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From what I can gather, much of the moral claim for veg*nism is based on the idea that animals have a consciousness. This is why it is ok for veg*ns to eat plants but not animals even though they are both living things.<br><br><br><br>
If we take the materialist/physicalist view, we believe that all things are made up of one type of substance - that is a physical substance. And there are really no separate non-physical entities called "minds"; if this is the case, then plants and animals are really no different in regards to their physical make up.<br><br><br><br>
So my question is : veg*n materialists - how do you reconcile these views?<br><br><br><br>
Note: If you are a dualist and believe that "minds" are somehow a different type of substance, then this does not apply here.
 

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Yeah, what about the plants? That really is a tough question.<br><br><br><br>
I think many vegans are such because they have the ability to empahize with the suffering of animals. And I think it's simply much harder to empathize with a plant, for what I think are obvious reasons. At least it's harder for me. Of course plants can be very ingenious, but their ingenuity appears to be somewhat more mechanical than that of humans and other animals.<br><br><br><br>
In other words, to me we're clearly all mechanisms that don't actually know why we do the things we do, but do them anyway because that's how we've adapted our design to survive. But the lower down the totem pole you go, there's not only less of a nervous system to <i>sense</i> pain, but also less ability to <i>reflect</i> on that pain (suffering). And I think the major key for a vegan is to reduce as much as possible the severest forms of suffering, so we aim lower on the totem pole for our sustenance.
 

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There is nothing to reconcile. Physicalism or materialism is not the view that there is no consciousness/sentience. The divide between plants and animals remains, that difference is simply reduced to a physical difference and not a difference between the non-existence and existence of a separate mental substance.
 

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Umm, actually I believe that everything has consciousness, and that all physical things are manifestations of varying states of consciousness. There is plant and animal consciousness as well as even rock consciousness, which would be a state of being dense, solid, immovable, and without emotion. (Actually you might know some people who have the consciousness of a rock, ha ha ha! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"> )<br><br><br><br>
So, yes I do believe that plants are a form of consciousness, manifested at a certain level, and that animals are a higher form of consciousness. The moral doctrine of Ahimsa (non-injury) is something that can only be practiced in relative terms, and not to an absolute degree. It is impossible to live in this world and cause no injury. We cause injury by walking (we unknowingly step on bugs), driving (when bugs smash into our windshields), by breathing (we can't avoid some of the things we inhale), and by eating (destruction of plant life). To practice non-injury or Ahimsa means that we try to minimize the injury or damage that we cause. Plants are at the bottom of the food chain and we cannot avoid eating them or we will perish. Either we will eat them directly, or we will eat them indirectly by eating the animals that eat the plants. By only eating plants, and not eating animals we cause the least possible amount of harm. Not only do we avoid eating the animals, we also minimize the damage to plants, because raising animals for food is a wasteful and inefficient use of our plant resources. An overpopulation of animals has been bred to be food animals living short miserable lives. These animals get fed a lot of grains and greens to fatten them up, which would go a lot further if directly fed to people rather than being eaten indirectly in the form of meat.
 
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