global issues, nature

Circus of Ethics – Concerning Animal Treatment

This topic deserves a far longer and more thorough post than what I’m going to make today, but in this case, I’d like to comment more on the supporting perspective of ethical animal treatment – especially in the future – than rehash the news. This will be a long post.

I dare say this article will be a great deal of rambling out ideas, so if you are looking for a quick read, stop now. You have been warned.

~ Table of Contents ~

Now you know this is going to be a long article.

  1. Introduction
  2. Mentality of Pro-PETA Geeks
  3. In Defense of Animals
  4. Are Animals Robots?
  5. The Future
    1. All for One
    2. All for None
    3. What to Do
    4. Personal Take
  6. Conclusion

~ Introduction ~

First, in case you haven’t heard, Ringling Bros is closing. Despite being a nationwide tour, I always considered circuses to be on the level of local sports in that you only went as a kind of cheap amusement for a weekend. No one I know ever talks about the circus, and I’m pretty sure lack of interest contributed more to the demise of Ringling Bros than any ethical arguments did. If people want it enough, they usually get it as long as enough money supports it, no matter what ethical concerns are pressing. That’s why there are things like abortion, contraceptives, shark fin soup, slavery (frequently mislabeled “human trafficking”), and the Yellow River being stained with our old electronics so we can maintain “clean” environmental codes here in the States.

I find it somewhat depressing and predictable and yet somewhat telling when people react to events like this. I read YCombinator news, so there are usually a bunch of geeks commenting on reality, though I always considered it difficult to judge the world through the lens of a 24 inch monitor. In any case, there tend to be three identifiable groups (although really it’s a spectrum): the radicals of one point of view, the radicals of the opposite point of view, and the people who sit in between and are usually fairly quiet. Anonymity helps break the third group out of their shell, though you can get more and sometimes better opinions on sites where karma points aren’t involved.

There were some people who expressed lack of interest. This group sits in the middle and I’m more or less there.

The radicals celebrating this time support what they like to call the “ethical treatment” of animals. They dislike both circuses and zoos. There’s a very simple, understandable mentality behind this.

~ Mentality of Pro-PETA Geeks ~

Let me clarify something in advance: What I’m about to say is based on a number of assumptions. Let’s not assume everyone thinks this way, though there are some, as evidenced by what they say and how they go about defending their point of view.

If you believe that we all evolved from a single species, then human beings are no more entitled to life and support than any other animal. If we treat humans kindly and humans are just animals, why not treat other animals the same? Take care of the planet, and it will take care of you. All this seems to be more out of natural human kindness than any rational observation since history tends to show the aggressor usually wins, not to mention this planet is doomed for a number of reasons anyways. Taking things to their logical conclusion from a naturalist perspective, the sun will not support life on this planet forever and it is a moot point to be arguing what we do in the mean time. End of story. But nobody stops debating with that fact, so let’s keep going.

Now of course, I must comment on the backwards thinking being used here. First, if we all evolved from a single species and have, up to this point, survived by being the fittest, smartest, etc. then it would seem to make little sense to preserve the incompetent species other than for our own pleasure. If they die out, then they did not evolve fast enough, right? Other creatures have been shown to adapt, to one could argue (as a Naturalist should) the mechanisms of natural selection are still at play.

Frankly, I don’t care about circuses – I don’t ever recall ever visiting one, and perhaps they aren’t so nice to their animals, but it doesn’t matter from this perspective. The animals can be used for our own pleasure. I have been to several zoos, and I do believe I wouldn’t have nearly the appreciation for animals I do today if it weren’t for the zoos. None of the zoos I went to appeared to be crappy (though some didn’t have enough shade). So should we stop zoos because they aren’t ideal?

One could argue that mistreating animals follows the same logic as mistreating everything else. If you mistreat your car, it stops working for you. If you mistreat the earth, it stops taking care of you. However, this mentality relies on one of two things: either that the world has always been like this and a delicate balance must be maintained – which contradicts the survival-of-the-fittest principle (a natural part of the evolution of species), as I’ll explain – or that we’ve reached a stage in which humanity alone is now powerful enough to dictate the fate of the world (a more reasonable assumption, which I’ll also address).

First, let’s talk about evolution from species to species and how that stands opposed to the argument of mistreatment. The word “mistreatment” is subjective. One could argue that dumping toxic waste into the ocean is mistreatment, but we could, at the same time, argue that it stimulates the spawning of life that is more tolerant and perhaps more dependent on such materials. Clams have been seen attached to the sides of ships, raccoons dig out of garbage cans, and crocodiles eat scraps thrown away by fishermen. Consider bird feeders. Is it waste to give the birds free food and not toss the ants a loaf of bread. Are we making birds lazy? What’s wrong with giving crocodiles scraps of fish? There are a number of reasons to not do this, but the argument that it isn’t a “natural” part of their life would be a ridiculous argument that would deprive goldfish of a good meal.

There has been talk that animals in zoos don’t receive enough space. Perhaps, but this argument is also subjective. It could be argued (though I’m not going to invent the argument here) that humans should travel within an area of at least 100 miles radius in their life so as to maintain their sanity, but this doesn’t always happen, and many people live in one town their entire life. They experience joys, sorrows, anger, etc. like everyone else. Could leaving town maintain human sanity enough to reduce the need for mental hospitals? It’s impossible to say since it requires a very long and tedious polling of several people and assumes a number of things about their lives – such as the presumption they aren’t really, really lost. And yet, people claim that we know enough about animals to say they absolutely must have some grand chunk of property. The same could be said for humans, but we never afford that even to ourselves. Besides, the basis for all this is that somehow we can’t be happy within a small confine, and supposedly, animals can’t either.

Animals each have their own personalities. I’m sure some like cheap thrills and some prefer expensive ones, but from a health and well-being standpoint, as long as basic necessities are taken care of, animals seem to be more content on average than humans.

Part of this is a jab at the interpretations of scientific studies than an actual argument about animal comfort. I do like good scientific studies, but I’m afraid people draw all too extensive conclusions about things for which they have vested interests. If your world view is centered on “scientific knowledge”, then naturally, skewing the interpretation of the evidence in favor of your mentality is subconsciously permissible.

INTP Mentality

Here of course, I must comment on a certain INTP mentality esp. since not all geeks have INTP personalities. Many people with the INTP personality are geeks (and not just computer geeks), and many of them (or at least many of the ones I’ve read) have a particular way of viewing animals that, in my opinion, seems to have something more to do with a feeling of anger than kinship. When thinking about animals, many of them it seems are thinking about cats, dogs, harmless creatures, or things running wild and free. These sorts of things embody their own desires: independence, wanting to be left alone, living a quiet life. When something invades that, they become angry. If something invades the life of another creature, they become sympathetic. It’s a natural reaction, I believe. This, combined with the fact that INTP individuals have trouble dealing with other people for various reasons may cause them to compare humans and animals like witches vs kittens rather than babies vs bears. Subconsciously, this contributes to a sympathetic mentality for all such animal cases, merited or otherwise. Such a mentality isn’t always the case – I would like to say it’s more the exception than the rule – since many of them tend to be the greatest humanitarians I know of. (Edit: I’ll have to address this more at another time.)

By quick logical reasoning, it would seem perfectly acceptable, in the minds of some people, that a lion rip apart a sheep for a meal in the most unfashionable of manners but somehow cruel were a human to do likewise – much less be quicker, faster, and inflict pain a shorter amount of time – for the same purpose. A poor African man looking to feed his family cuts the ivory off of elephants while we who dig up toxic mercury for our cell phones call him inhumane. Surely, it is a waste indeed, but people stopped hunting buffalo even though the first people here used the entire thing (and probably still could with a little imagination). Nevermind the cellphones, we waste a great deal of food already, even vegetarians. Some measure of criticism on hypocrisy could be leveled at anyone arguing for the “humane treatment of animals”, and I believe this primarily due to the human factors. But since all ethics are human anyways, people can be as hypocritical as they like.

Ethics is a collection of subjective opinions concerning human action, we all should know, so a person can have any ethical opinion they want, even if it doesn’t make any sense. However, it is quite deceptive to claim such ethics are universal when they are based on nothing more than personal feelings. The reason for making such a claim is to trick people into believing that somehow what-you-are-arguing-in-favor-of is doing us all a universal good because “ethics” is associated with desired, “humane” treatment – whatever that means.

What if Humans Control Earth’s Destiny?

What about the argument that humans are powerful enough to control the destiny of the world? As a humorous but perhaps more depressing remark, I must say that humanity is doomed if this is the case. Even if every human were to agree on finding a solution, we are so different mentally that we would all argue over what sort of solution or solutions we should implement, and upon interfering with each other, we would fail to completely fulfill our goals and realize them to their greatest potential. Does this mean we should give up on the idea entirely? No. We can at least delay what seems to be inevitable.

However, even from this perspective, animals aren’t somehow magically entitled to be treated to the degree demanded by PETA. Animals still have no rights, and without going into detail about that, I’ve already argued elsewhere about why the concept of rights is deceptive. From the utilitarian perspective, animals are nothing more than complex robots – something I’ll discuss in a later section – and can manipulated and studied like anything else in creation for the sake of better learning. Taking care of them is a natural priority because we currently have few alternatives for food and research. Until we can fully understand how to manipulate the world we live in, there will always be some dependence on “nature” – the current yet old biological system.

In Short

The idea of providing animals with “humane” treatment is, from a Naturalistic perspective, absurd. The animals are nothing more than blobs of cells that can be utilized for our own devices and only maintained so far as we depend upon them.

The reason for the humane treatment of such creatures, from a Naturalist perspective, is primarily emotional. Conservation of creatures is a utilitarian need, but this only goes so far as to permit happiness in the creatures where it is beneficial for mankind. Happy creatures may improve the health and wellbeing of offspring and make for more usable specimens, but lab creatures only deserve as much care as would be needed to ensure accurate scientific measurements.

Because the human treatment is primarily emotional in basis, it opposes the mechanism of the natural selection of species and therefore, in a way, puts man in his own sort of god seat.

~ In Defense of Animals ~

I should now at least say something in the defense of animals. However, I really can’t do this from the perspective that we all evolved from the same species, much less a purely Naturalistic perspective. I have already commented on the idea that humans may be powerful enough to shape the course of the world, so this needs no further comment. Instead, I must speak from a different ethical point of view.

There are a number of saints in the Catholic church throughout history that have been said to be so full of the love of God that they fed even the rats and ants that came into their homes. This, in some senses, is more of a testimony to their kindness of heart than of any particular meaning of the creatures’ identities, but it does support a few important points. First, God is an orderly being and anyone in love with the True God desires the maintaining of order. This “order” in particular refers to systems that preserve peace, especially peace of mind. Second, anyone in love with God takes care of His creation the way someone receiving a gift from a loved one would take care of it. We could, again, return to the principle of “taking care of this world will take care of ourselves” – a very powerful argument – but that isn’t necessary for the mentality of a lover. (As a notably fact, some people are very keen on saving even the tiniest scraps from their loved ones. Humans obviously have the capacity to protect and preserve articles, gifts, and treasures imparted from those with whom they have some psychological connection.)

Though animals are quite important and are indeed gifts from God, the greatest gift to man is another human being. Humans are made in the image and likeness of God, loved infinitely, and therefore their lives are treasured far beyond the lives of the creatures or anything else in the created world. Consequently, even from this perspective, the life of a human is more important than the life of an animal.

However, from this perspective, I believe it is possible to make a more reasonable argument for the humane treatment of animals. Animals themselves have unique personalities, indicate emotions, cry out in pain, and give all sorts of indications of being truly conscious. Here we walk into mysterious philosophical ground where even the deepest thinkers find themselves without tools for making an examination.

~ Are Animals Robots? ~

No analysis would be a good summary without philosophy, right? I’ve already pointed out that the world view of certain individuals, based on the evolution of species from a single origin, has no basis for treating animals better than humans. From a Christian perspective, some defense could be made, but the extent is limited by what we can argue about the consciousness of creatures.

Are animals robots? Are they merely very good at faking being alive? I have no doubts that one day robots will be able to simulate human activity to a shockingly realistic perspective, and the consequences for this I intend to discuss later. The question now is whether animals themselves are similar or truly have some supernatural mechanism of awareness.

There are a number of arguments for qualia. Such a topic deserves a better, dedicated discussion, and while I have discussed this concept in a way (via “nowlos“) on my philosophy blog, there are more arguments that are easy to search for on the internet.

The basic conclusion of those arguments implies that if a creature has qualia, then it also has some supernatural component of its being and is consequently similar in construction to human beings, whose qualia are easy to confirm. That said, we could begin to speak about the souls of animals and where they go from a less-superstitious perspective.

If animals do have souls, then it is another compelling reason (on top of humans having qualia and therefore souls/supernatural components) to abandon the Naturalist perspective, which should be obviously wrong.

On the bright side, it would at least imply we could begin speaking about the ethical treatment of animals with consideration for their souls, and animals could no longer be equated with robots and computers.

~ The Future ~

Finally, I’ve come to perhaps one of the most interesting parts of the article: What these different points of view mean for the future. There are two courses for the discussion here: one would be to discuss how the points of view would affect society if implemented in their entirety and the other would be to ask what to do about the issue now.

All For One

Let’s start with the Naturalist perspective (or at least what I consider to be the Naturalist perspective – the belief that the visible, tangible world is all that there is).

Have you ever tried to buy a house from an ape? It’s another animal “just like you” (or so they say). Such interactions are impossible. The aid of another human being doesn’t diminish the fact that the human beings are doing all of the interacting even if one of the humans is pretending to “consider the best interests” of “brother ape”. The fact is, it doesn’t work. It wouldn’t work with other animals either. There is a limitation to what animals are capable of doing, and to suggest they be given land and property that they “own” is ridiculous. They can’t even fathom what that means. Humans can’t even get the land we need – just ask anyone living in their parents’ basement. And yet, there are people who want their pets to inherit their property. Some people may claim it shouldn’t go this far but still demand what others consider to be outrageous demands. What these people are not seeing is that the incessant demands know no end. You can continue to make demands until you annihilate all humanity for the sake of a handful of stupid beasts who, in turn, offer no gratitude nor miss you when you’re gone.

One of the problems is the legal battles. PETA creates enough circuses in court to be as well known as the ACLU. Imagine – if you will – how many more legal battles would occur if we granted animals health care, land, and roaming rights. There have already been court cases over “poor confinement”, so there is definitely no end to the extent this could be taken. What is even sillier is that it is entirely of human doing and not some demands made by the animals themselves. More court cases just cost everyone more time and money, and prevent the system from taking care of things with possibly greater urgency.

I’ve already pointed out that animals have different personalities. However, because such animals can’t speak, some people believe they should all be given the same treatment. It is difficult to tailor needs to every specific creature, and some are more demanding than others. (We are ignoring here the fact that we don’t even give humans the same treatment, nor do we consider ourselves entitled to it, right?… well, maybe some of us do…)

On top of all this, we have the bizarre stance of what to do about food. While many humans can be vegetarian, this doesn’t work out for all of us. I know a number of people who, in fact, need meat in their diet whether they (or people they know) like it or not. Our diets are all different, and we can’t all be treated the same without some negative consequences. (In fact, even vegans may suffer from vitamin B12 deficiency – which comes from meat – so, assuming we ignore synthetic vitamins, humans are inherently designed/required to consume some meat.) Animals likewise have this problem.

What do you do when a cheetah – an endangered species – kills a millionaire dog and eats it? If other animals deserve the same treatment as humans, then naturally they should be subject to the same laws (or even some subset of laws). One could make the argument that animals “don’t know any better”, but this defends their animal instincts – the very thing we deny when we arrest someone for defending themselves by killing other people. If animals can defend themselves and eat and kill, why then am I not entitled to do the same as an animal? Why is it that human choices are somehow treated differently than instincts? Why is that rape is considered a crime and not animal bestiality? Sure, humans can complain, but isn’t the act part of human instinct? I wonder if there aren’t animals who detest their mates. I’ve seen the Nature channel and seen one female smack a male. Seems like an obvious rejection in my book, lol, albeit it is arguable.

The entire legal system stands as an entity in defiance of Nature. Mankind should not be organized. He should be killing himself off, killing other men, taking what will benefit himself alone. In fact, it is counter-intuitive (and thus evidence against “natural selection”) that the sympathetic man has even survived and now dictates the world. However, rather than humanity’s self-destruction, the faculty of man for kindness and love has resulted in what some are now complaining as an overpopulation.

Suppose humanity did perform self-annihilation. Would this be better or worse for other animals? The objective perspective says it would be meaningless, and the subjective perspective would be reduced to that of the animals, who don’t have any means of measuring global human population and don’t care.

Robots complicate the issue. If humans are without souls and animals are without souls and the Naturalist perspective is true, and we all came into being, having originated from a single species, then computers are no different than human beings, and one day, the general populace, who is unaware of the intricate complexities behind the technology, may support the idea of giving even robots “rights” of some kind. This could start with very complex devices like Watson and be extended to all sorts of talking devices and cars and down to vacuum cleaners, toasters, and anything that moves around or makes a noise or uses a microchip.

This generation may argue it is ridiculous, but previous generations have argued that what we do now is ridiculous and may still be so. In the 1920s, it was absurd for women to wear knee-high skirts. People have grown accustomed to this, but all sorts of sexual atrocities have risen in number as people have become less respectful of the human body (and not just because of skirt height, mind you – that’s only a sign of the times). Indeed, one could say that animal populations have suffered atrocities, such as the killing off of the buffalo for the sake of hurting the plains tribes. (History books tell me buffalo we even shot by train passengers as they rode by. While their motives may vary from sport to pure malice, the latter is of consideration here.)

Without a healthy respect for things, order cannot be maintained, extremes are taken, and we all suffer in one way or another.

What if we have synthetic creatures? Artificial beings may be the pinnacle of biotechnology (er… according to some, I’d imagine).

Should the treatment of these be any different than that of other animals? Should we base it on whether such synthetic creatures originated from pre-existing species (important if creatures have souls)? How could we tell the difference? What if creatures are created in a lab that look entirely like pre-existing species but were not born from them? What if the artificial creatures are as smart as human beings?

First, it’s a bad idea to even make such species – not just from a perspective of science, but from a practical perspective, considering the legal and medical hassles involved (imagine trying to provide insurance for a creature that is prone to cancer due to poor design, and the lawsuits by such creature against the company that designed it). I’m sure some people would think it would be better that there be greater respect for animals in place by the time this sort of thing comes around (assuming it ever does), but there’s no way to compare the two futures (one protecting animal “rights” and one not) without it being mostly speculation and thus biased opinion.

I can foresee intelligent synthetic creatures (not just mutant or cloned sheep), but predating that might be bio-engineered housing and bio-tools. There would, no doubt, be an industry supporting the “exploitation” of the natural biological world. There already is to some degree, and the patent office has awarded patents for DNA – still the most controversial patents ever created, and stupid ones in the opinion of this author (just thought I’d mention that). Your new bio-engineered house would allow for photosynthetic structures to power part of your electric bill, create insulation, and self-heal. But don’t worry – the insurance companies would find something to “cover”.

At some point, if your house starts taking on the life of a creature and that singing fish over your mantle becomes the real McCoy, you may start to worry about a whole slew of lawsuits over what happens to said poor ents (that’s a talking tree in Lord of the Rings). That golf ball through your neighbor’s window will have a lot more significance.

And what about death and burial? How do we dispose of all this biological waste? Some countries have problems finding new burial grounds (no kidding), but I’d like to know who gets the bill for burial.

I shouldn’t need to mention the issues with rats, ants, and other pests, should they also be given special treatment. The slippery slope may begin with cute animals like dogs and cats, move on to apes and horses, but it doesn’t end at crocodiles and bears. What about “rights” for mosquitoes? What about weasels and rabies carriers? Is it humane to shoot them or put them to sleep without proper authority? What if, by considering humans on an equal plane with animals, we start to kill human beings?

The positive side of elevating animal status is the possible elimination of the death penalty. But it does leave us in a very awkward social state. If people knew the future legal hassles that would plague them stepping on an ant hill or accidentally knocking over a bird’s nest because of this ethical treatment of animals movement, I’m sure they would be much more reluctant to endorse it.

All for None

Let’s suppose animals are treated as just robots. Animals may be eventually eliminated, but mankind must hope that he is able to eliminate his dependence on them before they are entirely gone. Once the animals are gone, vegetation and technology become the life force of mankind, and mankind is doomed if such a system fails or is manipulated by the selfish.

It is likely that animals will never be eliminated for a number of reasons. First, animals can be bred and used for research, but the procedures and tests employed on them may be so disgusting that people eventually become tolerant of employing such nasty techniques on other human beings. After all, if I don’t feel your pain, what is wrong with making you suffer in order to make you obedient like a dog? Humans are already being treated like animals in slavery, and there is no reason this pattern won’t continue if other animals are mistreated or some distinction isn’t made between human life and animal life.

From an industrial perspective, I do see animals being preserved for human sport and food. But even here, abuse and mistreatment of sorts can worsen the food and game. It isn’t fun to hunt starved deer or satisfying eat a starved chicken.

The abuse of animal life leads to its demise, and again, humanity is dependent on animals for both maintaining the ecosystem (being food and keeping other animals and plants in check) and being available for research (so we can better understand life). People “downstream” don’t usually take care of supplies they are given if they are expendable. That’s why we have so much garbage and disposable items – it’s all in the name of the almighty dollar. Consequently, without laws and limitations, people will abuse the creature population from steak dinner to E. Coli motors.

Now let’s consider synthetic creatures and bioengineering in this sort of world. The biggest problem, as I see it, would also be abuse. Without a respect for life and biology, you end up with the same respect people have for an old cell phone: it’s nothing more than a toy for the trash when it becomes outdated. Notably, this is the same outcome with slightly different reasoning.

The bright side is the openness for new invention. Without a respect for life, we can experiment at will. Certainly I believe this could be accomplished with restrictions, but that’s not the point in this case. The lack of respect for life fosters laws that are much more permissive in the experimentation and abuse, which, in turn, allows research companies to come up with all sorts of crazy ideas and test how they can be integrated into society. It may even speed up the invention process so that your bio-house and bio-car are invented sooner. Who knows – your flying car may come with wings instead of jets and need only hay for fuel instead of gasoline. Such vehicles might be able to sustain more damage in the sky and not be affected by rocks that would otherwise jam your jet blades.

There are downsides to the technological advances, such as the arising of new pathogens, viruses, and bio-weapons, without regard for all potential targets, intended or unintended. Using biological material for different technology also puts a kink in the ecosystem. How are these creations powered? How will other animals treat them? Will ants eat your house? Will raccoons eat your toaster? There may be a bit of resource stealing – synthetic tree houses may take nutrients that would be best served to natural trees and plants.

What To Do

First, people must come to some understanding of animals that correctly places them within the framework of the world. The degree to which we care for the creatures of the world depends greatly on our point of view, and it does so to such an enormous degree that there is no solution by which we will all agree. The fight over what is best for animals stems from the very core of a person’s world view all they way up to their own personal preferences and emotions concerning other human beings and animals.

Most animals only eat, sleep, move, and poop. They need a habitat of sorts that suit their needs until they become food for something else, and caging them requires that we perform the unnatural role of dictating the life of the creature, preserving it and protecting it from all natural events. But if we did not do this, many creatures would, in fact, die out. Is that a good or a bad thing? On the downside, we don’t have the creature anymore to analyze, examine, or enjoy, and the ecosystem will suffer to some unknown extent. On the bright side, nature will have taken its course and the world no longer needs to feed this creature.

What should not be done – above all else – is to allow emotional preference to sway justice. Just because you feel bad for some kangaroo doesn’t mean the popping puffball should get better treatment by the government – or stores, or hospitals, or even your neighbors – than humans.

Personal Take

My perspective is that an animal is somewhere above a robot and lower than a human on the scale of value. Feed the dog and give it a bed, but don’t dress the dog up and call it your “grand-dog”. You didn’t give birth to a Chihuahua, much less Fifi, and no amount of love you give to that dog will change that fact. Feed the cat, but please remember it’s not your girlfriend nor better than her. No matter how much humans annoy you, you’re one of them. Just because animals talk less doesn’t mean they have comparable intelligence, and a few simple experiments can demonstrate that fact.

At the same time, animals are not robots. Kicking a dog will merit hatred from the dog, so don’t be surprised if it bites your hand later. Elephants can’t paint other elephants, but it seems they can recognize an act of charity, which is something even IBM’s Watson can’t do.

I don’t have a problem with the idea of killing or taking advantage of animals for food or research. I do think some research is rather senseless and needless, but most of the research on animals that I’m aware of is usually for medical purposes – where it is better to kill an ape whose intrinsic value is, from my perspective, less than a human – or microbes, which I doubt (but question) have a soul, than not servicing dying humans.

I don’t believe robots should ever be treated as anything more than any other material item. That statement is ambiguous and for good reason. The way you perceive the world influences the way you treat the world. Again, abusing the world can ultimately amount to abusing yourself.

Seeing things from the point of view of the programmer has helped me formulate an understanding of what is actually going on inside the computer. I can see past the facade of human emotion any robot could try to mimic (at least the current ones). No matter how realistic or deceptive a robot might be, it is still just a computer. The same conclusions I’ve come to can be reached by non-programmers, to say the least, but I can’t help but wonder how many people incorrectly believe that robots will gain some sort of self-consciousness when technology can only, at best, simulate it.

~ Conclusion ~

Where will we actually end up? I don’t know. I’m rather curious as to the state of affairs in other countries. How does the general populace view animal treatment, the possibility of artificial life, and the simulation of consciousness and emotions by robots. It seems most people don’t usually express their thoughts on this matter online. As I’ve said, it’s hard to judge the world from a 21-inch monitor.

I never did talk about owning pets. Owning pets and ownership of things in general deserve their own thorough discussions, and probably books.

My apologies if some arguments were incongruous. I can’t possibly take every idea into account, especially writing on the fly. Sadly, I was stopped by a thunderstorm in the middle of editing, so this article has shown up late and may contain a number of instances where toes have penetrated the gap between my lips. At the very least, I hope this article has you contemplating on the matter.


3 thoughts on “Circus of Ethics – Concerning Animal Treatment

  1. i would simplify your argument this way: we should extend kindness by default. it gives us a greater state of being to extend kindness over anything else. but im not vegan or even vegetarian. my kindness doesnt extend to what i eat for dinner–

    actually it does to a degree– i prefer to eat animals that are treated as well as possible in life, and killed with suffering as minimal as possible. the reason is simple: i gain so little from an animal being treated poorly (perhaps pennies on the dollar) and there are otherwise costs not only to the animal but to myself (poorly treated animals have to be given more antibiotics, which i have no interest in eating just to save a little money.)

    this isnt to say i only eat animals that are treated well. when i go to a restaurant, i have no idea (generally speaking) where they buy from. but when i have any way of knowing, i strongly prefer food that was treated well in life.

    as for going vegetarian or vegan, i know enough people that have gone this route to say i dont think i would do excellently health-wise, even some of the more dedicated have had to go back to eating meat. i know there are vegetarians and vegans who insist this isnt true, but they wont convince me any time soon.

    circuses are pretty cruel to animals, at least they were throughout history. weighed against the fact that the most entertaining aspects of them in my opinion were people-based acts, not animal-based ones, i dont think i will miss barnum & bailey (i actually went to just one show, as a child– i dont remember anything about it except we bought color flashlights with a fiber-optic gimmick to them, and the crowds were of incredible proportions.) if instead id gone to see cirque du soleil and they were closing, i think id be a lot more disappointed. they have a reputation for being utterly amazing, and they have no animals. of note: i was wildly in love with a circus performer last year. shes a bartender now, but she can still juggle– or model.

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