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Rational Engagement, Emotional Response, & the Prospects for Moral Progress in Animal Use Debates Ethicists have increasingly turned their attention to moral questions about the treatment of non-human animals. Arguments from a range of perspectives have been given for the conclusion that routine uses of animals in agriculture, the fashion industry, and experimentation are morally wrong. Defenses of these practices, however, have been far fewer, and generally less developed, than the cases in favor of animals. My aim in this presentation is to encourage development of stronger arguments in favor of animal use and provide methodological guidance on how to do so. Nathan Nobis For Animal Research in Theory & Practice, ed. Jeremy Garrett, Rice, Philosophy
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Harms & Moral Justification

Feb 25, 2016

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Rational Engagement, Emotional Response, & the Prospects for Moral Progress in Animal Use Debates. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

  • Rational Engagement, Emotional Response, & the Prospects for Moral Progress in Animal Use Debates Ethicists have increasingly turned their attention to moral questions about the treatment of non-human animals. Arguments from a range of perspectives have been given for the conclusion that routine uses of animals in agriculture, the fashion industry, and experimentation are morally wrong. Defenses of these practices, however, have been far fewer, and generally less developed, than the cases in favor of animals. My aim in this presentation is to encourage development of stronger arguments in favor of animal use and provide methodological guidance on how to do so.Nathan Nobis For Animal Research in Theory & Practice, ed. Jeremy Garrett, Rice, Philosophy

  • Harms & Moral JustificationMany fields and occupations involve harming animals, making them worse off. Animals = for our purposes, mammals & birds; least controversial cases for discussion.Typically, people in these fields will agree that animals are being harmed. They claim, however, that these harms are morally justified: not all harms are wrong, and these harms arent wrong (indeed, perhaps some are morally obligatory).

  • Common experimental procedures include:drowning, suffocating,starving,burning,blinding,destroying their ability to hear,damaging their brains,severing their limbs,crushing their organs

    inducing heart attacks,cancersulcersparalysis, Seizuresforcing them to inhale tobacco smoke, drink alcohol, and ingest various drugs, such as heroine and cocaine.

  • A few commonly overlooked observations about harm:(1) Painless killing can be (and often is) harmful for the one who is killed; it is bad for him/her. Why? They are deprived of whatever goods they would have experienced. No interests can be satisfied. Thus, the common if painlessly killed, then humane, so nothing morally objectionable views need defense. (2) Recent ethological research shows that just being in a laboratory, and undergoing routine procedures, is stressful (and thus harmful) for animals.

  • Balcombe JP, Barnard ND, Sandusky C, Laboratory routines cause animal stress, Contemporary Topics in Laboratory Animal Science, 2004, Nov, 43 (6):42-51 Abstract: Eighty published studies were appraised to document the potential stress associated with three routine laboratory procedures commonly performed on animals: handling, blood collection, and orogastric gavage . . . Significant changes in physiologic parameters correlated with stress . . were associated with all three procedures in multiple species in the studies we examined. The results of these studies demonstrated that animals responded with rapid, pronounced, and statistically significant elevations in stress-related responses for each of the procedures . . .We interpret these findings to indicate that laboratory routines are associated with stress, and that animals do not readily habituate to them. The data suggest that significant fear, stress, and possibly distress are predictable consequences of routine laboratory procedures, and that these phenomena have substantial scientific and humane implications for the use of animals in laboratory research.

  • Balcombe JP, Laboratory environments and rodents behavioural needs: A review, Laboratory Animals (in press)

    Abstract: Laboratory housing conditions have significant physiological and psychological effects on rodents, raising both scientific and humane concerns. Published studies of rats, mice and other rodents were reviewed to document behavioural and psychological problems attributable to predominant laboratory housing conditions. Studies indicate that rats and mice value opportunities to take cover, build nests, explore, gain social contact, and exercise some control over their social milieu, and that the inability to satisfy these needs is physically and psychologically detrimental, leading to impaired brain development and behavioural anomalies (e.g., stereotypies). To the extent that space is a means to gain access to such resources, spatial confinement likely exacerbates these deficits. Adding environmental enrichments to small cages reduces but does not eliminate these problems, and I argue that substantial changes in housing and husbandry conditions would be needed to further reduce them.

  • Many ethicists have argued that its wrong to use animals these ways; theyve given reasons for their views and defended them:utilitarianism and other consequentialisms,rights-based deontologies,ideal contractarianisms (veil of ignorance, Golden rule ethics),virtue ethics, common-sense (least harm, needless harm) moralities,religious moralities, feminist ethics, and more: indeed almost every major, influential perspective in moral theory.

  • Even Kants, Rawls, and other moral theories have been modified to be friendly to non-rational moral patients (not moral agents):Improve the theory so there are direct duties to baby (& other non-rational & powerless humans : shes of moral value not because others care about her, despite hernot being a moral agent, rational, etc.

  • If the theory is now not Bad for Baby (and other vulnerable humans), it is now not Bad for Animals?

  • Thus, an abundance of ethical resources in defense of animals. However, this hasnt made much of a difference in thought or deed regarding uses of animals. Possible explanations: big changes are always slow; trickle-down is slowphilosophers (and other thinkers and authors) typically just arent very influential,personal, financial, legal, political, institutional barriers to doing the right thing,???

  • A competing explanation:There are strong arguments that morally justify (much of) the current treatment of animals. Since these arguments are strong / sound / very reasonable to accept, the defenses of animals are weak / unsound / unreasonable. Im going to suggest that this explanation is unlikely, because these arguments are weak. I encourage development of more and stronger arguments in favor of, defending, animal use and provide methodological guidance on doing so.

  • Emotional responses to moral issues:It sometimes appears that the quality of our thought on a topic is inversely proportional to the intensity of our emotions concerning that topic.

    -- Fred Feldman, Confrontations With the Reaper: A Philosophical Study of the Nature and Value of Death (Oxford, 1994).

  • Rational engagement of moral issues:Identify some past instances of moral progress in thought, attitude, & deed:Hopefully, rational evaluation of arguments contributed to this, somewhat!We can identify some basic logical skills that can help us improve the quality of our thought.Apply these skills to some recent arguments made by scientists and philosophers regarding animals. This is important because it seems that not enough people consistently use these skills; this is not good.

  • Formerly controversial issues and simple arguments:Women shouldnt be allowed to go to university because women are so emotional that abstract thought is so difficult for them."Slavery is morally right because we slave-owners benefit greatly from slavery." "Since animals are not rational, it's morally ok to raise them to be killed and eaten." These are arguments; what are their faults?

  • Women (1) Conclusion: Women shouldnt be allowed to go to university.Why think that?Women are such emotional beings that abstract thought is difficult for them.Imprecise! SOME? or ALL? Some women are so emotional that abstract thought is difficult. [True, and true for some men!]All women are so emotional [False, empirically indefensible claim, so unsound argument]

  • Women (2)Some women are so emotional that abstract thought is difficult. [True, and true for some men!]Therefore, [no] women should be allowed to go to university.But how do you get from (1) to (2)? Whats the missing linking premise? A question: How would some womens emotionality justify restricting educational opportunities from all women? Not clear.

  • Women (3)However, even if some or even all women are so emotional and have difficulty with abstract thought why would that justify denying any women the opportunity to improve themselves through education?If my cup won't hold but a pint, and yours holds a quart, wouldn't you be mean not to let me have my little half measure full?Sojourner Truth, Ain't I A Woman? 1851

  • Slavery"Slavery is morally right because we slave-owners benefit greatly from slavery.(1) Slave-owners benefit from slavery. [True](C) Therefore, slavery is morally right. [?]--------------------------------------------------------------How do you get from (1) to (2)? Whats the missing, assumed linking premise? Slave-owners benefit from slavery. [True]If some group benefits from some arrangement, then that arrangement is right. ?Therefore, slavery is morally right.

  • Animals"Since animals are not rational, it's morally ok to raise them to be killed and eaten.Animals are not rational.Therefore, its OK to kill themObservations and questions:(1) is imprecise: some, or all, animals are not rational? Which animals?Ambiguity, lack of clarity: what is meant by rational? Missing-link premise needed to make argument logically valid: If a being is not rational, then its ok to kill it. [False?]

  • Logical skills: The (moral) value of basic predicate logicAttending to the intended meanings of unclear or ambiguous words: what do you mean?animal, human, being human, human being, person, human person, humanityPrecision regarding #, quantity: some, all?Assumed, unstated premises that link stated reason(s) to conclusion. (Logical validity).

  • It seems these logical skills are generally useful.A bioethicist disagrees about the value of these skills for professional ethics:Frankly, science students would have very little patience for the abstract argumentation and reasoning that one finds in your paper and is standard fare in philosophy journals.

  • Apply these (& other) logical skills to some recent arguments:ScientistsStuart Derbyshire, Ph.D., U Birmingham UK (used to be at Pitt); pain researcher.Mark Mattfield, Ph.D., Research Defense Society, UKColin Blakemore, Ph.D., Medical Research Council, UKAdrian Morrison, Ph.D., DVM, U Penn, sleep disorders

    PhilosophersCarl CohenNeil Levy, Cohen & Kinds: A Response to Nathan Nobis, JoAP)Tibor Machan, Putting Humans FirstMatthew Liao, Virtually All Human Beings as Rightholders: A Non-Speciesist Approach

  • The issue neednt be whether animals have rights:Moral or legal rights?Which moral rights? (be specific)Rights conflicts: right to smoke, right to a smoke-free environmentRights appeals can conceal details. Common invalid argument: If animals have rights, then serious change is needed. But they dont have rights, so change isnt needed.Logically invalid conclusion doesnt follow and avoids the concrete questions.

  • The issue neednt be whether animals have rights:Better to consider (1) whether various (specific) uses of animals are morally permissible or not, whether any ways of treatment are morally obligatory and (2) why or why not.Keep this the focus on these deontic categories is helpful for many practical and theoretical reasons.

  • The issue also neednt be whether animals are equal to humans:Are any animals equal to humans? Are all humans equal? Hard to answer:What is meant by equal? Not obvious. Which humans, which animals? (What is meant by humans and animals?). (fetus, baby, adult, 100 y/o?)Common invalid argument; avoids the concrete questions. If animals are equal to humans, then serious change is needed. But they arent equal, so change isnt needed.Equal consid. vs.No consid.vs. mid-level consid?Again, ideal Qs are about moral permissibility.

  • Objection: An abundance of resources is a philosophical embarrassment? Many philosophers argue that animals are treated wrongly, but disagree on why (e.g., Peter Singer demolishes Tom Regan and Regan demolishes Singer). Therefore, there is no justification for thinking that animals are treated wrongly.Adrian Morrison; Richard Vance, JAMA

  • A parallel argument:Many thinkers argue that animals are not treated wrongly, but disagree on why (e.g., Carl Cohen demolishes Jan Narveson & Narveson demolishes Cohen). Therefore, there is no justification for thinking that animals are not treated wrongly.

  • The false, unstated assumption:If you believe p, and for reasons X, Y, & Z, but others believe p for reasons A, B, C, etc. and these reasons are logically incompatible (and you recognize this), then either you have no (good) reason to believe p or there is no good reason to believe p. At the very least, this principle isnt one typically accepted or universally applied (e.g., global warming is bad).

  • Appeals to evolution / biological perspectivesMorrison: to refrain from exploring nature in every possible way would be an arrogant rejection of evolutionary forces. Evolution has endowed us with a need to know as much as we can. (Nicoll, Russell).Humans evolved; therefore, morally we should . Does not follow. Constraints on using other humans to advance our own genetic line, when its in our interest?

  • Benefits Arguments / Arguments from Necessityanimal experiments are vital to the future well-being of humans and, as long as they are conducted to high ethical standards, they are entirely justifiable. Mark MatfieldThe argument: Benefits for humans justify animal experimentation (and other uses)The are necessary.

  • Is animal use necessary? (1)Depends on what you mean by necessary.In one sense, yes! To do animal experiments, it is necessary to do animal experiments. To make these exact scientific discoveries using animals, it is essential to use animals: if animals werent used, the experiments would be different.

  • Is animal use necessary? (2)In other senses, perhaps not. Is animal necessary for making medical progress and for, more generally, bettering human welfare?Necessary for the well-being of humans, but which humans? A few? (Maybe!). Everyone? Doubtful that every human benefits from (every) animal experiment. There are other ways of bringing about goods for humans:clinical research, epidemiology, in vitro research, uses of technology, autopsies, prevention, etc.; feeding people, getting existing medical care to them, etc.. Its been argued that these would yield greater human utility.

  • Defenses of the low (human) utility of animal experimentationRC Greek & N Shanks, Animal Research in Light of Science (2006? Rodopi) N Shanks & LaFollette, Brute Science (Routledge 1997)RC Greek & J Greek [DVM], Sacred Cows & Golden Geese (Continuum 2000), Specious Science (2002), What Will We Do if We Dont Experiment on Animals? (2004)They argue that other methods of research are more effective at addressing human needs.

  • Benefits argument:Animal experiment yields [some] benefits. If some action benefits someone (or some group), then that action is right. [false; needs refinement and serious defense]Therefore, animal experimentation (and other uses) are right. What about direct harms (to animals, to humans, esp. indirect harms from opportunity costs)? How are these weighed? A careful methodology would be nice, at least; is necessary for serious defense.

  • Want benefits?Whatever benefits animal experimentation is thought to hold in store for us, those very same benefits could be obtained through experimenting on humans [esp. vulnerable ones] instead of animals. Indeed, given that problems exist because scientists must extrapolate from animal models to humans, one might think there are good scientific reasons for preferring human subjects. Philosopher Ray Frey

  • Why not use these humans?Blakemores answerThe only firm line [to make moral distinctions] on genetic and morphological grounds is between our own species and other species.Suggested: if something is of our species, then it is more morally valuable than any animals. But he says a human embryo, certainly before the nervous system begins to develop, is just a bundle of cells. Suggested : being of our species does not necessarily confer moral value. We should have a special attitude toward other humans, so crucial to this argument is how we define a person. He did not do this.

  • Why not use these humans?Derbyshires answerAnimals lack the capacity for reflection (and therefore an inner world) and the capacity for reasoning (So do many humans!!)Its remarkable that we have to consider the question.Not remarkable if someone suggests that whats required for a presumption against harm are properties that many, many human beings lack.Society cares about vulnerable humans.All of them? What about secret experiments? What if they could be re-educated? Why do they care? (Harms)

  • Avoiding objections from non-rational human beings. A common claim:Its wrong to seriously harm a being only if that being is rational, autonomous, makes moral choices, is creative, intelligent, contributes to society, etc. OK, animals arent like that, but neither are lots of (conscious, feeling) humans. This principle suggests its not seriously wrong to harm them. Is this principle correct?

  • Some odd inferences:Cohen, Levy & KindsCohen [NEJM]: Moral rights depend on moral agency, the ability to respond to moral claims. A being has rights only if its a of a kind characterized by moral agency. Finnis: to be a person is to belong to a kind of being characterized by rational (self-conscious, intelligent) nature. Scanlon: the class of beings whom it is possible to wrong will include at least all those beings who are of a kind that is normally capable of judgment-sensitive attitudes.

  • Cohen, Levy & KindsCohen: All humans are of a kind capable of moral agency, but[animals] are not beings of a kind capable of exercising or responding to moral claims. Animals therefore have no rights, and they can have none.What kind are animals? How are humans who are not moral agents of the kind moral agent? Cohen doesnt explain.

  • Cohens possible answer?Humans who are non-moral agents are of this kind because they are members of a set e.g., the kind, a species some of which are moral agents. Response: But animals are also members of a set e.g., the kind, sentient beings some of whom are moral agents also! They have rights too, on Cohens account!Humans and animals are of many kinds, some overlapping, some not. Inconsistent conclusions follow from Cohen-esque reasoning.

  • Levys attempt to find the right kind: the narrowest natural kindIf (1) an individual A is a member of some species S and (2) some, most or all of the other members of that species have some property C and (3), on the basis of having property C, they have moral property R, then individual A has moral property R as well, even though A lacks property C.

  • If (1) an individual A is a member of some species S and (2) some, most or all of the other members of that species have some property C and (3), on the basis of having property C, they have moral property R, then individual A has moral property R as well, even though A lacks property C.C = non-moral property of "having done no serious crimes; R= "not deserving life imprisonment." Implications for lone criminal?

    C= "intelligent" and "aware; R= "being such that one ought to be allowed to make decisions to direct one's own life." Implications for young children and others?

  • Machans Arguments from Whats NormalA being has moral rights (presumably making it wrong to harm it) only if it a moral nature, a capacity to see the difference between right and wrong and choose accordingly. It is this moral capacity that establishes a basis for rights, not the fact that animals, like us, have interests or can feel pain. Humans are of the kind of being that have such a moral nature and animals are not; thus humans have rights and animals do not.

  • What about humans who seem to lack this moral capacity?We must consider humans as they exist normally, not abnormally and focus on the healthy cases, not the special or exceptional [or borderline] ones.We do need to deal with borderline cases. But we can do so only by applying and adapting the knowledge we acquire from the normal case. We cant start with the exception and infer the rule.

  • The suggested argument:Humans who lack moral capacities are human.[T!]If someone is human, then they have all the (moral) properties that normal, healthy, typical humans have.Therefore, these humans have moral capacities, and so they have rights.Reply: 2 is, at least, unsupported, and is an instance of a generally false principle for moral & non-moral properties. (e.g., 4 limbs; Ted Bundy)

  • Matthew Liao, Virtually All Human Beings as Rightholders: The Species-Norm Account to be a rightholder (a being with the highest moral status), something need not:be a moral agenthave the potential to be a moral agentbe of the kind (species) that normally is a moral agent be actually sentient, conscious, etc. or even have the potential, i.e., that its possible in some senseCould be tinkered into a pro-animal exper. view.

  • The correct answer isA being has rights iff the entity has incorporated into it the genetic basis for the species capacity for moral agency (i.e. the relevant bits of DNA that normally allow for moral agency) or the functional equivalent thereof (e.g. software and/or hardware that would normally allow for moral agency in an artificial being). The intrinsic value that resides in the relevant genetic bits grounds rightholding even when that genetic material is blocked from developing and cannot allow for moral agency.If X is like that, then X has moral rights.

  • Liaos reasoning in favor of the view, it seems:There are moral duties only if there are moral agents. [T]There are moral agents only if there are beings with the genetic basis for moral agency. [OK; accept this for sake of argument]Therefore, there are moral duties only if there are beings with the genetic basis for moral agency. Therefore (?), any being with the genetic basis for moral agency is a rightholder.

  • A parallel argument:There are moral duties only if there are living beings, or beings that can perceive, or . [T]There are living beings, or beings that can perceive only if there are beings with the genetic basis for life, perception, etc. [OK]Therefore, there are moral duties only if there are beings with the genetic basis for life, perception, etc.Therefore (?), any being with the genetic basis for life, perception, is a rightholder.

  • Objections [from Chris Grau, FIU]If the species-norm account is true, then:A cabbage that has "integrated" the relevant genetic bits but is damaged such that the capacity for moral agency is permanently blocked. (this cabbage has rights even though it lacks moral agency and the potential for it.)A (future) computer with the relevant hardware. software "integrated" but blocked. This computer has rights even though it would lack both moral agency and the potential for moral agency.Cabbage or computer vs. sentient animals and sentient humans lacking the relevant genetic material for moral agency?The species norm account seems entirely ad hoc.

  • Conclusions / SummaryPresented a basic method for thinking about moral issues; demonstrated its use; applied it to some recent arguments defending current animal use and/or criticizing pro-animal arguments. Suggested that these arguments are weak. My hope: since these methods are generally useful, perhaps future defenders of current uses of animals will utilize them for better arguments. To make moral progress and contribute to reasonable debate it is important that this is done.

  • For an overview of the recent literature on ethics and animals issues, see Angus Taylors Ethics & Animals: An Overview of the Philosophical Debate (Broadview, 2003). For arguments from utilitarianism, see, among other sources, Peter Singers Practical Ethics, 2nd Edition (Cambridge UP, 1993) and his Animal Liberation, 3rd Edition (Harper, 2001) although the former is, strictly speaking, not an argument from utilitarianism. From rights-based deontology, see, among other sources, Tom Regans The Case for Animal Rights, 2nd Edition (U California Press, 2004), as well as his more accessible Empty Cages: Facing the Challenge of Animal Rights (Rowman & Littlefield, 2004); for Rawlsian-style ideal contractarianism, see among other sources, Mark Rowlands Animals Like Us (Verso, 2002); from virtue ethics, see among other sources, Rosalind Hursthouses Ethics, Humans and Other Animals (Routledge, 2000), from common-sense morality, see, among other sources, Mark Bernsteins Without a Tear: Our Tragic Relationship With Animals (U Illinois Press, 2004) and David DeGrazias Animal Rights: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford, 2002); for religious moralities, see, among other sources, Matthew Scullys Dominion: The Power of Man, the Suffering of Animals, and the Call to Mercy (St. Martins, 2003); from feminism, see Carol Adams and Josephine Donavan (eds.) Beyond Animal Rights: A Feminist Caring Ethic for the Treatment of Animals (Continuum, 1996).

  • Stuart Derbyshire,an animal experimentation advocate: It is not possible to advocate animal welfare and at the same time give animals untested drugs or diseases, or slice them open to test a new surgical procedure. . . The Scientist, 3/06, Time to Abandon the Three Rs: Submitting to refinement, reduction, and replacement risks the future of animal research Once the perspective of the animal is adopted, it is inevitable that all experimentation will be seen negatively, as no animal experiments are in the interest of the animal- Why Animals Rights Are Wrong (p. 39)

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