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Food ethics: How do you choose what species are morally wrong to eat?

 
 
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 05:28 pm
This is a topic coming from the discussions on whaling for me, but that is also influenced by other controversies such as the eating of dogs and cats.

If you believe that some animals should not be eaten, can you provide an abstracted criteria that can govern food ethics as it relates to species?

For example, if you don't think dogs should be eaten, try to think of the why (e.g. they are intelligent, charismatic). Also try to see if this rule can be applied consistently (e.g. if intelligence is your rule and pigs are more intelligent than dogs would you stop eating pigs?).

If the matter is merely subjective and can't be objective (e.g. charisma) do you accept consensus as a criteria for the ethics? That is, if a quorum of society objects to a species being eaten based on subjective criteria do you accept this as a mandate for the authority needed to prevent the others from eating that species?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 44 • Views: 29,779 • Replies: 449

 
djjd62
 
  3  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 05:29 pm
nothing is morally wrong to eat, taste should be the final determining factor
Robert Gentel
 
  2  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 05:29 pm
@djjd62,
So you don't have any moral objections to eating humans?
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 05:32 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Interesting.

My food morality is patchy. I'm not quite sure if I could articulate anything better than "because" re: why I'll eat pigs but not dogs, for example.
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 05:34 pm
i'd do it if i had to

lot's of talk about the possibility of raising clones for extra parts, i don't think i'd have a problem with eating humans that were raised for specific purposes
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 05:36 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

So you don't have any moral objections to eating humans?


I agree with dj - nothing is morally wrong to eat. I don't have a moral problem with eating dead humans.

Cycloptichorn
djjd62
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 05:42 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
actually i never thought about that, soylent green Razz

0 Replies
 
CalamityJane
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 05:56 pm
I am not sure if it were morally wrong to eat certain animals and not others -
it's more a cultural question. Asians don't think anything of eating dogs,
our western culture does - mainly as we keep dogs as pets. On the other hand,
I will eat and have eaten rabbit, bison, elk, goose, duck, pheasant, wild boar, venison, and have tried alligator and rattlesnake meat.
I'd draw the line at dogs, cats, insects and human flesh - it's a toss between
moral and utter disgust here!
0 Replies
 
sozobe
 
  2  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:04 pm
@djjd62,
I think there's kind of two tiers though.

I'd do most anything if I had to, since by definition I'd have to. If it was the only way to survive for example I'd probably do it rather than die.

But if you went to a dinner party, enjoyed the meal, and then the host said "oh by the way that was human meat" would you be like "oh really, cool" or "GAG"?
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:04 pm
@Robert Gentel,
If an animal has a history and a heritage of artificial selection, then we have to discuss why did we (as a presently top predator) originally get ourselve involved with husbandry.

I get torqued off mostly at the wanton killing of any threatened or endangered wild species for reasons that transcend just mere dietary reasons. QWE kill black rhinos and white rhinos and SUmatran Rhinos for their HORNS, We almost drove Bison to extinction for their tongues and their coats, we kill bears for their gallbladders. These folk med reciped are just ludicrous and have no bases in evidence.
NOW, hunger that drives indigenous people to kill and eat endangered primates and birds is not a matter of dietary selectivity and tradition . Its more a matter of necessity. Weve seen that in WWII, the ALLIES fed many aboriginals in the Phillipne, Borneo and SUmatran jungles and they took to non"bushmeat foods" quite well.
Today, several of the populations of aboriginals in the Subasian archipelagos hve taken to our kinds of diets (and suffered our infirmaties also).
The eating of passenger pigeons in swank cafes of the post Civil war US led to the extinction of these little birds for no real logical reason that was dictated by dietary preferences.

When we exercise some Biblical vraisemblence in regards to "dominion over all animals" I find that concept just packed with hubris and shortsightedness. WE can easily adjust our diets to conform to what we raise for meat or grow as a crop.
Even dogs, there is a breed, The Chinese Crested dog, that has been developed and raised as a food meat in China. The breed is also translated to mean "Edible Dog "

My disdain of the Jaqpnese explanation that they enjoy whale meat as part of their culture and are killing these target whale species in a sustainable manner is , to me, such a bullshit cynical argument made up just to satisfy the liberal "Occidental mind" that they are justified in carrying out this barbaric practice.
I reluctantly accept Innuits taking whales, but I dont buy the fact that all bowheads are doing "fine" several populations in the Greenland herds are being hunted in a non sustainable fashion because the Greenland herd seems to be plummeting from IWC numbers. The Beringean herds seem to be doing better because the Innuit are limited to the open sea capabilities of their motorized Umiaks.

We can selectively stress a population of animal that had been used for food and now , because the population crashed because of over hunting or fishing, we should attempt to stop all harvesting and study what the hell happened. The Grand Banks, once the source of much of the worlds codfish, is now a barren con shelf with entire other populations , who used cod fry as part of their food chain, also crashing. The cod may not come back at all.While there are cod in the Banks, theyneed proximity to other cod to get em "in the mood" to breed. The removal of cod density to a su critical population density has resulted in aha by fisheries biologists using simple two dimensional models and have discovered that pop densities, instead of rebounding are staying the same with cod going in and being removed by predators and pollution. I dont think that theres a MORAL distinction, but there is one of whats ETHICAL in handling natural populations.





Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:05 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
I agree with dj - nothing is morally wrong to eat.


What about shared resources? Is it ok to deprive future generations of the food resource though resource mismanagement? Would I be in the wrong to eat the last pair of cows when everyone else is asking me to accept the cow eating moratorium so that we can preserve the beef resource?
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:07 pm
@sozobe,
sozobe wrote:
But if you went to a dinner party, enjoyed the meal, and then the host said "oh by the way that was human meat" would you be like "oh really, cool" or "GAG"?


Gag for disgust or gag for moral reasons? If they told me that they'd wiped beef across their balls I'd gag too, but not because of any ethics against beef, just disgust with their balls.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:09 pm
@farmerman,
So how would you articulate your criteria in shorthand? Would you say it's a species conservation criteria?

And on a side note, how would you codify the non-standby position you have on whales about not eating them at all regardless of their conservation status? That's the more tricky one that I'm hoping to see articulated.
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:10 pm
@sozobe,
if it was the norm sure, there are moral problems in todays society, there is probably health issues that should be addressed as well, bart of the mad cow disease had to do with adding sheep and cattle protein to cattle feed, and the transference of diseases inter species

i'd try dog or cat if it was offered to me

i always liked howard sterns take on pork and judaism, pretty smart telling people that eating pork was against their religion, after all eating pork in the desert in the days before refrigeration was pretty dangerous
0 Replies
 
djjd62
 
  2  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:15 pm
@Robert Gentel,
i don't think that anything should be eaten to extinction
0 Replies
 
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:17 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Outside of the Donner party,most peoples whove engaged in cannibalism had done it for animistic religious practices. WHile there is a culture of cannibalism among several island (Melanesian ) , jungle , SOuth AMerican (Maya and Toltec) and Kahokian populations , these same populations had mainly enjoyed other foods . The ceremonies of cannibalism were reserved for shamans and warrior classes mostly.
Lets stick with the subject as it is, this is one of those diversions that is sideways to our thesis here
sozobe
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:19 pm
@Robert Gentel,
For me, I'd gag out of disgust I guess. If the person was recently dead of natural (and non-contagious) causes, I wouldn't have a moral qualm, just an "ew" qualm. If the person was murdered to feed me, I'd have a moral qualm, especially if the fact that I ate it furthered the "industry" at all (i.e. more people would be murdered because of what I ate).
0 Replies
 
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:22 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

Cycloptichorn wrote:
I agree with dj - nothing is morally wrong to eat.


What about shared resources? Is it ok to deprive future generations of the food resource though resource mismanagement? Would I be in the wrong to eat the last pair of cows when everyone else is asking me to accept the cow eating moratorium so that we can preserve the beef resource?


That's a different question - a question of practicality and the ethics of following practical solutions, not an inherently morally wrong act.

I don't eat human meat for a variety of reason, but not because of some inherent evil in doing so.

Cycloptichorn
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:27 pm
@farmerman,
farmerman wrote:
Lets stick with the subject as it is, this is one of those diversions that is sideways to our thesis here


I agree that cannibalism has historically been largely survivalist and ceremonial and dietary cannibalism is virtually unheard of.

But look, I let you guys run me off another thread by claiming my arguments are "diversions". This time it's my thread and this kind of thing is precisely the point of it. It's about the philosophy of determining what is morally incorrect to eat and humans can fit into that discussion just fine. If you don't want to follow that part of the discussion you don't have to (the comment wasn't even addressed to you) but you aren't going to get to run me off that part of the discussion on my own thread.
farmerman
 
  1  
Reply Mon 11 Jan, 2010 06:29 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Quote:
And on a side note, how would you codify the non-standby position you have on whales about not eating them at all regardless of their conservation status?


NO, you misunderstand me. My reluctant Backup position is that I may have to accept some degree of whaling as a cultural imperative (even though those sneaky Japanese arent fooling me with their bullshit argument Wink ). However, I need to know that qwe have definatively pinned down what sustainability numbers really mean species by species and with oversight by IWC to determine annually that the total species can handle that number of target species for the next year.


Im a realist in that we may not get what we want totally and only with these data fiormly in hand and managed by International Law, would I CALL OFF the 'Shephreds mission.



Yes it is primarily a species conservation thing. AS I said to draw a comparison to elephant,(waay back at the beginning of the Whale thread), the Botswanan herds of Elephant are being mananged by an agency that allows a certain amount of hunting and herd culling eah year. This has , at the rates determined by long term ecological studies, resulted in a world leading policy to manage wild herds of elephant and they are stable and even growing. Herds in other countries , like the Congo are being driven to extinction mostly due to uncontrolled poaching. I read in E O Wilsons note last year that it was reported that Botswana was exporting some elephant from the Kalahari herds to Congo, in a hope that Congo can do a better job of poaching control and herd mamangement
 

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