What is the friendliest country to animals

Bioethics

Are animals only there for people, are they things? Or independent sentient beings that even have a soul? Humans have been concerned with the moral status of animals for over 2000 years.

Pork halves in the Mannheim slaughterhouse. (& copy picture-alliance, KUNZ / Augenk)

The difference between humans and animals

Barbara Brüning: What is animal ethics?

More than 2000 years ago, ethics started thinking about how humans should treat animals. The Chinese philosopher Hsiang Hsiu (c. 227-277) was not entirely sure whether animals are more likely to be seen as something that humans use to satisfy their interests, or whether they are completely independent living beings with feelings and sensations are? This question is still the core problem of animal ethics today. Do we humans determine the life and death of animals, or do animals have feelings and their own needs, even rights, independently of us?

Hsiang Hsiu's thoughts were rather an exception in traditional ethics, which was ignored for almost 1,500 years. Because until the 17th century, animals were seen as something that works like a machine. René Descartes (1596-1650) even denied them any emotional life and consciousness, so that experiments could be carried out with them alive. And this is exactly where animal ethics comes into play in the 21st century. Thanks to the English philosopher Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797), the concept of animal machines was criticized as early as the 18th century. Animals were classified as beings capable of suffering who have feelings. Despite their medical necessity, this must be taken into account in animal experiments, especially in a modern society based on the rule of law. This argument is made in particular by the German philosopher Ursula Wolf (born 1946).

The second aspect of animal ethics concerns the welfare of animals. It is not uncommon for animals to vegetate there under unworthy conditions. For example, geese and chickens on large farms often only have as much space in their boxes and cages as their bodies take up. Laying hens are kept in groups of four in wire cages of up to 50 cm - this does not even correspond to a DIN A4 page as living space per animal. Cows and calves are no better off. They vegetate in stables on slatted frames because providing the floor with straw would mean more work for the staff and thus higher costs. Painful deformities of the hooves are not infrequently the result of this factory farming. Here animal rights activists and philosophers also counter the argument that animals are capable of suffering: Animals can feel and must therefore not be kept under cruel conditions during their lifetime.

The Australian philosopher Peter Singer (born 1946) even goes one step further. As a third aspect of animal ethics, he demands that people should respect the dignity of animals. Because animals are independent beings who have interests and desires independent of humans: among other things, good food and a social network with their fellow species.

Source text

Animal experiments - a role play

In the first phase of the following game, four people argue about animal experiments.

First game phase:

First the patient appears and complains of pain, fear of an early death, the incurability of his illness so far; Now, however, he adds, a drug can be developed in animal experiments that with some probability would save his life. His doctor appears, who takes his side and declares that her task is to offer the patient every possible help, because this is what the oath she takes obliges her to do. In addition, there is a representative of the pharmaceutical industry who agrees with the doctor, refers to the development of drugs and the many human lives that have already been saved, and that this is only possible if research can be carried out on animals. Now the animal rights activist takes the floor who, after the patient's pleading, quietly placed a large stuffed animal in the middle of the group, and refers to the fundamental rights of animals to life and integrity, to a life just as happy as the patient does strive for. Finally, a doctor appears who represents gentle medicine and draws attention to alternatives to animal experiments.

Second phase of the game

Now you assign yourself to one of the interest representatives who appeared above, either because you would like to represent their position or because you want to work out arguments for this position. The group discusses the position again and supports it with further reasons.

Third phase of the game

Under the leadership of the interest representative, the groups present the respective position on a poster and present the three most convincing reasons.

Barbara Brüning, based on an idea, from: Ethics & Teaching, Heft 1, 1997, p. 29

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For their part, people have an interest in good nutrition and good health, and this sometimes requires animal testing. The conflict can only be resolved by throwing the various interests on the same scale and weighing them impartially. And if the interests of the people make the excess weight, then there must be a balance to the interests of the animals. The value of life should alone be the yardstick for weighing up - and not the criterion of the ability to reason, which gives people a clear advantage. Peter Singer and other philosophers therefore want to grant animals their own rights.

Their main argument is that babies and toddlers cannot formulate their rights and still have certain claims that are taken over by their parents or a lawyer on their behalf, for example in the case of inheritance. So why couldn't humans be the representatives of animals and exercise their right to good living conditions?

Critics of this view, such as the American philosopher Bernhard E. Rollin, are skeptical as to how the interests of animals can be determined at all. The criterion of pain ability says nothing about the interests of animals. Plants, bacteria, viruses and cultivated cells are also living things that can be said to have needs, but there is no reason to assume that they also have interests. In this respect, the interest argument cannot claim to be valid for all animals. However, all representatives of animal ethics agree that animals must be kept and protected in a species-appropriate manner.

Aristotle: Animals are there for people

Plants exist for the sake of animals, and wild animals for the sake of man. Domestic animals are useful to him and he feeds on them, he eats the wild animals (or at least most of them), and he makes other things useful for life, such as clothing or various tools. Since nature does not produce anything useless or useless, it is undeniably true that it produced all animals for the sake of man.

Aristotle: Politics I, 1256b

Descartes: animals are machines

At this point I had observed in particular, in order to make the following clear: If there were machines with the organs and the shape of a monkey or some other unreasonable animal, we would have no means at all which would allow us to recognize the slightest difference between the mechanism these machines and the life principle of these animals; If, on the other hand, there were machines that resembled our bodies and imitated our actions to the extent that this is probably possible for humans, then we would always have two very sure means of realizing that they are by no means real humans. First, they could never use words or other signs by putting them together, as we do to make our thoughts known to others. Because one can imagine that a machine is constructed in such a way that it produces words and some words even on the occasion of physical influences that cause certain changes in its organs, such as, for example, that if one touches it at any point, it straightens Asking what you want to answer her, that if you touch her in another place, she screams that you are hurting her and the like; but it cannot be imagined that she arranges the words in different ways to respond to the meaning of all that may be heard in her presence, as the most dullest person can.

The second remedy is this: if these machines were to do some things as well or perhaps better than any of us, they would undoubtedly fail in many others, which makes it plain that they do not act out of insight, but only according to the way they are arranged Organs. For reason is a universal instrument that is at service on all occasions, while these organs require a special arrangement for every special act; which makes it improbable that there are enough different organs in a single machine that let them act in all cases of life as our reason makes us act. These two remedies now also mark the difference between humans and animals; for it is quite noticeable that there is no such dull and stupid person, not even a madman who would not be able to put different words together and to build a speech with which he makes his thoughts understandable; and that, on the contrary, there is no other animal, however perfect and happy it may be, that does something similar. This is not because the animals lacked organs; for it can be observed that woodpeckers and parrots can produce words just as much as we do, and yet they do not speak; H. to show that they think what they say as we do. People who are deaf and dumb by birth, on the other hand, have to do without the organs that others use to speak, just as or even more so than animals, and yet usually invent signs themselves, with which they can be understood by people in their familiar surroundings who have the time to learn their language do. This shows not only that animals have less sense than humans, but rather that they don't have any.

Descartes, René (1990): Discours de la méthode. Hamburg: Felix Meiner Verlag, p. 32.

Nora K .: Do animals have a soul?

Dear Vittorio,

Thank you very much for your two letters, sorry for writing so late, but I've been pretty busy over the past week. Well, first of all I'll answer your first letter as best I can. So, I was asked a question: do animals really have no soul? That was René's question too, wasn't it? He came to the conclusion that animals don't have a soul, right? I don't really know what to say about it, because in our dog you can find many characteristics that actually belong to a soul. For example: He can feel joy, pain, sadness (when he howls) and also a little homesickness. But these are not all properties of a soul. There is still love or understanding. Oh yikes, something strikes me: Animals must also have some sense, because animal mothers care very tenderly for their children, and they blame them too! Hm, that's really very difficult! Maybe animals also have a kind of animal soul? Or half a soul? What do you mean? Is joy a part of consciousness? Do animals perhaps only have one consciousness, not a real soul? Maybe animals have a knowledge !? But you can tell René one thing: animals are certainly not computers!

Your Nora

*With René the French philosopher René Descartes is meant

Hösle, Vittorio (1998): The Café of the Dead Philosophers. Munich: Verlag C. H. Beck, pp. 25/26.

Sarah Tietz, Markus Wild: What the dog thinks about the cat

There are animals that think definitely, namely the members of our species. People think all the time. You grasp thoughts, ponder them, combine them into sequences of thoughts, thereby forming new thoughts, sometimes expressing them in word and writing and much more. People think when they build houses, when they eat or drink. But people don't just think while they act, they think primarily in order to act. Thoughts are the basis for people to perform certain actions in opposition to others.

But what about other animal species? When a raven builds his nest, does he think he's building a nest? Or if a bee shows its conspecifics with a bee dance where to find nectar, does it know that it is giving directions? Can a chimpanzee be surprised, taken aback, and have a growing doubt? Can we even grasp the thinking of animals? If yes how? If not, why not?

Those are tough questions. The answer to this depends on various factors: on the one hand, of course, on what it means to think in the first place, and on the other hand, on how one has to interpret certain animal behavior. To get a better grip on these confusing questions, the following example can help. It comes from the American philosopher Norman Malcolm and has been used a lot both in philosophical discussions and in the features section: Let's assume that our dog is chasing the neighbor's cat. It races at full steam towards an oak, but suddenly swings away at the last moment and disappears on a nearby maple. The dog does not see this maneuver and, when it reaches the oak, stands on its hind legs, scratches the trunk with its paws as if to climb up, and barks excitedly up to the branches. We who are watching the episode from the window say, "He thinks the cat climbed that oak tree."

It is neither incomprehensible nor inappropriate to say that the dog thinks the cat climbed the oak tree. With this we can explain the dog's behavior well. The dog is, so to speak, on the wrong track: he mistakenly thinks that the cat is hiding on the oak tree. And because he thinks this, he barks up the oak. We have ascribed a certain thought to the dog. This also gave us better access to the question of whether animals think. Thinking seems to presuppose something like thoughts of a certain content. So the question that we must answer first is: Do animals have thoughts? The example suggests a positive answer. The dog has a thought. What he thinks explains what he does.

Tietz, Sarah and Wild, Markus: Do animals think? In: Information Philosophy, Issue 3, 2006, p. 14.

Richard David Precht: Animals cannot be moral

Humans are the only animals that can consciously choose to act immorally! He's not the only animal that laughs - chimpanzees can laugh too. But he's probably the only animal that laughs at others. And it can be assumed that people are the only animals that other members of their own species can hate: people who are different from them, people who have a different skin color, people who believe in something different, people who are more own as them, people who live in other countries or cultures. It is not easy to say why this is so. One clue could be that humans are the animals with probably the least permanent ability to be happy.

An animal that is tyrannized by its enormous brain and its unstoppable and unstoppable thoughts. He's the only animal that cries. The only animal that envy, grudges and repents. The only animal that feels guilty. The only animal that can despair of itself. The only animal that kills itself. On the other hand, humans are probably the only animals that can consciously choose to be moral. "Humanity" - viewed objectively, the word includes all human characteristics, his love as well as his hatred, his care as well as his selfishness, his compassion as well as his indifference to the fate of others. Subjectively, on the other hand, the scholars of the 15th century transformed humanitas into a positive evaluation. Only the social part of our abilities should determine what it means to be a real person. From now on you could even be more or less human, depending on how much goodness you gathered in your heart. Those who respected and loved others, encouraged and supported them, were more humane than those who did not. That "humanity" should always be both - defining our kind and being able to be morally friendly is a pretty tough idea. And to many it seems downright bizarre in view of the bloody human history. On the other hand, people usually get along surprisingly well in everyday life.

When was the last time you hit someone? How many times have you been mugged in the past few months? When was the last time someone stole your food or forcibly stole your sexual partner? We are indeed a strange species: on the one hand, man is the living being that can be the most brutal and cruel of all. In almost all times there has been torture and murder, pogroms and genocide, massacres and war.On the other hand, the same creatures usually get along quite well with each other. They greet each other, don't bump into each other, are usually very friendly to one another, and they like to laugh together. And they don't do any of this because they fear punishment. Almost all of us like to stop in front of a red light when there are small children around. And what prevents us from ignoring the signal is not the fear of prison.

It is hardly possible to objectively describe people and their morals scientifically. Of course, we see an enormous amount of similarities and similarities among people and cultures. But what is genetically fixed about it and what is culturally transmitted, we can almost never safely separate with the scalpel. Not everything that seems common to all has to be biologically coded. It is also possible that it developed in parallel for psychologically obvious reasons. In such a situation, the American philosopher Martha Nussbaum (* 1947) of the Chicago Law School suggests that there may only be one single criterion that actually determines what a person is. It is "that we recognize one another as human beings across many differences of time and place."

Richard David Precht (2010): The Art of Not Being an Egoist. Munich: Goldmann, pp. 88-90.