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Peter Singer - Vegetarianism and the Scientific Outlook
Posted: 18 November 2008 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 61 ]
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Occam,

Your post sounds a lot like you’re dismissing the debate as trivial because you don’t personally feel moved by the issue.

I also don’t think concern with the pain of the animals is germane.  It if were, vegetarians would refuse to take any medications which resulted, during their development, in esearch on animals during which they were “sacrificed” for examination

I think this is an oversimplification and sort of misses the point. People can have strongly held, well-founded ethical beliefs that they don’t adhere to perfectly, particularly when something like their health or life is at stake. The fact that people make use of products that required causing suffering to produce doesn’t mean suffering isn’t an important issue, it just means people are always going to adhere to the most extreme interpretation of an idea no matter what. That’s probably a good thing! Avoiding meat, which isn’t really necessary for health for most people but just soemthing we eat because of habit or for pleasure, can be a way of reducing the suffering one causes even if one doesn’t live in a Jainist bubble.

If we are to avoid causing pain to any animal, but desire protein from animal soruces, I suppose we could become, as was mentioned earlier, carrion eaters since it should be ok to eat animals that died naturally.  However, that leads to the next step:  should we also eat dead cats, dogs, and humans?

This isn’t, of course, the logical consequenc eof an ethical argument in favor of vegetarianism, just a reductio ad absurdum argument. We have a probably innate distaste for carrion because it is more likely to make us sick then fresh meat. For that matter, we developed the habit of cooking meat, and that is healthier than eating it raw, so now most of us prefer it that way. And companion animals or other humans make lousy food sources because we have a natural tendancy to avoid eating things that we have chosen to classify as persons or individuals in some sense. Still, some people name their cows and chickens and wouldn’t eat them and others eat dogs and humans. None of this really has anything to do with the ethics of vegetarianism vs omnivory.

As I see it, it’s a personal choice.

Well, of course it is, largely because most people in our society don’t feel strongly about the ethical issues and so view it as mostly an esthetic choice. As you pointed out, eating people who died naturally isn’t a choice, legally or ethically, because most people view the act as aborrhent. In practice, there often isn’t much more to ethics than how people feel about something, but I like to think discussions like this try at least to be about something more rational and substantive.

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Posted: 18 November 2008 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 62 ]
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Quote Brennen:

Your post sounds a lot like you’re dismissing the debate as trivial because you don’t personally feel moved by the issue.

Your evaluation of my post was quite correct, so I shan’t continue in this thread. smile
Occam

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Posted: 18 November 2008 01:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 63 ]
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Occam - 18 November 2008 12:10 PM

Quote Brennen:

Your post sounds a lot like you’re dismissing the debate as trivial because you don’t personally feel moved by the issue.

Your evaluation of my post was quite correct, so I shan’t continue in this thread. smile
Occam

That’s the coward’s way out Occam!.. damn wish I’d thought of it.
hey just kidding, put down the mod hammer. Could I interest you in my doctrine of deliciousness… all the taste, none of the guilt…

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Posted: 18 November 2008 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 64 ]
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sate - 18 November 2008 01:21 PM

Could I interest you in my doctrine of deliciousness… all the taste, none of the guilt…

All the taste, none of the guilt, and much unnecessary suffering. But you probably don’t care much about that, do you?

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Posted: 18 November 2008 01:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 65 ]
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sate - 18 November 2008 09:50 AM
asanta - 17 November 2008 10:23 PM
sate - 17 November 2008 04:06 PM

That’s because radical feminists of the 60s-today poisoned the well.

No, women in the 60s were fighting for their rights. Before the 60s a woman:

asanta I think you misconstrued my point. I take exception not with people (men and women) who fought against the repression you cited but with groups and individuals who took the fight to absurd extremes.. those who for example say all sex is rape (of women) and no woman should be “subjugated” as a housewife even if that is what she wants.. that we need to make silly spelling changes like womyn etc.., maybe you merely question the chronology and I will cede the point as I am too lazy to research the details for the moment.

<*sigh*>...As you know, there are cuckoos everywhere!

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Posted: 18 November 2008 01:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 66 ]
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George - 18 November 2008 01:34 PM

All the taste, none of the guilt, and much unnecessary suffering. But you probably don’t care much about that, do you?

Your depressing reminders are causing me unnecessary suffering. But you probably don’t care much about that, do you?

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Posted: 18 November 2008 02:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 67 ]
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I’m not sure I heard the issue of animal experimentation with regards to cures for human diseases discussed. Anyone have any opinions regarding this subject?

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Posted: 18 November 2008 02:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 68 ]
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bookman - 18 November 2008 02:03 PM

I’m not sure I heard the issue of animal experimentation with regards to cures for human diseases discussed. Anyone have any opinions regarding this subject?

There was an article on this in a recent issue of Skeptical Inquirer. Available online HERE.

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Posted: 18 November 2008 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 69 ]
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sate - 18 November 2008 01:59 PM
George - 18 November 2008 01:34 PM

All the taste, none of the guilt, and much unnecessary suffering. But you probably don’t care much about that, do you?

Your depressing reminders are causing me unnecessary suffering. But you probably don’t care much about that, do you?

No, I don’t. Your “suffering”, compared to the real suffering of the animals, is pathetic.

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Posted: 18 November 2008 02:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 70 ]
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There’s no question that animal experimentation has played a vital role in producing medical therapies. I think it is fair to ask and discuss the question if this is right or wrong, but anyone who argues that such experimentation is not necessary to improve human health is just plain mistaken. Again, I think this may be a bit different from the core issue of the thread regarding vegetarianism in that eating meat is not in any sense necessary for god health for most people, but it’s a point frequently made in such discussions.

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Posted: 18 November 2008 02:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 71 ]
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George - 18 November 2008 02:10 PM
sate - 18 November 2008 01:59 PM

Your depressing reminders are causing me unnecessary suffering. But you probably don’t care much about that, do you?

No, I don’t. Your “suffering”, compared to the real suffering of the animals, is pathetic.

Your comparison is unfair sir; animals have the luxury of not being able to understand you.
..but why be here failing to shame me, when you could be hurling red paint at someone’s leather shoes in front of Starbucks?

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Posted: 18 November 2008 02:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 72 ]
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Ok guys, enough of the personal remarks. I know this is an issue many of us take seriously enough to have strong feelings about, but personal sniping doesn’t further the discussion. Thank you.

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Posted: 18 November 2008 03:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 73 ]
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mckenzievmd - 18 November 2008 02:30 PM

... I think it is fair to ask and discuss the question if this is right or wrong, but anyone who argues that such experimentation is not necessary to improve human health is just plain mistaken.

I may quote you on that, thanks.

Again, I think this may be a bit different from the core issue of the thread regarding vegetarianism in that eating meat is not in any sense necessary for good health for most people, but it’s a point frequently made in such discussions.

Very little is “necessary” to stay alive.. what we eat also needs to be practical for the masses and to some degree contribute to and not detract from quality of life. That said, there is research the vegitarian diet can have averse health effects.
This blog discusses a pregnancy-related study. Anecdotally I’ve heard doctors advise patients in recovery of serious trauma to eat meat as part of recovery.
Those issues aside, we are plainly biologically omnivores and are metabolitcally optimized for that diet. Ironically some of the most synethic-phobic “whole foods” people have the most contrived, unnatural diet. Detractors point to heart disease and cholesterol etc as evidence of the danger of meats but this only reinforces my point- we evolved a taste for meat because it was a scarce nutritional goldmine. Our modern meat-eating diet ignores this truth which leads to devastating health problems as we over-indulge. The point is when we ignore the design of our evolved metabolism and think we can get away with it without consequence, we are being naive.

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Posted: 18 November 2008 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 74 ]
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Sate,
Again, I think you’re flirting with the naturalistic fallacy. The fact that humans evolved eating some amount of meat doesn’t necessarily mean doing so is healthy or nutritionally optimal. And anyway, it’s difficult to guess how much meat our ancestors really ate, and the anthropologists have swung back and forth on the subject. Obviously, in moderation it is not harmful at all, but that isn’t really a very compelling argument for it from a nutrition standpoint. There are numerous studies illustrating that a vegetarian diet (and even a vegan diet, thoguh it’s more work) can meat [pun not originally intended, but I liked it so I left it] all human nutritional needs at all life stages, and the NIH has lots of information on this. So if you wish to counter the ethical concerns about eating meat with some nutritional or health argument, I don’t agree that is pursuasive.

As for “quality of life,” that’s subjective. I don’t miss meat a bit, some people do. But there is nothing intrinsically necessary to quality of life in eating it; this is more a matter of habit, culture, personal preference and so on.

As for “practical for the masses,” there’s very good evidence that far more people can be fed more cheaply and with more environmental sustainability on a diet of little or no meat. Due to the loss of calories at each step up the ladder from plant to herbivore to carnivore to saprophyte, more land and fossil fuel energy and fertilizer and so on is needed to produce adequate nutrition from animal sources than from plant sources.

[ Edited: 18 November 2008 04:01 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 18 November 2008 03:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 75 ]
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Well said McKenzie. I for one am considering cutting meat out completely as a result of this podcast and discussion. Singer is very persuasive.

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