If we say that humans have rights, then we can say that animals have rights because when a human mistreats an animal, then that human will have caused himself to be more likely to mistreat humans. He will probably have changed his psychology – and possibly his brain chemistry. He will have thus made himself more of a threat to the rest of us. An additional but lesser reason is that he will have made the animal more of a threat to the rest of us.
Let’s illustrate this phenomenon with a few examples:
Suppose an 18 year old girl has a well behaved dog who loves her and would die for her, and then she starts leaving him alone for 24 hours at a time because she wants to be with her boyfriend. Would you let her babysit your kids? Would you hire her? If her boyfriend had no problem with this, would you let him babysit your kids? Would you hire him?
She either has to accept that she is causing her dog to suffer greatly and let it sadden her greatly and make her feel very guilty, which will make her less attractive to the guys, or else, she has to stop caring, which is something humans can do, but then it becomes much easier to do it to other humans.
If she stops caring, then it becomes easier to occasionally let her dog run out of food and water. Then it becomes easier to completely ignore her dog when he is so glad to see her when she briefly pops into her apartment each day. Then it becomes easier to yell at him and smack him when he jumps on her and barks because he is so glad to see her. Then when he starts chewing up the pillows and furniture, it will be easier for her to open the door and let him run out into the street so that he will get run over.
You knew not to hire her or let her babysit your kids long before it got to this point. Same for her boyfriend.
At any time, even years later, she could still choose to feel the sadness and guilt over what she did and decide to be a different person, but until then, who can trust her?
This is how torturers are created by governments. A guard has to decide if he will feel the sadness and guilt of standing guard at the end of the hall when he hears the sounds at the other end coming from the torture room. If he chooses to stop caring, then it will be easier to guard right outside the door of the torture room. Then it will be easier to guard inside the door. Then it will be easier to hold the instrument tray. Then it will be easier to hand the instruments to the torturer. Then it will be easier to participate in the torture directly. Then it will be easier to become the torturer.
This is probably one of the ways that Obama’s DHS manufactures sociopaths, since we already know they torture. Another is the No More Hesitation program, which is where Obama’s DHS agents shoot at targets of pregnant women and children in their own homes. Some cops shoot at targets of their own children for this reason. Would you feel safe in the presence of these cops?
Many people who care about rights already know about the Stanford prison experiments and the Milgram experiments in the 1960’s where the majority of subjects devolved into sociopaths rather quickly and easily; whereas, the experts of the day had predicted that no more than 3% would devolve that far and fast.
Now that we’ve looked at some examples of this phenomenon, let’s consider what we should do.
If one thinks about these cases ahead of time, then it becomes much easier to resist such character devolution in the future. Therefore, simply failing to learn about such examples is actually the first step of choosing to stop caring.
Although dogs do have real emotions, it is an error to project more human attributes onto the dogs than they actually have. Likewise, people often project more sentience and emotion onto a fetus than it actually has. In fact, some people even project human attributes onto toys and other objects. Although this is an error, it still contributes to one’s character devolution if one feels that one is mistreating a sentient emotional being.
The reality of character devolution is a reason to say that people themselves have rights. Who would want to be in proximity to a single individual who has let his character devolve?
Therefore, if one wants to say that humans have rights, then it also makes sense to think of animals as having rights.
We should indeed say that people have rights because people need to interact with each other in order to thrive, and rights are those fundamental principles that maximize our ability to thrive. Rights must also be compatible with our genetically programmed behavior if we expect them to be the most effective. Clearly, rights are thus a useful but fuzzy concept, like good and evil, and like the legendary vanishing heap.
We should thus pretend that rights exist for people, and for animals too, but should the government punish those who violate rights, given that any government whatsoever will also be a violator of rights and a creator of perverse incentives? Should government also regulate behavior to prevent us from starting down the path of character devolution, which would be before we had actually violated any rights?
If we are not each allowed to make mistakes such as going down the path of character devolution at least once, then how can we ever escape the state of arrested development that plagues our society today? Wouldn’t a society based on everything voluntary be better? Wouldn’t it be preferable to live in a world of strong role models who have learned from the consequences of their reputation? Wouldn’t it be preferable to live in a world where we could easily find inspiration from art that was itself inspired by deep wisdom and enlightenment?