Not a bad argument on the whole.
Actually, its one of the better I've seen and applaud your efforst. We've had quite a few people come in and jump right into vegetarianism and it generally gets messy; mainly, because most parties involved haven't thought the issue through to the logical permutation of their particular stance.
But I get your point and think its worth examining. Here are some thoughts, notes and suggestions. Just so you know: On this and other vitriolic issues I (like many others here) are sick to death of arguments. I'm happy to listen, then speak, but I won't quibble the issue. These suggestions, ideas and criticisms are for you to take and use - or discard as you see fit:[INDENT]1. The basic premise on which the entire argument is founded on, "... because its wrong
" (in speaking about harming sentient beings), without any more support for this, is what is called "dogma". I'd suggest qualify why
harming sentient beings is wrong; this shouldn't be difficult but you'll need to be careful to be not too inclusive.
2. You might wanna look up what Prima Facie
mean. Drawing contextual clues, you seem to have hit close
3. You draw a distinction between eating meat and eating animals yet base it all on "doing harm" in general. Can one not harm a plant? (please note you didn't say "feel" - you said "harm").
4. If you base your morality on sentience alone, you'll need a carefully qualified set of conditions to differentiate or it'll remain ambiguous. The diversity in sensing and reactions within the animal world is vast
. No matter what set of conditions you use, you're likely to come across animals that might not
meet your conditions as well as the possibility you'll find plants that might
. Find one exception to either, across the vastness of all life on this planet, and your reasoning comes down pel mel.
5. Many humans have a natural compassion for animals; this is good, productive and right. But we also tend to over-anthropomorphize them; the more human characteristics we imbue them with, the more distorted our view of the natural world becomes. We see an expression on an animal that looks like a smile or feels like 'love' and our protective instincts kick in. Again, this is not necessarily a bad thing - I simply think it prudent we understand the compassion mechanisms at play and evaluate them for what they are when they do
6. If we admit/accept we're part of this natural world then we necessarily admit the similarities of our bodies to other mammals. A large
portion of mammals on this planet eat meat as well as vegetation. I'm curious how your philosophy deals with this apparent disparity. Are they too morally deficient or do we not truly have animal bodies?
7. You make a distinction, in your definition, to specifically exclude invertabrates. Granted, there aren't many (worms, some crustaceans, crabs, octopus, etc.) but it still begs the question: How are these different? They're certainly likely to meet your definition of sentient (or, as likely as many others in the animal kingdom)
8. Finally, a question for you: In my experience, most vegetarians come from a compassionate
standpoint - they feel repulsed by eating meat when there doesn't seem to be a need. Well, I don't need
to drink coke but that doesn't make it immoral... what I'm getting at is this: If you have a feeling
that this is wrong, that it just *bothers* you (and you feel strongly that carniverous human behavior is wrong) then I'd be curious to hear it - your emotional basis
(if, of course, this be the case). Yes, this is a neat exercise (trying to put it to logic), but it feels juxtaposed. It might well fit (remains to be seen), but sometimes the most honest, truest and heartfelt convictions can't be placed into a logical structure.
[/INDENT]Excellent effort. I look forward to watching this thread as it progresses.