#namethetrait and "trait equalizable"

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privkeav
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Re: #namethetrait and "trait equalizable"

Post by privkeav » Fri Oct 25, 2019 8:47 am

brimstoneSalad - Thanks for the lengthy conversation - there's a lot of information to absorb, and I think you've given me some direction for my research, which is one of the things I've been looking for.

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Post by privkeav » Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:50 pm

I've been thinking about our conversation, and another question has reared its ugly head.

It seems that, in your view, a plant could be described (using Kant's terminology) as a "means to an end", whereas, sentient beings are considered "ends" themselves. Should you identify what objects play the role of "ends", and what objects play the role of "means to an end" before you apply a normative system?

I know that you're probably tired of NTT, but, sometimes when I've tried to distinguish humans from nonhuman animals, I'll think of something like "social contract theory". But, if the purpose of NTT is to determine whether or not nonhuman animals are "ends", this type of analysis may not make any sense. If you're supposed to determine what's an "end" and what's a "means to an end" before you apply social contract theory, there would be no need to use social contract theory to determine what an "end" actually is.

Singer's marginal cases argument does not seem to apply any normative reasoning. He seems to make an observation about how marginal case humans and nonhuman animals can be categorized, and then further argues that if marginal case humans are viewed as "ends", so should nonhuman animals. So, I think my logic is correct.

Is what I'm saying accurate? Or am I missing something?

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Fri Oct 25, 2019 4:09 pm

privkeav wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:50 pm
It seems that, in your view, a plant could be described (using Kant's terminology) as a "means to an end", whereas, sentient beings are considered "ends" themselves. Should you identify what objects play the role of "ends", and what objects play the role of "means to an end" before you apply a normative system?
No, dichotomies like that are unproductive and, fundamentally, false. That kind of language is only used in deontology... and things like certain kinds of feminist rhetoric (subject vs. object). A coherent normative system will outline the desired ends and careful deduction will lead us to the appropriate means to get there.
privkeav wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:50 pm
I know that you're probably tired of NTT, but, sometimes when I've tried to distinguish humans from nonhuman animals, I'll think of something like "social contract theory".
In practice social contracts are arbitrary and changeable; not a viable basis for moral theory. The only thing that might be able to claim a unique position is what would be called an idealized minimal form of social contract; i.e. what Randian Objectivists are often trying to get at. This is a social contract that rewards with protection ONLY those who pose enough of a threat to negotiate it. In any society where a class of people -- be they women or slaves -- are adequately persecuted to the point they don't pose a threat to the already included, there's no reason that idealized minimal social contract would extend to them.

Cave man A and B, both equally capable of smashing each other's heads in with rocks while they sleep, are in a position as rational agents to form a pact of mutual protection. Cave man C who is kept in a hole and made to peel their tubers for them poses no such threat, and so can not negotiate inclusion from those rational agents. Any offer of inclusion of protection is a gift, and not part of that minimal social contract -- as easily extended to non-human animals as to women and slaves.
privkeav wrote:
Fri Oct 25, 2019 1:50 pm
Singer's marginal cases argument does not seem to apply any normative reasoning.
Neither apply any reasoning that makes a commitment to any particular form of ethics. That would appear to some to be a strength, but as I've said before I don't think that's the most productive argument. Superficial explorations often leave too much unanswered and are too easy to dodge with trivial and arbitrary responses.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Nov 04, 2019 11:45 pm

@privkeav Any thoughts on this so far?
I saw you started a thread, but it seems like we covered a lot in this one (as to the consistency test aspect and not being a transformation process by necessity) so I haven't responded to it. Let me know if you don't think we covered that.

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