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Nem



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
Posts: 2141
Location: England

PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tinalles wrote:
Major premise: Tamir is a human being.

Minor premise: Tamir does not eat meat or use leather due to a belief that the pain of animals matters.

Conclusion: some human beings act out of concern for pain which does not affect themselves or their families directly.

It is therefore an invalid generalization to claim (or imply) that humans act only out of a "limited concern" for their own well being or that of their families and friends.


Sure, if your highest values already agree with those of the ideology it’s a pretty straight forward equation. If that were the case the utilitarian argument would be a bit odd though. You value happiness in everything therefore you should value it in everything. It’s just true by law of self identity, not because you care about it in yourself; there are plenty of incredibly selfish people out there.

It’s a fine statement of position for those who already agree with it but I’m not sure I’d call it a good argument. Those who go around committing the immoral acts can’t hold the generalised value of others happiness/freedom from suffering among their highest values or they wouldn’t be doing them. Although I appreciate that it’s not quite that simple, caring that is, which brings me on to...

Tinalles wrote:
Is that your only basis for rejecting utilitarian arguments regarding morality?


My second objection would be a more finely grained case of the first:

It doesn’t follow that because you value happiness in yourself, even if that did cause you to value it in others, that you’d value it to equal degree. I might just not care enough about it in others not to do cruel things to them.
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odizzido



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only thing worse than being killed by people for food it being killed by another animal. They will eat you while you are alive and you can be alive for a long time as they do it. Animals have no sense of what is going on around them, but we do. Personally I think eating them is fine, but we shouldn't be cruel to them.
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Tamir



Joined: 22 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 4:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thebes wrote:
Another question: fear.

Good question, that. It's problematic in the sense that it's much harder to tell if an animal can feel fear than to tell if it can feel pain. However, I do think that animal fear should be minimized too, in the same way.

AsA wrote:
I suppose I think animals have "subsistence 'rights'", for lack of a better term. People have a responsibility to care for them, and as long as they don't pose a threat they have a right to live.

I can't think of anything else beyond that animals absolutely need, which is the definition of a right. Anything else is a privilege.

Three points here: One, what's included in those "subsistence 'rights'"? A right to food and water? A right to a place to live (this one depends on the animal)? A right to safety from violence? It could be argued that all of those are needed for subsistence.
Two, why are those the only rights they need? You would probably give humans rights such as a right to freedom of motion and a right to develop relations with other humans. What is it that separates us from them which gives us those rights, but not them?
Three, even if they have only "subsistence 'rights'", many industries hardly even give them that. By giving animals the bare minimum, many of the animals simply can't handle it and die (this is of course depending on the industry). But it's still worth it for the companies financially because even though they lose some of the animals due to the conditions, the conditions cost that much less.

Nu wrote:
I'm not going to argue the finer points of this with you all, but my basic view of animal rights is that a predator-prey relationship exists naturally in nature, and we should not feel guilty for being predators. However, since we do have the ability to reason, I think we should be merciful, and therefore do not support animal cruelty.

Just because something exists naturally, doesn't mean it's moral. Animals don't really have a choice in the matter, but we do. We've developed enough technologically that our dependence on animals is unnecessary. And as you say, we can reason and decide to be merciful.

Nem1 wrote:
It doesnít follow that because you value happiness in yourself, even if that did cause you to value it in others, that youíd value it to equal degree. I might just not care enough about it in others not to do cruel things to them.

I think that if you value happiness in yourself, you should value it in others. I think there are people who don't, but I would call those people immoral. All humans are pretty similar in that they all value happiness in themselves, so why should you have special treatment? I think they should deserve the same things you deserve, and your actions should reflect that.

odizzido wrote:
The only thing worse than being killed by people for food it being killed by another animal. They will eat you while you are alive and you can be alive for a long time as they do it. Animals have no sense of what is going on around them, but we do. Personally I think eating them is fine, but we shouldn't be cruel to them.

I don't understand the argument here. Are you saying that since they have no mercy on us, it's okay to eat them? Aside from pointing out again that they don't really have a choice in the matter, I don't get why that would justify eating chickens, say. They're not going to eat you...


To all - if I sound insulting, or arrogant, or anything, please tell me off. I mean no offense to anyone. Really. =F
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thespaceinvader



Joined: 23 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tinu. wrote:
I'm not going to argue the finer points of this with you all, but my basic view of animal rights is that a predator-prey relationship exists naturally in nature, and we should not feel guilty for being predators. However, since we do have the ability to reason, I think we should be merciful, and therefore do not support animal cruelty.

Basically: I have no problem eating meat or wearing leather, but I do have a problem with many of the things that go on in slaughter-houses. Unfortunately, I don't think PETA arguing that you shouldn't move a turtle from a road because it "wants" to be there is helping the situation.


QFT. This is more or less my position. I also have little problem with animal research, as long as it is done carefully, sensitively and not frivolously, this last being particularly important. I don't hold with cosmetics research and the like. I wouldn't agree with it being done on many higher mammals either, particularly monkeys etc.

The question of feeling pain is an interesting one from both a philosophical and technical standpoint. 'Nerves' is not an answer, at least, not a full one. How do we tell if an animal (particularly ones with relatively small brains) when damaged, is consciously feeling the sensation of pain, or simply reacting out of reflex?
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Nem



Joined: 14 Apr 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tamir wrote:
I think that if you value happiness in yourself, you should value it in others.


If I shoot someone in the head enough they should die, if I add two and two I should get four*. These claims are true** because they line up with some fact about how things are, because they describe reality. It’s often expressed with socially abstracted shorthand too, ‘You shouldn’t stick your fingers in power sockets. [If you don’t want to get electrocuted/other conditional here]’ But just saying that a thing should be so when it's apparent that it's not so seems to be either false, since the world it attempts to describe contradicts it, or meaningless in that it doesn't try to describe the world.

Similar problems appear with 'ought' and other terms imported from the more consistent subjects to try to justify morality.

In the case of utilitarian ethics the claim being made isn’t socially abstracted, it’s an exact claim that that because I value something in a certain place I should value it in others. But that’s simply untrue, we have but to look at world and see that this claim doesn’t line up with how things actually work. It’s like if someone pointed at the sea and said it should be made of treacle; either they’re attempting to describe the world and have just got it wrong, or they’re not making any sense.

*Put those infinities down.... ^_~

** Or at least we have good reason to suspect they*** are true.

*** Although arguably logical should claims are metaphysical truths and thus would be true of all possible worlds.


Tamir wrote:
I think there are people who don't, but I would call those people immoral.


I wonder whether anyone's morality actually meets those standards. If every person’s happiness was equally important to that of a given individual that individual would potentially be perfectly altruistic pretty much all the time.

Tamir wrote:
All humans are pretty similar in that they all value happiness in themselves, so why should you have special treatment? I think they should deserve the same things you deserve, and your actions should reflect that.


Nem2 wrote:
What people mistake for natural rights are actually socially negotiated privileges. A right, properly expressed, makes no sense without the contrast of duty, a protection voluntarily assumed by the individual on behalf of the social group or society to which they belong.


If you don’t want me to go around murdering and stealing and so on, and do want me to behave in a friendly manner to those within my society, then you, (or at least the majority within my society,) should give me special treatment. (I.E. rights to not be murdered/assaulted, certain limited property rights, etc.) Because if you don’t I’m going to make very bad things happen.

Rights, deserve; these concepts just denote the trade that goes on between the protections you’re given and the behaviour of yourself/your identifiable social groupings.
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theBSDude



Joined: 09 Jul 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
I wonder whether anyone's morality actually meets those standards.

It's a key part of my religion that no one does.

Nem wrote:
If every personís happiness was equally important to that of a given individual that individual would potentially be perfectly altruistic pretty much all the time.

Yeah, just like that. I'm getting off-topic, but still, the problem with any sort of ethical debate is moral relativity. It's completely impossible to be "good"; the best we can do is try to be "better".
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Lani



Joined: 09 May 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm not an animal rights activist, but I would consider myself a fairly compassionate person. I'm not a vegetarian, but in a perfect world I would prefer to get all my chickens from a farm where I know they were treated well and slaughtered mercifully. However, I don't have the budget to support that kind of thinking.

I feel that there is something wrong with a person who abuses his animals- not necessarily because the animals have a right not to be harmed, but because the person who would do that lacks compassion. It really all comes down to the people, not the animals. It's all well and good to say "animals shouldn't be abused/used/mistreated/experimented on!" when that all depends on the individual choices of people. A business person will do what will save him money, the person with a temper will not exercise restraint...

Unfortunately, there's no way to solve this problem-- and I do agree that it is a problem-- besides making laws against it. To a certain extent these laws are in place in the US, but I do not agree with making more. I believe that a business man has the right to try and make money-- and the consumer has the right to not buy his product. On the other side, though, an angry man should not have the right to not restrain his temper- because justification for abuse of animals could extend to abuse of other people.

Not a theoretical argument, I know, but a practical one. It's up to individuals to decide what is acceptable or not. Buy shampoo that didn't experiment on animals. Report abuse of animals to the authorities. Be personally responsible according to what you believe.

That statement, however, opens up a whole 'nother can of worms. If an individual is allowed to define morality for himself, a murderer can define his actions as okay- for him.
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Wren



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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
If you donít want me to go around murdering and stealing and so on, and do want me to behave in a friendly manner to those within my society, then you, (or at least the majority within my society,) should give me special treatment. (I.E. rights to not be murdered/assaulted, certain limited property rights, etc.) Because if you donít Iím going to make very bad things happen.

Yes, but that is true of any individual. Therefore, you are not getting special treatment, you are getting treatment that the rest of society is getting. Assuming we're using the word 'special' to mean 'out of the ordinary,' that's not special treatment. That's just you not being treated any worse than others for an arbitrary reason--which would be out of the ordinary.

Forgive me if I'm just misunderstanding.
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Tinalles
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nem wrote:
Those who go around committing the immoral acts canít hold the generalised value of others happiness/freedom from suffering among their highest values or they wouldnít be doing them.


Hmm. If I've understood correctly, you're arguing that "The existence of selfish people shows that the utilitarians were wrong about how humans act." That argument is a description of the current state of reality.

Whereas I'm arguing "The existence of altruistic people shows that the utilitarians were right about how humans can act." That is, it's a description of how reality might become.

The discussion at hand has to do with morals. Essentially, morals are a socially negotiated behavioral code designed to encourage behaviors that people approve of, and discourage behaviors people disapprove of, by assigning social rewards for compliance (such as: the approval of friends and family, etc) and penalties for non-compliance (such as: shunning, etc).

As such, morals are fundamentally concerned with what could or should be. They're concerned with making the society work better. The way things are now is relevant only in comparison to how things could be. Utilitarians are fully aware that selfish people exist, and that they always will. The idea is to aim for "the greatest good for the greatest number," which inherently recognizes the limitations of human nature. We cannot hope to achieve "the best for all," because something that's good for one part of society may be bad for another part. But it's entirely reasonable to strive to improve the lot of as many as possible, as far as possible.

So it doesn't make sense to claim, as you appear to be doing, that the existence of selfish people negates the utilitarian approach to morality. The whole essence of the utilitarian approach is to deal with the existence of selfishness. It's impossible to eliminate it, but it's entirely possible to discourage selfish behavior and encourage altruism. So I'm not buying your argument.

Have I misunderstood or misinterpreted something?
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Tamir



Joined: 22 Mar 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tamir wrote:
I think there are people who don't, but I would call those people immoral.

I retract this statement. In fact, I retracted it in my head a while ago but I didn't get to say it until now.

*stays out of this round of the philosophy argument*

Lani wrote:
Unfortunately, there's no way to solve this problem-- and I do agree that it is a problem-- besides making laws against it.

I don't know about the rest of the world, but at least in my country there are laws against animal abuse. I imagine such laws are common. However, in practice these things happen anyway. So long as the public opinion isn't against the animal mistreatment in the industry, there isn't much reason for it to change.

Nu wrote:
I do have a problem with many of the things that go on in slaughter-houses.

Spacey wrote:
QFT. This is more or less my position.

Lani wrote:
It's up to individuals to decide what is acceptable or not. Buy shampoo that didn't experiment on animals. Report abuse of animals to the authorities. Be personally responsible according to what you believe.

Could one of you then please explain to me why you eat meat? =S If you think what goes on in the meat industry is problematic, (which I also think is the case, due to people trying to capitalize as much as possible on animals,) why would you support it by buying from them? The reason things exist the way they do is because the masses continue to support the industries financially.

Lani wrote:
However, I don't have the budget to support that kind of thinking.

Just for the record - in general, plants are cheaper than meat, due to the fact that many kilos of plants must be fed to the animal so that we can get a single kilo of meat from it.
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Ravenna



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Apart from the obvious about nutrients and vitamins that you may not always get from a vegetarian or a vegan based diet? I'm aware that you can get these nutrients from alternative diets, but ultimately you would really need to savvy up, current eating trends show us that humans have been lazy about this.

One possibility, is doing the rearing and culling by yourself. However for the average person, it's often a financial impossibility to rear and cull their own meat, not to mention the question of where you would do your animal rearing.

While more and more people are moving over to brands that are "approved"* as being as kind as possible to the animal or where there is a good reputation, there will always be the problem of information and resources. It might be getting cheaper, but there are still a lot of people who don't have the information nor the resources to make the more "ethical"** choice ie organic or non-battery.

I admit, this may come across as a poor excuse, but it's the unfortunate reality of many a situation.

As to why I eat meat, the facetious answer is because I'm a hungry omnivore, designed/evolved/adapted to get my nutrition from various plant and meat sources. The genuine answer, I've never given the moral quandries much thought, and I'm also aware that there is very little I can do to change mass practices and the economy all by myself. I will say that there is change coming through, but it will be a slow change. If I'm being completely honest though, I feel like what you're questioning here isn't animal rights, but why human nature works the way it does.

* I don't know how it is in other countries, but I'm aware in the UK that more and more brands and supermarktets are trying to make statements that they do treat their animals well.

** I only put this in inverted commas since there seems to be a moral theoretical debate going on here, and I don't want to take a side in that argument.
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thespaceinvader



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I eat meat because I like meat. I think my diet would be dull as ditchwater without meat, and other animal products (speaking of which, do you eat dairy, eggs, wear leather etc etc etc?).

I try my best to get meat that is responsibly sourced, organic, happy, you name it (partly for ethical reasons, partly because it usually tastes nicer and is of better quality, despite being a little more expensive), and generally avoid beef as much as I can, because of the environmental implications of cows in particular. I try to avoid practices I disagree with as far as possible, and recently I have been trying to cut down a bit on the meat I eat because it's expensive.

The question of wearing leather is a particularly interesting one - the animals that produce it are liable to be dead anyway thanks to the food industry. SO why let it go to waste?
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Tamir



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 10:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spaceman wrote:
(speaking of which, do you eat dairy, eggs, wear leather etc etc etc?).

I don't know exactly what all those "etc"s say, but no, I do not. I'm a vegan, which means no animal products.

Rav wrote:
Apart from the obvious about nutrients and vitamins that you may not always get from a vegetarian or a vegan based diet? I'm aware that you can get these nutrients from alternative diets, but ultimately you would really need to savvy up, current eating trends show us that humans have been lazy about this.

That's something everyone should be doing (savvying up). Regardless of what you eat, you should learn about the different nutrients you need, what sort of quantities you need them in and where they can be found. Lots of sicknesses could be averted if people watched what they ate.
It's true, when I decided to be a vegan, I spent time doing research and savvying up. If I had simply cut the meat, fish, dairy and eggs out of my diet I would not have been so healthy. But I read a lot, and now not only am I getting everything I need (took a blood test to be sure), but I'm also getting nutrients a lot of people are lazy about (like Omega 3).

Rav wrote:
I'm also aware that there is very little I can do to change mass practices and the economy all by myself.

I think you underestimate yourself. =) Besides, it's kinda like voting... you could say "well, my vote won't actually change the result", but it's better to still do what you can.

Rav wrote:
If I'm being completely honest though, I feel like what you're questioning here isn't animal rights, but why human nature works the way it does.

You're right that I'm not really questioning animal rights here... I really just wanted people to discuss the topic. Often people would act differently if they gave certain matters thought, but those matters aren't talked about much. I think it's important to discuss them.

Spacey wrote:
The question of wearing leather is a particularly interesting one - the animals that produce it are liable to be dead anyway thanks to the food industry. SO why let it go to waste?

As far as I'm concerned, buying leather would be supporting the food industry in that way. But regardless, if people stopped buying only meat and not leather, animals would still be caged in bad conditions and killed for their skin. Only by boycotting both can that stop.

Space wrote:
I think my diet would be dull as ditchwater without meat, and other animal products

Take it from me, there's a whole world of interesting foods made entirely of plants that most people are completely unfamiliar with. I don't lack variety.
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Tinu.



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

thespaceinvader wrote:
I eat meat because I like meat.

Basically.
I don't think switching to veganism is the way to change the practices of the food industry. I fully plan on trying to change them other ways, and supporting those who do, but I really don't think a comparitively small number of people protesting meat and animal cruelty by not eating meat is going to help. All the do is provide other sources of food for you and continue with what they're doing. I'm not much one for personal protests. Give me a better way of doing so and I will - but I just don't think this is going to work very well (in America), so therefore I'm going to keep eating meat.
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Tamir



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PostPosted: Fri Jul 31, 2009 11:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do both. I think that it's important to make laws regarding this issue, and I'm volunteering for an organization which does just that. However! I honestly think the most effective way of changing these things is public protest and boycott. Laws of this sort don't usually pass unless public opinion supports them. The change needs to start with the people who are financing the mistreatment, not the people who are making money off of it.

Besides, as far as I'm concerned, being vegan is definitely helping. People think that veganism is some freakish thing belonging only to extremists, and I'm helping to show people that not only are there good reasons for it, it's also not too hard. Slowly but surely, the public opinion can change.
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