I turned vegetarian recently. My main reason for the change was realising that there is nothing about humans that makes us intrinsically better than other animals. Of course, we have all manner of bells and whistles granted us by evolution that make us more advanced mentally, but unless you want to invoke the concept of a soul, or some kind of spirituality, there's nothing you can really point to in humans that isn't simply a better-developed version of something you can find elsewhere in the animal kingdom. So I drew the conclusion that humans don't in fact have any kind of automatic authority over other living creatures.

But then it occurred to me that the same principle can be applied to animal testing, which can often be lethal for the animals involved. Going by what I just said, I should stay consistent and support bringing the practice to an end. Trouble is, my gut reaction to that point is that it's ridiculous. Animal testing is vital to medical research which has saved countless lives. Whenever I encounter animal rights fundamentalists like PETA, who would sooner allow lethal diseases to run rampant through the human population than support animal testing, I want to beat them with occasional furniture. Yet by my own reasoning, I've wound up agreeing with them.

So what should I do? The main thing I'm trying to do is avoid contradiction. I can't possibly deny the intrinsic superiority of human beings while cheerful waving animals into a vivisectionist's lab for the good of my own species. But to stubbornly refuse those same animals access to the lab while people die of aids, cancer and hundreds of other diseases seems just as immoral. It seems that I can either support animals dying in laboratories, or humans (possibly including myself) dying in the streets of disease. But if I accept that both types of life are equally valuable, how do I decide who to side with?

What do you folks think? Am I just being too rigid with my principles? Is there an easy way accept both animal welfare and animal testing that I haven't thought of? I suspect this is a problem which has been debated hundreds of times before, but I have to admit, it's got me stumped.

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because yeah, we need to wash ourselves sometimes too).

Just sometimes?
Personally, I love animals. I'm a pet owner. I tend to go back and forth on the vegetarian thing because eating meat makes me feel guilty but it tastes so good....

In mind mind it's not a matter of superiority it's a matter of loyalty. There's nothing wrong with being sympathetic towards animals. I don't like it when I know that any other living creature is in pain. I just happen to draw the line with other species when it comes down to choosing between a loyalty to them and a loyalty to human beings.
I was a vegetarian for four years give or take a few months. I made the choice for health and nutritional reasons alone. I have started eating fish again sparingly in recent months since I found out that soy, which was the mainstay of my diet during those years, isn't good when consumed in mass quantities. A common misconception is that protein you eat becomes protein on your body. Animals form their proteins by synthesizing amino acids; we are no different. Amino acids come from a variety of foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, fish, and pretty much anything that isn't processed. Most westerners consume more than three times the amount of protein they actually need, which over time, contibutes to heart disease, osteoperosis, cancer, and a host of other nasty ailments. This is why I became a vegetarian. There is a lot of debate on nutrition issues, but that's irrelevant to this discussion. As far as the animal testing/ meat eating dilemma, I can't really help much as I'm a pretty amoral person. Primarily, I believe you should find the diet that works the best for you and gives you the most nutrition possible while still being enjoyable and easy to maintain. I don't think one diet will work the same way for everyone, so each person needs to find that balance. It is rational to put your own needs before the needs of others, and the needs of humanity before the needs of other species. In this manner, animal welfare should be secondary in my opinion. Granted, I do think testing hairspray on rabbits is ridiculous, but if there is something that could offer prolonged benefits to mankind, I see no real problem with reasonable amounts of animal testing. In these cases it's a necessary sacrifice if you will. There is a list of companies that don't test their products on animals on PETA's website if you're interested.
Whenever I encounter animal rights fundamentalists like PETA

The ultimate PETA story was about a bombing in Israel a few years back when a donkey carrying several 100 kg of explosives and shrapnel was used to try and bomb an Israeli bus. PETA's first and only concern raised was cruelty to the donkey.

True vivisection is a relic of a century ago. Its just such a loaded topic that it is indispensible to the animal rights propaganda ministries.

Aside from everything else, if we weren't supposed to eat animals, they wouldn't be made out of meat.
Do you belong to PETA felch? (People Eating Tasty Animals)
I don't think it's relevant to say that humans "need" meat. What the body "needs" is protein, of which meat is a source, but not the only source on Earth.

I don't delude myself into thinking I can bring down the meat industry by giving my food budget to Quorn. It's about ironing out any contradictions and hypocrisy in my moral guidelines.

As to the other replies, I've always opposed using animals for the testing of trivial products like cosmetics. What bothers me is medical testing, which is vitally important. But I was thinking; if there really is no difference in the significance of human and non-human animal suffering, you could decide the candidate for research with a coin toss. Somebody has to lose, it may as well be non-humans. I may not agree with the fact that those animals are selected based on a snobbish and outdated feeling of false superiority, but the practice is identical either way. There is, after all, such a thing as human medical experimentation.
I don't think it's that simple. Keep in mind the type of animal we are. We wouldn't be organzied enough to have a civilization if we weren't inclined towards a fierce sense of loyalty towards each other. We seperate ourselves into various nations, social groups, religious groups, etc. Why? Because we have a strong need to feel some sort of tribalism.

Animals are chosen over people for testing because of a strong sense of loyalty to own's own kind. The claim of superiority is just an attempt to justify the cruelty. If other types of life are lesser then there's less to feel guilty about.

I don't think there is anything wrong with choosing your own kind over other creatures. I think it's a natural part of what has helped us survive this long. Keep in mind, this isn't an excuse to cause other creatures to suffer needlessly. There's nothing wrong with choosing to be a vegetarian, avoiding cosmetics that test on animals, etc. Perhaps someday we'll no longer need to use animals in medical testing, at which point I'll happily add it to the list.
But I don't think it doesn't necessarily justify that we do it now, if we are so aware of the moral dilemma implied. You must really like or consider the human race favorable to share this view (I have come to understand a majority of the world does, I don't as I have weak misanthropic leanings) which is also why I disagree.

I guess eventually the question rather revolves whether humans or not are of any importance. For me, it is not so much about race but about life, and in my eyes, every sort of life has its own right to live. To kill an animal mindlessly is equal to murder to me, but still people don't think that far. I don't imply my worldview is better, but it is sometimes rather hard to be put into a minority group because of your opinions.

Also, I wouldn't say so much there is a need to be tribal, there is rather a need for identity. Culture itself is meaningless without the symbols we attach and we do it with everyday rituals we might not be aware of because they are so common. We simply identify ourselves with those who are similar to us, ie, share the same culture or at least, blood. Blood relations are also important, although the definition is getting blurried.
Yes, but that's what tribalism is. :)

I don't think that it makes very much sense for a 'herd' or 'colony' animal to not favor it's own kind. We wouldn't thrive if all of the sudden a majority of us stopped favoring humans.

This doesn't mean that I think that you should change your opinions. I'll just never be able to see eye to eye with you on this subject.

Besides, what's wrong with being part of a minority?
Then we just agree to disagree, because I cannot in a similar manner see eye to eye with someone agreeing with your beliefs.

I never said it way, the society rather implies that you get shunned if you are a part of the minority.
Well, that's true to some degree. I was trying to express that having always been some what of a minority, it's not so bad. That, and I don't think an opinion can be 'right' or 'wrong'. Guess I get an 'F' on that one. :)

Regardless, I'm curious about your point of view. How do you reach your conclusions on the matter? What are the thought processes that lead to your point of view? Does this stem from your paganism? This isn't meant as any sort of criticism of your opinions; I'm genuinely interested in how the 'other side' comes to it's conclusions.
Yes, mostly because of my paganism and that I have misanthropic leanings where I consider the human race in most cases to be less of worth than animals. I mean, I would choose to hang out with our family dog any day over a day with a Christian fundie!

I have had always have misanthropic leanings and a preference for nature, so reaching a conclusion wasn't actually developed in a sense of philosophy, it just dropped down on my head. I would rather prefer realization as I didn't logically argue myself where I stand, it was more an acknowledgement of how I always naturally felt.

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