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I declare thee man and cow

Discussion in 'Other Policies' started by dong, Sep 23, 2006.

  1. dong

    dong New Member

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    Right, so I said that I'd write a thread about the topic of animal *husbandry*. Originally the discussion was because Brandon was getting weirded out at the notion of a woman marrying an animal...which would also mean he'd get freaked out by men marrying an animal...whatever. Either way, this, among other things, is a reality.

    I want to refer to a broader question as well though. Initially one might ask "what do you think of a human and another animal marrying?" and the following (edit: i.e. not this one- it's been done already) discussion would be centered largely on what 'marriage' could possibly mean.

    But I think it would be more valuable to discuss the underlying beliefs regarding relationships of any kind between humans and those that are not human. There are a plethora of viewpoints from people saying that humans are "inherently superior" to others saying they have "an animal spirit" (like therians), but much of the discussion as I see it revolves around animal and moral philosophy.

    After all that, I'd just like your thoughts regarding the topic of how one can related to an animal, be it anything from a disregard, perception of inferiority, to having a strong emotional (and egalitarian) bond and/or sexual contact. It's a huge area of discussion, so go nuts.

    Edit: This of course means you don't have to discuss the question "what is marriage"; that was just preamble. As Todd says, this thread is really about what I outline in the paragraph immediately above.
     
  2. Slashmire

    Slashmire New Member

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    Well cutting on "what is marriage" do make this thread bit smaller... but harder to prove one's point. I am against, as I do not see why a friendship between a human and an animal needs marriage. A cat/dog always love its master, but one shouldn't feel like it's extremely abnormal.
     
  3. l99999us

    l99999us New Member

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    I certainly do think the human-animal relationship is a good topic though I do not think a "marriage" would be the right word per say. I think guardian in many circumstances would be a more appropriate one.
     
  4. dong

    dong New Member

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    Haha, I see I've created a bit of confusion in trying to segue from the reference thread- my bad. Hope this clears things up now.

    As a preliminary statement of position, I shall not comment on what I think are "proper" bounds of a human-animal relationship. But I will say that while I can hardly find it wrong to wish to express/profess such a deep love of an animal to the point that one would want to 'marry' it, that this does entail a bit of a contradiction in terms of the definition of 'marriage' to me. This is no grounds to either claim 'marrying your animal is wrong', of course, but I would be thinking about matters of cultural sensitivity, proper consideration of all moral agents involved (certain aspects of the 'marriage' would be purely for the edification of the person and not his/her partner), and proper consideration of what the relationship actually is and how it plays out.

    Having said that, I think the dynamics of any relationship can vary and there's also this big debate on how to compare humans and animals, so apart from saying guardian can be an appropriate term, I will not claim that it is. Further discussion pending, of course ;)
     
  5. l99999us

    l99999us New Member

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    I certainly feel that the discussion is interesting. In fact i have a rabbit companion who lives with me and the bond between humans and animals can become quite emotional. I guess I don't necessarilly think of the relationship in the same way I would think of a "marriage" or anything similar. I do agree with you on the proper constraints for all moral agents in that I am not sure that an animal would be able to concent to say a marriage.

    I think that the term guardian, caretaker or companion are all very appropriate.
     
  6. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    I agree with Todd as far as the human animal bond goes. I cannot however in any sort of good moral standing condone a "relationship" between a human and anyone/thing who does not have the power to consent. To me, that would be like having a "relationship" with a toddler. There is just no way for the animal to express any interest in such a relationship.
     
  7. l99999us

    l99999us New Member

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    Thanks Sarah that is what i was trying to say.....
     
  8. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    You sure are welcome Todd.
     
  9. dong

    dong New Member

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    Consent is precisely the issue at the heart of much of the debate, moral and philsophical, regarding whether there is a should or ought to in terms of treating other animals. I will be as brief as possible (i.e. not go into every nook and cranny), but here's some food for thought:

    Often a discussion of the sort entails projection of our values and perception onto that of another animal whilst we are aware of differences, particularly in terms of executive (mental) function. This is why the comparison of an animal to a toddler is often brought up. However, I contend that this is inaccurate both empirically and philosophically. Why? This entails a double standard. First, projection means that to an extent we are ignoring the fact that there are inherent differences in the species and the analogy can only draw similarities in measures of intellectual function...but it cannot suggest equivalence in terms of regard. Also, we can only meaningfully discuss matters regarding consent (and most people tend to be implicitly dependent on informed consent no less) if we presume that animals do have some notion of consent otherwise it is irrelevant. Such things as connotations of violation would not be possible were it not for the notion of consent.

    What are the implications of this? Not that we can treat animals however we want, oh no. Given that we can still think of animals as moral agents, in that we can presume that they are aware, have faculties of affectation and cognition and show decision making ability. This in itself appears to imply that (some/most) animals do have the ability to consent, so let's take a closer look.

    How do we determine consent anyhow? In terms of interacting with other beings and thus in the context of any relationship, we can only interpret the signals given to us. Here, due to our now heavy reliance on the abstract, conceptualised interpretation of such things as empathy, our rational bent has us valuing interaction and its assessment on a level that neglects intuition and the aspects that don't require some formalised cultural convention.

    To refer to the original example- when two people are relatively convinced that they love each other they may discuss some kind of notion of commitment or marriage etc. etc. This now entails a formal social contract and expressions and gestures that humans in their respective cultures recognise are an indication of attraction. This is not to say they are baseless, since these have arguably been derived from standard "biologically grounded" mechanisms. It is possible to treat the interaction and social groups of other species in much the same way (and as we are mammals, the parallels are striking across the class).

    What this means is that it is not improper to presume that other animals have a faculty of consent, albeit the considerations must be altered from that which we would give to humans. This is not problematic- the social issues that govern human-human interactions are very different from that which govern other animals as the above would allude to. I personally believe that while it may be delusional to believe that an animal can act and think the same way as humans (with all our metaphysical obsessions), such that an animal would think something of marriage as a concept just as a human would, that this does not mean that they cannot express consent in such a way that we can recognise, nor would there be any real moral implications from this specifically. Again, it would be a matter of simply referring to a suitable application of first principles.
     
  10. palefrost

    palefrost New Member

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    Its offical, Dong can debate any topic created. I think he needs a special title for this. How about "master baitor"? :headbang: :D
     
  11. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    Well put. And I have to say... you are the master bator. that should be your official title.
     
  12. l99999us

    l99999us New Member

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    I don't think anyone is saying that tottlers are the exact same as animals and no one is denying their are differences (not necessarilly meaning one is better per say or worse but just differences in understanding as well as make-up). However the issue of concent here is still relevent as I do not see how exactly we could be sure here and the differences may even widen it and make it harder.

    We can go by our feelings and what we feel but that in itself is not always accurate and our perceptions are often innaccurate (especially if clouded by disires). Morover physically I think it would be idfficult if not directly casuing injury to the animal in any case.
     
  13. dong

    dong New Member

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    Oh that is so it, Palefrost, Sarah- I'm changing my custom user title.

    On a more serious note, you'll see I don't debate anything regarding economics, coz I completely suck at that. So I can't debate everything :p

    Todd: I presume in the final sentence you're talking about having an actual physical/sexual relationship there. Your response is the natural response to what I wrote and it is a very valid concern. My conclusion was basically that consent is most definitely a relevant issue, and I was essentially attempting to illuminate how one should go about it. Oh yes, and I wasn't saying that people actually claimed toddlers to be the same as animals...rather it's a convenient analogy but often people forget that it's an analogy and go on to use it as a basis of argument, which is improper.

    Your cautionary line "(not necessarilly meaning one is better per say or worse but just differences in understanding as well as make-up)" is indeed reflective of this uncomfortable awareness that often humans are valued on this kind of pedestal that marks them out as intrinsically superior to other animals. I would assert that many detractors to the notion of being able to have any meaningful relationship with another animal are likely to hold this, especially if they aren't objecting for reasons of consent. It's quite funny, actually. On one hand some people might say "it's unnatural because they're a lower form of being", and other people might say "it's not right because it's manipulating and taking advantage of them". Anyway.

    So to continue on, or rather, to paraphrase, what we're pondering is the issue of interpretation of reciprocity. To railroad this onto a more specific track that I vaguely alluded to last post, an animal lover (or more specifically zoophile, if I may) might claim that "I love this animal, and the animal loves me back". What is at stake here is the validity of the person having affections for the animal, and what is being claimed is that both of them have a mutual understanding of the nature of the relationship. Throw in the sexual element and you have a molotov cocktail of controversy. What is at doubt, is the veracity of the claim that the animal values the relationship in the same way as the person does. It's not difficult to posit that said zoophile is being delusional in the same way that I noted in the previous post- 'allowing' the human to engage in sexual intercourse could very well be a case of simple positive reinforcement conditioning training (i.e. you let me do this to/with you, you get food in return). However this too is difficult to verify.

    I would also cast some doubt as to how much import this claim has outside of pointing out misconceptions/deliberate belief on the part of the person. After all, the same issue can easily be applied to people-people interactions, as subjectivity at the very least implies that each person has their own distinct set of values applied in a distinct manner. More importantly, I think what really underpins what is at stake here is a fundamental moral method of judgment that you've alluded to- acting in the interests of self or of others. Back to the example- what people may claim is that a person who 'uses' their 'pet' for sexual gratification is being selfish, and this is justified because the they judge that the pet does not value the act in the same way. Thus it seems that the only way to avoid this charge is to demonstrate how this coupling demonstrates a mutual relationship of sorts.

    This is obviously a very tricky and complex problem to tackle, and judgment is best left to, as usual, a case by case basis. There are examples of what could easily be described as a mutual and successful interspecies relationship (such as the man-mare couple Egon and Elksa- unfortunately I believe that the relevant article is no longer indexed), but there are also many many examples of related examples of animal abuse and maltreatment. The physical difficulties are also quite an important consideration in terms of health (there have also been cases of human fatalities due to attempts to copulate with stallions...which is a highly risky and generally not recommended practice), but I would be careful to note that this in itself does not have moral implications regarding the actual act of sex, but rather on the hazard to health. As in "you're taking/causing the risk, so you are obliged to consider this in making a decision".
     
  14. l99999us

    l99999us New Member

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    Damn Doug you do make many thoughtful posts here and many that do make me think.....

    I suppose i did make the assumption that a sexual relationship per say was being talked about. Their are many types certainly and emotional ones are likly far more common. I only included the line of one being better to say simply as I do not consider humans necessarilly superior to animals (though their would certainly be differences between say a toddler and a dog for example both physical and emotional) and i wanted to make it clear i was not making a judgement as far as superiority or inferiority but only that differences exist

    I do suppose it could be theoretically possible for a relatinoship in a sexual sense to occur that would be mutual for both partners but i am guessing that such examples are probably very rare and that the abusive or harmful ones more common which is why I do think caution is certainly warrented here.
    As for ethics (which i think is the issue here) I guess i am basing it based on it's harmfulness here rather then a strict rule per say.
     
  15. dong

    dong New Member

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    Yes, I was quite aware of this, and I'm glad, given that as I wrote, many people...do this.

    Right, this sounds perfectly reasonable. My post was not directed at you so much as it was for the edification of a general audience (hopefully!)
     
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