Throwing the baby out with the veal calf

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  1. Avatar David Schaengold
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    says:

    It should be noted that I don’t think the post I link to represents the general or consensus view at First Things. While I do think their broad approach to the animal rights movement is deeply misguided, much of what they’ve published has raised good points, or at the very least hasn’t philosophically aligned them with their worst opponents. Joe Carter, for instance, was quick to respond in-house: http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2010/03/18/the-future-killing-of-animals-embryos-and-infants/

    While Carter’s post is hardly philosophically untroubling itself, I’m glad he argued that undermining pro-life positions is much too steep a price to pay in any fight with the defenders of animal rights.Report

  2. Avatar Rufus
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    says:

    When I spent eight months in France and returned home, I was skeptical that my cat would remember me. But she stood in front of me in shock doing something that I can only describe as shocked screaming. I understood it as “Where in the heck were you?!” Then she was sulkily mad at me for a few days before returning to behavior that she only engages in with me. I’ve seen several other incidents in which she remembered information after a year and a half. So, I’m very skeptical about animals and their lack of memory.

    Also, you’ve hit on what’s troubling about that post- replace “animal” with “fetus” in that quoted passage.Report

  3. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Yes, I’ve long been weirded out by how pro-life arguments contain echoes of animal rights arguments while, at the exact same time, pro-choice arguments contain echoes of pro-slavery arguments (e.g., the focus upon property, the attempts to minimize personhood, so on).

    That’s the problem with principles. They bubble up in weird places.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Well to be fair pro-life positions also contain echoes of pro-slavery arguments; the baby/fetus/potential person gains the personhood and the woman becomes an incubator enslaved to its needs.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to North
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        says:

        It is hardly a pro-slavery argument to state a biological fact that women are incubators.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
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        says:

        But one does not hear echoes of real, actual, seriously people made this argument defenses of slavery… does one?Report

        • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird
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          says:

          Well, Scott just kicked the legs out of that one now didn’t he?Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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            says:

            I dunno, it is also a biological fact that women are capable of terminating their pregnancies. Once it involved some nasty herbs or a pointy stick and often took the woman out with the pregnancy. In modern times they’ve gotten more adept at it.

            The pro-life argument follows pro-slavery tones similar to those that the pro-choice argument does. E.q., the removal of a woman’s ownership and control of her own body, the attempts to minimize her personhood and ability to make choices as an autonomous actor. Etc…Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to North
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              says:

              Hey. I’m pro-choice up to and including the moment of crowning.

              It mostly has to do with my not wanting the government to have the power to say “nope, you can’t do that” to someone who wants to kill her baby.

              But the argument that the baby is merely a fetus and shouldn’t be considered a human being and that there aren’t any moral issues at stake here strike me as somewhat different from saying that women don’t have the right to terminate an unwanted pregnancy (and the fact that most everybody makes exceptions for rape/incest/mother’s life in danger seems to back up their opinions of what is at stake for all related parties in the tradeoff) remind me of many of the defenses given for slavery… hey, those guys are property. They’re savages who haven’t achieved full personhood. It’s none of the government’s business.

              Besides, it’s in the Constitution.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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                says:

                Oh I hear you there. Personally I doubt that many serious pro-choicers actually believe that the issue is easy or unladen by morality, there merely deny that anyone other than the woman concerned has much moral standing in the decision. The Father a bit I guess but otherwise no one.
                Of course since they’re engaged in a life or death struggle with pro-lifers both sides adopt maximal rhetoric. That’s politics for ya.Report

              • Avatar David Schaengold in reply to North
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                says:

                This seems like it might be a dangerous conversation to wade into, but pro-life arguments never explicitly deny the personhood of the mother, whereas the non-personhood of the fetus is in fact the hinge of many philosophically pro-choice positions. Of course if you think that fetuses aren’t persons, then the pro-choicers just have the question factually correct.Report

  4. Avatar trizzlor
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    says:

    Mills responds to your point in the comments by saying that a fetus has the potential to develop those qualities. So his argument, thus amended, sort of passes your dignity test. However, and this may be blunt, but someone like Terri Schiavo doesn’t pass that test; at least not in the way he has framed it. And I’m sure if Mills was pressed on this, he would concede that his real point is that animal and man are inherently different and that’s that.Report

    • Avatar David Schaengold in reply to trizzlor
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      says:

      Yes, there are many good arguments about why it’s ok to kill cows and eat them, but not fetuses. That a fetus has the potential to develop into a conscious being is one possible approach, though not a very good one, partly for reasons you identify. But Mills didn’t make that argument in his original post. If he had I would have been much less harsh.Report

  5. Avatar Scott
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    says:

    Sorry Singer, I love my cat but love my baby more. Clearly this guy has too much time on his hands and has been living in his academic ivory tower for far too long like many of his ilk.Report

  6. Avatar John David Galt
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    says:

    “Never mind the evident falsity that animals “have no real consciousness or memory,” what’s truly pernicious about this post is that it responds to an argument about what is objectively good for animals with an argument that only subjective goods matter.”

    What on earth is “pernicious” about recognizing reality? There is no such thing as ‘objective good’. To assert otherwise is nothing more than to glorify your own subjective valuations.

    The animal rights movement, like the environmental movement, begins by committing that same fallacy, then goes on to try to get voting rights given to animals (or to “the Earth”) which they, the movement, will then have to step in and exercise, since animals and the Earth aren’t capable of having opinions, much less making moral choices.

    If you can’t even accept that, I suggest you leave off blogging for a few days until you’re sober.Report

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