Defending killing and eating animals is morally wrong

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Zetherin
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 10:31 pm
@New Mysterianism,
Quote:
I never said that humans and nonhumans were little different. The only thing I've argued that humans and nonhumans share, in fact, is the basic welfare interest in not being harmed.


Oh, my apologies. See, the paragraph:

Quote:
Basic welfare interests include, but are not necessarily limited to, the continuance of one's life, physical health and vigor, the integrity and normal functioning of one's body, the absence of absorbing pain and suffering, emotional stability, a tolerable social and physical environment, and a certain amount of freedom from interference and coercion. These welfare interests are the very most important interests, not only because they are definitive of basic well-being, but also because their realization is necessary before one can satisfy virtually any other interest or do much of anything with one's life. We cannot achieve our ulterior interests in a career or personal relationships or material gain if we are unhealthy, in chronic pain, emotionally unstable, living in intolerable conditions, and are constantly interfered with and coerced by others. When basic welfare interests are defeated, a very serious harm has been done to the sentient possessor of those interests, no matter what species it belongs to.


suggests much more than the interest of not being harmed. I'm sure you can see where I came to the conclusion you were speaking of the other interests you spoke of.

Quote:
They may not have human perceptual experiences or states, but that's morally irrelevant.


If it's morally irrelevant, what in the world would you eat if plants were deemed to "feel", to have the same interest of not being harmed? I believe it's very relevant. I'm not entirely sure which creatures have this interest of not wanting to be harmed and which do not. If we extrapolate this out to the microbial level, could bacteria be regarded (by their actions in surviving) as having this interest of not being harmed? The interest of not being harmed is not sufficient, in my opinion. If we regarded bacteria has having this interest, you unknowingly destroy thousands of bacteria daily (this is something we do know), thus putting a dent into this moral conclusion.

Quote:
And you haven't responded to the dilemma where seriously mentally impaired humans possess mental capacities lower than some primates. Are we not permitted to kill and eat those humans? Why?


This is a very good question, and I can only respond from my personal notions. Cannibalism is undesirable to me; this is not necessarily for any moral reason, but the same reason I don't enjoy cow's brain: The thought of the substance makes me ill. We are not permitted to kill and eat humans by law.

Quote:
Explain.


I think I did explain how your paragraph is misleading for "animals".

---

Thanks again for the intelligent discussion, this is a good one! I'm reevaluating my stance as we speak. I think I need to do much more research on consciousness and awareness before I make any more claims.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Fri 8 May, 2009 11:21 pm
@Zetherin,
Quote:

Basic welfare interests include, but are not necessarily limited to, the continuance of one's life, physical health and vigor, the integrity and normal functioning of one's body, the absence of absorbing pain and suffering, emotional stability, a tolerable social and physical environment, and a certain amount of freedom from interference and coercion.


Okay, I wasn't claiming that humans and nonhumans share the full spectrum of basic welfare interests outlined above, but that they share at least the interest in living. Neither wants to be harmed.

Quote:

If it's morally irrelevant, what in the world would you eat if plants were deemed to "feel", to have the same interest of not being harmed? I believe it's very relevant. I'm not entirely sure which creatures have this interest of not wanting to be harmed and which do not. If we extrapolate this out to the microbial level, could bacteria be regarded (by their actions in surviving) as having this interest of not being harmed? The interest of not being harmed is not sufficient, in my opinion. If we regarded bacteria has having this interest, you unknowingly destroy thousands of bacteria daily (this is something we do know), thus putting a dent into this moral conclusion.


Must we stop eating altogether? Well, no. Plants are not sentient. How do I know this? Plants do not have brains, and pain has never been known to exist in the absence of a brain, let alone any mental phenomena. Plants do not have central nervous systems, endorphins, receptors or benzodiazepines, or any other indications of sentience. It is also highly unlikely, from an evolutionary standpoint, that plants would have developed the capacity to feel pain or other qualia, because plants cannot flee from danger. And let's not delude ourselves: few people really think that plants are the same as sentient nonhumans. If I ate your tomato and your dog, you would not regard these as morally similar acts. Plants do not have interests, animals do.

Unconvinced? Well, it is worth noting that much plant matter can be eaten without killing anything: most vegetarian fare consists of the fruits and flowers of plants which are not killed or are harvested at the end of annual life cycles.

Quote:
This is a very good question, and I can only respond from my personal notions. Cannibalism is undesirable to me; this is not necessarily for any moral reason, but the same reason I don't enjoy cow's brain: The thought of the substance makes me ill. We are not permitted to kill and eat humans by law.


We're debating the moral dimension of this issue, not its current legality. Person A enjoys human flesh and wants to eat person B, who is seriously mentally impaired in the way I earlier described. What do you say to person A to convince him that eating person B is morally wrong?
 
Sympathypains
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 05:21 am
@New Mysterianism,
Probably should also clarify harm and suffering.

Animals that are free range, or who are treated humanely before being killed, live in an environment safe from predators and are fed and cared for medically.

In the wild they live in fear of pain, death and terror in every moment.

I'm curious what the average life expectancy of a cow in the wild would be compared to one that is bred for beef.

The actual death is relatively painless, a bolt in the back of the head.

Of course I am excluding factory farming of chickens and animals that are kept in horrible conditions.

If I were given a choice to do it again, and was given an opportunity to live free from work and all my needs were provided and I was safe from oppression, but it meant I had to painlessly die in my prime, I'd have to seriously think about it.
 
chad3006
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 09:01 am
@New Mysterianism,
Morals are man-made and therefore ever changing to suite man at any particular time, so if your argument is based on morals, it would follow that your argument would also be ever changing.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 11:53 am
@New Mysterianism,
It seems the argument only applies to vertebrate animals with desires to survive, as opposed to being equipped with survival instincts. So I'm going to eat meat until it is demonstrated to me that any animal I eat has any desire whatsoever. Once demonstrated, I will happily assume that survival is one of its desires.

More seriously, I reject premise (6) on the grounds that humans are carnivores first, moral animals second: that is to say that biological imperatives override moral ones ALWAYS. If you wish to override that biological imperative, good on you. I perceive this as a morally positive act. If you do not, fine: this is a morally neutral act. The negation is not the opposite, and all that.
 
Yogi DMT
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 02:11 pm
@New Mysterianism,
I know this has probably been brought up before but what i think this comes down to is the natural cycle and the food chain. On this planet and this earth, that's the way things are meant to be. Causing pain and suffering to an animal is one thing, but if you kill the animal quickly and as painlessly as possible i don't see the issue. To be honest animals don't have emotions and if at all their emotional capaticty is no where near that of a human. An animal will not be weeping over it's dead corpse and it's family will not miss it. If killed the right way, it will not experience pain. Sorry to sound a bit brutal but truthfully i think that's the way it is and therefore we are only benefitting ourselves and as we can tell from what we've accomplished, our species in progressing the farthest Smile. Eat or get eaten, and with our intelligence i think it is rational of us to use those species that will not be advancing anytime soon and use them for our survival.
 
hue-man
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 02:17 pm
@chad3006,
chad3006 wrote:
Morals are man-made and therefore ever changing to suite man at any particular time, so if your argument is based on morals, it would follow that your argument would also be ever changing.


Sure, morals develop and change for the good or the bad (usually the better) as time progresses, but that doesn't mean that what we consider immoral today shouldn't have been considered immoral yesterday (slavery, stoning women for adultery, witch hunts, etc.).
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 02:51 pm
@hue-man,
Quote:

More seriously, I reject premise (6) on the grounds that humans are carnivores first, moral animals second: that is to say that biological imperatives override moral ones ALWAYS. If you wish to override that biological imperative, good on you. I perceive this as a morally positive act. If you do not, fine: this is a morally neutral act. The negation is not the opposite, and all that.


I don't think you've seriously considered the logical implications of your principle which states that "biological imperatives always override morality." For example, a universal biological imperative for every species is reproductive success; in particular, reproductive success determines which genes make it into succeeding generations. Now, for reasons I will leave open to the readers' imagination, person A is having great difficulty achieving reproductive success. Note that we have a moral prohibition (X) against rape in civil society. However, person A disregards X and rapes person B to fulfill his biological imperative to reproduce. Biological imperatives override moral prohibitions, remember, so we cannot hold person A morally responsible, much less heed the court appeals of person B, the raped victim. Sorry, person B, but your rape was a "morally neutral event," since person A's biological need to spread his seed overrides morality, always.

This is one of many examples. Perhaps you should reconsider?
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 05:18 pm
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism wrote:
I don't think you've seriously considered the logical implications of your principle which states that "biological imperatives always override morality." For example, a universal biological imperative for every species is reproductive success; in particular, reproductive success determines which genes make it into succeeding generations. Now, for reasons I will leave open to the readers' imagination, person A is having great difficulty achieving reproductive success. Note that we have a moral prohibition (X) against rape in civil society. However, person A disregards X and rapes person B to fulfill his biological imperative to reproduce. Biological imperatives override moral prohibitions, remember, so we cannot hold person A morally responsible, much less heed the court appeals of person B, the raped victim. Sorry, person B, but your rape was a "morally neutral event," since person A's biological need to spread his seed overrides morality, always.

This is one of many examples. Perhaps you should reconsider?


No, I anticipated your response. I actually started to type: "and before you bring rape up..." but it caused clutter.

Sexual reproduction is a biological imperative; rape is not. Similarly eating meat is a biological imperative for a carnivore, but eating cage chickens is not. In short, there's a difference between a biological imperative and how that imperative is manifested at a given instance. I'm sure you understand that difference.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 08:43 pm
@Bones-O,
Yogi:
Nature, biology, species fitness etc... has been brought up several times but patently ignored in this thread.
 
Krumple
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 08:56 pm
@hue-man,
In the future more and more people will be forced into becoming vegetarian. Meat will become more scarce because of how much material is required to feed them. For example cows require lots of hay and we will simply not have the farmland to produce enough hay to provide beef for a larger population in the future, so there will be a limit to the amount of meat that can be produced which increases the over all demand driving up the price which only the wealthy will be able to afford.

Some might make a claim about chickens not being the case since they don't eat as much as cows but I can conclude with the same argument because more chickens are consumed than cows. If you went weight by weight you eat far more chickens than cows so it would require not just a little more feed but a exponential amount more feed to provide more chickens. The same is true for fish.

The problem arises when the amount of space required to produce food for cows could be utilized for human food production instead. So there might be a shift after some time when the beef industry farmers would actually produce more wealth by growing vegetables rather than feed.

Don't get me wrong, not everyone will be forced into a vegetarian diet. Like I mentioned, the wealthy will be able to afford meat and those who are allowed to hunt will continue to eat it but a majority will not.

Just my future theory, even though its probably about 100 years off give or take 20 years.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Mon 11 May, 2009 09:21 pm
@Krumple,
Quote:
No, I anticipated your response. I actually started to type: "and before you bring rape up..." but it caused clutter.

Sexual reproduction is a biological imperative; rape is not. Similarly eating meat is a biological imperative for a carnivore, but eating cage chickens is not. In short, there's a difference between a biological imperative and how that imperative is manifested at a given instance. I'm sure you understand that difference.


The distinction you're making between "sexual reproduction" and "rape" is a moral one, which is inconsistent with your position that biological imperatives always override morality. From a purely biological perspective, rape is sexual intercourse, period. The fact that the intercourse is non-consensual is a moral consideration that, according to your position, cannot override the rapists' biological imperative to achieve reproductive success.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 05:30 am
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism wrote:
The distinction you're making between "sexual reproduction" and "rape" is a moral one, which is inconsistent with your position that biological imperatives always override morality. From a purely biological perspective, rape is sexual intercourse, period. The fact that the intercourse is non-consensual is a moral consideration that, according to your position, cannot override the rapists' biological imperative to achieve reproductive success.


No, it's completely consistent. Obviously the distinction escaped you. That I sexually reproduce, or eat meat, is not a moral issue: I am a sexual carnivore. How I sexually reproduce, or eat meat, is a question of morality. Just as I morally judge someone who supports battery hen farms, I morally judge someone who rapes: this is a judgement of how a thing is done. But I do not morally judge someone who eats meat or has sex, for this is their nature. We are not rapists by nature, we are sexual. Rape occurs in nature but is in no way required. Your argument only follows if rape is a biological imperative such that it can override the moral issue of rape - clearly it is not such an imperative, so your argument does not hold. It's a very clear distinction that is not only consistent with "biological imperatives override morality always", but is consistent with morality itself.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 03:00 pm
@Bones-O,
Quote:

But I do not morally judge someone who eats meat or has sex, for this is their nature.


Okay, so you're maintaining that it is natural for people to eat meat. That is, you claim that we have evolved to eat animal products and that eating meat is what nature intends us to do. To not eat meat is to act in opposition to our "biological imperative" and, therefore, the moral principle that we should not eat meat simply cannot be right, or is easily overidden by appeal to what is "natural" for humanity. Fair enough?

Well, we have evolved to be omnivores. We can eat animal products. But that means merely that we have evolved to be beings who can choose what to eat and who have the choice to live exclusively on plant foods. The fact that we can eat animal products is no more support for the conclusion that eating these products is morally justified as our ability to engage in violence is support for the conclusion that war is morally justified. The fact that we can do something is not relevant to whether we should do it. This, too, should be fairly obvious.

It is clear that it is not necessary for us to eat any animal products. And the evidence mounts daily that animal products ingested in the quantities that characterize the diets of those in wealthier nations is detrimental to health. At any rate, my (revised) argument targets the meat industry, not the dietary preferences of individuals. In particular, causing a sentient animal harm is morally wrong because doing so violates its basic welfare interests, the same that we recognize in ourselves.
 
GoshisDead
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 03:31 pm
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism wrote:
Okay, so you're maintaining that it is natural for people to eat meat. That is, you claim that we have evolved to eat animal products and that eating meat is what nature intends us to do. To not eat meat is to act in opposition to our "biological imperative" and, therefore, the moral principle that we should not eat meat simply cannot be right, or is easily overidden by appeal to what is "natural" for humanity. Fair enough?

Well, we have evolved to be omnivores. We can eat animal products. But that means merely that we have evolved to be beings who can choose what to eat and who have the choice to live exclusively on plant foods. The fact that we can eat animal products is no more support for the conclusion that eating these products is morally justified as our ability to engage in violence is support for the conclusion that war is morally justified. The fact that we can do something is not relevant to whether we should do it. This, too, should be fairly obvious.

It is clear that it is not necessary for us to eat any animal products. And the evidence mounts daily that animal products ingested in the quantities that characterize the diets of those in wealthier nations is detrimental to health. At any rate, my (revised) argument targets the meat industry, not the dietary preferences of individuals. In particular, causing a sentient animal harm is morally wrong because doing so violates its basic welfare interests, the same that we recognize in ourselves.


New Mysterianism wrote:
Okay, so you're maintaining that it is natural for people to eat meat. That is, you claim that we have evolved to eat animal products and that eating meat is what nature intends us to do. To not eat meat is to act in opposition to our "biological imperative" and, therefore, the moral principle that we should not eat meat simply cannot be right, or is easily overidden by appeal to what is "natural" for humanity. Fair enough?

Well, we have evolved to be omnivores. We can eat animal products. But that means merely that we have evolved to be beings who can choose what to eat and who have the choice to live exclusively on plant foods. The fact that we can eat animal products is no more support for the conclusion that eating these products is morally justified as our ability to engage in violence is support for the conclusion that war is morally justified. The fact that we can do something is not relevant to whether we should do it. This, too, should be fairly obvious.

It is clear that it is not necessary for us to eat any animal products. And the evidence mounts daily that animal products ingested in the quantities that characterize the diets of those in wealthier nations is detrimental to health. At any rate, my (revised) argument targets the meat industry, not the dietary preferences of individuals. In particular, causing a sentient animal harm is morally wrong because doing so violates its basic welfare interests, the same that we recognize in ourselves.


You are mixing two entirely different processes here evolution and free will. To evolve as omnivore means not choice it means that the animal can and does eat a variety of both meats and vegetable matter. Nature is practical, it does not acknowledge anything such as free will or rational thought. Omnivores eat what is available to the maximum advantage of their own survival. Among Omnivores this means that meat is prefered to vegetable matter because it is more substantial, calorie, and nutrient rich. A bear or a chimpanzee, both omnivorous, will eat meat before other foods if given a choice. The natural state of the omnivore is to optimize lean times and act as the ultimate opportunist. If you are going to argue that man can transcend their nature through their free will that is one thing, but to argue that they should go against their nature for no other reason than that we have the ability is another. "The fact that we can do something is not relevant to whether we should do it. This, too, should be fairly obvious."

It is against our biological imperative not to eat meat, Our bodies are designed for it. It is against our biological/social structure not to participate in war, read history and compare it to studies done by primatologists like Richard Wrangam. In the case of war we have found a practical reason not to do it, and thus it has become an ethic among the "civilized". Among nation/groups with similar technology of destruction it is smart not to be at war. Similarly when it becomes biologically advantageous for our survival to not eat meat it will become an ethical imperative. Humans do not often choose en mass to do things that are impractical, for that matter we do not choose en mass to do things that are inconvenient. Before you get all up in arms that I'm saying humans should eat meat, I'm not, but it is not a valid argument to say "The fact that we can do something is not relevant to whether we should do it. This, too, should be fairly obvious." while using the a counter 'should' argument
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 04:27 pm
@New Mysterianism,
Given the lack of reference to it, I assume the issue of biological imperatives overriding moral concerns is laid to rest and now we are focussing on whether or not meat-eating is such a biological imperative.

New Mysterianism wrote:

Well, we have evolved to be omnivores. We can eat animal products. But that means merely that we have evolved to be beings who can choose what to eat and who have the choice to live exclusively on plant foods.


You are quite right to distinguish between carnivore and omnivore; however I think you misunderstand what an omnivore is. An omnivore is not an animal that eats vegetation or meat. This would simply make it a vegetarian or a carnivore. An omnivore is an animal that eats vegetation and meat. The human digestive system is not adapted to digest primarily vegetation. Vitimin B12, for instance, is not only found predominantly in meat, but even in vegetable form is generally rejected by the human digestive system. Now, of course, vegetarians tend to take supplements that can be digested... good for their health, but does not alter the body's requirements to eat meat, simply circumvents it.

Such nutritional requirements are hard-wired in us. Instinctively we tend to eat what were traditionally the hardest to come by of the essential elements of our diet, namely sugar and animal fat. As a result, in our present environment of availability on demand, we tend to overeat sugary foods and meat, causing ill health. A further manifestation of the biological imperative to eat meat is the hunting instinct.

A vegetarian diet today is perfectly healthy and feasible because of this same availability on demand, and of course the handy nutritional supplements. But the feasibility of a vegetarian diet now has absolutely nothing to do with our predisposition toward eating meat which was formed at a time when diets could not be so well managed, as a vegetarian diet needs to be. So arguing that we can subsist on vegetation is irrelevent. The issue of the biological imperative is solely one of natural disposition, and that is to eat meat.

New Mysterianism wrote:

The fact that we can eat animal products is no more support for the conclusion that eating these products is morally justified as our ability to engage in violence is support for the conclusion that war is morally justified.


I think you misunderstand. I am not morally justifying meat-eating; I am saying it is not a moral issue at all. I thought at least that aspect of my argument was fairly easy to grasp.

New Mysterianism wrote:

It is clear that it is not necessary for us to eat any animal products. And the evidence mounts daily that animal products ingested in the quantities that characterize the diets of those in wealthier nations is detrimental to health. At any rate, my (revised) argument targets the meat industry, not the dietary preferences of individuals. In particular, causing a sentient animal harm is morally wrong because doing so violates its basic welfare interests, the same that we recognize in ourselves.

Here we are in complete agreement, and I alluded to this earlier in my reference to battery chickens as an example. The meat industry is despicable, and I try to encourage people to support ethically sourced food always. Thankfully our choices are becoming wider, but more choice doesn't solve the problem: it simply separates us into those who care and pay for it, and those (the majority) who don't and save money. Ultimately the only solution is government legislation, and this faces the same brick wall as environmental issues: despite a clear notion of what should (or in the case of pollution must) be done, no government that makes it harder to source food (or drive cars) will be (re-)elected. These are the limits of democracy.
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Tue 12 May, 2009 07:23 pm
@Bones-O,
Quote:

Here we are in complete agreement, and I alluded to this earlier in my reference to battery chickens as an example. The meat industry is despicable, and I try to encourage people to support ethically sourced food always.


So you agree with premise (1), that causing harm to sentient animals is prima facie morally wrong? Or are you saying that killing animals for their meat is morally permissible, provided that they are kept in "good" living conditions (i.e., happy meat) ?
 
nameless
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 12:18 am
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism;60919 wrote:
Defending killing and eating animals is morally wrong

Calling the philosophical defence of anything "morally wrong"... is 'morally wrong'!
 
New Mysterianism
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 12:27 am
@nameless,
The website administrator renamed the thread; don't blame me!
 
nameless
 
Reply Wed 13 May, 2009 01:07 am
@New Mysterianism,
New Mysterianism;62795 wrote:
The website administrator renamed the thread; don't blame me!

I'd get my money back if I were you! You got 'logically' shafted.
(I didn't know there was such censorship/editing here...)
 
 

 
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