Instigator / Pro

Animals have moral weight.


The debate is finished. The distribution of the voting points and the winner are presented below.

Winner & statistics
Better arguments
Better sources
Better legibility
Better conduct

After 6 votes and with 28 points ahead, the winner is...

Publication date
Last updated date
Number of rounds
Time for argument
One week
Max argument characters
Voting period
One month
Point system
Multiple criterions
Voting system
Contender / Con

If there are any parameters on the debate you'd like to change before accepting this debate (character count, number of rounds, etc.) just tell me.

Round 1
Moral weight is commonly assigned by most people to human lives, but millions of people would also attach moral weight to their pets and other animals.

I think first we need to discuss the reason that we assign moral weight to humans.

A1: Society as a source of morality.

You're probably familiar with the Golden Rule, treat others as you want to be treated. This is literally the basis of morality, according to some scholars. They believe that hunter-gatherers likely espoused the Golden Rule. If Henry the Hunter-gatherer wanted a stone axe, and Bob the Hunter-gatherer had one, he would take it, because he's stronger than Bob. In fact, Henry is stronger than any other individual of the tribe. However, Bob, Gary, Thomas, Katrina, and Eliza are all tired of Henry taking things, so they all attack Henry at once and take everything back, and take his spear. 
Results: No one wants Henry to take their stuff.
Henry doesn't want everyone to take his stuff.

At some point, a system of rules (I'm not going to call it law yet, because it's not exactly a government) is created and enforced by the society. Everyone wants to do whatever they want. But everyone doesn't want everyone else to do whatever they want to themselves. The society makes rules restricting you from doing whatever you want, banning murder, theft, etc. Even though everyone has a restriction to their actions, there's a net positive because no one is getting murdered or robbed. Because everyone wants the same thing, the society will punish people who break the rules. Morality emerges. Anyone who breaks the rules is wrong, morally wrong. The rule-abiding society embodies the moral right. Any breaking of the rules is a moral atrocity towards anyone affected. If you murdered someone, you have committed a moral wrong. So that person being alive has moral weight in that destroying it is negative and saving it and improving it are positive. 

If you want to argue that morality comes from somewhere else, feel free. 

To summarize, morality came about because everyone wanted protection from others' actions. They will punish you for robbing their neighbor because they want their neighbor to punish you for robbing them, which would act as an excellent (though obviously not perfect) deterrent for theft. 

Animal intelligence

Scientists have increasingly found that animals exist on a spectrum of intelligence with humans. Many people say that because animals have any degree of intelligence, they have a moral weight of the same degree as long as they are able desire things in the same way that Bob desires to not be robbed. 

This is where the Golden Rule applies for me. If some aliens showed up on Earth that were orders of magnitude more intelligent than I am, I would still want them to consider my life to have moral weight so they wouldn't kill me without thought, like a human kills a bug or a tree, but by extension, I must consider that animals would desire to have moral weight as a protection against the kind of action that would be censured by society if it was taken against a human. 
Animals have had moral value in almost every culture and religion throughout human history. This resolution is a fact or proposition of generalized knowledge so universally well known that it cannot reasonably be the subject of dispute. In other words, this debate is a truism, or very close to it, where Con literally has no grounds on which to make a case. Pro has, in effect, created a debate with rules dictating an automatic win for Pro. It would be unfair to vote for Pro in such a situation, and Pro's conduct should not be rewarded. I urge all to vote as follows:

  1. Award no points for arguments
  2. Award conduct points to Con on account of Pro creating a truism debate, perhaps in an attempt to win farm.

Round 2
Whether or not my argument is a truism, you accepted it. Your responsibility as the Con to this debate is to attempt to prove me wrong. Since you outright accepted my position as true, you concede the debate. 

You have accepted this debate, not in good faith, but to TRY TO GAIN VOTES ON THE BASIS OF HAVING "no grounds on which to make a case.", WHICH IS THE ANTITHESIS OF ACTUAL DEBATE. That is literally like a defense attorney saying that the defendant should be found innocent on the grounds that there is no way to disprove his guilt.
The difference is that a defense attorney is not discredited for having to defend an indefensible position, especially considering that the law requires that any criminal is guaranteed a lawyer in the court of law.[1] You, who took up this debate of your own free will, are liable to any consequences of defending an indefensible argument, in this case being getting no points for arguments.

I urge all to vote as follows:

  1. Award points for arguments to those who made legitimate arguments toward the topic at hand.
  2. Award conduct points to Pro on account of Con accepting the debate in bad faith, perhaps in an attempt to win farm.
perhaps in an attempt to win farm.
What does winning farm mean?

Debates are competitions. Instigating a debate where your opponent has no meaningful opportunity for success is incompatible with the spirit of competition. It is true that some resolutions, perhaps all resolutions, favor one side or the other. However, when an instigator's opponent is handicapped to the point where he doesn't even have a sporting chance it becomes distasteful. Here, Pro did just that. This is the conduct which is repugnant. Two other users notified Pro of the problem in the comments section several days before this debate began. Pro knew and did nothing.
Pro argues that it is not relevant that he instigated a truism debate. This is not correct. Pro's conduct in instigating a truism debate is relevant to a vote on conduct points.
Pro alleges that I accepted this debate "to try to gain votes on the basis of having 'no grounds on which to make a case.' " This is misleading. My entry in to this debate largely represents an attempt to discourage instigating truism debates, and I was also somewhat curious as to how the community would respond. The need for votes was incidental. What Pro did does not appear to violate site policy and other users had already informed Pro of the problem. So, moderation will do nothing; Talking to Pro about it will do nothing. Consequently the only available means to the end was accepting the debate and using it as venue for a "prosecution". Whether or not the ends justify the means, well I suppose I can talk about that next round. I believe that they do.
Pro makes an analogy to a trial where he is prosecuting and I am defending. The underlying assumption of this analogy is that the jury (i.e. the voters) are voting on argument points. The analogy would be rather misplaced if the voters were voting on conduct points only. As I stated in the first round, I am urging voters to do just that. Pro wishes the voters to vote on arguments. You don't have to vote on one or the other. Admittedly, neither of us has given you good reasons to award points on either area. I will do that next round.

Round 3
If a truism debate is posted, no one is forced to accept. When you accepted this debate, you took full responsibility for making a Con argument. If a truism debate is made, then no one should accept it. You saw two other people in the comments decline to accept, but you did not alter your actions accordingly. If this debate was never accepted, then I would have gotten what I wanted, that is, for everyone to agree with me. 

Round 4
My arguments stand, both on the actual subject, and against Con's conning.