• Artemis
    1.9k
    I know, I was only seeking to address the question of moral worthBitconnectCarlos

    That's contradictory. If you'd known that your example does not prove moral worth, you wouldn't have employed it to make a case about moral worth.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    But the interests of cows are not the same as our interests. Equally, we can farm cows without causing them harm (Graeme M

    Not every human shares your interests either. What's your point?

    And the "farming" of cows could only be done without harming them if you waited until they dropped dead of natural causes to eat their rotting carcasses.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    384


    Throughout this discussion I've been making the point that animals don't have as much moral worth as humans. I don't see how I'm being contradictory.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    Throughout this discussion I've been making the point that animals don't have as much moral worth as humans.BitconnectCarlos

    Pick a position please and then please actually try to make your case. First you use an example to show that they are not of the same worth, then you admit that your example cannot really prove anything about their moral value, and then you go back to saying they're not of the same worth as though you've made a case for that somehow, which you haven't... I mean... what exactly is your point? Or do you even know anymore?
  • Statilius
    60
    However much moral worth animals may have, what is the ethical justification for animal sacrifice when one knows one has a choice not to sacrifice them. When is it ethically justifiable to sacrifice another being when it is done merely for one's own personal pleasure? Is it our moral duty to minimize sacrifice in every corner of our lives whenever it is possible to do so, knowing all the while that it is impossible to eliminate it altogether?
  • Graeme M
    46
    Ethical vegans claim that the interests of other animals should be afforded the same weight of consideration as those of humans, which is fine. But there is no strong case for other animals actually having interests that might trump ours or even hold equal worth. For example, many vegans would say that humans have an interest in living on, as do other animals. I would suggest however that is not true - I propose that other animals have no interest in so doing, IF we are talking about an interest over and above a natural biological disposition.

    In regard to the harming of farmed animals, I suppose it depends on what you mean by harm. I tend to view harm in welfare terms - if I am harmed it reduces the extent of my happiness and well-being. On that view, a pig kept in an intensive farm where she suffers psychological trauma and/or physical disability is being harmed. However a beef steer on a free range farm may enjoy a life considerably better than his wild counterparts and on the whole may attain considerable happiness and well-being. His harm is minimal for being a farmed animal. Some would suggest that killing the steer is a harm, but I'd disagree if we do so in such a way as he is unaware of his death.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    Ethical vegans claim that the interests of other animals should be afforded the same weight of consideration as those of humans,Graeme M

    Well, actually only some vegans would make that claim. To be an ethical vegan only requires the recognition that the interests of a cow to live and be unharmed outweigh our interests to eat their carcasses for pleasure.

    I would suggest however that is not true - I propose that other animals have no interest in so doing, IF we are talking about an interest over and above a natural biological disposition.Graeme M

    I don't see how or why you're suddenly setting the goalpost at interests above natural biological ones? Don't humans have natural biological interests that we take very very seriously for no other reason than that they are our natural biological interests? Surely you wouldn't kill a baby, mentally disabled, perhaps very depressed person, or any other human being because the only interest they feel in continuing to live is a natural biological interest?

    But you contradict yourself here anyway:

    Some would suggest that killing the steer is a harm, but I'd disagree if we do so in such a way as he is unaware of his death.Graeme M

    Unless of course you actually meant to say "he is unaware of any pain associated with his death." Because otherwise you're admitting that it is harmful to take the life away from a creature who even "only" possesses a natural biological interest in continuing said life.

    However a beef steer on a free range farm may enjoy a life considerably better than his wild counterparts and on the whole may attain considerable happiness and well-being.Graeme M

    It's possible, but not the norm. You can't defend the meat-eating for the majority of people in the masses that humans do on the basis of some pastoral ideal that comprises perhaps about 1% of the entire meat industry. If we eradicated factory farms and the evils that go with it, the vast majority of people would still have to go vegan because there simply would not be enough meat to go around.

    Also, people like to suggest that "nature is red in tooth and claw," but if you look at the average day-in-the-life of a wild animal--especially a large, herding herbivore like a cow-- it is (or would be) pretty pleasant.

    And even if they did live better lives on farms, it's still not a good enough justification for killing them. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro is an excellent novel portraying why that would be immoral to do to humans, and I can't see an argument for why it would suddenly be okay to do to any other creature who values his or her life. "I treated you nicely for a while, now I'm allowed to kill you and harvest your body" just isn't a very good moral code.
  • DingoJones
    1.7k
    Throughout this discussion I've been making the point that animals don't have as much moral worth as humans. I don't see how I'm being contradictory.BitconnectCarlos

    I dont think youre really contradicting yourself, but a vegan can make a strong point about using a scale of moral worth simply by asking about where different kinds of humans fit on that scale. If some humans have lesser moral worth is it ok to eat them? (Barring any health issues concerning cannibalism of course.)
  • BitconnectCarlos
    384


    Pick a position please and then please actually try to make your case. First you use an example to show that they are not of the same worth, then you admit that your example cannot really prove anything about their moral value, and then you go back to saying they're not of the same worth as though you've made a case for that somehow, which you haven't... I mean... what exactly is your point? Or do you even know anymore?

    I don't need to pick a position in regard to meat eating vs. vegetarianism. I didn't create this thread with the idea that people were going to come along and try to defeat my argument. I didn't even make much of an argument in the OP; I just speculated that any ethical justification of meat eating presupposes speciesism (i.e. the idea the humans have an elevated moral worth over that of animals) and this speciesism makes sense to me. That's it. We could accept speciesism and still argue that meat eating is wrong.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    don't need to pick a position in regard to meat eating vs. vegetarianism.BitconnectCarlos

    I didn't ask you to. My post was all about your waffling on animal and human moral value.
  • Graeme M
    46
    To be an ethical vegan only requires the recognition that the interests of a cow to live and be unharmed outweigh our interests to eat their carcasses for pleasure.Artemis

    Well, that's more or less my point. I am saying the cow does not have an express interest in living. When I speak about a "biological" disposition, I am speaking about an inherited behaviour to avoid damage. Animals, indeed all organisms (including plants) have evolved defences against damage. There is no actual intent here, it is a blind evolutionary outcome. A cow's desire to live on is not really such, it is the evolutionary imperative of reproducing successfully. Just like a potato plant. Humans on the other hand have the abstract idea that they can die, so our interest in living on is an express one (as well as the underlying biological disposition).

    Cow's also have a desire to avoid harm, as do we. Again, it's largely an evolved defence but it IS accompanied by painful feelings so for both us and the cow there is an actual desire or interest. If a cow could speak, it couldn't say that it doesn't want to die, but it could say it doesn't want to be hurt. I would suggest that we can farm cows in such a way as not to cause them harm, day to day (ie, pain and suffering).

    In regards to the difference between the interests of a non-imapired human and an impaired or immature human, the reason for that moral duty is nothing to do with the biological interests of the person, but rather some broader species-specific interest. Put another way, in our society we are of the view that babies and impaired persons attract the right to life merely because they are human. In other times and places, that moral duty may not apply (for example, utilitarians may believe there is a strong case for euthanising persons with severe disability).

    In this context, we have come to see other humans as deserving of rights that trump any interest we might have in depriving them of life (eg it is murder to kill your severely impaired daughter). But this may merely be a matter of convention, subject to change in the future. It would only remain so if we believe that the course of ethics is to improve our beliefs and behaviours. I'm not sure that an evolutionary/historical account would bear that out.

    On the other hand, our interests in using other animals for life sustaining purposes of ours may still trump their interests in avoiding harm (again, I am of the view that if we don't harm them day to day, then there is no interest we have quashed by using them to our ends). The real question is how much harm we agree is acceptable to cause them. Vegans would ask that we harm them not at all.

    Unless of course you actually meant to say "he is unaware of any pain associated with his death." Because otherwise you're admitting that it is harmful to take the life away from a creature who even "only" possesses a natural biological interest in continuing said life.Artemis

    I'm not quite sure of your argument here. Yes, of course, feeling pain when being killed is a harm. If the steer, you or me can be killed without pain, then we have not been harmed in that sense. However, there is a broader sense in which death is not a harm. Harms accrue to living beings. Once dead, you do not exist and cannot be harmed. So, if in killing you I cause you no pain, you are not harmed. And once dead, no harm can accrue. So there is no harm in killing someone painlessly, at least not to them.

    The best we can say is that death thwarts our future potential but I consider that an uncertain claim for the reason that we cannot say what that potential is. It may be that if I don't kill you today, you will die from a heart attack tomorrow. Of course, your death will cause harm (suffering) to those that love you or have some close personal relationship with you, so we do consider that of relevance in the human case. I am not convinced that is such an issue with other animals. It seems to be with elephants, for example, but I'm not sure it is with cattle. It's probably an open question whether a typical herd suffers from the loss of any of their number. I believe The Last Pig does, if the movie of the same name is any guide.

    If we eradicated factory farms and the evils that go with it, the vast majority of people would still have to go vegan because there simply would not be enough meat to go around.Artemis

    I completely disagree. How could you possibly come to that conclusion?

    Also, people like to suggest that "nature is red in tooth and claw," but if you look at the average day-in-the-life of a wild animal--especially a large, herding herbivore like a cow-- it is (or would be) pretty pleasant.Artemis

    I think that claim is subject to scrutiny. I suspect that on average, a wild animal's life is quite stressful and filled with suffering. In fact, I suspect that the vast majority of those born do not make it to sexual maturity which must bias the odds in favour of suffering outweighing happiness. It's worth considering the fact that in everyday terms, we cannot do much to alleviate the suffering of wild animals. The farmer on the other hand, can do a great deal to alleviate the suffering of farmed animals. On balance, it should be the case that a farmed animal subjected to ethical methods should experience more happiness and far less suffering than a wild animal.
  • BitconnectCarlos
    384


    I didn't ask you to. My post was all about your waffling on animal and human moral value.

    What waffling did I do? We're on a forum, you can quote me on it. I thought that I've always been clear that my suspicion here - what I'm inclined to - is the view that humans do have a more elevated moral worth than animals. Show me where I'm contradicting myself.
  • HannahPledger
    4
    You don't have to think the value of a human and a cow are on par with each other to agree with the ethics of veganism. It is more to the point that the moral value of a cow is worth more than the temporary pleasure you get from eating its body.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    Show me where I'm contradicting myself.BitconnectCarlos

    I already did.
  • Graeme M
    46
    It is more to the point that the moral value of a cow is worth more than the temporary pleasure you get from eating its body.HannahPledger

    In respect to an individual's moral beliefs and choices, yes, that's pretty much true. But at a broader level I think it's much more complex than that. Humans do gain considerably from the use of other animals in a variety of ways, not the least of which being food. It's not simply a case of pleasure. For example, eating at MacDonald's is, I'd suggest, tantamount to killing other animals for fun. However, eating a healthy Meditteranean style diet whilst ensuring as far as practicable to source plants and meats from ethical sources is not. In the former case I think your statement is true, but not in the latter case. Then we have a few more matters to consider before we can make confident ethical statements that might be regarded as globally applicable.
  • HannahPledger
    4
    You have stated that in the case of a Mediterranean diet it is morally justifiable to kill animals to eat them, but provided no argument or evidence supporting the stance. I reject the notion that there is an ethical source of meat. While I agree that the Mediterranean is healthier than the standard western diet, I think it is also at this point incontrovertible that you can live healthily on a vegan diet, therefore the killing of the animal is unnecessary and therefore unjustifiable.
  • Graeme M
    46
    The point I am making is that it isn't justified to you but it is to a great many other people. The only way to change the other people is to prosecute a strong case for why it's immoral to use animals for our benefits in all possible cases. I don't think it is easy to do that. Many of the standard arguments fall short, as far as I can see. Put it this way, there is nothing wrong with an animal eating another animal. That is how nature and evolution works. The only way it can be wrong for us to do so is if we come to believe it to be wrong. In order to believe that, we need good defensible reasons to adopt that belief. Just saying so isn't a good reason.
  • ernestm
    881
    There was vegan my mother decided to have sex with for a couple of months, now he had some strange ideas, like cowfields should not have fences around them, and cars should not drive faster than 5mph in case they hit a free-roaming animal. I used to have ideals and things but after him it was just too weird.
  • HannahPledger
    4
    Ok so you're a moral subjectivist then whereas I believe in objective morality so we fundamentally disagree there, but I don't think that really matters in the case of this argument. It is immoral to use animals to our own benefit but to their demise because there is a victim in this act. We should extend similar moral consideration to animals because they feel pain and have a will to live as we do. It does not matter that they are less intelligent just like it it is not justifiable to kill a human who is less intelligent, such as someone who is mentally retarded or has similar impairments. They desire a life without suffering and exploitation and therefore we should not deprive them of that considering we don't have to. Using history and nature as a justification is a fallacy as we have committed many unjustifiable acts in nature as do many animals, such as rape, cannibalism, exploitation and the enslaving of fellow humans. This does not make those acts moral, as we have refined our thought and evolved beyond accepting those behaviours as "part of nature" and "the way of the world" as we should with eating/exploiting animals. We have moral agency unlike lions who kill without thought, and we also can live healthily without meat which lions can not. Where you claim it is hard to argue against animal exploitation I would counter that it is almost impossible to argue for the consumption of animals on a moral level in modern civilised society.
  • Graeme M
    46
    This does not make those acts moral, as we have refined our thought and evolved beyond accepting those behaviours as "part of nature" and "the way of the world" as we should with eating/exploiting animalsHannahPledger

    Historical facts about the world explain why the world is how it is but don't tell us what acts are moral or immoral. That decision requires thought, as you note, and agreement. Facts about the world inform that decision making process. Some facts advanced in favour of extending moral prohibitions against animal use are are not true facts, for example claiming that other animals desire not to be exploited or have an express wish not to die. I agree that the capacity for other animals to have bad experiences demands an ethical consideration. It seems a leap though to say that using another animal in circumstances where they do not have a bad experience (or at most have limited bad experiences) should be prohibited, regardless of the benefits to us.
  • Echarmion
    1.3k
    They desire a life without suffering and exploitation and therefore we should not deprive them of that considering we don't have to.HannahPledger

    That's a difficult point to prove though. How do we know what animals desire? Aren't we simply anthropomorphising animals by ascribing human-like desires to them?

    We have moral agency unlike lions who kill without thought, and we also can live healthily without meat which lions can not.HannahPledger

    This raises a problematic issue though. Because while the lion kills without thought, it certainly does so with the implied consent of humans. The issue is more pronounced if you look at projects reintroducing predators like wolves into a habitat. Being killed by some wild animal is often accompanied with a lot of stress and pain. Do we therefore have a moral imperative to stop wild animals from killing other animals where possible?

    "If we eradicated factory farms and the evils that go with it, the vast majority of people would still have to go vegan because there simply would not be enough meat to go around."
    — Artemis

    I completely disagree. How could you possibly come to that conclusion?
    Graeme M

    The sheer amounts of meat produced and consumed seem to preclude any significant consideration for animal welfare. Without factory farms, the prices would skyrocket well beyond what most people can afford.

    There is also the rather significant waste of resources associated with meat production.
  • Graeme M
    46
    This raises a problematic issue though. Because while the lion kills without thought, it certainly does so with the implied consent of humans. The issue is more pronounced if you look at projects reintroducing predators like wolves into a habitat. Being killed by some wild animal is often accompanied with a lot of stress and pain. Do we therefore have a moral imperative to stop wild animals from killing other animals where possible?Echarmion

    An interesting perspective on this is to consider if we return to the wild land currently under crops (to feed animals) or used to farm cattle and sheep. Presumably, the presence of wild populations will result in considerable harms to the wild animals now living on those lands. For example, injury, disease, exposure to weather extremes, predation and so on. While much of this probably happens to smaller animals, it could be the case that there is much more general harm and suffering to rewilded lands than were the land to remain under human agriculture. While we could argue that we don't have any moral duty to wild animals that exist naturally, is that still the case if we rewild lands? The resulting suffering stems from our actions.

    The sheer amounts of meat produced and consumed seem to preclude any significant consideration for animal welfare. Without factory farms, the prices would skyrocket well beyond what most people can afford.Echarmion

    Well, maybe. But in the West especially we eat far more meat than we need to. In a world without factory farms, there'd be a lot less meat available and it might be more expensive, but there'd still be considerable demand. Equally, we might reduce the quantity of meat eaten - it might become more of an accepted part of a balanced diet. I agree that we should accept we have a moral duty to eradicate low welfare high intensity animal farming, I am not as confident the same applies to high welfare free range type farming. I also don't think that such a state would lead to most people eating vegan meals - I would foresee something more like the Meditteranean diet. Mostly plants, some meat. Then there's no need to worry about Omega 3, B12, etc supplements.
  • Artemis
    1.9k


    "Well, that's more or less my point. I am saying the cow does not have an express interest in living. When I speak about a "biological" disposition, I am speaking about an inherited behaviour to avoid damage. Animals, indeed all organisms (including plants) have evolved defences against damage. There is no actual intent here, it is a blind evolutionary outcome. A cow's desire to live on is not really such, it is the evolutionary imperative of reproducing successfully. Just like a potato plant. Humans on the other hand have the abstract idea that they can die, so our interest in living on is an express one (as well as the underlying biological disposition).

    Cow's also have a desire to avoid harm, as do we. Again, it's largely an evolved defence but it IS accompanied by painful feelings so for both us and the cow there is an actual desire or interest. If a cow could speak, it couldn't say that it doesn't want to die, but it could say it doesn't want to be hurt. I would suggest that we can farm cows in such a way as not to cause them harm, day to day (ie, pain and suffering)."

    So first of all, I’d like to know how you think you know what a cow would or could say if a cow could speak?
    What we do know, based on the studies of animal behaviorists, psychologists, neurologists, etc etc. is that animals show the same or at least very similar reactions in the face of danger as humans do. Plants do not. Since plants don’t have brains, the suggestion that animal reactions to danger were similar to plant reactions is just kinda ludicrous on the face of it. But that aside, we have a preponderance of evidence that animals do feel as we do in the face of danger, and a total lack of evidence that they are missing something.

    "In regards to the difference between the interests of a non-imapired human and an impaired or immature human, the reason for that moral duty is nothing to do with the biological interests of the person, but rather some broader species-specific interest. Put another way, in our society we are of the view that babies and impaired persons attract the right to life merely because they are human. In other times and places, that moral duty may not apply (for example, utilitarians may believe there is a strong case for euthanising persons with severe disability)."

    Utilitarians only believe there is a strong case for euthanizing disabled persons who are acutely suffering, actually. And they do not advocate for it on the basis of species-bonds, but on the individual’s experiences and out of concern that the life of such a person is less pleasurable than painful.

    In this context, we have come to see other humans as deserving of rights that trump any interest we might have in depriving them of life (eg it is murder to kill your severely impaired daughter). But this may merely be a matter of convention, subject to change in the future. It would only remain so if we believe that the course of ethics is to improve our beliefs and behaviours. I'm not sure that an evolutionary/historical account would bear that out.

    "On the other hand, our interests in using other animals for life sustaining purposes of ours may still trump their interests in avoiding harm (again, I am of the view that if we don't harm them day to day, then there is no interest we have quashed by using them to our ends). The real question is how much harm we agree is acceptable to cause them. Vegans would ask that we harm them not at all."

    We’re not killing animals to sustain our own lives. We’re doing so to enhance the pleasure of our own lives. Big difference.

    "I'm not quite sure of your argument here. Yes, of course, feeling pain when being killed is a harm. If the steer, you or me can be killed without pain, then we have not been harmed in that sense. However, there is a broader sense in which death is not a harm. Harms accrue to living beings. Once dead, you do not exist and cannot be harmed. So, if in killing you I cause you no pain, you are not harmed. And once dead, no harm can accrue. So there is no harm in killing someone painlessly, at least not to them."

    Is that going to be your plea to the judge when convicted of murdering and eating your neighbor?

    "The best we can say is that death thwarts our future potential but I consider that an uncertain claim for the reason that we cannot say what that potential is. It may be that if I don't kill you today, you will die from a heart attack tomorrow. Of course, your death will cause harm (suffering) to those that love you or have some close personal relationship with you, so we do consider that of relevance in the human case. I am not convinced that is such an issue with other animals. It seems to be with elephants, for example, but I'm not sure it is with cattle. It's probably an open question whether a typical herd suffers from the loss of any of their number. I believe The Last Pig does, if the movie of the same name is any guide."

    “How Animals Grieve” by Barbara King is an excellent resource on the matter. There are numerous other books and accounts that describe the grief herd animals go through when one of their own, especially their offspring, are taken or killed.


    "If we eradicated factory farms and the evils that go with it, the vast majority of people would still have to go vegan because there simply would not be enough meat to go around.— Artemis

    I completely disagree. How could you possibly come to that conclusion?"

    You can disagree as completely or incompletely as you like, but that doesn’t change the fact that our current meat-consumption habits are dependent on the mass-production only a factory farm can afford. 99% of our meat comes from the factories. We don’t have the farm land or labor force necessary to sustain both the pastoral ideal and our overconsumption.


    "Also, people like to suggest that "nature is red in tooth and claw," but if you look at the average day-in-the-life of a wild animal--especially a large, herding herbivore like a cow-- it is (or would be) pretty pleasant.— Artemis

    I think that claim is subject to scrutiny. I suspect that on average, a wild animal's life is quite stressful and filled with suffering. In fact, I suspect that the vast majority of those born do not make it to sexual maturity which must bias the odds in favour of suffering outweighing happiness. It's worth considering the fact that in everyday terms, we cannot do much to alleviate the suffering of wild animals. The farmer on the other hand, can do a great deal to alleviate the suffering of farmed animals. On balance, it should be the case that a farmed animal subjected to ethical methods should experience more happiness and far less suffering than a wild animal."

    You suspect it is stressful, but again, you’re just throwing claims out there in the hopes that they might be true or true enough to make your case.

    Grazing herd animals when found in the wild are not constantly being picked off and eaten. They do not reproduce quickly enough for that to be the case. Animals like mosquitoes get picked off by the hundreds before they lay eggs—which is why they lay hundreds of eggs. But even if it were true that animals get eaten in the wild too… I mean that just suggests their life in the wild might be as bad as being in captivity and doomed to the slaughterhouse. That certainly doesn’t justify the act of killing on the part of any moral agent.

    But again, even if you were right about all that, you still come back to a moral theory which suggests “I did you a good, now I’m allowed to do you a bad” which is just obviously and completely bankrupt—especially a system in which you are allowed to force the good and then therefore the bad on unwilling or at least non-consenting participants.
  • Graeme M
    46
    What we do know, based on the studies of animal behaviorists, psychologists, neurologists, etc etc. is that animals show the same or at least very similar reactions in the face of danger as humans do. Plants do not. Since plants don’t have brains, the suggestion that animal reactions to danger were similar to plant reactions is just kinda ludicrous on the face of it. But that aside, we have a preponderance of evidence that animals do feel as we do in the face of danger, and a total lack of evidence that they are missing something.Artemis

    I think you misunderstood what I said. I suggested that all organisms, including plants, have damage avoidance behaviours. Sessile organisms like plants evolve rather different tactics to motile organisms like animals, but the underlying selector if you like is the risk of damage. So cows and humans avoid being harmed because they do not want to be damaged. That is different from not wanting to die.

    We’re not killing animals to sustain our own lives. We’re doing so to enhance the pleasure of our own lives. Big difference.Artemis

    I agree there isn't a good defence for using animals for pleasure. That includes say horse racing, fox hunting, cosmetic testing, fast food, perhaps even fine dining. But we do use animals for positive human benefits such as clothing, pharmaceuticals, food and so on. Some argue in favour of animal testing for medicine but I'm not convinced of that! So consider my arguments framed in the context of those animal uses that are able to be defended on valid grounds (ie there is some actual genuine value for us).

    “How Animals Grieve” by Barbara King is an excellent resource on the matter. There are numerous other books and accounts that describe the grief herd animals go through when one of their own, especially their offspring, are taken or killed.Artemis

    I do have several books on this topic yet to read, but from the research I have read, I am willing to bet they aren't grieving for a loss understood in the abstract as humans do. The loss of an offspring might cause a grief response in all animals including humans, for good reason. Similarly herd animals may grieve the loss of members. But I suggest that is a response to loss alone (and primarily reflects a personal state - the loss means that the animal will no longer gain something from the presence of the other) and doesn't represent an understanding that they might suffer a similar fate.

    I covered this in my response earlier. A cow might grieve the loss of a calf or a fellow cow. But it doesn't follow that she knows that she can die. So when we kill a cow quickly and painlessly, I am suggesting it is not a harm to that individual. It may cause grief to others but I don't know how much that affects a typical domestic bovine. Many dairy farmers claim that dairy cows show only limited reaction to loss of a calf. I'm not able to say anything about that.

    You can disagree as completely or incompletely as you like, but that doesn’t change the fact that our current meat-consumption habits are dependent on the mass-production only a factory farm can afford. 99% of our meat comes from the factories. We don’t have the farm land or labor force necessary to sustain both the pastoral ideal and our overconsumption.Artemis

    Agreed, and I thought I made that clear above. I am not defending intensive animal farming sytems or over-consumption.

    In regard to wild animal suffering, from my reading and thinking on this I think it more likely that suffering predominates in nature. Brian Tomasik has several essays that tackle this issue and that is broadly his conclusion.

    https://longtermrisk.org/the-importance-of-wild-animal-suffering/

    “I did you a good, now I’m allowed to do you a bad”Artemis

    If we agree to that standard then it holds true. It's that simple. There is no ultimate moral code, we answer to no-one but ourselves and natural circumstance. If we must use other animals for a good reason - and there seem to be such reasons - then it is up to us to decide whether we should to do that ethically.

    I think we should.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    So consider my arguments framed in the context of those animal uses that are able to be defended on valid grounds (ie there is some actual genuine value for us).Graeme M

    You'll have to be more specific, because other than animal use for food (which is only of pleasure value and not genuine value), I'm not sure what your example of the pasture-raised and painlessly-killed steer is supposed to defend.

    So cows and humans avoid being harmed because they do not want to be damaged. That is different from not wanting to die.Graeme M

    So... now you're saying humans don't care about dying either? And if you think humans do... why in the world would you think animals do not possess the same fear? Just because you haven't heard them say it in so many words? That seems rather self-serving considering evolutionary theory alone tells us that any capability we find in one animal exists to varying degrees in others as well. Unless you are religious and believe some supernatural creature endowed us with abilities other animals don't have? At which point this conversation is moot, as we wouldn't have enough common ground to continue.

    A cow might grieve the loss of a calf or a fellow cow. But it doesn't follow that she knows that she can die.Graeme M

    Your entire argument seems to boil down to "but we don't KNOW that the cow thinks x, y, or z" without any reason to suggest that she wouldn't. Again, we have all the evidence in the world which leads to the strong inference that she does, and no evidence to support the inference that she wouldn't. Perhaps you are adverse to inferential logic, but in the realm of ethics and real-world problems, that's usually all we got.

    Brian TomasikGraeme M

    I think his essays look pretty well-crafted for an amateur (he seems to know how to put together a bibliography), but I don't know that he's any kind of authority on the matter either by academic virtue or via field work. Most of his essays just seem to posit hypotheticals. He himself admits right upfront that his view is controversial... although there he fails to suggest to the reader where these alternative views might be found... not very promising. I mean who disagrees with him besides Singer? Does he take up the alternative views of neurologists, animal behaviorists, etc? Not as far as I can tell.

    There is no ultimate moral code, we answer to no-one but ourselves and natural circumstance. If we must use other animals for a good reason - and there seem to be such reasons - then it is up to us to decide whether we should to do that ethically.Graeme M

    This is just so convoluted, I'm not sure how to begin unwrapping it.

    What are "good reasons" and what does it mean to do something "ethically" if we answer to "no one but ourselves" and there is "no ultimate moral code"? You are, in the space of a single paragraph, jumping from radical moral relativism to the ideal of an objective morality--or at least are being so sloppy with your language that you seem to be doing this.

    Another point of sloppiness--how do you propose I try to "answer to [...] natural circumstance"?

    I could get into the nitty-gritty of your having thus far not provided any good reasons for killing animals, especially not for food (and might I remind you, this thread is about vegetarianism and meat-eating)... BUT I think it's better to first let you clarify what your metaethical position is before we dive any further into applied ethics.
  • Graeme M
    46
    You'll have to be more specific, because other than animal use for food (which is only of pleasure value and not genuine value), I'm not sure what your example of the pasture-raised and painlessly-killed steer is supposed to defend.Artemis

    I have already pointed to the many uses of farmed animals - for food, clothing, pharmaceuticals, etc. I am sure you can find many more. That said, I agree that in the context of the OP we are largely only talking about as food. Food seems to be something of a benefit to us, I'd suggest.

    So... now you're saying humans don't care about dying either? And if you think humans do... why in the world would you think animals do not possess the same fear? Just because you haven't heard them say it in so many words? That seems rather self-serving considering evolutionary theory alone tells us that any capability we find in one animal exists to varying degrees in others as well.Artemis

    I think you are deliberately seeking to misunderstand. I did not say humans don't care about dying, I said they do because they can entertain the abstract notion of personal existence over time. I think I am safe to claim that cows do not. So, humans are afraid of death, cows are not. But both humans and cows have evolutionarily derived fears of harm, because those fears have been selected for (for obvious reasons). There is a significant distinction between fear of harm and fear of death.

    Here is how that could ensue in practice as a result of this fact about things. Take a herd of cows. Place a large screen nearby. Take one cow at a time behind the screen and shoot her to death with a single gunshot. The noise will startle the herd but they will settle. Now, remove the dead cow such that no lingering trace of her death is able to be detected. I suggest you can lead every one of those cows behind the screen and kill her and each will be quite happy to go.

    Try the same with a group of humans free to talk to each other. Will each be happy to go?

    The former case happens all the time. The latter never.

    Your entire argument seems to boil down to "but we don't KNOW that the cow thinks x, y, or z" without any reason to suggest that she wouldn't. Again, we have all the evidence in the world which leads to the strong inference that she does, and no evidence to support the inference that she wouldn't.Artemis

    No, I think we have mountains of empirical evidence that cows do NOT know they can die.

    Re Tomasik (example) and wild animal suffering, here we will just have to disagree. There are those who claim that the life of the wild animal is mostly stress free, and for some kinds of animals that may be true (it may have been for free roaming kangaroos 1000 years ago, for example), but it probably is not the case for many other species (eg birds, mice, zebra, etc). On balance, I think pain, suffering and stress predominate in nature. You could choose to read the many references Tomasik includes in his article, many of which are empirical studies.

    What are "good reasons" and what does it mean to do something "ethically" if we answer to "no one but ourselves" and there is "no ultimate moral code"? You are, in the space of a single paragraph, jumping from radical moral relativism to the ideal of an objective morality--or at least are being so sloppy with your language that you seem to be doing this.Artemis

    It worries me that such a simple and clear statement confuses you. That probably explains much of your commentary.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    It worries me that such a simple and clear statement confuses you. That probably explains much of your commentaryGraeme M

    It seemed at first like you were a smart and interesting new interlocutor. Now you're becoming unpleasant, and I don't have the time or patience for that. Best wishes for your future endeavors though.
  • DingoJones
    1.7k


    Its true, it does seem like youre deliberately misunderstanding him. It does come across as strange that the sentence you referenced with quotes needed to be explained. Just because you feel what he expressed is unpleasant doesnt mean its not true.
    Its not like he said anything more out of line than you have, careful of the glass house.
    I was enjoying the exchange, i think he posed an interesting challenge to the vegan pov. So far you havent answered it, I think you need to read his points more charitably, and you will see he’s making a fair, logical point.
  • Graeme M
    46
    well put. Artemis seems to me to have deliberately distorted my comments in order to be disparaging. For the record, if pushed I would label my ethical view as "vegan".
  • DingoJones
    1.7k


    There must be some term for what your saying here. Its a vegan ethic applied to a more narrow spectrum of animal based on mental capacity. It seems no more or less arbitrary than normal veganism.
    Are you the first Neo-Vegan?
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