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26-04-2012, 19:24   #1
KyussBishop
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Libertarian property rights and animal cruelty

This was a key point brought up in a separate thread, which I've been mercilessly (and unintentionally) dragging off topic, so I'll make this separate thread here.

Libertarian views on property rights, seem to be so absolute, to the extent that it should not be made illegal to treat an animal cruelly (with an animal being the persons property).
This is one of the more stand-out moral problems I've encountered with Libertarian views thus far, so rather than get the discussion shut down in another thread for going off topic, I think it's worth discussing on its own.


Do Libertarians support the view that animal cruelty should not be illegal? (note, that this does not mean anyone supports animal cruelty)
If so, what solutions are proposed for animal cruelty?
If those solutions are not good enough to prevent it, is that viewed as a problem that needs resolving? (and may that resolving involve any kind of state intervention?)


My own view, is that nothing short of making it outright illegal is a good enough deterrent; if it's not illegal, people (as sadistic and deranged they'd have to be to do this) can try to justify it "ah sure, it's not illegal, mind your own business", and its pretty easy to get away with.


An additional point worth making here:
Animal cruelty is obviously an emotive subject, so I don't think it is right to judge people for supporting these Libertarian views, by saying "they support animal cruelty"; that is not true and it is a simplistic/emotional argument.

However, I think it is justified to criticize/judge if advocating a system which people know would allow such messed up things to happen, while also knowing that their solutions are not adequate (in the face of better solutions not compatible with their ideals).

Last edited by KyussBishop; 26-04-2012 at 19:30.
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26-04-2012, 19:35   #2
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Firstly, I'd like to know what you mean by animal cruelty? Torture? Hunting? Farming? Fur? I ask because there is bound to be disagreement as to what exactly constitutes cruelty.

Secondly, a key part of this discussion is whether animals have rights? What sort of rights?
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26-04-2012, 20:27   #3
KyussBishop
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A good delineation of what I mean by animal cruelty, in the context of when it's ok to kill animals, would be this reply I put in the previous thread:
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It's been my experience that people get all worked up about the thought of people being cruel to cute and fuzzy animals such as kittens and puppies, but when a Bangladeshi farmer kills more than 83,000 rats, his government gives him a prize.
Heh, fun article; in that case, there's a clear justification for killing the rats, and while the methods used to kill them are debatable in how 'humane' they are, the killing was justified on many grounds and was not purposefully cruel.

While there is a necessity to kill animals sometimes, when they pose a wide scale agricultural, economic or societal (health wise) threat, it should not be legal to do so in a cruel way, when there is a practical alternative.

Another example is livestock; it is allowed to breed and slaughter animals for economic/agricultural purposes, but to treat them cruelly is wrong and should be illegal (there's much debate over this when it comes to the living conditions of factory farmed animals).


At what point do you draw the line on animal cruelty in general? (clearly there are a lot of pretty big grey areas)
(https://www.boards.ie/vbulletin/show...605246&page=10)

So basically, where there is a good purpose, i.e. necessity for agricultural, social or economic health (and for food production) it should be legal to kill animals.

However, it should not be legal to kill them in a cruel or inhumane way; sometimes, in the case of wide-scale pestilence (like the rat plaque in the above article) it may not be practical to kill them in a humane way, and cases like that would be one exception.

If there is a necessity to kill an animal, it should be done in a humane way, where that is practical (what is considered 'practical' is something open to interpretation if you like).


So while I acknowledge the grey areas involved in the above, a clear and unambiguous case though, is it should never be legal to torture an animal just for the sake of it.
If an animal is to undergo cruel treatment, there must be an overwhelmingly good reason for it, and there must be no practical alternative.

One such case (which is very controversial in itself, and debatable on whether practically necessary) might be lab rats (just an excuse to link that pic ).


Laws enforcing this stuff could probably be considered de-facto animal rights, though not necessarily explicit animal rights.

As to what constitutes cruelty: A starting definition, would be any kind of extreme physical or psychological pain.

Last edited by KyussBishop; 27-04-2012 at 06:38.
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27-04-2012, 15:25   #4
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Are animal rights necessarily incompatible with private property rights? If so, why? If it is the case that animals do not have rights because they are not rational beings, are vegetated humans, similarly, denied rights?
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27-04-2012, 17:15   #5
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Animals would be property same as a car or a chair. The owner can do as they wish to them. Dogfighting etc would not be banned. Hopefully there would be boycotts of such people but then again how would one know it was happening?
There would be no inspections of farms or slaughterhouses, supermarkets would not be obliged to state where meat came from.
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27-04-2012, 18:11   #6
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I think there's a lot of hypocrisy when it comes to animal cruelty in that it's far more cruel to force feed animals and slaughter them but few have a problem with that because it's seen as neccessary, but when it comes to household pets people get up in arms. This is one area of libertarianism where I would be a bit apprehensive, but I think on the front of animals being farmed which I think is a far bigger issue than dogfighting rings the market can make a difference, and is making a difference through the popularity of free range eggs.
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27-04-2012, 20:24   #7
KyussBishop
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Are animal rights necessarily incompatible with private property rights? If so, why? If it is the case that animals do not have rights because they are not rational beings, are vegetated humans, similarly, denied rights?
Judging by the other thread, it seems people deem the enforcement of animal rights as state intervention on private property.

So, I'm curious how flexible the Libertarian principals on property rights are; are people willing to compromise, and say that state intervention in the protection of animals rights is ok?

If so, then the state can legitimately set a limit on property rights under certain circumstances.
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27-04-2012, 20:31   #8
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I think there's a lot of hypocrisy when it comes to animal cruelty in that it's far more cruel to force feed animals and slaughter them but few have a problem with that because it's seen as neccessary, but when it comes to household pets people get up in arms. This is one area of libertarianism where I would be a bit apprehensive, but I think on the front of animals being farmed which I think is a far bigger issue than dogfighting rings the market can make a difference, and is making a difference through the popularity of free range eggs.
The major market drive is for food to be produced at a lower cost. This typically involves inflicting greater physical pain (e.g. cheaper slaughter methods, castration methods etc.) and psychological pain (e.g. restricted, unstimulating conditions to maximise space) on the animal. The consumer does have some level of concern for the welfare of animals but the vast majority will not be prepared to spend money on their ethics or will find the connection between their consumption and animal welfare too vague. The market also motives the food industry to keep consumers as uninformed as possible about the nature of farming and slaughter.
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27-04-2012, 20:32   #9
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Animals would be property same as a car or a chair. The owner can do as they wish to them. Dogfighting etc would not be banned. Hopefully there would be boycotts of such people but then again how would one know it was happening?
There would be no inspections of farms or slaughterhouses, supermarkets would not be obliged to state where meat came from.
strawman
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27-04-2012, 22:01   #10
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strawman
MOD NOTE:

Do you think this is a more useful contribution to debate than the picture of the strawman you posted earlier? Don't post in this thread again, and I would strongly advise you to familiarize yourself with the norms of this forum before posting anywhere in Politics again - particularly in the Political Theory sub-forum.
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28-04-2012, 05:43   #11
KyussBishop
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I don't follow the topic or keep informed of animal cruelty/rights at all, but happened on this article about the recent case of mad cow disease in the US, which (forewarning) makes for utterly depressing reading:
article

Personally, to prevent the worst of stuff like that, I think a Libertarian society would have to reach a compromise between state intervention/regulations and property rights.

Do Libertarian supporters agree that a compromise of some kind is preferable? (I can't see how else this kind of stuff would be curtailed personally)
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28-04-2012, 13:02   #12
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The major market drive is for food to be produced at a lower cost. This typically involves inflicting greater physical pain (e.g. cheaper slaughter methods, castration methods etc.) and psychological pain (e.g. restricted, unstimulating conditions to maximise space) on the animal. The consumer does have some level of concern for the welfare of animals but the vast majority will not be prepared to spend money on their ethics or will find the connection between their consumption and animal welfare too vague. The market also motives the food industry to keep consumers as uninformed as possible about the nature of farming and slaughter.
The issue of information and information flow is very important.

I think I would be more supportive of libertarian principles and of letting the market decide, i.e. by people chosing to buy or not buy a product if libertarians were willing to compromise in the area of state regulations requiring a free flow of information from producers so consumers.

In broad principle this would mean that it should be EASY for a consumer to find out exactly how the product they are consuming came to be. I.E. The working conditions of those involved in producing the product, and the process by which the product was produced, with obvious consideration to things like propriety technology, corporate privacy but not to the extent where it may obfuscate or conceal abuse.
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30-04-2012, 13:24   #13
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What about hunting? Do I have a right to kill deer and grouse? Does anyone have any more specific ideas than the vague "more regulation" or "compromise" or "middle ground". Where is the middle ground and who gets to decide what it is? The definition of a compromise might differ radically depending on whether you ask a fur-trapper or a vegan.

Last edited by Valmont; 30-04-2012 at 13:26.
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30-04-2012, 15:43   #14
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What about hunting? Do I have a right to kill deer and grouse? Does anyone have any more specific ideas than the vague "more regulation" or "compromise" or "middle ground". Where is the middle ground and who gets to decide what it is? The definition of a compromise might differ radically depending on whether you ask a fur-trapper or a vegan.
Why try to change the topic to something more contentious than the questions asked in the op? Simple questions, trying to define cruelty and describing what happens now doesn't really answer them.
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30-04-2012, 17:13   #15
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Why try to change the topic to something more contentious than the questions asked in the op? Simple questions, trying to define cruelty and describing what happens now doesn't really answer them.
I don't think this debate will go anywhere constructive if we don't define explicitly what we mean when we speak of animal cruelty. If we can't even agree on what it is then there won't be much point in arguing.
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