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A written interview with Titus Rivas
#11
(08-21-2017, 10:48 AM)Laird Wrote: Very pleased with your choice of focus, Vortex!

Something we might want to consider before the interview: how/where will we publish it? In a forum thread? In a static HTML page in a subdirectory of the website's root? Or should we install blogging/CMS software (WordPress?) and publish via that? Any other suggestions?

I think I will initially post the full text of the interview here in the thread, as a post. You're welcome to do anything necessary with it to change its publication format after it's published.
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#12
1. OF BEASTS AND MEN: AN INTERVIEW WITH TITUS RIVAS

 

Hello, this is the Psience Quest community, a crowd of voluntary exiles from Skeptiko – once the leading podcast and forum dedicated to controversial topics in science, scholarship and society… which, however, now in the state of fall and crisis due to unpleasant and unpredictable behavior of its founder, Alex Tsakiris. Here we won’t reiterate complaints and condemnations – anyone who in interested in this sad story may look at the latest active threads of Skeptiko (since, nowadays, there aren’t many there…). Rather, we will look at the future – the future which is now in our hands, and not dependent on wishes of our former inhospitable host, Alex.
 
One of the most important part of this hopefully-brighter future can and should be interviews of researchers and thinkers in controversial areas of study. And here is the first interview of such kind – the one with Titus Rivas, the Dutch philosopher, theoretical psychologist and psychical researcher.
 
Titus is the man of many interests. They range from analytic philosophy to near-death studies, from critical psychiatry to political science. But in this interview, we will concentrate on another part of his interests – animals, their consciousness, intelligence, sociality and psychic abilities, as well as their status in human society.
 
Now, the word comes to “Vortex”, one of the Psience Quest community members, who will take the role of the interviewer in our dialogue with Titus Rivas.
 
Vortex: So, Titus, the first question is simple – how did you become interested in the animal-related topics? How did you became an animal rights proponent, and a vegan? Was it some kind of inborn leaning, as I might say about my interest in controversies and heterodoxies in general? Or there were some specific events in your life that helped you to develop this interest?
 
Titus Rivas: I became interested in animal-related topics as a teenager. I was fascinated by their inner lives and psychological capabilities and liked dealing personally with animals such as dogs, cats, horses, birds, mice, rats, turtles, hamsters, sheep and goats. I felt alienated by the tendency in many people to downgrade the mind of animals and to ridicule them.
Specifically regarding animal rights, something certainly was innate in me, namely that I could not stand the physical abuse of vertebrate animals. For instance, my father was Spanish and rather fond of bullfighting as an essential part of a “noble” heritage. During our holidays in Spain, as a boy, I never wanted to go to  a bullfight with my parents. I recall a conversation between my father and an aunt and uncle. My father was asked why I hadn't accompanied him, and they assumed it was because I just found it too scary, meaning I was afraid that the torero would be hurt. My father explained that it was because I really felt bad for the bull, and my relatives even seemed to be touched by my attitude, as they did not lecture me on it. (There was this strange paradox, which reflected a potential for change in Spain that seems to be slowly materializing nowadays.)
Similar incidents involved a refusal to eat frogs as a boy (because the list of edible animals was already long enough for me - that was my reason as I remember it now) and my request to a Spanish friend to abstain from hunting whenever I would be around.
As a boy, I was less kind to insects and participated in large scale violent attacks on wasps and  even innocuous may-bugs. I still feel guilty for that. My attitude toward insects really only changed when I was around 17.
My empathy and care towards vertebrate animals (ranging from fish to mammals) was certainly natural to me and I never liked the idea of eating them, although I did enjoy the taste of their meat. However, if an animal was still alive and destined to be killed for my meal, I preferred not to eat it. I recall being shown a young and playful he-g0at a Spanish uncle wanted to kill for us and begging him not do so. My heartfelt supplication had the effect that the goat was spared. Unfortunately, they killed two chickens in its place, and I felt bad about that too.
My decision to become a vegetarian slowly developed when a girl on high school told me she did not eat meat out of compassion towards animals. I realized I shared her feelings but had not considered becoming a vegetarian before, because the concept was not exactly a normal one within my social circles. When I was 16, I watched a graphic television documentary about factory farming and immediately decided to become a vegetarian. My parents were not very thrilled by this idea, and I had to wait a couple of years longer. I went vegan shortly afterwards, when I was 19.
Animal rights and veganism feel very basic to me, something we simply morally owe other animals. I've never doubted this since I made the switch.
Any kind of sentient animal is an individual worthy of basic  respect that should not be sacrificed to trivial human interests such as taste. Besides, there are very tasty alternatives to animal products, such as wholesome vegan meat substitutes, vegan cheese, vegan egg substitutes and even vegan ice-cream and whipped cream.
 
Vortex: So, the animals… The first notion that we can recall when we talk about the relationships between humans and animals in the notion of human exceptionalism: the idea that human beings are somehow fundamentally different from animals, and fundamentally superior to them. A lot of specific “fundamental differences” that exalt humans above simple beasts were proposed in history, such as human usage of semiotics in general and language in particular. Or our possession of persistent yet changeable culture developing through history. Or our complex society and sociality. Some even claimed that only humans are conscious, or that only they possess “spirit” or “soul” of any kind. As far as I know, you’re quite critical about such notions. So, what can you say us about your position regarding human exceptionalism?
 
Titus Rivas: Human exceptionalism, to the extent that it has become the norm in the West and regions influenced by the West, is mostly a Christian invention, as far as I can tell. Most other traditions, such as the Eastern traditions of Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism, but also Islam and Judaism, recognize a greater continuity between humans and other animals than the dominant Christian tradition. (Even non-Christian current such as Marxism have been influenced by this dominant anthropocentric view on animals. The main non-Western parallel may be found in the mostly anthropocentric Chinese philosophies of Confucianism and Daoism.)
The Christian tradition recognizes an Aristotelian soul for animals, but only an immortal personal (Platonic) soul for people. This contrasts for example with pagan Western traditions that believe in an immortal spirit in the case of non-human animals as well.
The Christian tradition has changed over the years, and nowadays there are several enlightened schools of Christian thought that do actually recognize biological evolution and the psychological continuity between mankind and other animal species, along with their implications for the ontological and spiritual status of animals.
However, in the 17th Century, French philosopher and mathematician René Descartes took the already absurd absolute dichotomy between man and animals to a new level. In a sense, he realized that it is strange to uphold the notion of ontologically different kinds of souls within the animal world, but he drew the wrong conclusion from this. He did not conclude that animals possessed the same kind of soul as people, but rather that animals do not have any kind of psyche. He saw them as machines without consciousness, i.e. without sentience (an inner life of subjective experiences). They did not even feel pain or discomfort, they did not have any phenomenal sensations or thoughts, they did not desire anything. They just acted as if they did, because they were like natural automata - the mechanical, 17th Century precursor to our contemporary robots.
Since the days of Descartes, it has taken  centuries to correct his rather insane but all too dominant 'Cartesian' views of animals within the academic world.
Now, does this mean that homo sapiens does not have any special, or even exceptional qualities? Of course not! It is obvious that only people have certain specific psychological abilities, such as, notably, the ability to use human language with its unique characteristics, that allow us to generate an infinite number of meaningful sentences and communicate and expand what is on our minds. There may partial natural parallels to this in other animals, such as dolphins, but we're certainly quite unique in this respect. However, this does not mean we're unique in all other psychological respects too, like self-awareness, perception, social cognition, sensation, empathy, compassion, individual bonding, play, tool use, problem solving, et cetera. Even the semantic or semiotic aspect of human spoken of sign language can be learned by other highly evolved species, such as the great apes, dolphins and parrots. It may also have natural counterparts in some systems of animal communication.
The main difference between human and (most) non-human animal communication concerns syntax rather than understanding the use and meaning of signs as such.
There is no rational basis for claiming that our species-specific potential makes us superior - in any other than purely functional sense, i.e. like a modern computer is superior  to an early gaming computer - and other species inferior. It does not provide us with any excuse to use other animals. Animals may be considered functionally comparable to human children and teenagers, rather than completely different from us, and undeserving of any respect or dignity. Children and teenagers are not inferior to adult people, and neither are non-human animals.
Atheists sometimes speak of “breaking the spell” when talking about fighting the influence of religion. In this case, in my view they are certainly right that human exceptionalism or anthropocentrism in the axiological and moral sense should be exorcized from our mentality.
 
Vortex: Let’s now look, point by point, at the mental characteristics that are sometimes claimed as being specially reserved for humans. How, for example, would you evaluate animals’ intellectual capabilities? Are they capable of rationality, of forming their own understanding of the world, of testing and refining it?
 
Titus Rivas: It is impossible to answer this question in an undifferentiated way. There are both mammal and bird species, which are intellectually very close to us, such as the great apes, elephants, dolphins, capuchin monkeys, pigs and crows. They are capable of impressive  intellectual feats. They do indeed form hypotheses on the basis of what they know, and may actively test these hypotheses against new data. On the other hand, there are primitive species that mostly seem to survive through mindless instinctual programs.  
More in general, all vertebrates and the higher invertebrates such as octopuses, have some degree of intelligence, and are capable of cognitively learning from their experiences.
All sentient beings necessarily have their own phenomenological view of their world, based on their experiences and how they interpret these.
From a cognitive perspective, the gap between humans and say pigs is much smaller than the gap between a mouse and a worm.
 
Vortex: And what about creativity? Do animals have a taste for aesthetics, a drive to create and enjoy beauty and finesse?
 
Titus Rivas: It depends on how you define creativity and aesthetics, of course. Many animals obviously prefer mates with certain specific visually attractive, “beautiful” characteristics (think of the peacock, for instance). Also, there are observations of apes, who seemed to enjoy a sunrise or sunset, or to enjoy playing a drum. And some singing birds seem to be capable of improvising on and expanding their melodies, just for fun.
So there are certainly parallels of our human sense of beauty, both visually and musically. There can't be a parallel in the poetic sense, unless dolphins and whales actually do possess a real language (in the human sense) and play with it and even sing songs in that language. For now, that is hard to tell, as far as I can tell.
Creativity in the sense of wanting to create new things, is really common in the animal world. Think of birds and animals that, although driven by instinct, build nests, dams, etc. and really seem to enjoy the task. Also, social creativity must be part and parcel of dealing with other animals, solving complex social problems, etc.
Then, there have been experiments with animals such as elephants and pigs that were told how to paint or make music, but it is important to know if these skills really resonated with the animal's own interests, or were simply forced upon them and taught mechanically, through some kind of operant conditioning.
 
Vortex: So, let’s come to the sociality of animals. Can animals feel compassion and pity, and act on them? Can they practice cooperation and mutual aid?
 
Titus Rivas: It depends of course on the nature of the species. Some species are solitary and others are social. Some species such as (most) insects are driven mostly by preprogrammed, rigid and blind instincts, whereas others mostly function on the basis of cognition and sentience.
There is good evidence for compassion and sympathy in social animals such as elephants, apes and wolves.
Some level of cooperation is the rule for all social animals, because that is supposed to be the evolutionary background of why they became social in the first place. Mutual aid is present in species that are intelligent enough to realize that helping others will it make more probable that they will help you in the future.
(See:
et cetera)
 
Vortex: Yet what about predation? It is an evident fact that some animals commonly hunt, kill and eat other animals. How does this fact fit in your view of animals’ communal and empathetic capabilities?
 
Titus Rivas: Again, we need to differentiate. Biologically speaking, there really is no such thing as “the animals” unless this category also includes ourselves.
Higher predators have in fact been observed to incidentally manifest some level of compassion to preys. For instance, a lioness that seemed to have adopted an infant antelope after killing (and eating) its mother. Not all predators are communal by the way, some are solitary.
Anyway, in case a predatory species is known for its empathetic qualities, such as is the case for dogs, we must expect that the killer instinct often “blocks” the higher cognitive ability. If it did not, the predator could not bear killing its prey and the species would simply go extinct. We may regard this an unfortunate but necessary mechanism to ensure physical survival.
In that respect, we humans, as biological omnivores are probably capable of overcoming any predatory inclinations much more easily than true carnivores. I don't believe carnivores simply choose to eat other animals. They can't help doing so.
 
Vortex: Let’s now move to animal’s psychic abilities. There were some experiments confirming them – such as Rupert Sheldrake’s famous experiments with dogs psychically anticipating humans’ return home, but their number is still very little comparing to similar experiments involving only humans. So, what is your position on animals’ psychic capabilities, and on the experimental research on it? Can you tell us about “animal psi” experiments beyond Sheldrake’s ones? Why, do you think, researchers are seemingly reluctant to perform animal-involving parapsychological research?
 
Titus Rivas: I think that the evidence that we have, both from the experiments conducted by Sheldrake's team
and other experimental researchers, and also from spontaneous cases is good and should be taken very seriously.  Rupert Sheldrake also colloborated with Aimee Morgan's telepathic experiments with her African grey parrot N'kisi.
I especially like the kind of experiments people like Sheldrake have carried out with animals, because they don't hurt the animals involved.
The main reason why parapsychological researchers are reluctant to perform research with animals is rooted in the traditional Western view of animals that I mentioned before. Many investigators still believe that the human psyche is radically different from the souls of animals, not in terms of a particular cognitive ability, but in the ontological sense. For them, it seems obvious that only humans could have psi.
Years ago, I was involved in a public debate with author and psychical researcher John L. Randall about this topic for the (British) Paranormal Review. He was himself involved in animal psi experimentation, but stressed that evidence for real psi in animals would be bad news, philosophically speaking, because it would disprove the claim that psi is related to a non-physical human mind, rather than to the physical brain. It was obviously unthinkable for him that animal minds are just as non-physical as the human psyche. So if animals manifested psi, this would demonstrate that psi as physical and brain-based after all. He tried to explain any indications of true animal psi away as the result of a complex form of subconscious human psi. Accordingly, the paranormal process would be taking place exclusively in the human mind of the experimenter, albeit on a subconscious level, and the experimenter would, again wholly subconsciously, transfer the information through psychokinesis onto the animal's physical brain, thereby affecting the anima's behavior. (Randall may have been inspired by attempts of  Super-psi proponents to neutralize survival data in terms of equally complex subconscious processes in the living. )
 
Vortex: So, if animal consciousness can manifest itself psychically, can it survive bodily death, as human one seems to be capable according to the afterlife-suggestive experimental data (to which you made some good additions with your veridical near-death experience and reincarnation studies)? Is there some evidence pointing towards animals’ afterlife?
 
Titus Rivas: There actually is. The best collection of spontaneous cases implying the postmortem survival of individual animals was published by Kim Sheridan. It is called Animals and the Afterlife
and includes a wide range of experiences, such as After-Death Communications and Manifestations, Shared Death Experiences, and Reincarnation memories. What makes this collection really impressive is that it contains the same kind of patterns we know from survival research concerning deceased (human) persons.
 
Vortex: Now let’s move to the question of animals’ current social status. You are an animal rights proponent. So, in your opinion, what rights should be granted to animals? What should be animals’ position in our society?
 
Titus Rivas: Animal rights obviously is not about the right to vote or the right to marry or to drive a car. It is about very basic negative rights, such as the right not to be used as a commodity or to be exploited, the right not to be slaughtered, or not to be physically, invasively experimented upon. And basic positive rights of animals within human society to be well fed, respected, and emotionally and physically cared for.
I'm part of the deontological animal rights tradition of scholars like the late Tom Regan, and Gary Francione. All (sentient) animals should get legal rights and be protected by the law, and it should be legally forbidden to harm them or use them in a way that is not in their own individual interest.
 
Vortex: What about the current animal rights movement? How would you evaluate it and its activities? What are its benefits and weaknesses? What would you advice to animal rights activists?
 
Titus Rivas: I think that the animal rights movement have done a lot of fine work and promoted and normalized basic ethical notions about animals. This has already changed some things, but so far, obviously immoral practices such as factory farming and invasive experiments on animals mostly remain the “speciesist” and “carnist” norm. We should keep together as much as possible and avoid unnecessary divisions. We also need to develop better ways of reaching the masses. This may involve some temporary  compromises, but without giving up on our long term goals or principles. We need to find the right combination of idealism and pragmatism.
 
Vortex: You are also a vegan. Is it primarily an ethical choice? How do you reconcile moral and medical aspects of veganism? Do you think it is possible to people to maintain their health and nutritional balance without meat?
 
Titus Rivas: In my case, veganism is purely an ethical choice, as I used to be really fond of most animal products. I've never really believed in the theory that only a vegan diet would be healthy for us, because as I see it, we are omnivores, not herbivores.
The fact that we are omnivores enables us to make an ethical choice about whether we want to use animals or not. This choice is a privilege only of intelligent omnivore species, unless a species is capable of producing its food completely artificially, through advanced technology. I'm a vegan, because the production of dairy and eggs also involves animal suffering, and the large scale destruction of “useless” male animals.
There are no medical problems involved in veganism, as long as you take Vitamin B12 (and preferably a few additional) supplements.
As a matter of fact, if you follow a responsible vegan lifestyle (that includes such plant-based supplements), chances are high that your life expectancy is even longer than average rather than shorter.
Concerning vegetarianism: I think it has been common knowledge, for a very long time that a vegetarian lacto/ovo diet (without supplements) is healthier than an average diet. If it weren't at least as healthy, we couldn't be real omnivores! Humans don't need animal products, let alone products directly involving killing such as meat and fish, and there have been healthy vegetarians since time immemorial. The famous Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras is an early example.
 
Vortex: One last question, Titus, now a personal one. I know you have several pets (or should I call them “animal companions”?). Who they are? Can you tell us something about them?
 
Titus Rivas: Unfortunately, there is only one animal companion in the flesh right now, my dog Moortje. He is a very lively, playful 9-year-old dog, very friendly with people of all ages, and female dogs, though only selectively friendly toward other males. He tolerates cats and can even get friendly with them over time. He loves rough play, ball games, games with ricebones, long walks, and extensive sniffing.  He hates being home alone, and is very affectionate. He is strong willed but never responds with agression when corrected.
I lost my 3-year-old cat Pipi just a few weeks ago. She was blown off the front balcony and died shortly after that. She loved playing with me by trying to hit my arm or hit with her paw.  After a short while, she learnt to stop using her claws while doing so. Pipi also loved chasing after insects although she never caught any of them, which sometimes frustrated her. She was very friendly towards my human friends and learned to tolerate Moortje. She knew how to relax and could often be found near my pc for stroking sessions et cetera. I'm still in shock because of her fatal accident.
Last year, I lost my pal Guusje, 20 years old. He was a really independent cat who unlike Pipi loved to go outside. He was well known for his boldness in my neighborhood, even after I had him castrated. He was quite skinny so that some people thought I did not feed him enough. However, his vitality was amazing, and the critics had to acknowledge they were wrong. Guusje loved lying on my lap and acting like a vulnerable, affectionate kitten, while outside he was a strong and daring male cat. He was very strong willed and defied me several times, but we always resolved our little power struggles. I still miss him dearly. He died of old age.
There were others, my dear cats Cica and Jerry, and my dogs Takkie, Feliz and Libre, but they died years before.
 
Vortex: So, this is all I want to know. Thank you for an interesting interview, Titus!
 
Titus Rivas: Thank you for invitation and efforts, Vortex!
 
So, this is our first interview. Now, all Psience Quest members are encouraged to analyse and debate Titus’ ideas, and to publish here their replies to him.
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#13
Super stuff, Vortex, a big thank you to you for your questions and to Titus for his replies. I agree with almost everything that he expressed.

Are follow-up questions permitted? In case they are, here are a few to put to you, the gatekeeper, so that you can - if you see fit - put them to Titus, potentially with your edits if you see fit to make any. If you do put these questions to Titus, please let him know first that I am a fellow vegan and proponent of animal rights, so that these questions are not meant to be "debunking gotchas", they are coming more from a place of trying to acknowledge and then deal with the challenges I perceive in and to our position. That said, here are my follow-up questions:

  1. What is your position with respect to confining companion animals indoors? Is this a violation of an animal's right to freedom? And even more pointedly, what is your position on companion animals who are left home alone without stimulation whilst their human companion(s) head off to work for the day? Similarly, what is your position on companion animals who are left in a fenced backyard for extended periods of time without any stimulation?
  2. There is increasing scientific evidence that plants are vastly more complex than had previously been acknowledged, and I think it points to the strong possibility that plants are sentient. Plant sentience, too, is something that some (most? all?) indigenous cultures have always maintained. Do you accept that plants are probably sentient? If so, what implications does this have for the vegan and animal rights movements? Should plants, too, be afforded rights?
  3. What role, if any, is there for activism of the type that (illegally) frees animals from laboratories or factory farms? How about activism such as blocking the entrances to slaughterhouses?

More if/when inspiration strikes. Thanks again!
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#14
Thanks for your response, Laird.

(08-23-2017, 05:34 AM)Laird Wrote:
  1. What is your position with respect to confining companion animals indoors? Is this a violation of an animal's right to freedom? And even more pointedly, what is your position on companion animals who are left home alone without stimulation whilst their human companion(s) head off to work for the day? Similarly, what is your position on companion animals who iare left in a fenced backyard for extended periods of time without any stimulation?
  • My position on this is first of all that even if one opposes keeping animals as a pet or companion animals and favors the gradual non-violent extinction of pets, like Gary Francione, there still are billions of pets alive today. I don't think that even within this framework of thought, it is acceptable to kill healthy pets, and that is why even Francione has had or still has dogs, which he rescued from an animal shelter. Not every vegan is suitable as a pet owner though, because you really need to like them and you shouldn't mind giving them sufficient physical affection. So there can be no question that individual vegans don't have a moral duty to keep pets. But the vegan community certainly does have this duty, in my opinion.
    Now, Western societies are not very pet friendly -although a lot more than other societies- which implies that for instance dogs are not allowed everywhere. Especially for singles like myself, this means there are times my dog must stay home alone, because he simply is not allowed in shops or certain public buildings. I personally try to limit this as much as possible, to one or two times a week 1 hour, and one time a week 3 to 4 hours. As a freelancer, I mostly work at home. I do believe people who are single and work full time at an office or other place where dogs are not allowed should reconsider owning a companion animal, unless they happen to have a dog that easily adapts to the situation and is easily stimulated by for instance sounds or images on television, et cetera. By the way, I do think society should adapt more to dogs in public places. I make it a matter of principle to always take my dog with me if I give a lecture or talk. It is one of my official conditions.
    More in general, I agree with the authors of Zoopolis on the rights of pets or companion animals. I don't believe we should abolish the keeping of companion animals. We should rather improve their situation, abolish commercial breeding, veganize their food, etc. See: https://www.amazon.com/Zoopolis-Politica...0199673012





    (08-23-2017, 05:34 AM)Laird Wrote:
    1. 2. There is increasing scientific evidence that plants are vastly more complex than had previously been acknowledged, and I think it points to the strong possibility that plants are sentient. Plant sentience, too, is something that some (most? all?) indigenous cultures have always maintained. Do you accept that plants are probably sentient? If so, what implications does this have for the vegan and animal rights movements? Should plants, too, be afforded rights?
  • I'm not a panpsychist, so mere complexity of structure and response does not in itself point to sentience for me (See: http://txtxs.nl/artikel.asp?artid=843) For me, there can be no real mind without a self experiencing it. Animals are selves, and in my view there isn't any reason to suppose that plants are selves too. They're complex (often very beautiful) systems of living matter and that's what there is to it for me.
    I'm not impressed by the evidence for cognition in plants either. And I dismiss Cleve Backster's and similar research as most probably based either on fraud or on psychokinesis, coming from the experimenter.
    However, even if I accepted that plants are sentient, which I don't, this would not mean I could ever believe they have a capacity to suffer like animals do. There is no reason to believe plants can feel pain, as they have no way of acting on that pain. There is no reaon to believe they can feel fear, because the presence of fear would be useless too, as they aren't mobile.
    So plant sentience would be interesting but it would not amount to a solid reason to abandon veganism.

    Plants would have to be individual sentient beings (or selves in the sense of experients) before they could get rights.  I haven't seen any evidence (or even serious claim) that they are.

    Finally, even if plants felt pain and fear, there would be a vegan way out, namely fruitarianism. Fruit and similar sources of alimentation such as nuts are "meant" to be eaten. Not even the plants themselves could "mind" if we continued to use them Smile  . See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruitarianism

    In sum, ethically speaking this really is a non-issue for me. I have written several articles in Dutch about it, such as: http://txtxs.nl/artikel.asp?artid=631, dating from 2003.



    (08-23-2017, 05:34 AM)Laird Wrote:
    1. 3. What role, if any, is there for activism of the type that (illegally) frees animals from laboratories or factory farms? How about activism such as blocking the entrances to slaughterhouses?
  • I don't have moral problems with activists freeing animals from laboratories or factory farms (these animals should not be in captivity in the first place), as long as it is not accompanied by physical violence or personal threats against people. It should be about liberation and not about terror.
    Blocking the entrance of slaughterhouses is very understandable (anyone who is an ethical vegan would want to prevent the murder), but not very effective and it may even prolong the suffering of the animals waiting in trucks etc. that are bound to be slaughtered. I think it is better to give these animals water and try to comfort them. It is also more effective to make undercover reports of the horrors taking place in slaughterhouses, farms, etc.

    Best wishes,

    Titus
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    #15
    It's curious, but most of the animal survival cases discussed in, well pretty much everywhere, are related to beloved pets. Has anyone seen any credible account of an animal being hunted and coming back for vengeance? Surely the reason behind it is also relevant to that simplistic if old dismissal, "where are all the ghost dinosaurs?"
    "Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before..."
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    #16
    (08-23-2017, 12:04 PM)E. Flowers Wrote: It's curious, but most of the animal survival cases discussed in, well pretty much everywhere, are related to beloved pets. Has anyone seen any credible account of an animal being hunted and coming back for vengeance? Surely the reason behind it is also relevant to that simplistic if old dismissal, "where are all the ghost dinosaurs?"

    There is a very simple and plausible  explanation for the prevalence of stories of pets, namely that people are mostly interested in the survival of the animals they have known and loved, and, in turn, such animals are the ones motivated to contact them after they have died. So, from a psychological point of view, we'd expect most (animal) ADCs to concern such animals. 

    However there certainly are cases of haunted places etc. involving animals that weren't pets. For instance, see these animal ghosts in Britain.

    As for vengeful victims of hunters, I think such a scenario says more about repressed guilt in hunters, than about the nature of most prey animals. 
    Anyway, we don't need vengeance from its victims, to morally condemn hunting unequivocally! Let's not forget it's 2017, not prehistorical times.
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    #17
    Titus,

    Even though I am not vegetarian, I have a lot of sympathy with what you say. We also have a cat, and my partner is vegetarian, so she faces the dilemma of feeding meat to an animal! I know in theory it is possible to feed a cat a vegetarian diet, but from what I have heard, it is not always successful. Even if you manage that, a cat will bring home additional tasty things to eat!

    Incidentally, one of our cats from years ago, was almost certainly aware of when we were coming home. We would arrive home at pretty random times (sometimes we ate before coming home, etc) and our cat was always there waiting for us, which seemed rather sad. However our neighbour told us that our cat would go and stay at her house, and only get up to go out shortly before we got home. since she was not very swift on her feet, I didn't really believe this, but I have since realised that it is another example of Rupert Sheldrake's recognition that about 1/3 of cats are aware of the return of their carers.

    Since I have become interested in consciousness, I have always been sure that whatever we have, we share with animals. They too are obviously sentient. My problem is to imagine just how sentience shades off into non-sentience. I mean is a flea sentient, and does it make any sense to say it is slightly sentient?

    David
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    #18
    (08-23-2017, 08:47 PM)DaveB Wrote: Titus,

    Even though I am not vegetarian, I have a lot of sympathy with what you say. We also have a cat, and my partner is vegetarian, so she faces the dilemma of feeding meat to an animal! I know in theory it is possible to feed a cat a vegetarian diet, but from what I have heard, it is not always successful. Even if you manage that, a cat will bring home additional tasty things to eat!

    Incidentally, one of our cats from years ago, was almost certainly aware of when we were coming home. We would arrive home at pretty random times (sometimes we ate before coming home, etc) and our cat was always there waiting for us, which seemed rather sad. However our neighbour told us that our cat would go and stay at her house, and only get up to go out shortly before we got home. since she was not very swift on her feet, I didn't really believe this, but I have since realised that it is another example of Rupert Sheldrake's recognition that about 1/3 of cats are aware of the return of their carers.

    Since I have become interested in consciousness, I have always been sure that whatever we have, we share with animals. They too are obviously sentient. My problem is to imagine just how sentience shades off into non-sentience. I mean is a flea sentient, and does it make any sense to say it is slightly sentient?

    David

    Hi David,

    Thank your for your comments. 

    About cats: We can only do so much as is possible. I've tried to feed my cats vegan dry food, and it ultimately became a normal part of their food, notably Amicat. Their wet food consisted of fish chunks. I limited their non-vegan food to fish, not because I've no respect for fish, but simply because I believe that fish will probably (on the whole) suffer less than mammals and birds. It's the same reason that motivates some people to limit their animal intake to fish. This does not mean I morally approve of the latter, because for us humans it is completely unnecessary to eat meat of any kind. By the way, I'm really for the development of tasty and affordable vegan wet food for cats. In fact, I've experimented with some of them, but so far with little success (my cats did not like it enough, and only ate part of it; and their consumption did not grow over time). It probably is a matter of a very limited number of initiatives among producers and I remain hopeful that this will improve in the years to come.

    What a wonderful example of a telepathic bond between your cat and you! Beautiful!

    For me, sentience is all or nothing. This is related to my definition of sentience, namely the presence of an inner life of subjective experiences. There can be all kinds of subjective experiences, but there either is such an inner life in a particular being, or there is not. If an animal is sentient, it may have periods of dreamless sleep, but it is impossible for it to have no subjectieve experiences at all.
    So either a flea is sentient or it is not. They deserve the benefit of the doubt anyway.
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    #19
    (08-23-2017, 12:27 PM)Titus Rivas Wrote: There is a very simple and plausible  explanation for the prevalence of stories of pets, namely that people are mostly interested in the survival of the animals they have known and loved, and, in turn, such animals are the ones motivated to contact them after they have died. So, from a psychological point of view, we'd expect most (animal) ADCs to concern such animals. 

    However there certainly are cases of haunted places etc. involving animals that weren't pets. For instance, see these animal ghosts in Britain.

    As for vengeful victims of hunters, I think such a scenario says more about repressed guilt in hunters, than about the nature of most prey animals. 
    Anyway, we don't need vengeance from its victims, to morally condemn hunting unequivocally! Let's not forget it's 2017, not prehistorical times.

    So, you see animals as simply accepting death and 'passing on' without much fuss, only responding to appease our fear of oblivion?

    Also... Ghost chicken?
    "Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before..."
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    #20
    (08-23-2017, 09:51 PM)E. Flowers Wrote: So, you see animals as simply accepting death and 'passing on' without much fuss, only responding to appease our fear of oblivion?

    Also... Ghost chicken?


    No, some deaths are very traumatic. Such as dying in a slaughterhouse or first being wounded and chased by a rabid human hunter. So I suppose something of that trauma will stay with the animal's mind, as it would in human traumatic death. 

    Also, animals are emotional creatures like ourselves, and loving relationships with humans (and other animals of course) matter to them, so why would this not motivate them to generate ADCs? 

    Yes, ghost chickens, why not?

    One of the benefits of overcoming human exceptionalism is that it allows us to leave limiting misconceptions about animals behind us. As in: expanding our awareness of reality.
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