Originally Posted by wicked_sprite
A cow is not capable of symbolic thought, and other things that make us uniquely human, but you raise an interesting challange that I will grok on for awhile. =)
It's always good to hear from open-minded people.
There is a lot of interesting, well-reasoned ethical philosophy on the topic that has really helped my understanding of where to draw the line, under what circumstances, and why.
One thing I should clarify, I do have preferences when other things are equal regarding moral dilemmas, such as who to save from a disaster when you can only save one.
Also, I agree that humans, as a group, are unique in rational, abstract thought. As far as those humans who have that ability (most of us), I believe they obviously have more to lose from death than those humans who do not. Birds have the unique ability to fly (which I might be willing to exchange a very tiny bit of intelligence for that kind of fun
) and I think they may have more to lose from death than a rodent. Pain and suffering, however, have no boundaries of intelligence or any other unique abilities, except for the rational human may have his or her ideas of when the suffering might end (could be a big plus OR minus).
Okay, my ramble is over for now. Stick around we like thinkers around here.
Veggiekitten a separate thread about social conditioning and its influence on our thought and behavior, (in western philosophy aka, free will versus determinism) would be very interesting indeed.
Maybe I'll start one sometime.