Taking morality back

There are far too many claims coming from atheists and humanists that the religious do not have the sole claim to morality. It’s true, of course, they don’t. But that argument is getting old. What’s more interesting is that the morality of the religious, if anything, is lesser than that of the secular.

As time marches forward, secular thought prevails more and more in public policy. The religious often claim credit for these things, but they’ve long been known as liars (see intelligent design). It’s merely a matter of time until a large roadblock to equal rights is quashed; homosexuals will have the right to marry in most parts of the country within the next two decades. It’s simply an inevitability. The religious zealots never win these arguments. Their basis is weak (i.e., belief in superstition). They have no good grounding for their bigotry. Interestingly, it will be discrimination on the basis of gender that actually falls. That is, the government does not make distinctions on the basis of gender in deciding who can enter into a contract. It’s clearly illegal. That is precisely what is happening with this “one man, one woman” bigotry that pervades the country, most notably the backward-thinking south.

It is with the secular that we see an increase in our morality as a nation. The secular progressiveness of Europe has shown itself with a strong repudiation of torturing. It has shown itself with its higher regard for animal rights. Perhaps most importantly of all, it has shown itself in the fact that the vast majority of the continent’s nations have outlawed the death penalty, a punishment based upon the desire for revenge, a petty and callous reasoning.

The argument atheists and humanists should be putting forth is not that the religious do not have the only say in morality. It’s that they have very little. They have a distorted view of reality. They are not interested in freedom, equality, and being good people. They wish to pursue their largely evil gods at the expense of everyone else. It is the religious who must present a case for why anyone should listen to their version of ‘morality’, not the atheists and humanists.

38 Responses

  1. Assert! assert! assert!

    And not a single substantive argument for why materialism can make a single claim for ‘morality’.

    Let me give you a little help here – stick to sophomoric views of biology and don’t venture into logic and ethics, they are deep waters and you are in way over your head.

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong, but ‘materialism’ itself makes no claims about morality. A materialist certainly could, and their materialism would be no doubt be relevant there, but that’s not quite the same thing.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong, but ‘materialism’ itself makes no claims about morality. A materialist certainly could, and their materialism would be no doubt be relevant there, but that’s not quite the same thing.

    Correct; a materialist could (as this one did) but he would have no basis in his materialist beliefs to do so.

  4. Jack,
    if a materialist holds a particular moral worldview, he would not be coerced to modify this worldview based on supernatural claims. Even if this is a trivial distinction, it’s still a heads-on rebuttal to your aforementioned claim.

  5. if a materialist holds a particular moral worldview, he would not be coerced to modify this worldview based on supernatural claims. Even if this is a trivial distinction, it’s still a heads-on rebuttal to your aforementioned claim.

    Holding. a particular worldview and .having a basis. for a worldview are two different things.

    Anyone may hold any worldview they wish, however absurd; but a materialist has no basis to assert superior morality as a materialist has no basis to assert the objective existence of morals to begin with.

  6. Anyone may hold any worldview they wish, however absurd; but a materialist has no basis to assert superior morality as a materialist has no basis to assert the objective existence of morals to begin with.

    How would you define ‘objective existence of morals’ here?

  7. I would define it as a consistent set of rules defining right and wrong human behavior that can be applied universally.

  8. In that case I’d say you’re (possibly) talking about objective morality, as opposed to the objective existence of morals. Rather important distinction.

  9. Well more particularly I would say a universal source of morality must exist objectively (or in reality) in order to assert that morals exist at all.

  10. But that’s a different claim. Saying that a universal source of morality exists is entirelty different to saying that morals exist.

  11. I think it’s a mistake to paint either atheists or the religious with too broad a brush. There are millions of people for whom religion plays a morally positive role in their lives.

  12. But that’s a different claim. Saying that a universal source of morality exists is entirelty different to saying that morals exist.

    I would say they are neccesarily tied together; otherwise what we call morality really amounts to preference our inclination.

  13. I think it’s a mistake to paint either atheists or the religious with too broad a brush. There are millions of people for whom religion plays a morally positive role in their lives.

    I don’t disagree, but it’s really a question of how you measure that. A radical islamic terrorist might say the belief that compels him to commit terrorist acts is a morally positive action by his measure – as might a doctor serving with to help the poorest communities.

    Unless there exists an actual measure somewhere, there is no basis for saying either is wrong. Of course we could simply assert that the terrorist is wrong, and perhaps compell him to cease, but then the imposition of our morality would be no different than his.

  14. Jack, it is impossible for a materialist to base his morals, be their *real* source what it may, on supernatural claims. This is a direct influence of his materialism on his moral worldview, and even if it’s trivial, it stands in stark contradiction to your primary claim: that there is no interplay between one’s materialism and one’s moral worldview.

  15. Jack, it is impossible for a materialist to base his morals, be their *real* source what it may, on supernatural claims. This is a direct influence of his materialism on his moral worldview, and even if it’s trivial, it stands in stark contradiction to your primary claim: that there is no interplay between one’s materialism and one’s moral worldview.

    Well, I need to reiterate again, a materialist can assert whatever morals he may, but when it comes to a moral comparison (such as the sort that was made in the authors post) to claim superior morality there must be a measuring stick – and the materialist can lay no claim to such an objective measure, and thus can’t claim superior morality.

  16. Everyone can assert their own particular set of moral ideals. This is a function of education of biology, and this is true whether a person is a materialist or not.

    I’m not exactly sure in where did this post claim that materialists are morally superior due specifically to their materialism, but I’d have to agree with you that this claim is, at least superficially, false.

    It is possible that more materialists are “morally superior” if you compare materialists and supernaturalists with an agreed-upon set of secular morals (you’d have to make the morals secular, because putting religious morals would be unfair when making a comparison between materialists and supernaturalists).

    At any rate, I’m not sure where exactly did this post assert that this is the case or even that it should be.

  17. Everyone can assert their own particular set of moral ideals. This is a function of education of biology, and this is true whether a person is a materialist or not.

    Sure, which is why I said that they could; but asserting something (“The moon is made of cheese!”) and having rational basis for saying it are separate things; and the materialist has no rational basis for asserting superior morality.

    I’m not exactly sure in where did this post claim that materialists are morally superior due specifically to their materialism, but I’d have to agree with you that this claim is, at least superficially, false.

    Well I get that from this statement:

    “What’s more interesting is that the morality of the religious, if anything, is lesser than that of the secular.”

    It is possible that more materialists are “morally superior” if you compare materialists and supernaturalists with an agreed-upon set of secular morals (you’d have to make the morals secular, because putting religious morals would be unfair when making a comparison between materialists and supernaturalists).

    Well I am not sure what an ‘agreed upon set of secular morals’ could even be though; short of getting every secularist together in a very large room and getting them to agree on a set of morals, I don’t think any such thing exists.

    At any rate, I’m not sure where exactly did this post assert that this is the case or even that it should be.

    Well, the superiority of a non-religious morality seems to be the topic of the initial post.

  18. “Well I am not sure what an ‘agreed upon set of secular morals’ could even be though; short of getting every secularist together in a very large room and getting them to agree on a set of morals, I don’t think any such thing exists.”

    If this cannot be agreed upon, then there’s never a way in which “moral superiority” can be determined in any case.

    At least not objectively. However, there are criteria which I’m sure you’d agree upon, such as murder rates, marriage infidelity, violence, etc.

  19. If this cannot be agreed upon, then there’s never a way in which “moral superiority” can be determined in any case.

    Well, yes, exactly; which is why it is silly and wrong for the author of the intial post to assert that secularists have a superior morality, particulalry predicated on the examples given.

    At least not objectively. However, there are criteria which I’m sure you’d agree upon, such as murder rates, marriage infidelity, violence, etc.

    I might agree on certain things, but I don’t know that really matters since the claim of superiority is made on what is not agreed upon.

  20. Unless, of course, the author was vaguely addressing the things you would agree on.

  21. Unless, of course, the author was vaguely addressing the things you would agree on.

    The author was fairly specific about what constituted moral superiority – for instance one example was the moral superiority of recognizing ‘animal rights’ – not only can moral superiority not be asserted via materialism, but neither can the existence of ‘rights’ – much less the nonsensical notion that animals have them.

  22. The existence of rights can be asserted via materialism because a materialist can detect the existence of rights based on the external behavior the abstracted “rights” manifest in the real world. As to who “has those rights” – this is not something that can be deemed objectively “true” or not,

    such as the way in which sane human beings discover reason and not prove it, so they discover what is right and wrong for them and not prove it.

  23. The author was fairly specific about what constituted moral superiority – for instance one example was the moral superiority of recognizing ‘animal rights’ – not only can moral superiority not be asserted via materialism, but neither can the existence of ‘rights’ – much less the nonsensical notion that animals have them.

    Given that we are animals and I presume you believe we should have rights, the end of your statement makes no sense. All your doing is drawing an arbitrary line based upon the ability of a fellow animal to mate with the same animals with which you have the ability to mate. That doesn’t actually mean anything at all.

    On the specific case of ‘homosexual rights’, we have a case of baseless bigotry. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about homosexuality provided it brings no harm to others. This is the case, bar the deluded ideas of conservatives of what constitutes ‘harm’. A private act causes no harm. Two individuals with equal legal rights cause no harm. Thus, discriminating against these people is far from moral because the ‘basis’ is “I don’t like ’em”, not any real world effect being put upon anyone else. We can do a limited comparison to people who like heavy metal. Sure, it’s awful, but to disallow these people certain rights is baseless bigotry that comes done to “I don’t like ’em”.

  24. By the way, anyone looking to quote another person can use the tags “blockquote” and “/blockquote” with standard HTML tags (“less than” and “greater than” symbols) on either side of each part.

  25. The existence of rights can be asserted via materialism because a materialist can detect the existence of rights based on the external behavior the abstracted “rights” manifest in the real world. As to who “has those rights” – this is not something that can be deemed objectively “true” or not,

    Materialism is predicated on the notion that matter is the all that can be truly shown to exist. As much as this is true, for a materialist to ‘detect’ rights (a notion I suspect was made up for this discussion) they would have to show those rights have some material existence, which of course they don’t. There really can be no materialist existence of rights unless there is found a genetic basis for rights I suppose.
    such as the way in which sane human beings discover reason and not prove it, so they discover what is right and wrong for them and not prove it.

    Apparently you don’t find the Declaration of Independence to be a ‘sane’ document then, as the inalienable rights it claims humans were endowed with are considered a product of immaterial existence as persons designed by a creator.

  26. 1.

    Given that we are animals and I presume you believe we should have rights, the end of your statement makes no sense. All your doing is drawing an arbitrary line based upon the ability of a fellow animal to mate with the same animals with which you have the ability to mate. That doesn’t actually mean anything at all.

    Well, no, that isn’t a given; I think humans are something more than animals, as Western law has understood it we are persons, which is something more than being merely biological as animals are. To persons are ascribed rights, and those rights are endowed and immutable; seeing them otherwise is actually a threat to the idea of rights all together. Indeed, if we were only animals, and acted as animals do to one another, we wouldn’t be having this conversation about rights at all.

    On the specific case of ‘homosexual rights’, we have a case of baseless bigotry. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about homosexuality provided it brings no harm to others. This is the case, bar the deluded ideas of conservatives of what constitutes ‘harm’. A private act causes no harm. Two individuals with equal legal rights cause no harm. Thus, discriminating against these people is far from moral because the ‘basis’ is “I don’t like ‘em”, not any real world effect being put upon anyone else. We can do a limited comparison to people who like heavy metal. Sure, it’s awful, but to disallow these people certain rights is baseless bigotry that comes done to “I don’t like ‘em”.

    We will get to homosexual ‘rights’; I am still waiting to hear how it is creatures which can neither recognize, exercise, nor respect what we consider to be standard rights can be applied to them. Which, for example, of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights in the constitution can be applied to farmyard animals?

  27. Well, no, that isn’t a given; I think humans are something more than animals, as Western law has understood it we are persons, which is something more than being merely biological as animals are. To persons are ascribed rights, and those rights are endowed and immutable; seeing them otherwise is actually a threat to the idea of rights all together. Indeed, if we were only animals, and acted as animals do to one another, we wouldn’t be having this conversation about rights at all.

    All right, we’re particularly unusual animals – animals who are also ‘persons’. This does not change the fact that we’re animals. When speaking of how animals act towards one another, it would be nonsensical to omit the way in which humans act towards one another; being that we’re animals, our behaviour must be included in ‘animal behaviour’.

  28. All right, we’re particularly unusual animals – animals who are also ‘persons’. This does not change the fact that we’re animals. When speaking of how animals act towards one another, it would be nonsensical to omit the way in which humans act towards one another; being that we’re animals, our behaviour must be included in ‘animal behaviour’

    I am not sure what you point is.

    We of course share biology with animals. In fact, we share a lot of biology with plants, which are also living things. We share certain chemistry with a number of organic compounds. But what we share isn’t what conveys to us rights; it is those things that make us unique that convey those rights.

    Even if we acknowledge humans can act in an ‘animalistic’ way toward one another, this does nothing to convey to animals rights, though taken far enough, it might call our rights into question.

  29. Well, no, that isn’t a given; I think humans are something more than animals, as Western law has understood it we are persons, which is something more than being merely biological as animals are. To persons are ascribed rights, and those rights are endowed and immutable; seeing them otherwise is actually a threat to the idea of rights all together. Indeed, if we were only animals, and acted as animals do to one another, we wouldn’t be having this conversation about rights at all.

    You mean if we were ‘only’ other animals. Nothing else you said makes any sense because it’s creationist bungling of reality.

    We will get to homosexual ‘rights’; I am still waiting to hear how it is creatures which can neither recognize, exercise, nor respect what we consider to be standard rights can be applied to them. Which, for example, of the rights enumerated in the Bill of Rights in the constitution can be applied to farmyard animals?

    The rights of which I speak are largely the ones recognized by Spain recently. There is no need for the benefactor of a right to know anything of the right.

  30. We of course share biology with animals. In fact, we share a lot of biology with plants, which are also living things. We share certain chemistry with a number of organic compounds. But what we share isn’t what conveys to us rights; it is those things that make us unique that convey those rights.

    Even if we acknowledge humans can act in an ‘animalistic’ way toward one another, this does nothing to convey to animals rights, though taken far enough, it might call our rights into question.

    It is a level of consciousness that it is the most noteworthy conveyer of rights. Many other primates hold enough similarities to our consciousness that they have been granted certain rights. Plants do not have any level of consciousness.

    It isn’t that we’re acknowledging that humans can act animalistically. It is that we are animals. Anything we do is animalistic behavior.

  31. You mean if we were ‘only’ other animals. Nothing else you said makes any sense because it’s creationist bungling of reality.

    Well no, everthing ‘else’ happens to be the product of a modicum of knowledge about Western political philosophy and the basis of human rights; something you apparently are ignorant of, and so of course it makes no sense to you.

    If you don’t have a clue, don’t blame it on creationism, just admit you don’t know and learn something for a change.

    The rights of which I speak are largely the ones recognized by Spain recently. There is no need for the benefactor of a right to know anything of the right.

    There certainly is, because unless there is a genetic component that gives animals rights, then there is nothing inherent in being a chimpanzee or gorilla that invests them with such rights anymore than being a fish or bird.

    It is a level of consciousness that it is the most noteworthy conveyer of rights. Many other primates hold enough similarities to our consciousness that they have been granted certain rights. Plants do not have any level of consciousness.

    Please, every animal is ‘conscious’ – what no creature other than humans are conscious of is personhood, a sense of individual self that goes beyond merely physically existing. We protect the rights we do because we protect persons, their individuality, their thoughts and ideas. All your definition does is make a mockery of the idea of having inherent rights.

    It isn’t that we’re acknowledging that humans can act animalistically. It is that we are animals. Anything we do is animalistic behavior.

    Seriously Michael, get a clue – are there any Orangutans responding to your posts? Any poodles? Any macaws or pandas or trout? No, only humans are responding to your often silly ideas, indeed only humans have and express beliefs about the whys of the world. If that is mere animalism, then please point to ‘another’ animal that is doing what we are doing right now.

    If not, please stop making such inane statements.

  32. Well no, everthing ‘else’ happens to be the product of a modicum of knowledge about Western political philosophy and the basis of human rights; something you apparently are ignorant of, and so of course it makes no sense to you.

    If you don’t have a clue, don’t blame it on creationism, just admit you don’t know and learn something for a change.

    You professed a distinction between humans and other organisms on the basis that humans are not animals. Since such a belief is embedded in creationist beliefs, blaming creationist bungling of reality is perfectly appropriate. Humans are animals precisely as much as muskrats and or rotifers are animals.

    There certainly is, because unless there is a genetic component that gives animals rights, then there is nothing inherent in being a chimpanzee or gorilla that invests them with such rights anymore than being a fish or bird.

    So then a baby has no rights? As I said, there is no need for a benefactor to know its rights in order to have said rights. As for there being a genetic component to our rights, at what point would you revoke these rights? There is no single point in the history of our ancestors where humans suddenly appear. If we could revive our lineages dating back 7 million years, there would be a continuum of ability to mate. So would you go back 500,000 years and revoke the rights of our ancestors based on their genetic differences? How about for their children? Still? And their children? What is the point of genetic relatedness to modern day humans that confers rights?

    Please, every animal is ‘conscious’ – what no creature other than humans are conscious of is personhood, a sense of individual self that goes beyond merely physically existing. We protect the rights we do because we protect persons, their individuality, their thoughts and ideas. All your definition does is make a mockery of the idea of having inherent rights.

    Nothing is “inherent” about rights. We have the unique ability to grant ourselves certain rights. Rather than the basis of being able to mate with one another, we should base rights upon something more significant. I think you dismiss the ability of the other apes to comprehend their lives and to have significant emotions.

    Seriously Michael, get a clue – are there any Orangutans responding to your posts? Any poodles? Any macaws or pandas or trout? No, only humans are responding to your often silly ideas, indeed only humans have and express beliefs about the whys of the world. If that is mere animalism, then please point to ‘another’ animal that is doing what we are doing right now.

    If not, please stop making such inane statements.

    Your criteria for humans not being animals is that humans can do things other animals can not. My criteria is that we have evolved by the same principles as ever other animal. My criteria, being that is it based upon sound science and reality, trumps your criteria that is based upon ego and specieism.

  33. You professed a distinction between humans and other organisms on the basis that humans are not animals. Since such a belief is embedded in creationist beliefs, blaming creationist bungling of reality is perfectly appropriate. Humans are animals precisely as much as muskrats and or rotifers are animals.

    That was not the basis; I don’t know if you have a reading or comprehension problem, but I made that claim based on personhood, not merely being a human. You can call this idea articulated in the Declaration (the self-evident truth “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness “)‘creationism’ but you have yet to articulate where, from biology, such rights are supposed to be derived.

    So then a baby has no rights?

    The rights a bay has are the same rights a parent has; a baby is a person.

    As I said, there is no need for a benefactor to know its rights in order to have said rights. As for there being a genetic component to our rights, at what point would you revoke these rights? There is no single point in the history of our ancestors where humans suddenly appear. If we could revive our lineages dating back 7 million years, there would be a continuum of ability to mate. So would you go back 500,000 years and revoke the rights of our ancestors based on their genetic differences? How about for their children? Still? And their children? What is the point of genetic relatedness to modern day humans that confers rights?

    Actually, that is a question you need to ask yourself, as I don’t think humans were ever anything less than persons. But under the materialist paradigm, exactly when does a creature gain ‘rights’? Do your ancestral microbes have rights? Invertebrates? Fish, tetrapods, ‘primitive’ mammals? When did your ancestors ‘magically’ gain the non-material ability to have rights?

    Bottom line, your paradigm allows you no biological basis for rights, and certainly no basis for the notion of ‘equality’, and so as you deny the immaterial nature of persons, you deny the existence of rights – so not do chimps not have inherent rights in your world, but neither do you.

    Nothing is “inherent” about rights. We have the unique ability to grant ourselves certain rights. Rather than the basis of being able to mate with one another, we should base rights upon something more significant. I think you dismiss the ability of the other apes to comprehend their lives and to have significant emotions.

    Well, again, this isn’t the Western notion of rights articulated in the Declaration or the Constitution. If we can ‘grant ourselves’ rights, then we can also have those rights taken away – because they are only the product of a societies inclinations.

    Thus it’s not wrong for African American to be discriminated against because the ‘right’ of equality is ours to grant – or not grant. And the current situation with homosexuals cannot be seen as immoral as homosexuals have no inherent right to ‘equality’ regarding marriage – we might grant them such a right, but it would not be immoral not to do so. So your estimation of morality fails on this front as well.

    Your criteria for humans not being animals is that humans can do things other animals can not. My criteria is that we have evolved by the same principles as ever other animal. My criteria, being that is it based upon sound science and reality, trumps your criteria that is based upon ego and specieism.

    No, that is my criteria for why animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights; I already acknowledged humans are biological creatures, but there is nothing inherent in being a living organism that endows us with rights – and that is what you must establish to demonstrate that we must ‘respect’ other rights, because no one has any obligation to respect rights that don’t actually exist.

  34. That was not the basis; I don’t know if you have a reading or comprehension problem, but I made that claim based on personhood, not merely being a human. You can call this idea articulated in the Declaration (the self-evident truth “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness “)‘creationism’ but you have yet to articulate where, from biology, such rights are supposed to be derived.

    Your definition of “personhood” seems to be so narrow as to specifically exclude all other animals. I have described my basis, despite your contrary claims: consciousness and the ability process complicated emotions. Human consciousness is derived, in part, from our ability to understand causality better than other animals. Regardless, many of the other apes also understand causality to a certain degree, among other human-like attributes.

    The rights a bay has are the same rights a parent has; a baby is a person.

    You were specifically responding to my statement that a benefactor of rights need not know or understand those rights. You said that “[t]here certainly is” a need. A baby does not know, nor does he understand, the rights extended to him by adults. By your logic, a baby has no rights because it is necessary that a benefactor understand its rights. Would you like to recant on your previous statement concerning understanding rights?

    Actually, that is a question you need to ask yourself, as I don’t think humans were ever anything less than persons. But under the materialist paradigm, exactly when does a creature gain ‘rights’? Do your ancestral microbes have rights? Invertebrates? Fish, tetrapods, ‘primitive’ mammals? When did your ancestors ‘magically’ gain the non-material ability to have rights?

    First, not understanding the reality of common descent does not allow you to make up the notion that humans spontaneously existed at some arbitrary point in time. Second, my position is that rights work upon a gradient dependent upon consciousness. As such, many rights to freedom and liberty would be granted to our ancestors dating quite far back in time. The rights described by Texas as given to MR individuals largely applies.

    Bottom line, your paradigm allows you no biological basis for rights, and certainly no basis for the notion of ‘equality’, and so as you deny the immaterial nature of persons, you deny the existence of rights – so not do chimps not have inherent rights in your world, but neither do you.

    I have specifically stated that rights are not inherent. The basis is something of substance (consciousness and the ability to feel), not something ultimate. It’s a recognition of functionality over idealism. It clearly is not perfect, but it is far better than believing there to be some absolute reference point when there is no good evidence to think such an absurd thing.

    Well, again, this isn’t the Western notion of rights articulated in the Declaration or the Constitution. If we can ‘grant ourselves’ rights, then we can also have those rights taken away – because they are only the product of a societies inclinations.

    Thus it’s not wrong for African American to be discriminated against because the ‘right’ of equality is ours to grant – or not grant.

    Any system of belief needs to be internally consistent. If we repeal rights to blacks, then our basis is skin pigment, and that’s meaningless and inconsistent because the involved genes do not have the same amino acid sequences even among people of similar shades.

    And the current situation with homosexuals cannot be seen as immoral as homosexuals have no inherent right to ‘equality’ regarding marriage – we might grant them such a right, but it would not be immoral not to do so. So your estimation of morality fails on this front as well.

    Gender discrimination has no consistent basis. That is to what gay marriage actually comes down.

    No, that is my criteria for why animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights

    I said “Your criteria for humans not being animals is that humans can do things other animals can not”, whereas you essentially said, “My criteria is that animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights because humans can do things other animals can not”. This is the same thing with an inversion of language. Read carefully. You said “that is my criteria”. “That” refers to the phrase “humans can do things other animals can not”. Thus, that is intended (at least through language) to be added to the statement that “animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights”. When we do this we get, as stated above, “My criteria is that animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights because humans can do things other animals can not”. Again, you said animals are not humans because humans can do things other animals can not. I said your position is that humans are not animals because humans can do things other animals can not. This is a matter of inversion, not meaning. I go to such lengths to alert you to the fact that you may be disagreeing for the sake of disagreement, not because I actually mischaracterized your position.

    I already acknowledged humans are biological creatures, but there is nothing inherent in being a living organism that endows us with rights – and that is what you must establish to demonstrate that we must ‘respect’ other rights, because no one has any obligation to respect rights that don’t actually exist.

    There is nothing inherent in being a living organism that gives us rights. My position has always been such. It is consciousness which is deserving of a level of respect and rights.

  35. Your definition of “personhood” seems to be so narrow as to specifically exclude all other animals. I have described my basis, despite your contrary claims: consciousness and the ability process complicated emotions. Human consciousness is derived, in part, from our ability to understand causality better than other animals. Regardless, many of the other apes also understand causality to a certain degree, among other human-like attributes.

    It’s not narrow, they just happen to be characteristics unique to humans. We are the only organisms who understand we exist as individuals with our own ideas and reality beyond the material world, the reality of thoughts, concepts, beliefs, and self-aware expressions. And most of our fundamental rights center around these qualities.

    Let me be clear; protecting animals from harm is a good and moral thing; but that is because of what it makes us, not based on some imaginary rights animals have.

    You were specifically responding to my statement that a benefactor of rights need not know or understand those rights. You said that “[t]here certainly is” a need. A baby does not know, nor does he understand, the rights extended to him by adults. By your logic, a baby has no rights because it is necessary that a benefactor understand its rights. Would you like to recant on your previous statement concerning understanding rights?

    A baby human does not in actuality exercise or benefit from many of the rights we ascribe to adults; what infant can express his opinion, or go where they want, or exercise their ‘beliefs’ as they might? We don’t treat babies equally, they can’t vote, they can’t bear arms, and they don’t commit crimes for which they must get legal protections. Indeed, children derive most of the benefit of rights through their parents or guardians; the only ‘right’ one would say a child has is the right to be free from harm or death; and that right exists because humans have intrinsic value, which if not respected, would prevent them from growing up and enjoying the other rights.

    First, not understanding the reality of common descent does not allow you to make up the notion that humans spontaneously existed at some arbitrary point in time. Second, my position is that rights work upon a gradient dependent upon consciousness. As such, many rights to freedom and liberty would be granted to our ancestors dating quite far back in time. The rights described by Texas as given to MR individuals largely applies.

    I understand the concept perfectly; that you would try to impose it on an understanding of law and social theory is the absurdity here, one which makes a mockery of rights, which I have demonstrated repeatedly. Even if I accepted common descent it wouldn’t change the necessity for the non-material aspect of persons; indeed, one could not ascribe the ‘Texas’ rights you cited to any non-humans. One doesn’t even now with any certain what a supposed human ancestor understood or didn’t understand.

    And it is important to note that those rights (as indicated in the first enumerated section) derive from Constitutional rights, which themselves derive from the Declaration – in short, they are ‘recognized’, not created.

    I have specifically stated that rights are not inherent. The basis is something of substance (consciousness and the ability to feel), not something ultimate. It’s a recognition of functionality over idealism. It clearly is not perfect, but it is far better than believing there to be some absolute reference point when there is no good evidence to think such an absurd thing.

    You have a funny idea that when you ‘state’ something, I must be true. Rights are necessarily inherent; if an African person is not equal to a European person inherently, then ‘equality’ means nothing – there is no moral reason not to discriminate against them – the same incidentally goes for Jews, gays, or people with Down’s Syndrome. Equality can never be a function of biology, because no to members of a species are ever equal in any non-arbitrary sense.

    Any system of belief needs to be internally consistent. If we repeal rights to blacks, then our basis is skin pigment, and that’s meaningless and inconsistent because the involved genes do not have the same amino acid sequences even among people of similar shades.

    First off, you said rights are to be understood as something a society grants to itself – once that is accepted, you may find distinctions such as color problematic, but as long as the society at large does not, then that is not immoral, because rights exist as society says they do, not as a product of inherent recognition.

    And inequality between races was never a product merely of pigment, but of the supposed inherent biological weaknesses of certain races – which sadly some intelligent people still ascribe to today. Jews were discriminated against in Germany because of certain characteristics they were said to display as a race. Equality must be ascribed (and has been, even by the Supreme Court) to personhood, or the inherent value and equal worth of a human being; otherwise it is always arbitrary and inconsistent.

    Gender discrimination has no consistent basis. That is to what gay marriage actually comes down.

    Rights are according to you are ascribed as society sees fit; gays have no inherent right to marry, or purpose in it that society should promote such arrangements. You have no basis to claim they have certain rights, or that not ascribing them certain rights is immoral.

    I said “Your criteria for humans not being animals is that humans can do things other animals can not”, whereas you essentially said, “My criteria is that animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights because humans can do things other animals can not”. This is the same thing with an inversion of language. Read carefully. You said “that is my criteria”. “That” refers to the phrase “humans can do things other animals can not”. Thus, that is intended (at least through language) to be added to the statement that “animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights”. When we do this we get, as stated above, “My criteria is that animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights because humans can do things other animals can not”. Again, you said animals are not humans because humans can do things other animals can not. I said your position is that humans are not animals because humans can do things other animals can not. This is a matter of inversion, not meaning. I go to such lengths to alert you to the fact that you may be disagreeing for the sake of disagreement, not because I actually mischaracterized your position.

    I think the problem is you have tried to quote me as saying something via the mechanism of “you essentially said…” and then when on to mangle what I actually said, and argue against the strawman you created. I simply didn’t say what you quoted and so if you have a response, simply quote what I actually said instead of characterizing it.

    Nonetheless, you are talking about whether humans are animals, which is irrelevant, because the question to begin with is whether animals have rights. All humans may be animals in the sense they are biological organisms, but that does not follow that all animals are therefore endowed with the same rights as humans – or any rights at all, anymore than it should follow animals should be granted driver’s licenses.

    In fact, if humans didn’t exist the concept of ‘rights’ would not exist, and therefore the question would be moot – rights are only understood and recognized by humans – and unless you can come up with something in the biology of non-humans that would convey to them rights as we understand them, then you have no basis to say it is ‘more moral’ to recognize’ imaginary animal rights.

    There is nothing inherent in being a living organism that gives us rights. My position has always been such. It is consciousness which is deserving of a level of respect and rights.

    A cockroach is ‘conscious’; but a cockroach does not ‘deserve’ greater respect and rights than a dandelion.

  36. It’s not narrow, they just happen to be characteristics unique to humans. We are the only organisms who understand we exist as individuals with our own ideas and reality beyond the material world, the reality of thoughts, concepts, beliefs, and self-aware expressions. And most of our fundamental rights center around these qualities.

    The other apes have varying levels of the things you listed. Again, it would be interesting to see where you would draw the line in our evolutionary history.

    A baby human does not in actuality exercise or benefit from many of the rights we ascribe to adults; what infant can express his opinion, or go where they want, or exercise their ‘beliefs’ as they might? We don’t treat babies equally, they can’t vote, they can’t bear arms, and they don’t commit crimes for which they must get legal protections. Indeed, children derive most of the benefit of rights through their parents or guardians; the only ‘right’ one would say a child has is the right to be free from harm or death; and that right exists because humans have intrinsic value, which if not respected, would prevent them from growing up and enjoying the other rights.

    In other words you meant to say that in order to benefit from certain rights one must be a human. Being aware of said rights has little to do with it.

    I understand the concept perfectly; that you would try to impose it on an understanding of law and social theory is the absurdity here, one which makes a mockery of rights, which I have demonstrated repeatedly. Even if I accepted common descent it wouldn’t change the necessity for the non-material aspect of persons; indeed, one could not ascribe the ‘Texas’ rights you cited to any non-humans. One doesn’t even now with any certain what a supposed human ancestor understood or didn’t understand.

    I wasn’t applying law or social theory. The rights happen to be written in such a way as to be applicable to not just humans or apes or animals but all of life (with a few exceptions where theyare written too specifically).

    You have a funny idea that when you ‘state’ something, I must be true. Rights are necessarily inherent; if an African person is not equal to a European person inherently, then ‘equality’ means nothing – there is no moral reason not to discriminate against them – the same incidentally goes for Jews, gays, or people with Down’s Syndrome. Equality can never be a function of biology, because no to members of a species are ever equal in any non-arbitrary sense.

    Insofar as consciousness is inherited, rights are as well, but that is on the basis of consciousness, not specieism. No one species has a monopoly on rights.

    First off, you said rights are to be understood as something a society grants to itself – once that is accepted, you may find distinctions such as color problematic, but as long as the society at large does not, then that is not immoral, because rights exist as society says they do, not as a product of inherent recognition.

    And inequality between races was never a product merely of pigment, but of the supposed inherent biological weaknesses of certain races – which sadly some intelligent people still ascribe to today. Jews were discriminated against in Germany because of certain characteristics they were said to display as a race. Equality must be ascribed (and has been, even by the Supreme Court) to personhood, or the inherent value and equal worth of a human being; otherwise it is always arbitrary and inconsistent.

    That basis (or any, for that matter) for racism was wrong. Thus it is irrelevant to cite that as a reason why equality should be given on the basis of ‘personhood’. To give rights on the basis of consciousness and ability to process emotion is to give rights for an actual reason.

    Rights are according to you are ascribed as society sees fit; gays have no inherent right to marry, or purpose in it that society should promote such arrangements. You have no basis to claim they have certain rights, or that not ascribing them certain rights is immoral.

    As a legal matter, homosexual marriage has nothing to do with homosexuals. It comes down to gender discrimination because it is basing the right to enter into a contract on gender. Because that is not germane to the ability to understand and excercise the terms of the contract, it should hold no relevance to the right to enter said contract.

    As a social issue, not ascribing homosexuals certain rights is blatant bigotry because it is not based upon their consciousness, any actual harm they do to others, or any actual harm they do to society. People have a right to do as they please until they begin to cause harm to other conscious beings.

    I think the problem is you have tried to quote me as saying something via the mechanism of “you essentially said…” and then when on to mangle what I actually said, and argue against the strawman you created. I simply didn’t say what you quoted and so if you have a response, simply quote what I actually said instead of characterizing it.

    It’s a basic literary critique.

    No, that is my criteria for why animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights

    Does “that” not refer to “Your criteria for humans not being animals is that humans can do things other animals can not”? Specifically, the latter part of the sentence (“that humans can do things other animals can not”). If not, then what? There is no other option. Assuming that is settled, let’s move on. If not, you need to dispute this specific point.

    Since “that” refers to my sentence, we can replace it with my words.

    No, [that humans can do things other animals can not] is my criteria for why animals are not humans and invested with inherent rights

    I spoke of your criteria for why humans are not animals. You spoke of your criteria for why animals are not humans. How did you not write the inverse of “Your criteria for humans not being animals is that humans can do things other animals can not”?

    Nonetheless, you are talking about whether humans are animals, which is irrelevant, because the question to begin with is whether animals have rights. All humans may be animals in the sense they are biological organisms, but that does not follow that all animals are therefore endowed with the same rights as humans – or any rights at all, anymore than it should follow animals should be granted driver’s licenses.

    If humans have rights then we are inherently saying animals have rights. We are just listing a specific animal.

    A driver’s license is a privilege, not a right.

    In fact, if humans didn’t exist the concept of ‘rights’ would not exist, and therefore the question would be moot – rights are only understood and recognized by humans – and unless you can come up with something in the biology of non-humans that would convey to them rights as we understand them, then you have no basis to say it is ‘more moral’ to recognize’ imaginary animal rights.

    I’ve answer multiple times: Consciousness with a gradient.

    A cockroach is ‘conscious’; but a cockroach does not ‘deserve’ greater respect and rights than a dandelion.

    A cockroach falls beyond any meaningful level of consciousness.

  37. The other apes have varying levels of the things you listed. Again, it would be interesting to see where you would draw the line in our evolutionary history.

    Apes demonstrate no such things; I have no need to draw such a line in evolutionary history because there is no evidence any creature other than humans in history exhibited such characteristics.

    In other words you meant to say that in order to benefit from certain rights one must be a human. Being aware of said rights has little to do with it.

    Actually I was saying that rights really don’t apply to those who can’t actually exercise such rights; what benefit does a baby derive from the 1st amendment?

    I wasn’t applying law or social theory. The rights happen to be written in such a way as to be applicable to not just humans or apes or animals but all of life (with a few exceptions where theyare written too specifically).

    Actually they don’t – our rights as Americans for example are predicated specifically on the notion that “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” – that would seem to written specifically exclude animals, or at least not give any reason to include them.

    Insofar as consciousness is inherited, rights are as well, but that is on the basis of consciousness, not specieism. No one species has a monopoly on rights.

    As the notion of rights emanate only from one species, that statement can be understood to be notably wrong.

    That basis (or any, for that matter) for racism was wrong. Thus it is irrelevant to cite that as a reason why equality should be given on the basis of ‘personhood’. To give rights on the basis of consciousness and ability to process emotion is to give rights for an actual reason.

    Again, all animals are ‘conscious’ to some degree. Indeed, there really is no certain measure of ‘consciousness’ that allows us to create demarcation points, and even if there were it would somehow require us to impart rights on a sliding scale – which would create a society marked by inequality, apparently the opposite effect you desire to have.

    As a legal matter, homosexual marriage has nothing to do with homosexuals. It comes down to gender discrimination because it is basing the right to enter into a contract on gender. Because that is not germane to the ability to understand and excercise the terms of the contract, it should hold no relevance to the right to enter said contract.
    As a social issue, not ascribing homosexuals certain rights is blatant bigotry because it is not based upon their consciousness, any actual harm they do to others, or any actual harm they do to society. People have a right to do as they please until they begin to cause harm to other conscious beings.

    Actually, in a sense you are right – the right to ‘marry’ has more to do with what marriage actually is and why government should be involved with it at all than it does with two guys wanting to have sex with each other. Once the actual purpose of marriage and the states interest in it is understood, denying the institution to homosexuals is a no brainer.

    If humans have rights then we are inherently saying animals have rights. We are just listing a specific animal.
    A driver’s license is a privilege, not a right.

    This is so obviously wrong it amazes that you even bothered to say it. If I say ‘all humans have the inherent right to the free exercise of religion, does it then follow that all animal have that same right?

    A little hint, if your logic leads to a blatantly absurd conclusion, then it is probably wrong.

    I’ve answer multiple times: Consciousness with a gradient.

    Actually, this is the first time you stated it clearly – and I pointed out how this would be problematic above (beside the fact it would absurdly endow cockroaches with ‘rights’).

    A cockroach falls beyond any meaningful level of consciousness.

    Who are you to tell other species their level of consciousness isn’t sufficient? What are you, some sort of specieist?

  38. Apes demonstrate no such things; I have no need to draw such a line in evolutionary history because there is no evidence any creature other than humans in history exhibited such characteristics.

    “thoughts, concepts, beliefs, and self-aware expressions” are all things apes, especially bonobos have demonstrated. An adult bonobo is roughly on the level of a 2 or 3 year old human. Aside from more weighty books, this information is available in most zoos, as well as museums in New York and D.C.

    I’m curious as to when you think the evidence suggests humans spontaneously existed in history. Was it 6,000 years ago? Was it 60,000? 600,000? At any rate, our ancestors from 15,000 years ago were likely less intelligent than we are today. If we go back 50,000 years there’s virtually no doubt they were less intelligent. Your black and white world view requires we make a decision where to draw a line for what is human and what is non-human. It’s all quite arbitrary.

    Actually I was saying that rights really don’t apply to those who can’t actually exercise such rights; what benefit does a baby derive from the 1st amendment?

    Let’s stay on point. I said a benefactor of a right need not understand that right. You said “[t]here certainly is [a need for the benefactor of a right to know that right]”. A baby does not understand its right to life. Assuming we agree a baby has the right to life, we have just established that there is no need for a benefactor to understand its rights in order to have them.

    Actually they don’t – our rights as Americans for example are predicated specifically on the notion that “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” – that would seem to written specifically exclude animals, or at least not give any reason to include them.

    I’m not making a legal argument. The rights are worded in a way that they can apply to all animals – regardless of whether we are reading them in Texas, Minnesota, Maine, Canada, Cuba, Russia, Ireland, Jupiter, or Saturn.

    As the notion of rights emanate only from one species, that statement can be understood to be notably wrong.

    I speak of the right to a monopoly, not the actualization of a monopoly, which happens to be the case.

    Again, all animals are ‘conscious’ to some degree. Indeed, there really is no certain measure of ‘consciousness’ that allows us to create demarcation points, and even if there were it would somehow require us to impart rights on a sliding scale – which would create a society marked by inequality, apparently the opposite effect you desire to have.

    A gradient dependent upon which rights are useful and fair would be a society I favored. That is, my right to protest may not be useful to me if I never planned on using it, but it would need to be granted to me to be fair. The same right would be unuseful to a bonobo and could be overlooked without a lack of fairness.

    Actually, in a sense you are right – the right to ‘marry’ has more to do with what marriage actually is and why government should be involved with it at all than it does with two guys wanting to have sex with each other. Once the actual purpose of marriage and the states interest in it is understood, denying the institution to homosexuals is a no brainer.

    Plenty of gay men have no desire to have anal sex with each other. That point is irrelevant to their marriage – indeed, any form of sex is irrelevant to the ability to enter into a marriage contract. It only becomes relevant for the porn industry and Nevada brothels.

    This is so obviously wrong it amazes that you even bothered to say it. If I say ‘all humans have the inherent right to the free exercise of religion, does it then follow that all animal have that same right?

    There’s a miscommunication here. By saying “humans have rights” we are inherently saying “animals have rights” because humans are animals.

    Who are you to tell other species their level of consciousness isn’t sufficient? What are you, some sort of specieist?

    *Consciousnessist.

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