I was hoping to avoid this laborious work by appealing to common sense, but where common sense makes no dent:
Perkins Cobb wrote:That would be pretty difficult, since "tormenting" and "cruelty" are synonymous. If you're seeking a framework by which cruelty to animals is morally acceptable, how about this (which is implicit in my list of "special exceptions," otherwise known as examples, but I'll spell it out): Cruelty to animals is acceptable in situations when it is required to achieve something of value that cannot be achieved by any other means.
Exactly: you and I share the exact same ethical framework when it comes to cruelty. The only difference is whether we're going to make special exceptions. Now, claiming a generally cruel act is not unethical for special reasons needs some very
special pleading in its favour, otherwise it's just avoiding the problem (since we admit that cruelty is, normally, a problem).
Now, your criteria, that it must achieve something of value, is just vague enough to've been used by many people to justify things you wouldn't consider kosher, either. Your terms aren't specific enough, but this is just an internet discussion, so let's go with it.
Your criteria, to quote a sentence from an earlier post of yours, is that "art transcends human behaviour." This doesn't make any sense, frankly, but let me raise a pertinent question: does art transcend human judgement? If so, how? If not, any judgement on its ethics must stand, correct?
Your second criteria, that this or that cannot be achieved by other means. Well, please be specific: what could not be achieved in Andrei Rublev? Only that one small isolated moment could possibly be unachievable without the mistreatment. So really, you have to mean: showing a horse being mistreated cannot be done without actually mistreating a horse. Assuming this can't be faked (tho' it can), your criteria becomes: so long as an artist's goal is to mistreat animals, they are morally free to mistreat animals. Seems to me this type of argument could only work if the mistreatment is for something besides
just the shock of mistreatment. It's obvious Tarkovsky wanted to shock us with an animal being mistreated, but equally obvious that the moment is too small to be essential to the existence of the movie or even the scene of which it is a part. So the point becomes: do you weigh the value of a slightly enhanced shock effect in a movie so great that it trumps considerations of life, death, suffering, and cruelty concerning living things? If so, why should one agree and what is the value of supporting it? What is the precise benefit to humanity and the world that makes up for the large deficit of enacting cruelty? Is it ethical to pretend these values are equivalent?
Further: is there an ethical value of going out of your way to try options that don't
involve treating things cruelly, or can we think someone unethical for not bothering to go our of his way to prevent suffering? For your argument to work, does cruelty not have to be the last
possible option? And if you can't show that it was, you have to admit that it could be unethical and in all probability was/is.
I commend you, actually, for having no personal interest in Tarkovsky and admit I was wrong when I accused you of that.
Perkins Cobb wrote:I question this premise of yours, too. You insist upon Tarkovsky's hypocrisy in his treatment of the horse vs. the theme of the film as vital, but the more I think about it, I believe it's totally irrelevant.
Am I being genuine if I ordered you to not fucking swear? Is my swearing here relevant or irrelevant to the moral worth of my statement? Does the means I used to make that statement work for or against it, and if against, is this relevant? Is the means of getting a message across relevant or irrelevant?
You don't have to answer these questions, they're more or less rhetorical. But I will reaffirm here that your statement more than anything else shows your refusal to truly deal with this problem. It's to the point of absurdity now.