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Discussion Starter #1
As a philosophy student, I'm interested in hearing others' philosophical views on being veg*n. I did a search without any hits, and while I'm sure there are multiple posts about this elsewhere, perhaps a central place for philosophical thought on the subject would be nice. Feel free to state your philosophical arguments concerning veg*n issues, and let's have some nice discussion.<br><br><br><br>
To start, here's my own argument with explanation:<br><br><br><br>
1. Harming beings is unethical, unless it is a necessity [wherein there is ethical justification] to harm sentient beings.<br><br>
2. We (most industrialized societies) have means of gaining adequate nutrition without harming sentient beings.<br><br>
// 3. It is unethical to harm beings for food.<br><br><br><br>
Beings in this argument includes animals and insects. Insert "sentient" behind beings if it helps for clarity, to rule out bacteria, virii, and prions. This argument can also be adapted to: hunting/sport (hunting animals is not necessary for adequate nutrition; therefore, hunting is unethical), trapping (i.e. there are other ethical means of trapping; therefore, killing the animal is not ethical), and clothing (i.e. we have other adequate means of clothing [cotton, etc.]; therefore, killing beings for clothing is unethical). And, as it should, it leaves open the principle of harm in self-defense.<br><br><br><br>
Basically the argument is stating: If there is a choice between harming and not harming, and the end-result is the same, it is more ethical to choose the option which does the least harm.<br><br><br><br>
Obviously this argument is in favor of a vegan lifestyle, one that even I don't adhere to currently. But I aspire! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br><br><br>
Any other philosophical arguments concerning veg*n you adhere to? Thoughts?<br><br><br><br>
(By the way, if the almighty mods can please move this to the appropriate forum [Vegetarian and Vegan], I would appreciate it. Sorry for the wrong forum!)
 

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My own position is roughly based on<br><br>
1. sentient beings have preferences/interests, and equal preferences/interests* deserve equal moral consideration<br><br>
(this is the same point Peter Singer makes)<br><br>
2. generally speaking (prima facie or ceteris paribus or whatever) we cannot justify the violation of an individual's interests by the benefits that "accrue" (sp?) to other individuals or society in general.<br><br><br><br>
My second point is a "deontological" one expressed by rights language, and by this point I disagree both with Singer and you - at least to the extent that your 'necessity' qualification amounts to justifying interest violation by the interests of others. (By the 1st point alone, I may not have a gurantee against the acceptability of vivisection for example.)<br><br><br><br>
(Oh, and in association with my AR values, explaining my position about illegal direct action, I also have the value that laws are not morally obligating qua laws <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/wink3.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=";)">)<br><br><br><br>
(*I would define preference as simply a "for" or "against" attitude towards conscious experiences. 'Interest' I'd define more widely, to include interest in living. Not all sentient beings necessarily have a <i>preference</i> about living although I think they have an interest in it.)
 

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Baby animals cuuuuuuute! don't wanna hurt the cute baby animals! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smitten.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":smitten:"><img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/love.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":love:"><br><br><br><br>
Uh, just kidding.<br><br><br><br>
Um, I got a D in Phil 101, and I never set foot inside another philosophy class, but I think my views are more utilitarian than anything else. It goes kind of like this:<br><br><br><br>
1. Suffering/pain/unhappiness = bad, harm. Pleasure/happiness= good, benefit.<br><br>
2. Our moral obligation is to, if not increase benefit, at least reduce/minimize the harm that we cause.<br><br>
3.The total harm that accrues as a result of our mass torture and slaughter of sentient beings (not only to the animals, though that would be enough, but also to ourselves and the planet at large) far, FAR outweighs the benefit, if any, that accrues.<br><br>
4. So don't do it!<br><br><br><br>
PS: Harm, harm, harm... Word has lost all meaning.
 

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Life is valuable. Human life, animal life, plant life, bacterial life, it's all valuable. But everything is going to die, and the design of this world is such that some...well, *all* really... living beings damage and kill others.<br><br><br><br>
The balance point for me is that it is moral to take life for one's own needs; but not moral to cause unnecessary distress or death. That makes for a messy, imperfect distinction; but then it's a messy, imperfect world.<br><br><br><br>
Killing plants to eat them causes less distress and death than farm-raising animals and killing them to eat them, so I choose the former. I accept animal research for medicine, as long as it is done to carefully minimize both animal distress and animal use; but reject animal testing for things like cosmetics and cleaning products. I'll buy cycling shoes with a bit of leather in them because I couldn't find a leather-free option; but I won't buy a leather coat.<br><br><br><br>
Animals don't have rights, because 'rights' is a human construct that co-occurs with 'responsibilities'. Only beings morally aware enough to have responsibilities can have rights; and they can't have one without the other. Those who take (rights) must also give (responsibilities). I have the right to some level of freedom, but I also have the responsiblity to behave morally to other living things.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Bios</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><br>
Animals don't have rights, because 'rights' is a human construct that co-occurs with 'responsibilities'.</div>
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[standard response]That would invalidate the rights of infants and the mentally incapacitated.[/standard response]
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Sevenseas</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
[standard response]That would invalidate the rights of infants and the mentally incapacitated.[/standard response]</div>
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What's your point??? Expendable beings are expendable. The world is for the mighty.<br><br><br><br>
Anyway, it's good to have another Ahimsa thread going. Instead of me writing out a bunch of stuff that has been around for centuries I'll just quote some ahimsa thoughts from Sri Sivananda:<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Ahimsa or non-injury, of course, implies non-killing. But, non-injury is not merely non-killing. In its comprehensive meaning, Ahimsa or non-injury means entire abstinence from causing any pain or harm whatsoever to any living creature, either by thought, word, or deed. Non-injury requires a harmless mind, mouth, and hand.<br><br><br><br>
Ahimsa is not mere negative non-injury. It is positive, cosmic love. It is the development of a mental attitude in which hatred is replaced by love. Ahimsa is true sacrifice. Ahimsa is forgiveness. Ahimsa is Sakti (power). Ahimsa is true strength.<br><br><br><br>
Only the ordinary people think that Ahimsa is not to hurt any living being physically. This is but the gross form of Ahimsa. The vow of Ahimsa is broken even by showing contempt towards another man, by entertaining unreasonable dislike for or prejudice towards anybody, by frowning at another man, by hating another man, by abusing another man, by speaking ill of others, by backbiting or vilifying, by harbouring thoughts of hatred, by uttering lies, or by ruining another man in any way whatsoever.<br><br><br><br>
All harsh and rude speech is Himsa (violence or injury). Using harsh words to beggars, servants or inferiors is Himsa. Wounding the feelings of others by gesture, expression, tone of voice and unkind words is also Himsa. Slighting or showing deliberate discourtesy to a person before others is wanton Himsa. To approve of another's harsh actions is indirect Himsa. To fail to relieve another's pain, or even to neglect to go to the person in distress is a sort of Himsa. It is the sin of omission. Avoid strictly all forms of harshness, direct or indirect, positive or negative, immediate or delayed. Practice Ahimsa in its purest form and become divine. Ahimsa and Divinity are one. ...<br><br><br><br>
Absolute Ahimsa is impossible. It is not possible to the most conscientious Sannyasin or monk. To practice that, you must avoid killing countless creatures while walking, sitting, eating, breathing, sleeping and drinking. You cannot find a single non-injurer in the world. You have to destroy life in order to live. It is physically impossible for you to obey the law of non-destruction of life, because the phagocytes of your blood also are destroying millions of dangerous intrusive spirilla, bacteria and germs. ...<br><br><br><br>
A renunciate or monk should not defend himself and use violence even when his life is in jeopardy. To an ordinary man, Ahimsa should be the aim, but he will not fall from this principle if, out of sheer necessity and with no selfish aim, he takes recourse to Himsa occasionally. One should not give leniency to the mind in this respect. If you are lenient, the mind will always take the best advantage of you and goad you to do acts of violence. Give a rogue an inch, he will take an ell: the mind at once adapts this policy, if you give a long rope for its movement.</div>
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<br><br><br><a href="http://www.dlshq.org/teachings/ahimsa.htm" target="_blank">www.dlshq.org/teachings/ahimsa.htm</a><br><br><br><br><br><br>
Ahimsa is a journey and I would like to become more and more ahimsic and less himsic everyday. My spiritual tradition is Christianity so it is ususally those scriptures that I use to develop my understanding of what it may mean to be less harmful. But I see Ahimsa in all the major spiritual traditions. And of course I see ahimsic thoughts and actions in those who claim no spiritual or religious belief.<br><br><br><br>
I'd like to ask this question though: Don't we put responsibilities on our pets? When we come home and see that our dog has taken a crap on the carpet don't we take action to prevent that from happening again? Is that any different than teaching our children not to do the same thing? Is that any different than putting someone in jail for stealing?<br><br><br><br>
We give our pets the right to food and shelter and a loving environment and they have the responsibility not to bite us or crap on the carpet or even hunt us (in the case of dogs). And I saw a piece on tv once about horses and how they behave in the wild and the horses did have responsibilities: some of the young horses would act up and certain older horses, who seemed to be designated for the task, would punish those horses by excluding them from the herd. Those young horses learned that they had a responsibility to behave in a certain manner if they wanted the right to remain in the herd. A man who noticed this used what he learned from that to develop a technique for training horses without physically harming them or distressing them.<br><br><br><br>
I think we humans sit a little to high on our horses. I don't think we are all that different. It seems to me that elephants have a very complex social order and I think it probably includes a lot of rights and responsibilities.
 

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My philosophy is that of Ahimsa as well. I aspire to live my life according to these principles. I'm not all the way there yet, but working on it every day.<br><br><br><br>
I also believe that there is nothing inherantly wrong with eating meat/animal products if that is the only available food source/protein source, and that it is done respectfully, and with sacred awareness. An example of this would be inuit or plains indians, who did need to consume meat to survive, but were aware of the gift of life they were recieving.<br><br><br><br>
Since I can be healthy without eating or using animal products that is what I should do. I am not vegan, but I do aspire to veganism since that is what philosophically and spiritually makes sense to me.
 

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I feel much as Synergy and Mr. Sun do. I believe in practicing 'Ahimsa' and that is the main reason I am vegan;It's part of my entire philosophy and approach to life.
 

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1.) I'm not prepared to kill an animal. I know that given a weapon of some kind, and the task of doing all the gutting and that stuff, I lack the mindset that is necessary for killing.<br><br><br><br>
2.) Theefore, why should i bother eating it? If I'm not prepared to kill a bloody animal, then what place do I have eating the damn thing? If I had to cut down a field of wheat, despite the monotony of it, I'm pretty much up for it, so no problems eating bread, but meat is a bit different.
 

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Loki, what if someone was willing to do the killing for you?<br><br><br><br>
It's like with surgery -- a lot of people would be unable to do surgery because of the blood and weird looking internal organs but I think that ethically those people could still benefit from surgery.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I would agree with that observation, Mr. Sun. Same with being a garbage man; I honestly would never be a garbage man, but without him I'd be in a heap (no pun intended) of trouble. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)"><br><br><br><br>
That Ahisma has some good qualities to it, but it's way too "fluff" for me. Maybe it's due to my analytic education, but I tend to disregard anything claiming "devine," "pure," "true strength," etc. Sort of like Yoga.. I love Yoga, but I have to put it on mute. But if it works for you, then that's great. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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Concept, do you think your philosophical position will eventually lead you to live a simpler life? For instance, if we look at housing I think it could be argued that cob housing, at least in many areas of the world, would cause the least harm to the environment which ultimately means less harm to sentient beings. And the end result is the same: shelter.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">There are many advantages to cob houses, but chiefly among them are: 1) you can build one by yourself, without having to hire "building professionals" to do it for you; 2) the materials are cheap or free, so you don't have to take out a mortgage and be a slave to the bank and a job that you hate; 3) the earthen walls absorb the energy of the sun and any internal heat sources, so the home remains cool in the summer and warm in the winter, at next to no cost; 4) it's healthy for the earth -- making the materials causes no environmental damage; 5) it's healthy for humans -- the materials don't off-gas toxic chemicals; 6) and best of all, you can sculpt the house into beautiful, funky shapes!</div>
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<br><a href="http://ilovecob.com/ashan/cascadiacob/" target="_blank">http://ilovecob.com/ashan/cascadiacob/</a><br><br><br><br>
Cob house being built: <a href="http://www.housealive.org/mary_cabin_photos.htm" target="_blank">http://www.housealive.org/mary_cabin_photos.htm</a><br><br><br><br>
It seems to me that becoming vegan is an almost endless process. But a fun one. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Mr. Sun</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br><br>
I'd like to ask this question though: Don't we put responsibilities on our pets? When we come home and see that our dog has taken a crap on the carpet don't we take action to prevent that from happening again? Is that any different than teaching our children not to do the same thing? Is that any different than putting someone in jail for stealing?</div>
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Well I think it is different, because there is not the same moral element in it. Or if there is, then it's anthropomorphism to some extent. When we teach companion animals to behave in a certain way, it is just that, trying to modify their behaviour. But when we put someone in jail, it's explicitly about responsibility/guilt. If non-humans had moral responsibilities, there would be a slippery slope to the kind of Medieval system where they were sentenced for their "crimes". We can speak in a loose sense about non-human moral codes, like in the horse example you mentioned, but it would really be a loose sense, devoid of the particularly moral meaning.<br><br><br><br>
Then again, according to certain revoltingly unethical animal experiments, some rhesus monkeys showed signs of what was termed compassion - subjecting themselves to suffering rather than let others suffer. So it comes down to how we define morality, of course - what I said above is based on my definition which requires the ability to conceptualize good and evil.
 

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Gandhi ascribed to the ahimsic philosophy -- not much fluff in ridding a nation of an occupying force. Not that I agree with everything he did but still, you gotta admit that it's not all fluff.
 

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You don't think animals can conceptualize good and evil?<br><br><br><br>
Why is it that a dolphin will see a human drowing and rescue him? I think the dolphin is conceptualizing a good. And when the dolphins fend off the sharks they are conceptualizing harm that could come to the human. And yet other dolphins, as Matthew Scully points out, attack humans. There is a difference in how one dolphin acts and another one acts and I think they can conceptualize good and bad acts. Some choose good, some don't. The latter should be sentenced to 5 years in an aquariam. Time off for good behaviour like not biting the trainers.
 

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Well I think rescuing a human in that situation could just as well be explained by compassion, like in the case of the rhesus monkeys, and I separated compassion from conceptualizing morality in the required sense.<br><br><br><br>
But it's possible of course, with the more intellectually advanced animals like dolphins, whose minds we currently know only a little about.<br><br><br><br>
And one question would be whether it's human-centered to define morality only in exclusively rationalistic human terms like I am doing.<br><br><br><br>
ETA: But I'll add that one common omni argument is "if animals have rights, shouldn't we be preventing wolves and lions from killing prey", to which my response has been that they have rights only to morally responsible beings (humans). If we extend moral responsibility to non-humans, we have to change the response to that question too, probably using the "necessity" argument often used in this context.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Mr. Sun</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
Concept, do you think your philosophical position will eventually lead you to live a simpler life? For instance, if we look at housing I think it could be argued that cob housing, at least in many areas of the world, would cause the least harm to the environment which ultimately means less harm to sentient beings. And the end result is the same: shelter.</div>
</div>
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Good question. Ultimately there are many variables that lead to the same end-result, but may take time or money in order to do so. Or even knowledge. For instance, I have no idea what cob housing is. Perhaps upon seeing what it is, and ultimately coming across enough money to achieve such shelter, I would be able to do such a thing.<br><br><br><br>
My philosophical position could definitely entail an entirely different life than one I lead now, but, like I said, it will ultimately come down to a few things. Money, time, and motivation being the biggest factor. After all, there have been a many great philosophers who have practiced almost if not completely contradictory actions than what they thought was truly ethical. We all do this to some extent, and I can only hope that my motivation will lead me towards a true aspiration to achieve my philosophy if not achievement itself. <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="/images/smilies/smiley.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title=":)">
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Originally Posted by <strong>Mr. Sun</strong> <a href="/forum/post/0"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style=""></a><br><br>
You don't think animals can conceptualize good and evil?<br><br><br><br>
Why is it that a dolphin will see a human drowing and rescue him? I think the dolphin is conceptualizing a good. And when the dolphins fend off the sharks they are conceptualizing harm that could come to the human. And yet other dolphins, as Matthew Scully points out, attack humans. There is a difference in how one dolphin acts and another one acts and I think they can conceptualize good and bad acts. Some choose good, some don't. The latter should be sentenced to 5 years in an aquariam. Time off for good behaviour like not biting the trainers.</div>
</div>
<br><br><br>
Edit: correction: Mr. Scully points out that some dolphins were aggressive and violent to other dolphins, not towards humans. Let's change the sentence to two years less a day because humans are more valuable than dolphins.
 

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Seven, doesn't compassion come from being able to conceptualize good and bad? I mean in some of the simpler forms of compassion, such as a dog allowing her pups to suckle, there wouldn't be any need of conceptualizing good and evil. But with the dolphin and monkey example I wonder if that's not what's going on. What do you think?
 
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