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Author Topic:   When does killing an animal constitute murder?
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 2882 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 1 of 352 (594748)
12-05-2010 4:12 AM


One of the worst crimes recognized by (most) justice systems is the intentional killing of a human being (barring warfare and other common exceptions). The gravity of this crime is easy to understand, as we can all appreciate the richness of experience, and the full potential of human lives allowed to continue as long as nature allows. There is of course more to it than that, but essentially a reasonably long and fulfilled life is something that most of us want, and so our ability to empathize instills us with a moral obligation to protect our own and others' right to live.

But this empathy only truly extends to members of our own species. Straggler recently opened a topic about whether other animals are capable of beliefs in the supernatural. He brings up the example of elephants: intelligent, self-aware creatures, capable (by all appearances) even of mourning their dead. (For more on that, see: Wikipedia on Elephant Intelligence)

Of course, elephants are not the only animals that rival us in intelligence. Cetaceans and our fellow Great Apes have also been shown to possess advanced cognitive abilities and self-awareness. Other notable examples of animal intelligence include some bird genera, canines, felines, and (to some extent) cephalopods.

But (and correct me if I'm wrong) under no jurisdiction is the slaughter of a gorilla legally considered murder. Animal cruelty perhaps, but nowhere near as serious as the killing of another human. Why is this? Considering how gorillas share nearly all of our DNA, and their intelligence and level of self-awareness rival our own, why do we consider cruelty to gorillas to fall under the same legal category as cruelty to cows? After all, gorillas are more similar to humans than either are to cows.

Or to look at it from an evolutionary perspective: If someone were to go back 50,000 years and kill a cro-magnon, any jury would find him just as guilty of murder as if he'd have killed a contemporary. But suppose he went back 100,000 years, or 500,000, or 1,000,000 years? Or 6,000,000 years? At what point should he be tried for "animal cruelty" instead of murder?

So I guess my question is: Given that all life is related and that the traits that we consider "human" are shared by many other animals to varying degrees,

Do you believe there is a sharp moral distinction between the killing of one subset of animals and all other animals, and where do you place it?

-Meldinoor

ABE: Just to emphasize an important point: The topic of this thread is really about personal morality, not the legal definition of murder. I'm more interested in your own thoughts on the matter than what the law says.

Edited by Meldinoor, : No reason given.

Edited by Meldinoor, : Typo, must be sleepy -.-


Replies to this message:
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Message 2 of 352 (594753)
12-05-2010 6:03 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the When does killing an animal constitute murder? thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
frako
Member
Posts: 2813
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010


Message 3 of 352 (594754)
12-05-2010 6:07 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Meldinoor
12-05-2010 4:12 AM


When does killing an animal constitute murder?

Well if you take your example from nature if you want to eat it then its ok to kill it. I thimnk that is a god version of when it is not murder but survival.

When you kill an animal for no reason other then sport and leave the meat sometimes the trophy that is what i would call murder and anything worse then that.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Meldinoor, posted 12-05-2010 4:12 AM Meldinoor has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 4 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2010 6:27 AM frako has responded
 Message 5 by Meldinoor, posted 12-05-2010 6:37 AM frako has responded

    
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 4 of 352 (594757)
12-05-2010 6:27 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by frako
12-05-2010 6:07 AM


If you kill a human to eat them does that stop it being murder?

Whilst I am not exactly disagreeing with you (yet) I want to know why killing animals for food is not murder but killing humans for the same reason is?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by frako, posted 12-05-2010 6:07 AM frako has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by frako, posted 12-05-2010 9:53 AM Straggler has responded

  
Meldinoor
Member (Idle past 2882 days)
Posts: 400
From: Colorado, USA
Joined: 02-16-2009


Message 5 of 352 (594759)
12-05-2010 6:37 AM
Reply to: Message 3 by frako
12-05-2010 6:07 AM


frako writes:

I thimnk that is a god version of when it is not murder but survival.

It's quite possible to survive without eating animals. But even so, your definition of murder does not take into account the intelligence or awareness of the animal. Do you not consider the killing and eating of animals possessing similar intellects to our own to be more morally ambiguous than say, killing a fish? What would you rather butcher? A puppy, or a chicken?

Respectfully,

-Meldinoor


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purpledawn
Member (Idle past 1531 days)
Posts: 4453
From: Indiana
Joined: 04-25-2004


Message 6 of 352 (594760)
12-05-2010 7:21 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Meldinoor
12-05-2010 6:37 AM


Culture
quote:
What would you rather butcher? A puppy, or a chicken?
It still boils down to how one was raised.

Murder is the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.

If we apply the same to animals, laws vary among cultures on what animals are acceptable for eating.

In my own area, I eat meat and have no problem with the humane slaughter of standard Midwest U.S. farm animals. I have had pet pigs and they have ended up on the breakfast table.

Except for self defense, I do have a problem with killing carnivores and birds that we don't eat. It has nothing to do with their intellect. People tend to kill off the competition. I don't think killing just for the sake of killing is good in any sense.

Cannibalism hasn't always been illegal. Again it depends on the culture.

Cannibalism was widespread in the past among humans throughout the world, continuing into the 19th century in some isolated South Pacific cultures; and, in a few cases in insular Melanesia, indigenous flesh-markets existed.[11] Fiji was once known as the 'Cannibal Isles'.[12] Neanderthals are believed to have practiced cannibalism,[13][14] and they may have been eaten by modern humans.[15]

It comes down to what is legal for the culture.


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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 7 of 352 (594761)
12-05-2010 7:29 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Meldinoor
12-05-2010 6:37 AM


Sentience As The Basis Of Moral Worth
I think we humans pretend to ourselves that our morality is based on sentience when in fact if you look more closely we just don't apply this consistently.

For example a fully developed chimp is almost certainly more sentient than a newborn human baby. But if forced to choose which one to kill what choice would most people make? OK, I hear you say, but a newborn human child has the capacity for greater sentience than the chimp in the future. So then I would ask about a geriatric human with a degenerative and irreversible brain disorder of some kind. Would they count as more sentient than a fully functioning chimp? What about a brain dead human being?

When you consider that we not only kill sentient animals but experiment on them and cull them to near extinction the idea that our morality is consistently based on sentience in some way looks rather weak. Most of us would never treat even the least sentient human being in ways that we barely think twice about treating the most sentient of animals. Our morality is human-centric. Not rationally based on a criteria such as sentience.

Personally I don't particularly have a problem with humans having human-centric morality - Effectively special pleading our own species as worthy of more moral consideration regardless of any more objective criteria (e.g. sentience).

But I think we should recognise this rather than try to convince ourselves that our moral choices are based on objective criteria like sentience rather than specieistic and more emotional considerations.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


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frako
Member
Posts: 2813
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010


Message 8 of 352 (594782)
12-05-2010 9:53 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Straggler
12-05-2010 6:27 AM


If you kill a human to eat them does that stop it being murder?

There was a law for stranded sailors that they could kill and eat a shipmate selected by lottery if their own survival was dependent on that act. And troought history this law was used quite a few times by sailors.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2010 6:27 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 9 of 352 (594784)
12-05-2010 10:02 AM
Reply to: Message 8 by frako
12-05-2010 9:53 AM


Frako writes:

There was a law for stranded sailors that they could kill and eat a shipmate selected by lottery if their own survival was dependent on that act. And troought history this law was used quite a few times by sailors.

So you only consider it moral to eat animals if one's life depends on it?

I am trying to find whether your moral line is the same for humans as animals and if it isn't on what basis you make a distinction.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by frako, posted 12-05-2010 9:53 AM frako has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by jar, posted 12-05-2010 10:03 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 14 by frako, posted 12-05-2010 10:16 AM Straggler has responded

  
jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 10 of 352 (594785)
12-05-2010 10:03 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Straggler
12-05-2010 10:02 AM


Morality has nothing to do with the question that I can see.

Killing an animal is a crime when a particular society deems it a crime.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2010 10:02 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2010 10:06 AM jar has responded

  
Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 11 of 352 (594786)
12-05-2010 10:06 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by jar
12-05-2010 10:03 AM


Jar writes:

Morality has nothing to do with the question that I can see.

I think it does and so does the author of the OP.

From the OP:

quote:
Do you believe there is a sharp moral distinction between the killing of one subset of animals and all other animals, and where do you place it?

ABE: Just to emphasize an important point: The topic of this thread is really about personal morality, not the legal definition of murder. I'm more interested in your own thoughts on the matter than what the law says.


jar writes:

Killing an animal is a crime when a particular society deems it a crime.

And a particular society deems such things as crimes or not based on the moral outlook of that society.

Edited by Straggler, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
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frako
Member
Posts: 2813
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010


Message 12 of 352 (594788)
12-05-2010 10:09 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by Meldinoor
12-05-2010 6:37 AM


Do you not consider the killing and eating of animals possessing similar intellects to our own to be more morally ambiguous than say, killing a fish? What would you rather butcher? A puppy, or a chicken?

Would a wolf rather eat a puppy or a chicken, if it came down to me or the puppy i would eat the puppy. There are cultures around the world that do not descriminate witch animal is good for eating and witch is not. I hear dogs and cats are a delicasy down in china while in western culture it is a Taboo.

I do not perticulary mind that animals get killed for food, i do have problems with the way some animals are raised for food. Some cows do not know how a pasture looks like, they have barly enough space for them to turn. Some do not even have that they spend their lives chained to the manger (dunno if uncle google gave the right translation).

I do not have problems with hunters killing off the excess of the population since most of the predators got killed by the order of the curch, a gold coin for a dead wolf way back in history. I do have a problem with pochers that kill the animal soly for the trophy or soly for the kill.

I have a few horses and i do like horse meat though my horses have a 3 hectar pasture always open to them, fresh water, and they often get corn, apples, carrots and the like. And when one does get killed to go in to the fridge it is done nice and fast he does not feel a thing. A pistol like thing slams a steal piston like thingy in its forhead the horse dies before he could feel the pain of the piston. Tough i can never watch the death i have no problem with the butchering and packing of meat.


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jar
Member
Posts: 30934
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004


Message 13 of 352 (594789)
12-05-2010 10:13 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by Straggler
12-05-2010 10:06 AM


Correct. The moral outlook of a particular society.

I do not see how there can be any substantive answer beyond that.


Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!
This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2010 10:06 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2010 10:18 AM jar has responded

  
frako
Member
Posts: 2813
From: slovenija
Joined: 09-04-2010


Message 14 of 352 (594790)
12-05-2010 10:16 AM
Reply to: Message 9 by Straggler
12-05-2010 10:02 AM



So you only consider it moral to eat animals if one's life depends on it?

I am trying to find whether your moral line is the same for humans as animals and if it isn't on what basis you make a distinction.

Well you are clost there is a slightly diference in my moral line between humans and animals. If you kill an animal for food it is ok in my book and if you find some vegetables to go with it even better , kiling it for sport or some other reason except hunting the excess wildlife like i written in the post above, if you kill a human and have no other choice for survival it is somewhat ok, tough i would not judge some one who would do it in a situation like some saliors where in history cause i would not know if i would do it or not if untill i was in the same situation.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Straggler, posted 12-05-2010 10:02 AM Straggler has responded

Replies to this message:
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Straggler
Member
Posts: 10284
From: London England
Joined: 09-30-2006


Message 15 of 352 (594791)
12-05-2010 10:18 AM
Reply to: Message 13 by jar
12-05-2010 10:13 AM


From the OP (I quote) "Just to emphasize an important point: The topic of this thread is really about personal morality, not the legal definition of murder. I'm more interested in your own thoughts on the matter than what the law says."

jar writes:

I do not see how there can be any substantive answer beyond that.

If you don't have a personal morality view on this issue beyond what the law states then I don't see why you are contributing to this topic?

But I will ask (given that humans are animals) why don't you kill other humans? Simply because it is illegal to do so?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by jar, posted 12-05-2010 10:13 AM jar has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by jar, posted 12-05-2010 10:24 AM Straggler has responded
 Message 19 by frako, posted 12-05-2010 10:29 AM Straggler has responded

  
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