What's your opinion of militant vegans?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Dida, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    I was not reiterating your point at all. What you wrote and what I wrote are not at all the same. I did not mean to make your point understood.

    You view the "original" struggle, of "liberating" the proletariat, to be the pure and correct struggle, while the others are mere echoes grown out of frustration with the failure of the first. I said that maybe the first was not any different, maybe many of the self-proclaimed paladins of the oppressed have gotten it wrong from the beginning and that's why they keep digging for new victims to save.
     
  2. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    So the only reason you refrain from abducting and killing children is in protest against the current standards of child-abduction?

    I said nothing about liberating anyone at all. I simply said "social change", which is an altogether broader category. (Nor is it an exclusively left-wing one, I merely happened to be talking about the left.) You're just conjuring up strawmen, and rather feeble ones at that. :dunno:

    And it's a fascinating notion you've got there, that only the middle classes have ever been involved in left-wing politics. Delightfully ahistorical.
     
  3. Azash

    Azash La Sombra

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    Exacerbation aside, in this case the 'protest' would be the norm, not the exception. In addition you should notice I did not make mention of ethics, rather the specific reason for a subset of the cases in which someone decides to forego eating meat.
     
  4. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Then people sure do love to protest, huh?

    You made apparently general comments about vegetarianism. If you had intended them to be more narrow, then you should have made some effort to make that clear.
     
  5. Azash

    Azash La Sombra

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    If they did, I'm sure rebellious child slayings would be more common.

    Considering I mentioned 'ethical' veganism and vegetarianism in my first post, and continued referring to the ethics-legislation twilight of animal farming in a thread which focuses on militant vegans, I would have thought so much to be obvious.
     
  6. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    I said nothing about the full spectrum of left-wing politics nor about all groups ever involved with it. I was making, or rather suggesting, a point about a specific substrata and how and why they changed their oppressed group of choice over the decades.
     
  7. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    It does not. It changes the market support for livestock husbandry.
     
  8. ParadigmShifter

    ParadigmShifter Random Nonsense Generator

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    I like militant vegans, but I couldn't eat a whole one.
     
  9. Orange Seeds

    Orange Seeds playing with cymbals

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    If you'd like to point to a critical assumption or oversight then do that. This post as-is is subject to its own accusation.

    My point is that humans are capable of making decisions on the basis of conscious inputs about why their life is valuable and how to conduct it. Livestock cannot.

    Values are not important because they are merely the outcomes of decisions. They are important because we have the ability to deliberate between life-projects and through this deliberation ascribe them. Value ascription requires at least the potential to make an assessment about some circumstance, compare it to another and select the one we deem valuable. That process is why we should care about ethics. It means that some individual is purposive and not just a consequence of molecules smashing together in contingent arrangements.

    This purposiveness is why my appeal to introspection is not arbitrary or question begging, as Traitorfish accuses me of above. I can answer the question of why we should care about treating anything with respect at all since we live in an accidental and objectively meaningless world. The utilitarian pain/pleasure/suffering rubric cannot; it is always subject to the question of why I should take pain and pleasure, which are accidental evolutionary constructs, to map perfectly on to the abstract ethical concepts of good and bad. My introspection/autonomy based ethical theory can also account for disagreement in way that utilitarianism cannot. As I've said already, some consider pain to be ethically important and not merely as a means to obtain higher pleasure.

    Yes, more importance should be affored to choices and values that are conscious, but we're not comparing specific choices. We're comparing a set of creatures who cannot make conscious value-ascriptions at all and a set of those who can.

    I think this just a really specious treatment of what it means to choose. If you admit that a rat cannot, by biological make-up, compare life-projects and choose the one they deem more valuable, then they lack the purposive element that forces me to consider their lives ethically important.

    No El Mac you unfortunately cannot solve 2500 years of ethical debate in a single authouritative sentence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_Question_Argument

    There are many biological human beings that I think are not privy to the same ethical treatment as fully introspective individuals. That we shouldn't care too much about not feeding Terri Schiavo is intuitive. Children should be protected for three reasons:
    1) potential to devleop.
    2) second-order value ascription. ie. Other people value them.
    3) worries about behaviors that result from socities where children are not treated with respect and care.

    Only the first has anything to do with the independent ethical value of infants.
     
  10. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Which "substrata" are you referring to? I'm not aware of any such narrow demographic continuity between older and newer leftisms, although that may be a regional disparity.
     
  11. luiz

    luiz Trendy Revolutionary

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    I'm sure you know the type... the radical chics, the trendy revolutionaries... what unites them is not an ideology, but a mindset.
     
  12. El_Machinae

    El_Machinae Colour vision since 2018 Retired Moderator

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    We're likely struggling both with definitions and how much information we both have, but we've come to different conclusions.

    What you're suggesting is that humans are unique in their ability to form certain types of cognition, and that this cognition is what makes human decisions 'valuable' while animals ones are not.

    This seems to be a bit of a stretch, because of convergent evolution and common ancestry. There remains the hypothesis that we just don't know whether animals have certain types of cognition. Now, I agree, humans have a unique cognitive make-up, but you then go on to describe what it is about humans that you're protecting (and that animals lack).

    You seem to be describing the ability to make decisions: unpacked, that seems to mean that we're able to imagine multiple futures and then enact the ones we desire. But there is good evidence that some animals are capable of doing the same!

    There remains the alternative hypothesis that some animals do have the ability that you value, and that we just lack the empathy (or intelligence) to know about it.

    My evidence regarding rat's ability to make decisions is not specious, really. It's evidence that they have goals and emotions. And it's a stretch to suggest that minds the size of my thumb are just as advanced (cognitively) as fist-sized minds (in pigs).

    In other words, you can suspect that the assumption "only humans have what I value" is a biased one, because we have a long history of just failing to have empathy.

    That said, I have a similar set of ethics. I think it's wrong to kill a self-conscious being (without good reason), but I don't have a problem with killing a merely sentient being. However, I believe that causing suffering in a sentient being is wrong. That you don't need to be self-conscious in order to warrant protection from torture.
    Yeah, I can, because it really is a meaningless objection in practical terms. By removing suffering, you lose the ability to discuss 'right & wrong' in common parlance. The phrase "WHY shouldn't I do that?" then has no answer that can be transmitted usefully. It might look like I'm being sloppy, but I'm not. The conversation becomes useless when we let definitions become too finicky. I mean, simple solipsism suggests that this entire discussion is a waste of time. Solipsism is robust, but also useless.

    Finally, all discussion regarding the sentience of animals is merely one reason for reducing meat consumption (or choosing meats more carefully). The environmental impacts of livestock are a separate issue entirely, and are independently a good reason to reduce meat consumption.
     
  13. Traitorfish

    Traitorfish The Tighnahulish Kid

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    Oh, them? Yeah, I've met a few. I don't think that their trends provides any insight into the development of left-wing politics, though. They're a triviality, really.
     
  14. Orange Seeds

    Orange Seeds playing with cymbals

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    I am open to the empirical data that show good reason for believing that animals we eat have the type of cognition I have argued is valuable. It is not good enough to suggest possible bias in not having that data if the goal is to revolutionize human culture, consumption and economy. We have a default position in the absence of evidence, the default position is that animals don't show introspection. I also just generally contest that this type of research is not done or invested in because it is. Again your rat example shows that rats have emotes and make decisions, but lack the deeper reflective cognition that I am looking for, hence the example is specious. I want to remind any reader that I am not setting an arbitrary level of cognition, I gave good reasons that have not been disputed for this threshold in my last post.

    This isn't an absurd skeptical question like solipsism, El Mac. Suffering is about pain and pleasure which occupies one limited position in the range of morally relevant things. To limit morality to suffering or to assume that suffering is morally relevant is begging the question in the purest sense of the fallacy. You are being sloppy and are trying to frame the argument on definitions that lead to your conclusion without defending them.

    "why shouldn't I do that?"
    a) fails to treat someone as an end in themself
    b) is not virtuous
    c) doesm't lead to maximal economic gain
    d) limits someone's vital choices
    e) it is contrary to the word of god
    f) violates a prima facie duty of fidelity
    g) it physically harms someone
    h) it causes pain
    i) it ignores a special caretaking relationship
    etc.

    I agree with this. I think it's a good argument for limiting meat consumption but not abstaining form it. It also means that in a different world and economy there is nothing wrong with eating animals. ie. this is a contingent obligation.
     
  15. Narz

    Narz keeping it real

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    We could argue forever but I'll just say that I believe caring about animal welfare makes us better human beings. Not only that but our global habit of disregarding our fellow Earth inhabitants in exchange for temporary economic gain is nearly certain to cause a decrease in conscious-aware-human quality of life for millennia to come. Factory farms (and the processes necessary to sustain them) don't just hurt animals, that devastate ecosystems, cause massive pollution, create a unhealthy populace therefore even if we should be callous to the feelings of animals because they're not as uber-smart as us we should still be concerned & put a stop to them for selfish reasons.
     
  16. Nick Carpathia

    Nick Carpathia Unleash the HAARP

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    Resources exist to be consumed. And consumed they will be, if not by this generation then by some future. By what right does this forgotten future seek to deny us our birthright? None I say! Let us take what is ours, chew and eat our fill.
     
  17. lovett

    lovett Deity

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    Your thinking seems uncharacteristically confused here. You seem to be (and correct me if I'm wrong) putting forward two accounts of ethics in different fields, and I do not believe that they are compatible. I do not think that your metaethical* views are compatible with your normative* views.

    To whit, you put forward the metaethical view that "things are valuable insofar as someone decides they are valuable." This seems like a relativistic account of value; the intrinsic value of things is relative to whether people value them. It is only when people make a positive evaluative decision (a decision that something is valuable) that something acquires value. To put it another way, the truth value of sentences of the form 'X is valuable' (sentences that predicate 'valuable' to an object) is dependent on whether people believe 'X is valuable' or do not believe' X is valuable'.

    On this theory, something is only valuable if people value it. 'People' are those being that are introspective and autonomous to a sufficient level. Things like car crashes or good health and are disvaluable or valuable to the extent that people value them. If people stopped valuing good health good health would be disvaluable and if people started valuing car crashes car crashes would be valuable. The value of a thing is relative to whether people value it.

    However your second, normative, view seems to pull in a different direction entirely. You start saying that "[Values] are important", that we 'should care about ethics' and that you can answer 'why should we care about treating anything with respect at all?'. You seem to be ascribing universal importance to something (value) and claiming that there are universal ethical dictums. In parts you seem to imply that decisions themselves are of intrinsic value and in parts that introspection and autonomy are of intrinsic value.

    The best I can re-construct your theory here is at least as yielding the claims that animals, because they lack introspection, autonomy and appropriate decision making mechanisms, are not valuable. They do not have the ability to do anything valuable and they do not display any valuable properties. Humans, because they can do these things, are valuable. The normative view you put forward is something like the view that the activity of deciding in an autonomous introspective way is the only thing that is valuable or that confers value.

    I think it is clear that the latter view conflicts the former view. On the former view 'autonomous introspection' is valuable if and only if people thing it is valuable. It is the only thing that is valuable if and only if is the only thing people value. But it is simply not the case that people only value autonomous introspection. People value a whole host of other things; art, family, children, literature, personal pleasure so on and so forth. It is not even obvious that autonomous introspection is the thing people value most. On your metaethical view autonomous introspection cannot possible have the pride of place your normative view gives it. Your two views are incompatible; they contradict each other.

    You must drop one of your theories if you want your beliefs to be consistent. There is little credibility in your conclusion (of the moral non-obligatoriness of vegetarianism) if your beliefs are inconsistent. However, I do not think you will be able to do so in a way which will yield the conclusion you have put forward.

    You could, for instance, drop your normative theory. This might leave you with the metaethical theory that something is valuable if autonomous introspective beings believe it to be of value. Consequently, humans decide which things are of value and which things of disvalue. Animals do not. When a human has decided that something is of value, it is of value.

    But I doubt this will yield the appropriate conclusions. I find it quite obvious that people do value animal life and do find pain simpliciter of disvalue. That they value this would commit you to the conclusion that animal life is of intrinsic value. Quite plausibly, in reflective equilibrium most people would find the pain and suffering caused by the meat industry to be not worth the benefits.

    Indeed, I find this a rather implausible metaethical theory regardless. It clashes with too many of our intuitions. It means that vengeance killing is justified if people think it is, that in a society in which slavery is accepted by all (even by the poor slaves) slavery is permitted and that, in general, when people’s opinions change the morality of even the most heinous action changes.

    The alternative is to stick be the normative theory and drop the metaethical theory. That is, to say that autonomous introspection is the only thing of value and to have an undefined metaethics. This would probably yield the conclusions you come to; if we accept animals lack the appropriate level of autonomous introspection their lives are of only instrumental value.

    But this theory is thoroughly implausible. Although autonomous introspection is almost certainly of value, it is equally certainly not the only thing of value. The most vivid cases probably concern pain; I think it is quite clear that a world in which thousands of dogs are tortured needlessly is a worse world than that in which they are not. The pain, or the torture, has disvalue. In general, our belief that needlessly harming animals is wrong is dependent on the view that suffering, even if undergone by an animal, is of disvalue.

    The same point has been raised as regards babies. Babies are not autonomous and there is little reason to believe they are introspective. Yet, it is almost always immoral to hurt or hit a baby, let alone kill a baby. If autonomous introspection were the only thing of value, this would not be the case. A babies life or well-being would have at best instrumental value, rather than the intrinsic value we ascribe it.

    If we have to include suffering and pain in our first-order accounts of value I think we will have difficulty proclaiming the morality of much of the modern meat industry.

    *That is to say, metaethical when combined with a consequentialist moral theory. Else it is just a 'meta-evaluative' view with no necessary ethical implications.
    *And again, normative only when combined with consequentialism. Otherwise it is simply an account of value.
     
  18. Disgustipated

    Disgustipated Deity

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    :goodjob:

    This post alone has put me in the mood to play that game.
     

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