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Old 28-02-2010, 23:45   #136
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Sorry, I'm not prepared to snip and clip my way through this but point 1 of the bulleted messages seems to contradict point 5. On one hand you suggest we can't understand the thought process of animals and then you suggest under certain circumstances we can presume they experience stress in small quarters. This seems to suggest that we can make assumptions if they're the right ones? Then again we don't have to understand their suffering do we? Just acknowledge that it is occuring? As for Darwin, his studies referred to long term mutations brought about by isolation and genetic selection and I'm not sure how it applies to the topic at hand? I am quite happy to be enlightened (for the benefit of generations to come) but I don't see how it aaplies to keeping Orcas in aquariums.

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Christian, I think I've been misunderstood on a couple of points.

I'm not a Darwinist. I wasn't arguing taxonomy, or breeding, or speciation: just making the point that if you're going to be consistent, a call to halt the training of animals to serve us would apply to domesticated animals as well. Domesticated or wild, the principle of not interfering with their lives would obtain. I'm willing to listen to someone who could make a sensible distinction, but seems to me it's the same thing.

I wasn't really joking. I was suggesting that there is a sense in which they are analogous, and by doing so, implying the question "What makes one of those things acceptable and the other not?"

Secondly, I'm not saying other mammals cannot suffer. I'm recognizing that we don't understand their minds, quality of consciousness, awareness of self, etc., very well, and it may not be exactly the same thing as humans experience. At a glance, it seems they experience suffering, grief, joy; but humans are unique, so the possibility that it isn't quite the same thing has to remain. This isn't a completely settled question. Ironically, studying captive wild animals has given us the greatest insights into this phenomenon.

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Jeff


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A lot of assumptions and a lot of moral posturing here which rests on very weak foundations.
  1. We don't know what animals think, or if they are self-aware, or if they reflect on their actions like human beings do. We don't even understand the nature of our own consciousness, let alone that of other orders of life. Lots of anthropomorphizing here. Intentional Drifter has been the most honest agnostic about this, as he has about the idea of intelligence and what it might be in cetacea. I don't believe attributing dark motives like revenge to them can be substantiated by any empirical observation. The idea of "suffering" is inherently subjective, as it seems to me that suffering requires self-awareness and is modified by psychological factors, while pain is a purely physical phenomenon.
  2. Animals are not persons in any legal, or any philosophical senses that I am aware of. Talk of "murder" is way over the top because of this category error. Slaughter, as distasteful as it is to most, is a more accurate term. The outrage knob must be turned down a couple of notches, then.
  3. If you're a Darwinist, concepts of "good" and "should," which have been used innumerable times here, become disallowed terms. If we're the products of blind forces, and the principle of survival of the fittest applies all the way up the chain to were we live, it's not good or evil to treat anything in any particular way, at least not in an absolute sense. We have to get our "good" and "should" from somewhere outside a purely naturalistic view.
  4. If the orca had killed two people already, why was anyone allowed to get in the tank with it? I see a shared responsibility between SeaWorld and the dead woman, who surely knew of the beast's past.
  5. It does seem clear that small enclosures can cause captive animals stress, and that this practice constitutes less than humane treatment.
  6. Judging the training of animals to perform as "dehumanizing" is comparing apples to bricks. Who knows what the animals think about it? They might very well enjoy it, for all I know. Those bottle nosed dolphins looks as if they're always smiling to me, but I know I can't take that to mean they're happy. Follow that reasoning (we shouldn't train animals to behave in ways not observed in the wild) just a bit farther, and we'll have to abolish sheep dogs on the same grounds. Get ready to tear the "Obedience Schools" pages out of your telephone directory, open up all those parrot cages, and shame on you all.
  7. These aquaria, while needing to make a profit, have undoubtedly also allowed scientific understanding of cetacea to a degree not possible by any other means. The profit aquaria make has paid for a lot of research, along with making shareholders happy. The orcas may be black and white, but this issue isn't. Categorical denunciations throw the baby out with the dirty bath water. Seems to me that harnessing the engine of capitalism in this manner can move a lot of scientific and philanthropic freight.
Jeff
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Old 13-03-2010, 15:57   #137
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Just a brief return to one of the topics of this thread, being cetacean intelligence, I recently ran across this video



While pack hunting is far from unique, this shows not just cooperation, but problem-solving and an awareness of how to use physical properties of water to result in a goal. Pretty darned impressive.

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Old 13-03-2010, 17:02   #138
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They'd make a great defensive line!
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Old 26-03-2010, 01:22   #139
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On TV tonight there was a neat coverage of a Pod of Orca attacking black dolphins in NZ. Spectacular footage and I never knew that dolphins were in the food chain for the Orcas. I am sure it will end up on YouTube soon if it is not already there.
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