Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 13:23:00 -0700
From: "HARVEY Peter" [email protected]
Subject: Facts, actions, and justifications
Peter Junger writes, on the basis of Damien’s Keown’s posting on Buddhism and animals:
‘Of course it is difficult to justify "fatally-causing experiements" or any killing… It is impossible to justify being born. It is impossible to justify //dukkha//…Facts are facts; they are not the sort of "thing" that can be justified’.
True, facts are facts, but the issue is one of the moral justifiability of certain //actions//: ie. should one act so as to effect a new factuaLsituation. Once it has happened, it is a fact: but one can still assess whther the action of brining it about, or similar ones in the future, was/will be justifiable.
//Dukkha// is //dukkha//, and is not the sort of thing that can be //justifiable// or not. Choosing to inflict //dukkha// on someone is the kind of thing one can ask: is this justifiable?
Peter Junger also says that to say an animal or a human has a ‘right to life’ makes a mockery of the idea of rights, as we are all going to die. True, death is a fact. We have no ‘right’ not to die. But we have a right not to be deliberately killed by a human. We have no right not to be killed by an animal (unless human malice or negligence was a contibutory cause), because animals do not (except perhaps in a small way) have the power to choose in the light of moral considerations. To point out that some being has a ‘right’ is to point out that a ratioinal being, capable of choice, has a duty to treat that person in accordance with that right.