Friday, November 30, 2012

The relativity of wrong.

"...when people thought the earth was flat, they were wrong. When people thought the earth was spherical, they were wrong. But if you think that thinking the earth is spherical is just as wrong as thinking the earth is flat, then your view is wronger than both of them put together."

This quote is taken from an essay written by Isaac Asimov. When I was ten or eleven I discovered science fiction...the genre has remained a staple of my reading habits ever since. There are few authors in the field that are the equal of the late Isaac Asimov...partially because he was a bright and insightful individual.

I was struck by how relevant and applicable this thought is to the notion that all sentient beings have the right to live their own lives however they want. This may not be perfectly true...but if you think it is as untrue as believing that no living beings except human ones have such a right...."your view is wronger than both of them put together".

Truth, rightness, goodness, accuracy...all these terms refer to something that is, in the end, fuzzy. But if you think the notions of animal rights are just as inaccurate or fuzzy or as wrong as the way human animals now behave toward our fellow living beings. You're wronger than all "of them put together". 

2 comments:

Bea Elliott said...

Hum - Kind of a twisty puzzle there. But if you unravel it - It absolutely makes sense.

I'd like to think that all "truths" and ideas are provisional - Based on what we know at the time... An open mind changes according to new information. So sure, there *could* possibly be instances where *some* exception to not allowing an animal "freedom" might happen - But it's not because of our initial "right" to deny them such... It would be caused by a different set of circumstances.
If that makes sense. (?)

I've recently changed my absolutism about nonhumans and our relationship to them. For me it becomes more clear if I were to say that "it is wrong to treat an other in any way that they would object to" - Rather than the "all or nothing" - "liberty or enslavement" model. The latter just doesn't work with say well cared for cats, dogs, bunnies or other nonhumans that are rescued... It wouldn't apply to sanctuary animals and so on.

And I hope this wouldn't ever be construed as welfarism... It's totally different to deliberately "use" an animal than it is to just allow him or her a limited *freedom* for their safety's sake...

Anyway, that's my take on degrees of wrong... There's dumb, ignorant and stupid "wrong" and then there's "dead wrong". Treating animals without their first and primary interests being paramount - Is always that. Dead wrong.

Thanks for the opportunity to re-clarify my thoughts (again). ;)

veganelder said...

Thank you for commenting Bea..and well said. Just as we don't allow incompetent adult humans and young humans the same degree of "freedom" as grown-ups or unimpaired humans...some constraints are necessary for safety for any living being. Everything gets fuzzy if you get close enough to it. :-)

If you're a "welfarist"...you're my kind of one. :-)

Dead wrong...exactly so.