Vegetarian Discussion: Rebuttal Of The Argument From Marginal Cases

Rebuttal Of The Argument From Marginal Cases
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Dutch
2007-07-20 06:44:41 EST
Rebuttal of the argument from marginal cases

One of the pillars of the Animal Rights Movement or "AR" is the
"Argument from Marginal Cases". It proposes that since there are some
impaired or "marginal" humans whose cognitive abilities are no more
advanced than some animals, such as chimpanzees, therefore humans cannot
justify extending basic rights to those humans while withholding rights
from animals.

Jon Wetlesen of the Department of Philosophy, University of Oslo has
written a rigorous and scholarly essay on moral status which, while
providing a clear means to understand moral status and rights, also
serves as a powerful rebuttal of this argument. The argument from
marginal cases propounded by Tom Regan and Peter Singer for this purpose
is criticized as defective, and a different argument is proposed.

Here is an excerpt:

-----------------------------------------------
A rebuttal of the argument from marginal cases
It may well be that Warren's proposal at this point is more adequate in
relation to common sense than the positions of Regan or Singer.
Nevertheless, it appears that all three of them have based their
arguments on the assumption that the concepts of a moral person and a
moral agent are synonymous or equivalent. This assumption can be
contested, and if it is rejected, it seems that their arguments will not
work.
An alternative to their assumption has been developed by Jens Saugstad
in his doctoral thesis on The Moral Ontology of Human Fetuses; A
Metaphysical Investigation of Personhood (1994). On Saugstad's
interpretation, Kant's concept of a moral person is generic in relation
to that of a moral agent. This implies that the class of moral agents is
a subclass of moral persons; some moral persons are moral agents, others
are not.
On the conceptual level Saugstad gets this result by distinguishing two
kinds of capacities: capabilities and abilities. In order to be a moral
agent, a person must be able to take a moral responsibility for his or
her actions, and to be answerable for them. This requires not only the
capabilities of free will, reason and a linguistic competence; but also
the operative ability of realising these capabilities in practice.
However, a subject may have the capabilities of moral agency without
having the operative abilities. In that case the subject is a moral
person without being a moral agent, since moral personhood is grounded
on the actual capability and not on the potential ability.
Two consequences follow from this solution. In the first place, it
extends moral status to sentient marginal humans. The sufficient and
necessary condition for this extension is the presence of the capability
of moral agency. If this is present, it is not necessary that the
operative ability is also present. On this ground equal inherent value
and equal basic rights can be ascribed to both marginal and normal human
beings.
Admittedly, the assumption about the presence of this capability is not
equally verifiable in all cases. In some cases it is verifiable, such as
in normal youths, children, neonates, and foetuses in the later stages
of pregnancy. They do not have the actual ability of being moral agents,
but they have it potentially and it will be actualised in due time.
Still they may be assumed to have the capability as an actual internal
property, and this is the ground for considering them to be persons. It
may be asked whether this argument justifies the assumption about equal
moral status value. Would it not be possible to introduce grading on the
basis of how far the potentiality for moral agency has developed? This
view has been propounded in discussions about abortion. On the basis of
the present argument, however, it must be rejected, since moral status
value is assumed to be grounded on capabilities of agency, which are
actual, and not on potential abilities.
In other cases there are humans who have been moral agents, but have
lost the required abilities. This pertains to many cases of the severely
brain damaged and the severely senile. If we assume that they have
retained their capabilities of being moral agents, we still have a
sufficient reason for ascribing equal inherent value to them. Against
this it may be objected that they may have lost not only their ability
of being moral agents, but also their capability. There is room for much
empirical doubt about these borderline cases, and for that reason there
is also room for giving them the benefit of doubt. Admittedly, this is a
somewhat ad hoc assumption. Even if it is not a good scientific
explanation, however, it may be a good moral reason.
This kind of argument can also be applied to the most difficult cases of
marginal humans who have never had the ability of being moral agents and
will never get it, such as the severely mentally retarded.
Theoretically, it is not inconceivable that the capability is still
there, and that this can be used as a ground for ascribing an equal
moral status value to them. If this justification is not accepted,
however, it does not necessarily follow that they have no moral status
value at all. They may have a gradual moral status value, depending on
the argument which we shall discuss below. As for those who are borne
without a brain, they do seem to be excluded.
According to the present argument, inherent value is ascribed equally to
all moral persons. Hence this position is universalistic and
egalitarian. If this way of understanding the relation between moral
persons and moral agents works, there will be no need to distinguish
Agent's Rights and Human Rights the way Warren does. They will be
grounded in the same internal property of moral persons, and there will
be no need for a supplementary justification based on an external
relation such as membership in a human society.
The second consequence which follows from this position is that there
will be a relevant difference between human and non-human beings, which
can justify a differential treatment with regard to the ascription of
moral status. Humans have a property which other animals lack, notably
the capability of being moral agents, and if this property is accepted
to be a necessary condition for the ascription of moral status, then its
absence in other animals will be a sufficient condition for denying
moral status to them. In this way Kant's anthropocentrism is vindicated,
albeit with the proviso mentioned earlier that this rests on the
contingent fact that only humans are moral persons. Theoretically, there
might be other moral persons also, but there seem to be none, excepting
perhaps some of our closest relatives among the primates.
---------------------------------------

The entire essay can be found here http://folk.uio.no/jonw/moralstat99.doc

Irate Vegan
2007-07-20 07:39:09 EST
On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 10:44:41 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:

[..]
>A rebuttal of the argument from marginal cases
>It may well be that Warren's proposal at this point is more adequate in
>relation to common sense than the positions of Regan or Singer.
>Nevertheless, it appears that all three of them have based their
>arguments on the assumption that the concepts of a moral person and a
>moral agent are synonymous or equivalent.

False. Regan does not make moral patients synonymous or
equivalent to moral agents. Go to page 288, The Animal Rights
Debate, and read his rejection of this straw man for yourself.

[Human infants, young children, and the (seriously) deranged
or enfeebled of all ages are paradigm cases of human moral
patients. (153)

To the extent that the case can be made for describing and
explaining the behaviour of a human being (by reference to
their beliefs and desires), to that extent, assuming that we
have further reasons for denying that the human in question
has the abilities necessary for moral agency, we have no
reason to regard that human as a moral patient. (154)

[A]ny position that denies that we have direct duties to those
moral patients with whom we have been and will continue to
be concerned (normal mammalian animals, age 1 or more,
and those human moral patients like these animals in the
relevant respects) is rationally defective. (239)

Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
equivalent. Why not? Because (1) many human beings (e.g., the
newly born and soon to be born) are not moral agents, meaning
in their present condition, they are not capable of acting in ways
for which they are morally responsible; and (2) these human
beings are moral patients, meaning they are directly owed such
basic duties as the duty of respect.]
Tom Regan page 288, The Animal Rights Debate

Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
Regan.

>This assumption can be contested,

Damn right!
" Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
equivalent."

[..]
>Humans have a property which other animals lack, notably
>the capability of being moral agents, and if this property is accepted
>to be a necessary condition for the ascription of moral status,

1) If animals have the capacity of moral agency, then they have
moral status.

>then its absence in other animals

2) Animals don't have the capacity of moral agency

>will be a sufficient condition for denying moral status to them."

Therefore (3) they have no moral status.

Any argument that denies the antecedent to gain acceptance
must always be rejected as specious.

1) If animals have the capacity of moral agency, then they have
moral status.
2) Animals don't have the capacity of moral agency
therefore
3) they have no moral status.

or

1) If a, then c
2) Not a
therefore
3) not c

Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
Regan and denying the antecedent to get his point accepted.

Dutch
2007-07-20 14:56:58 EST
irate vegan wrote:
> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 10:44:41 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>
> [..]
>> A rebuttal of the argument from marginal cases
>> It may well be that Warren's proposal at this point is more adequate in
>> relation to common sense than the positions of Regan or Singer.
>> Nevertheless, it appears that all three of them have based their
>> arguments on the assumption that the concepts of a moral person and a
>> moral agent are synonymous or equivalent.
>
> False. Regan does not make moral patients synonymous or
> equivalent to moral agents. Go to page 288, The Animal Rights
> Debate, and read his rejection of this straw man for yourself.
>
> [Human infants, young children, and the (seriously) deranged
> or enfeebled of all ages are paradigm cases of human moral
> patients. (153)
>
> To the extent that the case can be made for describing and
> explaining the behaviour of a human being (by reference to
> their beliefs and desires), to that extent, assuming that we
> have further reasons for denying that the human in question
> has the abilities necessary for moral agency, we have no
> reason to regard that human as a moral patient. (154)
>
> [A]ny position that denies that we have direct duties to those
> moral patients with whom we have been and will continue to
> be concerned (normal mammalian animals, age 1 or more,
> and those human moral patients like these animals in the
> relevant respects) is rationally defective. (239)
>
> Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
> the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
> is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
> to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
> argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
> other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
> equivalent. Why not? Because (1) many human beings (e.g., the
> newly born and soon to be born) are not moral agents, meaning
> in their present condition, they are not capable of acting in ways
> for which they are morally responsible; and (2) these human
> beings are moral patients, meaning they are directly owed such
> basic duties as the duty of respect.]
> Tom Regan page 288, The Animal Rights Debate
>
> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
> Regan.

You misread what Wetlesen says. The term used is "moral person", not
"moral patient". If you read the essay, the whole argument is based on
this concept.

>> This assumption can be contested,
>
> Damn right!
> " Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
> the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
> is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
> to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
> argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
> other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
> equivalent."
>
> [..]
>> Humans have a property which other animals lack, notably
>> the capability of being moral agents, and if this property is accepted
>> to be a necessary condition for the ascription of moral status,
>
> 1) If animals have the capacity of moral agency, then they have
> moral status.
>
>> then its absence in other animals
>
> 2) Animals don't have the capacity of moral agency
>
>> will be a sufficient condition for denying moral status to them."
>
> Therefore (3) they have no moral status.
>
> Any argument that denies the antecedent to gain acceptance
> must always be rejected as specious.

It's not denying the antecedent, it's a simple logical sequence.

Substitute for animals, persons, substitute for "the capacity for moral
agency", "possession of a graduate degree from Oxford" and substitute
for "moral status", "status as an Oxford alumnus".

If a person possesses a graduate degree from Oxford then they have
status as an Oxford alumnus.

Many people lack a graduate degree from Oxford

Therefore, they lack status as Oxford alumni.


>
> 1) If animals have the capacity of moral agency, then they have
> moral status.
> 2) Animals don't have the capacity of moral agency
> therefore
> 3) they have no moral status.
>
> or
>
> 1) If a, then c
> 2) Not a
> therefore
> 3) not c
>
> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
> Regan and denying the antecedent to get his point accepted.

You misread Wetlesen and he used no fallacy in his reasoning, as
explained above.



Irate Vegan
2007-07-20 15:08:18 EST
On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 18:56:58 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>irate vegan wrote:
>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 10:44:41 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>>
>> [..]
>>> A rebuttal of the argument from marginal cases
>>> It may well be that Warren's proposal at this point is more adequate in
>>> relation to common sense than the positions of Regan or Singer.
>>> Nevertheless, it appears that all three of them have based their
>>> arguments on the assumption that the concepts of a moral person and a
>>> moral agent are synonymous or equivalent.
>>
>> False. Regan does not make moral patients synonymous or
>> equivalent to moral agents. Go to page 288, The Animal Rights
>> Debate, and read his rejection of this straw man for yourself.
>>
>> [Human infants, young children, and the (seriously) deranged
>> or enfeebled of all ages are paradigm cases of human moral
>> patients. (153)
>>
>> To the extent that the case can be made for describing and
>> explaining the behaviour of a human being (by reference to
>> their beliefs and desires), to that extent, assuming that we
>> have further reasons for denying that the human in question
>> has the abilities necessary for moral agency, we have no
>> reason to regard that human as a moral patient. (154)
>>
>> [A]ny position that denies that we have direct duties to those
>> moral patients with whom we have been and will continue to
>> be concerned (normal mammalian animals, age 1 or more,
>> and those human moral patients like these animals in the
>> relevant respects) is rationally defective. (239)
>>
>> Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
>> the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
>> is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
>> to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
>> argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
>> other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
>> equivalent. Why not? Because (1) many human beings (e.g., the
>> newly born and soon to be born) are not moral agents, meaning
>> in their present condition, they are not capable of acting in ways
>> for which they are morally responsible; and (2) these human
>> beings are moral patients, meaning they are directly owed such
>> basic duties as the duty of respect.]
>> Tom Regan page 288, The Animal Rights Debate
>>
>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>> Regan.
>
>You misread what Wetlesen says. The term used is "moral person", not
>"moral patient".

Then it's certain that Wetlesen has misrepresented Regan
again, because, like you say, Regan uses the term "moral
patient", not "moral person."

>>> This assumption can be contested,
>>
>> Damn right!
>> " Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
>> the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
>> is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
>> to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
>> argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
>> other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
>> equivalent."
>>
>> [..]
>>> Humans have a property which other animals lack, notably
>>> the capability of being moral agents, and if this property is accepted
>>> to be a necessary condition for the ascription of moral status,
>>
>> 1) If animals have the capacity of moral agency, then they have
>> moral status.
>>
>>> then its absence in other animals
>>
>> 2) Animals don't have the capacity of moral agency
>>
>>> will be a sufficient condition for denying moral status to them."
>>
>> Therefore (3) they have no moral status.
>>
>> Any argument that denies the antecedent to gain acceptance
>> must always be rejected as specious.
>
>It's not denying the antecedent

Yes, he is.

>> 1) If animals have the capacity of moral agency, then they have
>> moral status.
>> 2) Animals don't have the capacity of moral agency
>> therefore
>> 3) they have no moral status.
>>
>> or
>>
>> 1) If a, then c
>> 2) Not a
>> therefore
>> 3) not c
>>
>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>> Regan and denying the antecedent to get his point accepted.
>
>You misread Wetlesen

No, and I certainly didn't misread him when he elevated
apes to moral persons after failing to debunk the argument
from marginal cases.

He wrote,

"Theoretically, there might be other moral persons also,
but there seem to be none, excepting perhaps some of
our closest relatives among the primates."

I then wrote,

"It follows, then, that apes hold rights due to his fact that
they "are moral persons.""

and you replied,

"Possibly. I would hold in fact that this is so plausible that
apes should be granted basic rights."
Dutch 7 July 2007 http://tinyurl.com/328k8h

Dutch
2007-07-20 15:34:24 EST
irate vegan wrote:
> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 18:56:58 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:

[..]

>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>> Regan.
>> You misread what Wetlesen says. The term used is "moral person", not
>> "moral patient".
>
> Then it's certain that Wetlesen has misrepresented Regan
> again, because, like you say, Regan uses the term "moral
> patient", not "moral person."

It's astonishing that you would attempt to reply without even knowing
the basic premise of the essay.

The concept of a "moral patient" is something else entirely. Wetlesen's
contention (if you READ the essay) is that a "moral agent" as referred
to by Regan and Singer can be seen as a subset of the larger group of
"moral persons", not all of whom are moral agents but may only possess
the *capacity* for moral agency. This idea is not contemplated by Regan
or Singer, and according to Wetlesen, is the source of their false
conclusions, like the argument from marginal cases.


[..]

>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>> Regan and denying the antecedent to get his point accepted.
>> You misread Wetlesen
>
> No,

What happened to the explanation of your erroneous fallacy I provided
using the analogy of Oxford graduates? You're not playing Mr.
Snippy-pants again are you?


> and I certainly didn't misread him when he elevated
> apes to moral persons after failing to debunk the argument
> from marginal cases.

I don't think you read the essay at all. You cherry-picked a couple of
phrases out of it.

>
> He wrote,
>
> "Theoretically, there might be other moral persons also,
> but there seem to be none, excepting perhaps some of
> our closest relatives among the primates."
>
> I then wrote,
>
> "It follows, then, that apes hold rights due to his fact that
> they "are moral persons.""
>
> and you replied,
>
> "Possibly. I would hold in fact that this is so plausible that
> apes should be granted basic rights."
> Dutch 7 July 2007 http://tinyurl.com/328k8h

You're not making a useful point, but that shouldn't surprise anyone.



Irate Vegan
2007-07-20 16:18:55 EST
On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 19:34:24 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>irate vegan wrote:
>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 18:56:58 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>
>[..]
>
>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>> Regan.
>>>
>>> You misread what Wetlesen says. The term used is "moral person", not
>>> "moral patient".
>>
>> Then it's certain that Wetlesen has misrepresented Regan
>> again, because, like you say, Regan uses the term "moral
>> patient", not "moral person."
>
>The concept of a "moral patient" is something else entirely.

It's the term which Regan uses to describe them; "moral
patients", and it doesn't exist anywhere in Wetlesen's attempt
to misrepresent Regan to get his point accepted. From the off
Wetlesen claims that Regan and two others base their argument
on the assumption that the concepts of a moral person and a
moral agent are synonymous or equivalent. He lied, and Regan
rejects this straw man by writing,

[Human infants, young children, and the (seriously) deranged
or enfeebled of all ages are paradigm cases of human moral
patients. (153)

To the extent that the case can be made for describing and
explaining the behaviour of a human being (by reference to
their beliefs and desires), to that extent, assuming that we
have further reasons for denying that the human in question
has the abilities necessary for moral agency, we have no
reason to regard that human as a moral patient. (154)

[A]ny position that denies that we have direct duties to those
moral patients with whom we have been and will continue to
be concerned (normal mammalian animals, age 1 or more,
and those human moral patients like these animals in the
relevant respects) is rationally defective. (239)

Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
equivalent. Why not? Because (1) many human beings (e.g., the
newly born and soon to be born) are not moral agents, meaning
in their present condition, they are not capable of acting in ways
for which they are morally responsible; and (2) these human
beings are moral patients, meaning they are directly owed such
basic duties as the duty of respect.]
Tom Regan page 288, The Animal Rights Debate

>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>> Regan and denying the antecedent to get his point accepted.
>>> You misread Wetlesen
>>
>> No, and I certainly didn't misread him when he elevated
>> apes to moral persons after failing to debunk the argument
>> from marginal cases.
>
>> He wrote,
>>
>> "Theoretically, there might be other moral persons also,
>> but there seem to be none, excepting perhaps some of
>> our closest relatives among the primates."
>>
>> I then wrote,
>>
>> "It follows, then, that apes hold rights due to his fact that
>> they "are moral persons.""
>>
>> and you replied,
>>
>> "Possibly. I would hold in fact that this is so plausible that
>> apes should be granted basic rights."
>> Dutch 7 July 2007 http://tinyurl.com/328k8h
>
>You're not making a useful point

The point I've made is made, and whether you can
see that or not is nether here nor there.

Dutch
2007-07-20 18:03:35 EST
irate vegan wrote:
> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 19:34:24 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>> irate vegan wrote:
>>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 18:56:58 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>> [..]
>>
>>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>>> Regan.
>>>> You misread what Wetlesen says. The term used is "moral person", not
>>>> "moral patient".
>>> Then it's certain that Wetlesen has misrepresented Regan
>>> again, because, like you say, Regan uses the term "moral
>>> patient", not "moral person."
>> The concept of a "moral patient" is something else entirely.
>
> It's the term which Regan uses to describe them; "moral
> patients",

"Moral patient" status is not the issue. The point that Wetlesen makes
is that "moral agency" is actually a subset of moral personhood.

> and it doesn't exist anywhere in Wetlesen's attempt
> to misrepresent Regan to get his point accepted. From the off
> Wetlesen claims that Regan and two others base their argument
> on the assumption that the concepts of a moral person and a
> moral agent are synonymous or equivalent. He lied, and Regan
> rejects this straw man by writing,

Neither Singer nor Regan differentiate between a moral agent and moral
person.

> [Human infants, young children, and the (seriously) deranged
> or enfeebled of all ages are paradigm cases of human moral
> patients. (153)
>
> To the extent that the case can be made for describing and
> explaining the behaviour of a human being (by reference to
> their beliefs and desires), to that extent, assuming that we
> have further reasons for denying that the human in question
> has the abilities necessary for moral agency, we have no
> reason to regard that human as a moral patient. (154)
>
> [A]ny position that denies that we have direct duties to those
> moral patients with whom we have been and will continue to
> be concerned (normal mammalian animals, age 1 or more,
> and those human moral patients like these animals in the
> relevant respects) is rationally defective. (239)
>
> Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
> the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
> is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
> to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
> argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
> other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
> equivalent. Why not? Because (1) many human beings (e.g., the
> newly born and soon to be born) are not moral agents, meaning
> in their present condition, they are not capable of acting in ways
> for which they are morally responsible; and (2) these human
> beings are moral patients, meaning they are directly owed such
> basic duties as the duty of respect.]
> Tom Regan page 288, The Animal Rights Debate

You just illustrated Wetlesen's point, Regan assumes in all his writings
that there are only moral agents and moral patients. In other words he
fails to make a distinction between moral patients, moral agents, and
moral persons. Wetlesen makes this distinction. Human newborns are not
moral agents, but they *are* moral persons.

>
>>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>>> Regan and denying the antecedent to get his point accepted.
>>>> You misread Wetlesen
>>> No, and I certainly didn't misread him when he elevated
>>> apes to moral persons after failing to debunk the argument
>>> from marginal cases.
>>> He wrote,
>>>
>>> "Theoretically, there might be other moral persons also,
>>> but there seem to be none, excepting perhaps some of
>>> our closest relatives among the primates."
>>>
>>> I then wrote,
>>>
>>> "It follows, then, that apes hold rights due to his fact that
>>> they "are moral persons.""
>>>
>>> and you replied,
>>>
>>> "Possibly. I would hold in fact that this is so plausible that
>>> apes should be granted basic rights."
>>> Dutch 7 July 2007 http://tinyurl.com/328k8h
>> You're not making a useful point
>
> The point I've made is made, and whether you can
> see that or not is nether here nor there.

It just makes no sense in the context of the position you are trying to
advance. If anything it supports Wetlesen's position, that animals are
not automatically ruled out as moral persons simply because they are not
human. That is the other Regan argument he rebuts.



Irate Vegan
2007-07-21 03:21:40 EST
On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 22:03:35 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>irate vegan wrote:
>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 19:34:24 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>>> irate vegan wrote:
>>>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 18:56:58 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>>> [..]
>>>
>>>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>>>> Regan.
>>>>>
>>>>> You misread what Wetlesen says. The term used is "moral person", not
>>>>> "moral patient".
>>>>
>>>> Then it's certain that Wetlesen has misrepresented Regan
>>>> again, because, like you say, Regan uses the term "moral
>>>> patient", not "moral person."
>>>
>>> The concept of a "moral patient" is something else entirely.
>>
>> It's the term which Regan uses to describe them; "moral
>> patients",
>
>"Moral patient" status is not the issue.

It is while Regan uses that term rather than the term Wetlesen
claims that he uses and conflates with the term "moral agent".
Below, you concede this by writing, "Regan assumes in ALL
his writings that there are ONLY moral agents and moral
patients. Like you say, he doesn't use the term "moral person."
Wetlesen has built a straw man by misrepresenting Regan's
use of a term and claiming that he conflates it with another
term to make them equivalent.

>> and it doesn't exist anywhere in Wetlesen's attempt
>> to misrepresent Regan to get his point accepted. From the off
>> Wetlesen claims that Regan and two others base their argument
>> on the assumption that the concepts of a moral person and a
>> moral agent are synonymous or equivalent. He lied, and Regan
>> rejects this straw man by writing,
>
>Neither Singer nor Regan differentiate between a moral agent and moral
>person.

False. The passage below shows exactly where and how.

>> [Human infants, young children, and the (seriously) deranged
>> or enfeebled of all ages are paradigm cases of human moral
>> patients. (153)
>>
>> To the extent that the case can be made for describing and
>> explaining the behaviour of a human being (by reference to
>> their beliefs and desires), to that extent, assuming that we
>> have further reasons for denying that the human in question
>> has the abilities necessary for moral agency, we have no
>> reason to regard that human as a moral patient. (154)
>>
>> [A]ny position that denies that we have direct duties to those
>> moral patients with whom we have been and will continue to
>> be concerned (normal mammalian animals, age 1 or more,
>> and those human moral patients like these animals in the
>> relevant respects) is rationally defective. (239)
>>
>> Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
>> the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
>> is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
>> to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
>> argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
>> other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
>> equivalent. Why not? Because (1) many human beings (e.g., the
>> newly born and soon to be born) are not moral agents, meaning
>> in their present condition, they are not capable of acting in ways
>> for which they are morally responsible; and (2) these human
>> beings are moral patients, meaning they are directly owed such
>> basic duties as the duty of respect.]
>> Tom Regan page 288, The Animal Rights Debate
>
>You just illustrated Wetlesen's point, Regan assumes in all his writings
>that there are only moral agents and moral patients.

If that is true, then it's clear that Wetlesen has certainly misrepresented
Regan by claiming he uses the term "moral person" and makes it
equivalent to "moral agent".

>>>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>>>> Regan and denying the antecedent to get his point accepted.
>>>>>
>>>>> You misread Wetlesen
>>>>
>>>> No, and I certainly didn't misread him when he elevated
>>>> apes to moral persons after failing to debunk the argument
>>>> from marginal cases.
>>>> He wrote,
>>>>
>>>> "Theoretically, there might be other moral persons also,
>>>> but there seem to be none, excepting perhaps some of
>>>> our closest relatives among the primates."
>>>>
>>>> I then wrote,
>>>>
>>>> "It follows, then, that apes hold rights due to his fact that
>>>> they "are moral persons.""
>>>>
>>>> and you replied,
>>>>
>>>> "Possibly. I would hold in fact that this is so plausible that
>>>> apes should be granted basic rights."
>>>> Dutch 7 July 2007 http://tinyurl.com/328k8h
>>>
>>> You're not making a useful point
>>
>> The point I've made is made, and whether you can
>> see that or not is nether here nor there.
>
>It just makes no sense

The whole point in trying to debunk the argument from
marginal cases is to show that animals cannot hold rights
against us, but instead of doing what he set out to achieve
he elevates animals to moral persons and ascribes rights
to them, and you agree.

Dutch
2007-07-21 05:18:13 EST
irate vegan wrote:
> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 22:03:35 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>> irate vegan wrote:
>>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 19:34:24 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>>>> irate vegan wrote:
>>>>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 18:56:58 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>>>> [..]
>>>>
>>>>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>>>>> Regan.
>>>>>> You misread what Wetlesen says. The term used is "moral person", not
>>>>>> "moral patient".
>>>>> Then it's certain that Wetlesen has misrepresented Regan
>>>>> again, because, like you say, Regan uses the term "moral
>>>>> patient", not "moral person."
>>>> The concept of a "moral patient" is something else entirely.
>>> It's the term which Regan uses to describe them; "moral
>>> patients",
>> "Moral patient" status is not the issue.
>
> It is while Regan uses that term rather than the term Wetlesen
> claims that he uses and conflates with the term "moral agent".

Moral person and moral patient are not the same thing. To be a moral
person one must have the capability to become a moral agent, a moral
patient does not require the capability. Regan would call a human infant
simply a moral patient, Wetlesen also recognizes the infant's capability
to become a moral agent one day so recognizes him as a moral person
also, but not a moral agent.

> Below, you concede this by writing, "Regan assumes in ALL
> his writings that there are ONLY moral agents and moral
> patients. Like you say, he doesn't use the term "moral person."
> Wetlesen has built a straw man by misrepresenting Regan's
> use of a term and claiming that he conflates it with another
> term to make them equivalent.

Since Regan does not use the term 'Moral Person' we don't know if he is
even aware of it. I would assme that Regan simply never thought of
defining moral status in humans into two groups.

>>> and it doesn't exist anywhere in Wetlesen's attempt
>>> to misrepresent Regan to get his point accepted. From the off
>>> Wetlesen claims that Regan and two others base their argument
>>> on the assumption that the concepts of a moral person and a
>>> moral agent are synonymous or equivalent. He lied, and Regan
>>> rejects this straw man by writing,
>> Neither Singer nor Regan differentiate between a moral agent and moral
>> person.
>
> False. The passage below shows exactly where and how.
>
>>> [Human infants, young children, and the (seriously) deranged
>>> or enfeebled of all ages are paradigm cases of human moral
>>> patients. (153)
>>>
>>> To the extent that the case can be made for describing and
>>> explaining the behaviour of a human being (by reference to
>>> their beliefs and desires), to that extent, assuming that we
>>> have further reasons for denying that the human in question
>>> has the abilities necessary for moral agency, we have no
>>> reason to regard that human as a moral patient. (154)
>>>
>>> [A]ny position that denies that we have direct duties to those
>>> moral patients with whom we have been and will continue to
>>> be concerned (normal mammalian animals, age 1 or more,
>>> and those human moral patients like these animals in the
>>> relevant respects) is rationally defective. (239)
>>>
>>> Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
>>> the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
>>> is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
>>> to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
>>> argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
>>> other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
>>> equivalent. Why not? Because (1) many human beings (e.g., the
>>> newly born and soon to be born) are not moral agents, meaning
>>> in their present condition, they are not capable of acting in ways
>>> for which they are morally responsible; and (2) these human
>>> beings are moral patients, meaning they are directly owed such
>>> basic duties as the duty of respect.]
>>> Tom Regan page 288, The Animal Rights Debate

Nothing in that passage differentiates between moral agents and moral
persons.

>> You just illustrated Wetlesen's point, Regan assumes in all his writings
>> that there are only moral agents and moral patients.
>
> If that is true, then it's clear that Wetlesen has certainly misrepresented
> Regan by claiming he uses the term "moral person" and makes it
> equivalent to "moral agent".

That's not what Wetlesen says. Regan defines two kinds of moral beings,
moral agents and moral patients. Regan then assumes that the human moral
patients in his paradigm should be the moral equals of animal moral
patients, or visa versa. If his paradigm were allowed to prevail then
the argument from marginal cases would indeed present a conundrum for
humans. Wetlesen defines three, moral persons, moral agents and moral
patients. He makes a distinction between moral persons and moral agents
that Regan does not. Marginal and undeveloped humans are not simply
moral patients, they are moral persons based on their innate capacity to
develop moral agent status. That differentiates them from animal moral
patients who lack this capability.



>>>>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>>>>> Regan and denying the antecedent to get his point accepted.
>>>>>> You misread Wetlesen
>>>>> No, and I certainly didn't misread him when he elevated
>>>>> apes to moral persons after failing to debunk the argument
>>>>> from marginal cases.
>>>>> He wrote,
>>>>>
>>>>> "Theoretically, there might be other moral persons also,
>>>>> but there seem to be none, excepting perhaps some of
>>>>> our closest relatives among the primates."
>>>>>
>>>>> I then wrote,
>>>>>
>>>>> "It follows, then, that apes hold rights due to his fact that
>>>>> they "are moral persons.""
>>>>>
>>>>> and you replied,
>>>>>
>>>>> "Possibly. I would hold in fact that this is so plausible that
>>>>> apes should be granted basic rights."
>>>>> Dutch 7 July 2007 http://tinyurl.com/328k8h
>>>> You're not making a useful point
>>> The point I've made is made, and whether you can
>>> see that or not is nether here nor there.
>> It just makes no sense
>
> The whole point in trying to debunk the argument from
> marginal cases is to show that animals cannot hold rights
> against us,

It's not that ambitious, it simply defines a way of looking at moral
status in a rigorous way that differentiates between human infants and
apes of similar intelligence, which rebuts the argument from marginal
cases. Animals can still hold rights against us, as moral patients, in
my view anyway.

> but instead of doing what he set out to achieve
> he elevates animals to moral persons and ascribes rights
> to them, and you agree.

Right, but not just "animals" in general, not earthworms for example,
but great apes, yes. It's not an all or nothing thing, nobody really
believes that it is. The other consequence of his approach is that it
allows for the possibility that some animals may possess some capacity
for moral agency and therefore should be called moral persons. It is the
"benefit of the doubt" factor, the same one he suggests we use to apply
moral personhood to severely impaired humans.


Irate Vegan
2007-07-21 05:49:39 EST
On Sat, 21 Jul 2007 09:18:13 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>irate vegan wrote:
>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 22:03:35 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>>> irate vegan wrote:
>>>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 19:34:24 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>>>>> irate vegan wrote:
>>>>>> On Fri, 20 Jul 2007 18:56:58 GMT, Dutch <no@email.com> wrote:
>>>>> [..]
>>>>>
>>>>>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>>>>>> Regan.
>>>>>>>
>>>>>>> You misread what Wetlesen says. The term used is "moral person", not
>>>>>>> "moral patient".
>>>>>>
>>>>>> Then it's certain that Wetlesen has misrepresented Regan
>>>>>> again, because, like you say, Regan uses the term "moral
>>>>>> patient", not "moral person."
>>>>>
>>>>> The concept of a "moral patient" is something else entirely.
>>>>
>>>> It's the term which Regan uses to describe them; "moral
>>>> patients",
>>>
>>> "Moral patient" status is not the issue.
>>
>> It is while Regan uses that term rather than the term Wetlesen
>> claims that he uses and conflates with the term "moral agent".
>
>Moral person and moral patient are not the same thing.

Then, while Wetlesen claims that Regan uses the term
"moral person" and conflates it with the term "moral agent"
to make them equivalent, it's certain that he's wrongly
misrepresenting Regan to get his point accepted.

>> Below, you concede this by writing, "Regan assumes in ALL
>> his writings that there are ONLY moral agents and moral
>> patients. Like you say, he doesn't use the term "moral person."
>> Wetlesen has built a straw man by misrepresenting Regan's
>> use of a term and claiming that he conflates it with another
>> term to make them equivalent.
>
>Since Regan does not use the term 'Moral Person'

... we can be sure that Wetlesen has misrepresented Regan
by claiming he does, and that he conflates that term with
"moral agent".

>>>> and it doesn't exist anywhere in Wetlesen's attempt
>>>> to misrepresent Regan to get his point accepted. From the off
>>>> Wetlesen claims that Regan and two others base their argument
>>>> on the assumption that the concepts of a moral person and a
>>>> moral agent are synonymous or equivalent. He lied, and Regan
>>>> rejects this straw man by writing,
>>>
>>> Neither Singer nor Regan differentiate between a moral agent and moral
>>> person.
>>
>> False. The passage below shows exactly where and how.
>>
>>>> [Human infants, young children, and the (seriously) deranged
>>>> or enfeebled of all ages are paradigm cases of human moral
>>>> patients. (153)
>>>>
>>>> To the extent that the case can be made for describing and
>>>> explaining the behaviour of a human being (by reference to
>>>> their beliefs and desires), to that extent, assuming that we
>>>> have further reasons for denying that the human in question
>>>> has the abilities necessary for moral agency, we have no
>>>> reason to regard that human as a moral patient. (154)
>>>>
>>>> [A]ny position that denies that we have direct duties to those
>>>> moral patients with whom we have been and will continue to
>>>> be concerned (normal mammalian animals, age 1 or more,
>>>> and those human moral patients like these animals in the
>>>> relevant respects) is rationally defective. (239)
>>>>
>>>> Nothing could be clearer, even to those who read my work in
>>>> the most superficial manner, than that in my hands "moral patient"
>>>> is not equivalent to "animal" and "moral agent" is not equivalent
>>>> to "human being." Indeed, one of the main objectives of my
>>>> argument, both in the case for animal rights and throughout my
>>>> other writings, is to show that these pairs of concepts are not
>>>> equivalent. Why not? Because (1) many human beings (e.g., the
>>>> newly born and soon to be born) are not moral agents, meaning
>>>> in their present condition, they are not capable of acting in ways
>>>> for which they are morally responsible; and (2) these human
>>>> beings are moral patients, meaning they are directly owed such
>>>> basic duties as the duty of respect.]
>>>> Tom Regan page 288, The Animal Rights Debate
>
>Nothing in that passage differentiates between moral agents and moral
>persons.

Regan uses the term "moral patient" instead, but Wetlesen
bases his argument on making the claim that Regan uses the
term "moral person" and conflates it with the term "moral
agent" to make them equivalent. In short, Wetlesen has
misrepresented Regan and built a straw man.

>>> You just illustrated Wetlesen's point, Regan assumes in all his writings
>>> that there are only moral agents and moral patients.
>>
>> If that is true, then it's clear that Wetlesen has certainly misrepresented
>> Regan by claiming he uses the term "moral person" and makes it
>> equivalent to "moral agent".
>
>That's not what Wetlesen says.

Wrong; he says exactly that by writing,

"Nevertheless, it appears that all three of them [including
Regan] have based their arguments on the assumption
that the concepts of a moral person and a moral agent
are synonymous or equivalent."

He's lying, of course, and you've helped show that by
writing, "Regan assumes in ALL his writings that there
are ONLY moral agents and moral patients." Regan
doesn't use the term "moral person" and he certainly
doesn't go on to "base his argument on the assumption
that the concepts of a moral person and a moral agent
are synonymous or equivalent."

>>>>>>>> Wetlesen has built his entire case by totally misrepresenting
>>>>>>>> Regan and denying the antecedent to get his point accepted.
>>>>>>> You misread Wetlesen
>>>>>>
>>>>>> No, and I certainly didn't misread him when he elevated
>>>>>> apes to moral persons after failing to debunk the argument
>>>>>> from marginal cases.
>>>>>> He wrote,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> "Theoretically, there might be other moral persons also,
>>>>>> but there seem to be none, excepting perhaps some of
>>>>>> our closest relatives among the primates."
>>>>>>
>>>>>> I then wrote,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> "It follows, then, that apes hold rights due to his fact that
>>>>>> they "are moral persons.""
>>>>>>
>>>>>> and you replied,
>>>>>>
>>>>>> "Possibly. I would hold in fact that this is so plausible that
>>>>>> apes should be granted basic rights."
>>>>>> Dutch 7 July 2007 http://tinyurl.com/328k8h
>>>>>
>>>>> You're not making a useful point
>>>>
>>>> The point I've made is made, and whether you can
>>>> see that or not is nether here nor there.
>>>
>>> It just makes no sense
>>
>> The whole point in trying to debunk the argument from
>> marginal cases is to show that animals cannot hold rights
>> against us, but instead of doing what he set out to achieve
>> he elevates animals to moral persons and ascribes rights
>> to them, and you agree.
>
>Right

Thank you. You're done.
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