Saturday, August 15, 2009

Veganism crosses the line into a moral error ...

An interesting argument by a law professor.

He concludes (I'm taking an excerpt, read the whole thing by clicking on the links):

my own view is that veganism is a kind of harmless and in many ways sweet eccentricity (who can get mad about people who love animals?), but it crosses the line into a moral error insofar as people think it is morally obligatory or morally superior to non-vegan lifestyles.

I expect stating this plainly will open me up to lots of abuse, but since vegans do not, as far as I can see, have any arguments that can appeal to shared background attitudes, they probably have no choice. As A.J. Ayer noticed long ago, "It is because argument fails us when we come to deal with pure questions of value, as distinct from questions of fact, that we finally resort to mere abuse."
But, he is a liberal, at Chicago via UT. He is used to some abuse.

The overall point, those who do not have arguments that can appeal to shared background attitudes, have only abuse to argue with. Combined with the triumph of value ethics, every disagreement becomes a proof of moral failing in those one disagrees with, rather than a disagreement.

Interesting to consider.

5 comments:

Brent said...

My kids have chosen to be vegetarians at certain times in their lives, to the point sometimes where they wouldn't eat some vegetables that came in contact with meat on the same plate. Then they go out partying, smoking, and drinking with their friends...so I know they're not deathly afraid of taking something unhealthy into their bodies. It's kind of a pseudo-religious thing...and my kids aren't Hindus either !

Since it does seem to be all about political correctness and reverence for animals...let me ask this question:

Why is the life of an animal so much more sacred than the life of a plant ? If it comes down to suffering, there are humane, painless ways of killing animals. A humane death would potentially make the meat "untainted" for a vegetarian who says it's all about making animals suffer.

Now, if it's *not* all about suffering, but making animals dead...then to me there is no difference between killing an animal and killing a plant. You're still taking a living thing and making it "non-living".

Maharaja said...
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Bunny.Smith said...

Brent:
I am a vegan and while I can't speak for all vegans, I know many other vegans whose feelings are similar to mine.

The difference between a plant and an animal is that an animal can feel pain and can suffer. They have brains and understand the concept of desiring to continue to exist. This concept is clearly evident when deer in the woods stay well away from hunters.

(As an aside, there are some extreme vegans who agree with you that no life should die so that they can eat. They're called fruititarians and only eat plant food that doesn't kill the plant. So they'll eat an apple but won't eat cabbage.)

Plants can't comprehend existence on any level because they don't have brains. Just as humans do, instinctively animals are driven to procreate so their DNA continues to exist even after their lives end.

I would respectfully disagree with your claim for "humane, painless" deaths. If you were facing your own imminent death at the hands of someone, which method would you choose and be confident that it would be pain free?

However, even if there were painless, humane methods of slaughtering animals, they are not in use in factory farms today. Instead, factory farming is a gruesome, horrific system filled with pain and suffering from beginning to end. Do some research if you don't believe me. The irrefutable evidence is all over the internet.

Factory farming as it has developed in the past 50 years if far more horiffic than the methods used to raise and slaughter animals on small family farms which defined the history of domesticated farm animals until very recently.

Personally, my own moral compass tells me that if I were to eat meat, I'd find wild animals who had been hunted to be the most humane way of consuming meat.

I believe that many vegans, if it were not for factory farming would reconsider their decision to refuse to eat animal products.

Additionally, this vegan doesn't think animal life is more sacred than plant life. But she doesn't think human life is more sacred than animal life, either. I just think all life is of equal value and choose not to treat any life cruelly.

C. L. Hanson said...

Anything you do for moral/ethical reasons has this same potential: to make you feel like your lifestyle is morally superior to another.

I am not a vegetarian or vegan, but I find it intriguing to see this argument made by a Mormon since it's the same criticism that I've heard leveled against Mormons for decades: refraining from coffee and tea (an inaction which affects exactly no one) can give Mormons a false sense of moral superiority.

Stephen said...

Actually, C.L., the argument is made by an atheist marxist law professor at Chicago, I just found it amusing.