FacebookTwitter
Hatrack River Forum Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Animal Rights - is it murder to kill a dolphin? (Page 1)

  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   
Author Topic: Animal Rights - is it murder to kill a dolphin?
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Some recent science shows that dolphins are the world's most intelligent non-human species.

So here's the question, if science suggests that dolphins are incredibly smart, can discern language, have actual regional dialects, and have a degree of personal self-awareness, does killing them go from animal cruelty to actual murder? At what point does it become a more heinous crime to harm one?

Posts: 21897 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
MattP
Member
Member # 10495

 - posted      Profile for MattP   Email MattP         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It depends. How do they taste?
Posts: 3275 | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Darth_Mauve
Member
Member # 4709

 - posted      Profile for Darth_Mauve   Email Darth_Mauve         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It becomes a crime when we--voting citizens--make it a crime.

When does it become a sin? When God says so.

When does it become morally wrong? When you believe they are sentient.

Posts: 1941 | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What are your actual criteria there?

By the by, to the best of my knowledge, killing a dolphin, with some exceptions, is already illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 (as amended). We enacted this law under the umbrella of protecting endangered species for long term survival. But when does it become something more? Functionally it's when Congress decides to, but I'm not talking about a plainly obvious function of government, I'm asking when you think Congress should do so. What are your criteria?

I didn't address whether or not it's a sin. It's not really a big issue to me. But as far as morality goes, yes, when you believe they are sentient, but when do you believe it?

You created an answer tree of different ways of looking at the issue without actually answering the question at all. [Smile]

Posts: 21897 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
scifibum
Member
Member # 7625

 - posted      Profile for scifibum   Email scifibum         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I don't think it should ever equate to murder of a human. (I don't expect dolphins to consider killing a human as bad as killing a dolphin, either.)

But I don't know how severe we should consider the crime, short of that.

Posts: 4287 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mucus
Member
Member # 9735

 - posted      Profile for Mucus           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Killing an average dolphin could be like killing 30% of an average human being. (And the death of a human at dolphin hands should be punished by the death of three dolphins!)
Posts: 7593 | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dkw
Member
Member # 3264

 - posted      Profile for dkw   Email dkw         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Dolphins don't have hands.
Posts: 9866 | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mucus
Member
Member # 9735

 - posted      Profile for Mucus           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
As far as you know
Posts: 7593 | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
scifibum
Member
Member # 7625

 - posted      Profile for scifibum   Email scifibum         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Mucus:
Killing an average dolphin could be like killing 30% of an average human being. (And the death of a human at dolphin hands should be punished by the death of three dolphins!)

Your valuation is inconveniently factored. That'd only amount to 90% retribution for the human death. To achieve parity we'd have to kill two more humans and 7 more dolphins. (Being just ain't easy. Sing it Solomon.)
Posts: 4287 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tara
Member
Member # 10030

 - posted      Profile for Tara   Email Tara         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Why, did you kill one?
Posts: 930 | Registered: Dec 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
dkw
Member
Member # 3264

 - posted      Profile for dkw   Email dkw         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Doing a literature search on a different topic last January I ran across an article on Dolphins and Original Sin. I really wish I'd bookmarked it, because I haven't been able to find it again.

Doctrinal issues aside, it was dealing with the question "are dolphins people?"

Posts: 9866 | Registered: Apr 2002  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mr_porteiro_head
Member
Member # 4644

 - posted      Profile for mr_porteiro_head   Email mr_porteiro_head         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Darth_Mauve:
It becomes a crime when we--voting citizens--make it a crime.

When does it become a sin? When God says so.

When does it become morally wrong? When you believe they are sentient.

I prefer the word sapience, as sentience technically means able to feel. All mammals (AFAIK) are sentient. Most are not sapient.
Posts: 16551 | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Noemon
Member
Member # 1115

 - posted      Profile for Noemon   Email Noemon         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Ooh, good distinction. :: adopts ::
Posts: 16059 | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Godric
Member
Member # 4587

 - posted      Profile for Godric   Email Godric         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
If anyone who's watched Flipper kills a dolphin, I would consider him a murderer.
Posts: 1295 | Registered: Jan 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Noemon
Member
Member # 1115

 - posted      Profile for Noemon   Email Noemon         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm uncomfortable enough with the idea of killing fellow sapient beings that dolphins are on the short list of animals I wouldn't eat unless I were so hungry that I'd be willing to eat a human (simply because there's enough evidence that they truly are sapient that I wouldn't want to take the chance). I wouldn't feel entirely comfortable charging someone who killed a dolphin with murder, but I'm not at all sure that they wouldn't be guilty of just that.
Posts: 16059 | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
sinflower
Member
Member # 12228

 - posted      Profile for sinflower           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"I prefer the word sapience, as sentience technically means able to feel. All mammals (AFAIK) are sentient. Most are not sapient."

Question...how exactly would you define sapience, or draw the line at which animals are sapient or not? I looked it up, and it apparently indicates wisdom and the capacity for judgment. That's a bit of a vague description to use as a clear definition of what constitutes a person to me.

Posts: 241 | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mr_porteiro_head
Member
Member # 4644

 - posted      Profile for mr_porteiro_head   Email mr_porteiro_head         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Barring some spectacular and previously unhinted-of evidence, I don't think I could ever be persuaded that dolphins are sapient to the extent that they should be considered people.
Posts: 16551 | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
sinflower
Member
Member # 12228

 - posted      Profile for sinflower           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"Barring some spectacular and previously unhinted-of evidence, I don't think I could ever be persuaded that dolphins are sapient to the extent that they should be considered people."

Oh...okay. I was looking at dkw's post and I was assuming that the reason killing a dolphin would be considered morally wrong and the equivalent of murder (which is killing a human being) is because that would make them people.

How do you judge to what extent dolphins, or other animals, are sapient then? Would you try to estimate how often they act with judgment compared with not?

Posts: 241 | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mr_porteiro_head
Member
Member # 4644

 - posted      Profile for mr_porteiro_head   Email mr_porteiro_head         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Question...how exactly would you define sapience, or draw the line at which animals are sapient or not? I looked it up, and it apparently indicates wisdom and the capacity for judgment, and those seem to be too vague to use as a clear definition of what constitutes a person (and therefore would be wrong to kill). At least to me.
I agree that it's incredibly vague. And while I don't have anything approaching a full test, there are some things (like the capacity for language) that I'd say are necessary but not sufficient.

It's vagueness is it not a drawback, I think, because the concept of personhood is at least as vague, if not more so.

Posts: 16551 | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Raymond Arnold
Member
Member # 11712

 - posted      Profile for Raymond Arnold   Email Raymond Arnold         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I'm a vegetarian and believe that, in general, the amount of meat and the manner in which we cultivate it is criminal, but banning or even significantly curtailing our meat industries would likely result in black markets and other bad things without much reduction of animal suffering. Going around shouting "murder" is likewise ineffective.

For Dolphins specifically... well, rationally, I think it's more important to judge creatures based on their capacity to suffer and experience joy than on their intelligence. Otherwise we'd have separate laws for killing smart people than dumb people, and I can think of a bunch of ways that could go wrong. (Edit: my position is a lot more complicated than this but I don't feel like elaborating right now. But it'll probably be more fun if someone disagrees with me initially so I'll have an excuse to argue more).

Regardless: declaring Dolphin-killing to be murder could be useful because it helps set precedent for better treatment of animals all around. If more people are likely to care because they're smart, well, better than nothing. On top of everything, I don't think most people have a huge compulsion to kill Dolphins in the first place. Maybe some people eat them but I've never heard of it.

So... long story short: yes I think it should be made illegal now. If the bill could actually get passed as a direct equivalent to murder, then great. If it gets (more likely) passed at a reduced penalty, well, probably good enough for now.

Posts: 4136 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Noemon
Member
Member # 1115

 - posted      Profile for Noemon   Email Noemon         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think that I would consider the capacity for language to be sufficient, as long as the language wasn't something that was known instinctually (if it were known instinctually, that wouldn't preclude the possibility of sapeince, but it also wouldn't prove its presence).
Posts: 16059 | Registered: Aug 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
sinflower
Member
Member # 12228

 - posted      Profile for sinflower           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"I agree that it's incredibly vague. And while I don't have anything approaching a full test, there are some things (like the capacity for language) that I'd say are necessary but not sufficient.

It's vagueness is it not a drawback, I think, because the concept of personhood is at least as vague, if not more so. "

True, the concept of personhood is pretty vague. Using language as a test is more like a test of intelligence than of judgment/sapience specifically though, but I guess all the terms involved here are pretty vague.

Posts: 241 | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
What sort of legal distinction could we adopt between full-on murder and animal cruelty? Personally, I don't think killing a dolphin would be like killing a person. There's really no way to know for sure exactly how far along the developmental scale they are until we either learn to speak dolphin or they learn to speak a human language. Unlikely for them.

But I think if there is empirical evidence that tells us that dolphins really are beyond any other species on earth, and have many of the aspects of, to borrow mph's term, sapience, that we assign to humans, then lumping them in with dogs and cats isn't fair, and isn't right.

We know killing another human being is murder, but fundamentally then, what is murder? This is something that science fiction gets to explore, because dealing with alien life brings up fundamental philosophical/moral questions about other intelligent creatures that we largely ignore because humans have no obvious competitors on Earth, but fundamentally, what is murder? Is murder ONLY killing a human being, or is there a higher form of crime against killing that we recognize?

Instinctively I want to say yes, there is a higher standard of murder, and killing humans is only one aspect of it. I think in the past, we've justified horrible atrocities against fellow humans through the rationalization of dehumanizing them. Simply declare something not human, and killing it breaks no moral taboos. But if there's a higher moral code against murder that supersedes simply killing a human, then saying something isn't human wouldn't be a good enough justification.

ETA, sorry, I started this post before the last half dozen posts were posted, so I'm a bit behind now. As far as language goes, the article in the OP states that dolphins of the same species actually have regional dialects, which I think suggests (though doesn't prove) a learning component in dolphin communication.

Posts: 21897 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
sinflower
Member
Member # 12228

 - posted      Profile for sinflower           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"For Dolphins specifically... well, rationally, I think it's more important to judge creatures based on their capacity to suffer and experience joy than on their intelligence. Otherwise we'd have separate laws for killing smart people than dumb people, and I can think of a bunch of ways that could go wrong."

I agree that there would be a problem with having murder be judged *in the law* according to the intelligence of the person killed, but what about morally? Can we make a moral distinction based on intelligence? It seems like most of us are using a sliding scale rather than a simple "yes" or "no" in defining personhood (dolphins aren't people as much as humans are, but they're more so than other animals are), so why can't we apply a sliding scale in judging the personhood of individual humans as well?

Posts: 241 | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mr_porteiro_head
Member
Member # 4644

 - posted      Profile for mr_porteiro_head   Email mr_porteiro_head         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Sinflower, do you know how to use the quote blocks?

quote:
They work like this, and make it much easier to read posts where you're quoting part of somebody else's post.
I highly recommend them. [Smile]
Posts: 16551 | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
BlackBlade
Member
Member # 8376

 - posted      Profile for BlackBlade   Email BlackBlade         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
When dolphins are able to present their own defense, I'll consider giving them the same protective rights that I give people.
Posts: 14316 | Registered: Jul 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
sinflower
Member
Member # 12228

 - posted      Profile for sinflower           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
Sinflower, do you know how to use the quote blocks?

quote:
They work like this, and make it much easier to read posts where you're quoting part of somebody else's post.
I highly recommend them. [Smile]
I do now! I think... let's see if this works [Smile]
Posts: 241 | Registered: Nov 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Raymond Arnold
Member
Member # 11712

 - posted      Profile for Raymond Arnold   Email Raymond Arnold         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think morally, there does end up being sliding scales of human value. Killing a researcher who was about to permanently end hunger is worse than killing some random dude, but that's not because intelligence is inherently valuable but because the researcher was applying it towards something useful.

One could make the argument that Dolphins AREN'T doing anything particularly useful that we know of. However, you can also make the argument that humanity is so incredibly bad for the world that we all deserve to be wiped out, and if we all just chilled in the ocean the world would be a better place.

My current take is that humanity hasn't earned any special treatment YET, but our combination of intellect, opposable thumbs and access to fire as a gateway energy source (even with thumbs dolphins would have trouble there, although they might be able to harness thermal vents or something), means that we MIGHT produce something valuable enough (to the world as a whole) to offset the enormous damage we've done so far and maybe even go beyond that.

Posts: 4136 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mr_porteiro_head
Member
Member # 4644

 - posted      Profile for mr_porteiro_head   Email mr_porteiro_head         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Nice.

eta: To Sinflower.

Posts: 16551 | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Lyrhawn
Member
Member # 7039

 - posted      Profile for Lyrhawn   Email Lyrhawn         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by BlackBlade:
When dolphins are able to present their own defense, I'll consider giving them the same protective rights that I give people.

Doesn't that place an undue burden upon communication? If aliens landed tomorrow, clearly we'd have to agree that they have a technological know how at least equal to our own, but what if they spoke a language that was entirely not understandable or repeatable? We've learned just recently that a lot of patients in hospitals that we believed to be in comas were in fact just unable to communicate with the outside world. We consider it legally, if not morally, okay to pull the plug on a human when they're no longer able to communicate with us, but do they actually surrender sapience/sentience just by being non-communicative, and do they get it back just by waking up?

Similarly, if we hold that there is a higher form of murder, and a higher form of sapience (whatever you want to call it) above passing the test of humanness, then shouldn't communication not be the deciding factor?

Raymond Arnold -

My thinking trends somewhere along the lines that yes, people doing important work can be valued more highly than those who aren't, but those are the kinds of considerations we only take into account when say, we're faced with the business end of a Roland Emmerich film, and we have to start deciding who to save and who to let die. Otherwise, once someone passes the threshold for sentience, we don't allow them to go back, no matter how useless they are. We only absolve them of the right to life when they deny someone else that right.

Humanity used to be full of subsistence farmers, and I'm not entirely convinced that the 21st century way of life is more proof of sentience than our way of life was then. Proof of increased knowledge, yes, but not superiority in that sense. I don't think Dolphins are hanging out in the ocean thumbing their noses at our way of life, and feeling smugly superior for living a more harmonious life, but to suggest that since they aren't hanging out in a lab doing scientific research means that they aren't sentient is putting too much emphasis on human behavior in quantifying sapience. If we came across a human like species somewhere in the galaxy that simply wanted to hang out in the forest all day and eat fruits and nuts, but otherwise had all the qualities of humanity, how should they be valued? I don't think ambition should be an ultimate factor, just as I don't think communication should be. But I would include them somewhere in the criteria.

Posts: 21897 | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mucus
Member
Member # 9735

 - posted      Profile for Mucus           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
scifibum: [Cool]

quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
Barring some spectacular and previously unhinted-of evidence, I don't think I could ever be persuaded that dolphins are sapient ...

Even when they thanked us for all the fish? [Wink]

quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
... well, rationally, I think it's more important to judge creatures based on their capacity to suffer and experience joy than on their intelligence. Otherwise we'd have separate laws for killing smart people than dumb people ...

Theoretically, we also have people that feel suffering to different degrees and people who feel joy to different degrees so the problem is not entirely removed.
Posts: 7593 | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Juxtapose
Member
Member # 8837

 - posted      Profile for Juxtapose   Email Juxtapose         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
When dolphins are able to present their own defense, I'll consider giving them the same protective rights that I give people.
That seems like a poor standard. It should pretty quickly become apparent why if you replace "dolphins" with "humans in a coma".
Posts: 2907 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Raymond Arnold
Member
Member # 11712

 - posted      Profile for Raymond Arnold   Email Raymond Arnold         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Or "child" for that matter.

quote:
Theoretically, we also have people that feel suffering to different degrees and people who feel joy to different degrees so the problem is not entirely removed.
As I said, it's a lot more complicated and I didn't feel like elaborating on all the caveats.
Posts: 4136 | Registered: Aug 2008  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hobbes
Member
Member # 433

 - posted      Profile for Hobbes   Email Hobbes         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Killing an average dolphin could be like killing 30% of an average human being.
And how about we give dolphins 3/5ths of a vote?

Hobbes [Smile]

Posts: 10602 | Registered: Oct 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Verily the Younger
Member
Member # 6705

 - posted      Profile for Verily the Younger   Email Verily the Younger         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
My gut instinct is to suggest that non-human species should be granted these rights when the time comes that they themselves can understand what those rights entail.

But on only a moment's reflection, I find I'm not very satisfied with that answer. Of course there is the obvious comeback ("What about humans who are so mentally handicapped that they don't understand?") and the equally obvious response ("They're still humans and have their rights grandfathered in by their species."). But in addition to that, I find myself wondering if it's not a question of their inability to understand due to lower intelligence so much as our inability to make them understand because of communication barriers.

In short, it's a question of ramen and varelse, and which one dolphins, if they are found to be sapient, turn out to be, and whether it is moral for us to deny rights to varelse simply because we lack the means to tell them what their rights are.

Posts: 1814 | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Juxtapose
Member
Member # 8837

 - posted      Profile for Juxtapose   Email Juxtapose         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
the equally obvious response ("They're still humans and have their rights grandfathered in by their species.").
The problem with this obvious answer is that it begs the question. Why should the mentally handicapped have these rights? Just for the sheer luck of being born as a member of Homo Sapiens Sapiens? That seems pretty morally shaky to me.

I think the question here is "what makes species an intrinsically better indicator of personhood than any other factor?"

Posts: 2907 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hobbes
Member
Member # 433

 - posted      Profile for Hobbes   Email Hobbes         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
I think the question here is "what makes species an intrinsically better indicator of personhood than any other factor?"
I'm confused now, are you talking morally or legally?

Hobbes [Smile]

Posts: 10602 | Registered: Oct 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Juxtapose
Member
Member # 8837

 - posted      Profile for Juxtapose   Email Juxtapose         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Morally. I think the legal question, at this point, is pretty easy to answer.
Posts: 2907 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Hobbes
Member
Member # 433

 - posted      Profile for Hobbes   Email Hobbes         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I agree. [Smile]

The only answer I can come up with that doesn't rely on my religion is a rather unsatisfying 'us vs. them', evolution style answer.

Hobbes [Smile]

Posts: 10602 | Registered: Oct 1999  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Juxtapose
Member
Member # 8837

 - posted      Profile for Juxtapose   Email Juxtapose         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
The answers I can come up with are similarly unsatisfying. [Smile]
Posts: 2907 | Registered: Nov 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Itsame
Member
Member # 9712

 - posted      Profile for Itsame           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"I don't think it should ever equate to murder of a human. (I don't expect dolphins to consider killing a human as bad as killing a dolphin, either.)"
(Emphasis is mine)

I do not mean to be harsh, but this is the same line of reasoning that justifies racism. It appears to me--if I am understanding you correctly--that you are claiming that a the relationship (which may, and in your case does, include the relationship of sharing the property of being of the same species) between the acting agent and the agent that is acted upon affects the moral duty of the first agent.

If this extrapolation is not correct, then please correct me.

This appears claim appears to be ethically unjustified. The reason is that the relationship between the two agents is an arbitrary feature of the moral agent. If we are to be able to universalize moral actions, pace Kant and most most contemporary ethical theorists (I am not denying that there are some exceptions, notably care ethicists), then the only feature that sould be taken into account when deciding whether killing a dolphin qualifies as murder is whether dolphins are moral agent. Once dolphins are moral agents, any other considerations of the relationship between man and dolphin are irrelevant when considering what is the morally right action. And so the question is: are dolphins moral agents?

Posts: 2705 | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Strider
Member
Member # 1807

 - posted      Profile for Strider   Email Strider         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I disagree with your premise Jon. Whether a dolphin is a moral agent or not in no way affects considerations as to how I should act towards it. Is a human with severe autism who is incapable of judging between right and wrong a moral agent? Is a child who is too young to understand right and wrong a moral agent? From the definition of moral agency that I understand you would not consider these people moral agents, and thus would change whether killing them qualifies as murder. It seems to me I can only judge *your* actions in reference to whether I believe you are a moral agent or not. I don't really understand why it is important whether the recipient of your action is a moral agent.

I agree with whoever above stated that what we should be considering is the ability of an organism to feel and experience pain. Since this seems to be a much more realizable gauge than consciousness.

[ January 07, 2010, 03:50 AM: Message edited by: Strider ]

Posts: 8741 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Itsame
Member
Member # 9712

 - posted      Profile for Itsame           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
You are absolutely right in your criticism. My account of moral agency and consideration was rather simplistic, because I did not want to turn this into a lecture on moral theory. I should have also included that many have argued that all agents who have the capacity or potential (depending on who you ask) to be moral agents (e.g., infants) are to be given moral consideration. (This also opens up a can of worms regarding whether fetuses are agents, but that's a different issue)

The most common requirement for something to be a moral agent is for the agent to be rational. Some, famously Peter Singer--whom I know has been discussed on this forum before, have argued that moral consideration can extend beyond both agents who have the potential to be moral agents and full moral agents. That is, to beings that lack the capacity for rational thought.

I hope this clarifies things a bit, though I know that this is still a shallow treatment of the topic.

Posts: 2705 | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Strider
Member
Member # 1807

 - posted      Profile for Strider   Email Strider         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
The most common requirement for something to be a moral agent is for the agent to be rational
This doesn't bode well for the existence of moral agents. [Wink]
Posts: 8741 | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Itsame
Member
Member # 9712

 - posted      Profile for Itsame           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Rational, not reasonable. [Wink]
Posts: 2705 | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
DarkKnight
Member
Member # 7536

 - posted      Profile for DarkKnight   Email DarkKnight         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
So here's the question, if science suggests that dolphins are incredibly smart, can discern language, have actual regional dialects, and have a degree of personal self-awareness, does killing them go from animal cruelty to actual murder?
Would we criminally charge a dolphin for murdering another dolphin?
Posts: 1918 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Mucus
Member
Member # 9735

 - posted      Profile for Mucus           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
It depends on whether we have jurisdiction I guess
Posts: 7593 | Registered: Sep 2006  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
scifibum
Member
Member # 7625

 - posted      Profile for scifibum   Email scifibum         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Jon, I haven't much studied philosophy, so I'm not going to attempt to answer you in the same terms.

The short answer is that yes, I think that preferential treatment of my own species is fine. It may also be good.

If I thought that a dolphin could "ever" be the same thing as a human, I'd feel differently. But if you change a dolphin to the point where I'd feel that way, it wouldn't really be a dolphin.

"I do not mean to be harsh, but this is the same line of reasoning that justifies racism."

I don't think it's a line of reasoning at all, Jon, just to be precise. It's a statement of a conclusion I reached. I admit that I reached it hastily, and maybe I can stew on your response (maybe check out some of the philosophical references you included) and give a better response later - or maybe not - but there's certainly nothing in there that I think could be transposed into an argument to justify racism. At most:

"I don't think that a purple man should ever be considered equivalent to a green man." Yeah...not seeing an argument in there.

Now, my actual argument *might* be transferable in that way, but I haven't put it out there yet.

Posts: 4287 | Registered: Mar 2005  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
mr_porteiro_head
Member
Member # 4644

 - posted      Profile for mr_porteiro_head   Email mr_porteiro_head         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Strider:
I agree with whoever above stated that what we should be considering is the ability of an organism to feel and experience pain. Since this seems to be a much more realizable gauge than consciousness.

That doesn't work for me. The mammals that I am fine with killing for food are quite able to feel and experience pain.

Realizable it may be, but it does not reflect my morality.

[ January 07, 2010, 10:02 AM: Message edited by: mr_porteiro_head ]

Posts: 16551 | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Tresopax
Member
Member # 1063

 - posted      Profile for Tresopax           Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
The mammals that I am fine with killing for food are quite able to feel and experience pain.
How would you know that? Or are you just guessing that, based on the fact that you experience pain and react in certain ways, and you see those mammals acting in similar ways in response to things that might induce pain?

-----

But assuming dolphins ARE sentient and do experience pain/suffering.... What else distinguishes us from dolphins that makes it more okay to kill a dolphin than a fellow human? I agree with those that said lack of intelligence and wisdom is not a good reason to think its more okay to kill someone. So if not that, then what? Perhaps the same rules simply don't apply to other species, since killing other animals is almost inevitable in nature?

Posts: 8120 | Registered: Jul 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
  This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.
UBB Code™ Images not permitted.
Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Hatrack River Home Page

Copyright © 2008 Hatrack River Enterprises Inc. All rights reserved.
Reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.


Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classic™ 6.7.2