Defending killing and eating animals is morally wrong

Get Email Updates Email this Topic Print this Page

thysin
 
Reply Wed 6 May, 2009 06:19 am
@New Mysterianism,
This topic, like I said, is very interesting...but debating it with you has become very much the opposite. I appreciate your original position but your arguments definitely need some fleshing out because they clearly contradict themselves and no matter how much you call an apple an orange, it's still an apple no matter if you say or think otherwise. Your position will lead to the appearance of an orange but to do so it will for a period of time still be an apple, but by your arguments that will be justified because as you point out quite loquaciously, you are going to eventually be holding an orange. Again, I appreciate your attempts to clarify yourself and I've become too tired of :brickwall:to continue to do so, good day.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Wed 6 May, 2009 07:16 am
@GoshisDead,
GoshisDead wrote:
Hue: I realize that opinions can be held to logical scrutiny, it doesn't change the fact that they cannot be held to any sort of truth proof. Opinions do not need justification other than that they are held. Plus as stated above 'It is because it is and I don't want to talk about it' doesn't hold up to logical scrutiny as an argument, it is an axiom from which to base an argument and a flimsy one at that.


You're right. This subject is within the field of axiology, the study of values, and therefore it is not subject to truth proof. It is only subject to logical argumentation for ethical justification.
 
zicogja421
 
Reply Thu 7 May, 2009 11:33 am
@Khethil,
Khethil wrote:
Kind of hard to nail down, isn't it (at least I found it so).

I've no intention of changing my eating habits unless and until I see and feel a compelling need; this argument isn't it and I'll likely remain a content omnivore. Even so, that base argument is tough to refute.[INDENT]If[INDENT](doing harm is bad) AND
(eating meat requires harm to be done and isn't necessary)
[/INDENT]THEN eating meat is bad.
[/INDENT]I'm with you: It does feel like a fallacy - Yes it feels inconsistent, but I can find no fault with it. There's a piece missing somewhere I suspect... I just need to find it.


That conclusion does not seem to follow from those premises. Presumably, 'doing harm is bad' means 'doing harm is always bad'. Even if we grant this, we should not accept that anything that requires doing harm is also bad, as we see in the case of self-defense. It seems easy to say that self-defense is just doing harm, but there seems to be another intentional act involved, preserving one's own life; in other words, an act of self-defense consists not only in doing harm but also in preserving one's life. The point is: doing harm, even if it is bad per se, does not render any act that involves it as bad, if we accept that sometimes other concerns (e.g., preserving one's own existence against a person who threatens it for no morally justifiably reason) can legitimately override the badness of doing harm.

Thus, to return to the OP: Killing animals causes harm, but so too does self-defense. Let us assume everyone agrees self-defense is not bad (although you're free to argue against this if you please), even though it causes harm, because there is a concern involved in self-defense that overrides the moral obligation not to do harm. The action of killing animals (or, supporting the killing of animals, although I do not consider the purchase of meat to be morally reprehensible, since the burden of moral responsibility lies in the hands of the people who actually own the slaughterhouses -- market demand does not force them to do anything) often, if not always, involves other concerns; excluding self-defense, are there any concerns that might be or are usually involved in the killing of animals that legitimately override the moral obligation not to cause harm? Again, remember that this hinges on the premise (1) that causing harm is intrinsically bad; we are still left with the possibility that causing harm to animals is not intrinsically bad, but that requires a defense as well.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Thu 7 May, 2009 01:26 pm
@zicogja421,
Quote:
That conclusion does not seem to follow from those premises. Presumably, 'doing harm is bad' means 'doing harm is always bad'. Even if we grant this, we should not accept that anything that requires doing harm is also bad, as we see in the case of self-defense. It seems easy to say that self-defense is just doing harm, but there seems to be another intentional act involved, preserving one's own life; in other words, an act of self-defense consists not only in doing harm but also in preserving one's life. The point is: doing harm, even if it is bad per se, does not render any act that involves it as bad, if we accept that sometimes other concerns (e.g., preserving one's own existence against a person who threatens it for no morally justifiably reason) can legitimately override the badness of doing harm.


I could be wrong, but I think Khethil was working under the assumption that the prima facie (or overriding) clause in premise (1) was generally understood by others when he rephrased premise (1) in his post. But yes, as I stated previously in the OP, the example of self-defense provides one particular case in which the moral wrongness of causing harm to sentient beings is legitimately overriden, all other things being equal.

Quote:
...excluding self-defense, are there any concerns that might be or are usually involved in the killing of animals that legitimately override the moral obligation not to cause harm?


Good question. Self-defense was the obvious example, but I could think of no other at the time I submitted the OP. This is worth exploring.

Quote:
Again, remember that this hinges on the premise (1) that causing harm is intrinsically bad; we are still left with the possibility that causing harm to animals is not intrinsically bad, but that requires a defense as well.


I'm not sure if "harm" in premise (1) necessarily counts as intrinsically wrong, since I define the wrongness of harm derivatively on the basis of whether a particular act, such as the act of killing sentient beings, violates basic welfare interests. In other words, "harm qua harm" or "harm itself" is not wrong if the act in question does not violate, or even promotes--however improbably--basic welfare interests.

You might argue that I am applying "intrinsic worth" to basic welfare interests, but I regard these interests as an empirical reality based on the observation that sentient beings generally exhibit an interest in living through their behaviors; in particular, this interest in living is reflected in the observable life-affirming and danger-avoiding behaviors exhibited by sentient beings. Therefore, the way in which basic welfare interests avoid appealing to intrinsic worth is by applying wrongness to an action derivatively on the basis of whether that action clearly harms (i.e., thwarts, sets back, or defeats) the observable life-affirming behaviors exhibited by sentient beings. So, in essence, it is this empirical reality which provides the derivative, not intrinsic, foundation for basic welfare interests.

You'd have to clarify what you mean by intrinsic, though, since the term gets tossed around often. Perhaps this is the direction in which to go in our attempt to think up additional examples where the moral wrongness of causing harm to sentient beings is legitimately overriden. Thanks for the post.
 
zicogja421
 
Reply Thu 7 May, 2009 09:33 pm
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism wrote:

You'd have to clarify what you mean by intrinsic, though, since the term gets tossed around often. Perhaps this is the direction in which to go in our attempt to think up additional examples where the moral wrongness of causing harm to sentient beings is legitimately overriden. Thanks for the post.


I suggested that premise 1 presupposes that causing harm is intrinsically bad, and by that I mean that it suggests that the causing, in and of itself, of harm is bad. In this view, it doesn't matter in what context harm is done, although we may want to add the requirement that the act involving the causing of harm is done intentionally and with a knowledge on the part of the agent that the act will cause harm. Thus, if a person accidentally harms someone, it seems fair to say he has done nothing wrong. But, if a person is being assaulted and he hits back, the issue is less clear. Sure, we might say, he has a right to preserve his existence against unwarranted attack, but in so doing, he did do at least something wrong insofar as he harmed his attacker; in other words, we might say that overall he did the 'right' thing, but that his actions were partly 'wrong' because they involved harming another person. Similarly, we might say that in killing an animal for food, a person has done something right insofar as he is acting to preserve, say, his family's existence (if he shares the food with his family), but overall the action was wrong, because he caused harm. The difference between the last two cases, of course, would seem to be that the harm done in the first one is necessary whereas, presumably, the harm in the second one isn't (let's assume that it is not; it will only complicate matters if we suppose that they have no other options available for eating).

OR premise 1 can be taken to mean (which is what I think you interpret it as meaning) that harm itself isn't bad, but it is only bad depending on the context. Thus, when a person harms an attacker in self-defense, not even the harm-causing element of his action is bad.

Ultimately, whichever view we take, we are left with the same kind of problem. In the first view, we have to define what properties (e.g., what motivating factors or concerns) of an action can override the intrinsic badness of causing harm - perhaps only if you are defending your existence against harm? Perhaps if you have no available means to survive but to cause harm? Perhaps if you are harming something that is non-human? Whatever the answer, it needs an explanation and a defense. In the second view, similarly, we have to explain and defend under which contexts harm is bad and why. Our questions will probably look the same in either case.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 09:31 am
@zicogja421,
The original argument is about the moral obligatoriness of vegetarianism, overidding cases notwithstanding. So all we need to establish in the context of this thread is whether human dietary preferences for meat legitimately override the moral wrongness of causing harm to other sentient beings. Look at it this way: if something as arbitrary as human dietary preferences override premise (1), then disputing whether self-defense counts as an overriding case is pointless. Self-defense presupposes the moral significance of basic welfare interests in animals, whereas human dietary preferences do not.

When properly understood, the disagreement in this thread has not really arisen as a result of people's refusal to accept premise (1). Rather, disagreements have flared over the claim that premise (1) really applies to sentient nonhuman animals.

Objections to the applicability of premise (1) to animals have ranged from the alleged moral relevance of intelligence levels, to sentience, to ambiguous claims about civilization, to dietary preferences, to appeals about what is "natural," to plant-interests, to blatant speciesism, and to the "opinionated nature" of moral judgments. I have done my best to address these objections, and in so doing, I have come to this realization:

Trying to argue someone into accepting animal interests is almost impossible. Although reason and logic certainly favor animal interests, no one is ever persuaded to support animal interests solely through reason and logic. This is because reason, as David Hume said, is the slave of the passions. Passion must predispose people towards animal interests before reason will persuade them.

In any case, for those whose passions predispose them towards animal interests, the effective use of reason may push them to support it. Even such persons, however, are raised to eat and to wear animals and to be relatively unconcerned with animals' well-being. Even they, therefore, will tend at first to resist arguments for animal interests. They will come back with arguments of their own, but these arguments are extraordinarily weak and easy to refute.
 
Ultracrepidarian
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 11:38 am
@New Mysterianism,
Wow. You have done your best to address those objections? If your best includes abrupt and unpronounced decisions to cease communication with someone who had raised one of those objections, then perhaps you have done your best.

I would go on to address other issues, but I see no point. You said you were interested in my explanations for why causing harm to a cow is moral and to a human was not, but when I was earnestly trying to explain just that, you ceased to even acknowledge my posts. What I am to make of that?

---------- Post added at 12:51 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:38 PM ----------

[quote=Ultracrepidarian]The morally relevant difference is that with one animal, civilization is worth having. Why would I harm a human? To eat him? Aside from the fact that there is something unappealing about eating something that looks like you, and humans fight back more than cows do, humans also make food. So, I don't have to eat the butcher or the farmer, he will butcher something for me. Why would I harm a human? To conquer, subjugate, or steal? Again, assuming that I wanted to and could accomplish it, humans are much better off when they live in free civilization because they cannot be forced to use their minds the way an Ox can be moved with a whip.

That is the main difference. Preying on cows makes sense. Preying on humans is counterproductive. There are some nuances to be added, like I respect humans, but that is probably derivative. And we could look to other species for more reasons why inter-species killing doesn't make sense. But for me, these are after thoughts.[/quote]


Here is the objection which you have stated is ambiguous. I am here and I would like to clarify anything that you do not understand about it.

---------- Post added at 12:53 PM ---------- Previous post was at 12:38 PM ----------

[quote=Ultracrepidarian]New Mysterianism, you missed my main point. I'll copy and paste.

"humans are much better off when they live in free civilization because they cannot be forced to use their minds the way an Ox can be moved with a whip."

But please reread the entire first paragraph - ten short sentences. In it I am not answering the question, "Why not harm humans?" by saying it is merely impractical. I am saying it is profoundly impractical. Just to put things in a bit of perspective, I am not saying, "well, it would be a hassle". Hassle being your word choice. I am saying it would be suicidal on more than one level.
And suicide is not permissible, agree?[/quote]

And here is the first clarification I provided and which you have ignored over these last few days.
 
zicogja421
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 11:55 am
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism wrote:
I have done my best to address these objections, and in so doing, I have come to this realization:

Trying to argue someone into accepting animal interests is almost impossible. Although reason and logic certainly favor animal interests, no one is ever persuaded to support animal interests solely through reason and logic. This is because reason, as David Hume said, is the slave of the passions. Passion must predispose people towards animal interests before reason will persuade them.


Well, I wouldn't say that "reason and logic certainly favor animal interests." Certainly you seem to think so, and that's fine, but a lot of people clearly disagree (maybe you feel that they haven't got reason and logic on their side, but many people do).

Personally, I believe that morality is a human creation. Sure, many people feel guilt and have an inherent sense of right and wrong, but not many people bother to think about what is right and what is wrong. Most people go by how they feel. To say that people should live by reason and logic already presupposes an ethical view of human action. Ultimately, we should ask ourselves what reason there is to be moral? Sure, we may develop arguments for certain ethical principles (like you are attempting to do) but at the end of the day, we are still left with the question "Why should I do this action?" Well, there are plenty of good reasons for an individual not to do certain actions: not to feel guilt, to avoid alienating himself from the norms of action and thought generally accepted by his society so that he can lead a more comfortable life, to avoid punishment, to contribute to the pool of good actions so to speak (in hopes that it might reverberate and make the world just that much of a better place, ultimately, for one's own benefit), to benefit oneself or those whom one cares about, to endorse (explicitly or in one's own mind) a system which ultimately benefits oneself. I think these are some of the many reasons why humans have created morality, i.e., why people bother discussing and endorsing views about what people ought to do... ultimately it boils down to egoism, but in the case of humans, who live in a highly human-social world, we often serve our interests best not only by caring for those that we care about but also by ensuring protection for as many humans as possible (including babies, mentally retarded people, etc.) since we can conceivably become one of these or enter into a position where one of these types of people will be very close to us; or, if neither is likely, at least we are endorsing a view that all humans should be respected, so that we are virtually guaranteed protection no matter what situation we find ourselves in. This is my general view about morality (although I have only given a very rough sketch here), which basically boils down to what is best for the individual. It is certainly egoistic in that sense, and the view is further complicated (in my mind) since I don't believe in free will -- but that's neither here nor there. I adopt what I would consider a rational and logical view about morality, but ultimate concern in my view is self-benefit; we are logical about what is the best way to ensure our own happiness...

...When it comes to moral consideration for non-human animals, I think people see that there is not much potential for personal benefit by endorsing moral consideration for or acting to protect animals. In my view, it is logical not to endorse animal rights (at least in the case of killing animals for food) because I cannot benefit by endorsing such a view. Call me a speciesist or cold-hearted, but I think my view does provide a good reason to endorse the rights of all human animals, and this is all I care about for now.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 01:35 pm
@zicogja421,
zicogja421 wrote:
Well, I wouldn't say that "reason and logic certainly favor animal interests." Certainly you seem to think so, and that's fine, but a lot of people clearly disagree (maybe you feel that they haven't got reason and logic on their side, but many people do).

Personally, I believe that morality is a human creation. Sure, many people feel guilt and have an inherent sense of right and wrong, but not many people bother to think about what is right and what is wrong. Most people go by how they feel. To say that people should live by reason and logic already presupposes an ethical view of human action. Ultimately, we should ask ourselves what reason there is to be moral? Sure, we may develop arguments for certain ethical principles (like you are attempting to do) but at the end of the day, we are still left with the question "Why should I do this action?" Well, there are plenty of good reasons for an individual not to do certain actions: not to feel guilt, to avoid alienating himself from the norms of action and thought generally accepted by his society so that he can lead a more comfortable life, to avoid punishment, to contribute to the pool of good actions so to speak (in hopes that it might reverberate and make the world just that much of a better place, ultimately, for one's own benefit), to benefit oneself or those whom one cares about, to endorse (explicitly or in one's own mind) a system which ultimately benefits oneself. I think these are some of the many reasons why humans have created morality, i.e., why people bother discussing and endorsing views about what people ought to do... ultimately it boils down to egoism, but in the case of humans, who live in a highly human-social world, we often serve our interests best not only by caring for those that we care about but also by ensuring protection for as many humans as possible (including babies, mentally retarded people, etc.) since we can conceivably become one of these or enter into a position where one of these types of people will be very close to us; or, if neither is likely, at least we are endorsing a view that all humans should be respected, so that we are virtually guaranteed protection no matter what situation we find ourselves in. This is my general view about morality (although I have only given a very rough sketch here), which basically boils down to what is best for the individual. It is certainly egoistic in that sense, and the view is further complicated (in my mind) since I don't believe in free will -- but that's neither here nor there. I adopt what I would consider a rational and logical view about morality, but ultimate concern in my view is self-benefit; we are logical about what is the best way to ensure our own happiness...

...When it comes to moral consideration for non-human animals, I think people see that there is not much potential for personal benefit by endorsing moral consideration for or acting to protect animals. In my view, it is logical not to endorse animal rights (at least in the case of killing animals for food) because I cannot benefit by endorsing such a view. Call me a speciesist or cold-hearted, but I think my view does provide a good reason to endorse the rights of all human animals, and this is all I care about for now.


I would go further and say that these rights should not only be for humans, but for all persons, and that includes the possibility of other species in the universe that fit the criteria for personhood. I, like you, agree that non-personal animals should have rights against torture or cruelty and extinction, but they should not have all of the rights that persons have.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 02:21 pm
@zicogja421,
Quote:
"humans are much better off when they live in free civilization because they cannot be forced to use their minds the way an Ox can be moved with a whip."


I'm having difficulty unraveling what you mean by this statement. I'm posed to answer, but I'd like you to get as clear and as detailed as possible before I commit myself to a lengthy response. So when you have the time and inclination, please flesh this into an argument, clarifying any ambiguous terms used, like "better off," and I promise I will respond.

Quote:
But please reread the entire first paragraph - ten short sentences. In it I am not answering the question, "Why not harm humans?" by saying it is merely impractical. I am saying it is profoundly impractical. Just to put things in a bit of perspective, I am not saying, "well, it would be a hassle". Hassle being your word choice. I am saying it would be suicidal on more than one level. And suicide is not permissible, agree?


I wouldn't agree that it is "suicidal," since the reality is that humans manage to inflict severe harm on other humans without seriously endangering themselves or exacting heavy tolls on the society in which they live. In fact, harm between humans happens all too often, and it usually benefits the perpetrator, provided he or she isn't caught. This is unfortunate because the real benefits gained by harming humans often provides inclination, when what we'd like to see is deterrence. This is also the case at the level of society, where one state profits substantially by subjugating another state. This is often accomplished without sustaining serious, let alone suicidal, consequences.

The institution of human slavery provides another good, but sobering, example. African slaves were seriously abused, bred as resources and mistreated as property by white plantation owners--who enjoyed all the economic gains. Slave revolts were uncommon, and when they did occur, slaves didn't turn on their masters, but ran for their lives. So whether slaves could be "forced to use their minds" was irrelevant, because all that was needed from them was their manual labor, or being "moved by the whip." You see the problem? The linchpin of your moral reasoning is wholly pragmatic; you weigh the benefits against the costs and adopt its result as your ethical guide.
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 02:25 pm
@New Mysterianism,
Going to the store and buying meat does not cause any harm. If we count that as doing harm, then our very existence is causing harm, hence we should commit suicide. You living requires the resources of 10 Indians living, so you are harming them. These 10 indians are probably taking the resources of 20 Ethiopians. Following this reasoning all life harms other life and should end itself, hence life is impossible.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 03:04 pm
@EmperorNero,
Quote:

Going to the store and buying meat does not cause any harm. If we count that as doing harm, then our very existence is causing harm, hence we should commit suicide. You living requires the resources of 10 Indians living, so you are harming them. These 10 indians are probably taking the resources of 20 Ethiopians. Following this reasoning all life harms other life and should end itself, hence life is impossible.


My staying alive doesn't "require" the resources of 10 Indians. Perhaps what you mean to say is that the dietary lifestyles of people in the developed world generally exceed the amount of food necessary to sustain their lives. That is true, but is it harm?

There is a significant difference between intentionally harming humans who barely subsist and our eating more food than is necessary for our own subsistence. In order to understand this point, consider the following example: We build roads. We allow people to drive automobiles. We know as a statistical matter that when we build a road, some humans will be harmed as a result of automobile accidents. Yet there is a fundamental moral difference between activity that has human harm as an inevitable but unintended consequence and the intentional killing of particular humans.

That said, your position poses a dilemma. If you really want to work under the assumption that people in the developed world are morally obligated to bring the dietary lifestyles of people in the third-world above subsistence levels, presumably to a level which matches their own, you would have to regard the industrial-scale meat industry as a serious harm. Why? As I explained in an earlier post, 3/4 of the crops grown in the US are used to feed farm animals. Those excess crops could be redistributed to help alleviate human welfare and world hunger.
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 03:13 pm
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism;62018 wrote:
My staying alive doesn't "require" the resources of 10 Indians.


The oil products you use, the resources that are spend on products you use, all that is not available for others, or you drive up the price for them, hence you are harming them.

New Mysterianism;62018 wrote:
Surely, however, there is a significant difference between intentionally harming humans who barely subsist and our eating more food than is necessary for our own subsistence. In order to understand this point, consider the following example: We build roads. We allow people to drive automobiles. We know as a statistical matter that when we build a road, some humans will be harmed as a result of automobile accidents. Yet there is a fundamental moral difference between activity that has human harm as an inevitable but unintended consequence and the intentional killing of particular humans.


Yes, but buying meat is not intentionally harming anyone, right? I go to the store, pick up the meat, go pay for it and leave. That harms an animal as much as it harms an Ethiopian when you drive a car and create demand hence drive up oil and steel prices for him.

New Mysterianism;62018 wrote:
That said, your position poses a dilemma. If you really want to work under the assumption that people in the developed world are morally obligated to bring the dietary lifestyles of people in the third-world above subsistence levels, presumably to a level which matches their own, you would have to regard the industrial-scale meat industry as a serious harm. Why? As I explained in an earlier post, 3/4 of the crops grown in the US is used feed farm animals. Those excess crops could be redistributed to help alleviate human welfare and world hunger.


Though this digresses a bit, lack of food is not the reason for world hunger. There is enough food. The Eu alone produces enough food to feed the world. Hunger is always a problem of distribution. So us using less crops for farm animals would not relieve anyones hunger.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 03:22 pm
@EmperorNero,
Quote:
Yes, but buying meat is not intentionally harming anyone, right? I go to the store, pick up the meat, go pay for it and leave. That harms an animal as much as it harms an Ethiopian when you drive a car and create demand hence drive up oil and steel prices for him.


Yes, it intentionally harms the animal, whereas automoblie driving harms are unintended. Animal-eating is wrong for much the same reason that buying stolen property or accepting any of the ill-gotten gains of another is wrong: a person who eats animals, or buys and uses stolen products, is in both cases benefiting from a morally nefarious practice. It strikes me as quite uncontroversial to say that one who concurs and cooperates with wrongdoing, or who garners benefits through the defeat of another's basic welfare interests, is himself doing something which is seriously morally wrong. So, even though a person does not directly kill the animal-meat he eats from the slaughterhouse, he is complicit in moral wrongdoing by creating a market demand for an industry which engages in the systematic killing of animals. In other words, the animal-eater *is* at fault because the killing and purchasing/consumption of animal-meat are two parts of the same moral wrong.

This is not the same as driving a car, since the activity of driving is intended for purposes of transportation, not for driving up oil prices for others. If people drove their vehicles to intentionally financially inconvenience people in other countries by racking up oil prices, that would be a different matter.

Quote:
Though this digresses a bit, lack of food is not the reason for world hunger. There is enough food. The Eu alone produces enough food to feed the world. Hunger is always a problem of distribution. So us using l ess crops for farm animals would not relieve anyones hunger.


Is the EU morally obligated to relieve world hunger, and is it thereby inflicting harm on those who are starving?
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 03:53 pm
@New Mysterianism,
I like to note that this is an interesting and well-formulated topic.
Though you should learn to make interesting thread-titles. Smile

New Mysterianism;62022 wrote:
Yes, it intentionally harms the animal, whereas automoblie driving harms are unintended.


Maybe there is a misunderstanding about the term intentional. I don't wish to hurt animals when I buy meat. I would buy meat if no animal was hurt by that, hurting an animal is not the intention, it's an untended result.

New Mysterianism;62022 wrote:
Animal-eating is wrong for much the same reason that buying stolen property or accepting any of the ill-gotten gains of another is wrong: a person who eats animals, or buys and uses stolen products, is in both cases benefiting from a morally nefarious practice. It strikes me as quite uncontroversial to say that one who concurs and cooperates with wrongdoing, or who garners benefits through the defeat of another's basic welfare interests, is himself doing something which is seriously morally wrong. So, even though a person does not directly kill the animal-meat he eats from the slaughterhouse, he is complicit in moral wrongdoing by creating a market demand for an industry which engages in the systematic killing of animals. In other words, the animal-eater *is* at fault because the killing and purchasing/consumption of animal-meat are two parts of the same moral wrong.

This is not the same as driving a car, since the activity of driving is intended for purposes of transportation, not for driving up oil prices for others. If people drove their vehicles to intentionally financially inconvenience people in other countries by racking up oil prices, that would be a different matter.


Yes, but I don't understand how driving a car is different. It's doing something that has the unintended result of hurting another being. What if the resources for making that car was taken from a nation where the dictator oppresses the people, and can do so because of the income from his mining business? That is actually pretty likely with the computer you are using.
What about your oil-use creates demand and hence a farmer in Bolivia can't afford it to power his tractor, and his family will starve?

What is the difference between practically any human action and eating meat? We can't keep ourselves from hurting others, unless we commit suicide.

New Mysterianism;62022 wrote:
Is the EU morally obligated to relieve world hunger, and is it thereby inflicting harm on those who are starving?


By doing what? Not distributing food sufficiently? Maybe they can't. Then their moral obligation would be to foreign governments that cause starvation.

I wanted to point out that your reasoning would imply things that go a bit too far, so maybe we need to find a way to re-formulate the statements of the OP.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 04:16 pm
@EmperorNero,
I fully acknowledge the moral complexities at root in oil consumption and the like. It would be utterly pointless for me to try and defend a position which holds that, in our increasingly globalized world, it is possible to live a lifestyle that doesn't have any unintended consequences for others. That's the nature of things. We cannot reasonably expect everyone everywhere to conscientiously chart where all their resources come from, who extracted them, and so forth. People can certainly do this to a degree, but demanding 100% consistency is just unrealistic.

That said, it is unequivocally clear what procedures go into the production of meat. When you go to purchase fried chicken at the store, you knowingly desire that chicken dead, de-feathered, and deep fried. This is not an "unintended result." If you came to the store and asked for fried chicken, and I handed you a living chicken, you'd most likely say "uhm, I needed that thing dead and fried, if you don't mind?" And you certainly wouldn't exclaim "Wait, you kill those things before you cook them! Who knew?"

This is not analogous to pumping oil into my car. I intend to get from point A to point B, not harm the people in the zone where the oil was originally extracted. If oil consumption was in principle or necessarily an activity which required slaughtering human beings, like with animals in the meat-industry, things would be different.
 
zicogja421
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 04:21 pm
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism wrote:
Yes, it intentionally harms the animal, whereas automoblie driving harms are unintended. Animal-eating is wrong for much the same reason that buying stolen property or accepting any of the ill-gotten gains of another is wrong: a person who eats animals, or buys and uses stolen products, is in both cases benefiting from a morally nefarious practice. It strikes me as quite uncontroversial to say that one who concurs and cooperates with wrongdoing, or who garners benefits through the defeat of another's basic welfare interests, is himself doing something which is seriously morally wrong. So, even though a person does not directly kill the animal-meat he eats from the slaughterhouse, he is complicit in moral wrongdoing by creating a market demand for an industry which engages in the systematic killing of animals. In other words, the animal-eater *is* at fault because the killing and purchasing/consumption of animal-meat are two parts of the same moral wrong.

This is not the same as driving a car, since the activity of driving is intended for purposes of transportation, not for driving up oil prices for others. If people drove their vehicles to intentionally financially inconvenience people in other countries by racking up oil prices, that would be a different matter.


I think the following proposition, which you seem to support, is false: purchasing and eating (already killed) animals is wrong because it involves the intentional harming of animals. I think it is false if it is supposed to be a universal claim about the psychology involved in the purchasing and eating of already killed animals; I can say for myself (and I'm sure many others would agree) that when I purchase and eat meat, I don't intend to do harm to that animal or any other animals. First of all, clearly I don't intend to do harm to the already-killed animal; it's already dead, so it can't be harmed. Second, I don't intend to harm or contribute to the harming of other animals when I purchase and eat meat. I purchase and eat meat because I like the taste of meat and so I want to eat it. Just as I drive to transport myself and not to hike up oil prices and thereby indirectly harm others, I purchase and eat meat because I want to eat something that tastes good.

Thus, it is clear that many people don't intend to harm animals when they purchase and eat meat; you can debate this, but it would probably prove futile, since to do so would very likely require you to tell me what my own intentions are, contrary to what I say. As for people that purchase and eat meat with the intention of indirectly harming animals, that is certainly possible, and I'm sure some people do that. But my only point is that purchasing and eating meat does not in and of itself require any intention to harm animals.

Now, I do grant that a person's actions can have unintended consequences. Thus, even if I don't intend to harm a person by shaking his hand, I may nonetheless harm him by doing so (perhaps several bones in his hand are broken). In a case like this, it can be argued that I am morally responsible not to shake his hand once and to the extent that I am aware of the consequences of my actions; even though I don't intend to do harm by my actions, I am morally obligated (perhaps) not to do the action because it necessarily induces harm. But the purchasing and eating of animals is not like shaking the hand of a man whose hand is broken. In the first case, as we have seen, I am purchasing and eating an animal that is dead; thereby, I am clearly not harming the animal that I am eating.

Your claim, to be fair, is not that I am harming the animal I am eating but rather that it is wrong for me to purchase and/or eat animals that have been killed by humans because, in doing so, I benefit by or support what you consider to be an immoral action, i.e., killing animals for food. Let us start by examining what you consider to be an uncontroversial proposition - (i) one who concurs and cooperates with wrongdoing is himself doing something morally wrong. Well, my personal belief is that killing animals for food isn't morally wrong, so this part of the proposition doesn't apply. But let us suppose that killing animals for food is wrong; how exactly am I cooperating in the killing of an animal when I buy and eat an animal that has already been killed? The answer is that I'm not. (ii) One who garners benefit through the defeat of another's basic welfare interests is doing something morally wrong. Why? I don't find this point uncontroversial.

You say that it is wrong to purchase animals because it creates a market demand for the industry which does kill animals. I touched on this point in a parenthical remark in one of my previous posts. By purchasing meat, do I necessarily force the slaughterhouses to kill animals? Clearly not. People are free to do as they please, presumably. If we grant that humans have free will, then my purchasing meat should not be considered morally wrong, because it does not apparently force anyone to kill animals. If we deny that humans have free will, then things get a bit messy, so I won't consider that alternative, since I assume that you believe humans do have free will.

Another consideration is that we motivate slaughterhouses to kill animals by purchasing meat by creating a market demand by which they can benefit. But, again, creating something by which someone can benefit, doesn't seem obviously wrong. Are we responsible for the motivations of the people involved in the industry of killing animals? I put $100 dollars in the middle of a busy intersection. How responsible, if at all, am I responsible for the morally reprehensible actions in which others engage in order to obtain that money? One person might punch another to get that money. Does that mean I am at all responsible for that harm done?
 
EmperorNero
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 04:26 pm
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism;62037 wrote:
When you go to purchase fried chicken at the store, you knowingly desire that chicken dead, de-feathered, and deep fried. This is not an "unintended result." If you came to the store and asked for fried chicken, and I handed you a living chicken, you'd most likely say "uhm, I needed that thing dead and fried, if you don't mind?" And you certainly wouldn't exclaim "Wait, you kill those things before you cook them! Who knew?"


Hmm... I see what you mean. But I think this in only a semantic objection. That the chicken is dead is unintended, as you just want the meat. You would want the meat if it didn't come from an animal.

In the same way, driving a car for you is only possible due to exploitation. If there was no oppression of the majority of the world population, you could not get that oil for transportation. You can only have it by supporting immorality. i suggest that this is not less unintended than the meat eating thing.

New Mysterianism;62037 wrote:
It would be utterly pointless for me to try and defend a position which holds that, in our increasingly globalized world, it is possible to live a lifestyle that doesn't have any unintended consequences for others.


Well, than you're not being consistent. If you come up with a reasoning, that implies this, you can't pick and chose which implications are to be follower and which are pointless, right?

New Mysterianism;62037 wrote:
This is not analogous to pumping oil into my car. I intend to get from point A to point B, not harm the people in the zone where the oil was originally extracted. If oil consumption was in principle or necessarily an activity which required slaughtering human beings, like the meat-industry, things would be different.


That's what I'm saying. Almost everything we do in some ways harms other beings. So we need to find a way to adjust that reasoning in the OP a little, for now it does prohibit everything.
 
zicogja421
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 04:34 pm
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism wrote:
That said, it is unequivocally clear what procedures go into the production of meat. When you go to purchase fried chicken at the store, you knowingly desire that chicken dead, de-feathered, and deep fried. This is not an "unintended result." If you came to the store and asked for fried chicken, and I handed you a living chicken, you'd most likely say "uhm, I needed that thing dead and fried, if you don't mind?" And you certainly wouldn't exclaim "Wait, you kill those things before you cook them! Who knew?"

This is not analogous to pumping oil into my car. I intend to get from point A to point B, not harm the people in the zone where the oil was originally extracted. If oil consumption was in principle or necessarily an activity which required slaughtering human beings, like with animals in the meat-industry, things would be different.


I agree with EmperorNero's objection: purchasing oil for one's car is not necessarily different from purchasing killed animals. You seem to be confusing intention with knowledge. I think it's safe to say that most people know what's involved in the production of meat. But when I purchase meat, I don't intend to harm anything or to support any industry necessarily, although some people might. I intend to purchase something that tastes good to me so that I can eat it. Similarly, when I purchase oil for my car, I intend to keep my car working well, not to somehow indirectly harm people in a different country. This is a perfectly good analogy between the cases. In either case, people typically do not intend to harm anything, while many people can be perfectly aware that harm is necessary in order to produce those things. Intention to harm of knowledge of harm can certainly coincide in many actions, but there is not a necessary coincidence in the two types of actions just mentioned.

Similarly, we may draw another analogy. If I go to buy fried chicken and you hand me a live chicken, I will say that I want a dead chicken (not necessarily that one, mind you). Similarly, if I go to get oil and instead you give me unprocessed material, I will say that I want processed oil. In both cases, what I want is a product of a process that, in the case of chickens, necessarily causes harm, and, in the case of oil, happens to cause harm. The discinction between necessity and coincidence doesn't matter, however, as long as the person knows that harm is involved.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 04:41 pm
@EmperorNero,
Quote:

Hmm... I see what you mean. But I think this in only a semantic objection. That the chicken is dead is unintended, as you just want the meat. You would want the meat if it didn't come from an animal.


Meat doesn't grow on trees. Meat is, as a matter of principle, bodily tissue that once belonged to a living thing. If steaks did grow on trees, never having come from an animal that was killed, what a wonderful alternative this would be. However, realistically, you and I know where meat comes from. We know that meat, as bodily tissue, necessarily comes from once living things. The fact that the animal from which the meat originates is dead is irrelevant. You intend for that animal to be dead to satisfy your dietary preference for its meat.

Quote:
In the same way, driving a car for you is only possible due to exploitation. If there was no oppression of the majority of the world population, you could not get that oil for transportation. You can only have it by supporting immorality. i suggest that this is not less unintended than the meat eating thing.


While oil consumption can result in human exploitation, this is contingent on what region the oil was originally extracted from. There is nothing in the activity of oil extraction itself which, as a matter of principle, necessarily entails causing harm to others, as in the case of meat consumption. You're extracting a resource from the ground, pure and simple. The means of extraction can involve human exploitation, and in this case your oil consumption indirectly supports that exploitation. However, this is an unintended consequence of your oil consumption, not a necessary component of it, and certainly not analogous to meat consumption.
 
 

 
Copyright © 2021 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 11/29/2021 at 09:30:55