I just got out of Philosophy class so I’m writing this fresh from my mind. We’ve been talking about a lot of moral issues and different philosophers with specific viewpoints (as expected for a philosophy class) and today we talked about animal rights. Boy, I knew as soon as I walked into the class I would get heated since I’m an avid animal lover and Buddhist (and it’s the time of the month for me… Sorry male readers).
As foreseen by my incredible psychic ability, I got irritated less than five minutes into the class discussion. My professor asked for a raise of hands of who believed killing animals for no specific reason is not morally right/good. Majority of the class raised their hands, some guys were a bit iffy and said something along the lines of “eh, it depends on the animal.” My professor was a bit astounded and asked like what animals should and should not be killed.
This guy, let’s call him Keith, answered with “Well, like. I don’t think it’s right to kill domestic dogs, cats…. we can kill snakes because they’re gross… don’t kill bunnies…. kill skunks…” I couldn’t help but look at him like “are you serious right now?” I understand where he’s coming from (since a lot of people don’t particularly love snakes or skunks) but the way he put it was a little unsettling for me.
Overall, the whole class had the atmosphere of “It’s morally wrong to kill animals for stupid reasons,” but they had trouble putting it into the right words. We talked about philosopher Descartes too and his theory which was that animals are simply organic machines. Like if you kicked a dog and it yelped in response, it’s not a response of pain, it’s simply the organic machine breaking down. It was kind of hilarious to hear that. Immanuel Kant’s theory was that humans are more superior than animals because we reason and they don’t. Then the whole class got into a discussion about whether people should have the right to use animals (beyond an acceptable limit like oxen plowing) just because humans are, in a sense, more intelligent than animals. This became a smooth transition into a thought experiment my professor wanted us to try. I think you guys should think about it too.
Here’s the thought experiment:
So one day, aliens who are way more intelligent than humans invade Earth and take over when they win the war against us. Because they’re super intelligent, they quickly learn our language, ways of life, moral codes, etc. And especially the way we treat animals. Then they turn to us humans and say: “You guys use animals and kill them for silly reasons [silly as in purpose that isn’t for survival a.k.a. eating to live] just because you think you are more superior than them since you guys have bigger brains, smarter, and able to reason. If that is the case, then can we aliens treat you like that? We have bigger brains than you and we are way more intelligent than you. Because of that, would you allow us to use you and kill you for petty reasons or because we feel like it?”
The main question to this experiment is this: “Give us a good argument as to why we should not treat you like this.”
I was anticipating my classmates’ answers, but surprisingly… all of them did not speak out for a few moments then one of them said EXACTLY what I was thinking the whole time. He said that he wouldn’t give a reason/argument and instead just let the aliens do what they want because if he tried giving an argument (if he even came up with a good one) then he would be a hypocrite. If humans treat animals poorly, then why should we try to think of a way to avoid that if came the chance a species more intelligent than us came. It’s hypocritical to attempt to escape.
Bravo, bravo. I would have given him a standing ovation. Mainly because that was my thought too.
Everyone else agreed with him too. Well, I’m assuming everyone did. Some agreed, others just stayed silent. I guess they were on the fence? Well, they were the classmates who normally don’t talk much. I guess it was an interesting class today. On Friday, one of the professor’s former students is going to come and talk about animal welfare. Apparently, he doesn’t believe in animal rights. I have another bad feeling about this haha.
Oh, and fun (not really) fact: Did you know UGGs are made from sheep skin? Yeah, not just the wool. The skin. And they skin them alive. Alive. Just thought you guys should know.
Have a great day everyone!