amy they say they don't need money
they're living on nuts and berries
they say animals don't worry
you know animals are hairy?
they think they know what's best
they're making a fool of us
they ought to be more careful
they're setting a bad example
they have untroubled lives
they think everything's nice
they like to laugh at people
they're setting a bad example
(go ahead) laugh at me.
amy talking heads
i'm silent.
rachel animals have more couth, have more
in them than in you
i feel like i could reach out to touch you and there would be nothing
my hand would go through
i feel you would melt in the rain
you would melt if touched
by anything real
watch out, you bite
silentbob there is a house in new orleans they call the rising sun and its been the ruin of many a poor boy, and god i know i'm one.
my mother was a taylor. she sewed my new blue jeans.
help me out, god.
god my father was a gamblin' man down in new orleans. 001224
god Now the only thing a gambler needs
Is a suitcase and a trunk
And the only time you keep him satisfied
Is when he's all a drunk

Oh mother tell your children
Not to do what I have done
Spend your life in sin and misery
In the house of the rising sun

I got one foot on the platform
The other on a train
And I'm goin' back to New Orleans
To swing that ball and chain

Yeah, there is a house in New Orleans
They call the rising sun
And it's been the ruins of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one
silentbob thank you, lord 001224
no reason AMAZING Pink Floyd album 020128
Sam Vaknin "Animal rights" is a catchphrase akin to "human rights". It involves, however, a few pitfalls. First, animals exist only as a concept. Otherwise, they are cuddly cats, curly dogs, cute monkeys. A rat and a puppy are both animals but our emotional reaction to them is so different that we cannot really lump them together. Moreover: what rights are we talking about? The right to life? The right to be free of pain? The right to food? Except the right to free speechall other rights could be applied to animals.

Law professor Steven Wise, argues in his book, "Drawing the Line: Science and the Case for Animal Rights", for the extension to animals of legal rights accorded to infants. Many animal species exhibit awareness, cognizance and communication skills typical of human toddlers and of humans with arrested development. Yet, the latter enjoy rights denied the former.

According to Wise, there are four categories of practical autonomy - a legal standard for granting "personhood" and the rights it entails. Practical autonomy involves the ability to be desirous, to intend to fulfill and pursue one's desires, a sense of self-awareness, and self-sufficiency. Most animals, says Wise, qualify. This may be going too far. It is easier to justify the moral rights of animals than their legal rights.

But when we say "animals", what we really mean is non-human organisms. This is such a wide definition that it easily pertains to extraterrestrial aliens. Will we witness an Alien Rights movement soon? Unlikely. Thus, we are forced to narrow our field of enquiry to non-human organisms reminiscent of humans, the ones that provoke in us empathy.

Even this is way too fuzzy. Many people love snakes, for instance, and deeply empathize with them. Could we accept the assertion (avidly propounded by these people) that snakes ought to have rightsor should we consider only organisms with extremities and the ability to feel pain?

Historically, philosophers like Kant (and Descartes, Malebranche, and Aquinas) rejected the idea of animal rights. They regarded animals as the organic equivalents of machines, driven by coarse instincts, unable to experience pain (though their behavior sometimes deceives us into erroneously believing that they do).

Thus, any ethical obligation that we have towards animals is a derivative of our primary obligation towards our fellow humans (the only ones possessed of moral significance). These are called the theories of indirect moral obligations. Thus, it is wrong to torture animals only because it desensitizes us to human suffering and makes us more prone to using violence on humans. Malebranche augmented this line of thinking by "proving" that animals cannot suffer pain because they are not descended from Adam. Pain and suffering, as we all know, are the exclusive outcomes of Adam's sins.

Kant and Malebranche may have been wrong. Animals may be able to suffer and agonize. But how can we tell whether another Being is truly suffering pain or not? Through empathy. We postulate that - since that Being resembles usit must have the same experiences and, therefore, it deserves our pity.

Yet, the principle of resemblance has many drawbacks.

One, it leads to moral relativism.

Consider this maxim from the Jewish Talmud: "Do not do unto thy friend that which you hate". An analysis of this sentence renders it less altruistic than it appears. We are encouraged to refrain from doing only those things that WE find hateful. This is the quiddity of moral relativism.

The saying implies that it is the individual who is the source of moral authority. Each and every one of us is allowed to spin his own moral system, independent of others. The Talmudic dictum establishes a privileged moral club (very similar to later day social contractarianism) comprised of oneself and one's friend(s). One is encouraged not to visit evil upon one's friends, all others seemingly excluded. Even the broadest interpretation of the word "friend" could only read: "someone like you" and substantially excludes strangers.

Two, similarity is a structural, not an essential, trait.

Empathy as a differentiating principle is structural: if X looks like me and behaves like methen he is privileged. Moreover, similarity is not necessarily identity. Monkeys, dogs and dolphins are very much like us, both structurally and behaviorally. Even according to Wise, it is quantity (the degree of observed resemblance), not quality (identity, essence), that is used in determining whether an animal is worthy of holding rights, whether is it a morally significant person. The degree of figurative and functional likenesses decide whether one deserves to live, pain-free and happy.

The quantitative test includes the ability to communicate (manipulate vocal-verbal-written symbols within structured symbol systems). Yet, we ignore the fact that using the same symbols does not guarantee that we attach to them the same cognitive interpretations and the same emotional resonance ('private languages"). The same words, or symbols, often have different meanings.

Meaning is dependent upon historical, cultural, and personal contexts. There is no telling whether two people mean the same things when they say "red", or "sad", or "I", or "love". That another organism looks like us, behaves like us and communicates like us is no guarantee that it is - in its essence - like us. This is the subject of the famous Turing Test: there is no effective way to distinguish a machine from a human when we rely exclusively on symbol manipulation.

Consider pain once more.

To say that something does not experience pain cannot be rigorously defended. Pain is a subjective experience. There is no way to prove or to disprove that someone is or is not in pain. Here, we can rely only on the subject's reports. Moreover, even if we were to have an analgometer (pain gauge), there would have been no way to show that the phenomenon that activates the meter is one and the same for all subjects, SUBJECTIVELY, i.e., that it is experienced in the same way by all the subjects examined.

Even more basic questions regarding pain are impossible to answer: What is the connection between the piercing needle and the pain REPORTED and between these two and electrochemical patterns of activity in the brain? A correlation between these three phenomena can be establishedbut not their identity or the existence of a causative process. We cannot prove that the waves in the subject's brain when he reports painARE that pain. Nor can we show that they CAUSED the pain, or that the pain caused them.

It is also not clear whether our moral percepts are conditioned on the objective existence of pain, on the reported existence of pain, on the purported existence of pain (whether experienced or not, whether reported or not), or on some independent laws.

If it were painless, would it be moral to torture someone? Is the very act of sticking needles into someone immoralor is it immoral because of the pain it causes, or supposed to inflict? Are all three components (needle sticking, a sensation of pain, brain activity) morally equivalent? If so, is it as immoral to merely generate the same patterns of brain activity, without inducing any sensation of pain and without sticking needles in the subject?

If these three phenomena are not morally equivalentwhy aren't they? They are, after all, different facets of the very same painshouldn't we condemn all of them equally? Or should one aspect of pain (the subject's report of pain) be accorded a privileged treatment and status?

Yet, the subject's report is the weakest proof of pain! It cannot be verified. And if we cling to this descriptive-behavioural-phenomenological definition of pain than animals qualify as well. They also exhibit all the behaviours normally ascribed to humans in pain and they report feeling pain (though they do tend to use a more limited and non-verbal vocabulary).

Pain is, therefore, a value judgment and the reaction to it is culturally dependent. In some cases, pain is perceived as positive and is sought. In the Aztec cultures, being chosen to be sacrificed to the Gods was a high honour. How would we judge animal rights in such historical and cultural contexts? Are there any "universal" values or does it all really depend on interpretation?

If we, humans, cannot separate the objective from the subjective and the cultural – what gives us the right or ability to decide for other organisms? We have no way of knowing whether pigs suffer pain. We cannot decide right and wrong, good and evil for those with whom we can communicate, let alone for organisms with which we fail to do even this.

Is it GENERALLY immoral to kill, to torture, to pain? The answer seems obvious and it automatically applies to animals. Is it generally immoral to destroy? Yes, it is and this answer pertains to the inanimate as well. There are exceptions: it is permissible to kill and to inflict pain in order to prevent a (quantitatively or qualitatively) greater evil, to protect life, and when no reasonable and feasible alternative is available.

The chain of food in nature is morally neutral and so are death and disease. Any act which is intended to sustain life of a higher order (and a higher order in life) – is morally positive or, at least neutral. Nature decreed so. Animals do it to other animals – though, admittedly, they optimize their consumption and avoid waste and unnecessary pain. Waste and pain are morally wrong. This is not a question of hierarchy of more or less important Beings (an outcome of the fallacy of anthropomorphesizing Nature).

The distinction between what is (essentially) USand what just looks and behaves like us (but is NOT us) is false, superfluous and superficial. Sociobiology is already blurring these lines. Quantum Mechanics has taught us that we can say nothing about what the world really IS. If things look the same and behave the same, we better assume that they are the same.

The attempt to claim that moral responsibility is reserved to the human species is self defeating. If it is so, then we definitely have a moral obligation towards the weaker and meeker. If it isn't, what right do we have to decide who shall live and who shall die (in pain)?

The increasingly shaky "fact" that species do not interbreed "proves" that species are distinct, say some. But who can deny that we share most of our genetic material with the fly and the mouse? We are not as dissimilar as we wish we were. And ever-escalating cruelty towards other species will not establish our genetic supremacy - merely our moral inferiority.
endless desire "the only thing that seperates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize." 031129
jane animals we're all
disposible, collapsible, and raw
i suppose
it's just the state i'm in

animals that crawl
climbing over you until you say
"off you go, off you go"

animals you are
you're looking for an answer just like me
and i go off and find a way
i make the most, make the most
talking in my world
i think you'd die
if you burn me out

but if you're gonna go, go now
if you're gonna go, go now
i forgot to tell you how
if you're gonna go, go now

animals we're all
disposible, collapsible, and raw
i suppose it's just a state i'm in
animal i am
i made all of my excuses and i,
i miss my chance like a storm, slow

but if you're gonna go, go now
if you're gonna go, go now
i forgot to tell you how
if you're gonna go, go now

i'm looking for the animal
i'm looking for the animal
i'm searching for the animals, yeah
i'm looking for the animal
jane [coldplay] 040219
phallusdei maybe someday we'll evolve to be smart like the animals. 040321
quotree "Strangely, while both meat and fur are murder, they only call you a criminal when you make sweet love to the animal first." -Rob Fairchild 040412
redwilly Animals are nice creatures. Even the aardvark. 040918
IO1011 Penguin noble, penguin mighty
Gorrila knows if it's lefty or righty
what's it to you?
who go