Friday, June 27, 2008

Richard Dawkins Becomes Emotional Over Gorillas' Rights

Richard Dawkins has some interesting comments in THIS YouTube interview on gorillas' rights and the dangers of speciesism (being prejudice against beings simply because they are not human. He even tackles the thorny problem of cabbages’ right too, reminding me of my earlier posts 'The Silent Scream of the Asparagus' and 'Machines, Animals and People.'

C.S. Lewis makes a good argument in one of his essays (I forget which) for the fact that a theistic worldview is necessary in order to make a consistent and logical case against cruelty to animals. Of course, an atheist can advocate kindness to animals, but he does not have consistent grounds for doing so (at least if Lewis' arguments are correct). That is exactly what Richard Dawkins does. He wants us to be kind to apes, but at the end of the day his worldview only allows him to appeal to his personal emotions on the matter.

This brings us back to a point I made in my review of The God Delusion, namely that on the basis of Dawkins' own belief system, ethics become meaningless since they are reduced to evolutionary urges. When ethics are deconstructed in this way, what do we have left besides our own emotion to fall back on? Richard Dawkins feels that we ought to be kind to apes; what if I feel that we ought to exterminate handicapped people? Richard Dawkins gets around this one by making a distinction between being a human being and being a scientist. It is as a human being, he tells us HERE, and not as a scientist, that we must be kind to our ape relations.
I just have one question for the Oxford professor: were you wearing your scientist hat or your human hat when you advocated eugenics in the Sunday Herald?

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Arlondo said...

You might be able to make a convincing case against cruelty to apes on the basis of belief in fairies as well, but the onus would still be on you to show why the supernatural explanation beats out the naturalistic one. And as soon as you appeal to belief you poisen the well because what if another person says God wants her to slay apes, which is exactly the sort of commands you see coming out of the Judeo-Christian tradition. The appeal to our humanity may seem week, but at least if God (or Thor, or Zeus, Appolo or farries) tells someone to slay apes that person can then make a judgement against their particular diety based on an emotional criteria.

Arlondo said...

That last comment filed yesterday under the pseudonym Alondo was really from Patrick. Can you blame restless intellectuals if they, perhaps literally, sometimes yield to the urge to play devil´s advocate. But it is also through pointing out the humour in positions of certain people that we are the more able to see ¨the fool who says in his heart ´there is no God´.¨

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