Sunday, May 31, 2015

This recent article reminded me of the Behind the Mask film we watched in class last week.  Although I found the film to be wholly inappropriate for class and not very academically enlightening, I did find it interesting how animal rights activists were seen as the #1 domestic terrorist threat to the United States.  This made me curious about the entangled relationships between agribusiness and government officials and what other atrocities they could possibly be hiding.
The 2014 documentary, Cowspiracy, highlights some of the unbelievable ways that agribusiness has kept various organizations from revealing the truth behind meat production.  So if these huge corporations can buy out the very non-profits we look to for help (Greenpeace, Sierra Club, etc), then there must be even worse business going on between agribusiness and the public sector.

The debate over the tactics used by animal rights activists has been recently enlivened by the discussion of new "ag-gag" laws in North Carolina.  Although the governor vetoed these laws, the battle is not nearly over, since his reasoning was that the language was too broad and should instead more specifically target activists.   The supporters of these laws say the seek to protect businesses by discouraging unethical and dishonest actions involved with the undercover work done by animal rights activists.  While this may be valid on some grounds, it doesn't change the fact that massive agribusiness companies are hiding the mistreatment and abuse of animals from the public as well as their consumers, who should have the right to know about the source and treatment of the products they're consuming.

Exotic Pets

I think it is so awful that there are still states that allow exotic pets and hope that soon all states will ban the ownership of wild animals that deserve to live in the wild and not in cages.
Here is a website that shows which states still allow exotic pets and which don't.

F*ck yeah, corn oil!

Grizzler the dog photographer for president 2015

Disclaimer: Grizzler is not running for president.
Click the link above to find out some stuff about Grizzler the first dog photographer!
It's really cute what this particular pup gets excited about.

HOW to make GUACAMOLE By: Mari Mendoza

How to make guacamole from PICA-ns in the Village at UCSC
1. Get ripe avocados. Peel and get green mushy part into a bowl. 

2. Chop onion into chunks, bell pepper into chunks, garlic, and lemons into halves. 

3. Smash avocado with spoon. 

4. Mix in chopped ingredients. 

5. Sprinkle salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and cumin to your preference. 

6. Enjoy with friends :)

Friday, May 29, 2015

Eating Bluefin Tuna Into Extinction

In this short documentary, the consumption of the bluefin tuna is highlighted, showing how over time humans have almost exterminated the entire species. With not much bluefins left in the Pacific Ocean, where it is generally found, the prices of these fish has become extremely high. Bluefin tunas are typically used for sushi, the Japanese raw seafood that has become highly popular throughout the world. These fish grow to be very large which explains their high price points. But, with bluefins coming closer to extinction, many sushi and seafood chefs have stopped serving the fish to allow for repopulation. However, others choose to continue serving bluefins because they find it to be the best fish of all. With the high demand for bluefin tuna, it is possible that the species could go extinct, but with the efforts of more chefs refusing to serve bluefin, the fish could be saved from their eminent future.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Should animals have the same rights as humans? 

Interesting news article by bbc. There's a chimp that lawyers are going to argue to set free from being tested on at a university. It also talks about other court cases related to animals, and gives some interesting arguments. Read about it!

Montaigne's Mammals

Montaigne in his essay Apology, points out that consciousness is not unique to humans. He argues that animals also have thought and reflection. He uses the example that certain barks from a dog can spook a horse, depending on if they sound aggressive or panicked. Montaigne is quick to criticize the human species, for we have to clothe ourselves in the skins of other beings to survive. He argues that the dependence on other animals to survive should humble humans, but instead humans are arrogant and compare themselves more closely to their gods than the animals around them.

In one part of his essay, Montaigne asks about the nature of a dog and its master playing together. Who is having more fun? The human who acquired the dog for companionship, or the dog who plays just as happily? This video reminded me of Montaigne's questions, and I think the dog in this situation is having more fun.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

I happened to come across this video when I was searching for a song on Youtube and found it very interesting. It started to get me thinking. Do we as humans have the right to live our lives in the wild with our fellow animal creatures? Here in the United States we are told that we have freedom, so since we do have freedom, can we live in the wild and not conform to societies norms?

Buff Kangaroo article of a buff kangaroo has been exploding some media sites. Kangaroos are usually not aggressive and intimidating unless threatened, as for all animals. But in this case, according to Dominique,the author of this article, this kangaroo puts fears in people's eyes. He described the kangaroo the way he would define a human being. Specifically, Dominique called this kangaroo a "big boy".

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Synthetic Meat - A Solution on the Horizon
In this article, scientists have found a way to reconstruct meat in a laboratory situation. Could this be the solution to the problems caused by the meat industry and our insatiable desire for meat? (Don't worry, I included a tldr at the bottom, scroll down if you're feelin' lazy)

Copied and pasted the article here:

Meat — despite popular movements to decrease the amount humans consume — is still a central part of diets around the world. People who live in industrial countries (like the United States) eat roughly 210 pounds of it each year.

And consumption in the developing world, where people eat closer to 66 pounds each year, is climbing fast. Growth is such that by 2030 the average human is expected to consume just under 100 pounds per year, 10 percent more than today.

Our collective affinity for meat likely began out of circumstance — humans that lived inland from the coast had little choice but to hunt in order to live — and has persisted for evolutionary reasons. Meat carries nutrients like zinc and protein, promotes growth, and provides energy. It also doesn't hurt that the price of meat has fallen dramatically.

But the reality is that there are several downsides to society's growing appetite for meat. Cheap meat, for one, might leave consumers with extra cash, but it has — largely — come at the expense of animal welfare. It also isn't great for the planet, which the U.S. government recently noted. "Meat is undoubtedly an environmentally expensive food," Vaclav Smil wrote in his 2013 book "Should We Eat Meat?"

But what if there were a way to produce meat that would avail us of the need to slaughter animals? What if we could continue to order hamburgers without also feeding the livestock industry as much as a third of the world's grain production? And what if it could be done for a reasonable price?

Professor Mark Post, who is part of the faculty at Maastricht University in the Netherlands, has been asking that question for almost a decade now. Two years ago, Post's team of researchers presented their first major discovery in the form of a five-ounce hamburger patty, which was created in a lab, but still was remarkably similar to ones sold on supermarket shelves. The reception was promising: The media was abuzz, and the BBC made several food critics try it, one of whom conceded "this is meat to me, it's not falling apart."

Now, Post is working to overcome some of lab-grown meat's biggest obstacles, including its price. And he believes it's only a short matter of time before he succeeds.

"It was $350,000 when we first publicized the patty," said Post. "At this point we've already managed to cut the cost by almost 80 percent. I don't think it will be long before we hit our goal of 65 to 70 dollars per kilo."

That would drop the five-ounce burger to below $10, a number that Post hopes will eventually drop even further.

What is "lab-grown meat," anyway?

To understand how it's possible to grow a hamburger that is made of actual animal tissue — rather than a protein substitute — you need to understand a bit about how muscle tissue works.

When muscle tissue is damaged, the body repairs the injured tissue by calling on a specific type of stem cell, called a myosatellite cell. Myosatellite cells can be taken from an animal without causing it harm. They also can reproduce fairly quickly. And they tend to form muscle fibers when they do.

These characteristics, it turns out, are very useful for someone trying to replicate the process by which muscle forms naturally.

"The thing is, you can take those cells and then let them replicate as they would in the case of injury inside the body of a cow," Post said. "And you can help them form muscle tissue again."

The process is hardly straightforward. Rather, it involves carefully extracting the cells, allowing them to multiply and then coercing them into differentiating. Once the cells have differentiated, which is a fancy term for the process in which cells change to assume different responsibilities, they combine into muscle fibers, at which point protein forms.

"The result are these little strips of tissue," Post said. "It's the same tissue grown by cells inside of the body. Except we grow them outside of it."

It takes about 20,000 of them to make the burger publicized in 2013.

Making the meat affordable

Perhaps the single largest reason why initial publicity around Post's futuristic hamburger was met with such reluctance is that it was less affordable than most houses in the world.

"Obviously this is all still being done on a small scale, in an academic environment," Post said. "That's why it costs so much. Once we scale up it will be a different story."

Post expects to be able to produce the patties on a large enough scale to sell them for under $10 a piece in a matter of five years.

"Once we can grow the tissue in a reactor the size of an Olympic swimming pool, we should be able to achieve that sort of volume," Post said. "For perspective, half a swimming pool would allow us to feed about 20,000 people for a year."

Will people warm up to shmeat?

Irrespective of how much meat Post manages to produce, and how cheap it becomes as a result, there remains the question of whether society will ever actually warm up to the idea of eating lab grown beef.

Skepticism runs rampant enough that shmeat, which refers to the sort of synthetic meat Post had created, was a runner-up for Oxford Dictionary's word of the year in 2013. And the moniker frankenmeat has frequently been invoked.

But Post is confident that the benefits of cultured meat will eventually coerce people to give it a try.

"What people need to realize is that it will have a positive effect on many things, including animal welfare, because we would need to slaughter fewer animals, our efficiency with certain resources, and the environment," he said.

Cultured meat, according to a 2011 study, has a significantly smaller carbon footprint than regular beef, pork, and even poultry production. It also requires far less land and water than all three.

"The last thing we have to do is boost protein production beyond where we're at," Post said. "Normally, protein forms through exercise, as it is in real life with a cow. But you can also do it through electricity and other ways. We're very close to a sustainable process."

How exactly will it work? That's a bit of a secret.

"I would elaborate, but these methods are soon going to be patented!" Post said. "We actually have already done it, just not on a large scale. It's going to be really important for improving the meat's nutrition and taste."

TLDR; Meat consumption is on the rise around the world, especially with low prices, but at the expense of the environment and animal welfare. Mark Post, professor and researcher at Maastricht University has used the regenerative power of meat (think of a wound that heals itself, like a paper cut or whatever) to develop meat in a lab. This method has a significantly reduced carbon footprint and does not cause harm to the animal. The price of synthetic meat is currently exorbitant but Post argues it is because they have only been able to develop it in a smaller academic setting. If given the opportunity to grow on a larger scale, Post is confident that in 5 years, the price of a patty will drop below $10. Even though this is still more expensive than regular meat, the potential benefits of synthetic meat are so high that people may still want to consider this option.

How do you feel about this alternative to traditional meat? Would you try it?

Barbara Smuts - Encounters with Animal Minds

Photo depiction of Barbara Smuts & her Dogs

     In the article of Encounters with Animal Minds, Barbara Smuts studies baboons over a long course of time as if she was living with them in order to study their behaviors and how they interact with their own species. Her goal is to understand if animals in general were able to think as actively and as much as humans do. She wanted to truly experience how it was like to live life with the baboons and to be able to track their behaviors easier by living with them. She went many days without human contact and to only spend the times with these baboons. After this long period of time, she forms a very strong bonds with all the baboons in the troop. Each baboon has a special relationship with Barbara and she was able to distinguish them through sound and other sense than just only seeing them. What Barbara found was that, the baboons are able to speak and think just as well as humans.

As Barbara was learning about the baboons, she had to not actually stay neutral to study but to interact with the baboons in order to not cause any disruptions to the baboon's eyes. She met them through perceiving what their personal space is and learning their "language". She observed how baboons respected personal space during courting or even when how Goblin tried to "tame" her in a way like he did with other baboons to have dominance as a male. 

     The baboons do express their emotions through grunts and hand gestures to other baboons. They are able to seek and act as human individual through their pack. They perform a gift ritual before they eat and know where and when to find shelter from the rain. They are very smart beings from Barbara's research determined. And as my opinion, they should not be treated any less than humans. 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Another "Is a Dolphin a Person?" + My Two Cents

In response to a trial of two men tried for releasing bottlenose dolphins used for experiments, Midgley explores whether dolphins can be considered as persons. She first cites the Oxford Dictionary definition of a person which states that a person is a "a character or personage acted, one who plays or performs any part, a character, relation, or capacity in which one acts, a being having legal rights, a juridical person." She then deliberates the role of intelligence in whether or not non-humans can be considered persons. Scopes of intelligence she is interested in include whether or not they can talk, reason, or suffer, the last of which is relevant as the dolphins were testified as living in deleterious conditions. Lastly, she cites that the most important factor of determining whether or not nonhumans can be considered persons is emotional fellowship, or specifically, whether or not they share the trait of being sensitive, social, and emotionally complex. I believe her argument is mostly that dolphins are a lot more humanlike than we previously believed and that we need to redefine how we express our relationships with the nonhuman world.

I'd like to point out that the issue of advocating for dolphins in captivity is not as easy as liberating all the dolphins. I think it should be evaluated on a case by case basis since each animal is different. To provide more context, it's important to understand that dolphins are learning based animals: they operate on very little instinct and learn by observation and experience. As such, the reason why capturing wild dolphins is considered cruel is because it takes dolphins that are used to living in the ocean, fending for themselves, and companions and forces them to adapt to a controlled environment with walls, constantly interacting with humans for food, attention, exercise, etc., and an artificial social group. So it's not so much the fact that they are losing their "freedom", it's more so that they are being forced to adapt. The same concept holds true if you take animals that are used to adjusted to their predetermined social groups, regularly participate in human interaction, and are used to a confined space and move them elsewhere (ie another facility, sea pen "retirement", or flat out tossing them back into the ocean). I also think it should that adaptability should be considered as well. Some species of dolphins adapt better than others regardless of size and intelligence. For example, a smaller species of dolphin, the spinner dolphin, has had much poorer survivability in captivity than the larger bottlenose dolphin, whose average lifespans in captivity are comparable to that of their wild counterparts.  This is mostly related to their natural history: bottlenose dolphins in shallower water and can adapt better to shallow tank worlds whereas spinner dolphins have evolved to be constantly traveling the open ocean.
So I think a more accurate question to ask would be "Is this specific animal adapting well to human care?"

I See The Light!!

Some happy moments of seeing in the light for the first time after being treated so horribly and kept in the dark for so long.

"Cuteness Kills: The Case Against Teacup Dogs"

Here I have attached an article describing the terrors of miniature dog breeding. These "teacup" dogs are basically bred by reproduction between underfed, starving parents, and this is a cycle that goes on and on until eventually the puppies produced are 1/10th the size of their "normal" sized counterparts. The commodification of these animals is atrocious, but somehow has turned into a fad, especially among younger generations. The cuteness factor of these dogs has brought them into high demand for trendy teens and adults, and consumers of these "products" encourage the maltreatment of domestic canines. Ultimately, I think the desire for pets like these is a subconscious power trope of humans, because of how easy they are to manipulate. Unlike larger, sturdier animals, these tiny creatures can be picked up, tossed around, and controlled. They are extremely fragile and prone to bad accidents, but somehow their cuteness allows them to be sought out as household pets. Read the original blog post here:
A modern day example of utilitarianism.

Jose Cadenas and Suzie Munoz

The Rights of Humans and Other Animals by Tom Regan

Regan begins by trying to lay the foundation. He gives a brief definition of what he thinks moral judgments are before talking about rights. This way, there is no confusion. And when he does finally begin talking about rights, he begins with human rights. He points out that several other philosophers share similar opinions on the subject matter and several others don't, one of them being Frey, whom he brings up throughout the paper. Regan believes that human rights are simply limits on what humans can do to one another. He explains that regardless of who else benefits, one cannot do something to another human if it goes against their own will. This is when he introduces his opinion on animal model research. Because, essentially, that is what humans are doing to animals: using them for the benefit of human medicine. He then contrasts his opinions with those of Frey's. He explains that Frey is very much a utilitarian in that he believes that morality completely depends on the results. Thus, making it okay to utilize others for the benefit of the community. Regan uses several different scenarios where this would fail to make these situations even remotely close to being moral. It isn't until the last few pages that he really hammers down his opinions on animal rights. He begins by creating a separation between animal welfare and animal rights. Animal welfare is focused more on the proper treatment of animals. However, it still allows for animals to be used in a laboratory setting, which, as Regan points out, can share several of the same views as those of utilitarianism. Those that are more concerned with animal rights cannot see any possible way that animals could be kept in laboratories without utilizing them for the benefit of others. He then goes on to bring up a question that also causes a lot of controversy. What is the criteria one must have to qualify for having rights? He brings up two possible answers but neither of which could possibly encompass all and only human beings. And this is why it is very ignorant for anyone to think that non-human animals have no rights. We are all animals and because of that, we share many characteristics that cannot be limited to only humans. Morality truly is the trump card here. If everyone could agree that it is not moral to use others (human or non-human) to benefit the rest then there is no possible way to explain how the use of animals in laboratories is acceptable. Being science majors, Jose and I both struggle to imagine what today's medicine would look like had it not been for the animals being experimented on. However, we can both agree that animals should have rights. And if that means completely abolishing animals from research facilities, then so be it.

Susana Muniz
Jose Cadenas

Blue in the Wake of Black

"Ain't these tears in these eyes tellin' you?"

The essay "Am I Blue?" opens up this argument that we have, "forgotten that human animals and non human animals can communicate quite well; if we are brought up around animals as children we take this for granted. By the time we are adults we no longer remember. However, animals have not changed. They are in fact completed creations... who are not likely  to change; it is their nature to express themselves." Since I grew up around animals my entire life I would find this to be true. Even as a child, I forgot about the bond that is created between an owner and their pet and the importance to keep strengthening that bond through communication whether it be with words or actions. I believe we take for granted the pureness of an animal when we own them. Their actions and reactions to their surrounding world is their only truth. They are not persuaded by the media as we are.

In "Am I Blue?" the story is told from a human perspective. They watch Blue go from loneliness and boredom to pure bliss with another horse. Shortly after their time together, the other horse conceived and is taken away by their owner because the purpose was fulfilled. The author then relates the look in Blue's eyes after the other horse is taken away as one that, "if I had been born into slavery, and my partner had been sold or killed, my eyes would have looked like that." The emotion and soul of an animal is not different from our own. This is a reminder to all humans that, "everything you do to us [animals] will happen to you; we are your teachers, as you are ours. We are one lesson." I was personal witness to this when my dog Rockit past away while my other dog Ladybug stayed alive. The sadness that lay over her spirit was heart wrenching to watch and I remember it feeling so real. As if I were watching my grandma mourn the loss of my grandpa, this was her only reality. We forget that animals mourn, love, play, and communicate with everyone they may come into contact with. And I believe this was Alice's Walker's point: to remind us that we are all beings of emotion.

Where water go? BRing iT bAcK

In the United States eating meat is common, and it is totally okay that you have no idea where your food came from but also completely okay to disregard the life that used to radiate from the "food" that sloshes around in your mouth.

In the end, you can't really push your ideas onto other people, but the best you can do is try to inform others and hope they make the better decision. Sure, meat might taste good to some, but it is not sustainable. Especially in a world where we neglectfully spew greenhouse gases into our atmosphere, and waste resources on a massive scale without a second thought, we will not live very long on this planet unless we learn how to take care of it, and share its resources (and possibly treat animals and other humans as sentient life rather than a valuable commodity).

Currently we are in a severe drought, with less than a years of water left (last time I checked). People don't seem to realize how serious this really is. Everywhere I continue to see people leave sprinklers flooding yards, restaurants with water misters running for hours on a cold day, and people taking hour long showers. It's as if people around here have some sort of death wish, or just love digging themselves into a deeper hole. What's the big deal with eating meat? Like, does it really significantly contribute to the California drought?

To be honest it is kind of shocking exactly how much water you need in the meat industry. First, you need water to grow and maintain the pasture that the animals feed off of (147 gallons to produce one pound of corn. Cows can eat 1000 lb or more over a few months), then you need water to support the animals for drinking but also cleaning. Then you need even more water to process the meat and for all that good stuff most people don't have the guts to see, but the audacity to ignore. When it comes down to it, industrialized countries that make the switch towards a vegetarian diet can reduce their food-related water footprint by up to 36%. 
But how much water is used in everything you eat? That's still hard to accurately pinpoint, but the image on the left gauges about how much water you need for a single Cheeseburger. It's more surprising if you think about exactly how many cheeseburgers are eaten everyday in California alone. BUT don't forget. 

Here in America, land of the "free", we are efficient, we are productive, and we are industrialized. The reality is that we are (at least partly) a nation of factory farming. We don't make cute individual burgers for every individual person who orders them. We make everything in bulk. A single loaf of bread is about 240 gallons of water (indiv. burger tops 11 gallons), while a pound of cheese is about 382 gallons. Now that alone seems like a lot of wasted water. But we haven't even gotten to the best part yet. One SINGLE pound of beef amounts to, on average, a grotesque 1,600 gallons of water. WHAT?
No wonder we're in a drought. Water footprint, though, is not the only negative implication from factory farming. Not only are the animals abused and inhumanely killed, but the workers who operate in the factories in slaughter houses are in terrible working conditions and are treated unfairly by those who run these places. The food itself harms your body. That fact alone should be reason enough to switch diets, but some people need more convincing than that which I believe is completely ridiculous. If your eating habits support the genocide and slavery of multiple species of animals, are taking up all your water, are destroying the environment YOU live in, and all while harming your body, don't you think it might be time to change?
“Am I Blue” by Alice Walker (Summary)

               In the story written by Alice Walk, she is a strong advocate for animal rights. Walker uses many techniques in her writing to help the readers understand and emotionally connect to the animal’s feelings. By doing that the reader’s we will know that her message is proving that animals and human have very similar qualities. Ways that animals and humans are similar is through emotions that are shown through body expressions. Through her own experience with a horse name Blue she is able to believe and humans and animals share similar qualities. Blue is a horse that lives on a five acres land near Walker’s house. Her first impression of Blue was a beautiful creature that lived on a farm surrounded by beautiful scenery. Her relationship with the Blue started by an apple tree in her court year when she started feeding him apples, as she began to feed Blue apples she noticed how lonely and bored he must be to be in such a massive land. After Walker lived there for two years she noticed something that came into Blues life and that was another horse name Brown that became his friend and eventually Blues partner. She also noticed that when Brown first came into the farm Blue was scared to go near the horse because he had been alone for so long. But as weeks went by she saw that Blue eventually got to know Brown and they both came to by the fence near the apple tree together. Walker saw how happy how Blue was to have Brown by his side. However that happiness didn’t last long, Brown was taken away from Blue and that left him very sad and lonely again. Walker tried to feed Blue some apples but he did not come. Walker could see the sorrow in his eyes and body, which made it very difficult for Walker to look Blue in the eyes without feeling terrible. This story is very powerful because it shows a lot of emotions that we as humans battle with. As humans we get lonely and sad when we are alone and we are very happy when we have people around us. But most of all we are hurt when people are taken away from us. If we as human get hurt by separation from our loved ones… then why don’t we see the hardships that animals go through? Although they can’t talk to us it doesn’t mean they don’t have feelings. Walker believes that we must start listening to our animals and stop hurting them because we as humans don’t like to be hurt. We must give our animals the happiness that they need. 

Franz Kafka's "A Report to an Academy"

In the short story published by the celebrated Franz Kafka in 1917, we are narrated to by a "post-ape", or an ape that has broken from his old ways, named Red Peter. The post-ape details his origins in the jungle where he came from, how hunters attacked him in his habitat and took him away, and what he did to forsake his ape-ish ways. Red Peter ends up in Europe with to choices: either go to the zoo and be a caged animal again, or go on to perform by showing his "humans" acts. Knowing that the cage was a horrible destiny, Red Peter goes to perform and grows to be more human. He garners much fame from his act, hence why the academy asks him to deliver his report. Red Peter explains that it was not difficult to become "human", but actually very easy. 
   Victorian Ape Drawing
Throughout this story, Kafka draws parallels betwen humans and apes by showing that the two groups are closer than people typically believe. When describing his encounter with the hunters in the jungle, Red Peter reveals how he got his name. The hunters that shot Red Peter grazed him on his cheek, causing blood to run on his face. Because of this red color, they named him "Red Peter" in honor of a famous ape in Europe known as Peter. This displays the simple thinking that humans sometimes have which is comparabe to an ape, which even Red Peter comments on. 

Red Peter also criticizes the human idea of freedom, explaining that he never wanted freedom, only to be out of his cage. Red Peter states that he possibly knew what freedom was in its human sense when he was still a wild ape in the jungle. Red Peter says that humans delude themselves into thinking they know what freedom is, when, in reality, many of the Europeans at this time were not necessarily free. 

Red Peter analyzes the way the men on the ship acted and noted that they also seemed like wild beasts. He discussed how they would spit wherever they wanted, drank much, laughed loudly, etc., acting very primitive. Though Red Peter was an ape in their midst, he was still able to understand that these men were simple creatures. Even after leaving his ape-ish ways, Red Peter states that he would never want to be in a party with these kind of men because they are uncultured like apes. 

After everything that has happened to him Red Peter is indifferent about who he has become. By seeing this, I believe that Kafka wrote this story to explain to humans around him that when people take animals away from their habitats and use them as things of entertainment, we strip them of their freedom. Animals no longer function as they would in the wild, but live in a way to avoid being hurt more than they already have. Red Peter reveals that he never wanted to mimic humans for fun, but to possibly be out of his cage. We train animals to do tricks and entertain, much like Red Peter, but none of that makes them free animals. Humans are strange in that they want to be free like wild animals are free, yet we capture wild animals and take their freedom away.

Marjorie Spiegel's "In Defense Of Slavery"

Spiegel compares animal enslavement to human enslavement. Throughout the excerpt, Spiegel mentions authors who justified slavery and even those who believed that it was beneficial to those being enslaved and to society. Another arguments for pro-slavery is that it provides for those who can’t provide for themselves and that by nature some humans are believed to have acquired characteristics that are ideal for slavery (strong bodies)

James Boswell argues that the slavery of African Americans saved them from death and it provided them with better opportunities to be happy. She discusses the viewpoint that the domestication of animals allowed them to be civilized and that life as a slave does more good than harm. She references Aristotle, who believed that those being enslaved should change their mindset of believing they are oppressed to being thankful (for being provided with a purpose and can be of use to their masters)

Spiegel explores how the exploitation of human rights relates to exploitation of animal rights by describing a visit to an egg factory and revealed that chickens were being mistreated. She describes the chicken coops were rarely cleaned and living spaces were tight and cramped. In an interview, the worker that tends to the chickens suggests that the chickens are safe from predators and are fed well and are allowed to stretch. Through Spiegel’s investigation the chickens are not allowed to mate and are not provided with ample space to move however the workers main focus is to gather eggs and make profit.

Philip Slater, the author of The Pursuit of Loneliness: American Culture, defines the “The Toilet Assumption” as dealing with social problems such as slavery by denying their existence and removing these complications from our vision. Slater adds, that in the end, when visiting zoos we can observe the animals and believe that the habitats they are caged in are accurate replicas of their natural environment in the wild we can also view the security they gain from being cages in zoos as an equal tradeoff to the freedom they have lost.

Spiegel illustrates how the captivity of animals mirrors the enslavement of African Americans. Spiegel is the voice of the counter argument, and pulls sources from multiple writings from various times to add to a collective opposition. By simply stating facts and never her own opinions, she forces her readers to come to their own conclusions.

By: Brandon Tam & Alexis Yup 

"Is a Dolphin a Person?" By Mary Midgley

Midgley explains the question of personhood and addresses the question of whether dolphins might consider as a person. She argues that what makes animals our fellow beings entitled to basic thought is not intellectual ability, but emotional companionship. She states both apes and dolphins share this special kind of social and emotional complexity. She explains that the uniqueness of these animals further supports their ethical consideration in that they are extremely aware of social beings. She argues that emotionality can give out as a more helpful indicator for personhood as one cannot            be practically disconnect from the other. She claims that emotional bonds differentiate             humans and animals from machines.

Montaigne's Argument - Speciesism

For animal rights activists, a common argument that is discussed throughout several centuries has been the idea of whether the human is really higher, smarter, and also better than all other living creatures such as animals.  A particular philosopher who thoroughly argued on this topic is Michel de Montaigne.

In his essays, Montaigne heavily criticized the nature of man's thinking, specifically its connection with animal relations.  Attributing speciesism to "human vanity", he claimed that humans placed themselves as "the only one[s] in this great edifice who [have] the capacity to recognize its beauty and its parts."  Montaigne believed this was the key to animal cruelty for he felt that within our vain and selfish thinking, we believed ourselves to be close to the "heavens" and therefore were equal to that of a god, much higher than any lower animal could suffice up to.  Montaigne attacks this argument by claiming that humans have no grounds to heavenly comparison whatsoever.  He questions in his essay, "when we see that not merely a man, nor a king, but kingdoms, empires, and all this world below move in step with the slightest movements of the heavens [...] and this comparison of them to us, comes [...] by their medium and their favor [...] how can our reason make us equal to heaven?"  In this, Montaigne points out the paradox of humans trying to compare our "celestial bodies" with that of the heavens, but yet admitting that the heavens themselves are allowing this accommodation to be placed upon the homo sapiens.  It is within this truth that Montaigne argues that humans therefore have no further abilities than that of animals, and where there is no control or further capabilities, there is no merit in the idea of humans being superior. 

Montaigne disputes another point within the animal vs. human debate, in which he claims that language barrier as well as different forms of intellectual knowledge helped form this idea of human superiority.  In conjunction with the moral thinking of human vanity, Montaigne claims that it is by this "same imagination" that draws humans to "distribute" the animals accordingly, based upon the knowledge of human intelligence.  Montaigne criticizes this way of logic by asking, "how does he know, by the force of his intelligence, the secret internal stirrings of animals?  By what comparison between them and us does he infer the stupidity that he attributes to them?"  These questions help dismantle human philosophy by referencing the clearly distinct ideas of what "intelligence" is within the animal kingdom and within the human kingdom.  The subject of language is also brought into question in Montaigne's essay by noting that due to no translation of any sort, it hinders the process of human to animal communication, in which it only becomes a matter of "guesswork" between the beings.  He argues that like humans, animals do not understand our human language and therefore can not respond nor accommodate to the humans' interest.  In this reasoning, he concludes that while we may consider animals "beasts" based upon their lack of human communication, animals within their own right may consider us "beasts" as well.  It is within this context that this relates back to Dr. Cardilla's lecture on the idea of the animals vs. human superiority debate, where Cardilla argues that humans are asking the wrong questions on animals, because they are asking questions in a human language and in a human context.

It is within these two categories, and more, that Montaigne disputes the idea of animal vs. human superiority within the species hierarchy world known as speciesism.  Though this is still a heavily debated topic, Montaigne's work is still heavily regarded today and has brought much attention to the ideas of animal rights as well as looking at animals in a more respected light.  It is within this essay that Montaigne brings upon an interesting inquiry that truly summarizes yet also questions the idea of animal intelligence vs. human intelligence within our speciesist world:

“When I play with my cat, who knows if I am not a pastime to her more than she is to me?”

Christopher Smith
Matthew Landry, Section C

Montaigne and Descartes

Montaigne and Descartes both have very profound arguments. Montaigne argues that one can't judge that animals because we don't fully understand the animal brain. Descartes argues that they don't think therefor they are not intelligent beings.
“An Apology for Raymond Sebond” by Michel De Montaigne talks about how the notion that animals are not capable of feeling or thought is incorrect. There is no way of knowing the complexity of animals. Therefore, it is foolish to have the belief that we are the only animals that are capable of these feelings. Montaigne also states that even though they can’t verbally communicate with humans they do offer gestures.
“From the Letters of 1646 and 1649” by RenĂ© Descartes discusses the idea that animals are under humans because they are not capable of thoughts. He strongly disagrees with Montaigne and does not care for understanding animals. He feels that if animals did have thoughts that they would be able to express them, since they don’t they must not have any feelings. While they may do different things from humans and are even better in some regard it is all from instinct, there is no thought process. There is also no proof that animals have a soul, which Descartes thinks contributes to thought. Finally he restates that animals do not have speech so they cannot match the level of intellect that humans have. He closes with the statement that he is all for the life of animals but that they aren’t and will never be equivalent to humans.
Part of Descartes reasoning is that we cannot communicate with animals, they cannot speak to us. However animals have complex networks of communication between themselves which should disprove his idea that they lack expression and therefore lack emotions. Even if emotion requires communication there are many animals who have very sophisticated vocalizations including elephants. They can communicate on frequencies we cannot even hear and talk with elephants 50 miles away through vibrations that are inaudible to humans.

There are examples of animals displaying thought and self awareness. One was an elephant named happy who, in a mirror, was able to recognize a 'x' painted on her cheek. It was proven that she is self aware because when standing in front of the mirror she touched the 'x' on her face on her cheek, not the mirror. The display of self awareness disproves Descartes argument that animals are not capable of thought.
Further evidence of animals having thoughts is their use of tools. Fish have recently been discovered to be using rocks to smash open clam shells. This is evidence of a thought process(not just instinct) in an animal which most people give very little credit too. If this animal displays thoughtfulness we can expect it to be common in most if not all animals.
Lastly is the sad evidence of animals grieving and missing lost loved ones. Animals of all shapes and sizes can experience mourning. Elephants are known to sadly stand above lost members of their herd and dolphin mothers who lose a baby may try to keep it afloat for days unwilling to accept the death. Pets with siblings who die often take weeks or months before regaining interest in their old lifestyle, they’ll eat or play very little. It is not so important that they understand exactly what death is, but that they show some emotion towards the loss of a friend or family member which is clear evidence of feelings and ongoing thoughts.


Naja Thomas and Krysta Taylor 
Section D