Part 2 of 2
Other than than that, I'll just add that we can all agree that we can't read non-human people's minds, nor communicate with them sufficient to know what they're "thinking," so *none* of us are qualified to speak for them. You should apply that principle to yourself (or risk hypocrisy). That being the case, you might want to retract much of your original post. The edit window is expired, but you could still issue a new post acknowledging your own lack of expertise when it comes to knowing non-human people's thoughts, feelings, experiences, wants, and needs from their point of view.
Be cautious, also, that you don't inadvertently give off the impression that you consider yourself superior to other humans. (Unless you do consider yourself superior, in which case why not come right out and say it. It would be honest.)
Justification of behavior is virtually always subjective and uncertain, whether it be human people's behavior, or non-human people's behavior. And note: It's kind of easy to argue that humans are about the *least* moral/ethical animals on the planet. Any "bad" thing that any non-human person does, you can just about bet your last nickel that human people do that bad thing even more. So -- who's really thinking about the ethical significance of things -- human people or non-human people?
My point of view (and I'm gonna get flak for this -- from darn near everyone on this thread/site) is that wild animals don't have too hot of a life either, let alone domestic animals that have been set "free" into the wilds. Look, the wilderness is like space (with all its glorious planets, stars, and galaxies): very beautiful, and very deadly.
Yes, wild animals have evolved to survive in the wilderness. And I suppose they're pleased or at least contented with their unfettered life (though wilderness survival surely imposes "rules" of its own). But how do we know that they don't see their life as a good life only because wilderness life is the only life they've ever known? Well, we don't know.
Yes, zookeeping is a dubious practice, since it imposes captivity on naturally wild animals. But if it's a truly decent/humane zoo, then those would-be wild animals are enjoying considerable benefits for the loss of their freedom. Reliable supplies of food and water. Medical attention. Shelter. Comfy/handy places to play, relax, and sleep. Even affectionate attention from humans, in case that's worth anything. And how do we know what that's worth to the animals? We don't. How do we know whether freedom is what they *really* wish they had? We don't.
Thus we're doomed to argue all day about whether would-be wild animals hate, love, or feel indifferent about living in a zoo. Some of us will say, "Look at the sadness in that elephant's eyes. It doesn't want to be here." Others will say, "Check out those monkeys, it looks like they're having a regular frat party." Still others will say, "Look at that tiger lightly dozing, as tigers and other cats are wont to do having evolved to conserve their strength while keeping one eye peeped open to watch for the arrival of their prey." These various human perceptions paint pictures of everything from joy to longing to contented lounging. Since we can't prove which human perceptions line up the best with reality, we'll never be able to come to an agreement about it. We have to live with that irksome state of affairs. Might as well do so with some kind of grudging respect for each other as long as we have in common a sincere concern for the non-human people's well-being.
It's not that animals are so very different from us, nor that their wants and needs are so very different from ours. It's that *every* animal is different from *every* other animal, and the needs of every species are unique (and largely unknowable by humans). Heck, even within a single species, each individual is unique and different and has its own peculiar wants and needs. It's true of human people; it's true of non-human people.
Do note that human children (Western human children at least) generally grow up with training to live (and make a living) in the infrastructure of artificial habitations. They're *not* usually raised to live out in the wild (beyond the occasional camping trip). It's generally assumed that Western humans will be raised to get their high school diplomas, attend college, drive to work every day, make a goodly amount of money, and support/raise families of their own within the bounds, rules, technology, and luxuries of Western society. So to say "I want to raise this kitten to go out on its own and be independent," almost sounds like saying, "Soon this kitten will be old enough to attend college." Obviously that's not what would really happen, but my point is, training a kitten to live in the wild is a fair sight different from training a human to live in a human environment.
And as the others have said, a domestic animal's natural habitat no longer exists in nature. It now exists within the infrastructure of human society. You could argue that it's a sick, tragic thing humans have done, intentionally breeding once-wild animals to become reliant on human surroundings. But what's done is done, and what's more, I (in case you hadn't guessed) don't even think it's all that tragic. In fact, the whole sordid tale springs from the collective workings of evolution. That is, humans evolved to be like they are; in a word, to be "fashioners" of domestic animals (as well as builders of cities and users, changers, and/or preservers of the look and make-up of Earth and its atmosphere). It's neither good nor bad, it's simply the way that evolution has played out.
Are we "justified" in keeping domestic animals? It seems to me that we're neither justified nor unjustified. It just is what it is. Each human person will have to decide for themselves what to do about the problem, and God knows we won't all agree on what should be done, but again, why not cope with the irksome state of affairs with grudging respect for each other as long as we have in common a sincere concern for the non-human people's well-being? We can't do much better as a collective species right now.
Now animal abuse such as beating, maiming, neglecting, or torturously killing an animal: that's heinous, inexcusable, and unconscionable. Surely no one has any problem agreeing with me about that ...
Love means never having to say, "Put down that meat cleaver!"
Last edited by kdt26417; 11-11-2013 at 08:41 AM.