söndag 8 juni 2014

The moral problem with teaching a dog to dance

There is a video of a dancing dog.
Here are some good comments related to that video:
Yes, as I stated, the human is gaining something--notoriety--at the expense of another animal. In addition, a corporation is gaining advertising and business at the expense of another animal. Pit bulls shouldn't need to made to look human-ish in their behavior to be accepted. They're dogs--plain and simple. Let them be dogs, doing their own thing 100% of the time. I'm reminded of how masters made slaves dance on the plantations to entertain and to show the slaves were happy. The masters even said things like the slaves "enjoyed" their time performing for the masters. Still, no slave would have chosen slavery over freedom. It's interesting that you made the analogy to the human being a parent because many slave owners touted themselves as parents in describing their relationships with their slaves. Defenders of slavery would even refer to owners as parents. Sadly, this kind of defensive language about slavery continues today, especially in the southern U.S. It's a case of language being used to soften reality and distract us from issues related to slavery. With regard to this video and others like it, why can't we refer to domesticated animals as companions, friends or some more egalitarian designation? I don't see the training as problematic because it's "cross-species"--it's problematic because of the relationship of power, because it's anthropomorphic and because no human should gain anything through the exploitation of another human or other animal.


Michele Spino Martindill It's easy for humans who are in a position of privilege to say the dog is gaining something, the dog is cute or there's no problem with what's depicted in the video. It's easy for humans to ignore the exploitation; however, the dog doesn't have that privilege. I'm sure if the dog could speak, humans would use their power to control the meaning of the dog's words. As the philosopher Wittgenstein wrote, "If a lion could speak, we could not understand him [sic]."
It's an unequal relationship of power, with the human gaining notoriety (at the very least) at the expense of another animal. The human is making the dog do human centered tricks rather than enabling the dog to do dog centered activities, e.g. walking, running, sniffing, sleeping, eating, licking...you know, dog things

Michele Spino Martindill It's a false analogy (a logical fallacy) to compare the human/child relationship to that of a human/dog. Using paternalism as a way to defend exploitation doesn't work with slavery and it doesn't work as a defense for this video. Also, the use of positive reinforcement comes from a branch of psychology called behaviorism in which it is assumed that there's a person in power who can manipulate those without power through rewards and punishments. To use that kind of strategy on a child or any living being goes against veganism in that it puts humans with power on the top of a ladder of value rather than seeing all of life as interconnected. Veganism, unlike behaviorism, involves interacting with all others by showing respect, working to insure no is manipulated or exploited, and by being sure everyone has an opportunity to live in Peace


I'm aware of so-called progressive training for dogs and other animals, but the point is that they're still being trained by humans for human purposes. The bond between human and dog isn't strengthened in a positive sense--such training is simply a different way for humans to attain and retain power in the relationship. There's no way to prove that "most vegans" are okay dogs being kept indoors or with anything else; however, we do know that in veganism humans have to take responsibility for having historically domesticated dogs and cats, meaning they stop breeding more dogs and cats, and they provide food, shelter and veterinary care for those animals already born. So, yes, it makes perfect "sense" for those who support veganism to be against dogs being trained for human purposes and in favor of allowing dogs to be dogs. Introducing the subject of animals slaughtered for dog food is a red herring in this discussion, an attempt to get off topic in order to distract from a weak argument (one of those pesky logical fallacies again). I know it can be hard to see the exploitation in something our culture has told us for centuries is cute, but it's time to stand against all exploitation.

We can protect animals and be responsible for their care without treating then like circus animals. They do not have to be on display doing tricks. The whole notion of tricks and doing behaviors that are based on human goals and entertainment speaks of exploitation--human gain at the expense of other animals. Using paternalism to justify slavery of any kind violates the basic precepts of veganism. There is no justification for slavery and exploitation. It is interesting to see vegans use paternalism to defend a video of something that is a circus act--a performance for the benefit of humans in terms of entertainment and advertising.

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