• Braindead
    37
    Considering the real world, ethics may just be a privilege. I just recently read a scenario which seems relevant in which there was essentially an apocalypse and humans had no hope for the future. In the scenario presented, humans acted just like beasts and lived for self-satisfaction when the sudden realization of imminent demise was upon them. While it would be difficult to predict a realistic conclusion, in life or death situations ethics has no place. However, it is exactly because we are not in a life or death situation, nor the animals we contain in our farms and breeding grounds, that ethics has its own place. As for eating meat, depriving yourself of natural nutrients out of sympathy for unknown animals halfway around the world is ridiculous, though I won’t tell anyone not to. Similarly, over-eating meat indicates low self control. Harming animals in general without good reason seems impulsive and childish to some extent, there are more proactive ways to vent that are less psychopathic.
  • Graeme M
    52
    I don't know about neo-veganism, all I have in mind is that my moral scope is aimed at including other animals as seems best. I don't believe that in the world we have it is possible or even desirable that humans never use or harm other animals but by the same token I'd like to think we give the matter fair consideration before we do so. I don't like the idea of veganism, I'd rather that just as we've been refining our general societal ethical framework in terms of humans we'd extend that to include other animals more than we do now. So "vegan ethics" wouldn't be a thing, there'd just be ethics which incorporates other animals.

    Do you really think that a stance that evaluates an ethical duty on the basis of relevant mental states is arbitrary? I wouldn't have thought so, it seems a sound basis for a starting point. To me, vegans eating pumpkins but not oysters seems pretty arbitrary!
  • DingoJones
    1.9k


    Well I said it was no more or less arbitrary. I just meant to put them on the same footing.
  • Artemis
    1.9k


    As sweet as it is for you to sweep to your friend's defense here, both of you have only suggested how obvious and clear G's statement was without actually elaborating on what it was he was saying. I pointed out what was incongruous in his paragraph... an issue neither of you have of yet even attempted to address.

    I'd be extremely curious to see that if in a sort of blind test you both could produce the same interpretation of his words considering the contradiction in his fundamental ethical position he displayed.
  • DingoJones
    1.9k


    Not a friend, Ive only interacted with him on this thread as far as I know and I wouldn't be defending anyone based on friendship anyway. This is an example of whats been mentioned to you...applying a little charity goes a long way. You assume that I didnt have a good reason to chime in...try assuming that I do.
    Further, and Im not trying to be rude here, you didnt really point anything out about incongruity. You think you did, but you missed the point of what was being said and ended up (unintentionally it seems) straw manning him. He hasnt addressed what you said because its incorrect. There is no contradiction. You should focus on what people are trying to communicate rather than cherry picking phrases or words to leverage a dismissal of what they are saying.
    I mean, just look at how you ended your last post...suggesting that a blind test would expose low motives or some other invalid thinking. (Not sure if youre trying to imply bias or dishonesty or what).
    You have no real basis for thinking that, and its the sort of thing that makes it difficult to have a real discussion. Are you interested in discussion or playing “gotchya!”?
  • Artemis
    1.9k


    Still waiting for you to enlighten me as to his true meaning....?
  • DingoJones
    1.9k


    You say waiting, I say ignoring valid criticisms. You will need to address those first because as it stands your attitude and mistakes mentioned above are preventing you from being “enlightened”. If you do not address the criticisms, I have no reason to believe you wouldn't just commit them again and thereby waste my time in explaining anything. Also, its already been laid out, if there is something specific you need clarification on then tell me what it is and Ill try and explain it.
    Im just trying to get you to be more charitable and open minded because I was enjoying watching the exchange and would like to see it continue (if you remember, you ejected from the discussion not too many posts ago)
  • Artemis
    1.9k


    Soooo, you got nothing and continue to evade--frankly, I'm not surprised. Let me know when/if you ever figure it out.
  • DingoJones
    1.9k


    You are evading madame, not me. You arent even paying attention to what Im writing, i specifically addressed this sort of response by expressing exactly why that particular query of yours isnt being answered.
    One, its already been laid out. You failed to understand the point made and offered an invalid criticism (contradiction where there is none.)
    Two, you have ignored being called out on your mistake. Even if I am wrong with those criticisms you should still address them by showing how they are wrong instead of just ignoring them. Ignoring them is what makes you in fact the one who is evading. If its a rise above it/high ground thing, please understand Im not trying to insult you or trying to hurt you. Im just noticing errors that are preventing the discussion from moving forward.
  • Artemis
    1.9k


    Nope, you still fail to address my concerns. Both of you have. It's a pretty simple request that someone be clear about their metaethics before continuing a conversation about applied ethics... His refusal to answer and his ungallant retort to this request were the end of the actual discussion. Everything else since has just been passing time amusingly.

    Since you, however, seem to have nothing yourself to add to the discussion, I will leave the two of you to your unfolding love story.
  • Outlander
    363


    Interesting. Never heard of metaethics before. :)

    Will have to look into that.
  • DingoJones
    1.9k
    Nope, you still fail to address my concerns. Both of you have. It's a pretty simple request that someone be clear about their metaethics before continuing a conversation about applied ethics... His refusal to answer and his ungallant retort to this request were the end of the actual discussion. Everything else since has just been passing time amusingly.Artemis

    Well he can answer what he likes, Im specifically addressing you and you are specifically ignoring it while using your incorrect initial assessment of what someone else said to aid in your continued evasion.

    Since you, however, seem to have nothing yourself to add to the discussion, I will leave the two of you to your unfolding love story.Artemis

    Just because its not swearing or direct insult doesnt make it any less childish or uncivil. Im being earnest with you here.
    I think you’ve misunderstood what that guy meant, and you wont even acknowledge the possibility enough to deny it. You just keep making the same demand and ignoring everything else like its a matter of principal. Is it? Do you have some rule about engaging with online criticism because the internet is such a cesspool? Is that it?
  • Outlander
    363


    Hey what's up. Kind of curious about what the root argument(s) is/are at this point as far as the recent posts.

    I've checked the quotes but still kinda foggy.

    Animals fear to die/feel emotion, no they don't, what does it matter they're animals, etc?

    Two opposing opinions. Not a big deal?
  • DingoJones
    1.9k


    They are only opposed opinions if one fails to recognise the distinction between where various animals (including humans) sit on the spectrum of certain mental capacities. My understanding is that Graeme is positing that the threshold on that spectrum can exclude many animals that the standard vegan does not based on certain mental traits/capacities.
    Its not contradictory because he is not including all animals when he says opposing things, he is referencing two different categories. (Created by the distinction made based in mental capacities/traits.)
    In order to show he is being contradictory, you would first have to show that the distinction he makes is not valid. No one has, and I don’t see how it can be done. Id like to though, just as soon as everyones on the same page about what he’s actually saying.
  • Outlander
    363


    Got it. Hey I just ate a few baby chicken embryos a few hours ago. Shoot I don't think there's an animal I haven't ate. Except for the cool ones of course. Bear, wolf, lion, cats and dogs, etc.

    For the sake of debate however. We'd consider hamsters to be 'low' on said spectrum right? Did you know they can learn their name and even respond to it? I'll never forget.. (actually this is the first time I recall it) I was I don't know how old, couldn't have been much more than 10. Was able to buy two hamsters. Plus the cage, bedding, feed, all that. I forget if they were both male or both female or one of each but, apparently they weren't supposed to be caged together. Long story short one day I woke up and couldn't see the other one. Found him in the corner of the thing with a wound on his underside alive but just laying there. Honestly to this day I couldn't tell you who was more traumatized.

    Pointless story I guess but a diehard biologist wouldn't discount the possibility of alien life. If this is so. You tell me. Do you think we'd be viewed much higher than a hamster on this 'spectrum' of yours?
  • DingoJones
    1.9k


    Its not my spectrum, but I find it difficult to imagine the specific traits mentioned would “phase out” at some point along the spectrum Considering how specific they are to human beings. Aliens advanced enough might have a different set of traits they use to create a spectrum then we could very easily not be in it but I think the threshold that qualifies humans would be maintained on the offered spectrum.
  • Artemis
    1.9k


    https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/metaethics/

    The SEP is as always a good resource for such things.

    In the framework of this discussion, it's about aligning oneself either with the notion of morality being objective or subjective. If it is in any sense the former, there is a conversation to be had. If the latter, well, nothing more to be said ethically as all discussion would be as useful as arguing about ice cream flavors.
  • Graeme M
    52
    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.Graeme M

    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

    Artemis, I am no philosopher so you may have to make do with "sloppy language". I suggest my statement is clear enough. I do not think there is an "objective" morality in the sense that morality is a singular natural property of the universe in the absence of minds to think about such things. Morality is, even that which exists within other species, context specific. In the case of we humans, I think it is also subject to general agreement. So yes, my position is essentially subjectivist. If we wish to strike a moral stance in relation to other animals, it cannot be - I contend - merely on the basis that they are animals. There has to be something more useful than this.

    Many vegans/activists come from the angle that the interests of other animals should be accorded the same consideration as those of humans. That's fine, but I maintain that there are considerable differences between the interests of other animals and those of humans. Some simply do not exist. Similarly, many also believe - for example, abolitionists - that pain and suffering are the key considerations. If a being cannot experience pain and suffering then we don't have to worry about moral duties in terms of the good and the bad to the individual. We must also consider the value to humans in the use of other animals.

    Some humans use and exploit and even kill other humans for their own benefit. While we do have some broadly agreed moral beliefs about this it is by no means a universal position and subject to change due to natural circumstance. If there are benefits to humans from the use of other animals - and there are - then we need to look to the possible range of animal properties we'd need to consider in determining just what ethical duty we owe them.

    Put more simply, any time we act ethically, we are acting according to the ethical standards that we as a group have agreed. We answer to no-one but ourselves.
  • Artemis
    1.9k


    First I'll say what I broadly agree with that you seem to be saying or implying. I agree that there is no objective source of ethics outside of human thought and logic. I also agree that there are many different interests between species and that humans especially have created idiosyncratic interests. Finally, I agree that it has historically benefited human progress to exploit animals, and that there may be an increasingly small number of reasons why we may have to continue doing so, at least for a little while longer. I think those reasons pretty much just boil down to medicinal ones at this point. We are not dependent on animals for any other materials anymore, like food or clothing.

    However, I would first of all caution you against a democratically chosen ethics (which is my best understanding of what you seem to be suggesting) as it has many logical and practical problems. They are too numerous to list all, but for starters, the interests of the majority do not always match interests of minorities. That's how you get slavery and caste systems and a thousand other kinds of exploitation and abuse. Without something like John Rawls' Veil,of Ignorance, you can't rely on the majority to make decisions in the best interests of the minority.

    Also, who gets a vote in this system? Does the African slave? Does the child? Does the cow? And although the latter two may not be able to vote practically speaking, shouldn't we have a system in place which considers their interests and those of any human or non-human that has interests but is unable to vote?

    What if the majority is lead astray by another Hitler? What do you do when people are making ethics based on wrong information? Was it ethical to hit wives before we had the science to prove that women are just as smart as men? Was it ethical to keep black slaves before we had the knowledge that they are just as human as whites?

    Etc etc.

    But another thought occured to me today re: wild animal suffering. It seems to me irrelevant whether wild animals do suffer more or less, because it's not like we're raising cattle that would otherwise be in the wild. We're not saving any animals from a life in the wild. We're not taking in wild animals as an act of grace, and we couldn't just release them into the wild if we all went vegan.
  • Graeme M
    52
    I don't have anything to say about the mechanics of deriving ethical attitudes within communities other than to note it's a process driven internally and may indeed result in what we might call "bad" ethical attitudes. I also tend to the view that many improvements in social justice terms only become viable when the economic argument is satisfied (eg, perhaps, slavery and equal participation in the workforce for women), but I won't pretend to have more than a cursory awareness of such things. My point is merely to note that social beliefs and attitudes in this regard spring from some kind of internal deliberation.

    I suspect the biggest obstacle to any kind of genuine representation for animals in the development of rights-based frameworks is simply species. It is much easier for humans to gain greater participation when the empirical evidence supports them (they are, after all, human) AND they can have their own say. Personally, I don't really object to this. I realise people can claim speciesism or appeals to nature in my stance, but the fact that the world we have depends upon inter-species competition and exploitation (as well as co-operation) is not to be ignored. There is no real reason I can see for us to have to disregard species as a factor in working out how to treat other animals. Relations between humans and other animals is not the same as relations between humans.

    As I noted, pretending that other animals perceive the world very much as we do or share similar interests or have cognitive capacities that approach ours isn't really helpful when the science tends to point in the opposite direction. That isn't to disparage other animals - they are very capable in their own ways, many do have quite rich cognitive and perceptual lives and we should do a lot better than we do in respecting them. I just am not convinced that respect has to amount to some kind of belief that we should never harm them or use them. I think we need a pragmatic definition for what "as far as is possible and practicable" means.

    Don't get me wrong though. The reason I endorse vegan ethics is because the philosophy places a genuine weight on the intrinsic value of other animals. That is, we actually care about them for themeselves. Other philosophies such as say reducetarianism are more self-focused. Plus of course veganism is broader and tackles issues such as animal testing, use of animals for sport and pleasure, indeed the whole gamut of human relations with other animals.

    By the way, I agree with you regarding the case for comparing wild animal suffering with that of farmed animals. I often have this conversation with farmers and they seem not to get it. We can't justify the harming of an animal we own on the basis that it's less of a harm than a wild animal suffers (indeed, the harms a farmed animal experiences are on the shoulders of the farmer). The two are not causally related in any way. Where I think wild animal suffering raises its head is in making a fair assessment of the harms we do and the extent to which we should cause them. I gave two examples earlier.

    One is crop related harms, which to my mind extends beyond just harvesting deaths. I have had a pretty fair go at tackling this and have read about all the genuine literature that seems to be out there and in the end, I think it probably is the case that not eating any animals comes out ahead (but only when we factor in farmed and wild-caught aquatic animals as well), but it's by no means a secure case. I think someone eating only range grazed beef and lamb could be doing less harm overall than an urban vegan, especially when we consider related factors such as ecological and environmental impacts. I kind of think that in the world have, it is overall better, for now at least, to have some animal farming. But I'd much rather it was informed by vegan ethics. I do have much more I could say on that.

    The other concern is that of wild animal suffering in the case that we abandon animal farming and return the land to nature. This would lead to much wild animal suffering and it's not clear to me that this is a gain. Grazing sheep and cattle in ethical and environmentally responsible ways can do much to manage the land by increasing local biodiversity, improving water cycles and so on. But more to the point, the responsible farmer can do much to alleviate animal suffering on his holdings. In particular, he can attend the needs and health of his herd far more so than most of us can do in regard to wild animals. Much farming land has been much changed by that use - in Australia, traditional animal ag methods have led to considerable degradation. To abandon that land to nature may not be a gain, while responsible farmers can do much to improve the land and ensure its sustainability into the future. Two very good books that cover that in the Australian context are Call of the Reed Warbler and The Wooleen Way. I have talked with both authors and they have a lot to say. Such people *should* be in the debate yet are so often excluded by the evangelical vegans/advocates.

    In the end, while I would like to see the world move to the least possible use and harm of other animals that we can attain, I don't know that the goal has to be abolitionism or even animal rights in the manner so many appear to endorse. Perhaps veganism could have greater influence if it were encouraged and expounded in a more genuinely meaningful way than by blind adherence to an often ill-considered ideology.
  • Artemis
    1.9k
    One is crop related harms, which to my mind extends beyond just harvesting deaths. I have had a pretty fair go at tackling this and have read about all the genuine literature that seems to be out there and in the end, I think it probably is the case that not eating any animals comes out ahead (but only when we factor in farmed and wild-caught aquatic animals as well), but it's by no means a secure case. I think someone eating only range grazed beef and lamb could be doing less harm overall than an urban vegan, especially when we consider related factors such as ecological and environmental impacts.Graeme M

    For one, I don't think it makes sense to compare the impact of the diets of a rural meat-eater with an urban vegan. So what if the rural meat-eater has a lesser environmental impact than an urban vegan? S/he'd have an even lesser impact as a rural vegan.

    As far as harvesting deaths go, let's do the math:

    There's about 100lbs of meat on the average deer (I'm using deer because as a wild animal we wouldn't even have to clear land for it to graze on). And about 715 calories per lb. That's 71,500 calories per deer.
    Soy yields on average 6 million calories per acre. There are 2.47 acres to a hectare. That's 14,820,000 calories per hectare.
    They estimate that about 15 animals are killed per hectare of crops. 14,820,000 divided by 15 is: 988,000 calories per dead animal. 988,000 divided by 71,500 is 13.8.

    Almost 14 times more animals are killed on a calorie for calorie basis when hunting deer than harvesting soy--which is not even one of the most calorie-dense crops.

    evangelical vegans/advocates.

    In the end, while I would like to see the world move to the least possible use and harm of other animals that we can attain, I don't know that the goal has to be abolitionism or even animal rights in the manner so many appear to endorse. Perhaps veganism could have greater influence if it were encouraged and expounded in a more genuinely meaningful way than by blind adherence to an often ill-considered ideology.
    Graeme M

    You see, when I see phrases like "evangelical vegan" or "blind adherence"... well that's another turn off to the conversation, because it just tells me you're already dismissing anything the other side has to say before I say it. It tells me you are not participating in this conversation in good faith.
  • Graeme M
    52
    For one, I don't think it makes sense to compare the impact of the diets of a rural meat-eater with an urban vegan.Artemis

    Let me clarify this. I wasn't comparing rural with urban. My point is that an urban, supermarket shopping omni can choose to eat only certain kinds of meat. The urban supermarket-shopping vegan will tend to buy plant foods that are sourced from large-scale industrialised cropping activities where harms are greatest (OK, this is an assumption, but when we think about ethical foods, we tend to think only of animals raised in high welfare conditions - it is rare in my experience to find ethically grown plant products). I agree that there are so many nuances to this question, my point is simply that it isn't always the case that crop related activities are without harm or are least harm.

    In regard to my use of emotive terms, my observation about the motivation of vegan evangelicism is grounded in the obvious behaviours of advocates in the public domain. In regard to the underlying value of the philosophy I don't need to be convinced, but if you don't notice that many vegan advocates tend to behave in a overly zealous manner (which frequently has the opposite effect to that desired) then I think you may not be taking an objective view of things. Their language is often emotionally charged and the claims frequently inaccurate or downright false. This opens the entire philosophy to trenchant criticism and its hard to defend a claim when the criticism so often hits the mark.

    At the end of the day, this is all just my opinion. I am not a thought leader nor a social influencer, heck, even my broader family is not persuaded by my views. Nonetheless, I have an avowed interest in encouraging people to adopt vegan ethics to whatever extent they feel comfortable with. Having spent several years invested in this, I have come to the disappointing conclusion that all too often the vegan "movement" is its own worst enemy.

    In regard to the original post that started this whole discussion, I don't think it is "speciesist" to use other animals. I do think human beings - as a general rule for treating the other humans in our lives - are more important than other animals. And I agree that we owe an ethical duty to the animals we do use.

    Now, regarding numbers, here are couple of pieces I wrote about that problem. One is a sort of review of a book published here in Australia a year or two back, the other is a response to a farming advocate who claimed she has shown beyond doubt that vegans kill more animals. I'd be interested in your thoughts (note: my blog is not widely read and really is more of a place for me to store my ideas for future reference). I have no sound conclusion regarding crop related harms, but I hope there are a couple of interesting angles uncovered in my articles.

    https://gm136.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/on-eating-meat-and-the-numbers-game/

    https://gm136.wordpress.com/2019/12/05/do-vegans-really-kill-more-animals/
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