• TheMadFool
    3.4k
    Humans are the first animals known to have what we call morals. Ethical living is of concern to us.

    Many moral theories have been invented with the aim of understanding and guiding this very human need to be good and shun the bad. Whether this enterprise has borne fruit or created more confusion is a personal matter.

    That said the common thread that links all forms of morality is happiness and suffering. The former to be actively sought and encouraged while the latter discouraged and forbidden.

    Of the two, happiness and suffering, greater weightage is given to suffering. This is perhaps succinctly expressed as ''if you can't help then at least do no harm''.

    It seems to me that the right place to plant the flower of morality is a peaceable lifeform - a deer or a bunny rabbit perhaps.Yet, this is not the case.

    Morality has, ironically, evolved in the apex predator on Earth - humans. This presents a rather obvious difficulty. We have a taste for meat and so have to kill but our morals forbid us to harm or kill.

    The Vegan paradox.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k
    A taste for meat does not equal the need to kill. It's pretty obvious that we do not need to kill animals for food. For vegans there is no paradox, because we refrain from taking part in that whole system.

    It's a paradox for omnis who want to maintain that they care about animals, believe less suffering is better than more suffering, and yet willingly contribute to the meat industry.
  • ssu
    1.4k
    We have a taste for meat and so have to kill but our morals forbid us to harm or kill.

    The Vegan paradox.
    TheMadFool
    Vegan's see no Paradox and in their hypocrisy denounce humans being omnivores.
  • DingoJones
    839


    Ya, I think NKBJ has you on this.
    The real Vegan paradox is how much suffering and killing is done to maintain their own eating habits...like such massive amounts of non-animal based food do not result in a huge mount of animal death and suffering.
  • Tzeentch
    264
    Veganism, at least in the way that it is most common in western society, has always struck me as a sort of 'pseudo-moralism'.

    What starts as a noble goal,

    'My life should not incur suffering upon other living beings',

    in practice results in,

    'My life should not incur suffering upon other living beings (unless it means I would have to part with my favorite luxuries).'

    People all too often don't realize that their goal isn't the former, but the latter. Would they part with daily hot showers? A pointless waste of water and energy? Of course not. Would they prefer to keep washing their bodies with a wide selection of perfumed shampoos, scrubs and soaps? Would they take the bicycle to work, even when it is raining and the wind is blowing? Do they use central heating, instead of a single heater in the main living area? Do they prefer branded clothing over second hand clothing? Do they use plastic? Do they grow their own vegetables? Etc.

    All too often one finds that these people use all the luxuries society has to offer, except for the fact that they don't eat animal products, ignoring the fact that all these other luxuries contribute either directly or indirectly to the suffering of other beings (including other humans). Such a morality is no morality at all. One is either fooling themselves or attempting to fool others.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k

    That's a problem, but clearly not an argument to go ahead and commit mass murder.
    It's akin to saying that since driving cars will statistically and accidentally kill so and so many people every year anyway, I should just go out and mow down pedestrians for fun.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k


    You do what you can and the best you can. Most vegans don't wear animal products either.

    And even if they didn't, you're basically saying that since we can only eradicate part of the suffering by changing our lifestyle, we shouldn't bother and just go ahead and cause a much larger amount of suffering.
  • Tzeentch
    264
    I didn't say one shouldn't bother. What I said was that one either commits to the ideal fully or one should adjust one's attitude to be more humble. The suffering of living beings is a terrible thing, so if one living being can be saved by taking no more hot showers from this point onward, surely one with the ideal to impose no suffering upon others should do so? How can one who claims to hold such an ideal justify that some meaningless comfort should lead to the suffering of others?

    Anyone who claims to hold such ideals should ask themselves those questions, and doubly so if they believe themselves to be morally superior because of it. Ideals are meaningless if they aren't translated into action.

    Needless to say, I don't know you or the way you practice your veganism, so don't take this as being directed specifically at you.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    It would only be a paradox if being vegan included a moral obligation to go back in time and stop our ancestors from eating meat. But there are no time machines and, as Kant pointed out 'ought implies can'. So there is no obligation because it would be impossible.

    Hence - no paradox. Not even a dilemma.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    All too often one finds that these people use all the luxuries society has to offer, except for the fact that they don't eat animal products, ignoring the fact that all these other luxuries contribute either directly or indirectly to the suffering of other beings (including other humans).Tzeentch
    All too often one finds that, does one?

    Do you have any evidence to back up that claim?

    I doubt it. I am not vegan but most vegans I know are very concerned about the environment and go to great lengths to reduce their carbon footprint and their consumption of unnecessary, resource-wasting manufactured goods.
  • DingoJones
    839
    That's a problem, but clearly not an argument to go ahead and commit mass murder.NKBJ

    Clearly, so it is a good thing I didnt make such an argument. What I did was point out a paradox, a contradiction, in using the suffering of animals as a basis for veganism. It cannot be done without also justifying a non-vegan position. (The non-vegan will be able to use the same arguments to justify non-vegan-ism as the vegan will use to justify the death and suffering to animals for the sake of vegamism.)
  • NKBJ
    1.1k


    It's not paradoxical though. Veganism is about the commitment to reducing suffering. They're under no illusions that all suffering will be gone. It's clearly not paradoxical to ascribe to ideals that greatly reduce suffering.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k


    Not sure why you're so concerned about the humility of vegans. This post is about whether veganism itself contains a paradox. Which it doesn't. It's a commitment to reducing suffering by avoiding animal products. It's not about eliminating suffering altogether, since that is likely impossible.
  • DingoJones
    839
    It's not paradoxical though. Veganism is about the commitment to reducing suffering. They're under no illusions that all suffering will be gone. It's clearly not paradoxical to ascribe to ideals that greatly reduce suffering.NKBJ

    Non-sequitor. Your not addressing what I said was contradictory. I didnt say anything about illusions to eliminate suffering or that it was paradoxal to have ideals that greatly reduce suffering.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k

    You said it was paradoxical to use suffering as a basis. I pointed out why it is not. Sorry you're unable to understand that.
  • DingoJones
    839


    I didnt say it was paradoxical to use suffering as a basis. This is what makes your snideness insufferable, that you actually label your own inability to understand as someone one elses inability to understand.
    What I said was, when a vegan argues against a meat eater on the basis of suffering they are being contradictory because the vegan too causes suffering for what they eat.
    Either do not respond or respond with some humility because few things on a forum are as obnoxious to me as a fool who condescends above their own capability.
  • NKBJ
    1.1k


    Omg, this is getting too funny.
    "I didn't say it was paradoxical to use suffering as a basis for veganism, I just said it was contradictory!"

    :rofl:

    In any case, I've already explained why it's not contradictory.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    What I said was, when a vegan argues against a meat eater on the basis of suffering they are being contradictory because the vegan too causes suffering for what they eat.DingoJones
    And NKBJ explained here why that is not contradictory. You have not responded to that explanation. If you still believe it is contradictory or a paradox (you actually said it was both) you need to explain why that is the case. How can a goal of reducing animal suffering be used to justify eating meat or, more specifically, eating meat produced by Western factory farming methods?
  • Bitter Crank
    8k
    Humans are the first animals known to have what we call morals. Ethical living is of concern to us.TheMadFool

    And is it not the case that moral, ethical living is directed toward the manner in which we treat each other? How central to the moral and ethical codes to which we subscribe is "not eating chickens, cows, fish, and pigs"? We have been eating animals for a very long time -- at the same time we developed morals and ethics.

    Health is one issue. So, some people maintain that it is healthier to eat only plants; others think it healthier to eat mostly plants, but allow eggs and milk or cheese. Most people think it is healthier to include at least some meat in their diets.

    We don't expect moral or ethical consideration from animals such as chickens and we have not considered it appropriate until recently to extend moral and ethical consideration to animals. (I'm not reckoning Buddhist or Hindu religion here.) Animals are outside moral and ethical consideration. (That doesn't mean that we can't be sentimental about animals. I think squirrels are very cute; I wouldn't deliberately run over one of them. Deer are very attractive, warm fuzzy animals, too. Killing a squirrel or a deer deliberately (like, by shooting it) is neither moral nor immoral. It is only legal and illegal, depending on the laws governing hunting season.

    For our good, food animals should be raised under "humane" conditions. Factory farming doesn't qualify as humane, as far as I know. But if a chicken is crowded in its cage, that is a health concern, not a moral concern. (We are concerned about a chicken's, pig's, cow's health because it may affect our health.)
  • DingoJones
    839


    You are right, I used the two terms to express the same sentiment. Doesnt really matter. We can stick to contradictory, I think its the more suitable of the two.
    The explanation of NKBJ you linked, like your reiteration of it, doesnt address what I am saying. I just repeated what I mean in my last post, easily referenced above.
  • Bitter Crank
    8k
    It is true that many species, some of them much-honored megafauna, are being killed off by deliberate human acts of killing. Whales, lions, elephants, rhinos... for examples. Far, far more animals -- most of them not on anyone's list of storybook creatures, are being wiped out by chemicals we use on plants -- chemicals like Round Up™ or neonicatinoids, and others. These chemicals are greatly reducing insect populations, a key part of the food web -- a food web on which we are also quite dependent, whether we are carnivores or vegetarians. Field studies from around the world are showing precipitous declines in insect populations.

    Ecology is a real moral issue, as is the social, economic and industrial system we have built. No matter what we eat, the goods required to support soon-to-be-8 billion-people has been, is, and will continue to be highly UN-ecological. It isn't just food, vegans of the world: It's oil, coal, steel, glass, plastics, electricity, clothing, housing, transportation, health care, education, and so on -- all of it requiring much more intensive extraction of resources and food production. If one is really worried about the welfare of the animal kingdom (including spiders, grasshoppers, bed bugs, beetles, wasps, wood ticks, mosquitos, et al one should foreswear having children.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k


    I feel there is an oddness if not a clear paradox.

    People who are of moral bent are generally docile. They like peace, quiet, harmony, you know, all the ''good'' stuff. They avoid conflict in general - turn the other cheek kind.

    I'm just extending the arrow of morality in the direction it points to - docile, peacable creatures. So, morality should've evolved in creatures like deer, sheep and fluffy cute rabbits.

    Instead, we see moral beginnings in what is justifiably the apex predator on the planet - humans. It's paradoxical, isn't it, that a predator, who by definition is violent and has to kill to survive, is troubled by its own nature.

    It's like the most notorious criminals on the planet philosophizing about ethics. Paradoxical no?
  • Xav
    36
    Human's psychological traits do not reflect those of an apex predator and nor did we develop them in such a role. Sapiens (and a few other big brained apes) were very much centered in the food chain for the vast majority of our 2 million year presence on Earth. In this role we developed anxieties and cooperative traits that were vital for a weak but high calorie consuming animal t survive. Thus came empathy. We work better in groups so lets look after the group.

    Dolphins and other primates also exercise empathy (what I assume you mean by morals; the general concept that you are not the only one with feelings and yours aren't more important). This is because the live in a similar role to early humans.

    Upon inventing tools and cultivation methods we leaped, almost instantly, to the top of the food chain. Now we are left in environments with essentially no life threatening phenomena to exercise our anxious and empathetic minds on.

    Medicine, safety regulations, law, veganism are all outlets for outdated evolutionary traits. Never before has there been such an explosive success outbreak from a mutation. Evolution has had no time to dull our mid-food chain instinct and thus we over populate, nurse those who might've been dead and meddle with the nature of predator and prey.
  • Xav
    36
    I'm not sure I would relate morality to docile nature. For starters morals are incredibly diverse among individuals and cultures. If it is empathy you speak of, then I can't see a reason (nor an example) for why feeling for the emotions of those around you would make you docile. I imagine many feel alarmingly driven by their empathy.

    Docile nature to me, springs from mindfulness, the ability to exist in the present (in time and space). Not to worry about what you should be doing for people elsewhere or about what you should've done or what you should do. Something a bunny rabbit or deer has likely mastered. To be completely focused on the grass it wants to eat, and then the moment a predator is present, the deer/bunny takes flight.
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    The explanation of NKBJ you linked, like your reiteration of it, doesnt address what I am saying.DingoJones
    Here is what you said:
    When a vegan argues against a meat eater on the basis of suffering they are being contradictory because the vegan too causes suffering for what they eat.DingoJones
    The response to that was that the vegan causes less suffering and the moral principle they are following is to reduce suffering.

    Can you explain how you find a contradiction in that response, or how it fails to address your claim that veganism is contradictory?
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    People who are of moral bent are generally docile.TheMadFool
    No they're not. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, William Wilberforce, Emily Pankhurst, Yitzakh Rabin were all revered for their integrity and moral courage. I can't think of anybody that would describe any of them as docile.
  • Tzeentch
    264
    I'm generalizing, of course, but I do know vegans in real life and none of them take their ideals to their logical conclusions. They drive cars, they live in sizable houses, they use extensive amount of beauty products, etc. The epitome of hypocrisy must be the vegan bodybuilder, who consumes large amounts of resources for his own vanity project. This is the general image of veganism I am presented with. Honestly, a homeless man would do more for the environment by virtue of not being able to consume at all.

    The real paradox lies in the fact that one is willing to part with some, but not all, luxuries in order to reduce the suffering one induces on others. Apparently, the consumption of meat is an acceptable sacrifice, but to take the bicycle to work or foregoing hot showers is not. If one's ideal is not to cause suffering to other beings, then how does one account for this?
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    The vegans you meet must be very different from the ones I do. The vegans I see wear recycled clothes, use bicycles for transport, minimise needless consumption and packaging, minimise power consumption and so on. There are some that are annoyingly sanctimonious, but they seem to be a minority.

    I do acknowledge that there is a bit of a 'hipster vegan' thing happening at present, where veganism is seen as a fashion choice rather than a deep conviction and is adopted at the same time as a heavily consumeristic lifestyle. The people you refer to might be like that. But I think that's a passing fad and not representative of traditional and mainstream veganism, which is very closely associated with environmentalism.
  • DingoJones
    839
    Can you explain how you find a contradiction in that response, or how it fails to address your claim that veganism is contradictory?andrewk

    Yes, it fails to address my claim because the meat eater can still use the exact same argument to justify his position and because if the vegan goal was to actually reduce suffering they could chose to not eat fruits and vegetables from farms. For the most part they do though, making it hypocritical to then use this argument against a meat eater. Its a contradiction, a double standard.
  • Xav
    36
    What would you say if I let the chicken do as it pleased it whole life and then, without any sort of anticipation or a single other chicken around, instantly killed it. Personally I would allow this to happen to me but I believe it would harm those who know me. I am not sure a chicken or its fellow chickens holds such significant social ties. I think humans have developed a huge attachment to life that many animals only begin to feel when they sense immediate danger. A chicken can not imagine its own death and so likely doesn't fear it.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    No they're not. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, William Wilberforce, Emily Pankhurst, Yitzakh Rabin were all revered for their integrity and moral courage. I can't think of anybody that would describe any of them as docile.andrewk

    Ahimsa is non-violence isn't it?

    Non-violence is a soft stance as opposed to, say, the on-going malady of terrorism. Isn't it?

    I'm currently reading a book on logic and just finished the chapter on credibility. Humans discussing moral theory while, simultaneously, discussing the gustatory delights of meat in another setting does more than convince me that humans are not the right species to be talking on the subject.
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