I believe that fish do have rights. I believe every living thing with a heart beat has rights- a right to a life free from pain, manipulation and unjust mutilation. Anything with the sensory pathways to be able to feel pain has rights; and any living thing deserves respect. For example, a tree- a tree does not have the sensory capabilities to feel pain. However, it is living and is part of this beautiful environment we live in, and so it deserves respect and should be free from destruction unless there is a just cause.
Ill talk about Darwinism, survival of the fittest. Sometimes living things died because they were part of the food chain for the larger species, and so in my opinion that would be a just cause, and because of Darwinism and supporting ideas, that species would become extinct. However, nowhere in Darwinism did it mention genetically altering an animal to make it more esthetically pleasing or for pure amusement purposes. Don’t we have better things to do with our time and technology? Technology and science are such beautiful tools when used properly. I’m thinking about this the same way I think about iPads in school systems- yeah, they’re great, if they’re used in a productive manner to increase learning objectives and outcomes. Instead, 9 year-olds are free to go home with the iPad and go on Youtube and listen to songs that were made for literally no purpose- no expression of emotion, no art was put into that song- these ‘songs’ were made to make people with terrible senses of humor and minimal education laugh- and this is what America is coming to.
Anywho, getting back on topic, genetically mutating an animal for amusement is totally and completely wrong. I feel that we as humans are getting bored and are running out of ways to expend our energy and resources in a productive manner. Some individuals immerse themselves in these amusements which are disrespectful to other species and this world as a whole. Nothing productive is coming out of a Glo fish. Wouldn’t time and money be better spent on curing cancer or making an AIDs vaccine (crazy, I know). I just don’t understand what would cause someone to even go down that path. Perhaps someone imagined it, was amused, and realized he had the resources to do so and went ahead with the project. This seems a bit power hungry to me though. As humans I feel that we are power hungry sometimes, trying to see what other species (or even what other humans, sometimes) we can gain control of. I think its ignorant for humans to think they are dominant and when they are disrespectful to the environment around them. It’s a very humbling feeling to realize that not only are you one in billion of people, but those billions of people are only a percentage of the living things on this Earth and we all belong to something greater. We have to maintain a mutually respectful relationship with the environment if we want to be around for a while as a species. Otherwise, its all going to come crashing down on us- and that actually keeps me up at night sometimes.
Genetically altering a human is different because humans have the reasoning and ability to understand. For example, if they alter or decide the genetic composition of a child so that this child will have all the matching genes necessary to help his or her sick sibling, then the parents would have known that and would have consented to that. However, even with the parent’s consent and understanding, there is no way to completely delve into why this would be an unethical approach to child bearing and rearing. They didn’t have this child because they wanted him or her, they had it to save another child. Some would argue that this would be reason enough to have a genetically composed child. Others, like myself, for example, would strongly disagree. Think about the quality of life this genetically composed child would have now- serving as the life-line for his or her sick sibling. It doesn’t seem ethical to me to put either of the siblings in that position, and it doesn’t seem ethical for me as a parent (if I was a parent) to choose one child’s suffering over another’s.
I don’t think we have the right to genetically alter living things because we are not God. I suppose you have to believe in God or a higher power in control of our fate to take the same stand I have. I don’t think that we have the capability of understanding and taking in all of the repercussions of genetic altering; and I don’t think we should have to. I think genetic alterations make room for us as humans to put ourselves in situations we were never supposed to be in- situations our psyche can’t make sense of or handle. For instance, in the example I gave above, parents were never meant to have to option of genetically engineering a second to only prolong the life of their first. They were never meant to mull over those moral dilemmas and find peace in a totally impossible situation. It is beyond our ability as humans to process and accept and make sense of these situations. Think of how many things could go wrong- child #1 could die anyway, child # 2 could die from complications of surgeries only necessary to help child #1, both children could die, child #2 could live life feeling like a failure because he or she couldn’t save child #1, more scary- the parents could think of child #2 as a failure because he or she couldn’t save the first child- the list goes on and goes and only gets more complicated.
I do think that our motives do play a huge role in determining the morality of things, unlike Kant who thinks it is either right or it is wrong. If we had intentions of curing cancer by making this fish ‘glo’, I think it would be totally acceptable. If there were higher purposes, it would be a more moral thing to do. It would also be necessary to take into consideration how many people could be saved, how many lives could be changed by the sacrifice of the rights of this one living being- would be end point be worth the means?
At first my instinct was to pick some sort of insect, because I really don’t like bugs, and so I chose to post a cricket. But bugs are necessary. Just like bees- I hate bees, but they’re necessary and apparently if we kill all the bees, we as humans will be in big trouble because bees provide a bunch of necessary natural resources for us. So then I thought snakes- but the more I thought about it, the more I kept contradicting myself. I originally stated that anything with the ability to feel pain has the right to a life free of pain, manipulation, and mutilation. And of course there are animals that cause harm to humans, like bears and sharks for example. Certain animals get a bad rep because they harm humans, but really a lot of the time it is the human that oversteps the boundary into the animals environment which causes the animal to be threatened. If we have respect towards these animals, hopefully a mutually respectful relationship will result. Therefore, I posted this picture purely because it was first instinct. But after thinking about it, I take it back- every living thing has the right to rights.