vegan philosophy
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08-08-2014, 10:38 AM
RE: vegan philosophy
(08-08-2014 12:17 AM)morondog Wrote:  
(07-08-2014 08:45 PM)Seikilos Wrote:  When I see people making fun of vegans, it's hard for me not to imagine them wearing exactly the same smug smirks and teasing abolitionists, suffragettes, etc.

... Making fun of people is a human right. Cabbage face.

That's kale face, thank you very much.

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08-08-2014, 11:42 AM
RE: vegan philosophy
(07-08-2014 04:05 PM)morondog Wrote:  
(07-08-2014 01:21 PM)cjlr Wrote:  The dividing line between "well-treated" and "not well-treated" is arbitrary. The dividing line between "species that deserves to be well-treated" and "species that does not deserve to be well treated" is arbitary. It is, to a great extent, feels-based. Which is fine so far as that goes, but it means there's no rational argument to be made. To be preachy and sanctimonious about said naturally varying opinions is rather less endearing.

I think... the line isn't that arbitrary. We can definitely say that bacteria aren't really gonna give a shit if you eat them. We can definitely say that given the choice a cow doesn't wanna get chomped.

Can we say that? It's already prone to projection to speak of "wants" in anything non-human.

A cow can't process an instant, painless death any more than any other animal.

(07-08-2014 04:05 PM)morondog Wrote:  We can also pretty much say that battery farming in its worst incarnations is a definite evil, if only from the point of view that it's gonna produce low quality meat.

Sure. And?

(07-08-2014 04:05 PM)morondog Wrote:  Animals have highly developed nervous systems - dogs, cows, rats - all of them IMO (I don't know, so only IMO) have emotions and feelings, not developed to as high a degree as us, but they're there or thereabouts.

It's the IMO lurking there that's key. Somewhere between "dog" and "bacterium" you're drawing a line. What is it? Why?

Sheep are dumber than cows. Chickens are dumber than sheep. Fish are dumber than chickens. Shellfish are dumber than fish. And so on.

(07-08-2014 04:05 PM)morondog Wrote:  As such, yeah, IMO, there is something to be said for veganism - at least its an interesting topic of conversation to me. I don't know if I could pull it off. Also, MT and the other guy have neither of them been preachy at all that I can see. The only time when he said why he was a vegan was when I specifically asked him.

I dunno what it is but... somehow vegans, vegetarians etc seem to get a bit of a bad rap... I wish to fuck people would just calm down and eat a carrot or something.

Thing is, modern human life is completely inextricable from that of animals. "I don't eat animals" is one thing, and it's already an impossible standard. "I don't eat things made with/by/from animals" even more so.

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08-08-2014, 11:48 AM
RE: vegan philosophy
(07-08-2014 03:57 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  
(07-08-2014 01:21 PM)cjlr Wrote:  It is, to a great extent, feels-based. Which is fine so far as that goes, but it means there's no rational argument to be made. To be preachy and sanctimonious about said naturally varying opinions is rather less endearing.

So are objections to eugenics and human-trafficking Drinking Beverage .

Except those are based on far more widely held premises regarding human identity and freedom.

To base your reasoning on something as nebulously defined as minimising "harm" or "suffering" is better; that's something which can be argued, but the premise still needs justification.

Speaking to environmental impact is better still - that's an easier premise to justify.

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08-08-2014, 12:22 PM
RE: vegan philosophy
(08-08-2014 11:48 AM)cjlr Wrote:  
(07-08-2014 03:57 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  So are objections to eugenics and human-trafficking Drinking Beverage .

Except those are based on far more widely held premises regarding human identity and freedom.

To base your reasoning on something as nebulously defined as minimising "harm" or "suffering" is better; that's something which can be argued, but the premise still needs justification.

Speaking to environmental impact is better still - that's an easier premise to justify.

The point I was trying to make is any ethical position is "feels" based (or rather justified by moral principles), and while a moral position cannot be 'objective', it can certainly be 'rational', as evident by the fact you used a rational argument to try and contrast the two.

There are environmental advantages to plant based diets. I haven't brought them up in these threads about veganism only because they are exceptionally difficult to quantify. How much benefit? I have no idea. A significant amount very probably, but I can't speak to it with an authority, or back up those claims with any good evidence. I could only use inductive arguments based on biological and ecological principles.

Nevertheless it is true, and since you brought it up, the vast majority of our cereal grains produced throughout the world, particularly in the united states, are consumed by livestock. It is reasonable to believe that if less people ate meat we could farm less and/or feed more people with less resources.
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08-08-2014, 12:41 PM
RE: vegan philosophy
(08-08-2014 12:22 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  
(08-08-2014 11:48 AM)cjlr Wrote:  Except those are based on far more widely held premises regarding human identity and freedom.

To base your reasoning on something as nebulously defined as minimising "harm" or "suffering" is better; that's something which can be argued, but the premise still needs justification.

Speaking to environmental impact is better still - that's an easier premise to justify.

The point I was trying to make is any ethical position is "feels" based (or rather justified by moral principles), and while a moral position cannot be 'objective', it can certainly be 'rational', as evident by the fact you used a rational argument to try and contrast the two.

Of course. But you can only use a rational argument once you have decided on an external criterion to compare.
(analogy: punitive vs rehabilitative justice is an intrinsic moral position; effect on rate of recidivism is an empirical matter)

"Harm to animals" is a valid criterion, if sufficiently defined, though doing so is a difficult problem.

Why should that be the criterion adopted?

(08-08-2014 12:22 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  There are environmental advantages to plant based diets. I haven't brought them up in these threads about veganism only because they are exceptionally difficult to quantify. How much benefit? I have no idea. A significant amount very probably, but I can't speak to it with an authority, or back up those claims with any good evidence. I could only use inductive arguments based on biological and ecological principles.

Similarly, "environmental impact" is an eminently valid criterion. And it's a far easier sell; we are all directly impacted by the condition of our mutual environment.

(08-08-2014 12:22 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  Nevertheless it is true, and since you brought it up, the vast majority of our cereal grains produced throughout the world, particularly in the united states, are consumed by livestock. It is reasonable to believe that if less people ate meat we could farm less and/or feed more people with less resources.

That's almost trivially true. I agree wholeheartedly.

But I am not an absolutist, and I believe it is possible to practise ethical animal husbandry as a component of our societies.

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08-08-2014, 12:59 PM
RE: vegan philosophy
(08-08-2014 11:42 AM)cjlr Wrote:  
(07-08-2014 04:05 PM)morondog Wrote:  I think... the line isn't that arbitrary. We can definitely say that bacteria aren't really gonna give a shit if you eat them. We can definitely say that given the choice a cow doesn't wanna get chomped.

Can we say that? It's already prone to projection to speak of "wants" in anything non-human.

A cow can't process an instant, painless death any more than any other animal.


We are getting into the moral philosophy here. In my experience this makes people both angry and uncomfortable. I mean this only as a philosophical and intellectual exercise. I am not intending to shame anyone or preach my rhetoric. That being said...

Do you believe cows want to live or die? We can't say for sure what they are thinking, but there seems to be every indication that they prefer to live.

If attribute value to the life of an animal, as vegans are likely to do, then an instant death is still preferable to a prolonged one. However, something of value, the life of the animal, is still lost. When you describe the actions of the moral aggressor, society, and individual, or whatever, then things like "intent" and "consequences" and the ability to "foresee" begin to matter. From the vegan perspective, the reason an animal dies are very important, not just the death itself. Not unlike how we view the death of people.

Another point worth mentioning, even if we can't be sure the cow values its own life, we can be sure that we value its life. As human beings we prefer to see livings things persist in living, and we prefer to minimize suffering; not just for human beings but for all creatures at all similar to human beings. This is a product of our human empathy. As far 'feels' based points go, this is particularly nebulous, but perhaps there is some intangible benefit to people not to kill things.

Quote:
(07-08-2014 04:05 PM)morondog Wrote:  We can also pretty much say that battery farming in its worst incarnations is a definite evil, if only from the point of view that it's gonna produce low quality meat.

Sure. And?

An acknowledgement of an "evil" tends to make one compelled to end said evil. I think what was implied is that if we all agree battery farming is bad, then we would all agree that steps should be taken to end battery farming.

Quote:
(07-08-2014 04:05 PM)morondog Wrote:  Animals have highly developed nervous systems - dogs, cows, rats - all of them IMO (I don't know, so only IMO) have emotions and feelings, not developed to as high a degree as us, but they're there or thereabouts.

It's the IMO lurking there that's key. Somewhere between "dog" and "bacterium" you're drawing a line. What is it? Why?

Sheep are dumber than cows. Chickens are dumber than sheep. Fish are dumber than chickens. Shellfish are dumber than fish. And so on.

Any line you are going to draw here is acknowledgedly arbitrary. There is a continuum of intelligent and responses to environmental stimuli in life, and there is something to be said for how we show preference for some types of intelligence over others. Nevertheless, there is definitely a point on that continuum where we feel uncomfortable causing that creature harm. One of such examples, most of us are uncomfortable watching bad things happens to dogs and horses. None of us seem particularly concerned about the plight of amoebas and e coli. Somewhere in the middle is the dividing line.

Quote:
(07-08-2014 04:05 PM)morondog Wrote:  As such, yeah, IMO, there is something to be said for veganism - at least its an interesting topic of conversation to me. I don't know if I could pull it off. Also, MT and the other guy have neither of them been preachy at all that I can see. The only time when he said why he was a vegan was when I specifically asked him.

I dunno what it is but... somehow vegans, vegetarians etc seem to get a bit of a bad rap... I wish to fuck people would just calm down and eat a carrot or something.

Thing is, modern human life is completely inextricable from that of animals. "I don't eat animals" is one thing, and it's already an impossible standard. "I don't eat things made with/by/from animals" even more so.

I would be inclined to disagree with you on that point. In any sort of direct sense, it is pretty easy, and very conceivably possible, to take part on all of the productive human enterprise without using materials that come from animals. Any sort of physical and chemical properties you might need can certainly be found in plants or cultured from bacteria; after all more than 90% of all species on planet earth are plants and bacteria.

In a more indirect sense, I would agree with you, it is not possible for human beings and human interactions to take place in a moral vacuum safe from harming any other creature. Harvesting crops kills animals and insects, for one thing. Human activities such as pumping oil and driving cars are bound to cause animal deaths. If a wasps nests invades your house and someone who lives with you is allergic to them, what do you do? You can move it far away, content you didn't kill it, even if by doing so you very likely will cause the collapse of the hive and the death of the colony. Then there is medicine... lots of people depend on insulin, in particular, a hormone that is almost exclusively extracted from pigs.

To these point though, the minimize harm principle applies. You do what you can where you can. The world shows no preference for life or death, even if we do. Part of living in reality is acknowledging that we, despite our best intentions, will do harm and will never be blameless. The salient point here is that we could be doing more than we are already doing. As a vegan I am inclined to believe that easy changes can be made to benefit animal welfare, and that these efforts will produce better outcomes for people and animals; efforts that are every bit worth doing.

This is my perspective of anyway. I didn't intent to say more than what was necessary to adequately address these point. I hope I didn't offend anyone.
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08-08-2014, 01:02 PM
RE: vegan philosophy
(08-08-2014 12:41 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(08-08-2014 12:22 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  The point I was trying to make is any ethical position is "feels" based (or rather justified by moral principles), and while a moral position cannot be 'objective', it can certainly be 'rational', as evident by the fact you used a rational argument to try and contrast the two.

Of course. But you can only use a rational argument once you have decided on an external criterion to compare.
(analogy: punitive vs rehabilitative justice is an intrinsic moral position; effect on rate of recidivism is an empirical matter)

"Harm to animals" is a valid criterion, if sufficiently defined, though doing so is a difficult problem.

Why should that be the criterion adopted?

(08-08-2014 12:22 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  There are environmental advantages to plant based diets. I haven't brought them up in these threads about veganism only because they are exceptionally difficult to quantify. How much benefit? I have no idea. A significant amount very probably, but I can't speak to it with an authority, or back up those claims with any good evidence. I could only use inductive arguments based on biological and ecological principles.

Similarly, "environmental impact" is an eminently valid criterion. And it's a far easier sell; we are all directly impacted by the condition of our mutual environment.

(08-08-2014 12:22 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  Nevertheless it is true, and since you brought it up, the vast majority of our cereal grains produced throughout the world, particularly in the united states, are consumed by livestock. It is reasonable to believe that if less people ate meat we could farm less and/or feed more people with less resources.

That's almost trivially true. I agree wholeheartedly.

But I am not an absolutist, and I believe it is possible to practise ethical animal husbandry as a component of our societies.

I responded to another post you made, and I don't want to split this into two simultaneous discussions. I only want to acknowledge that ethical animal husbandry is possible, and can even positively effect the environment as compared to the alternative. As far as first steps go, I wholeheartedly support grass feed/free range cows as opposed to corn fed/confined alternative.
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08-08-2014, 01:24 PM (This post was last modified: 08-08-2014 01:27 PM by morondog.)
RE: vegan philosophy
I apologise in advance - I rambled quite a bit here... if you make it to the end I'll know that you're super bored. Oh well Tongue

(08-08-2014 11:42 AM)cjlr Wrote:  Can we say that? It's already prone to projection to speak of "wants" in anything non-human.
Chimps? OK so not chimps. Monkeys? As you say, hard to speak of wants, but I can't believe that emotions such as fear etc evolved in humans in a vacuum. I imagine, me, I imagine, I use my feely argument, that being a cow doesn't feel substantially different from being a human apart from eating grass and moving around on four legs and wanting to fuck other cows instead of humans and being quite a lot dumber than even this argument.

Quote:A cow can't process an instant, painless death any more than any other animal.
... Yay?

Quote:
(07-08-2014 04:05 PM)morondog Wrote:  We can also pretty much say that battery farming in its worst incarnations is a definite evil, if only from the point of view that it's gonna produce low quality meat.

Sure. And?
And therefore it would be cool to look for an alternative. Or as MT and Seikilos, making a personal choice to be against such things.

Quote:It's the IMO lurking there that's key. Somewhere between "dog" and "bacterium" you're drawing a line. What is it? Why?
It's an undefined line. Why do you want a sharp one when a blurred one is all we got? You say that 'cos it's blurred it ain't there?

Quote:Thing is, modern human life is completely inextricable from that of animals. "I don't eat animals" is one thing, and it's already an impossible standard. "I don't eat things made with/by/from animals" even more so.
This is your opinion and is fine. If someone wants to make the attempt, or even to "preach", why (the fuck) not?

I'd also like to make one more comment that... I'm not sold on this veg gig myself. For a start, even if it's battery farmed, I like yummy meat. Boo me. Couldn't give two shits for the ethics of it. Second, the whole sentient critters thing. Ja, you see, I don't mind if someone eats me once I'm dead so... eating sentient creatures is kinda part of the cycle of life...

^ I say this shit but... at the same time if I think of battery farming humans as an example (yes, anthropomorphising! Wanna point out any more fallacies?)... it kinda seems a bit horrible. Can you imagine? Being fattened against your will. Kept in your room with only an internet connection. Then one day... you get the chop. And yummy Cjlr steaks are at the supermarket next day being bought by people who *don't care* and don't even know that you were an excellent debater on TTA.

Now yes, that's anthropomorphising and wrong and terrible and plus you probably taste terrible, but... if animals have some intelligence... then treating them badly... just as a personal preference thing... I don't like it. ETA: I understand you don't like it either - wasn't trying to strawman you. What I mean is, I respect people who can from that make their lifestyle choice to avoid meat products... I can't foresee myself ever doing that though.

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(06-02-2014 03:47 PM)Momsurroundedbyboys Wrote:  And I'm giving myself a conclusion again from all the facepalming.
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08-08-2014, 01:26 PM
RE: vegan philosophy
(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  [quote='cjlr' pid='619760' dateline='1407519739']

Can we say that? It's already prone to projection to speak of "wants" in anything non-human.

A cow can't process an instant, painless death any more than any other animal.

We are getting into the moral philosophy here. In my experience this makes people both angry and uncomfortable. I mean this only as a philosophical and intellectual exercise. I am not intending to shame anyone or preach my rhetoric. That being said...
[/quote]

I find that only results when one insists that different morals are better or worse. I have no problem with inevitable disagreement.

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  Do you believe cows want to live or die? We can't say for sure what they are thinking, but there seems to be every indication that they prefer to live.

I find "want" in that context to be undue personification. Cows are not self-aware; they cannot possess an understanding of death. They respond to stimuli by trying to stay alive, sure - but all life does that, from prokaryotes to us.

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  If attribute value to the life of an animal, as vegans are likely to do, then an instant death is still preferable to a prolonged one. However, something of value, the life of the animal, is still lost. When you describe the actions of the moral aggressor, society, and individual, or whatever, then things like "intent" and "consequences" and the ability to "foresee" begin to matter. From the vegan perspective, the reason an animal dies are very important, not just the death itself. Not unlike how we view the death of people.

I don't know that it's any more justifiable to paint all vegans with the same brush any more than it is all atheists - beyone one narrow criteria, what do they necessarily have in common?

What that leaves is whether one accepts or rejects any number of possible justifications.

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  Another point worth mentioning, even if we can't be sure the cow values its own life, we can be sure that we value its life. As human beings we prefer to see livings things persist in living, and we prefer to minimize suffering; not just for human beings but for all creatures at all similar to human beings. This is a product of our human empathy. As far 'feels' based points go, this is particularly nebulous, but perhaps there is some intangible benefit to people not to kill things.
Quote:Most relevant section bolded. Who are you to speak for other people?

To engage in some generalisation of my own, I do not think most people would agree that the degree of empathy warranted by all living things is even remotely equal.

[quote='Michael_Tadlock' pid='619803' dateline='1407524387']
Sure. And?

An acknowledgement of an "evil" tends to make one compelled to end said evil. I think what was implied is that if we all agree battery farming is bad, then we would all agree that steps should be taken to end battery farming.

Yes, but merely saying "it's bad" does not clarify what about it is bad, and therefore, does not address what would need to be done to make it not bad...

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  
Quote:It's the IMO lurking there that's key. Somewhere between "dog" and "bacterium" you're drawing a line. What is it? Why?

Sheep are dumber than cows. Chickens are dumber than sheep. Fish are dumber than chickens. Shellfish are dumber than fish. And so on.

Any line you are going to draw here is acknowledgedly arbitrary.

Yes. Hence my original post in the thread.

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  There is a continuum of intelligent and responses to environmental stimuli in life, and there is something to be said for how we show preference for some types of intelligence over others. Nevertheless, there is definitely a point on that continuum where we feel uncomfortable causing that creature harm. One of such examples, most of us are uncomfortable watching bad things happens to dogs and horses. None of us seem particularly concerned about the plight of amoebas and e coli. Somewhere in the middle is the dividing line.

And if it's arbitrary like you just said, there's no point arguing with each other over where that line is. I still find it interesting to discuss, but to judge people for happening to draw it in a slightly different place is wholly insufferable.

Dogs and horses have been eaten as surely as cows and pigs, in many cultures.

To raise a tangentially-related point I do not often encounter, I happen to believe there is some worth too to the cultural diversity represented by the millions of culinary and artistic uses of animal products. I wouldn't advocate simple abandonment of all that, either.
(not that it's anything like that simplistic - I can appreciate the aesthetics of carved ivory and also abhor the ivory trade)

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  
Quote:Thing is, modern human life is completely inextricable from that of animals. "I don't eat animals" is one thing, and it's already an impossible standard. "I don't eat things made with/by/from animals" even more so.

I would be inclined to disagree with you on that point. In any sort of direct sense, it is pretty easy, and very conceivably possible, to take part on all of the productive human enterprise without using materials that come from animals. Any sort of physical and chemical properties you might need can certainly be found in plants or cultured from bacteria; after all more than 90% of all species on planet earth are plants and bacteria.

Perhaps, if considered with only one degree of separation.

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  In a more indirect sense, I would agree with you, it is not possible for human beings and human interactions to take place in a moral vacuum safe from harming any other creature. Harvesting crops kills animals and insects, for one thing. Human activities such as pumping oil and driving cars are bound to cause animal deaths. If a wasps nests invades your house and someone who lives with you is allergic to them, what do you do? You can move it far away, content you didn't kill it, even if by doing so you very likely will cause the collapse of the hive and the death of the colony. Then there is medicine... lots of people depend on insulin, in particular, a hormone that is almost exclusively extracted from pigs.

Indeed.

Although incidentally, nearly all human insulin today is derived from engineered bacterial cultures.

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  To these point though, the minimize harm principle applies. You do what you can where you can. The world shows no preference for life or death, even if we do. Part of living in reality is acknowledging that we, despite our best intentions, will do harm and will never be blameless. The salient point here is that we could be doing more than we are already doing. As a vegan I am inclined to believe that easy changes can be made to benefit animal welfare, and that these efforts will produce better outcomes for people and animals; efforts that are every bit worth doing.

And that only brings us back full circle. What is "harm"? What is "welfare"? What animals deserve what treatment in what contexts?

Those remain opinions subject to widely varying premises and interpretation.

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08-08-2014, 02:17 PM
RE: vegan philosophy
(08-08-2014 01:26 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  We are getting into the moral philosophy here. In my experience this makes people both angry and uncomfortable. I mean this only as a philosophical and intellectual exercise. I am not intending to shame anyone or preach my rhetoric. That being said...

I find that only results when one insists that different morals are better or worse. I have no problem with inevitable disagreement.

Fair enough.

Quote:
(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  Do you believe cows want to live or die? We can't say for sure what they are thinking, but there seems to be every indication that they prefer to live.

I find "want" in that context to be undue personification. Cows are not self-aware; they cannot possess an understanding of death. They respond to stimuli by trying to stay alive, sure - but all life does that, from prokaryotes to us.

These are all trivially true, yes. I acknowledge your issues with the term "want", but you might acknowledge that, in the context of the motivations of a cow, "want" is the most appropriate world available to us. To better define it, "want" in this context is meant to mean "apparent desire or motivation for".

The reason I ask this is because our perception of what the cow wants or does not want is the entire driving force of our empathy. I think for nearly all people it is pretty easy to tell that the cow would prefer to stay alive, which is why it makes most of us uncomfortable to watch it die.

Quote:
(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  If attribute value to the life of an animal, as vegans are likely to do, then an instant death is still preferable to a prolonged one. However, something of value, the life of the animal, is still lost. When you describe the actions of the moral aggressor, society, and individual, or whatever, then things like "intent" and "consequences" and the ability to "foresee" begin to matter. From the vegan perspective, the reason an animal dies are very important, not just the death itself. Not unlike how we view the death of people.

I don't know that it's any more justifiable to paint all vegans with the same brush any more than it is all atheists - beyone one narrow criteria, what do they necessarily have in common?

What that leaves is whether one accepts or rejects any number of possible justifications.

I think I made some fairly safe assumptions, but fair enough, some vegans may see it differently, or prefer to define those ideas in a different way.

Quote:
(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  Another point worth mentioning, even if we can't be sure the cow values its own life, we can be sure that we value its life. As human beings we prefer to see livings things persist in living, and we prefer to minimize suffering; not just for human beings but for all creatures at all similar to human beings. This is a product of our human empathy. As far 'feels' based points go, this is particularly nebulous, but perhaps there is some intangible benefit to people not to kill things.

An acknowledgement of an "evil" tends to make one compelled to end said evil. I think what was implied is that if we all agree battery farming is bad, then we would all agree that steps should be taken to end battery farming.

Yes, but merely saying "it's bad" does not clarify what about it is bad, and therefore, does not address what would need to be done to make it not bad...

The general feeling I get from this post is that you would like to better define terms. This is a philosophical discussions, that is warranted. Keep in mind any terms I define here are going to be subject to the same broad strokes you identified before.

"Bad" is that which needlessly causes harm. Needlessly is what could be reasonably determined as preventable or without adequate justification. Harm is death or what could be interpreted as physical or social stress (ex. pain, ex. separating mother from young).

I could go on to define "social stress" and "pain". I think for the purposes of this discussion these can be what would seem empathetically apparent as "pain" and "social stress".

Quote:
(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  Any line you are going to draw here is acknowledgedly arbitrary.

Yes. Hence my original post in the thread.

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  There is a continuum of intelligent and responses to environmental stimuli in life, and there is something to be said for how we show preference for some types of intelligence over others. Nevertheless, there is definitely a point on that continuum where we feel uncomfortable causing that creature harm. One of such examples, most of us are uncomfortable watching bad things happens to dogs and horses. None of us seem particularly concerned about the plight of amoebas and e coli. Somewhere in the middle is the dividing line.

And if it's arbitrary like you just said, there's no point arguing with each other over where that line is. I still find it interesting to discuss, but to judge people for happening to draw it in a slightly different place is wholly insufferable.

There is no judgement here. This is a discussion. An intellectual exercise.

Murder, rape, and theft all take place along a continuum. There are some kinds of murder we are very certain to call murder, and there are some instances where causing a person's death doesn't necessarily constitute murder, or even wrong doing. This is the nature of morally principled base discussions. There is a grey area, and it is difficult to pinpoint the exact location of any "dividing line", but a dividing line certainly exists.

Quote:Dogs and horses have been eaten as surely as cows and pigs, in many cultures.

To raise a tangentially-related point I do not often encounter, I happen to believe there is some worth too to the cultural diversity represented by the millions of culinary and artistic uses of animal products. I wouldn't advocate simple abandonment of all that, either.
(not that it's anything like that simplistic - I can appreciate the aesthetics of carved ivory and also abhor the ivory trade)

True and fair point.

Quote:
(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  I would be inclined to disagree with you on that point. In any sort of direct sense, it is pretty easy, and very conceivably possible, to take part on all of the productive human enterprise without using materials that come from animals. Any sort of physical and chemical properties you might need can certainly be found in plants or cultured from bacteria; after all more than 90% of all species on planet earth are plants and bacteria.

Perhaps, if considered with only one degree of separation.

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  In a more indirect sense, I would agree with you, it is not possible for human beings and human interactions to take place in a moral vacuum safe from harming any other creature. Harvesting crops kills animals and insects, for one thing. Human activities such as pumping oil and driving cars are bound to cause animal deaths. If a wasps nests invades your house and someone who lives with you is allergic to them, what do you do? You can move it far away, content you didn't kill it, even if by doing so you very likely will cause the collapse of the hive and the death of the colony. Then there is medicine... lots of people depend on insulin, in particular, a hormone that is almost exclusively extracted from pigs.

Indeed.

Although incidentally, nearly all human insulin today is derived from engineered bacterial cultures.

(08-08-2014 12:59 PM)Michael_Tadlock Wrote:  To these point though, the minimize harm principle applies. You do what you can where you can. The world shows no preference for life or death, even if we do. Part of living in reality is acknowledging that we, despite our best intentions, will do harm and will never be blameless. The salient point here is that we could be doing more than we are already doing. As a vegan I am inclined to believe that easy changes can be made to benefit animal welfare, and that these efforts will produce better outcomes for people and animals; efforts that are every bit worth doing.

And that only brings us back full circle. What is "harm"? What is "welfare"? What animals deserve what treatment in what contexts?

Those remain opinions subject to widely varying premises and interpretation.

That is the crux of it, yes. However, this is a the nature of all discussions about morality and ethics. I acknowledged earlier that all morality is subjective, and I will further acknowledge that is is also not empirical. Nevertheless, there are many ethical and moral positions you and I would emphatically agree upon, which, upon further inspection, are justified by rational arguments based on moral and ethical principles.
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