection would transfer their efforts to non-animal research methods.

There is no doubt in my mind that in a world without vivisection, insulin would have been discovered eventually. Would it have been discovered earlier or later or at the same time? There is no way to know. Similarly, abandoning (or vastly scaling back) vivisection does not at all mean abandoning medical progress, or even abandoning some aspects of medical progress. Progress might proceed a bit more slowly, or at the same speed, or even a bit faster, but we will still make progress and still cure and treat diseases. The assumption that it's a choice between vivisection and being left in the dark ages of medicine is a fallacy.
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 8:36 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Obviously, the question is whether, overall, vivisection does more good than harm. Does anyone really question whether vivisection has overall benefited people? It stands to reason that categorically closing off a particular method of research on any grounds other than its ineffectiveness is likely to impede medical progress. Also, I'm bewildered by Johanna's comment that AIDS researchers' preoccupation with the "moral imperative" of animal research lerd them down the wrong path. Who ever said there's a moral imperative to use animal research in cases where it doesn't seem to be working? The moral imperative is not reject animal research on thne categorical grounds that humans matter no more than rats. N.B. About animal testing of cosmetics & detergents--while I support it to establish basic safety, we probably don't need it any more of it. We already have safe cosmetics & detergents. There's a moral imperative to keep devbeloping better dreugs but no particular need to keep developing cosmetics.
Mosquito: My remark about viruses was a counterexamole to the claim that all life is precious. My Hitler case was a counterexample to the claim that we couldn't assert moral imperatives about issues where people disagree. I never said antivisectionsists were morally on a par with Hitler, & I most ceretainly don't believe that.But I do believe that someone who is categorically unwilling to sacrifice rats in order to save human lives has insufficient concern for old, ill, & disabled people. That's a common flaw of the young & strong, but of course it's NOWHERE near as bad as being a Nazi.
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 10:37 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

A better way of saying part of what is in my last message is: Unless we're sure that animal experimentation can never save human life or health (& of course we can't be--to put it mildly), it's immoral to close off that option & make people suffer or die out of deference to rats.I wouldn't die for a rat; so I won't ask anyone else to.
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Saturday, December 03, 2005 - 11:23 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I will have more to say about this later (in particular, I think you have misunderstood the nature of the protease inhibitor situation, and I will try to clarify that when I am thinking more clearly), but I am wondering: would you feel any differently about vivisection if it were cats instead of rats on which the majority of research is conducted? Would you feel any differently if it were your cat? Would you donate your cat to medical research right now, if there were somehow a shortage of animals available to laboratories?
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 12:24 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

About AIDS: I've already granted that I'm not a scientist. But I am more inclined to accept the judgment of AIDS activists than that of either anti-visectionists like you or animal researchers. Anti-vivisectionists & animal researchers each have their own biases, but all AIDS patients qua AIDS patients want is a cure so they're less likely to be biased either against animal research or in favor of it.What is more important is that my argument does not hinge on this one example.Do you really on principle oppose animal research even if it is necessary to save human life? That question can be discussed independently of particular examples.As for your question, no I wouldn't donate my cat, anymore than I would donate half of my income to the third world, even though, like all middle-class Americans, I could live better on half my income than most Burundians live on theirs. This doesn't show that I shouldn't do those things, It shows that I'm a flawed human.If only perfect people could have moral views, no one would. Most people recognize that they fall short of their own ideals.Don't you??I DO support research on cats, though, but I won't ask other people to give up their pets, since I won't give up mine. As long as you're online, why not finish off my puzzles. "Where the queen goes alone" is nearly solved & the others are pretty close.
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 11:09 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"But I am more inclined to accept the judgment of AIDS activists than that of either anti-visectionists like you or animal researchers."

The problem with this is that everyone who is opposed to vivisection is by definition an anti-vivisectionist, whereas not everyone who is in favor of vivisection is an animal researcher (or an AIDS patient or AIDS activist). If you dismiss out of hand the point of view of everyone who opposes vivisection, then you're necessarily going to come up with a biased perspective.

AIDS patients, of course, are hardly unbiased in their opinions either, since they're personally affected by the outcome of AIDS research. A better approach would be to listen to a variety of opinions and account for the biases inherent in each of them. Ideally, you'd want to ask the lab animals for their opinion, too. But they don't speak your language.

"Do you really on principle oppose animal research even if it is necessary to save human life?"

No, I do not believe this, and if you'd read what I wrote at 11:11 pm on Thursday, December 1st, you would realize that. I believe that we should balance the potential good with the potential harm (both to humans and to animals) done by an experiment to determine whether it is right or wrong to perform that experiment. However, this gets tricky, for two reasons:

1. It's rarely obvious beforehand whether an experiment is going to do good or do harm. There is no way of knowing whether an experiment on animals is going to yield results that are applicable to humans until after we perform the experiment and compare it to what we've observed in humans. That's what happened in the case of the protease inhibitors. Those scientists didn't perform an experiment on animals, see that it "wasn't working", and carry on with it anyway. They performed their experiment, and thought it was working, and thought that it meant that their drug was no good. But they were wrong, and their drug was good, and nobody figured this out until four years later. It is easy to say after the fact that that experiment did more harm than good, so it should not have been performed. But how is anyone supposed to know that before they perform the experiment?

2. It is also necessary to take into account whether there might be another method of achieving the same result that does not require doing harm to animals. We currently don't know nearly as much about such alternative methods as we potentially could, because most researchers just use animals whenever they feel it's convenient. If animal experimentation were forbidden or severely restricted, more alternatives would be developed much more quickly.

In light of all this, I favor the use of vivisection as a last resort: only when there is the strong potential to alleviate a lot of human suffering, and only when other methods of achieving the same result have already been explored.

"This doesn't show that I shouldn't do those things, It shows that I'm a flawed human.If only perfect people could have moral views, no one would. Most people recognize that they fall short of their own ideals.Don't you??"

Yes, of course I do. But when I find that my ideals are not consistent with my lifestyle, I try very hard to change one or the other of them. That's what I thought moral ideals were for: to guide us in how we live our lives, not to guide us in how we tell other people how to live their lives. But I am not a philosopher.

"I DO support research on cats, though, but I won't ask other people to give up their pets, since I won't give up mine."

So this is what I'm wondering about. Why are some cats worthy of love and affection, and others are worthy of lives of pain and fear in research labs?
David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 11:55 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I am confused. Both Buzzard and Felicia Nimue seem to me to agree that animal testing may in some cases be justified. The difference between them appears to me only to be: in which cases is it justified? Those who think that the death of a rat does more harm than the availability of a lipstick does good will believe one thing; those who think otherwise will believe another thing. But neither point of view runs contrary to any universally accepted "moral imperative".

On the question of cats, it is possible to hold that these are not "worthy" of anything at all. Some cats have the good fortune to seem attractive to some people, who look after them. Other cats are not so lucky, and end up in research laboratories. It's a happy enchilada...
Mosquito (Mosquito)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 12:04 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

We live in an imperfect world, where it is frequently necessary to make compromises; practical moral issues do not always lend themselves to a clearcut pro/con position. Therefore, quite often the important thing is simply where you draw the line.
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 6:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I agree with Mosquito's last comment. And Woubit, I never said the moral imperative of testing animals to save human life is "universally accepted." No moral imperative is, including the one precluding killing. If we couldn't affirm any truths that not everyone agreed to, we couldn't say the earth isn't flat.
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 6:32 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Johanna (Buzzard) on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 11:09 am:

"But I am more inclined to accept the judgment of AIDS activists than that of either anti-visectionists like you or animal researchers."

The problem with this is that everyone who is opposed to vivisection is by definition an anti-vivisectionist, whereas not everyone who is in favor of vivisection is an animal researcher (or an AIDS patient or AIDS activist). If you dismiss out of hand the point of view of everyone who opposes vivisection, then you're necessarily going to come up with a biased perspective.I guess I wrote unclearly. Of course, I suspect the empirical claims of those who are a priori opposed to animal testing, but I will listen to the empirical claims of those who aren't opposed to animal testing on principle but who think it's ineffective. But although some such people claim this for particular cases (e.g. thalidimide), I've never heard anyone say, "I would favor animal testing it it worked to provide useful information about humans, but it NEVER does"

AIDS patients, of course, are hardly unbiased in their opinions either, since they're personally affected by the outcome of AIDS research. They're unbiasedabout the empirical question of whether animal research is useful.which is what I was talking about when I said they were unbiased. There's no such thing as being unbiased about the question of whether humans matter more than rats; that's an ideological question A better approach would be to listen to a variety of opinions and account for the biases inherent in each of them. Ideally, you'd want to ask the lab animals for their opinion, too. But they don't speak your language. Last I heard,rats don't have opinions about whether testing them yields info that is applicable to humans
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 6:36 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

1. It's rarely obvious beforehand whether an experiment is going to do good or do harm. There is no way of knowing whether an experiment on animals is going to yield results that are applicable to humans until after we perform the experiment and compare it to what we've observed in humans. That's what happened in the case of the protease inhibitors. Those scientists didn't perform an experiment on animals, see that it "wasn't working", and carry on with it anyway. They performed their experiment, and thought it was working, and thought that it meant that their drug was no good. But they were wrong, and their drug was good, and nobody figured this out until four years later. It is easy to say after the fact that that experiment did more harm than good, so it should not have been performed. But how is anyone supposed to know that before they perform the experiment?If there's a real chance animal research can save human livesk, it should be pursued

2. It is also necessary to take into account whether there might be another method of achieving the same result that does not require doing harm to animals. We currently don't know nearly as much about such alternative methods as we potentially could, because most researchers just use animals whenever they feel it's convenient. If animal experimentation were forbidden or severely restricted, more alternatives would be developed much more quickly. How many people who have no a priori objections to animal testing think this is likely? That's a real question, not a rhetorical one

In light of all this, I favor the use of vivisection as a last resort: only when there is the strong potential to alleviate a lot of human suffering, and only when other methods of achieving the same result have already been explored.
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 6:43 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"This doesn't show that I shouldn't do those things, It shows that I'm a flawed human.If only perfect people could have moral views, no one would. Most people recognize that they fall short of their own ideals.Don't you??"

Yes, of course I do. But when I find that my ideals are not consistent with my lifestyle, I try very hard to change one or the other of them. That's what I thought moral ideals were for: to guide us in how we live our lives, not to guide us in how we tell other people how to live their lives. But I am not a philosopher. you don't have to be "a philosopher" to realize that you may be imperfect enough not to live up to your ideals.And I certainly can't see any virtue in adjusting one's ideals to suit one's inclinations! Nor do I see why morals have to be "for" anything. I'm interested in questions of right & wrong for their own intellectual interest

"I DO support research on cats, though, but I won't ask other people to give up their pets, since I won't give up mine."

So this is what I'm wondering about. Why are some cats worthy of love and affection, and others are worthy of lives of pain and fear in research labs? So this is what I'm wondering about. Why do you think I hold that some cats are more worthy than others when I said it was my own flawed chasracter that kept me from giving up my cat to help a human.?This obviously makes no claims about my cat's worth, since I admit I'm acting immorally
Rachel (Myth)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 6:44 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I'd rather die to having cosmetics tested on me than freeze on the streets of Chicago like so many cats are predicted to do this winter.
Mosquito (Mosquito)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 7:27 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

It seems to me that one's personal morals, or ideas about right and wrong, are not a mental exercise, but represent one's basic plan for living. Most people want to be good, and when they fail to do what they believe is good, through weakness or some other fault, they feel guilty, try to make amends, and vow to do better next time.

Someone could, of course, say "A is my morals, and B is the way I prefer to live my life"...but what would be the point of that? Many of us would like to say that we are somehow better or nobler than the sum of our actions, but can we honestly make that claim? The proof of the pudding is, after all, in the eating, or as a famous man once put it, "By their fruits ye shall know them."

But of course we all have flaws, and for many of us one of those flaws is hypocrisy (and I blush as I type this.)

I do not think that a "moral imperative" must necessarily be universally accepted. However, I think that a good working definition of the term is a course of action that you could take for granted any rational person would agree on. I think that it is a misuse of the term to apply it to courses of action about which people can reasonably have widely divergent points of view.
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 9:20 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I don't agree, about the term "moral imperative," but this is probably a terminological issue. As for actions & ideals, I think it makes perfect sense to realize that there are some things (like giving half your income to charity) that you ought to do but don't.But I'm not claiming I'm good because I have high ideals. I'm admitting I'm bad because I don't live uo tpo them. The "point" of saying that is that it's true.
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 9:58 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

N.B. I'm retiring from this debate. I think I've said all I have to say, & my opponents & I seem to understand our differences & (unsurprisingly) can't convert each other. But please solve my puzzles!!!!!!!!!
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 10:21 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

"Of course, I suspect the empirical claims of those who are a priori opposed to animal testing, but I will listen to the empirical claims of those who aren't opposed to animal testing on principle but who think it's ineffective."

I don't think opponents of vivisection can be neatly divided into groups that way. I wouldn't say that I'm opposed to vivisection "a priori", because I believe that it some situations it would be justified. However, I believe that in most cases it is not effective enough to justify the harm done to animals in the course of the experiments. Or are you only willing to listen to people who feel we should not take animal suffering into account at all?

"How many people who have no a priori objections to animal testing think this is likely? That's a real question, not a rhetorical one"

How many? I haven't taken a survey, so I haven't the foggiest idea. (Or, in the words of Bob Dylan, "Either a hundred and thirty-six or a hundred and forty-two.") But I seem to recall that the last time I was involved in one of your post-puzzle debates, you were very confident indeed in humankind's ingenuity and ability to develop alternative technologies to take over when the oil runs out. Why are you now so skeptical of scientists' ability to develop methods to replace vivisection? That's a real question, not a rhetorical one.

"And I certainly can't see any virtue in adjusting one's ideals to suit one's inclinations!"

This is getting horribly off-topic, but when I was a very young Buzzard, I thought that people should choose their occupations based on what they enjoyed the most and how they could do the most good in the world, and that it was wrong for them to take into account how much money they make. But once I had to start buying my own food and paying my own rent, I realized that my previous view of things was terribly naive. There's certainly virtue in adjusting one's ideals to suit one's experience, if the alternative is clinging to ideals that were developed in a vacuum.
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 10:37 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Sorry...you posted while I was still composing mine...
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 11:49 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

By Johanna (Buzzard) on Sunday, December 04, 2005 - 10:21 pm:
Even though I said I was through with this topic, I guess it would be unfair oof me not to reply to a Buzzard whose question apparently crossed in the mail with my renunciation. So here's my LAST word
"Of course, I suspect the empirical claims of those who are a priori opposed to animal testing, but I will listen to the empirical claims of those who aren't opposed to animal testing on principle but who think it's ineffective."

I don't think opponents of vivisection can be neatly divided into groups that way. I wouldn't say that I'm opposed to vivisection "a priori", because I believe that it some situations it would be justified. However, I believe that in most cases it is not effective enough to justify the harm done to animals in the course of the experiments. Or are you only willing to listen to people who feel we should not take animal suffering into account at all? of course not. But isn't it common sense to be skeptical of someone who admits he is ideologically opposed to x & then claims to have empirical arguments that x is ineffective? The people whose empirical claims I'd take most seriously are those whose empirical claims go against their interests and/or ideologies,, e.g., the (former) animal researcher who, while having no objections to animal research in principle, quits the field because he has reason to regard such research as ineffective, or someone who says he would oppose animal research on moral grounds even if it helped humans & grants that it does help humans. Is this so surprising? Consider capital mpunishment. Would you accept claims about its deterrent effect from people who were either strong supporters or strong opponents of capital punishment on principle?

"How many people who have no a priori objections to animal testing think this is likely? That's a real question, not a rhetorical one"

How many? I haven't taken a survey, so I haven't the foggiest idea. (Or, in the words of Bob Dylan, "Either a hundred and thirty-six or a hundred and forty-two.") But I seem to recall that the last time I was involved in one of your post-puzzle debates, you were very confident indeed in humankind's ingenuity and ability to develop alternative technologies to take over when the oil runs out. Why are you now so skeptical of scientists' ability to develop methods to replace vivisection? That's a real question, not a rhetorical one. Because many people are likely to DIE while we wait for these new methods to be developed, of course
This was all interesting, but from now on, this debate proceeds without me
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Monday, December 05, 2005 - 10:05 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

I understand that Felicia Nimue is done with this debate, but for the benefit of anyone else who may have wandered in:

The consequences of not having technologies to replace fossil fuels will be much, much worse than the consequences of not having research techniques to replace vivisection. Without vivisection, the worst that will happen in most cases is that medical research fails to go forward as quickly as it otherwise would. Without fossil fuels, a lot of things that affect a lot of people will go backward very quickly. And it's not just a matter of idiots not being able to drive around in their SUVs as much as they'd like.

Fertilizers are made from fossil fuels. How are we going to grow enough food to feed everyone without them? Farm machinery runs on fossil fuels. How are we going to harvest and process enough food to feed everyone without them? Just about all methods of transportation run on fossil fuels. How are we going to food to people without them? How are people who live in places with dangerously cold winters going to heat their homes? How are people in remote areas going to be transported to hospitals when they need medical care? How many people do you think are going to DIE while we figure all this out?

Don't get me wrong - I'm not necessarily predicting a doomsday situation. I think (and I certainly hope) that we will have this at least partly sorted out by the time the proverbial fertilizer hits the proverbial fan. But we are not even close to having it figured out yet. Without fossil fuels, there is no way that we could even come close to meeting the world's present energy needs (which are growing rapidly) using existing technologies. There are simply not enough places to put windmills and not enough places to grow corn to turn into ethanol. We are going to need to develop some radically new technologies, and I think our chances of doing that will be a lot higher if we do not squander the fossil fuels we have left.

We can control when and how rapidly we end vivisection. I do not expect vivisection to be abolished overnight - I would be very happy if it were phased out over a period of ten years or so. We cannot control when and how rapidly the oil runs out.
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Monday, December 05, 2005 - 5:48 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Oh, I can't resist. The difference is that we have time in which to develop new sources of energy--we haven't run out of fossil feulsyet, but people are dying every day of diseases. "The worst that can happen" if medical research does not go through quickly is that many people who value their lives just as much as I value mine will die sooner than necessary. What's worse than that??Also, don't medical students perfect surgical techniques by operating on animasls? Or is this obsolete?I'm not up on surgical education. BTW, plenty of people who drive SUV's are NOT idiots. (No, I don't drive one.)
David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Monday, December 05, 2005 - 6:28 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

According to various predictions made over the past 25 years, we have already run out of oil. It is unclear whether the current predictors are any less idiotic than their predecessors - it should be noted that being a prophet of doom does not necessarily make you a better scientist than not being one.

But we will run out of oil. My best guess is that we will have learned enough about how to harness nuclear energy and dispose of nuclear waste by that time, so that not all, or perhaps none, of Buzzard's doomsday scenarios will not happen. Nuclear energy isn't a "radically new technology" - it already supplies around 18% of the world's electricity. In a few millennia we may run out of uranium, but by then...

All this is no more than to say that I share Buzzard's fears and hopes for the future of the human race, but I am perhaps more optimistic than she is that we will find a way.

Quite what this has to do with anything we were talking about before, though. I am not at all sure. There are encouraging signs that alternatives to vivisection are being used in medicine. The number of animal experiments authorised in the United Kingdom has halved in the last thirty years. Testing of cosmetics on animals is forbidden in some European countries, and will be forbidden in all of them within a decade or so. Recent advances in the use of human cell cultures could mean that the need for animal tests will diminish on a hitherto unprecedented scale, as long as various lunatics do not succeed in their opposition to this kind of research. The notion that "most researchers just experiment on animals because it's convenient" is... well, "unsound" is the most charitable thing I can think of to say about it.

The abolition, or at any rate the reduction to a minimum, of experiments on animals appears to me to be proceeding at a reasonable pace. It won't happen in ten years - at least, not at the current rate of progress, as far as I can tell. The drive to discover alternatives to fossil fuels is gathering pace - whether we'll make it under the wire or not is unclear, but I would not bet the farm on our failure.
David Burn (Woubit)
Posted on Monday, December 05, 2005 - 6:36 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

And the first person to spot the ridiculous double negative in the above post and not mention it will receive the 2005 Kindness to Mentally Afflicted woubits Award :)
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Monday, December 05, 2005 - 6:46 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Felicia Nimue, if you are hoping for a medical miracle that will make humans immortal, it is not going to come from animal research. You see, animals are not immortal either.
Johanna (Buzzard)
Posted on Monday, December 05, 2005 - 7:51 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

""The worst that can happen" if medical research does not go through quickly is that many people who value their lives just as much as I value mine will die sooner than necessary. What's worse than that??"

Well, the starvation of a significant fraction of the western world, for one. The fact that you really can't see anything at all that's worse than your own death (which is certain to occur eventually, of course) suggests to me that you are sorely lacking a sense of perspective on this issue.

"All this is no more than to say that I share Buzzard's fears and hopes for the future of the human race, but I am perhaps more optimistic than she is that we will find a way."

I don't think I'm being either optimistic or pessimistic here. I merely outlined some parts of a worst-case situation in order to give a sense of the magnitude of the problem. Maybe something like what I have described will happen, and maybe it won't. If the oil were to run out tomorrow, then what I have described will happen. And, as you have correctly pointed out, we don't know when the oil will run out. I'm not sure we even know when we will know when the oil will run out.

"The notion that "most researchers just experiment on animals because it's convenient" is... well, "unsound" is the most charitable thing I can think of to say about it."

I am pleased to learn that vivisection in Europe is being scaled back to a greater degree than I realized. This is progress. It is my understanding that the outlook is not quite as good in the United States, where policy tends to be determined by various lunatics' religious beliefs and various corporations' bottom lines, but I would be even more pleased to be proved wrong in this respect.

You seem to be suggesting, however, that the decline in vivisection in recent years proves that the remaining animal experiments must be absolutely essential. I disagree. I think all that it proves is that it takes time for alternative research techniques to be developed, and it takes time for moral values to evolve.
Haenlomal (Haenlomal)
Posted on Monday, December 05, 2005 - 9:11 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)


Quote:

And the first person to spot the ridiculous double negative in the above post and not mention it will receive the 2005 Kindness to Mentally Afflicted woubits Award :)




Very well, David. Hand over that shiny piece of metal now.
Felicia Nimue Ackerman (Nimue)
Posted on Monday, December 05, 2005 - 9:52 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IPPrint Post   Move Post (Moderator/Admin Only)Ban Poster IP (Moderator/Admin only)

Gee, Buzzard, I must have missed the part where I said animal research would make people immortal. Obviously, all it can do is improve health & lengthen lives--which is very important to many, many people who are sick or no longer young.Also, if you had read my message carefully, you would have seen that what I thought was terrible was not just my own death but the deaths of many people who value their lives as much as I value mine. The fact that you don't see the horror of unnecessarily early death suggests to me that you are sorely lacking a sense of perspective in this issue.Maybe you're too young to see the importance of long life? Ooops, I take that back, as many young people do see this.. Now, I will use some (uncharacteristic) willpower & REALLY not participate in this debate anymore.

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