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  #1  
Old Apr 30, '12, 10:12 am
Charlotte408 Charlotte408 is offline
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Default Truth encompassing the actions of animals

I'm not sure if that is the best title, but it sounds about right

Alright, so I'm talking with this guy about the existence of right and wrong, it being subjective vs objective, etc. and I've read 'The Godless Delusion' (and a ton of other books like C.S. Lewis, etc that touch on the subject) and I've got it handy beside me to help me...but the guy brought up a point that I don't recall ever seeing addressed and can't really find.

Arguing that the truth is subjective he says:
Quote:
If murder is wrong than it's wrong for a lion to kill another rival lion to be the leader of a pack?
and I'm like:

Quote:
I'm not a lion and neither are you. We hold ourselves to higher standards for obvious reasons. A dog cleans it's anus with his tongue, but you wouldn't argue the truth that humans couldn't do so.
and he's like:

Quote:
Then you've just proven that the truth is in fact subjective, because if the truth were objective, it would be objective across the board, not just time and place, but creatures and humans as well. You have proven our truths are different than their truths, so therefore it is not truth.
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  #2  
Old Apr 30, '12, 10:42 am
JDaniel JDaniel is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

Charlotte:

Animals don't analyze - well, that's not entirely correct. Animals react primarily, and submit what they sense to very cursory analyses, if there is a sense of sufficient time, for survival purposes. Humans have subjugated the "reactive" portion of their minds, as best they have been able, to the "analytical" part. Thus we have intricate language and build intricate flying machines

Animals rely on their minds primarily to react - in order to survive. Humans rely on their minds for a myriad of other things, including some meager amount for reaction purposes.

God bless,
jd
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  #3  
Old Apr 30, '12, 11:04 am
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Aelred Minor Aelred Minor is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

Sounds like this man's thinking has become so subjectivist that he's forgetting the first key difference: the death of a lion is not the death of a human being. Murder isn't wrong because you are killing a member of your own species, it is wrong because you are killing a human being.

The question should therefore be, if murder is wrong then is it wrong for a lion to kill a human? The answer is "yes" as far as the physical reality goes. It is an evil. However, the lion does not have the use of reason to know that it is wrong, and so is not morally culpable for the objectively evil action.
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  #4  
Old Apr 30, '12, 11:08 am
Garyjohn2 Garyjohn2 is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

Truth is objective, but that doesn't mean you can apply spiritual truths to animals...that's ridiculous. Murder is wrong = objective truth. A lion killing a lion is not murder. A human killing a human is murder.

A lion can live on eating protein alone = objective truth. Does that mean a human can live on protein alone? It doesn't make sense at all to apply that objective truth to a creature it has nothing to do with.

Why is murder wrong? It destroys the our relationship with God and can condemn our souls. Lions don't have souls and don't need to worry about this.

Your friend, quite frankly, is ridiculous to say such a thing.
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  #5  
Old Apr 30, '12, 11:26 am
Gorgias Gorgias is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

Quote:
If murder is wrong than it's wrong for a lion to kill another rival lion to be the leader of a pack?
Murder =/= killing. 'Murder' implies moral content; moreover, it is defined with respect to humans, not animals. Humans don't murder lions; lions don't murder people; and lions don't murder other lions.

Pointing out an instance of a killing and arbitrarily calling it murder is playing fast and loose with language...
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  #6  
Old Apr 30, '12, 12:30 pm
MPat MPat is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte408 View Post
I'm not sure if that is the best title, but it sounds about right

Alright, so I'm talking with this guy about the existence of right and wrong, it being subjective vs objective, etc. and I've read 'The Godless Delusion' (and a ton of other books like C.S. Lewis, etc that touch on the subject) and I've got it handy beside me to help me...but the guy brought up a point that I don't recall ever seeing addressed and can't really find.

Arguing that the truth is subjective he says:


and I'm like:



and he's like:



I only have floaties someone throw me a lifesaver
Among other things you might point out that a human whose reasoning ability is only like that of a lion would not be held morally responsible for a murder (or anything else) either... That's why things like insanity defence exist.

But first of all you should find out what does he mean by "truth is subjective". For example, would he count as an example of "subjective truth" the fact that "x can digest grass" is true for cows or horses, but wrong for humans or lions? It's rather close to the example he gave... Maybe you use the terms differently..?
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  #7  
Old May 1, '12, 5:52 am
Charlotte408 Charlotte408 is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

LOL I hate how it always ends up being something so obvious, but love those 'aha!' moments!! Thank you all, for the help
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  #8  
Old May 1, '12, 6:38 am
Bob Crowley Bob Crowley is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

Quote:
Atheist - "If murder is wrong than it's wrong for a lion to kill another rival lion to be the leader of a pack?"

and I'm like:

"I'm not a lion and neither are you. We hold ourselves to higher standards for obvious reasons. A dog cleans it's anus with his tongue, but you wouldn't argue the truth that humans couldn't do so. "

and he's like:

"Then you've just proven that the truth is in fact subjective, because if the truth were objective, it would be objective across the board, not just time and place, but creatures and humans as well. You have proven our truths are different than their truths, so therefore it is not truth."
If he argues there's objective truth across the board, then tell him to go and tell that to a lion. If he's fair dinkum about it, he can go the nearest safari park, hop out of his car, walk up to the nearest lion, tell the lion he's an atheist, and start an argument about murder and objective truth.
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  #9  
Old May 1, '12, 11:30 am
Charlotte408 Charlotte408 is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

Quote:
That is incorrect. Animals also exhibit moral tendencies. Everything from dolphins saving humans from sharks, to chimpanzees sharing their hand tools with other chimps out of empathy. Morals are based on nothing but empathy and not apathy. Also murder does not imply moral content by any definition. However, it is defined as human to human killing that is unlawful. Laws are man made, ergo, they are subjective.

Also, what reason do you have to say animals don't use reason? Animals constantly use reason. Tell the mouse put in the maze that completes it that it doesn't use reason. Tell the chimp the pilots the space shuttle that it doesn't use reason. Tell the dolphin that can count that it doesn't use reason or the bonobos that use sex as currency that they don't use reason. I'd honestly like to know where you got the notion that animals don't use reason because all scientific observation refutes your claim.

Lastly, we charge animals who kill humans all the time by putting them to death just like we do humans. We certainly don't release them and say "oh they're just instinctive animals". When you separate and only apply certain terms to human you immediately make it subjective. I never said murder is not wrong in the human experience but the fact that you don't think it is in the rest of the animal kingdom makes it subjective and not absolute. .
Okay you guys give me some guidance.. please

Animals can display empathy, but not when it's a matter of life or death. Like, I don't think a lion would feel guilty or give much moral thought about the family of the deer that he just killed. Saving a persons life is a display of empathy, but would a dolphin try to intervene and 'save the lives' of the tuna or whatever fish they eat? No..

And the mouse, is he using reason or just trying to escape (a survival instinct)? And a chimp is trained; I can train my dog but that doesn't mean he has morals.

Right??
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  #10  
Old May 1, '12, 12:10 pm
Charlotte408 Charlotte408 is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

I was just thinking...

maybe I take for granted that this guy doesn't think that animals are the same as people altogether? Should I ask him, ' If you had to choose between saving the life of a child or a dolphin, which would you choose? '

He'd have to say the kid right??

And why is that? Because deep down inside he knows that a human life is more valuable than animal's life. He has too.

Or do you think that'd backfire on me..
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  #11  
Old May 2, '12, 12:07 pm
MPat MPat is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte408 View Post
I was just thinking...

maybe I take for granted that this guy doesn't think that animals are the same as people altogether? Should I ask him, ' If you had to choose between saving the life of a child or a dolphin, which would you choose? '

He'd have to say the kid right??

And why is that? Because deep down inside he knows that a human life is more valuable than animal's life. He has too.

Or do you think that'd backfire on me..
It is very likely that you would end up with an additional, "offtopic", discussion. If you'd like to avoid that, at least change "a dolphin" to, let's say, "a mosquito"... But, of course, things are going to be different, if you'd like to provoke that discussion.
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  #12  
Old May 2, '12, 12:51 pm
Gorgias Gorgias is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

(By the way: the 'sarcasm monster' in me sometimes rears its ugly head when I enter debate. I'm not sure that I'd present these thoughts to your friend in exactly these words, since the snark gets pretty thick... but I think that the arguments still are valid... )

Quote:
That is incorrect. Animals also exhibit moral tendencies. Everything from dolphins saving humans from sharks, to chimpanzees sharing their hand tools with other chimps out of empathy. Morals are based on nothing but empathy and not apathy.
Well, you can point to behavior, but it's difficult to prove that it's moral behavior. Yes, if a human performed those actions, you'd call it moral behavior, but only if you knew the person's motive. (Let's suppose a person kept another from dying... but only so that he could receive a reward. Would you call that 'moral behavior'? Or what if he saved the person by mistake -- thinking that the victim was someone else -- and he wouldn't have jumped in if he realized who the person really was? Would you call that moral behavior? No...) you can't just look at a situation and objectively label it 'moral tendencies', and especially when you assert "empathy, not apathy".

Quote:
Also murder does not imply moral content by any definition.
That's a winner of a statement! 'Murder' doesn't imply immoral conduct? Really?

Quote:
However, it is defined as human to human killing that is unlawful. Laws are man made, ergo, they are subjective.
Wonderful. We're all very proud that he thinks that he's proven that "laws are subjective". (He hasn't, by the way. He's just demonstrated that they're contingent rather than necessary. Although they are contingent, they are objective once defined...!) However, that wasn't what he set out to prove: he was trying to demonstrate that "truth is subjective". He hasn't done so.

Quote:
Also, what reason do you have to say animals don't use reason? Animals constantly use reason.
Wow. You guys really need to define what 'reason' means. I think he thinks it means "things that seem to make sense". The definition of reason typically centers on thinking, cognition, and intellect. Is he really saying that mice are "thinking" about solving the puzzle qua the puzzle (or are just following their instincts and their desire to be fed)? Or that space chimps aren't reacting to training they've received, but rather, are intellectually assenting to the act of furthering space research? Let's define what 'reason' is before we assert that "scientific observation" proves that animals utilize it...!

Quote:
Lastly, we charge animals who kill humans all the time by putting them to death just like we do humans.
LOL! Oh, the unwarranted anthropomorphism here is so cute! It reads like a Disney screen play! OK -- try this one on for size on your interlocutor: no, we don't "charge animals who kill humans"; what we do is eliminate a threat to human life.

Quote:
When you separate and only apply certain terms to human you immediately make it subjective.
No -- it's objective. That fact that it doesn't apply universally doesn't make it any less objective. Counter-example: it's an objective truth that women have menstrual cycles. However, I would only apply the term "menstrual cycle" to a woman, not to a man (and, of course, not to a female animal who goes into heat rather than have a monthly cycle). Does this mean that the notion of "menstrual cycles" is a subjective truth? Of course not! It's an objective truth, which is properly applied in some situations and not others. Universal application is not what makes the distinction between "objectivity" and "subjectivity"!

Quote:
I never said murder is not wrong in the human experience but the fact that you don't think it is in the rest of the animal kingdom makes it subjective and not absolute. .
He's doing it again. "Objective" and "absolute" aren't antonyms. "Objective" and "subjective" are, as are "absolute" and "arbitrary".

Last edited by Gorgias; May 2, '12 at 1:04 pm. Reason: added my little "snark apology" at the top...
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  #13  
Old May 2, '12, 1:21 pm
MPat MPat is offline
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Default Re: Truth encompassing the actions of animals

Quote:
Originally Posted by Charlotte408 View Post
Quote:
That is incorrect. Animals also exhibit moral tendencies. Everything from dolphins saving humans from sharks, to chimpanzees sharing their hand tools with other chimps out of empathy. Morals are based on nothing but empathy and not apathy. Also murder does not imply moral content by any definition. However, it is defined as human to human killing that is unlawful. Laws are man made, ergo, they are subjective.

Also, what reason do you have to say animals don't use reason? Animals constantly use reason. Tell the mouse put in the maze that completes it that it doesn't use reason. Tell the chimp the pilots the space shuttle that it doesn't use reason. Tell the dolphin that can count that it doesn't use reason or the bonobos that use sex as currency that they don't use reason. I'd honestly like to know where you got the notion that animals don't use reason because all scientific observation refutes your claim.

Lastly, we charge animals who kill humans all the time by putting them to death just like we do humans. We certainly don't release them and say "oh they're just instinctive animals". When you separate and only apply certain terms to human you immediately make it subjective. I never said murder is not wrong in the human experience but the fact that you don't think it is in the rest of the animal kingdom makes it subjective and not absolute. .
Okay you guys give me some guidance.. please

Animals can display empathy, but not when it's a matter of life or death. Like, I don't think a lion would feel guilty or give much moral thought about the family of the deer that he just killed. Saving a persons life is a display of empathy, but would a dolphin try to intervene and 'save the lives' of the tuna or whatever fish they eat? No..

And the mouse, is he using reason or just trying to escape (a survival instinct)? And a chimp is trained; I can train my dog but that doesn't mean he has morals.

Right??
Yes, those are good points - many actions that look like a result of reasoning are actually result of something else (some examples are discussed in "King Solomon's Ring" by Konrad Lorenz). Still, there are more possible points to make.

You can use his own wording ("Tell the [...] that it doesn't use reason.") against him: does he really think that if you did tell those animals that they do not use reason, they would understand that and feel insulted?

Also, little human children are not considered morally responsible for anything either (Code of Canon Law, Canon 97, second paragraph: "§2. A minor before the completion of the seventh year is called an infant and is considered not responsible for oneself (non sui compos). With the completion of the seventh year, however, a minor is presumed to have the use of reason."). Does he really think those animals reach the level of an average seven year old kid?

For example, when we find a horse that seems to be able to perform simple arithmetic (yes, "seems" - there is a different explanation given in the book I mentioned), we look at it and marvel at its intelligence. But if we find a seven year old kid with such ability, we do not consider that extraordinary. Instead, we are likely to worry that the kid can't read nor write...

Actually, this argument seems likely to work: I doubt he would seriously argue that dolphins or rats are just as "smart", as humans...

Finally, there is a difference between empathy and moral reasoning... But maybe you shouldn't make this point at this moment - it might distract attention from the other points.
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