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

 
 
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 05:42 pm
@ossobuco,
I think natural death tends to suck quite a bit...or death by predation.

I don't think that we or the animals generally avoid pain and suffering when we die, however it happens.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 05:44 pm
@ossobuco,
ossobuco wrote:

I was involved with filming at several Armour plants and various stockyards when I was seventeen, and yes, saw the process completely, when my dad did a film for Armour.

The pain with death I saw was fast, but it was pain.
Who are any of us kidding that it is not?


I'm not a vegetarian at this point, but I wouldn't begin to say what I saw was not acute if short time pain.


I guess the real question for me is, is it more pain than the animal would feel during a natural death, in which a hunter or predator attacked it?

I'm not supportive of added pain or suffering for animals and I've been part of active campaigns for years to end the bad practices surrounding their keep and execution; but that doesn't mean I don't like eating them.

Cycloptichorn
dlowan
 
  3  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 05:50 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Predation by dogs and wolves and such is awful, I gather.

They cannot kill large animals quickly, so they basically tear as much of the underside of the animal out as they can, and wait for it to die.

Eating may begin while the animal is still struggling to get away.

One hopes that endorphins and shock make this less awful than it looks.

Smaller animals would be killed more quickly, I imagine.

I think death in the wild isn't great, even if you don't get killed.



0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 05:59 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
I guess the real question for me is, is it more pain than the animal would feel during a natural death, in which a hunter or predator attacked it?

But in nature, most of the animals we are eating would never have died a natural death, because they wouldn't have been born in the first place.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:00 pm
@Thomas,
Is that relevant, since they ARE here, and we have to decide whether to eat them or not?
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:02 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Cycloptichorn wrote:
I guess the real question for me is, is it more pain than the animal would feel during a natural death, in which a hunter or predator attacked it?

But in nature, most of the animals we are eating would never have died a natural death, because they wouldn't have been born in the first place.


dl is correct - not relevant. We aren't responsible for the morality of killing animals who wouldn't be here if the situation was different, but only that situation in which we find ourselves.

Cycloptichorn
0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:07 pm
@dlowan,
Um, but we raise them to x years of particular deliciousness and then send them up shutes.

I'm not all that far from your comment or cyclo's - I'm saying it is simply not painless or maybe even fearless. It is hard to watch a yard full of healthy (well, another subject now, but not when I watched) animals going to the chute (shute?). I remember it, 50 years ago.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:11 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
Is that relevant, since they ARE here, and we have to decide whether to eat them or not?

You're taking it as a given that they are here. But it's not a given. That's a decision too -- a decision of breeders, made with the expectation that we will eat them when the time comes. If this expectation was wrong -- because we had stopped eating meat, say -- fewer food animals would be born in the first place. Therefore we don't get to say: "Well, their life is painful, but so is life in nature." Because we have the option of not bringing them into life in the first place, we must justify why we're not choosing it.
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:13 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

dlowan wrote:
Is that relevant, since they ARE here, and we have to decide whether to eat them or not?

You're taking it as a given that they are here. But it is not a given. That's a decision too -- a decision of breeders, made with the expectation that we will eat them when the time comes. If this expectation was wrong -- because we had stopped eating meat, say -- fewer food animals would be born in the first place. Therefore we don't get to say: "Well, their life is painful, but so is life in nature." That's why it's relevant that we have the option of not bringing them into life in the first place.


But wait, individuals are not morally responsible for the decisions of their ancestors to this level! I can't help the fact that people in the past made choices that affect our lives today.

In addition, I haven't seen anyone really address the point that eating meat is an entirely natural and Human thing to do. We evolved this way on purpose...

Cycloptichorn
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:15 pm
@Thomas,
That's ok.

I thought you were about to argue that what happened to them and how they die is irrelevant because they wouldn't have existed if not for us.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:15 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
In addition, I haven't seen anyone really address the point that eating meat is an entirely natural and Human thing to do.

So was slavery, up to the time when our ancestors abolished it. Would you accept that as a moral argument for slavery?
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:18 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:

Cycloptichorn wrote:
In addition, I haven't seen anyone really address the point that eating meat is an entirely natural and Human thing to do.

So was slavery, up to the time when our ancestors abolished it. Would you accept that as a moral argument for slavery?


Slavery is a social convention which arose from growing human population; Humans have been eating meat since before we could rightly be described as Human. One is a function of society, the other, biology; they are not comparable in terms of morality.

Cycloptichorn
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:28 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
One is a function of society, the other, biology; they are not comparable in terms of morality.

I disagree that eating meat is a function of biology, and I consider it morally irrelevant that we didn't acquire our meat-eating habits by social choice. What is morally relevant is that we could end them by social choice -- tomorrow if we wanted to. The biological function of our bodies wouldn't suffer the slightest inconvenience. The only thing that would suffer is our social traditions. That's how abolishing slavery and abolishing meat-eating really are morally comparable.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:29 pm
@Thomas,
Thomas wrote:
No, and I'm not claiming that he did. I'm only claiming that their utilitarian analysis is not the factor deciding why they in end up where they do because:

(1) Utilitarians and non-utilitarians end up in the same place if they implicitly assume the same facts.

Well, that's simply wrong. I have no idea why you'd say that. I imagine that a cannibal absolutist would not end up in the same place as a non-cannibal utilitarian even if they implicitly assume the same facts.

Thomas wrote:
(2) Two utilitarians will end up in different places if they implicitly assume different facts.

Not necessarily. It's more important that they implicitly assume different values for utility than if they assume different facts.

Thomas wrote:
Rather, when these two conditions are met, the case is turning on the implied facts, not the ethical philosophy. Likewise for Kantians.

Moral appraisability will always turn, at least to some extent, on the facts. That's true of all systems of morality.
Robert Gentel
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:31 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
The differences between the scenarios is not relevant to the 'is' ≠ 'ought' point he was making and defining good on the basis of it being 'natural' is an example of the Naturalistic fallacy.

That we have always done so or that it is in our nature to do so is an inevitable contributing factor but doesn't necessarily mean that the activity is ethical.
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:33 pm
@High Seas,
High Seas wrote:

joefromchicago wrote:

Thomas wrote:
Okay -- but in this scenario, the case turns on the facts around the cannibalism, not on the person evaluating the facts being a utilitarian.

I don't understand your point. What I have posited is a rule utilitarian who judges a blanket rule against all cannibalism to be more utile than a rule that permits exceptions for eating willing victims. You may disagree with this particular utilitarian analysis, but it's certainly utilitarian.....

Isn't this a generally accepted legal principle? For example, if you're willing to sign a contract selling yourself into involuntary servitude, isn't the contract ab initio null and void, even if you have already collected the money?

That would be a good analogy.
0 Replies
 
Thomas
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:36 pm
@joefromchicago,
joefromchicago wrote:
Well, that's simply wrong. I have no idea why you'd say that. I imagine that a cannibal absolutist would not end up in the same place as a non-cannibal utilitarian even if they implicitly assume the same facts.

Laughing This is where this particular subthread reaches a level of hair splitting where I get off.
Cycloptichorn
 
  2  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:41 pm
@Thomas,
Quote:
The biological function of our bodies wouldn't suffer the slightest inconvenience.


I certainly don't agree that this is true!

It has not been my experience that Vegetarianism is consistent with top physical performance, not in the slightest.

There is a real reason we evolved to eat meat - it is the highest energy density food that is commonly available. It is superior to other forms of food for the intake of raw energy efficiently.

Plus, it tastes great. That's not a coincidence; it is an evolutionary lesson for modern humans, that we evolved to enjoy this food.

Cycloptichorn
Cycloptichorn
 
  1  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:42 pm
@Robert Gentel,
Robert Gentel wrote:

The differences between the scenarios is not relevant to the 'is' ≠ 'ought' point he was making and defining good on the basis of it being 'natural' is an example of the Naturalistic fallacy.

That we have always done so or that it is in our nature to do so is an inevitable contributing factor but doesn't necessarily mean that the activity is ethical.


Ethical Not Equal moral, I would respond. I would say that in this case we evolved that we for good reason - to take advantage of high-energy density food sources, something which is still important today.

Cycloptichorn
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Fri 15 Jan, 2010 06:48 pm
@Cycloptichorn,
Cycloptichorn wrote:
It has not been my experience that Vegetarianism is consistent with top physical performance, not in the slightest.

Do you remember Carl Lewis, the sprinter and long-jumper? He held several world records in his heyday -- and he was a vegan. I can believe that the particular vegetarian diet you tried didn't work you. But you cannot draw any broader conclusions than that. In particular, you cannot conclude that no vegetarian diet would work for you.
 

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