Vampires, Animals, and Morality

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Vampires, Animals, and Morality

Post by Emiya on Fri May 24, 2013 6:18 am

Are vampires inherently immoral? To answer this question accurately and honestly, it is easier to draw parallels from a more realistic question.

Respect and consideration for human life has long been the basis for human morality, and anyone seriously discussing morality would have to admit this. However, respect for animal life has been a more debated topic, and most people today do not believe it to be immoral to eat other animals. For most people, the reasoning behind the inequality between a human and an animal life is not whether an animal can talk or rationalize, but whether they can feel suffering - 'sentience'. Scientists have already discovered that many crustaceans do not feel suffering in the same way that other higher animals (including humans) do. Proving the opposite, that a creature can actually feel suffering on an emotional level, is a much more difficult process due to a lack of communication - however, there is ample evidence to suggest that many animals, including livestock, do have such a capacity. Even so, such animals are and will continue to be eaten enmasse by humans. Some might suggest that the degree an animal can rationalize might be a valid argument; however, there are many animals who have proven to be more intelligent than human children, and in some cases, are capable of matching a human adult in certain tests. It is true that animals in general are not as intelligent as humans, but even so - there are many, many irrational and unintelligent humans, and the whole argument becomes extremely arbitrary.

“Do you eat chicken because you are familiar with the scientific literature on them and have decided that their suffering doesn't matter, or do you do it because it tastes good?” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

At the end of the day, it is not sentience or reasoning that is the determining factor - it is speciesism. After all, if the only difference between a human and an animal is the amount of emotion and reasoning the creature is capable of, and that is the basis for animals not being equal to humans, then why are the lives of infants, mentally disabled, handicaps, and comatose humans equal to that of other humans? The idea that an animal could be considered an equal in terms of applying morality, to most people, is degrading to say the least. To most people, humans just feel more important. Maybe that is how you feel, but if the basis of your morality is that something feels accurate, you need to reevaluate your perspective.

A 2011 study demonstrates that when people are confronted with the harm that their meat-eating brings to food animals, they view those animals as possessing fewer mental capacities compared to when they are not reminded. This is especially evident when people expect to eat meat in the near future. Such denial makes it less troublesome for people to eat animals. The research argues that meat eaters go to great lengths to overcome these inconsistencies between their beliefs and behaviour.
Source: http://www2.psy.uq.edu.au/~uqbbast1/Bastian%20et%20al%20PSPB%20in%20press.pdf (which I highly recommend reading)

So, is eating meat immoral? It depends on who you ask. However, ask any honest utilitarian, and the answer would be a definitive 'yes, it is immoral'. So long as there is another reliable source of food, eating meat is immoral. One should further understand that a tiger or wolf cannot be considered immoral, because they do not even know morality and cannot make such distinctions as a human could. Natural laws such as survival of the fittest do not apply to human culture because humans are very much capable of morality, but they do still apply to the natural world. Some vampires are not capable of morality and do not understand it, and couldn't be considered immoral to begin with. On the other hand, in Tsukihime, there are vampires much more intelligent than humans and whom have a connection with the earth itself - clearly, much more important to the planet than a mere human. Despite the fact that its life is more important than that of a humans, from a utilitarian perspective, it is still immoral for it to eat humans.

Just as immoral, perhaps, as the human who just finished eating some fish.

“If we were to one day encounter a form of life more powerful and intelligent than our own, and it regarded us as we regard fish, what would be our argument against being eaten?” ~ Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals

Other sources:
Environmental Ethics: Values in and Duties to the Natural World by Holmes Rolston III
Environmental Philosophy: From Animal Rights to Radical Ecology
Wikipedia

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Re: Vampires, Animals, and Morality

Post by The GM on Sat May 25, 2013 12:49 pm

I can accept that animals have intrinsic worth, and that eating them is inherently immoral - but I cannot accept that the value of a animal ought to be the same as a human. I feel that it's irrational and counter-productive to demand that people to feel the same level of empathy and instinctual desire to protect another person and an animal. We may be self-aware, but I feel that a certain level of rational concession to our inherent and learned biases needs to be forgiven.

Utilitarianism may be an answer, but simply being an answer is not in and of itself justification for truth. It values the majority without any other context, which is not only incredibly inhuman, but doesn't directly answer why one intrinsic life is more valuable than another simply because it is in a relationship that has greater numbers. When concerning morality, we require a certain degree of tolerance for arbitrariness and subjectivity. Species preference does not have to be detrimental to the overall health and happiness of other creatures. It is arbitrary discrimination - but considering our limitations I think it's something that should be mitigated and worked with, but not something that is outright damned. We don't have to value animals as much as humans, we just have to value them enough to prevent suffering.

I understand that my framework essentially rests of morality being more a human utility than an a universal code, but don't you think it's okay to accept that we may only appreciate the instrumental value of an animal - provided that the health and happiness of the creature that it would have been afforded from valuing it intrinsically is still intact at the end of the day?

I say this because I feel that if a man was to eat a random pig for survival, the moral question is pretty clear cut. Whereas if a man was to eat a random baby, the moral question would be far more grey. This bias is not based on fact, because if it was I would either justify both as grey or both as clear cut. But I find it irrational to affirm certain inherent and learned desires and then turn around and condemn us for applying them elsewhere.

We are not in control of what we want, but we can understand what our actions will cause through our self awareness and intelligence. It is far more progressive and rational to work with and around bias rather than force shame or disgust in ourselves and others for something we cannot control.

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Re: Vampires, Animals, and Morality

Post by Emiya on Sat May 25, 2013 7:59 pm

need4snacks wrote:I can accept that animals have intrinsic worth, and that eating them is inherently immoral - but I cannot accept that the value of a animal ought to be the same as a human. I feel that it's irrational and counter-productive to demand that people to feel the same level of empathy and instinctual desire to protect another person and an animal.

Utilitarianism may be an answer, but simply being an answer is not in and of itself justification for truth. It values the majority without any other context, which is not only incredibly inhuman, but doesn't directly answer why one intrinsic life is more valuable than another simply because it is in a relationship that has greater numbers. When concerning morality, we require a certain degree of tolerance for arbitrariness and subjectivity. Species preference does not have to be detrimental to the overall health and happiness of other creatures. It is arbitrary discrimination - but considering our limitations I think it's something that should be mitigated and worked with, but not something that is outright damned. We don't have to value animals as much as humans, we just have to value them enough to prevent suffering.
This is an irrelevant conclusion. That you do not believe one is as valuable as the other does not argue the point. Even so, I'll reiterate.

Humans do not have any more inherent value than animals - they are moral beings in that they can suffer, just as us, even if the amount of suffering and mental capacity varies between species. While I can concede that a human can have more subjective value because other humans value that human more than they value an animal, this is only a point to be noted because animals cannot complain or voice their opinion on the matter. When a human willingly kills a puppy, for example, only the objection of other humans is considered. This is also a slippery slope - does this mean that the value of a life is determined by how many moral agents value that life? This is irrelevant and ignores the real issue, which is eligibility for moral consideration.

need4snacks wrote:
I understand that my framework essentially rests of morality being more a human utility than an a universal code, but don't you think it's okay to accept that we may only appreciate the instrumental value of an animal - provided that the health and happiness of the creature that it would have been afforded from valuing it intrinsically is still intact at the end of the day?

I say this because I feel that if a man was to eat a random pig for survival, the moral question is pretty clear cut. Whereas if a man was to eat a random baby, the moral question would be far more grey. This bias is not based on fact, because if it was I would either justify both as grey or both as clear cut. But I find it irrational to affirm certain inherent and learned desires and then turn around and condemn us for applying them elsewhere.

We are not in control of what we want, but we can understand what our actions will cause through our self awareness and intelligence. It is far more progressive and rational to work with and around bias rather than force shame or disgust in ourselves and others for something we cannot control.

Your position, however, essentially comes down to "we are human and they are not" and "it has always been this way, so it should continue this way". It is based on intuition and feeling and not logic or fact. Is there any basis for saying that we can justifiably inflict more suffering on an animal than we would ourselves experience from not inflicting that suffering? In other words, are we justified in giving preference to the suffering of humans, just because it is humans, and not other animals, who are suffering?

Also, your response overall misses the point. Is eating meat immoral? You did not argue that it isn't, but instead argued that it essentially isn't as immoral as other things because they are not human. While morality may have some arbitrary qualities, you're arguing that we should ignore the basis of morality itself - that we should ignore what is right and what is wrong because it is convenient - not even because it is beneficial to humans, or because humans will die - but simply out of pure convenience.

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Re: Vampires, Animals, and Morality

Post by The GM on Sat May 25, 2013 11:48 pm

You're asking the human race to value something that is potentially detrimental to our species and individual interests for the sake of principle?

I argue that principles need use, and since the only creatures to gain or lose from the recognition of adhering to these particular principles are humans, it creates a Uphold for upholding it's sake.

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