Vegetarianism

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FlatAssembler
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Vegetarianism

Postby FlatAssembler » Thu Sep 06, 2018 6:28 pm UTC

So, what do you guys here think about vegetarianism? I am a vegetarian myself.

If you ask me why, I don't really know how to give a simple answer, because I don't understand the other side of the story. I don't understand how could somebody, who has thought about the issue at all, think it's moral to eat meat. I guess most of the people eat meat because they were told many times it was necessary to eat meat in order to stay healthy, and they have never bothered to do any actual research on the subject to find that exactly the opposite is true.

To me, the issue of eating meat seems similar to the issue of abortion. It's hard to argue that abortion is moral, but making it illegal is likely to make things even worse. The same goes for eating meat, except that eating meat requires many more sentient beings to be killed and, at least the way it's done today, inflicts way more suffering upon them.

Perhaps a blog-post by me about how anti-vegetarianism sounds to people like me would be a good introduction to the philosophy of vegetarianism.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:02 pm UTC

Go for it if you want to.

No particular intention to become a vegetarian myself, though the usual struggle to eat healthier does generally involve attempting to eat more veggies and less meat. There's a lot of tasty, traditional, etc dishes that involve meat, and largely due to personal taste, I'd prefer not to give them up. This, not health reasons, is probably why people eat meat. As far as eating meat to stay healthy goes, sure, it's not necessary, but eating some meat is a part of plenty of healthy diets. If someone happens to have food allergies that limit choices, forgoing meat might be more challenging. Veganism in particular can get rough if you've got a few food allergies. Not insoluble, perhaps, but to the point where you have to put in significant effort to find alternatives.

Abortion v eating meat is odd. The first is a bodily autonomy argument in favor of. The latter is rather different. They're not quite parallels, I think, and I don't see them as viewed similarly socially.

I don't particularly view it as unethical when a predator in the wild eats prey, so I don't particularly view it as awful when humans do the same. What's the difference between a human and a wolf eating a chicken? Presuming the animal didn't have an awful life or something, of course. Animal welfare in farming is a legitimate concern even if one does eat meat.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Trebla » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:29 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:To me, the issue of eating meat seems similar to the issue of abortion. It's hard to argue that abortion is moral, but making it illegal is likely to make things even worse. The same goes for eating meat, except that eating meat requires many more sentient beings to be killed and, at least the way it's done today, inflicts way more suffering upon them.


Start by what you consider to be "sentient beings." Is a dog sentient? A cow? A lizard? An ant? An aphid? How many insects (or non-insect bugs) are killed inadvertently while harvesting vegetables, even if you're not explicitly controlling them with pesticides? Why is it OK to kill all those "sentient beings" without a second thought, but not a cow?

That aside, I don't think it's hard to argue that eating meat is moral. That's what carnivores and omnivores do. That's how their bodies developed. That is, for lack of a better word, natural. Where would the moral statement "eating meat is wrong" come from? Pretty sure that's not a Biblical thing, I think the OT is even pretty keen on eating meat (except on the Sabbath when you can eat fish which totally isn't meat).

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Zohar » Thu Sep 06, 2018 7:38 pm UTC

I've been vegetarian for... 24 years now? You make choices every day of your life that harm other beings. Some vegans will say you're incredibly immoral for having eggs and dairy and honey. By eating industrial scale produce you're contributing to the destruction of wildlife and nature. You could probably stand to live on a lot less money than you do now and donate it to people who will have a better quality of life, and you probably don't do that (not with every cent you make). There is no absolute right or wrong, and every person lives their life at the expense of others. Also, screw you for saying abortion is immoral.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby doogly » Thu Sep 06, 2018 8:27 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:It's hard to argue that abortion is moral


I absolutely do not break a sweat.


Also you are guessing at why people eat meat very poorly. It is not the best guessing. You should try other guesses.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby elasto » Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:14 pm UTC

If you ask me why, I don't really know how to give a simple answer, because I don't understand the other side of the story. I don't understand how could somebody, who has thought about the issue at all, think it's moral to eat meat.

I don't really have a dog in this fight but an example of a meat-eater who will defend to the death the morality of his choices would be Joe Rogan.

He acknowledges the hypocrisy of the 95%+ of US citizens who pretend to love animals while remaining wilfully ignorant of the cruelty of factory farming, and his answer is to hunt wild game.

The vast majority of prey animals born wild will either be eaten alive or die painfully from injury or disease. Almost none will get to quietly lie down in old age and peacefully pass away in their sleep.

Rogan hunts animals who have lived their whole life as free as nature permits, and only takes their life when he is certain he can do so with a virtually instant killing.

Everything that is born dies, and most will die slowly and painfully. If I were forced to trade consciousness with a wild prey animal, I would certainly choose to trade places with one that Rogan or another ethical hunter was destined to kill.

As Trebla says, countless living things are killed while harvesting grains and vegetables - but it's not just insects; Countless mammals are caught up in the threshing machines also.

And as Zohar says, unless you are careful vegetarianism can end up no less problematic than meat-eating given how cruel typical factory farming is towards chickens and cows. It takes effort to source your dairy and eggs truly ethically, and it's a mistake to think that meat-eating can't be approached with the same degree of thoughtfulness.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Trebla » Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:33 pm UTC

elasto wrote:As Trebla says, countless living things are killed while harvesting grains and vegetables - but it's not just insects; Countless mammals are caught up in the threshing machines also.


Not to mention habitats and small ecosystems that get destroyed to create farms in the first place. And that's just for food production, not taking into consideration construction of homes, schools, churches and roller-skating rinks. If the vegetarian's concern is "taking life" to eat meat (let's ignore the obvious here that it's fairly arbitrary to not count plant life), then animals that die to become food are a small portion of animals that die to serve all other aspects of modern society. It'd be like trying to stop smoking because of the effect it has on climate change.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby sardia » Thu Sep 06, 2018 10:47 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:So, what do you guys here think about vegetarianism? I am a vegetarian myself.
If you ask me why, I don't really know how to give a simple answer, because I don't understand the other side of the story. I don't understand how could somebody, who has thought about the issue at all, think it's moral to eat meat. I guess most of the people eat meat because they were told many times it was necessary to eat meat in order to stay healthy, and they have never bothered to do any actual research on the subject to find that exactly the opposite is true.
To me, the issue of eating meat seems similar to the issue of abortion. It's hard to argue that abortion is moral, but making it illegal is likely to make things even worse. The same goes for eating meat, except that eating meat requires many more sentient beings to be killed and, at least the way it's done today, inflicts way more suffering upon them.
Perhaps a blog-post by me about how anti-vegetarianism sounds to people like me would be a good introduction to the philosophy of vegetarianism.

What do you prefer?
1,000,000 people who kill 0 babies/animals and 299 million who kill 3 babies/animals each?
Or 300,000,000 people who kill 2 babies/animals?
Is eating vegetables a purity test where you shouldn't ever eat meat? This isn't a wild hypothetical, there's an economic argument to eating less meat relative to your diet.

TLDR Do you want to be right, or do you want less animals eaten?
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Sep 06, 2018 11:58 pm UTC

I would personally never kill an animal on purpose except for self-defense. "I am starving in the wilderness and have no other food options" could count as self-defense.

I find food that is obviously part of an animal carcass to be pretty gross and don't want to eat it.

Some foods indirectly made in part from animals aren't so gross though, and I don't usually mind eating them, and don't put much effort into avoiding them if that's what's available, but neither do I especially go out of my way to eat them. If meat just wasn't available to eat, that'd be fine.

I'm not particularly heartbroken about individual wild animals (as opposed to say, whole species) dying as an unintentional side-effect of human activity because wild animals die cruel and senseless deaths all the time so human contributions to that are just noise, but reasonable regulations to minimize harm to them, balanced appropriately against other concerns, are fine with me.

But factory farming is disgusting and needlessly cruel and I'd be down for tighter regulations on it at least.

It's not my quest in life or anything, but philosophically arguments against purposefully killing animals to serve human whims seem pretty sound to me (which is why I wouldn't do it myself), and if there were laws banning it generally, I'd be okay with that.

Environmentally and economically, raising animals for food is terribly wasteful compared to plant farming, which is a good reason for individuals to avoid animal products and a good reason for those externalities to be regulated for the benefit of everyone.

Dietarily, meat isn't unhealthy, being vegetarian isn't required to eat healthy, but neither are humans obligate carnivores. There's a huge variety of complex and even complete plant proteins available and a huge variety of delicious ways to prepare them.


Abortion is not comparable to killing animals for food. Abortion is more comparable to killing a parasite that's trying to feed off of you.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby ThirdParty » Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:45 am UTC

I've been a vegetarian for almost 25 years, and am happy with that choice. Vegetarianism is healthier, is better for the environment, and causes less suffering than a standard American diet.

But obviously some non-vegetarians have lifestyles that are just as healthy, sustainable, and compassionate as mine: e.g. because they exercise more than I do, take fewer trips, and donate more to charity. I don't think the fact that I'm achieving those goods via diet makes me better than the people who achieve the same goods via other methods; it's just a matter of what trade-offs one is willing to make.

I do, however, think I'm better than people who live unhealthy, unsustainable, and cruel lifestyles.

(As for abortion, my understanding is that the vast majority of abortions are performed before the fetus has anything resembling sentience; it's more comparable to plucking a blade of grass than to slaughtering a chicken. There are, of course, other methods of birth control that are healthier and less expensive, but, again, it all comes down to trade-offs.)

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby FlatAssembler » Fri Sep 07, 2018 8:00 am UTC

What's the difference between a human and a wolf eating a chicken?

About the same as the difference between a praying mantis eating another praying mantis and a human eating another human, or a dolphin raping another dolphin and a human raping another human. Animals don't have enough brain power to understand the issue, humans do. I've written about that "issue" on the blog-post. As I predicted, the arguments sort of run in circles, right?
Start by what you consider to be "sentient beings."

Birds and mammals, the beings that are considered sentient by the mainstream neuroscience.
How many insects (or non-insect bugs) are killed inadvertently while harvesting vegetables, even if you're not explicitly controlling them with pesticides?

You do realize we need to harvest many times more plants to feed all those farmed animals than to only feed humans? I wrote about that "issue" in the blog-post. I am not sure why are people bringing this up, because I think they already know the answer.
Also, screw you for saying abortion is immoral.

I don't quite understand what you mean. Are you saying you want abortions to happen?
Also you are guessing at why people eat meat very poorly. It is not the best guessing. You should try other guesses.

Like what?
The vast majority of prey animals born wild will either be eaten alive or die painfully from injury or disease. Almost none will get to quietly lie down in old age and peacefully pass away in their sleep.

But the same applies to humans. You realize that a person who will die of cancer will suffer way more than a person who will be shot in its head? So, by that logic, is it moral to murder people by shooting them in their heads?
That is one of the biggest problems of the consequentialist ethics (along with it being totally inapplicable in real life because you never have enough information to predict the consequences).
But factory farming is disgusting and needlessly cruel and I'd be down for tighter regulations on it at least.

But isn't the government precisely the reason the animals are treated so badly? If there were no government subsidies to animal agriculture, wouldn't the animals be killed at a slower rate, so that we can ensure they die painlessly? If there were no regulations requiring the unscientific animal testing of drugs, do you really think pharmaceutical companies would do that?
Perhaps passing new laws isn't the solution here.
I've written about that "issue" on the blog-post, predicting it will be brought up (because it always is).

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 07, 2018 9:01 am UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:You do realize we need to harvest many times more plants to feed all those farmed animals than to only feed humans? I wrote about that "issue" in the blog-post. I am not sure why are people bringing this up, because I think they already know the answer.

I don't think you'll find many disagreeing that factory farming as presently practised is cruel. Your argument seems to go beyond that and regard all meat eating as immoral though. It's possible to eat animals without feeding them by harvesting plants though, eg. if you hunt wild game.

Also, screw you for saying abortion is immoral.

I don't quite understand what you mean. Are you saying you want abortions to happen?

That's a non-sequitur. Killing someone coming at you with a knife is not immoral; That doesn't mean people want killings in self-defence to happen.

Abortions are not a good thing. When they happen they are usually the least worst option though. Any ethics that calls the least worst option immoral such as you did isn't very practical, and borders on offensive to those that usually suffer great trauma from their decision.

(Again, if you were forced to kill another human in self-defence, you'd suffer trauma there too, and it would be equally offensive for someone to tell you you'd made an immoral choice there.)

Let's stick to one trigger-topic at a time though. There's thread(s) for the ethics of abortion.

But the same applies to humans. You realize that a person who will die of cancer will suffer way more than a person who will be shot in its head? So, by that logic, is it moral to murder people by shooting them in their heads?

Actually, yes. Along with the immorality of factory farming, one other thing I predict future humanity will look back upon this generation in disdain with is how we force people to die slowly and painfully from suffocation/withdrawing fluids etc. rather than allowing them dignity in death.

We force people to die in circumstances that we would never would allow our pets to. Mercy-killing is seen as appropriate - necessary, even - for our beloved pets, but somehow a crime that will send you straight to hell if carried out on a person. How messed up is that?

It's incorrect to equate the killing of an animal with murder anyhow. If you're going to go down that route then we have an ethical obligation to kill all apex predators - after all, knowingly failing to stop a mass-murderer is little better than committing mass-murder yourself - and then you'd really see how messed up the planet could get once prey populations spiral completely out of control...

No. Not all killings are murder; Not when it comes to people, and even less so when it comes to animals.

But isn't the government precisely the reason the animals are treated so badly?

Yes, it is. More enlightened governments have stricter animal cruelty laws than in the US. None of them come close to anything ethical yet though.

The solution will come this century, not from government regulation but once we perfect the process of producing insentient meat grown in vats.

After all, it's not the eating of meat itself you object to, it's the cruelty of farming it, right?

Just bear in mind that it's possible to farm meat in a way that isn't cruel right now, by only killing wild game coming towards the end of its natural life.

------

Ultimately I think Zohar's point is the most pertinent, though:

Maybe you think I'm unethical because I eat a steak and you don't. Maybe I think you're unethical because you spend $50 a month on coffee from Starbucks rather than send that money to a charity that vaccinates third-world children, or because you spend your free time playing video games rather than volunteering in a homeless shelter.

We can sit here pointing fingers at each other saying 'You're more unethical than me! No, you're more unethical than me!' or we can be grown up and recognise that none of us have the emotional stamina to be perfect even under our own ethical standards, and that encouraging one another is a more productive approach than haranguing.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby doogly » Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:35 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:
Also, screw you for saying abortion is immoral.

I don't quite understand what you mean. Are you saying you want abortions to happen?

The best alternatives to an abortion would require a time machine, and while those would be helpful here, they have so many other down sides that I think we're definitely better off with abortions. They are fantastic.

Also you are guessing at why people eat meat very poorly. It is not the best guessing. You should try other guesses.

Like what?

What? No. I'm advocating guesses! It's no help if I make them, and I'm pretty sure your first guess wasn't a complete exhaustion of your capacity.

That is one of the biggest problems of the consequentialist ethics (along with it being totally inapplicable in real life because you never have enough information to predict the consequences).

Whoa you are not down with consequentialism? That is astonishing.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby sardia » Fri Sep 07, 2018 12:38 pm UTC

Isn't crystalizing the collective will of the people via government more effective then encouraging people? At least you shouldn't discount it. You can only convince so many people to not eat meat.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Trebla » Fri Sep 07, 2018 1:55 pm UTC

Birds and mammals, the beings that are considered sentient by the mainstream neuroscience.


Uhhh... citation needed? Far as I can tell there's no broad scientific consensus on what animals count as sentient. You can find individual papers, sure, but I see nothing resembling broad consensus by "mainstream neuroscience."

Even Animal Ethics.org doesn't have a consensus on whether insects are sentient.

About the same as the difference between a praying mantis eating another praying mantis and a human eating another human, or a dolphin raping another dolphin and a human raping another human.


It's hard to imagine a more asinine statement. If "killing a preying mantis is fine" (which you seem to imply given your unsupported definition of sentient animals). And "mantis killing mantis is equivalent to human killing human", then transitive logic applies. Mantis killing mantis has the same result as human killing mantis... intent of the actor is unimportant.

FlatAssembler wrote:
How many insects (or non-insect bugs) are killed inadvertently while harvesting vegetables, even if you're not explicitly controlling them with pesticides?

You do realize we need to harvest many times more plants to feed all those farmed animals than to only feed humans? I wrote about that "issue" in the blog-post. I am not sure why are people bringing this up, because I think they already know the answer.


Not sure that's relevant. So it's moral to kill some animals, but not more than that? Why is it moral to kill some?

Soapbox: If you want to be a vegetarian, go for it, I doubt anyone here would object. Are you trying to justify it to us? Or to yourself? ThirdParty, Pfhorrest and Zohar (apologies if I missed others) have some fantastic reasons for why they're vegetarians (or mostly), and most importantly, aren't self-aggrandizing and trying to sell their views as "the only correct one." They behave in the way that feels right to them.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:03 pm UTC

sardia wrote:Isn't crystalizing the collective will of the people via government more effective then encouraging people?


That's what happens right now. The collective will of the people is currently that meat is fine.

Government enforcement of ethics is tricky. Whose ethics do we enforce when it comes to diet? As pointed out, veganism is certainly more ethical than vegetarianism, but without a boatload of education would result in a great deal of malnutrition.

And not eating vegetables and living off a vitamin slurry would probably be even more ethical than veganism, since currently veganism involves the deaths of countless sentient mammals, as pointed out. Said slurry could also be made nutritionally complete.

Where does this government enforcement of ethics end? I mean, it sounds like FA thinks any human killing any animal to eat it would be unethical. Feels like only a frighteningly authoritarian regime could pull off the enforcement of that legally.

So perhaps he'd say that government should only act to prevent the worst of the cruelty when it comes to farming. Well, that's what it does right now. It's just that it draws the line way, way too generously imo.

And not all ethical situations should be managed through the law anyhow. Many people regard drugs as immoral, but making them illegal has had dire social consequences. In many cases education is a far better route forwards than legal sanctions.
Last edited by elasto on Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:09 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby sardia » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:08 pm UTC

I was thinking more along a greenhouse gas tax for agriculture. Like too much methane from cows, you get taxed. Raises prices on beef, which people then substitute chicken. Congrats, you just reduced pollution and meat consumption with government +free market.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:12 pm UTC

That presumes that we all agree that eating any kind of meat is unethical. Most people take the opposite view. (They just are wilfully ignorant of the cruelty involved).

For better or worse we live in a democracy. Any government that tried to enforce that eating meat is unethical by punitive taxation would find itself quickly getting the boot. Look at the ire that results when the government raises taxes on cigarettes or sodas, and they are products of absolutely no redeeming value. Regardless of the ethics of killing animals, the fact that meat has good nutritional value is beyond denial.
Last edited by elasto on Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:15 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby doogly » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:14 pm UTC

elasto wrote:As pointed out, veganism is certainly more ethical than vegetarianism.

Maybe some people are certain of that. Probably just vegans though.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:21 pm UTC

doogly wrote:Maybe some people are certain of that. Probably just vegans though.

(I'm just running forwards the same 'absolutist' chain of logic: If you think that vegetarianism is more ethical than meat-eating on the basis of minimising animal suffering, then you should conclude that veganism is more ethical than vegetarianism.

If you start from a different basis - such that it's possibly to ethically eat meat - or that pragmatically one must trade some amount of suffering in order for the population at large to get nutrition in an economically feasible way - then of course one can arrive at a different conclusion.)

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Kit. » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:30 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:So, what do you guys here think about vegetarianism? I am a vegetarian myself.

I was a vegetarian for about 10 years.

FlatAssembler wrote:If you ask me why, I don't really know how to give a simple answer, because I don't understand the other side of the story. I don't understand how could somebody, who has thought about the issue at all, think it's moral to eat meat.

There are worse things that could happen to you. Some people don't understand how one could think it's moral to be an infidel.

FlatAssembler wrote:I guess most of the people eat meat because they were told many times it was necessary to eat meat in order to stay healthy, and they have never bothered to do any actual research on the subject to find that exactly the opposite is true.

I eat meat for the same reasons why I live: because it's convenient, mostly pleasant, and if I didn't, it would make people I care about less happy.

FlatAssembler wrote:To me, the issue of eating meat seems similar to the issue of abortion. It's hard to argue that abortion is moral,

I have no issues with abortion, but I understand the multitude of reasons why people might want to argue that it's "immoral".

FlatAssembler wrote:but making it illegal is likely to make things even worse. The same goes for eating meat, except that eating meat requires many more sentient beings to be killed and, at least the way it's done today, inflicts way more suffering upon them.

What is missing here is some excuses for not applying this "inflicting suffering is immoral" to procreation itself.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby doogly » Fri Sep 07, 2018 2:33 pm UTC

Kit. wrote:What is missing here is some excuses for not applying this "inflicting suffering is immoral" to procreation itself.

Seriously, you have no idea how many field mice get killed when I do this.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 07, 2018 3:33 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:
What's the difference between a human and a wolf eating a chicken?

About the same as the difference between a praying mantis eating another praying mantis and a human eating another human, or a dolphin raping another dolphin and a human raping another human. Animals don't have enough brain power to understand the issue, humans do. I've written about that "issue" on the blog-post. As I predicted, the arguments sort of run in circles, right?


A chicken isn't a human, so your cannibal metaphor fails to answer anything.

That aside, my caring over what happens to my body if I die is low(unless cryogenics end up actually working out and there's a way to bring me back). If I get killed by a bear, I don't really care if he eats me afterward or not. That doesn't matter to me. What matters is my life up to that point.

So it's not a question of cannibalism, and in terms of brain power, animals totally understand eating/being eaten. They mostly seem to care about what happens while they're alive, though. Much like we do.

FlatAssembler wrote:
How many insects (or non-insect bugs) are killed inadvertently while harvesting vegetables, even if you're not explicitly controlling them with pesticides?

You do realize we need to harvest many times more plants to feed all those farmed animals than to only feed humans? I wrote about that "issue" in the blog-post. I am not sure why are people bringing this up, because I think they already know the answer.


A great deal of plants fed to animals are byproducts of human plant eating, or are not as subject to machinery. The field that cattle graze in is plants raised for animal consumption, sure, but there's relatively little need for tractors to drive through running machinery that kills animals. Therefore, treating these acres as equivalent is simply not correct. The byproducts of human plant consumption are even less of an issue. The area would be harvested regardless, it's just a matter of if you repurpose the waste or not.

FlatAssembler wrote:
Also, screw you for saying abortion is immoral.

I don't quite understand what you mean. Are you saying you want abortions to happen?


Wanting something to happen and something being moral/immoral are not quite equivalent. I may not want to pay the bill for something I'm buying, but it doesn't mean that the bill is immoral.

FlatAssembler wrote:
The vast majority of prey animals born wild will either be eaten alive or die painfully from injury or disease. Almost none will get to quietly lie down in old age and peacefully pass away in their sleep.

But the same applies to humans. You realize that a person who will die of cancer will suffer way more than a person who will be shot in its head? So, by that logic, is it moral to murder people by shooting them in their heads?


I'm pretty sure that 1. Everyone here is in favor of pallative care to reduce that suffering. and 2. Most of us are okay with folks suffering from a terminal illness choosing to end their life early.

We don't have the capability to offer that level of care to animals in general, but we can make their death a great deal more painless. Striving for this is fine, and is consistent with our values for humanity.

FlatAssembler wrote:
But factory farming is disgusting and needlessly cruel and I'd be down for tighter regulations on it at least.

But isn't the government precisely the reason the animals are treated so badly? If there were no government subsidies to animal agriculture, wouldn't the animals be killed at a slower rate, so that we can ensure they die painlessly? If there were no regulations requiring the unscientific animal testing of drugs, do you really think pharmaceutical companies would do that?


It is merely a reason, not the reason. It is likely that in the complete absence of regulation, animals would still be treated badly for other reasons, so it is not a complete solution. A dogfighting ring, for instance, is illegal, and yet still exists. One cannot blame that on regulation, as regulations are against them.

There's merits in getting rid of factory farming subsidies. I don't think you ought to be forced to subsidize a practice you disagree with. However, one can eat meat, and still work to have farms treat animals ethically. Meat eaters who think this way may have more influence, even. After all, a chicken farmer can make a dollar from me if tries. He can't from you.

One could require less animal testing, but there would be safety tradeoffs in some cases. I'd be open to chatting about this, and I have no particular attachment to our current level of animal testing, but humans are generally going to value their own lives higher than others. This is true even among humans. I could, in theory, donate more to charity to save lives of strangers than to purchase comforts for myself. So could anyone, but in practice, we don't. We might donate some, and do some good, and that's commendable. The baseline for humanity is "no help", and we try to improve from there. The baseline's not completely self sacrificing goodness.

sardia wrote:Isn't crystalizing the collective will of the people via government more effective then encouraging people? At least you shouldn't discount it. You can only convince so many people to not eat meat.


I'm not convinced it is. I mean, collective will can be powerful when everyone agrees with you, sure. But if vegetarians tried to ban meat eating, I think all you could reasonably expect is a giant backlash. People are already touchy when vegetarians/vegans seem preachy. I can't imagine that an overt political campaign to force it on them would go over well.

Even if it were indirect, it'd probably still run into a supermajority that feels strongly differently, and would motivate them to act.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Weeks » Fri Sep 07, 2018 5:26 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:
What's the difference between a human and a wolf eating a chicken?

About the same as the difference between a praying mantis eating another praying mantis and a human eating another human, or a dolphin raping another dolphin and a human raping another human. Animals don't have enough brain power to understand the issue, humans do. I've written about that "issue" on the blog-post. As I predicted, the arguments sort of run in circles, right?
No one is going to read your blog. At least I won't. Post it here if you want it to be taken into account for further arguments.

I wrote about that "issue" in the blog-post.
This should be bannable.

I've written about that "issue" on the blog-post, predicting it will be brought up (because it always is).
Are you a bot? Jesus christ.

I am not sure why are people bringing this up, because I think they already know the answer.
Answer the questions fully if you want a serious conversation as opposed to you promoting your blog.

I don't quite understand what you mean. Are you saying you want abortions to happen?
There is nothing wrong with abortion. You seem to believe otherwise, and so you just assumed everyone here agrees with you, I guess?

Trebla wrote:
Birds and mammals, the beings that are considered sentient by the mainstream neuroscience.


Uhhh... citation needed? Far as I can tell there's no broad scientific consensus on what animals count as sentient. You can find individual papers, sure, but I see nothing resembling broad consensus by "mainstream neuroscience."

Even Animal Ethics.org doesn't have a consensus on whether insects are sentient.
OP doesn't really seem to care about animals other than birds and mammals and that's enough for them.

Do plants suffer?

elasto wrote:
doogly wrote:Maybe some people are certain of that. Probably just vegans though.

(I'm just running forwards the same 'absolutist' chain of logic: If you think that vegetarianism is more ethical than meat-eating on the basis of minimising animal suffering, then you should conclude that veganism is more ethical than vegetarianism.

If you start from a different basis - such that it's possibly to ethically eat meat - or that pragmatically one must trade some amount of suffering in order for the population at large to get nutrition in an economically feasible way - then of course one can arrive at a different conclusion.)
Well considering the fact the OP didn't even make a distinction between veganism and vegetarianism I'm not sure we should even talk about it in this thread.

The argument just seems to be "I think people should not eat meat because cows suffer, I think suffering is bad (for some animals), and I'm inserting a jab here at the evil abortions because I think women suffering through childbirth doesn't count".
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 07, 2018 5:54 pm UTC

Weeks wrote:Well considering the fact the OP didn't even make a distinction between veganism and vegetarianism I'm not sure we should even talk about it in this thread.

I think it's worth discussing because it's a disproof of their argument via taking it to its logical conclusion. Their argument against meat-eating can be applied in turn to vegetarianism and then to veganism, with the conclusion that the only ethical approach is to live off a vitamin slurry produced in a factory.

If one is going to be self-righteous about these things, then live by the sword, die by the sword.

Most people aren't so absolutist though, and accept that people can have the same facts yet different ethics, or they can violate their own ethics for some meta-ethical reason like not being a perfect human being.

For example, when they say "I don't understand how could somebody, who has thought about the issue at all, think it's moral to eat meat", I could make exactly the same argument about a hundred things they do - eg. "I don't understand how could somebody, who has thought about the issue at all, think it's moral to buy coffee rather than give that money to starving children."

That's a completely unrealistic standard to hold anyone to, and a completely counterproductive stance to take.

Once you accept that none of us live with a perfect level of ethics, it's simply a question of what compromises you are prepared to make. I don't think eating animals is unethical, but I wouldn't condemn someone who did but ate animals anyway.

The biggest problem with their blog post is that they beg the question. They (parodying a meat-eater) say "I've been taught my whole life that I could both love animals and eat them, and that eating meat is somehow necessary. Now I'm made uncomfortable by someone pointing me to one of the few obvious facts of ethics, namely, that I can't do it, and to one of the few obvious facts of nutrition, that is, that I don't have to eat meat to be healthy."

I simply disagree with both parts of this premise.

For example, many people including me love animals, but not to the extent that they'd forgo eating them. Sure, that means I don't love them to the same extent that I love, say, my daughter, but then again why is that surprising?

Secondly, there are people like Mikhaila Peterson who are intolerant of virtually all foods, including vegetables, but can tolerate meat. Even if I thought eating meat was unethical, I would consider it more unethical to deny meat to her.

Sometimes unethical options are ethical by virtue of the alternatives being more unethical.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby FlatAssembler » Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:12 pm UTC

There are just too many replies here, I will respond as much as I can, because I will not be wasting a whole day.
It's possible to eat animals without feeding them by harvesting plants though, eg. if you hunt wild game.

Supplying the world population with meat by hunting is economically and ecologically completely unsustainable. We see it even with fish, if the current fishing trends continue, we can expect to have fishless oceans by 2050. That's why, to feed the world with fish, we need to use aquaculture. Fish are really abundant, so the situation is even worse with other forms of meat. If we try to supply the world population with meat by hunting, that's going to be way too expensive and we are going to run out of game very soon.
But let's say for the sake of argument that it is possible to produce meat in a way that is ecologically acceptable (which lab-grown meat also still isn't) and that doesn't cause too much animal suffering. So what? Some day it may be done that way. That day is not today. The possibility of improving a system doesn't justify the participation in it.
knowingly failing to stop a mass-murderer is little better than committing mass-murder yourself

In a world in which we have all the knowledge we need to make the informed decisions, maybe. In real world, it's not like that. Suppose you steal a gun from somebody you believe will do a mass murder. You end up in a court because of that. Do you think the judge would take your claim that you have probably stopped that guy from committing mass murder seriously?
We can sit here pointing fingers at each other saying 'You're more unethical than me! No, you're more unethical than me!' or we can be grown up and recognise that none of us have the emotional stamina to be perfect even under our own ethical standards, and that encouraging one another is a more productive approach than haranguing.

That's not quite the same as discussing what is ethical to do in some situation and what isn't.
Far as I can tell there's no broad scientific consensus on what animals count as sentient. You can find individual papers, sure, but I see nothing resembling broad consensus by "mainstream neuroscience."

Like the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness? Though it may be that the term "consciousness" is a bit misleading here, since some conscious animals, like the Heterocephalus glaber, can't feel physical and probably neither the emotional suffering. Such beings are rather rare.
Even Animal Ethics.org doesn't have a consensus on whether insects are sentient.

I mean, "sentient", "conscious"… The question we should be asking is whether the animals suffer, right? The concept of emotional suffering in animals with low brain power (that is, other than parrots, whales, apes…) can probably be discarded. As for physical suffering, look, I may be mistaken, but, as far as I know, there is no respectable neuroscientist who would claim that even fish feel pain. The main argument against that is the absence or near absence of the c-nociceptors in fish (which are also absent or nearly-absent in humans with congenital analgesia).
It's hard to imagine a more asinine statement.

What? If somebody says "Wolves kill chickens, therefore it should be moral for humans to do the same.", he probably means something like "Killing other animals for food is natural, and since it's natural, it has to be morally acceptable.". I was saying that not all things that are natural are morally acceptable, because cannibalism and rape (which probably nobody would argue are moral) also occur in nature.
So it's moral to kill some animals, but not more than that?

No, and I think that the right analogy would be if somebody said "It's immoral to sell airplane tickets because some people die in airplane accidents. It's better to make people drive cars.", and somebody else responded "Well, some people will be killed in traffic no matter what vehicle is used for transportation. Also, you realize driving a car is even less safe than being on an airplane?".
What is missing here is some excuses for not applying this "inflicting suffering is immoral" to procreation itself.

Really? You think that human life contains more suffering than pleasure? Then don't have children. It's that simple.
A great deal of plants fed to animals are byproducts of human plant eating, or are not as subject to machinery.

Do you have some statistics that show that?
As far as I am aware, the bovines raised for meat (some two thirds of them) aren't fed grass because grass has very low nutritional value so they don't grow as fast. Only the milking cows graze, that is to get the Omega-3 acids. The chickens usually aren't let to graze because the chickens easily get injured outside.
Most of us are okay with folks suffering from a terminal illness choosing to end their life early.

The key word here is "choosing". Animals can't choose that. How can somebody compare slaughtering an animal for food with euthanizing a consenting human being, I have no idea.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Kit. » Fri Sep 07, 2018 6:34 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:
It's possible to eat animals without feeding them by harvesting plants though, eg. if you hunt wild game.

Supplying the world population with meat by hunting is economically and ecologically completely unsustainable.

But why do you think it's moral to have such a huge population?

FlatAssembler wrote:
What is missing here is some excuses for not applying this "inflicting suffering is immoral" to procreation itself.

Really? You think that human life contains more suffering than pleasure? Then don't have children. It's that simple.

So, if the life of a cow raised for me to eat contains more pleasure than suffering, it's "moral" to eat it? It's that simple?

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby elasto » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:17 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:In a world in which we have all the knowledge we need to make the informed decisions, maybe. In real world, it's not like that.

But it is. In the UK alone, our pet cats are estimated to kill around a hundred million sentient creatures a year. Under your model where humans have an ethical obligation to reduce suffering, allowing your pet cat outdoors should be made illegal (if not pet cats being outlawed altogether...)

Look. I agree that all things being equal, choosing the more ethical option is better than choosing the less ethical one. And there's nothing wrong with championing the choice that is, in your opinion, more ethical.

Where the line gets crossed is when you claim you simply can't understand why someone would choose the less ethical one - because it's trivial to demonstrate where everyone, including you, knowingly choose to do the obviously less ethical thing all the damn time - whether that's not volunteering your free time for some worthy cause or anything else.

No offence, but you come across as someone pretty young - perhaps in your late teens or early twenties. You have started to solidify a set of morals distinct from your parents and feel like, because you have come up with them, they are the only possible valid set of morals anyone rational could ever have.

Once you get a few years under your belt and change your mind on a few issues (let's say you first believe in the rightness of capital punishment and then come to believe it's unethical), you'll realise that there's good reasons why otherwise reasonable and rational individuals can disagree, and you'll start to approach matters like these with more open-mindedness and humility.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Tyndmyr » Fri Sep 07, 2018 7:23 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:
It's possible to eat animals without feeding them by harvesting plants though, eg. if you hunt wild game.

Supplying the world population with meat by hunting is economically and ecologically completely unsustainable. We see it even with fish, if the current fishing trends continue, we can expect to have fishless oceans by 2050. That's why, to feed the world with fish, we need to use aquaculture. Fish are really abundant, so the situation is even worse with other forms of meat. If we try to supply the world population with meat by hunting, that's going to be way too expensive and we are going to run out of game very soon.


It's possible that hunting won't supply the meat consumption of the current population, even if taken to it's sustainable maximum. Still, all that requires is a reduction, at most. Or a blend with other methodologies. It doesn't require vegetarianism.

But let's say for the sake of argument that it is possible to produce meat in a way that is ecologically acceptable (which lab-grown meat also still isn't) and that doesn't cause too much animal suffering. So what? Some day it may be done that way. That day is not today. The possibility of improving a system doesn't justify the participation in it.


One can choose to shop for ethically harvested meat, rather than factory farmed meat. It's not even all that hard. It does make going out to eat a bit more challenging, since that mostly comes from mass market consumption, but some chains are working on that as well.

A great many systems are lacking in ethics. I find that our government has many problems, but see no conflict in choosing to use my vote to hopefully improve it in some small way. We do what we can, and have the energy to deal with.

A great deal of plants fed to animals are byproducts of human plant eating, or are not as subject to machinery.

Do you have some statistics that show that?
As far as I am aware, the bovines raised for meat (some two thirds of them) aren't fed grass because grass has very low nutritional value so they don't grow as fast. Only the milking cows graze, that is to get the Omega-3 acids. The chickens usually aren't let to graze because the chickens easily get injured outside.


"In the United States, most grass-fed cattle are raised for beef production." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_feeding

It's even advertised, in some cases, so as a consumer you can discriminate if you care about that.

Even in a feedlot operation, though, some grass is used for health reasons. There's also a lot of wet grain mash that's used as a byproduct of ethanol and HFCS production. Roughage(corn stalks work well) and discarded produce is also commonly fed to animals. The actual vegetables in the store are usually only the end result of a production chain with a lot of outputs, with only the prettiest making it to the vegetable aisle, and a great deal of productive output goes to other manufacturing chains. Given that roughage alone makes up the bulk of the diet, and mash is a staple for feedlot operations, it's a cinch that treating meat production as merely the product of diet times animals killed in crop production is inaccurate. Vegetarian products share a great deal of responsibility for deaths produced in this manner.

I've not seen any vegetarians make an effort to rank vegetarian-friendly foods by how many animals statistically died in it's making, though. It's got to differ significantly, but it doesn't seem like a concern. Thus, I'm not sure it works out rationally when applied to eating meat.

Most of us are okay with folks suffering from a terminal illness choosing to end their life early.

The key word here is "choosing". Animals can't choose that. How can somebody compare slaughtering an animal for food with euthanizing a consenting human being, I have no idea.


The point is that valuing death over sufficient pain is a value we apply even to humans. It's true that we may not be able to get explicit consent from an animal, but animals seem to share our dislike of pain pretty universally. Therefore, an ethical argument based on reducing pain to animals has at least some moral standing.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby FlatAssembler » Sat Sep 08, 2018 6:58 pm UTC

No one is going to read your blog. At least I won't. Post it here if you want it to be taken into account for further arguments.

I don't quite see why. As I've said, the replies I get when I argue for vegetarianism on various Internet forums mostly run in cycles (as if people heard them from some common source). It would take you some ten minutes (probably less) to read the blog-post, and it takes you and me hours to respond to things on an Internet forum. In other words, in these three years I've been arguing for vegetarianism on the Internet forums, I've often found myself writing the same stuff over and over again for hours. I thought that directing people to a blog-post might be a better thing to do, so that we can have a more productive conversation.
Do plants suffer?

Oh dear, I've just dropped a fig on fire, it must be in terrible pain!
I hope most of the people who bring up this "But maybe plants feel pain too!" stuff don't actually believe that.
If some are serious, then this shows one of the greatest issues of the Internet culture: the disproportionate knowledge of fringe theories. You see it everywhere. In linguistics, many people on the Internet will be able to tell you details about the phonosemantic hypothesis, yet the knowledge of basic linguistics is completely lacking. In astronomy, countless people on the Internet will be able to tell you details of the Flat Earth theory, yet the knowledge of even the most basic astronomy is lacking. Perhaps the same applies to neuroscience, perhaps there are more people on the Internet who would be able to tell you which chemicals in plants supposedly function as neurotransmitters than there are people who know basic neuroscience.
Or perhaps you mean that we can't use science in philosophy because science often deals with uncertainty? That is, you reject the analytical philosophy? Do you then reject rationalism and empiricism altogether? Do you think we should apply some form of radical skepticism or solipsism to ethics? Would you argue that killing a human being isn't immoral because, for all we know, he could be philosophical zombie?
What do people actually mean when they say "But maybe plants feel pain too!"?
Well considering the fact the OP didn't even make a distinction between veganism and vegetarianism I'm not sure we should even talk about it in this thread.

I think you know the answer. I wasn't arguing for veganism, for us to drink milk and eat eggs nobody needs to be killed.
Arguments for veganism rather than vegetarianism are usually about nutrition. I wouldn't go into it, it appears that science about it is somewhat unclear and rather politicized. Nutrition can be studied scientifically, but it requires very specialized knowledge to ask the right questions and design the studies the correct way, and most of the people who "study" it don't have such knowledge. The more people are interested in something, the less scientifically it's studied and harder it is to say something with certainty. I've also seen that effect when I tried to study the Croatian toponyms.
The same applies to some well-known things about nutrition, like that drinking milk can prevent osteoporosis. That's not certain, and it appears that the exact opposite is true. Namely, the countries with higher milk consumption tend to have higher rates of osteoporosis, rather than lower.
Secondly, there are people like Mikhaila Peterson who are intolerant of virtually all foods, including vegetables, but can tolerate meat.

There we go again, the "lifeboat scenarios".
Are there actually any medical conditions that require people to eat meat? Can you point me to some qualified dietician who claims that? For instance, is there a documented case of a human, for instance, having a genetic mutation that blocks the synthesis of taurine (which is why the cats die if they don't eat meat)?
Even if so, how is that different from saying that stealing is moral, because some people are so poor they need to steal to survive?
But why do you think it's moral to have such a huge population?

How do you mean if it's moral? It's not a matter of anyone's choice.
So, if the life of a cow raised for me to eat contains more pleasure than suffering, it's "moral" to eat it? It's that simple?

Well, no, you don't breed your children into existence with the purpose of slaughtering them.
In the UK alone, our pet cats are estimated to kill around a hundred million sentient creatures a year.

Well, many people, at least here in Croatia, believe owning a pet is psychopathic, some precisely for those reasons. I don't really take a stand on that issue.
Besides, it's quite a bit irrelevant, it's rather like saying "Some people are killed in car accidents, and since driving a car is moral, therefore killing people must be moral.". SOME humans will be killed in traffic accidents no matter what we do, and SOME animals will be killed because of our actions no matter what we do. Saying that therefore a participation in a system that requires billions of animals to be killed every year is justified is nonsense. It's a Nirvana Fallacy, or something related to that.
whether that's not volunteering your free time for some worthy cause or anything else.

And what if giving to much of your money to charity or volunteering too much of your free time isn't really ethical? Accumulation of wealth is necessary for innovation. Had Bill Gates and Steve Jobs given all their money to charity and volunteered all their free time, do you think we would have the advanced computers we have today? And how do you know the money you give to charity isn't used by some alcoholic to buy alcohol or by some narcomaniac to buy illegal drugs? You've never heard (or even tried to imagine what it would be like) the other side of the story on those issues?
No offence, but you come across as someone pretty young - perhaps in your late teens or early twenties.

Well, yes, I am 18 right now. So what? I've spent more time researching those topics than most of the people would do in their lifetimes.
One can choose to shop for ethically harvested meat, rather than factory farmed meat. It's not even all that hard.

Friend, it's almost impossible. There are so many labels on the meat products, like "organic" or "free range", that don't really mean anything regarding how animals are treated. For instance, "free range" chickens aren't let to graze, they just aren't kept in battery cages, but on metal rods which likely hurt their legs all the time even more than cages hurt their wings.
"In the United States, most grass-fed cattle are raised for beef production."

That's not really a statistic, it doesn't cite any study. The guys on cowspiracy.com claim something completely different and they do have some citations. Though my guess is that there are no reliable sources about those stuff.
It's true that we may not be able to get explicit consent from an animal, but animals seem to share our dislike of pain pretty universally.

So, what you are basically saying is that we know what's best for the animals better than animals themselves know, therefore we have the right to kill them against their will? My friend, that was the logic used to justify slavery and dictatorships.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Weeks » Sat Sep 08, 2018 7:35 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:Or perhaps you mean that we can't use science in philosophy because science often deals with uncertainty? That is, you reject the analytical philosophy? Do you then reject rationalism and empiricism altogether? Do you think we should apply some form of radical skepticism or solipsism to ethics? Would you argue that killing a human being isn't immoral because, for all we know, he could be philosophical zombie?
What do people actually mean when they say "But maybe plants feel pain too!"?
I'm glad you took some time to think about that possibility. We might be able to move forward.

Well considering the fact the OP didn't even make a distinction between veganism and vegetarianism I'm not sure we should even talk about it in this thread.
I wasn't arguing for veganism, for us to drink milk and eat eggs nobody needs to be killed.
You said you objected to animals suffering, not being killed. I suppose you believe cows and chickens bred for milk or eggs don't feel pain in their lifetimes that could be avoided if we stopped drinking milk and eating eggs?

Arguments for veganism rather than vegetarianism are usually about nutrition. I wouldn't go into it, it appears that science about it is somewhat unclear and rather politicized.
Would you say the science for vegetarianism is also "somewhat unclear" and "rather politicized" if you weren't vegetarian? Just because you happen to have (or not have) studied it yourself and drawn your own conclusions from it and feel comfortable with it doesn't mean nobody else hasn't.

Nutrition can be studied scientifically, but it requires very specialized knowledge to ask the right questions and design the studies the correct way, and most of the people who "study" it don't have such knowledge.
How can I trust you as someone with the right knowledge to "study" it?

The same applies to some well-known things about nutrition, like that drinking milk can prevent osteoporosis. That's not certain, and it appears that the exact opposite is true. Namely, the countries with higher milk consumption tend to have higher rates of osteoporosis, rather than lower.
"Well-known" according to public opinion is not in the scope of this discussion, is it? You are not arguing for or against vegetarianism or veganism on the basis of public opinion, but rather on the morality of the choice given current scientific evidence. Which is not enough, but should not include myths, urban legends, half-truths, whatever.

So, if the life of a cow raised for me to eat contains more pleasure than suffering, it's "moral" to eat it? It's that simple?

Well, no, you don't breed your children into existence with the purpose of slaughtering them.
You're including purpose now? Does human life have a purpose?

Accumulation of wealth is necessary for innovation.
Who told you this? Whoever told you this lied to you. I'm sorry.

Had Bill Gates and Steve Jobs given all their money to charity and volunteered all their free time, do you think we would have the advanced computers we have today?
We wouldn't have had the exact same computers we have today, but we probably would've had "advanced computers", since neither of them invented the transistor, the chip, monitors, or programming.

Well, yes, I am 18 right now. So what? I've spent more time researching those topics than most of the people would do in their lifetimes.
You are quite arrogant, and it might be part of why you don't understand some of the arguments brought forth in this thread.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Kit. » Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:07 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:
No one is going to read your blog. At least I won't. Post it here if you want it to be taken into account for further arguments.

I don't quite see why.
...
Do plants suffer?

Oh dear, I've just dropped a fig on fire, it must be in terrible pain!
I hope most of the people who bring up this "But maybe plants feel pain too!" stuff don't actually believe that.
If some are serious, then this shows one of the greatest issues of the Internet culture: the disproportionate knowledge of fringe theories. You see it everywhere. In linguistics, many people on the Internet will be able to tell you details about the phonosemantic hypothesis, yet the knowledge of basic linguistics is completely lacking. In astronomy, countless people on the Internet will be able to tell you details of the Flat Earth theory, yet the knowledge of even the most basic astronomy is lacking. Perhaps the same applies to neuroscience, perhaps there are more people on the Internet who would be able to tell you which chemicals in plants supposedly function as neurotransmitters than there are people who know basic neuroscience.
Or perhaps you mean that we can't use science in philosophy because science often deals with uncertainty? That is, you reject the analytical philosophy? Do you then reject rationalism and empiricism altogether? Do you think we should apply some form of radical skepticism or solipsism to ethics? Would you argue that killing a human being isn't immoral because, for all we know, he could be philosophical zombie?
What do people actually mean when they say "But maybe plants feel pain too!"?

If your blog is filled with similar BS, I can see why people don't want to read it.

The question was about suffering. Why did you come up with a straw man of feeling pain?

And yes, it may save us a lot of time if you assume that you are talking to a masochist.

FlatAssembler wrote:
Well considering the fact the OP didn't even make a distinction between veganism and vegetarianism I'm not sure we should even talk about it in this thread.

I think you know the answer. I wasn't arguing for veganism, for us to drink milk and eat eggs nobody needs to be killed.

You are probably not aware of it, but a cow, in order to produce milk, needs to produce veal.

FlatAssembler wrote:Arguments for veganism rather than vegetarianism are usually about nutrition.

No, they are usually about "suffering".

FlatAssembler wrote:
But why do you think it's moral to have such a huge population?

How do you mean if it's moral? It's not a matter of anyone's choice.

It is a matter of everyone's choice. But you are not advocating this choice.

FlatAssembler wrote:
So, if the life of a cow raised for me to eat contains more pleasure than suffering, it's "moral" to eat it? It's that simple?

Well, no, you don't breed your children into existence with the purpose of slaughtering them.

Well, no, I don't breed cows into existence with the purpose of slaughtering them. I am not a recreational cow hunter.

Does that mean that it is "moral" for me to eat it? Or will you try to come up with another excuse?

FlatAssembler wrote:
No offence, but you come across as someone pretty young - perhaps in your late teens or early twenties.

Well, yes, I am 18 right now. So what? I've spent more time researching those topics than most of the people would do in their lifetimes.

What makes you think that you are qualified to do research? Do you have a bachelor degree in any STEM area?

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Trebla » Sat Sep 08, 2018 11:23 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:
No one is going to read your blog. At least I won't. Post it here if you want it to be taken into account for further arguments.

I don't quite see why. As I've said, the replies I get when I argue for vegetarianism on various Internet forums mostly run in cycles (as if people heard them from some common source). It would take you some ten minutes (probably less) to read the blog-post, and it takes you and me hours to respond to things on an Internet forum. In other words, in these three years I've been arguing for vegetarianism on the Internet forums, I've often found myself writing the same stuff over and over again for hours.


For someone who has spent 3 years arguing this, you seem profoundly ignorant of it.

You started with an unsupported premise - “it’s wrong to kill sentient non-humans” and have not only failed to support it, but have offered up support against it. (Namely that it’s ok to kill them for any purpose... but Lordy, not to EAT them).

When asked to justify your definition of sentience, you claimed “mainstream neuroscience consensus” then linked an article by a political organization, nothing scientific at all. And seriously, you linked a site called Cowspiracy to support your arguments?

How about this? I don’t see how anyone who has given it any thought can think that eating animal byproducts is moral at all.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby FlatAssembler » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:08 pm UTC

I'm glad you took some time to think about that possibility. We might be able to move forward.

I am still not sure what you meant, but if you were trying to make that point about it being moral to kill animals because they might be philosophical zombies, then perhaps the right response to that is "What are you smoking?".
I suppose you believe cows and chickens bred for milk or eggs don't feel pain in their lifetimes that could be avoided if we stopped drinking milk and eating eggs?

Car traffic causes some suffering and death (in the accidents) that could be avoided, that doesn't mean that owning a car is immoral.
Look, plant agriculture and raising animals for eggs and dairy causes suffering and death of some animals in accidents. Raising animals for meat requires suffering and death of animals to work. How come you don't see the difference?
By the way, I am not sure if that's relevant, but giving birth isn't as painful to most of the mammals as it is to humans.
Would you say the science for vegetarianism is also "somewhat unclear" and "rather politicized" if you weren't vegetarian?

When I say the science is unclear and politicized, I mean that:
1) There is no scientific consensus on the issue.
2) Many people act like there is and base what they do on that.
That is quite an objective metric. Here are some examples of unclear and politicized issues in science:
a) Can we usefully influence the epigenetics of plants in agriculture? If so, how? (There is no scientific consensus on the issue, and there especially wasn't a few decades ago, yet the governments of the Soviet Union and China pretended that those things were known and based agricultural recommendations on that, known as Lysenkoism. We all know how that worked out, don't we?)
b) Is raising the minimum wage a good idea? (The economists don't agree on that, yet many politicians act like that the scientific debate is settled on the side of rising the minimum wage.)
c) Does abortion increase the risk of breast cancer? (The evidence for that is very weak, yet the law says that people should be informed that it does.)
d) Do gun control laws prevent violent crime? (The science is unclear, yet the politicians act as if it was clear.)
e) How much protein does a human body need? (The science is not yet clear, but we are taught at school that it is clear that we need at least 30% of our energy intake to be protein and that is used to justify subsidizing the meat and dairy industry. If anything, the science is clear that we need way less than that.)
f) Does dietary calcium decrease the risk of osteoporosis? (See above, it's almost the same.)
g) Are the Chakavian and the Kaikavian dialects of Croatian really just dialects, or are they separate and endangered languages? (Linguists don't agree on that, yet we are taught at school that they are just dialects and are not to be used in public settings.)
I hope you see the pattern. So, no, you can't just randomly say some issue in science is unclear and politicized and dismiss the science behind it. The claim that some issue in science is unclear and politicized can be objectively proven.
Just because you happen to have (or not have) studied it yourself and drawn your own conclusions from it and feel comfortable with it doesn't mean nobody else hasn't.

Have you?
How can I trust you as someone with the right knowledge to "study" it?

You don't have to. Do your own research (hopefully not reaching a conclusion that's contrary to the mainstream science).
You're including purpose now? Does human life have a purpose?

I think you know what I meant. Assigning purpose to someone else's life is immoral if done to humans. That's what was done by the SS-ers and by the Spartans (when they killed the babies they thought were too weak to be soldiers). If it's wrong to do to humans, why would it be right to do to other sentient animals?
Who told you this? Whoever told you this lied to you. I'm sorry.

So, why do you think socialism fails every time it's tried?
We wouldn't have had the exact same computers we have today, but we probably would've had "advanced computers", since neither of them invented the transistor, the chip, monitors, or programming.

Fine, that was just an example. It may even be argued that the Microsoft Corporation actually inhibited the advancement of computers (with the products such as Internet Explorer 6). The point is clear, the advancements in the IT industry have been done by people who sought to increase their own profits, to accumulate wealth to themselves.
You are quite arrogant, and it might be part of why you don't understand some of the arguments brought forth in this thread.

And what is the alternative to being "quite arrogant"? Not having an opinion about anything, regardless of how clear things seemed to be?
The question was about suffering. Why did you come up with a straw man of feeling pain?

Unless you assume many animals are capable of feeling emotional suffering in spite of low brain power, suffering in animals equals feeling physical pain.
You are probably not aware of it, but a cow, in order to produce milk, needs to produce veal.

Well, just like humans, it needs to have a child to start producing milk, and then it can produce milk for as long as we milk it, right? Certain breeds of cows get sick if they aren't being milked because the milk accumulates in their glands.
What makes you think that you are qualified to do research? Do you have a bachelor degree in any STEM area?

My friend, that is precisely not how science works.
Science isn't based on authority.
Science works partly because it accepts ideas from everywhere. You can publish scientific papers and research papers regardless of whether you have a degree or not, as long as they pass the peer-review.
I know that, because I published three papers about linguistics as a high-school student, two completely and one partly having to do with my alternative interpretation of the Croatian toponyms. My ideas appear to have been taken rather seriously, though the greatest experts on the subject today don't think I am right. Regardless, we don't have enough data to prove or disprove either the mainstream interpretation or my interpretation. Perhaps, some day, we will have.
See, that's how science works: you get an idea, share it with other people who have done some research on the subject, and then see what happens. It isn't (or at least shouldn't be) a discussion about who has a greater authority.
When asked to justify your definition of sentience, you claimed “mainstream neuroscience consensus” then linked an article by a political organization, nothing scientific at all.

The Cambridge University is a political organization? I had no idea. What do they advocate for?
And don't you think that animal sentience is an obvious fact, that asking somebody to prove the scientific consensus on animal sentience is not much different than asking somebody to prove that there is a scientific consensus that the Moon is not a hologram?

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Kit. » Sun Sep 09, 2018 5:20 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:Look, plant agriculture and raising animals for eggs and dairy causes suffering and death of some animals in accidents. Raising animals for meat requires suffering and death of animals to work. How come you don't see the difference?

We are supposedly speaking about people that can think, for whom "oh, it's not me, it's an unavoidable accident" is not an excuse for choosing the action that leads to something else's suffering and death.

FlatAssembler wrote:Assigning purpose to someone else's life is immoral if done to humans.

Isn't that the case of stolen concept fallacy? What meaning does the word "immoral" carry if you use it toward someone's actions without assuming some purpose in their life?

FlatAssembler wrote:That's what was done by the SS-ers and by the Spartans

That was done probably by all religions.

FlatAssembler wrote:
You are quite arrogant, and it might be part of why you don't understand some of the arguments brought forth in this thread.

And what is the alternative to being "quite arrogant"? Not having an opinion about anything, regardless of how clear things seemed to be?

Does being skeptical toward your own beliefs equal to "not having an opinion about anything" to you?

FlatAssembler wrote:
The question was about suffering. Why did you come up with a straw man of feeling pain?

Unless you assume many animals are capable of feeling emotional suffering in spite of low brain power, suffering in animals equals feeling physical pain.

What makes you think so?

(I see, you chose the long road, in spite of warnings)

FlatAssembler wrote:
You are probably not aware of it, but a cow, in order to produce milk, needs to produce veal.

Well, just like humans, it needs to have a child to start producing milk, and then it can produce milk for as long as we milk it, right?

Nope. One calf per year.

Besides, half of the calves are bulls, and bulls don't produce milk.

FlatAssembler wrote:
What makes you think that you are qualified to do research? Do you have a bachelor degree in any STEM area?

My friend, that is precisely not how science works.
Science isn't based on authority.

"Authority"? Straw man again.

Science is based on the scientific method, and the scientific method is not something that you should expect to be able to use successfully without proper training. It's a complex instrument with too many pitfalls.

A classic example from statistics: http://www.geom.uiuc.edu/~lori/mathed/problems/sloanA307.html

FlatAssembler wrote:Science works partly because it accepts ideas from everywhere.

It's like deciding to play a lottery because everyone can win.

FlatAssembler wrote:You can publish scientific papers and research papers regardless of whether you have a degree or not, as long as they pass the peer-review.
I know that, because I published three papers about linguistics as a high-school student, two completely and one partly having to do with my alternative interpretation of the Croatian toponyms. My ideas appear to have been taken rather seriously, though the greatest experts on the subject today don't think I am right.

Ah.

Unfortunately, the quality of peer-reviewed "knowledge" reflects the quality of the peers.

FlatAssembler wrote:
When asked to justify your definition of sentience, you claimed “mainstream neuroscience consensus” then linked an article by a political organization, nothing scientific at all.

The Cambridge University is a political organization? I had no idea. What do they advocate for?

Does "Animal Ethics" website belong to the Cambridge University? They don't state so.

And by the way "the Cambridge Declaration" also doesn't belong to the Cambridge University. It was mostly written by MIT people. Cambridge was the group's meeting place. What is more important, though, is that neither it is a "mainstream neuroscience consensus", nor it supports your definition of sentience.

(Ah, and another thing in which academic education helps is reading the papers)

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Sep 10, 2018 12:39 pm UTC

FlatAssembler wrote:Are you saying you want abortions to happen?

I stopped right here and started this post. I'm now going to continue to read. If there's nothing redeemable here, we're done.
I'll also be doing some running commentary like for this one -

doogly wrote:
Kit. wrote:What is missing here is some excuses for not applying this "inflicting suffering is immoral" to procreation itself.

Seriously, you have no idea how many field mice get killed when I do this.

That's some quality referential fuckery from Doog. That's amazing. Y'all should attend his masterclass on shitposting.
There are just too many replies here, I will respond as much as I can, because I will not be wasting a whole day.

Given the number of replies is relatively low, it's very, very difficult to read this as anything but "Some of y'all have points I can't counter and so I'll be avoiding them"
As for physical suffering, look, I may be mistaken, but, as far as I know, there is no respectable neuroscientist who would claim that even fish feel pain. The main argument against that is the absence or near absence of the c-nociceptors in fish (which are also absent or nearly-absent in humans with congenital analgesia).

Looks like you're behind the times and have also never gone fishing as either fish feel pain OR all fish are incredibly competent at mimery as every single one does an amazing "I can't fucking breath and this is extremely unpleasant" when out of water. It's amazing.
Even if so, how is that different from saying that stealing is moral, because some people are so poor they need to steal to survive?
So there's a saying about "Know your audience". You.. uh.. haven't lurked here for very long, have you?

Right now, I see no reason for this to continue. But given prior experiences, where I throw in commentary because I find it hilarious to do so before locking a post, I'm going to leave this open for a couple of days. This part is a notice for everyone to be on their best behavior and to wrap up their discussions as this thread'll be locked in a bit and I'd really rather not have to clean up anything between now and then.
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heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Kit. » Mon Sep 10, 2018 1:20 pm UTC

OK, then just one final comment on why getting proper higher education can help.

FlatAssembler wrote:The same applies to some well-known things about nutrition, like that drinking milk can prevent osteoporosis. That's not certain, and it appears that the exact opposite is true. Namely, the countries with higher milk consumption tend to have higher rates of osteoporosis, rather than lower.

Actually, the study you linked shows that the "well-known thing" is true, and drinking milk statistically results in slightly lower incidence of osteoporosis than not drinking milk (why the benefits, if exist, are relatively small, should be obvious to anyone who has managed to read a chapter on calcium from a clinical biochemistry textbook; the study shows that these small benefits exist).

However, one of its analyzed studies shows that there can be "too much of a good thing", and if you are a Swedish female aged 45+, you should not drink more than 2 glasses of unfermented milk per day. If you are a Swedish male, you are still fine.

(that's notwithstanding the usual "correlation"/"causation" caveat, of course)

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Ranbot » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:14 pm UTC

I'm echoing SecondTalon that there is nothing redeemable in this discussion, but in a manner I hope is slightly more constructive...

FlatAssembler wrote:...the issue of abortion.


You doomed this discussion by mentioning "abortion" in the first post. It got some attention, which you probably wanted, but the attention was not conducive to a discussion of vegetarianism, it was a merely a distraction. Furthermore, a vaguely-related and controversial opinion (like abortion) opens the door for many other vaguely related side discussions, which distract and destroy any impression you hope to make on the actual topic. Let's see... in about 1 page of discussion of vegetarianism. we also have covered abortion, communist vs capitalist economics, development of computers, government regulations/taxes, Croatian linguistics, nutrition, scientific peer-review processes, medical testing on animals, human euthanasia/end-of-life ethics, preying mantises, neurology, morality of what people spend their free time doing, young vs old perspectives, and more. * With all those side discussions it's incredibly hard to follow the original point. This happens all the time in online discussions. I knew from the first post this discussion would degenerate into drivel, and the fault for this poor discussion is largely yours because you failed to properly set the stage for your topic of discussion. You should learn from that.

* -
Spoiler:
I'm honestly shocked we didn't trigger Godwin's Law. :roll:

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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby Pfhorrest » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:50 pm UTC

Like all admins everywhere, ST is a Nazi fascist.

There, Godwinned, thread over, I lose.
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Re: Vegetarianism

Postby SecondTalon » Mon Sep 10, 2018 4:54 pm UTC

It’s really a problem at the local Anarchist meet ups.
heuristically_alone wrote:I want to write a DnD campaign and play it by myself and DM it myself.
heuristically_alone wrote:I have been informed that this is called writing a book.


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