• Purple Pond
    557
    We omnivores can only eat two things, plants and animals. Many animals can feel pain, but plants cannot. Suppose this weren't true, suppose everything in animal and plant kingdom could feel pain. Chopping up the head of an iceberg lettuce would feel as painful to iceberg lettuce as how decapitating an elephant feels to that elephant. Preparing a vegetarian meal would cause a tremendous amount of pain to the vegetables and grains involved. In order for a person to eat he or she inevitably need to cause a lot of pain.

    One of the reasons why some people don't eat animals is because animals can feel pain. They believe that it's immoral to cause a sentient creature a great deal of pain. But if causing pain were inevitable, as it was in thought experiment, we would have no choice but to be immoral. Everyone has to eat. Would we have no choice but to be immoral? Many believe morality involves choice.

    I see four possible responses to this thought experiment.
    1. It's immoral to cause pain to sentient organisms, full stop. (This would imply that it is possible for someone in principle to act immorally even if he or she had no choice. In the thought experiment preparing food causes pain to all organisms involved, and it's immoral, but you you've got to eat to survive.)
    2. It's not immoral to cause pain to organisms. (The thought experiment presents no problems.)
    3. It only immoral to cause pain to innocent organisms when there are viable alternatives. (In the case of the thought experiment you have no choice but cause pain, so you are not guilty of being immoral. In real life there are other options).
    4. The thought experiment is bogus. (You may think there's something wrong with the thought experiment.)

    What's your response?
  • Isaac
    714


    But animals already can feel, and we eat them, and have done for millions of years. So either you're suggesting a form of ethical realism, but with moral facts that we have only just noticed (in which case you'd need to make a case for these being so before you could hope to answer your question), or a form of ethical relativism, in which case the question as to the morality of eating plants in this scenario is unanswerable.
  • DiegoT
    318
    3. "It´s only immoral to cause pain to innocent organisms when there are viable alternatives" is my favourite. Sometimes pain and heavy torture is the most ethical available option; like when doctors and nurses need to puncture, drug, cut, and burn us when we are ill. If the alternative is death, we are ready to praise the application of a number of terrible medical tortures inflicted on the most innocent child.

    There´s no harvest without suffering. We do not need to discover pain in plants; growing vegetables and fruit for food means an inmense amount of suffering, killing and expelling animals from the places where they can feed and reproduce: birds, snails, all kind of insects, frogs, moles and other small mammals, reptiles. Even the most organic farm has to do away with many of them, and that implies who knows how many little tragedies for these beings that, it has been proved, experience fear and pain subjectively.

    Fortunately, most of those animals are not potential pets so vegans don´t give a shit about them; otherwise they´d all have to commit suicide.

    Personally, I have adapted my own garden to maximize the presence of birds and invertebrates. I´m especially fond of spiders, and I have been able to spot 20 different species so far in my small garden (not all of them resident, as spiders can fly long distances).
  • Artemis
    1.1k


    Ought implies can. We need to eat to live. The question is how do we reduce harm as much as possible while doing so. Eating only plants caused both fewer animal deaths as well as flora deaths. That is because the animals you eat have to be fed many times the amount of plant matter you would have to eat to make up the nutritional difference of avoiding animal consumption.

    But the whole question relies on a big if. Plants don't have brains or nervous systems, which are the only way we currently know to experience...anything.
  • Terrapin Station
    11.4k
    Door #2 for me, Monty. I don't think it's categorically immoral to cause pain.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    Chopping up the head of an iceberg lettuce would feel as painful to iceberg lettuce as...Purple Pond

    The head of iceberg lettuce deserves whatever it gets. Awful stuff. At least kill for better results: Romaine, cabbage, spinach...
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    I'm going to take a human perspective here. There are two things humans fear:

    1. Pain
    2. Death

    Between the two above there's a gradation as in a little pain is better than death and, occasionally, death is better than a whole lot of pain.

    As you can see the preference between the two depends on the situation.

    To peg morality on pain is worthy in that one is being greater than yourself - transcending the ego. Vegetarians and vegans have reached that stage.

    However, to associate morality with life itself is an even greater feat - one identifies oneself with ALL that is living. Life, in and of itself, has value. The awareness of needing to protect the environment is this stage. Quite oddly some eco-crusaders may be non-vegetarian.

    So, it's all stages of expanding awareness. We begin with ourselves - not killing each other. Then we begin to feel for animals - we become vegetarians. This is followed by recognizing the value of the eco-system - we become environmentally friendly.

    I guess this is a transition phase and it's a tangled mess. Like a good doctor, sometimes the best policy is wait and watch. Personally I'm hoping for the patient (humanity) to make good progress. Life is of value in and of itself.
  • DiegoT
    318
    So, it's all stages of expanding awareness. We begin with ourselves - not killing each other. Then we begin to feel for animals - we become vegetarians. This is followed by recognizing the value of the eco-system - we become environmentally friendly.TheMadFool

    Where, in this process of expanded awareness, does rational thinking play a part? Or is it all feelings and emotions? Because without rational and experimental efforts, there is no ethical behaviour.

    Personally, I care about Life; surely less than other people, but I do my bit. I love farm animals, and that is why I try to eat them all; except for goats and cows that I only like for the milk. I just don´t want them to disappear, not even already endangered local varieties. I also support bullfighting, even if I don´t like corridas, because I understood rationally that without bull fighting there are no lidia bulls. And the places where these amazing animals live would be under much greater pressure to be full of houses.

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_HIQnVtu5ng8/S4WD45OaufI/AAAAAAAAA0M/-n3UcUAOJOU/s640/Veletos.jpg

  • S
    10.6k
    What's your response?Purple Pond

    It might be immoral, but, imagining it, my initial response is that it would be funny as fuck. I'm laughing just thinking about it.
  • tim wood
    2.9k
    Ought implies canNKBJ

    Ought implies ought. The only way you get to can is via the hypothetical, "if you want X, then you ought to do Y."

    But you still need, "can you do Y?" And, "Y is sufficient." And, "I did Y."
  • andrewk
    2.1k
    I just removed a sub-thread that had nothing to do with the OP and was unnecessarily personal. Please stay on topic and try to be nice. :smile:
  • Artemis
    1.1k

    I'm not even sure what your point is.
  • TheMadFool
    3.4k
    Where, in this process of expanded awareness, does rational thinking play a part? Or is it all feelings and emotions? Because without rational and experimental efforts, there is no ethical behaviour.DiegoT

    Yes, you're right. The way I see it, rationality always needs a starting point and that has to be agreed by consensus if we're to see eye to eye at all.

    That starting position, in this case, is emotion - our fear of pain and death and their natural result, appreciation of freedom from pain and life.

    I don't know how to explain this movement of our moral nature. We can describe it though; as a growth of our ego-boundary. Our self - the ego - was once only our person (like a solitary tiger). Then came the family (like a pride of lions). Society (like bees) followed. If I'm correct, the last stage is when the ego identifies itself with all life.

    These stages are all reasoned positions, from the shared fear and appreciation of pain/death and joy/life respectively.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    What animal is there that is not subject to being eaten? Porcupines? Maybe porcupines are exempt. Not sure about that. How would the wolf go about it?

    What plant can count on not being consumed by either an animal, an insect, a fungus, or bacteria? None that I can think of.

    Will the dietary moralists please clear out of the dining room, and once you are outside, keep walking. I don't care what you say! The next time I get a chance (maybe tonight!) I plan on eating oysters so fresh they will still be alive when I tip them out of their pearly shells. Exquisite!

    At the Feast of Life we eat, we grow and we die. Even predatory primates are occasionally privileged to be featured on the menu. Wade in the water and get snatched by an alligator, pulled to the bottom of the swamp; left there to cure for a few days; then the alligator's delectation begins. It's not a crime against nature. It IS nature.

    As morally sensitive as I am, I am not outside of nature, and neither are you. Human animals do what we do because we are what we are. You stick with your organic fair traded watercress and cucumber sandwich on gluten free, fat free, sugar free, salt free, artificially leavened wafer and just sit there and glow with vegan virtue. I'll have roast pork, potatoes, broccoli, and beer and glow with pleasure. I'm having dessert, too -- and you can't have any of it. So there!
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    @Vegans, @Vegetarians, and @Vigilantes Nature is neither moral nor immoral. To the extent that we fulfill our natural functions of thriving (eating, growing, maturing, breeding, nurturing young, extracting necessities from the earth, and in time being returned to the earth) we are neither moral nor immoral. We are simply doing what comes naturally.

    Our Edenic Existence has long since passed, of course. Our behavior long since began to range far beyond the borders of the innocently natural world. We developed technics of various kind which extended our reach way beyond our grasp. We became more dangerous to one another; we developed unnatural behaviors like religion in which we sacrificed members of the tribe to appease a god. We played with fire and got burned. We sometimes killed our own kind when they disagreed with us (that is to say, became disagreeable). We discovered we could be really awful, pairing predatory instincts with devious demonic cognition the way we do. We try to overlay our devil selves with higher morality to keep life from becoming too bad. We try. We try.

    Just like with technology, morality provides us yet another opportunity to carry things to excess. It's not enough that we actually behave fairly well toward each other. Some of us feel obligated to impose our ideas of higher morality on behavior which is actually pretty natural, normal, and nice. Like sex; like eating meat, like drinking fermented beer and gin; smoking some vegetable matter perchance to dream a little.

    I like sex, meat, beer, drugs, all that. You don't? Fine. Go home and have a glass of warm water. Or take a cold shower. Just leave me, my pork chop, and bottle of beer alone.
  • Artemis
    1.1k
    Will the dietary moralists please clear out of the dining room, and once you are outside, keep walking. I don't care what you say!Bitter Crank

    Maybe then this is not the thread for you and you should stick to commenting on threads you actually care about/have an open mind about.
  • RosettaStoned
    29
    Well, really nothing is immoral/moral unless you dictate to be in your own head. It wouldn't be immoral to eat a plant as long as the there was at least a net neutral (a.k.a killing one plant so one animal can survive.) Technically, if killing a number of plants would sustain the survival of more animals than the population of plants killed, then it would, in my opinion, be moral. Even if the plants could feel pain. This is the same line of reasoning that I use with animals.
  • Artemis
    1.1k


    Guess that means killing babies and lynching black people is free game!
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    Maybe then this is not the thread for you and you should stick to commenting on threads you actually care about/have an open mind about.NKBJ

    No. It's perfectly appropriate to reject the validity of a discussion.

    Humans are as much a part of the web of life on earth as any other creature. All creatures are engaged in a continual processing of other life forms into their own. We have no more choice about consuming other life forms than any other creature.

    There has to be a choice before morality can come into play. We don't have any choice about eating plants directly or indirectly, so it can't be a moral issue--any more than drinking water or breathing can be moral issues. There is no choice there.

    In an industrialized world rife with choices which have existential consequences, food choices are just one more moral issue among many. Population, resource consumption (all kinds), and global warming make most of our lifestyle choices unsustainable. Using gasoline in a private car, electricity generated with coal, heating and cooling, irrigating crops, flying, etc. are all choices with significant negative consequences.

    Pulling one issue out, say the morality of flying when a bus or train would place a far smaller burden on the environment (or maybe just traveling around at all), would make for a nice heated moral shooting match, but, after all, flying is just one piece among many. Pumping water out of the Colorado River, lifting it over a mountain range, and keeping Phoenix, AZ, Las Vegas, and Los Angeles alive, is a frightful burden on the world environment -- and that's just resource wasting population center among many. It's another moral choice.

    What I am saying, is in that in The Big Picture, our individual capacity to make significant moral choices is rapidly becoming limited. Not eating meat is a good moral choice, the benefit of which might very well be negated by other moral choices. A car-driving, large house dwelling, frequent flying vegetarian is accomplishing no more net good than a bus-riding, small house dwelling, never flying carnivore.
  • Artemis
    1.1k
    We have no more choice about consuming other life forms than any other creature.Bitter Crank

    That's clearly wrong, since some if us do choose not to.


    Also, you already admitted to just being a troll.
  • gloaming
    104
    To me, this topic centres on anthropocentrism and arbitrariness. Who died and was made the Chief Virtues Selector who then decided that pain was the determinant of moral thinking and acts? Why don't we prefer to manage our morals around warm wet black and brown eyes, such as those on koalas? Or wagging tails? Bats' ears? Cat tails? Anything fuzzier to the feel than the iceberg lettuce mentioned? Or green? How about something that actually gestates its offspring? Seeds simply don't cut it.


    If a plant were asked, would it consent in principle to being plucked, shredded, and then masticated, even boiled or parched first? How do you know? Maybe an unheard scream is all they can manage.
  • Artemis
    1.1k


    As has been previously stated, they don't have nervous systems or brains, and so are incapable of thought or feeling.
  • gloaming
    104
    You should hope so. I, however, labour under no such obligation.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    We have no more choice about consuming other life forms than any other creature.
    — Bitter Crank

    That's clearly wrong, since some if us do choose not to.

    Also, you already admitted to just being a troll.
    NKBJ

    Don't troll me, young whippersnapper!

    What I said was we have no choice about consuming "other life forms" which includes what fruitarians, vegans, and finally, omnivores eat. Other life forms like spinach, oysters, cows, and termites.

    What I said you may not like, but disagreeing with you a troll does not me make.
  • Artemis
    1.1k


    You said:
    I don't care what you say!Bitter Crank

    So clearly you're not interested in actual discussion.
  • RosettaStoned
    29
    If it's for a good cause, then you're absolutely correct.
  • Artemis
    1.1k
    Well, really nothing is immoral/moral unless you dictate to be in your own head.RosettaStoned

    If it's for a good cause, then you're absolutely correct.RosettaStoned

    Those statements contain absolutely contradictory metaethical positions.
  • RosettaStoned
    29
    Yeah, I just realized you were talking about that statement and not the other one, sorry. But still, you're 100% correct. there is no law of the Universe that states "killing babies and raping women and whatnot is wrong!" Therefore, it isn't "wrong" in general. I would definitely shame you if you did these actions, but (a.) nothing really gives me the right to, and (b.) you technically have the right to do that. Really, even the moral standings of a god doesn't dictate that you shouldn't do something, as their standings also have no meaning, just like ours.
  • Bitter Crank
    8.1k
    379
    ↪Bitter Crank

    You said:
    I don't care what you say!
    — Bitter Crank

    So clearly you're not interested in actual discussion.
    NKBJ

    So, that was your evidence of trolling. What you took to be trolling was hyperbole. Any sort of off-beat humor is difficult in on-line communications because there are no expressions, gestures, voice, etc. which would aid the receiver in interpreting how serious a given sentence was intended. And then there are literalists who take everything at face value.

    So by my fault, by my most grievous fault... grovel, grovel, grovel.
  • Artemis
    1.1k
    you technically have the right to do that.RosettaStoned

    If you don't believe in morality, you don't believe in rights either.

    And, I agree, the universe doesn't give a hoot what we do to each other. But we are moral creatures. But just because humans make morality doesn't mean it's random, illogical, or whatever you want it to be on whatever whim you have.
  • RosettaStoned
    29
    But just because humans make morality doesn't mean it's random, illogical, or whatever you want it to be on whatever whim you have.
    You assume order to things gives them meaning. Just because we have been evolutionary selected to be more likely to care for one another does not mean the Universe then bends itself to require things to care for one another. While I do believe in morality and rights, that does not mean I recognize them to be real. I know they are made up, but I like them. Why do you think people become so attached to fictional characters? Similar reasons, they find them favorable, despite the fact that they don't exist.
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment