Vegan Absinthe...

Sepulchritude Forum: The Absinthe Forum Archive Thru March 2002: Archive thru February 2002:Vegan Absinthe...
By Pikkle on Tuesday, February 12, 2002 - 01:01 am: Edit

Hey, where'd my sententious prattler go? Shit, I must have fallen asleep somewhere along the way...

By Louched_Liver on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 06:19 pm: Edit

Pan,

Good one!

Anatomist,

Good one as well!

By Pan on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 06:01 pm: Edit

Anatomist:

Sandwiched right in between the condom and the roofies.

-Dev

By Anatomist on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 05:51 pm: Edit

Doesn't everyone just carry around a packet of 3-carbon date contracts now?

By Pan on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 01:09 pm: Edit

Well, one of the recommendations is that you discuss before the date begins what will happen and how you want it to end up.

His interpretation went something like this:

"I'm planning to get a little drunk. And get you a little drunk. Then I was going to slip you a roofie, but I might not do that because you look like you're easy. At any rate, I'm planning to fondle you thoroughly. If you don't put up too much of a struggle, we'll probably fuck like rabbits. If you put up too much of a struggle . . . well, that's what the roofies are for. At any rate, I plan to leave early tomorrow morning and never call you again. Whew. Glad that's out of the way. Hi, I'm Bob, you must be Anne? Nice to meet you."

-Dev
NOTE: I in no way condone date rape in any shape or form. A dear friend of mine is presently muddling through the legal system because an asshole decided to slip something into her drink. So please don't send me nastigrams.

By _Blackjack on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 12:57 pm: Edit


Quote:

Ooo, my roommate is reading a pamphlet outloud about how not to daterape chicks. Woo!



It saddens me that such a thing would require instructions.

By Pan on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 10:02 am: Edit

Oh, that's neat. I agree, and wouldn't've thought of it in that sense.

That's sort of like the old logic debate as to whether intension precedes extension . . .

IE, you have to have an idea of the attributes attributable to a thing before you can realize the things existence. Supported by the fact that you can have a term with intension and not extension (unicorns, for instance, have intension -- a horsey-thing with one horn growing from its forehead -- but no extension).

Ooo, my roommate is reading a pamphlet outloud about how not to daterape chicks. Woo!

-Dev

By Pikkle on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 12:35 am: Edit

The homosexual love fest never ceases here... you go proud lovers, you go!

By _Blackjack on Monday, February 11, 2002 - 12:02 am: Edit


Quote:

I have to disagree. "Moral content" is the "good or evil" of a thing. Ethics are the science by which you determine that moral content. Moral content, therefore, is an "empty-set."



You're right, and, in fact, I used a very similar definition earlier in the thread. My later phrasing was more to emphasise the fault in Rch's thinking, to wit, his insistance that ethics could be useful in the absence of the concept of morals. So I mis-stated in saying "you need the X first," in that you don't need the VALUE of X, just the idea that X exists and the desire to know its value.

By Lordhobgoblin on Sunday, February 10, 2002 - 12:10 am: Edit

PV,

Regarding whether Kenneth MacAlpine reuninting 2 Pictish kingdoms or not depends on which theory you follow. Certainly the commonly held theory in the past was that there were 2 Pictish kingdoms in Scotland (East and West). However most eminent historical 'experts' on the Picts (e.g. Cummins, Sutherland, Ritchie) now hold the view that the Western kingdom of Dal Riada was not Pictish but was Scot (in the West there are found very few Pictish carved stones or evidence of 'Pictish culture'). The 'Annals of Ulster' also show that Wester Scotland was part of the Dal Riadan kingdom of Northern Ireland where the Ulaidh and the Dal Riadans were battling for control over all of Ulaidh and Dal Riada. Eventually the Ulaidh came out on top and the Dal Riada paid homage to the Ulaidh. MacAlpine (who did have some Pictish blood) was not a Pict but a Dal Riadan Scot(Irish) ruling Dal Riada. He then (through a mixture of warfare and political machinations) took hold of the Pictish kingdom.

But a lot of things that happened over 1000 years ago there is not an abundance of surviving written records so different people put the few surviving pieces of the jigsaw in different places and come up with different stories. Who knows what really happened?

Hobgoblin

By Pan on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 11:14 pm: Edit

Blackjack, just a few thoughts . . .

I have to disagree with the understanding of the terms "ethics" and "morals" as both of you (meaning Blackjack and Rch) are discussing them.

I would suggest that you have reached some sense of confusion. Without going through the etymology of the word "Ethics" again, I would posit this as a better definition: "Ethics" is the study of human acts (as opposed to acts of a human being) in so far as they are good or evil. Another common way of phrasing it is " 'Ethics' is the study of the moral content of the voluntary acts of a human being." This is not something I made up, it is a time-honoured, and basically "standard" definition for the philosophical discipline. I could cite the appropriate Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, but I would have to get my notebooks and I'm too lazy.

I don't say that you can't change the definition of that term in the context of this discussion, but I think that if you're attempting to do a comparative study of ethical systems and demonstrate that there are no absolutes, it would be best to use the terminology that the majority of the philosophers in question were most likely using when they were developing these systems of thought.

Hence, when Blackjack objects:

' Morals, whatever their source, are the things which tell you "doing X is wrong". Ethics are the things which tell you "I can avoid doing X by doing Y." You need the X first. '

I have to disagree. "Moral content" is the "good or evil" of a thing. Ethics are the science by which you determine that moral content. Moral content, therefore, is an "empty-set."

Hence, Utilitarian Ethics are a system by which the "moral content" of an act is determined by the "greatest good." Kantian Ethics are a system by which the "moral content" of an act is determined by that act's compliance with the Categorical Imperative. Aquinas's Ethics are a system by which the "moral content" of an act is determined by its tendency to perfect man in his seeking of God.

Okay, okay, I know I just reduced some of the transcendent geniuses in the history of human thought into glib little one-liners, but that last paragraph was largely by way of explication of the "standard" definition of the "science" of Ethics, not an attempt to accurately summarize various philosophers thoughts on the subject.

I also like to train monkeys to fling poo at my enemies. Muahahahahahaha! HA!

-Dev

By _Blackjack on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 10:02 pm: Edit


Quote:

I didn’t say “direct physical pain”, I didn’t mean “"direct physical pain”. Caused suffering. Physical harm, mental or emotional cruelty, externally caused. That’ll have to do for a definition.



Well, it can't. It is not a measurable quantity. I cannot objectively determine whether or not it is being caused, nor even reasonably deduce same, since, as I have given numerous examples to illustrate, different contexts and different individuals provide different definitions of "suffering".



Quote:

I’m unaware of any such instinct for causing suffering. Can you cite an example?



There is certainly an instinct for engaging in activities like hunting prey animals, which cause sufering as a inevitable result. A VERY strong argument can be made for an instinctive drive towards warfare in man. There seems to be in chimps, anyhow, and it would explain a lot.



Quote:

I’m not talking about having to cram for an surprise exam, I am talking about, for example, the life of a veal calf or a battery hen.



I'm not talking about cramming for an exam either. I'm talking about the suffering that is part of life, which teaches us where dangers lie, which help us get a better focus on our desires, etc. Sufering serves a purpose.


Quote:

Never mind the very reliable and nearly global agreement that murder is negative.



Except under the circumstances where murder is NOT considered negative. I can think of no culture which does not have a few loopholes in the "thou shall not kill" rule. Things are only universal if you ignore the details.


Quote:

It didn’t require an exhaustive study of the experiences of the 135,000 residents of Dresden to know that the Allied firebombing was “negative”.



Even if it saved the lives of millions more? I'm not saying it did, but it is not so clear-cut as you want it to be.


Quote:

I haven’t found myself anywhere near a “just is”.



Well, you seem to be having trouble coming up with any objective means of measuring that "suffering" is "negative" other than repeating that it is obvious and that the majority of people would agree. Sounds like "just is" to me.

Quote:

So: because we have yet to categorically, scientifically determine whether or not death is superior or inferior to life, it must just be a moral judgment?



No, I am saying that, by definition, when you place a greater value on one thing over another, that valuation is, in our language, called morality. Observation can tell us the characteristics of life, and reason can extrapolate the likely characteristics (or lack therof) of death, but none of that places a quality on either state.


Quote:

I am unaware of any “biological predispositions” that would cause me to state – after filtering empirical knowledge through reason – that it is unethical for a human animal to cause physical harm to another animal for their own gain.



Careful. You're undermining your own argument. Most higher, social mammals display some capacity for empathy, for concern for other members of their group. This is a survival adaptation; when the members of the group are concerned for one another, they are more likely t work together, thus increasing the ability for survival. In humans, this ability is particularly highly developed (and, it is thought, was the original reason for the selecton towards a highly complex brain). However, just because that instinct exists, it does not mean that it always provides objective truth about right and wrong, especially considering the many other...uncouth instinctive drives to be found in man. In fact, the instictive drives often find themselves in direct conflict with one another.

Quote:

What I am advocating is nothing more than attempting to use ethics – stripped of acculturation, self-interest, politics, superstition or anything else that is likely to skew the results -- to make the wisest choice for the largest circle of affected parties.



And what I am trying to make you understand is that there is no set definition of "wisest", nor of "suffering", nor of "positive". Somewhere along the line, you are making an arbitrary decidion that one condition is preferable to another, despite there being no innate measurable quantity by which this can be determined. What I am tring to make you understand is that ethics are a very good tool for advancing a particular objective, but they cannot tell you what that objective is. Ethics don't tell you waht is right and what is wrong. Ethics tell you how to go about acting in a manner consistant with values of right and wrong which have been determined by some other means, be it decree from authority or personal predisposition. Reason and observation can tell you what the probable consequences of any action might be, but they cannot say which is preferable.

Morals, whatever their source, are the things which tell you "doing X is wrong". Ethics are the things which tell you "I can avoid doing X by doing Y." You need the X first.

Have I repeated that enough times? ;)

By Pan on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 08:39 pm: Edit

It's okay, just be more careful when you're parking your double-wide and we won't have that problem again.

*wink 'n' grin*

-Dev

By Mr_Rabid on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 06:09 pm: Edit

Sort of.

I just started out saying there is no universal law of ethics, no uber-system of right and wrong, and rch427 says there is.

Then he says 'suffering is bad' so causing it is bad. And I sez 'you ovasimplifiyin, beyotch.'

And so here we are, and I didn't mean to crush your sister with my house.

By Pan on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 06:03 pm: Edit

I don't mean to be unkind, and I may be misunderstanding . . .

But this seems to be essentially boiling down to two strange branches of Utilitarian thinking.

One is placing primacy on the quality of human comfort and pleasure, while the other seems to be weighing human gastronomical joys versus animal suffering and is finding it wanting.

This is very interesting, because it's exactly the type of problem that made my Ethics professor more-or-less discount Utilitarianism as a system for governing behaviour.

Am I missing something?

-Dev

By Mr_Rabid on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 05:36 pm: Edit

"Nice cliché, but I have no reason to presume it is factual. Even strictly on a results basis, it is probably a foolish gamble to make."

Let me lay it out like this:

Lets say you have a robot trying to climb some stairs. We'll give it a nice little ability to learn. It knows it must get to the top of the stairs but not how. It tries different things until something works. Processes that produce results measured against the goal of getting up the stairs are encouraged (given more electrical potentiality) and those that do not are discouraged (they will not be run again.)

Pain is the discouragement in humans. Pleaseure is the encouragement. Things that give you pain produce a tendency to avoid them, things that give you pleasure a tendancy to seek them out.

Still in diapers at the bottom of the stairs. You get frustrated (suffer) as you find difficulty in negotiating this obstacle.

You get to the top at last, feeling a little pleasure each time you realize you are making progress, and a lot upon acheiving your goal.

Suffering is a mechanism directly involved in producing efficiency.

Efficiency is reduced in the eyes of a slave owner when his slaves find ways to slack off behind his back but NOT from the standpoint of the slaves own brain, which has achieved its goal of avoiding painful repetetive work for a time.

Dig?

By Mr_Rabid on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 05:13 pm: Edit

Mmm. Steak.

" Your Mr. X may have misjudged his neighbor’s potential for recrimination"

Sure may have. Them's the breaks.

May means jack and shit. My Mr X may get a disease and run out of cows, and yours may get a disease and run out of tofu. Same diff.

The US has still not felt the karmic affects you postulate from taking most of North America just like my Mr X would have done. Nor has Japan for the same thing.

Or Australia. When will those aboriginies use your retribution dynamic? Are they just biding their time until their master plan can be sprung?

You seem to hold the logic that suffering for another automatically causes it for me. This is where I disagree with you. That's why I was saying 'mmm steak.'

I should have been speaking more pedantically, I suppose.

"For related reasons, most people accept that it is wisest if they not do it to others"

add 'who can do it back' and you will see what I mean.

See, my suffering may be reduced, my life made better, my chances to survive improve directly as a result of actions that cause other living things to suffer.

See? Like, a wolf eats a deer? Or a walrus eats a baby walrus? Or you eat a potato?

By Anatomist on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 05:10 pm: Edit

Ding! First one to read the whole thing gets a coupon for a free 'meat-lover's deluxe' pizza at Shakey's!

By Rch427 on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 04:57 pm: Edit

Mr. Rabid –
"suffering is something humans instinctively avoid,"
Means I should avoid suffering by not denying myself that juicy steak.


How clever.

"suffering is something animals instinctively avoid,"
Uh- so?


You asked how I know that suffering is something to avoid. I demonstrated it is instinctual. Apparently that went over your head.

"we can observe negative results of suffering,
suffering diminishes the pleasure we otherwise prefer"
OK. Note to self. Avoid sticking genitals in battery acid. Have juicy steak.


How clever, part 2.

"human-caused suffering among livestock has drastically increased,"
Mmmm. Steak. I am still not suffering here.


How clever, yet tiresome. You seem to have a gift for it.

"suffering among humans reduces their efficiency"
Certainly! Your inclusion of cows in my social group is something I have an issue with. I am saying that causing suffering to the next village does me no harm, and maybe a great deal of good (as long as they can't retaliate effectively when I raid their grain silo.)


You may be right: the inclusion of cows in your social group would probably be unfair to the cows. See? I can be glib and smartass too. I suspect you’re just pulling out the typical macho hubris, but if you truly believe that causing suffering in the next village does you no harm, then you’re hopelessly naïve. Someone should introduce you to the “lifeboat” principle. In a closed system (read: neighborhood, city, country, planet, whatever) your actions are likely to affect the future “climate” in ways that you may not expect or want. You could also call this the “don’t shit on your own floor; you’re likely to step in it later” principle. Odds are that the villagers would return the raid, plus interest.

"compared with murder causing suffering is still relatively negative ,"
Circular.


It’s only “circular” if you require 100% evidence, something that probably doesn’t exist for any subject. In the meantime, most people are willing to accept the notion that murder is negative if it is threatened to or happens to them. For related reasons, most people accept that it is wisest if they not do it to others. Suffering has many commonalties with the threat of murder or the physical act of being murdered. You may as well become a solipsist, it’ll save you a lot of time and effort if you just presume that – not only is murder not negative, but none of us really exist anyway.

And you seem to have agreed with me that ethics is unnatural. I'm not saying it's bad. But I am saying it is a made thing, and not a condition of nature.
I agree with you that it is possible to advance ethics by comapring behaviours and results, modifiying the behaviour etc.
I am saying that there is no objective correct choice, and that is a thing you are deciding on.


I don’t think that ethics are “natural” or “unnatural”, I think they are constructs, based upon the best possible reasoning, given a preponderance of information and consideration for the largest scope of potentially affected parties.

" The cow isn’t “providing” anything -- things are being taken from it. " Sho nuff.
SO Mr X happily MURDERS the cow, the cad. And feeds his children more efficiently, promoting their survival, so this murderousness is passed on in their (to use the word your way) moral outlook.
Your granola eating subsistence farmer Mr X lost three of his to starvation. The others were all killed when my meat eating murdering bastard Mr X's kids came along and used their hunting skills to sneak up and behead them. They weren't burdened by your ethics. So they are still breathing. And now they have some new pasture land.”
f you disagree that this is a survival trait, ask a Pict. Or the Ainu.


More bluster. “Raiding party” mentalities are hardly the sort of society to aspire to. It sets up a dangerous dynamic for retribution, the results of which can be seen throughout history. A negative action is more likely to produce effects that are potentially negative to the persons who caused them. Your Mr. X may have misjudged his neighbor’s potential for recrimination. Perhaps his victims will call in the local lord, have you charged with theft and put in prison. The survivors of your raid may band together with other neighbors and raid your home. Your Mr. X’s actions may promote a general lawlesness in his area. His family may develop Kreuzfeld-Jacob disease from infected cows. Instead of being self-sufficient, he may become dependent upon raiding parties and starve, if he runs out of cows. Not too sensible.


Pikkle –
OK! OK! I’ll finally acknowledge your existence! There -- are you happy? Now go find someplace else to whine; no-one is forcing you to notice this thread.



Blackjack –
Quote:
suffering is something humans instinctively avoid,
First, you fail to define "suffering" in any meaningful way, and even if you mean "direct physical pain," this is not always the case. A strong argument could be made for an instinctive drive towards risky (i.e., potentially painful) behavior, especially in males.

I didn’t say “direct physical pain”, I didn’t mean “"direct physical pain”. Caused suffering. Physical harm, mental or emotional cruelty, externally caused. That’ll have to do for a definition.

”More to the point, inflicting suffering on others, especially other species, is also very likely instinctive in humans. Don't fall into the Naturalistic Fallacy. An "is" doesn't make a "should".”

I’m unaware of any such instinct for causing suffering. Can you cite an example?

Quote:

suffering is something animals instinctively avoid

”Again, not always true, especially when the suffering is conducive to procreation. Regardless, human avoidance of pain is on a totally different leven than that of most animals, since we are more capable of comprehending risks and associating the suffering with death.”

Again, I didn’t say “pain”. And I would disagree that human pain or suffering are more profound than that of an animal. So far as we know, animals have no sense of hope that suffering or pain may be alleviated, through abstracts like either future recovery or death. I suspect that an animal in pain probably feels about it the way that a child would: the immediate discomfort is their entire sensation, without thought of remedy.

Quote:
we can observe negative results of suffering
”We can also observe positive results of some forms of suffering, be it increased physical strength, the ability to attract a mate, increased knowlege, or psycholgoical satisfaction. I've certainly learned more from suffering than from pleasure.”

I think you’re trivializing my use of the word “suffering”. I’m not talking about having to cram for an surprise exam, I am talking about, for example, the life of a veal calf or a battery hen.

Quote:
suffering diminishes the pleasure we otherwise prefer,

”Sexual kinks aside, this is still not always true.

Sorry I can’t give you a 100% guarantee. It is, I think, a reliable majority.

Quote:
human-caused suffering among livestock has drastically increased,

”We've certainly gotten more efficient at it, anyway. I have no way to measure how much more suffering a factory-farmed cow feels than a free-range one, however.“

Just because you haven’t witnessed it doesn’t have any bearing on their experiences. In this case, empirical information is compelling. I’ve even known cattlemen who have a difficult time with putting their cattle through the processes.

Quote:
suffering among humans reduces their efficiency
Again, not always so. What doesn't kill you often really does make you stronger.”

Nice cliché, but I have no reason to presume it is factual. Even strictly on a results basis, it is probably a foolish gamble to make. Anyway, no 100% guarantee that suffering among humans reduces their efficiency (I never promised one), but nevertheless a significant majority.
Quote:
compared with murder, causing suffering is still relatively negative
”Begging the question. You are assuming that something can be proved negative as a part of your proof of same.”

Not really. Like most relativists, you rely upon the lack of categorical imperatives to give you latitude. When in doubt, cry “begging the question!” Never mind the very reliable and nearly global agreement that murder is negative. Just keep sticking to the relativism, but you’d be wise to hope that those around you are less so. Again, with your line of reasoning, we have no way of knowing whether or not the actions of Hitler, Pol Pot or George Custer were “negative”. It didn’t require an exhaustive study of the experiences of the 135,000 residents of Dresden to know that the Allied firebombing was “negative”. Your expectation for 100% complete and unanimous information is unrealistic, to say the least.

Quote:
We don’t have to await a magic formula to know that it is “right” to help a child in danger, or that it is “wrong” to cause suffering in an animal.
While I agree that there isn't a magic formula involved, I disagree that we KNOW that these things are right or wrong. If, by protecting a child in danger, a man loses his life, thereby damning his own children to poverty, and perhaps those who depend on his work as well, is it still "right"? If the only way a man can feed is family is to club an animal to death, are you going to tell him you "know" it is wrong?”

I think most people would act instinctively to some extent. Endangering one’s life to protect another’s was probably a bad example for me to use, mostly because it requires a quick decision with long-term repercussions that may not be able to be considered. However, I would say that it would be “wrong” to club an animal to death to feed one’s family. I think this is another false dilemma, and is becomingly increasingly so, except perhaps for survivalists with frontiersman fantasies. Replace the word “animal” with “human”. Is it “wrong” for a man to club another man to death, if it’s the only way he can feed his family? If so, why? If not, why not? Yes, I’d tell him he was “wrong” either way (and he’d probably try to club me to death – good thing I’m fast and sinewy).

”Let me get down to brass tacks. The things you "know" are right and wrong are rooted in your biological predispositions, your conditioning in childhood, and your emotional reations. Listen you your inner 4-year old whenever you chose to make a moral (and in this case, that is the right word) judgment.

"Suffering is wrong."
"Why?"
"Because pleasure is better than pain."
"Why?"
"Because pain is assosiated with things which lead to death, and death is worse than life."
"Why?"
"Because...it just is, OK?"

Whenever you find yourself at a "just is", you have reached the limits of reason and emperical knowlege. You are making a moral judgement. There is no innate quality which makes life superior to death, which makes suffering inferior to its absence. All of these valuations are based on a web of various stimuli, biological, environmental, emotional and rational, and none of them are fixed or measurable.”


Notice that I didn’t say “pain”, I said “suffering”, nor did I say “death is worse than life” -- what I said is “compared with murder, causing suffering is still relatively negative”. There is a large difference between those statements, and I stand by mine. I haven’t found myself anywhere near a “just is”.

So: because we have yet to categorically, scientifically determine whether or not death is superior or inferior to life, it must just be a moral judgment? Well, you’re welcome to be the first to report back from the other side. In the meantime, the rest of us – especially those of us who have spent much time around dying people and animals – must have been royally duped. I am unaware of any “biological predispositions” that would cause me to state – after filtering empirical knowledge through reason – that it is unethical for a human animal to cause physical harm to another animal for their own gain. Indeed, I was conditioned to the contrary when I was a child, and my emotions are beside the fact. I would hold the same view if the animal in question were a human who had just hit me over the head to take my wallet. Emotionally, the prospect of hitting him back and taking his wallet may appeal, but I recognize that it would be unethical for me to do so.

”Where does this leave us? The same place we started: we don't know, with any degree of certainty, what is right and what is wrong. How do we proceed? Carefully. We have to be careful, when we make decisions which affect others, most especially when those decisions involve use of coercive force, or which involved things which cannot be undone. While we can certainly draw some vague general guidelines from the predominant disposition (e.g., MOST people want to avoid pain, MOST people prefer to stay alive), we must always be aware of the potential that any individual choice made may well be wrong. We do not have perfect knowlege. Even if one accepts the absolute value of minimizing suffering, we do not have sufficient ability to predict the outcome of our actions to know that any choice will in fact be conducive to your goal.

I mean, I could eliminate human suffering tomorrow, if I had enough heroin for everybody.”


Could you be confusing “eliminate” with “postpone”? I suspect most junkies would know the difference.

You advise caution – always a good idea – but only for one half of the equation. You want caution when it comes to expecting others to make “…decisions which affect others…”. In your case, you expect the benefit of the doubt to be extended to those who are likely causing the harm, rather than to those who are experiencing the harm. Unfortunately, with the emphasis just on the first party, momentum (or inertia, as the case may be) continues the harm until it is often too late.

I would be a good deal more impressed with your argument if I thought you applied the same sort of intellectual rigor to everything you do. “We do not have a sufficient degree of certainty”, “we do not have sufficient ability to predict the outcome of our actions”, “we do not have perfect knowledge”, etc. Apparently, that would leave your hands tied, unable to make any decision. That sounds to me suspiciously like a “get out of any quandary free” card. Well, I presume you make decisions every day, whether they’re based upon habit, value judgments, morals, ethics, the i ching or a combination thereof. What I am advocating is nothing more than attempting to use ethics – stripped of acculturation, self-interest, politics, superstition or anything else that is likely to skew the results -- to make the wisest choice for the largest circle of affected parties. Those are decisions we make anyway; we might as well make them ethically. Unfortunately, many people are still expecting philosophy to provide them with universal absolutes with which to direct their lives. That seems a bit optimistic, to say the least. In the meantime, in the absence of such information, most people still make decisions based upon self-serving.

I entirely disagree with your claim that we cannot make decisions based upon ethics without having total knowledge of all factors and variables and potential repercussions. Humans are curious animals, and we are pretty good at organization. Individuals have been suggesting that we use these skills to do what philosophy has yet to do: make available information about – not the definite – but the most likely. Do we know for a fact that the ozone layer is being depleted by the emissions from internal combustion engines, heavy industries, and so forth? We don’t have 100% proof, but scientists the world over think so, and have asserted it for decades, but that doesn’t convince some people. Apparently George W. Bush takes your tack – “we can’t be sure, so let’s keep making a mess and hope it goes away”.

Lord Hobgoblin --
"Pain and suffering is useful...[snipped for brevity]...Try sitting on a spike, pain is a bloody useful thing in this case as it stops you from letting the spike continue to skewer you."

I suppose it would be too much to expect you to simply look before sitting. Another false dilemma, and a ho-hum.

Anyway life is suffering, suffering is life.

Ah -- the priceless aphorisms of the junior guru.


Enough of my time has been wasted on the subject with you lot. Thanks again to those of you who e-mailed me privately; a public post might've been nice too. Anyway, I'm satisfied that my methodology directs me to not have complicity in causing the problems we've been discussing. Even most self-serving relativists are aware of their role in adding to the good or ill in the world.

By _Blackjack on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 04:04 pm: Edit

Picty picty picty...

By Perruche_Verte on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 03:48 pm: Edit

Re Picts:

They did cease to be a separate people at some point, but were never physically exterminated. MacAlpin had Pictish ancestry himself and simply united the kingdoms, so down the road Picts began to identify themselves as "Scots".

This was long before the (lowland) Scots were encouraged to dissociate themselves from the Irish and from the Gaelic-speaking Highlanders, which also occured for rather specific political reasons.

By Crosby on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 09:23 am: Edit

If the average person can eat one pork pot sticker in 30 seconds, and the waitress brings a platter of 12 pot stickers, how long will it take five vegans to not eat them?

By Lordhobgoblin on Saturday, February 09, 2002 - 01:19 am: Edit

Pikkle

Probably even more useful because while although they can't reply to your questions at least penises still exist. (Until of course militant feminists take control and become unhappy with just cutting balls off).

Hobgoblin
(Just to correct an error in my last post : The demise of the Picts was actually in the 9th and not the 10th century, 843AD when Kenneth MacAlpine of Dal Riada established supremacy over all of 'Scotland').

By Pikkle on Friday, February 08, 2002 - 03:54 pm: Edit

If you can't find a Pict to ask, just ask your penis... it would be just as useful!

By Pan on Friday, February 08, 2002 - 03:44 pm: Edit

"Mashed potatoes . . .
Sweet potatoes . . . "

And so forth.
-Dev

By Mr_Rabid on Friday, February 08, 2002 - 03:35 pm: Edit

Perhaps if they'd been against causing suffering they'd still be around. Those invaders would have just looked at em, and realizing the error of their ways gone on home singing songs about vegetables.

By Lordhobgoblin on Friday, February 08, 2002 - 03:20 pm: Edit

A bit hard to ask a Pict nowadays.

Unless you can time-travel back to 10th century Scotland, or Pictavia as the Pictish part of it was called, before the Scots (the term meant Irish at the time) from the West of Scotland i.e. Dal Riada (which was part of the Irish kingdom of Ulaidh/Ulster) invaded Pictavia, overthrew the Picts and 'Scotland' was formed.

Hobgoblin

By Lordhobgoblin on Friday, February 08, 2002 - 03:11 pm: Edit

Pain and suffering is useful. If pain and suffering wasn't beneficial then our ability to experience it wouldn't have survived millions of years of evolution and natural selection.

We need pain and suffering. It is our body's way of warning us of danger. If someone was immune from pain or suffering then he'd do himself a great deal of serious danger. Try sitting on a spike, pain is a bloody useful thing in this case as it stops you from letting the spike continue to skewer you.

Anyway life is suffering, suffering is life.

Hobgoblin

By Mr_Rabid on Thursday, February 07, 2002 - 05:17 pm: Edit

OK.

"suffering is something humans instinctively avoid,"

Means I should avoid suffering by not denying myself that juicy steak.

"suffering is something animals instinctively avoid,"

Uh- so?

"we can observe negative results of suffering,
suffering diminishes the pleasure we otherwise prefer"

OK. Note to self. Avoid sticking genitals in battery acid. Have juicy steak.

"human-caused suffering among livestock has drastically increased,"

Mmmm. Steak. I am still not suffering here.

"suffering among humans reduces their efficiency"

Certainly! Your inclusion of cows in my social group is something I have an issue with. I am saying that causing suffering to the next village does me no harm, and maybe a great deal of good (as long as they can't retaliate effectively when I raid their grain silo.)

"compared with murder causing suffering is still relatively negative ,"

Circular.

And you seem to have agreed with me that ethics is unnatural. I'm not saying it's bad. But I am saying it is a made thing, and not a condition of nature.

I agree with you that it is possible to advance ethics by comapring behaviours and results, modifiying the behaviour etc.

I am saying that there is no objective correct choice, and that is a thing you are deciding on.

" The cow isn’t “providing” anything -- things are being taken from it. " Sho nuff.

SO Mr X happily MURDERS the cow, the cad. And feeds his children more efficiently, promoting their survival, so this murderousness is passed on in their (to use the word your way) moral outlook.

Your granola eating subsistence farmer Mr X lost three of his to starvation. The others were all killed when my meat eating murdering bastard Mr X's kids came along and used their hunting skills to sneak up and behead them. They weren't burdened by your ethics. So they are still breathing. And now they have some new pasture land.

If you disagree that this is a survival trait, ask a Pict. Or the Ainu.

By Pikkle on Thursday, February 07, 2002 - 04:49 pm: Edit

Yes, many of us are suffering through this trite thread right now... go to SIH... it's hip!

By _Blackjack on Thursday, February 07, 2002 - 04:48 pm: Edit


Quote:

suffering is something humans instinctively avoid,



First, you fail to define "suffering" in any meaningful way, and even if you mean "direct physical pain," this is not always the case. A strong argument could be made for an instinctive drive towards risky (i.e., potentially painful) behavior, especially in males.

More to the point, inflicting suffering on others, especially other species, is also very likely instinctive in humans. Don't fall into the Naturalistic Fallacy. An "is" doesn't make a "should".

\quote {suffering is something animals instinctively avoid}
Again, not always true, especially when the suffering is conducive to procreation. Regardless, human avoidance of pain is on a totally different leven than that of most animals, since we are more capable of comprehending risks and associating the suffering with death.


Quote:

we can observe negative results of suffering



We can also observe positive results of some forms of suffering, be it increased physical strength, the ability to attract a mate, increased knowlege, or psycholgoical satisfaction. I've certainly learned more from suffering than from pleasure.


Quote:

suffering diminishes the pleasure we otherwise prefer,



Sexual kinks aside, this is still not always true.


Quote:

human-caused suffering among livestock has drastically increased,



We've certainly gotten more efficient at it, anyway. I have no way to measure how much more suffering a factory-farmed cow feels than a free-range one, however.


Quote:

suffering among humans reduces their efficiency



Again, not always so. What doesn't kill you often really does make you stronger.


Quote:

compared with murder, causing suffering is still relatively negative



Begging the question. You are assuming that something can be proved negative as a part of your proof of same.

By _Blackjack on Thursday, February 07, 2002 - 04:19 pm: Edit


Quote:

We don’t have to await a magic formula to know that it is “right” to help a child in danger, or that it is “wrong” to cause suffering in an animal.



While I agree that there isn't a magic formula involved, I disagree that we KNOW that these things are right or wrong. If, by protecting a child in danger, a man loses his life, thereby damning his own children to poverty, and perhaps those who depend on his work as well, is it still "right"? If the only way a man can feed is family is to club an animal to death, are you going to tell him you "know" it is wrong?

Let me get down to brass tacks. The things you "know" are right and wrong are rooted in your biological predispositions, your conditioning in childhood, and your emotional reations. Listen you your inner 4-year old whenever you chose to make a moral (and in this case, that is the right word) judgment.

"Suffering is wrong."
"Why?"
"Because pleasure is better than pain."
"Why?"
"Because pain is assosiated with things which lead to death, and death is worse than life."
"Why?"
"Because...it just is, OK?"

Whenever you find yourself at a "just is", you have reached the limits of reason and emperical knowlege. You are making a moral judgement. There is no innate quality which makes life superior to death, which makes suffering inferior to its absence. All of these valuations are based on a web of various stimuli, biological, environmental, emotional and rational, and none of them are fixed or measurable.

Where does this leave us? The same place we started: we don't know, with any degree of certainty, what is right and what is wrong. How do we proceed? Carefully. We have to be careful, when we make decisions which affect others, most especially when those decisions involve use of coercive force, or which involved things which cannot be undone. While we can certainly draw some vague general guidelines from the predominant disposition (e.g., MOST people want to avoid pain, MOST people prefer to stay alive), we must always be aware of the potential that any individual choice made may well be wrong. We do not have perfect knowlege. Even if one accepts the absolute value of minimizing suffering, we do not have sufficient ability to predict the outcome of our actions to know that any choice will in fact be conducive to your goal.

I mean, I could eliminate human suffering tomorrow, if I had enough heroin for everybody.

By Rch427 on Thursday, February 07, 2002 - 02:17 pm: Edit

Blackjack --
” It depends on what the alternatives are, and how suffering is reduced. That's the point. Right and wrong cannot be reduced to a binary equation. While reducing suffering may a good guideline, it cannot be an absolute end. First of all, you have to define suffering. Does the pain of childbirth count? The sorrow of a broken heart? The strain of productive work? Is the suffering of starvation and war preferable to the suffering of political oppression (a choice Gandhi had to make...)?”

I agree that “right and wrong cannot be reduced to a binary equation”. I would say, however, that in many cases, a preponderance of reliable evidence already exists. Apparently it was sufficient to determine that human slavery was “wrong”, as was genocide and a number of other things. Importantly, many societies practice customs that others believe to be “wrong” – such as genital mutilation, capitol punishment for moral infractions, etc. Does this mean that societal norms are sacrosanct? I hardly think so. We have enough good reasons to think that it is wrong to stone a woman to death for exposing her ankles. In such cases, the “wrong” of killing a person for a moral infraction far surpasses any “wrong” of that infraction. Using the exact same criteria, I would argue that the “wrong” of imprisoning a calf in insufferable conditions to produce veal, far surpasses any “benefit” that meat provides.

”Suffering is not a quantity. It cannot be defined precisely enough for any ethical system, based on its elimination, to be unquestionable. Ethics must be treated like quantum physics. You cannot know absolute values except in the most specific cases, so you must create theorems based on probabilities, with the understanding that they may only be useful under certain circumstances. It is a ballancing act of innumerable variables, only some of which can be known.”

That illustrates two problems that I find with this issue: in its efforts to be universalizable, philosophy is often left impotent, and people will continue to do whatever is self-serving. Philosophy has tried for at least 2,300 years to produce some sort of guidelines for good, but it has yet to produce a magical formula for behavior. Some mistake this as proof that philosophical principles cannot be of much use. At the same time, humans manage to employ general principles from various sources to produce the greatest result, as in business or politics. The fact is that, in many cases, we have compelling and reliable philosophical and empirical evidence that we could act upon, but humans prefer to operate out of habit and self-interest. We don’t have to await a magic formula to know that it is “right” to help a child in danger, or that it is “wrong” to cause suffering in an animal.


Mr. Rabid --
”You are advocating an unnatural stance on things- your stance on ethics is against nature. To go with nature is to prey on those weaker than you, be they carrots, cows, or the guys in the next village. To go with nature is to fuck, fight, eat, shit, die. You have no choice about three of those. Doing the other two will often make your personal suffering go down. This promotes your survival and the passing on of your genes.”

There have been many examples of what appears to be altruistic behavior in wild animals, even between different species. One well-documented case in Kenya involved a wild elephant trying to free a young rhinoceros that was trapped in a mud hole. Another involved the rescue of a human child who fell into a zoo moat, by a male gorilla. For every case that has been recorded, it is likely that many more have gone unobserved. Is it “natural” for an animal to help another of a different species? Perhaps it is.

Saying that the only natural mode in which humans should exist is to “…fuck, fight, eat, shit, die” is totally incomplete, and has not been “natural” to the experience of most humans for thousands of years. Most humans have emotional and mental lives that are often at odds with those five events. Human “freedoms” are willingly affected by laws and morals to enable us to coexist in relative harmony. Such a state may not be “natural”, but it produces a “greater good” for the majority who is considered (in this case, mostly humans). If you look at the continuum of the importance of mental and emotional faculties, it is obvious that they are taking more prominence and are becoming ever more complex. Looking at the increasing protection that has been afforded to animals over the past hundred years proves that, and it suggests that humans will continue to afford animals more protection. “Unnatural” to do so? You can say so if you want, but that doesn’t diminish the awareness that many people have of the importance of doing so. Some of this is due to increasing realization that animals share many traits with humans.

”Mr X spending his energy and resources to avoid harming the cow, when the cow provides more sustenance for less effort, is counter to his survival. So is moving, maybe, depending on who happens to live on the arable farmland.”

“Maybe” sounds like you acknowledge a false dilemma -- that there are usually more than two choices in any given situation. It’s also telling that you say “…the cow provides more sustenance…”. The cow isn’t “providing” anything -- things are being taken from it. In order to get cows to lactate so that the milk can be taken from them, they have to be impregnated. Once they give birth, the calf is usually taken away from the mother within a day or two and (if it is female) it is fed on a mix of whey and other things. If it is male, it usually is sold to a veal “ranch”, where it is kept in permanently dark shed, in a stall the size of a car trunk, for four months, until it is taken out and slaughtered. “Natural”? Hardly. “Provide”? I’d say that the worst treatment of a sweatshop worker is a good deal better.

” No other animal worries about the suffering it imposes on another (at least they sure don't seem too sorry) unless there is a pack/family relationship. To do so is as natural as driving a car or watching TV- it isn't.”

True enough, but then it isn’t “natural” for many animals to be concerned about equality, freedom of dissent, and a bunch of other things that humans care about. It isn’t “natural” for people to spend ¼ of their lifetimes working for someone else, then take a portion of the payment of that and use it to help others who have suffered great misfortune. The thing that I find truly “unnatural” is the arbitrary distinction of relieving the suffering of a fellow human (say, sending money -- which for most people represents a percentage of their life and effort -- to support victims of a disaster) but draw the line at helping domesticated animals who live in worse conditions their entire lives, or have direct complicity in causing that suffering. I know that’s getting into questions of “virtue”, but I think it also relates to the topic at hand.

”Your 'less suffering' thing is invalid. Less suffering for *me* is certainly something I naturally work towards. For you or your cat? That is something I might choose to do. But it will not intrinsically reduce my suffering if I reduce the suffering of a chicken.”

I never claimed it would. However, humans (perhaps uniquely) have the option to reduce the suffering they cause. Invalid? I disagree. You asked “What about causing less suffering makes it a good choice as a goal?” I listed seven reasons why:

suffering is something humans instinctively avoid,
suffering is something animals instinctively avoid,
we can observe negative results of suffering,
suffering diminishes the pleasure we otherwise prefer,
human-caused suffering among livestock has drastically increased,
suffering among humans reduces their efficiency
compared with murder, causing suffering is still relatively negative

Saying my “less suffering thing is invalid” isn’t too impressive to me; it hardly refutes the seven points above. I never claimed that reducing the suffering of a chicken would reduce your suffering; that was not the question as it was posed. I am looking for ethics that take people beyond that sort of self-serving relativism which has produced incalculable misery for people and animals throughout history.

"employees are free to quit anytime, slaves are not"
”Employees in many third world countries exist in sweatshop conditions. That means, if you quit, you will frequently find you don't need a job as you have been crippled as an example to the others. You are paid just enough to allow you to survive. The economy is such that if they would let you quit, you could starve to death in perfect freedom without that job. This is close enough to slavery for me. If I were in those conditions, I would feel like one.”

I’m well aware of the working conditions at factories in many developing nations. Let’s not forget that, in most of these places, factory work – indeed any industrial employment is a very recent development. Obviously these people survived before Nike or The Gap built factories there, mostly on subsistence agriculture, light animal husbandry, local crafts, export and trade, tourism, whatever. I think it’s a bit silly to claim that the sweatshops are the only thing that enable these people to survive. It wasn’t so 50 or 100 years ago; I doubt it is so now.

By Pan on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 04:50 pm: Edit

"I don't eat apes and whales, by the way. "

Mmmm . . . monkey and whale . . . *drool*

*wink*

-Dev

By Mr_Rabid on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 04:27 pm: Edit

"It is a ballancing act of innumerable variables, only some of which can be known"

Thats what I was tryin to say before- math is a horridly imprecise language to describe societies, ethics, and suffering.

Math can accurately model some things- as long as you limit the variables. And to do that you must subjectively assign them to your 'ethical equation.'

And you can do that with math to make it sound all sciencey and stuff. Credibility in a can!

But you are still assigning specific values to what are non-specific things.

You can mathematically express how many people live in Guam. You cannot mathematically express what it means to lose a loved one without assigning it a number- it doesn't have one on its own like the population of Guam.

By _Blackjack on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 03:34 pm: Edit


Quote:

Can you cite any compelling evidence that suffering is not something to be avoided or reduced?



It depends on what the alternatives are, and how suffering is reduced. That's the point. Right and wrong cannot be reduced to a binary equation. While reducing suffering may a good guideline, it cannot be an absolute end. First of all, you have to define suffering. Does the pain of childbirth count? The sorrow of a broken heart? The strain of productive work? Is the suffering of starvation and war preferable to the suffering of political oppression (a choice Gandhi had to make...)?


Suffering is not a quantity. It cannot be defined precisely enough for any ethical system, based on its elimination, to be unquestionable. Ethics must be treated like quantum physics. You cannot know absolute values except in the most specific cases, so you must create theorems based on probabilities, with the understanding that they may only be useful under certain circumstances. It is a ballancing act of innumerable variables, only some of which can be known.

By Mr_Rabid on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 02:52 pm: Edit

" think that is an arbitrary exclusion, that pits humans against nature."

You are advocating an unnatural stance on things- your stance on ethics is against nature.

To go with nature is to prey on those weaker than you, be they carrots, cows, or the guys in the next village.

To go with nature is to fuck, fight, eat, shit, die. You have no choice about three of those. Doing the other two will often make your personal suffering go down.

This promotes your survival and the passing on of your genes.

Mr X spending his energy and resources to avoid harming the cow, when the cow provides more sustenance for less effort, is counter to his survival. So is moving, maybe, depending on who happens to live on the arable farmland.

No other animal worries about the suffering it imposes on another (at least they sure don't seem too sorry) unless there is a pack/family relationship.

To do so is as natural as driving a car or watching TV- it isn't.

Your 'less suffering' thing is invalid. Less suffering for *me* is certainly something I naturally work towards. For you or your cat? That is something I might choose to do. But it will not intrinsically reduce my suffering if I reduce the suffering of a chicken.

If the conditions the chickens live in now were less efficient due to their suffering, the money grubbing fuckers who do that to them would stop. But it is more efficient, so they will keep removing those beaks.

"employees are free to quit anytime, slaves are not"

Employees in many third world countries exist in sweatshop conditions. That means, if you quit, you will frequently find you don't need a job as you have been crippled as an example to the others.

You are paid just enough to allow you to survive.

The economy is such that if they would let you quit, you could starve to death in perfect freedom without that job.

This is close enough to slavery for me. If I were in those conditions, I would feel like one.

By Tavarua on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 02:24 pm: Edit

Better be careful all you vegetarians, "when all the cows are gone, we're coming after you leafy green eaters." Ummm, tender, leafy green eaters.

By Rch427 on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 12:30 pm: Edit

Mr. Rabid --
Math is a language. If you don't beleive me, look at it's deficiencies. There are lots of things it cannot say. (If you have the urge to come back with 'it will eventually advance to that point' I could say the same of English in reverse.)”

Since “there are lots of things (mathematics) cannot say…” -- that makes it a language?! Sorry, I don’t see the logic of that. No, I certainly don’t think that language “…will eventually advance to that point” of being able to express everything concisely. Nevertheless, basic mathematics can express relationships and outcomes that are objective, repeatable, falsifiable, independent of bias and of regional considerations.

”Adolf Hitler was working towards the common good. He was imposing an unpopular but very ethical set of ideas.”

They were popular enough with a large percentage of the German and Austrian people. Ethical, they were not. If you want to say “moral”, I cannot object.

”He was working towards a unified world of smarter, stronger, healthier and more ethical people.”

I don’t know why you think so. From the point when he became aware that Britain and the rest of Europe was not going to hail him as the new savior, he pitched his small percentage of the world against the majority, with the majority to be enslaved by the minority. I don’t recall anything in his program that would’ve “unified” the world’s population, merely replaced it.

”His definition of 'the greater good' was different than yours, is all. So we are left again with what you consider the greater good, and what you choose to call 'more' ethical. Causing less suffering, you say- is that necessarily the right way to go? What about causing less suffering makes it a good choice as a goal? Don't be circular here, either. Tell us why that's better for humanity.”

I think one big difference between our thinking is that you frame things in terms of what is “better for humanity”. I think that is an arbitrary exclusion, that pits humans against nature. I would ask what is better for the entire scope of what we have contact with: humans, animals, the environment, etc. Reducing the harm of and suffering of animals and the rest of nature has value. This has already been recognized by the voters and legislatures that have enacted environmental protection laws and animal welfare laws. Why do you suppose that it is now illegal for a person to beat their horse to death? To fight dogs? I think it is because humans have become increasingly aware of the similarities of the human and animals experiences. Why do you suppose one can still force a horse to pull a plow all day, or leave a dog tied up to a stake all day? I think it is because our consideration for them is in conflict with what we gain from them. If animals could defend themselves, if trees and other organisms could protect themselves against harm from humans, it would be a different equation. They can’t (so far as I know), so the onus is upon those of us who recognize the value of non-harm to prevent harm.

Unfortunately, I’m unaware of any snappy, one-line explanation to your question, but I think that a valid case can be constructed of smaller elements.

Perhaps the most obvious clue as to why “…causing less suffering (is) a good choice as a goal…” is the general agreement among humans that suffering is something we personally prefer to avoid. Apparently this is one of (if not the) most basic impulses, and it can be observed from newborn infants through mentally-diminished elderly persons. Some people become exceptions (e.g., Buddhists, masochists, etc.) but the predominance is so large as to be compelling, if not convincing on its own.

Then there is our observation of animals and their suffering-avoidance. If you go to strike a horse or a dog, odds are that it will try to avoid the blow. They recognize that we are not their predators, but they expect suffering to be the result of being struck, and so try to avoid it. Humans may not find this to be sufficient reason to discontinue practices that harm animals, but it is an additional and important factor.

There is also the human ability to compare past experiences and extrapolate the likely results of a present or future actions. We can compare the negative consequences of externally-caused suffering (resulting in non-co-operation, antisocial behavior, destructive tendencies, lawlessness, etc.) observed in past situations regarding forced suffering.

We can also observe how suffering diminishes pleasures that we otherwise generally prefer. This can also be seen in animals, as where the presence of a wound visibly affects the mood of a dog who would otherwise be playful.

Another factor that might well be considered in the specific case of “livestock” is the conditions in which they are kept, which increasingly causes suffering. 200 Years ago, farm animals were generally kept in farmyards, in low concentrations. That has changed to the point where today, about 95% of hens spend their entire lives in stacks of small cages, and more than half of all cattle and pigs live in small, dark enclosures. Living conditions have been progressively worsened in the effort for maximum profit. As humans, we value such living conditions that afford space, light and freedom, and find the opposite to cause discomfort, if not suffering. It isn’t difficult to tell that animals value these things similarly to humans.

There is also the matter of efficiency. Suffering often causes a measurable decrease in efficiency, which causes waste. On strictly utilitarian (small “u”) terms, suffering is an impediment to optimal performance. This seems to be easier to measure in humans than in animals, but I think it is still reliable.

I think that in some ways, causing suffering is analogous to any other question of harm. You might ask “what about not committing murder makes it a good choice as a goal?” If we can establish (and I think we can) that not murdering others is part of an implicit social contract that most people observe (often independently of laws or mores), this contributes to not only a “good”, but the additional benefit of not fearing for our own lives. By determining to not commit murder, we expect others to not murder us. If we can establish that the extreme of murder is worth avoiding, it is an incremental step to the value of avoiding torture, suffering and so forth.

You asked “What about causing less suffering makes it a good choice as a goal?” Well, I’ve just cited a number of reasons why I think it is. Perhaps none are compelling on their own, but taken as a whole (and, no doubt there are many others), they are significant. I have never heard arguments to the contrary that didn’t involve some moral expectation, i.e., “suffering is good for the soul”, “suffer in this life to earn paradise”, etc. Can you cite any compelling evidence that suffering is not something to be avoided or reduced?

”Because slavery in name is less popular now you say we have advanced- I say things are largely the same, but we have gotten new slaves and call them 'employees' in poor countries.”

You seem to be such a stickler for using what you perceive as “accurate” terms – why are you now saying “low-paid foreign workers” equal “slaves”? Why not just claim that employees in the US who receive minimum wage are “slaves”? There are at least two major distinctions: employees are free to quit anytime, slaves are not. Employees receive remuneration sufficient to convince them to stay employees, slaves do not. Consequently, I think that the definition of slaves is nowhere near met.

”Let's say your Mr X lives on a big, grassy plain. The only thing that grows well there is grass. But that's OK, cause the kids still get their protien, from Bessy the cow, whom Mr X has enslaved along with her herd for their milk and meat. Mr X understands Bessie's suffering- but now he must choose between feeding his children or freeing Bessie. Which would be more ethical there?”

“Which would be more ethical there?” Picking up and moving. Seriously, this is a classic “false dilemma”. It’s like me claiming that I had no choice but to hit you over the head and steal your wallet, since I was hungry. There are nearly always more than two options in any given situation; those who try to claim only two are usually not being creative enough or hiding an ulterior motive. Few inhabited places on earth will not support sustenance agriculture; awareness of an area’s ability to support humans should be a factor when choosing to live there and whether or not to reproduce; one can move to another area, etc. This sort of justification also conveniently ignores the potential to change. So long as we can justify a practice with this poor cousin of the “defense of necessity”, people will continue to choose to do harmful things. Why bother looking for an alternative to exploiting a herd of cows so long as it is taking care of the immediate protein problem? This is a common way that mores are established. Inertia is so much easier than problem solving.


Pan –
” Incidentally, if I remember my Shirer correctly (Rise and Fall of the Third Reich), Hitler was a vegetarian. Apparently, his flatulance (sp?) was something of a running gag among his inner circle (though, presumably only laughed at when he wasn't around).”

That urban legend originated with Josef Goebbels’ “biography” of Hitler, where he attempted to associate him with all manner of great men, from Wagner to Gandhi (who were both intermittent vegetarians). In fact, Hitler was not a vegetarian; he simply found that he often could not eat meats and certain other foods without suffering from intense abdominal pain and gas. I have read biographies of Hitler which included interviews with both his personal physician (Dr. Theodor Morell) who diagnosed Hitler with chronic irritable bowel syndrome, and by his private cook (Dione Lucas), who stated unequivocally that Hitler's three favorite dishes were stuffed squab, liver dumplings and sausages.

” As an interesting aside, in my understanding the great, big, flaming difference when it comes to Mill and Bentham and Utilitarian Ethics is that Mill posited that intellectual pleasures deserved greater weight in the calculation than did physical ones. His reasoning, if I remember, is that anyone who has experienced both prefers the former (I'm not saying I agree, or am even necessarily correct in my recollection, just suggesting it as what I remember). Bentham seemed to think that, all quantity being equal, knitting was as good as chess.”

I may be wrong, but I think Bentham saw it the other way ‘round, with physical pleasures receiving greater weight -- I think his term was “a pushpin is as good as poetry”. Also, Bentham thought that all action was caused by pleasure or pain, which seems to me improbably narrow.

” Having spent a semester doing nothing but reading Existentialist literature and hollering at my professor, a pupil of Hannah Arendt (and incidentally, a very active and healthy vegitarian), I can say that ethics is only one thing for sure: as difficult as it is pervasive. Little can be done by a human that isn't a reflection of SOME conception of ethics, but rarely are two conceptions completely in accord.”

Agreed, but I’d still rather work towards some accord with the greatest possible outcome and not simply claim that the status quo is satisfactory for all. I know that others feel this way too, and I am glad to discuss, debate, argue and “holler” about it.

” As far as eating meat . . . meh, to each his own. So long as no one bothers me about what I'm eatin', I'm inclined to leave discussion about it to friendly disagreement and trivial chatter.”

Hey – that’s fine, so long as Bessie gets her say too, and I’m channeling her right now.

By _Blackjack on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 11:10 am: Edit

It was more intended as a calirification of my position on why humans are more deserving of rights than animals, than an attempt to borach the subject of free will. Whether we have true free will or not, we display a capacity for something which, to us, appears to be free will, in that we appear to be capable of comprehending the potential consequences of our actions and making choices from this understanding. Animals, with the possible exception of the apes and the whales, don't seem to display this capacity.

I don't eat apes and whales, by the way.

By Pan on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 03:30 am: Edit

Eek! I really rather wish you hadn't gone down the free-will slope, Blackjack. I think you might've over-stated your case.

Free will is a great big smelly issue in philosophy, as I'm sure you know. There are a large number of people who aren't convinced that PEOPLE have free will, let alone animals.

I realize that was just a small part of your overall comment and doesn't necessarily detract from it in a meaningful way, but I thought I'd bring it up and let you clarify your thoughts.

-Dev

By _Blackjack on Wednesday, February 06, 2002 - 02:49 am: Edit


Quote:

Generally agreed upon” is not the same as “accurate”,



Perhaps not, but in this case, the definitions I gave are consistant with how the words have been used in the study of philosophy for a couple of centuries now. If you want to use them differently, enjoy yourself, but you will have a lot of trouble communicating.


Quote:

Um…go back and read what I wrote:



My apologies; the sentences ran together. As for Russel, he would have been just as put off by your attitude as I am. One of his most fundmental principles was the understanding that he might be wrong.


Quote:

assigning each positive and negative factor an equal value,



And that, dear fellow, is what we call morality: assigning value to action or circumstance.


Quote:

how many posters here are familiar with “Utilitarianism”, much less read Kant?



You'd be surprised. We're a pretty clever group.

Listen, when you can produce some data showing that animals are capable of reason, free will, and individual responsibility, we can talk about giving them rights.

By Pan on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 05:40 pm: Edit

Incidentally, if I remember my Shirer correctly (Rise and Fall of the Third Reich), Hitler was a vegetarian. Apparently, his flatulance (sp?) was something of a running gag among his inner circle (though, presumably only laughed at when he wasn't around).

As an interesting aside, in my understanding the great, big, flaming difference when it comes to Mill and Bentham and Utilitarian Ethics is that Mill posited that intellectual pleasures deserved greater weight in the calculation than did physical ones. His reasoning, if I remember, is that anyone who has experienced both prefers the former (I'm not saying I agree, or am even necessarily correct in my recollection, just suggesting it as what I remember). Bentham seemed to think that, all quantity being equal, knitting was as good as chess.

Having spent a semester doing nothing but reading Existentialist literature and hollering at my professor, a pupil of Hannah Arendt (and incidentally, a very active and healthy vegitarian), I can say that ethics is only one thing for sure: as difficult as it is pervasive. Little can be done by a human that isn't a reflection of SOME conception of ethics, but rarely are two conceptions completely in accord.

As far as eating meat . . . meh, to each his own. So long as no one bothers me about what I'm eatin', I'm inclined to leave discussion about it to friendly disagreement and trivial chatter.

You know, like on a BBS or something . . . **impish little grin**

-Dev

By Mr_Rabid on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 04:22 pm: Edit

I can't help myself.

Math is a language. If you don't beleive me, look at it's deficiencies. There are lots of things it cannot say. (If you have the urge to come back with 'it will eventually advance to that point' I could say the same of English in reverse.)

Your comments on the imposition of unpopular ethical ideas (suffrage, freeing the slaves etc) are most amusing.

Adolf Hitler was working towards the common good. He was imposing an unpopular but very ethical set of ideas.

He was working towards a unified world of smarter, stronger, healthier and more ethical people.

His definition of 'the greater good' was different than yours, is all.

So we are left again with what you consider the greater good, and what you choose to call 'more' ethical.

Causing less suffering, you say- is that necessarily the right way to go? What about causing less suffering makes it a good choice as a goal? Don't be circular here, either. Tell us why that's better for humanity.

Because slavery in name is less popular now you say we have advanced- I say things are largely the same, but we have gotten new slaves and call them 'employees' in poor countries.

Let's say your Mr X lives on a big, grassy plain. The only thing that grows well there is grass. But that's OK, cause the kids still get their protien, from Bessy the cow, whom Mr X has enslaved along with her herd for their milk and meat.

Mr X understands Bessie's suffering- but now he must choose between feeding his children or freeing Bessie. Which would be more ethical there?

By Rch427 on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 03:51 pm: Edit

Blackjack Quotes RCH427:
I assert that “morals” are unnecessary and often negative in their influence.
”I assert that ethics are meaningless in the absence of morals, by definition, as ethics are a system of thought by which one seeks moral knowledge. Morals are the actual valuation of action; the "rightness" or "wrongness" of something. Ethics are the intellectual structures by which you seek to know the "rightness" or "wrongness" of an action. You seem to be under the misapprehension that ethics are somehow seperable from morals. As the terms are used in the tudy of philosophy, ethics cannot exist without morals, OK? Please stop lecturing people about language until you are ready to use the generally agreed-upon meaning of words.”

“Generally agreed upon” is not the same as “accurate”, just as “moral” is not the same as “ethical”. Most people think the two are synonymous, but they are not. According to the OED, the Greek word “ethikos”, meant “customary behavior”, as used by Aristotle. Cicero later adapted “ethikos” into the Latin word “moralis” to mean “one’s disposition”. Already, you can see shades of difference between the two. Later, the two words became commonly used interchangeably, and as late as the early 20th century, the philosopher E. G. Moore argued that there could be no distinction between the two. However, philosophers have increasingly utilized the two words separately to mean different things. Again, my distinction between the two terms is not original, it is taken from a number of contemporary philosophers who find it to be useful.

I discussed this subject with my wife and, considering she is working on her Ph.D. in philosophy, she has spent the recent past exposed to the most specific and exacting information about the subject. A few months ago, she spent an hour pointing out to me the distinctions that are presently made in philosophy between the two terms. That’s a snip compared to the lecture she attended a couple of years ago where Prof. James Griffin (one of the chairs of Cambridge’s philosophy dept.) spent 5 hours explaining the distinctions between the two words. The upshot? “Morals” are subjective may be used without any direct relation to ethics, “ethics” attempt to be objective and are often at odds with morals, and certainly may be employed without them.

For example, slavery, as an act, became unethical at least as soon as humans developed the capacity to recognize the superior value of freedom, whether slavery was considered by those who valued freedom, or whether they were ignorant of slavery. Morals did not modify the unethical state of slavery, either when they were used to justify slavery nor when they eventually condemned it, thousands of years later. As I’ve pointed out, the Catholic more on contraception has no ethical value, despite the fact that millions of people view contraception as immoral. Ethics without morals, morals without ethics.

There are, I suspect, many things that are ethical or unethical of which we have no knowledge, and so, have not developed moral positions relative to them. Those who study patterns in the way that ethics may be recognized will probably be the first to find these ethical conflicts. Prof. Peter Singer recently wrote a very interesting book called The Expanding Circle, where he demonstrates this very pattern, using the increased protection of animals from human exploitation as a clear example.

Blackjack Quotes RCH427:
He did indeed show that ethics can be objective (if not absolute)
Actually, he showed, or attempted to, anyhow, that MORALS could be objectivly grounded in metaphysics. (Please note the predominance of the word "Sitten" in his works.) He did so, however, through a bootstrapped web of sophistries that could only have come out of the 18th century. It was an attempt to snatch the idea metaphysics and, ultimately of deity, from the jaws of Hume. I don't think he succeeded. “

Um…go back and read what I wrote: “…Bertrand Russell is generally regarded as one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century. He did indeed show that ethics can be objective…” Metaphysics were anathema to Russell, or at least irrelevant. Nor was he a sophist. I’m well aware of Kant’s limitations, but that’s not what I was discussing.

Blackjack Quotes RCH427:
Utilitarian philosophers such as Mill and Bentham suggested that whatever actions produced the greatest good.

”And how, praytell, did they decide what was the greatest "good"? (I know the answer, but I'd be amused to see yours...) “

My, what hubris! From what I remember, J. S. Mill’s Utilitarianism treated ethical theory as a democratic process, whereby the good of the majority would be promoted and the safety of the minority protected, by evaluating all of the possible factors, assigning each positive and negative factor an equal value, and evaluating the outcome, with the weight going for the majority. A novel theory, but not, I think, very practical as it stood. It was, however, very important to the development of democracy in general.

Bentham was a bit out there; he devised something he called “hedonic calculus” that considered a number of (7? 8?) different factors (e.g., “amount of pleasure”) to determine which behavior should be required and which prohibited. Unfortunately, merely determining all of the factors and presuming that they could be accurately weighed would be nearly impossible to accomplish. Still, I find his views about the importance of separating ethics from motivation to be interesting.

Those are gross simplifications, but I see no need to go too far into their depth, since I don’t agree with either of their methodologies. A major criticism I have of the early Utilitarian philosophers is that they drew an arbitrary line between the value of human pleasure and suffering and that of animals. These were the same distinctions made by most scientists at the time, so it’s hardly surprising that they held that view. However, Utilitarianism has become increasingly sophisticated, although I find it still flawed by its generalization. I have yet to agree wholly with any single philosopher, and find it most useful to cobble together elements from a number of different ones.

I’ve never read James Mill, so I can’t comment on him.

BTW – a friend of mine (and a classmate of my wife) is the closest direct descendent of Jeremy Bentham. When he died in the early 19th century, his body was preserved in a seated position in a chair, with a wax replica of his head where his real head had been. His head is preserved separately, elsewhere. His body is doing well; they wheel it out to be present at special occasions of the philosophical society he once belonged to. His head, however, recently needed some “restoration”, for which they asked her permission. Surreal. “Pardon me, miss, but may we please put some spackle in your great, great, great, granddad’s nose? It’s beginning to smell!”

”Son, your enthusiasm is duly noted, but you need to recognize that a) you are unlikely to be introducing any ideas here with which most of us are not already familiar …”

Oh, I doubt that. Even statistically, that’s unlikely (how many posters here are familiar with “Utilitarianism”, much less read Kant?), but many of the statements made reflect the self-centered relativism typical amongst those who have given little thought to ethics.

”b)…and these ideas are not so unempeachable that that should be taken as fact without argument.”

But I welcome argument, or at least lively debate. It exposes people to new ideas and challenges preconceptions. For example, some of “Anatomist’s” statements will cause me to recheck figures that I’ve taken from other sources; if the information I accepted was incorrect, I will change it. I always look for correction, even if it is in opposition to what I’ve previously accepted as valid. After all, that is how I became a vegan in the first place. I could’ve just continued to relegate animals to a status that valued them by their usefulness to me, but I was challenged by others who made me realize that to do so was inconsistent with what I knew to be fair and just.

”That way lies exactly the sort of unpleasant imposition of ideas (e.g., the Nazis, the Inquisition) that you seem so against.”

Sorry, but I find that ridiculous. What is less of an “unpleasant imposition of ideas” than what the abolitionists (and to a lesser extent, the Union) forced upon the South in their efforts to change unjust treatment of humans based on their ethnic background? I’ve no doubt that this very argument was employed by slave owners then, who were operating within the law and their morals in owning slaves. The same can be said of the “unpleasant imposition of ideas” of those who championed Native American rights, the suffragists, those who fought to enact child labor laws, gay and lesbian rights, and so on. Each of these situations had at least three things in common: at first they had no legal standing and little or no moral influence, early efforts were in direct opposition to the laws and the mores of the time, and they sought to establish limitations upon the strong, to protect the vulnerable -- or effect the “unpleasant imposition of ideas”, if you prefer. That is exactly parallel to the situation facing the animal rights movement. The difference is that we’re still in the early stages of this effort, so the majority is still unaware of the ethical issues, and there is tremendous resistance from those with a vested interest in continuing the present situation.

Incidentally, the Adolf Hitler himself disbanded the German Vegetarian Union, as being a threat to the good of the state. That’s how the Nazis felt about animal rights.

Now, if we can look back at all of the examples above and regard the “rightness” of their struggles as self-evident, why should we be so cavalier as to presume that the more that animals are for our exploitation -- is “right”? To me, that demonstrates how myopic society is and it shows little regard for ethics in general.

And now a question for you: let’s say that this thread were not about veganism or (connectedly) about animal rights. Let’s suppose it were about women recently being harmed in Afghanistan. Suppose someone posted something like “Afghani women shouldn’t object to being stoned for breaking Islamic law, as it clearly states in the Q’raan that, if a woman shows her ankle to a man, she is an adulteress in the eyes of Allah, and thus deserving of death”. Let’s say that I responded by pointing out that that is simply not factual; e.g., not in the Q’raan. Someone else posted something like “Afghani women who show their ankles deserve to be raped”, and I pointed out that that is absurd and unethical (although apparently it is not “immoral” to some Afghani men). Let’s suppose the debate expanded to the wider question of ethics relative to the treatment of women. I suspect that there would be very little objection if I asserted that women deserve protection from harm, at least once the trolls went away and people realized that it wasn’t going to be a “let’s say something stupid about women” thread. So why do you think that the response has been so different on this thread? My somewhat tactless posting style aside, I can only conclude that it is not because animals don’t deserve protection from harm, but rather because some posters have a vested interest in the continued harming of animals, regardless of the ethical value of the protection of animals.

By Anatomist on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 03:20 pm: Edit

...mean-spirited goth girls with nothing substantial to say, who instead make feeble attempts at clever, drive-by innuendo?

By Verawench on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 12:58 pm: Edit

I'll tell you what's sad...

By Anatomist on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 06:23 am: Edit

I would hardly call this a brilliant debate. It hasn't ever gotten past square one. Your garrulous hero has indeed read a slew of books, but he's no philosopher and no scholar... more like a producer of large quantities of runny philosophical oatmeal. For this to go anywhere besides around in circles, it would need to get some agreed upon definitions of basic terms, some common premises, and an understanding of how to apply basic logic to sorting things out in a debate. So far none of this has happened, despite repeated attempts. It's sad.

K.

By Marccampbell on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 04:31 am: Edit

this is one of the most fascinating and insightful threads that I've read in the forum since being a member. Thanks to you all for sustaining a brilliant debate.

Marc

By Pikkle on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 12:45 am: Edit

And I'll take a café latte while you're all at it... thanks.

By _Blackjack on Tuesday, February 05, 2002 - 12:30 am: Edit


Quote:

I assert that “morals” are unnecessary and often negative in their influence.



I assert that ethics are meaningless in the absence of morals, by definition, as ethics are a system of thought by which one seeks moral knowlege. Morals are the actual valuation of action; the "rightness" or "wrongness" of something. Ethics are the intellectual structures by which you seek to know the "rightness" or "wrongness" of an action. You seem to be under the misapprehension that ethics are somehow seperable from morals. As the terms are used in the tudy of philosophy, ethics cannot exist without morals, OK? Please stop lecturing people about language until you are ready to use the generally agreed-upon meaning of words.


Quote:

He did indeed show that ethics can be objective (if not absolute)



Actually, he showed, or attempted to, anyhow, that MORALS could be objectivly grounded in metaphysics. (Please note the predominance of the word "Sitten" in his works.) He did so, however, through a bootstrapped web of sophistries that could only have come out of the 18th century. It was an attempt to snatch the idea metaphysics and, ultimately of deity, from the jaws of Hume. I don't think he succeeded.


Quote:

Utilitarian philosophers such as Mill and Bentham suggested that whatever actions produced the greatest good.



And how, praytell, did they decide what was the greatest "good"? (I know the answer, but I'd be amused to see yours...)

Son, your enthusiasm is duly noted, but you need to recognize that a) you are unlikely to be introducing any ideas here with which most of us are not already familiar and b) these ideas are not so unempeachable that that should be taken as fact without argument. That way lies exactly the sort of unpleasant imposition of ideas (e.g., the Nazis, the Inquisition) that you seem so against.

By Pikkle on Monday, February 04, 2002 - 11:15 pm: Edit

Gotta love a guy who loves to hear himself talk... and Don, wasn't talking about the People's Republic of Korea... no, it was our left coast buddies, the People's Republic of Kalifornia, über alles...

By Rch427 on Monday, February 04, 2002 - 10:55 pm: Edit

”I love rats. Some of my best friends are rats. You don't know shit about rats.”

And you base this on what – that I said that rat infestation isn’t a problem in my area? That I said that rat populations can be kept in check by proper sanitation and security? Was I mistaken about those two assertions? You certainly haven’t shown that. I never claimed to be an expert on rats, but why should I accept that your assertion is more valid than mine? BTW – I like rats too; had a pet one when I was in my mid-teens. And I’d never harm one, which I’d think would be worth something in your book.

”Oh, BTW, you knowlege of moral philosophy is kinda lacking, too. Ethics are not a thing seperate from morals. Ethics are a system by which one seeks moral knowlege. Ethics are to morals as algebra is to numbers. While you can certainly create a consistant and systematic ethical equation, it doesn't mean shit if you don't have morals to plug into it. Ultimately, you must place value on one thing over another, and I have yet to see anyone, not Kant, not Russell, not Rand, and certainly not you, demonstrate that any of these values can be shown to be absolute or objective. And trust me, I've looked. “

And you have yet to demonstrate that your definition of “morals” is correct or that your assertion of ethics not meaning “…shit if you don't have morals to plug into it”. I assert that “morals” are unnecessary and often negative in their influence. Many people do without them entirely, instead basing their decision-making on ethics. I think your analogy to numbers and algebra is inaccurate. I would say that perhaps ethics are to morals as mathematics is to language. Languages are often incompatible, inaccurate, heterodox, subjective. Mathematics is universal, accurate and objective. One can do without a common language (indeed, do to the fact that there are hundreds of different languages that prevent common linguistic communication, in a way we all “do without” language) but one can communicate information and ideas just with mathematics. As for “…Ultimately, you must place value on one thing over another…”, I suggest you look into Utilitarianism. Utilitarian philosophers such as Mill and Bentham suggested that whatever actions produced the greatest good

Language is a good thing, but morality is often not. As I have pointed out ad nauseum on this thread, morals are usually the product of regional or religious influences and are often at odds with other mores from other regions and religions. Birth control is “immoral” to many Catholics; eating pork is “immoral” to many Muslims and Jews. The moral stances of Jews and Muslims drive them to kill each other. What use is such a code of conduct if it has limited applicability and causes division? On the other hand, if people agreed to behave by a universal set of ethics – even on a strictly Utilitarian basis – the effect would be much more positive. This arguing in favor of morals, against ethics, sounds to me the same as arguing in favor of aristocracy, against true democracy. Morality and aristocracy had their day and amply demonstrated that they were not worthy of being relied upon to create the greatest good for the greatest number of participants.

Kant’s ideas are important, but there has been progress in philosophy since the 18th century. Bertrand Russell is generally regarded as one of the most important philosophers of the 20th century. He did indeed show that ethics can be objective (if not absolute), and lived his life largely in accordance. I suggest you read An Inquiry into Meaning and Truth for evidence. Rand? Now she was a tough character – and makes me seem positively wishy-washy. Don’t think she was that important philosophically, though; more a social and political theorist. From what I recall from my reading of her 20 years ago, it seemed to me she was quite an absolutist, and although she called her overarching theory “objectivism” (a term already in use in philosophy, but with a different meaning); I wouldn’t call her views entirely objective.

Anyway, philosophy is a long process of evolution, with many false turns, fits and starts. Philosophers like Hare and Stevenson were still questioning in the mid-20th century what can be determined of normative ethics; that’s a long time after Kant. Despite the pace of philosophical development and the unwillingness of philosophers to be pinned down, ethical questions can be usually determined by an objective process. Again, I have to point out that issues of slavery, human rights, woman’s sufferage, child labor, animal torture, etc., have been assessed from an ethical standpoint -- often at odds with the dominant mores of the time and have been addressed through the efforts to change laws and mores. Simply put: ethics changed bad practices for the better, in opposition to morals.

By _Blackjack on Monday, February 04, 2002 - 11:54 am: Edit

That, and I'm allergic to them. It breaks my heart.

By Louched_Liver on Monday, February 04, 2002 - 03:35 am: Edit

Blackjack,
You've got it right about rats. I currently have 3. The only problem w/them is they don't live long enough.

By _Blackjack on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 10:33 pm: Edit


Quote:

When I lived in SF I saw more raccoons than rats (yes, really) and I lived for 4 years Downtown.



That might have something to do with the fact that rats are smaller than racoons (except in New York), make less noise, and survive by NOT being seen.

I love rats. Some of my best friends are rats. You don't know shit about rats.

Oh, BTW, you knowlege of moral philosophy is kinda lacking, too. Ethics are not a thing seperate from morals. Ethics are a system by which one seeks moral knowlege. Ethics are to morals as algebra is to numbers. While you can certainly create a consistant and systematic ethical equation, it doesn't mean shit if you don't have morals to plug into it. Ultimately, you must place value on one thing over another, and I have yet to see anyone, not Kant, not Russell, not Rand, and certainly not you, demonstrate that any of these values can be shown to be absolute or objective. And trust me, I've looked.

By Rch427 on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 05:38 pm: Edit

Lord Hobgoblin –

” Since when did I ever mention ethics? I have only ever mentioned morality. They are two entirely different things. Morality, ethics and the law are entirely different things.”

What a surprise. I’ve only pointed that out about a half dozen times already, and throughout this entire thread I’ve been explicitly discussing “ethics”, not “morals”. Don’t know how you missed that fact. Considering the debate has been centered around the notion of ethics, I’m glad you finally figured it out. If you’ve been mistakenly critiquing my position as a “moral” one, you went way off.

Note to the chorus: these are not my ideas. I did not come up with any of them, nor did I clam to have. There is nothing that I have asserted that wasn’t already said by acknowledged experts in animal husbandry, animal behavior, ethicists, philosophers, etc. These people (such as Blackburn, Singer, Russell, etc.) are far more knowledgeable than I and, equally important, they are likely more so than any of you. Is there debate over the details? Sure. However, when in doubt, it is usually best to take the path of less harm. So far as I know, there isn’t another choice that produces a greater good for a larger number of participants.

Having established that, see if you can follow this: morals, being personal and subjective, are the problem, not the solution. When the Christian Church established the first Inquisition, they were acting from (one presumes) a moral position, and within the law. The results were hundreds of thousands of innocent people being imprisoned, tortured and murdered. Same goes for the Nazi regime, the Khmer Rouge, the Taliban and countless of other events throughout history. I ask you: if “morals”, working within the law, result in these atrocities, what good are they?

That is the point of ethics: a larger frame of reference, a more benign influence. More to the point, that is what I’ve been writing about this entire time. Morals/mores are not reliable in convincing people to not cause harm. Never have been; probably never will be. Same goes for wishful thinking.

” Animals do not have rights that are set in stone.”

No indeed. But what do you make of the fact that animals have received more and more legal protection over the past 150 years? Where do you think it will lead? And do you think that the “good” of the likely result of animals eventually being protected against all exploitation will offset the “bad” of people no longer being able to eat them?

” As to spending the whole 6 months studying a topic making you an expert. Thats only the equivalent of about one academic year of study.”

I never claimed to be an “expert”. If you read what I wrote, I said that after 6 months of study I became convinced to become a vegan. If it takes six months for a smoker to decide to quit smoking, I hardly think you’d characterize that as being too fast. Or perhaps you’d like to have a stab at defending smoking too?

”It takes a lifetime of constant study to become an expert on anything, let alone set yourself up as a supreme and unquestionable authority.’

Bullshit. People become experts on things in far shorter times than you admit. I know of many people in their 20s who are experts on aspects of computers and other recent technologies. I know of many in their 30s who are experts in various arts or crafts. People become expert athletes even younger. For me at 39 to describe myself as fairly well educated about ethics and knowledgeable about animal rights and philosophy, after two decades of research, is hardly stretching credibility. Peter Singer, probably the preeminent expert on animal rights, became so in his 40s. Bertrand Russell wrote Principia Mathematica (for which he won the Nobel Prize) when he was younger than I am now. Hawking, Tesla, Feynmann – all were widely considered “experts” while in their 40s. I’ve never compared myself to them, but your claim is simply nonsense. I never claimed to be “…a supreme and unquestionable authority”, merely to know of which I speak, through a synthesis of what I have learned from others and experienced firsthand over the course of 20 years.

” As to Rats, well you know little about rats. Unless they are killed (and your local council will be killing them by the thousands each month) they would infest all urban areas. Keeping a lid on your trash can will not keep the rats under control.”

Oh really? So now you’re an expert on where I live? So far as I know, there is no serious rat problem where I live, nor is there many other places. When I lived in SF I saw more raccoons than rats (yes, really) and I lived for 4 years Downtown. You’re full of generalizations and hubris, aren’t you?

As to whatever effect I’ve had on those I’ve come in contact with, you once again know very little. From the e-mails I've received from forum participants over the last couple of days, I'm actually encouraged. Anyway, I’m never combative with people in the flesh, and seldom so on line. This thread is an exception, and I’ve been more civil and rational than some participants. Over the past few years there have been at least 5 or 6 people that have become vegans after getting to know me and have stated that information from me was invaluable in their decision.

Here’s a little scenario I just thought up; see if you can understand it. There are three characters: an observer, a free agent (let’s call him “Mr. X”) and a hen, who we’ll call “Doris”. Mr. X is an average American who eats anything he fancies, and has never really considered that the animals he eats are formerly living creatures. He expresses this to the observer, who notes on a chart that Mr. X is operating from a position of ignorance, to the detriment of a hen like Doris, who will likely end up as his McNuggets. One day, Mr. X (for whatever reason) thinks, as he eats fried chicken, that a live chicken must have been killed to become his lunch. He expresses this, a bit guiltily, and goes on eating. The observer notes on the chart that Mr. X is operating from acknowledgment, still to the likely detriment of Doris. Later, Mr. X is eating a chicken salad and thinks to himself – “I hope that the chicken didn’t suffer”. The observer notes “good intentions, no change in effect for Doris”. Another day, Mr. X decides to cut back on eating red meat, as he is concerned about his cholesterol levels. The observer notes “change of habit for health, no change for Doris.” A while later, Mr. X may think “it’s good that I’m not eating red meat, because cattle and pigs probably die in pain”. The observer notes “change of motivation with change of habit, no change for Doris.” Later, Mr. X reads and thinks enough about chickens and other birds and thinks – “I’ll try giving up poultry as well; surely birds suffer like cattle and pigs.” Observer notes: “enlargement of circle of regard, no change for Doris”. One day, eating an egg, Mr. X realizes that an egg is a meat protein supply for an embryo (and often the chicken embryo as well.) He thinks “hey – that’s pretty close to being a chicken in there; maybe I’ll stop eating eggs too”. The observer notes: “realization of egg-laying hen-chicken meat process, likely relief for Doris”. At that point, the relationship between Mr. X and Doris is completed, unless he wishes to do something more, such as provide a comfortable place for her to live. I'll save you the trouble of thinking up a rejoinder and mention that Mr. X has discovered that braised tofu is just as tasty as chicken and much better for his health.

Now, the observer has no stake in this process, he only notes what he perceives, whether he agrees with it or not. Doris cannot perceive anything about the process but her stake in it is profound. Mr. X understands the process in stages, as he learns and questions; his stake in it is important but far less so than Doris’. Ultimately, the only important thing to Doris is that she is not going to spend three years in a wire cage the size of a TV, then be sent off for butchery. The observer can chart a definite evolution of understanding in Mr. X, and it can be assessed as a series of sequential changes, each resulting in an increasingly positive change for an increasing number of sentient beings. That is “ethical progress”: to start from a thoughtless but negative action and to progress towards awareness and harmlessness.

Sorry if that isn’t sexy enough to those of you who need a .45 to prop up your penis.

Two last questions, Lord Hobgoblin -- let’s see if you’re honest enough to answer them.

(1) Levi & Catharine Coffin ran the "underground railroad" at a time when it was legal to own slaves, and in a place where many people, informed by their “morality” owned slaves. Should the Coffins and other abolitionists have kept their opinions to themselves and left the choices of slave ownership up to each person’s mores – even though they knew that inaction and silence on their parts would result in greater harm for innocent people? If so, why? If not, why not?

(2) Adolf Hitler was a racist at a time when it was legal to harm certain groups of innocent people, and in a place where many people, informed by their “morality”, oppressed and killed innocent people. Should Hitler and other Nazis have been allowed by good Germans and the rest of the world to continue to harm those people, just because it was legal and reflective of the mores of the time and place? If so, why? If not, why not?

Many animal rights activists and vegans are the descendents of the Coffins. Like them, their position offends some people, especially those with some complicity in the harming of animals. History will likely vindicate the presently unpopular assertion that to cause animals to suffer for personal gain is unethical, even if it is currently legal and “moral”. I’m sure the Coffins were called “arrogant”, “self-righteous”, “stubborn”, whatever, as were Rachel Carson, John Muir, and a bunch of other people who had interests other than their own in mind.

By _Blackjack on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 05:17 pm: Edit

And really, most vegans aren't that bad, unless attacked. Unfortunately, they get attacked a lot, so they are prone to be defensive.

Hey, anybody want to talk about something less devisive, like guns, abortions, or whether Macs are better than PC's?

By _Blackjack on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 05:14 pm: Edit

I think the problem is that, when they teach philosophy, they start with Plato, which, from an historical standpoint, makes good sense, but I fear that some fail to realize that there have been 3000 years of progress in human thought since then, and that one should really finish up the class before deciding if moral idealism is really how they want to go.

By Lordhobgoblin on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 08:27 am: Edit

Anatomist,

True, I have met many strong-viewed and stubborn people in my time but I must admit I too have never before met anyone who claims that his view is indisputable and that any viewpoint that deviates even slightly from his own is automatically and naturally wrong. It also amazes me that someone thinks that after 6 months study of a topic he can be a complete and totally infallible authority on the topic. I never realised it was so easy to become a supreme authority on a topic.

I've never actually met any vegans in person (plenty of vegetarians, yes) but if Rch is typical of most vegans I hope I never do. A fellow teacher (a meat-eater) did tell me on Friday that she had her brother and his wife coming to stay at the weekend. The brother is a standard vegetarian and the wife is a vegan. I pity her if she had to endure a weekend of self-righteous preaching from the vegan.

Hobgoblin
(Anyway I've had my fill banging my head against this particular brick wall)

By Anatomist on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 07:18 am: Edit

Hob,

In the same sense that R-- is dragging his cause down with his arrogance and ignorance, I think you are dragging yourself down by arguing with him. What you're saying makes sense, but it's falling on deaf ears. You can't argue with someone who doesn't know the difference between argumentation and bald assertion in the first place. Even among those who know how to use deductive and inductive reasoning, you can't reason with someone who uses arguments from authority, unless you both subscribe to the same authority. Otherwise, it's all "my authority is bigger than yours". Although, I must say, this is the first time I've ever encountered anyone with the gall to actually ply arguments from authority using himself as the authority... especially with such scant credentials. It's sad. If I had more huckster in me, I'd offer him a contract and take him on a tour of philosophy departments.

K.

By Heiko on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 07:12 am: Edit

Rch427,

repeating the argument "people will feel empathy for animals when they are shown the slaughtering process" does still not prove it right.

It is indeed right for somebody who for the first time sees this process, but it isn't for everybody.
My dad's uncle was a genuine, old farmer - I know from him and his wife that they wouldn't treat their animals badly, but also they didn't have any emotions for them: cats were there to catch the mice, pigs were there to be slaughtered, nothing more, nothing less.

In these six months of studying ethics, I guess you haven't considered reading Nietzsche, probably because "he was a fascist anyways" (which he wasn't, but that's another story).
I wouldn't say I agree with all he writes in "beyond good and evil" and the "genealogy of morals" - sometimes he's really getting silly with his adoration for the noble morals of olden times - but in some points he is right: it can't be right always to cherish the weak and poor and always consider bad the strong and powerful.

Of course it's good to have ethics and laws to protect the weak, but we must not consider the weak to be "the good" and everyone who lives his will to power to be "the evil".

--> We should treat animals well, but we need not deny our natural self (that wants to eat meat sometimes) because of some negative anti-morals

By Marccampbell on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 02:56 am: Edit

its a shame that you small-pricked, gun-obsessed,
narrow-minded twits are so threatened by a genuinely thoughtful debate. but boys will be boys and they love to play with their toys. bang bang.

By Lordhobgoblin on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 02:35 am: Edit

Rch,

Since when did I ever mention ethics? I have only ever mentioned morality. They are two entirely different things. Morality, ethics and the law are entirely different things. Morality is conerned with the actions of the individual and not about setting down standards to be imposed on everybody.

Animals do not have rights that are set in stone. Not even human rights are set in stone, rights are decided by the society to which you live in and are based on belief and commonly held moral standards.

As to spending the whole 6 months studying a topic making you an expert. Thats only the equivalent of about one academic year of study. It takes a lifetime of constant study to become an expert on anything, let alone set yourself up as a supreme and unquestionable authority.

As to Rats, well you know little about rats. Unless they are killed (and your local council will be killing them by the thousands each month) they would infest all urban areas. Keeping a lid on your trash can will not keep the rats under control. And tell me, how would you deal with head-lice in children, surely you would not murder all those poor head-lice just for the comfort and well-being of 1 child?

Jain monks walk about with their mouths covered so as not to accidentally breathe in insects, they would not dream of driving a car which involves slaughtering thousands of insects. Most vegan advocates of animal rights happily drive cars in the knowledge that many insects will be killed. Other animal rights advocates will happily eat meat so long as they believe that reasonable standards of welfare have been undertaken.

There is no definite line that can be drawn on animal rights. It all depends on where the individual believes the line should be drawn. If you believe the line should be drawn in a certain place then by all means campaign and try to persuade others to agree with you. You once said you wanted to be able to die knowing you had done all you can for what you see as animal rights. Well fine, but you are not going to change anyones mind on this issue going about believing and claiming that your view on this issue is unquestionable, and claiming to be an undisputable expert after only 6 months study really just blows away any credibility you may have had. Acting in this manner you are only likely to harden the resolve of those you believe to be in the wrong. For fuck's sake I'm a vegetarian and a believer in vastly increasing animal rights, and your holier-than-though 'I'm an infallible expert' attitude has had me siding with the forum's meat-eaters. Do you really think you are doing your 'cause' any favours by behaving in this fashion? I would say that every time you behave like this you drive more and more people firmly into the meat-eating' camp'.

Hobgoblin

By Don_Walsh on Sunday, February 03, 2002 - 02:17 am: Edit

I doubt that. Too much chance of splash onto economies we care about, namely, and in order, Japan, S.Korea, and China.

Rhetoric yes. Action no. N.Korea maintains a HIGHLY significant force and Seoul is close to the border. And Japan is well within range of N Korean Scuds. They don't have to be too accurate to threaten a densely populated country like Japan.

Do I agree that Kim Jong Il is a looney? YES. But if Iraq/Iran/N.Korea is the axis of concern, we should hit them in the reverse order -- we KNOW we can do Bagdad because we've done it before,
we can calculate Tehran, but Pyongyang is a tough nut.

By Pikkle on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 09:57 pm: Edit

Sources tell me the big one's about to hit PRK any moment now... ponder that!

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 08:25 pm: Edit

I am obliged out of concern for the WMD PO-lice, to state that I have no knowledge or recollection of any such device and that if I ever did, I would not be presently disposed to discuss same. Sir. (Cough)

By Mr_Rabid on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 08:17 pm: Edit

Don, send me a suitcase nuke. I'll set it off by hand and warn everyone away first... I don't beleive I got this deep into the shit myself.

Rch427- I'm done with this. You suck at this game.

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 08:14 pm: Edit

Blackjack, you are right. How much standoff do you reckon we need? We could sit back at two klicks and Mk-19 the place. (40mm grenade launching machinegun)

"It's raining' HE, hallalulah!"

By _Blackjack on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 07:44 pm: Edit

I think a flamethrower would be unwise with this much shit around. Vegetarians tend to be kinda gassy...

By _Blackjack on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 07:42 pm: Edit

Who wants sausages?

By Anatomist on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 07:09 pm: Edit

I can't even read Retch's posts any more. It's too embarassing. I wish y'all would stop encouraging him.

K.

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 06:49 pm: Edit

Pikkle, I think you might want to reconsider. I don't think a simple handgun room clearing is going to be adequate. The bullshit is too deep, therefore footing treacherous. I am therefore now considering escalation to, say, a satchel charge through the window, followed by an old fashioned flamethrower, maybe the late model matchless one employing triethylaluminum, which ignites as soon as it hits the air.

Your opinion?

By Rch427 on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 06:33 pm: Edit

Mr. Rabid –
"I do not agree with the idea of a thing being more or less ethical.”

Then I suggest that you are using the word inaccurately. You still seem to be confused between the meanings of “ethics”, “morals” and perhaps “gazpacho”. Unless you know what the terms you use mean, you may as well be posting in Swahili. I assure you that most philosophers (a few semanticists aside) know what it means and agree that it can be assigned to an act of volition.

“I think there are different ways to go about things, and some will bring results you like better than others. Like painting a house or writing a program.”

And so what? Does this somehow negate the meaning of “ethical”? Or do you just not want to use the word to mean what you are saying?

”Some ways of life are more effective (but that is only measurable versus your end goal.) I don't think ethics is a measurable thing like hot or cold. You have yet to say a goddamn thing to illustrate how it is. You keep citing examples of stuff you find more or less ethical, but you never say *why.* And I am not looking for your criteria- that's obvious. You want to avoid harming things. OK. WHY is that more ethical?”

For the simple reason that “ethics” is the term that was devised to stand for a meaning, the meaning being that a good that may be achieved by action or inaction, or an ill avoided in the same way which, taken as a larger structure, delineates a course of action or a pattern of inaction. The good is usually one that is agreed to be beneficial to a larger sphere than the individual or causes the least harm.

That too complex? It is generally agreed that it is “unethical”“(using the English definition of the word, in case you need to look it up) to cause the death of an innocent person, say – yourself – for personal gain. If youneed it broken down further, it is unethical for me to kill you, an innocent person, to take your money; it is unethical for you to kill me, an innocent person, to take my money. This is generally accepted by those who understand these basic concepts, as a rule that exists independently of laws or other artificial constructs, and it is agreed to pretty much world-wide, at least in theory.

So, given that I have provided one definition of the word (there are more, and more complex), and I have cited a basic ethical model, do you agree that it is “unethical” for a person to kill an innocent person for their money? If so, then we are getting somewhere. If not, then I have nothing more to say to you, as you refuse to deal with the language of the matter.

”Point to the sun and say 'hot' and I can accept that a fire is hotter than an icecube. Point to the sun for me, sparky. Tell me what your end point of ethicalness is, what are you striving towards?

My point of “ethicalness” is to operate within a system that offers a pattern of behavior superior to the more common states of selfish behavior and subjective morals. It is also to expect others to participate in the process that identifies what the elements of these patterns are and agree to act within their frame. Behavior is either self-originated and likely to not be harmonious with others, or demanded by a religion, or by a cultural group or by laws. The alternative is ethics, which is superior in most aspects to any of these.

Given that it is unethical for me to kill you or you to kill me (for reasons we all hopefully agree upon), we can begin to extrapolate related ethical modules. For example, it would also be unethical for me to maim, but not kill you; it would be unethical for you to rob but not harm me, etc., given that we presume that the other is an innocent person. (I would argue that ethics would extend to even those who may not fit the definition of “innocent”, but that is still a vague area.) However, the point still remains that some actions or inactions are still able to be determined to be “ethical” or “unethical”.

” Freshman anarchist?
I ain't got me no kollidge learnin, so I dont no what that meens.
But fuck you anyway.”


Make that "high school anarchist".

By Rch427 on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 06:31 pm: Edit

Lord Hobgoblin --

You still fail to grasp the point I make. The fact is that the moral or immoral action of an individual can only be decided by the individual. morality is based on beliefs. As not everyone holds the same beliefs, moral and immoral actions will not be the same for everyone. Morality is not mathematics and therefore there can be no definite true morality. This does not mean that you can do what you please and it is moral. To determine what is moral for oneself, you have to examine your stance with brutal honesty. On doing this you can decide what is moral for yourself. But what you cannot do is determine what is moral for any individual other than yourself.

You still fail to grasp the point I make: if actions are not able to be evaluated in a larger frame than the individual, then only laws, customs, habits and mores determine what should be done. Assuming that ethics (or, as you mistakenly call them -- “morals”) extend no further than the individual, then Pol Pot was perfectly “ethical” to murder 2 million Cambodian civilians, as he was “the law” at the time. Apparently, so was Goebbels. And I suppose that you would be acting within your ethics were you to murder someone in Antarctica or in international waters, since the determination as to whether or not something should be done rests within yourself and is unable to be evaluated by any outside agency. Is that so? How ‘bout an answer?

”You have very strong beliefs about that the degree of rights other animals should have and you base your vegetarian stance on these beliefs. But your view of degree of animal rights is only a belief. “

Not really. “Belief” implies a lack of necessary evidence, just as faith does. One needs no such thing to base an understanding of ethics upon. Bertrand Russell has written brilliantly on the subject, as has Simon Blackburn (especially Ruling Passions) ; the book Civil Society also goes a long way towards explaining the mechanics of ethics and how they are constructed. Nowhere is “belief” required. To know that harming another living thing for a selfish gain is worse than avoiding the same is a very simple concept. It is readily falsifiable and repeatable by anyone. It is, in a real way, “good science”.

”What if someone believed that all animals should have the equal rights to live and breed as humans. How do you deal with rat infestation? What about fleas and mites? Are we not commiting murder when we treat people suffering from these. What about internal parasites? Does a tapeworm have the right to live inside your intestine?”

This is a common question asked of animal rights advocates. However, it presents less of a dilemma than you might think, for it is a false quandary. There are more than two options available in most situations. Rats will not become a problem if there is not ready access to food, water and routes of ingress. Don’t want rats? Keep food and trash in rat-proof containers, and do what else is needed to discourage them. Don’t want mosquitoes? Eliminate standing water, put up netting, wear repellent. What is the alternative? Kill all parasites and predators as a matter of course, because they might be a problem? The cure may end up being worse than the problem, and the problem is nearly always avoidable.

”The fact is that there is no definite line where to draw on animal rights. It is all down to where we believe the line should be drawn, and we all will have the line drawn in a different place. Therefore you cannot, as you claim be "Right" on this issue. You can only be right for yourself. “

Blah, blah, blah. So, John Brown was wrong to help free African slaves and George Custer was right to murder Native Americans. After all, they were right for themselves.

”You also fail to recognise that not all vegetarians are vegetarians because they are primarily motivated by animal rights. For me my reasons for being a vegetarian are not motivated by this but by my own (personal) belief on the sanctity of life (this is an entirely different issue). As this is my own belief and not the belief of others, therefore my moral stance on this issue can only be applied to myself. “

I recognize it very well, as I know plenty of vegan pagans who are so for “spiritual” reasons, a Jain who is vegetarian for religious reasons, and my family are all Seventh-Day Adventists, who are for dogmatic reasons. I already mentioned at least four different reasons why I am a vegan. If you have some secret surprise reason that I haven’t mentioned, let’s hear it. Otherwise, it’s pretty silly for you to keep on this tack.

“Your view on the squeamishness of the average meat-eater is entirely false. Heiko's post sums up the reality. As I come from Ireland my young cousins are not unusual. Ireland is quite a rural society with many small farms, 40% of the people I know come from a rural background and my hometown is a large (ny Irish standards) town. So people are not so squeamish. It is the artificial, unnatural removal of humans from the food maufacturing process that creates the squeamishness. We are not squeamish by nature.”

Those are claims you have no way of substantiating. You accuse me of inaccurately generalizing then turn around and do it yourself. What do we have to do: take a poll to see what the split is? And your broad claim about “…the food maufacturing process…” is absurd. Most people know very well about how vegetables, grains, fruits, etc. are “produced”, and there is nothing “squeamish” about it. The act of killing and butchering an animal is abstract to most people, as much as the process by which a computer works. Make a person understand how a computer works and they are likely to be emotionally unchanged. Make them understand how a slaughterhouse works and they are likely to feel empathy for the animals, a real impediment to their enjoyment of meat.

”As for 6 months researching the issue making you an almost God-like authority on the Truth on morality in this area. Let me tell you that 6 months researching anything will give you no more than a basic grasp of anything other than the most simple of topics (and this is not a simple topic). To think that after 6 months research you are such an expert on morality and ethics in this area that you claim to know what is the 'Truth'.”

I wonder if you even read my posts before responding, so inaccurately do you characterize my statements. In the first place, as I stated, the 6-month period was just for researching whether or not I should continue to eat animal products or if I should abstain from them. Six months is plenty of time, when there are dozens of books by authors like Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Dean Ornish, Prof. Peter Singer, John Robbins, and dozens of vegans that I talked to about their experiences. I already understood much of the facts about animal treatment, so that was a shortcut.

I never claimed “…to know what is the 'Truth'”, as I wouldn’t use that word in this context. I simply know some facts about veganism and animal rights, from firsthand observation and from trustworthy sources. My understanding of ethics and philosophy has accrued over about 20 years, which is long enough to learn quite a bit, if one keeps one’s eyes open and asks questions. The trouble is that most people do neither.

”Emminent philosophers have struggled for lifetimes on the issue of morality and none of them have come up with an undisputable Truth of a definite morality on any issue.”

Sweeping generalization, incorrect use of the word “morality” (twice) and something called “indisputable truth”. Sorry, I can’t keep up with you. I suspect any of your “emminent philosophers would be baffled as well.

” This is so unbelievably laughable, I cannot believe you you made this statement.”

That’s because I didn’t.

”(Could I ask of you that when I die you save a space in Paradise for me?)”

Can’t help you there; I’m an atheist.

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 05:54 pm: Edit

For the uninitiated, that's a double tap (two shots, from an autoloader, usually a .45*) to the heart then a coup de grace to the head. Done by the well trained, it's really quite fast. Like, popop pop.

*Why a .45?

Because they don't make a .46...

By Pikkle on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 05:33 pm: Edit

Naw, just a little "Mozambique" will suffice...

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 05:24 pm: Edit

Love to frag 'em and burp-gun the survivors on the ground.

By Pikkle on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 05:03 pm: Edit

Ahh, left wing café philosophers... gotta love 'em. Kind of like you love a mime...

By Mr_Rabid on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 04:52 pm: Edit

"a repeat of the Middle Ages, except with advanced pollution and really big weapons. "

You know fuck-all about the Middle Ages, apparently.

What is it that makes you think you are not the strong, exploiting the weak?

Do you own anything made in Taiwan?

They keyboard you are typing on was made by a slave. So was mine.

By Mr_Rabid on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 04:48 pm: Edit

"If you agree that it is more ethical to avoid causing harm, then we agree, at least in principle."

I do not agree with the idea of a thing being more or less ethical.

I think there are different ways to go about things, and some will bring results you like better than others. Like painting a house or writing a program.

Some ways of life are more effective (but that is only measurable versus your end goal.)

I don't think ethics is a measurable thing like hot or cold. You have yet to say a goddamn thing to illustrate how it is. You keep citing examples of stuff you find more or less ethical, but you never say *why.* And I am not looking for your criteria- that's obvious. You want to avoid harming things. OK. WHY is that more ethical?

Point to the sun and say 'hot' and I can accept that a fire is hotter than an icecube. Point to the sun for me, sparky. Tell me what your end point of ethicalness is, what are you striving towards?

I was trying to say that ethics is a nonlinear thing, like aesthetics.

I could also have used science, as in 'that is more scientific.'

You are saying it's linear. Inarticulately.

Freshman anarchist?

I ain't got me no kollidge learnin, so I dont no what that meens.

But fuck you anyway.

By Pikkle on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 04:16 pm: Edit

Ooh... big word man! Power is the only ethic, humans are merely animals of evolution and please stay in the People's Republic of Kalifornia with all that hippie rhetoric... have a nice day!

By Rch427 on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 03:54 pm: Edit

Mr. Rabid --
"I am saying that the idea that it is somehow (to use your term) 'more ethical' to behave this way is bullshit. There is no more or less ethical."

Saying so demonstrates a profound ignorance of the term "ethical", and a dismissal of hundreds of years of philosophical progress. Relativists such as you should someday get the chance to live in an environment without ethical ideals: no laws except those enacted by and favoring the strongest and richest, no protection against exploitation and corruption. You would've dug feudal life. Unfortunately, odds are, you would've been a serf.

"That is like saying that a painting is more or less worthwhile. It all depends on the criteria the observer is using to determine that. And so it is with ethics."

Oh please: "ethics" and "aesthetics" are analogous?! How very "freshman anarchist".

"You have an excellent point about personal practices. It is really easy to shout save the whales if you don't happen to need to kill them. Harder to shout save the atmosphere if you have no choice but to drive to work everyday."

It's equally easy to claim that one has "no choice but to drive to work everyday" when what they really mean is that they'd rather not make an inconvenient choice. SF is jam-packed with folks who "have no choice" but to drive their 17-foot long SUV from their home in Mill Valley to their office South of Market, 20 miles away, when there are a half-dozen less-pollutive options. Let me ask you a direct question: given the very real threat of global warming (of which internal combustion engine emissions are a major cause), is it more ethical to choose to drive (a car) to work everyday or to find another solution, i.e., public transport, bicycle, carpool, working from home, etc.? That's a pretty simple question, and I'd appreciate a simple answer. If you agree that it is more ethical to avoid causing harm, then we agree, at least in principle. If you disagree, then you have no right to expect the world to become anything less than what it would be without ethics: a repeat of the Middle Ages, except with advanced pollution and really big weapons.

"You said above 'an advance in ethics.' Towards what end, I ask- and I do really want to know your answer, this is not sarcasm."

Unfortunately, the answer is rather long and requires qualification. Looked at from a "results" end, I would say that "an advance in ethics" can be something that protects the weak from exploitation or harm by the stronger. It is often the results of selfless actions by related parties. I would stop short of fully endorsing Utilitarianism, but it is one example of one way to produce an ethical advance. I've already stated some obvious examples of the ethical process. Thomas Paine vigorously argued that allowing slavery in the US was unethical, but Washington and others feared the power of the slave owners (and owned slaves themselves). For Paine to state that all law-abiding men should be free regardless of their ethnicity was to propose a very unpopular law, but it was ethically still correct. (I have yet to hear a compelling argument to the contrary.) Naturally, 230-odd years later and 135 years after Abolition, everyone takes the unethicality of slavery as a given. That’s an example of ethical progress. Suggestions are first denounced, then debated, then implemented, then accepted. Women's rights, child labor laws, environmental laws, animal rights -- all involve ethical decisions that were at first at odds with the opinions of some people, yet – to some extent – all are now accepted as legitimate advances in ethics.

There are other ways to arrive at ethical advances, but they often involve protection of the vulnerable, and sometimes require a sacrifice or just a change in habit by those who have some complicity in the status quo. Does that answer your question?

"As to my reading- it is wide and varied. And, much like yours in this case, utterly irrelevant. Our ideas will stand or fall on thier own merits- pedigrees will not be considered."

As I said to Lord Hobgoblin: "...when I mentioned that I have read at least 30 serious books on the subject, I wasn’t boasting, merely responding to “Anatomist” who claimed I
“…apparently neglected the basic texts of the history of western philosophy, or you wouldn't say something so ludicrously naive. I can't give you a full course in Philosophy 101…”
My point remains correct: most people operate from “received opinion” rather than from research and objective consideration. I was merely outlining the divergence of my process.

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 03:44 pm: Edit

Baz, all of that, plus the gourmet selection of amphibians and reptiles (they didn't call us 'snake eaters' for nuthin') plus anything else we could snare, trap, spear, or catch with bare hands. Mammals or marsupials, hell, that was a banquet. I did the course at Ft Bragg and a longer version at Eglin AFB.

By Mr_Rabid on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 01:37 pm: Edit

And you'd get no argument from me! If a little is good, a lot must be better.

By Artist on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 01:04 pm: Edit

Mr. Rabid,

I would argue that alcohol consumed in the proper quantity is good for one's health...

By Lordhobgoblin on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 12:59 pm: Edit

Heiko,

I'm a vegetarian and I seem to have ended up on the 'meat-eaters side' in this thread. I see this thread more as an issue of whether someones own personal moral stance can be deemed to be the 'Truth' and therefore everybody else should (regardless of individual belief) have this moral standard imposed on them beacuse it IS the Truth and therefore indisputable.

Hobgoblin

By Lordhobgoblin on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 12:51 pm: Edit

Rch,

You still fail to grasp the point I make. The fact is that the moral or immoral action of an individual can only be decided by the individual. morality is based on beliefs. As not everyone holds the same beliefs, moral and immoral actions will not be the same for everyone. Morality is not mathematics and therefore there can be no definite true morality. This does not mean that you can do what you please and it is moral. To determine what is moral for oneself, you have to examine your stance with brutal honesty. On doing this you can decide what is moral for yourself. But what you cannot do is determine what is moral for any individual other than yourself.

You have very strong beliefs about that the degree of rights other animals should have and you base your vegetarian stance on these beliefs. But your view of degree of animal rights is only a belief. What if someone believed that all animals should have the equal rights to live and breed as humans. How do you deal with rat infestation? What about fleas and mites? Are we not commiting murder when we treat people suffering from these. What about internal parasites? Does a tapeworm have the right to live inside your intestine?

The fact is that there is no definite line where to draw on animal rights. It is all down to where we believe the line should be drawn, and we all will have the line drawn in a different place. Therefore you cannot, as you claim be "Right" on this issue. You can only be right for yourself.

You also fail to recognise that not all vegetarians are vegetarians because they are primarily motivated by animal rights. For me my reasons for being a vegetarian are not motivated by this but by my own (personal) belief on the sanctity of life (this is an entirely different issue). As this is my own belief and not the belief of others, therefore my moral stance on this issue can only be applied to myself.

Your view on the squeamishness of the average meat-eater is entirely false. Heiko's post sums up the reality. As I come from Ireland my young cousins are not unusual. Ireland is quite a rural society with many small farms, 40% of the people I know come from a rural background and my hometown is a large (ny Irish standards) town. So people are not so squeamish. It is the artificial, unnatural removal of humans from the food maufacturing process that creates the squeamishness. We are not squeamish by nature.

As for 6 months researching the issue making you an almost God-like authority on the Truth on morality in this area. Let me tell you that 6 months researching anything will give you no more than a basic grasp of anything other than the most simple of topics (and this is not a simple topic). To think that after 6 months research you are such an expert on morality and ethics in this area that you claim to know what is the 'Truth'. This is so unbelievably laughable, I cannot believe you you made this statement. Emminent philosophers have struggled for lifetimes on the issue of morality and none of them have come up with an undisputable Truth of a definite morality on any issue. If you can do it in 6 months then you must truly be by far the most gifted natural genius that ever walked this Earth, but then you probably believe that you are anyway.

Hobgoblin
(Could I ask of you that when I die you save a space in Paradise for me?)

By Mr_Rabid on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 12:40 pm: Edit

RCH427,

I don't think you should shut up- I think dialogue like this is good. If your arguments are sound enough, you may indeed change some minds. Or not- fuck it anyway, this is fun.

"It is more ethical to cause less, rather than more suffering. "

You still haven't explained why you think that is. And NO, I'm not saying this to be an asshole. I would like to see you extrapolate that- what woud be the 'most' ethical state? I am still not grasping your more/less ethical thing.

To me the question of what is more ethical sounds like asking the weight of the color blue.

"It is more ethical to avoid any unnecessary substance that may be harmful to one’s health."

You are saying this on a forum devoted to booze!

BAHAAAAHAHAAAA! Hee!

By Heiko on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 12:11 pm: Edit

btw. the fact that I seem to be on the meat-eaters side doesn't mean I favor the conditions under which animals are held and transported (and treated in general) today.

But still I believe if everyone else would eat less meat (that is what I do) we wouldn't have to treat animals like we do and we'd have some less environmental problems. Being a vegetarian is not necessary, just not being a dedicated carnivore will do the trick.

By Heiko on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 11:57 am: Edit

The "fact" that children who get to see how animals are slaughtered will be repulsed can't be true because if it was, there wouldn't be anyone on earth who is able to kill animals (all slaughters were children once and most probably got to know about the slaughtering process pretty soon).

I think what is much closer to the truth is the "Lord of the Flies".

By that I mean take a pampered girly from the city and show her how animals are killed and of course she will become a vegetarian. But let the same girl live in the wilderness for a few years and you'd be amazed with what brutality that same sweet girl could suddenly break the neck of an animal.

By Rch427 on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 11:16 am: Edit

Lord Hobgoblin --

“So you argue that naturally all vegetarians and even meat eaters would find the prospect of killing and eating an animal repulsive…?”

Nope, what I said was “I think that's an UNCOMMON position, even amongst meat-eaters”, and later -- “…the only way MOST people can eat it is through ignorance or a habitual disavowal of that reality”. Know the difference between “comparative” and “absolute”?

Your personal situation is rather uncommon, I suspect. I’ve been involved in the animal rights realm for more than 15 years and a lot of that time involved talking with meat-eaters about their opinions, whether on-line or in person. Most meat-eating people that I’ve spoken with have allowed that they find the killing and butchering process disgusting, and that they could not do it themselves, were that the only way they could get meat. Yes, I also met a few hunters who said that it didn’t bother them. I also know a guy who was a USMC tank commander in Somalia who once told me that he really enjoyed blasting the Toyota trucks full of “bad guys” with his tank’s main gun and strafing any survivors. I doubt that is a sentiment most people would feel, and it goes nowhere towards establishing a “norm”.

Do I “…think that the people who are actually involved in the process and themselves are happy to eat meat are just a load of inhuman, vicious, bastards?” Only if they derive some pleasure from the act of harming or killing animals. Everyone else I think is just going along with the norms of their society, and/or refusing to think about the reality on the other side of the coin. That is why I mentioned some other decisions that I have made: all of them involved me being confronted with the ethics of my actions. It certainly isn’t a finished process and never will be. I fully expect that I’ll always be finding things that I should change about my actions. In the meantime, I think that everything I do is in harmony with the highest ethical standard I can set, with occasional hiccups along the way. My so-called “superiority” pisses some people off? That’s the risk one takes with being dedicated to always trying to do the right thing. I’d rather get to the end of my life and feel like I had made positive differences for those things I might otherwise have harmed. If, in the process I offend some people who are sensitive about what I say – well, I don’t try to, but it doesn’t matter that much to me if I do.

“Your arguments are typical of an urban-dweller who has a sentimental view of animals.”

Yeah, right. As I mentioned a number of times, I grew up on a farm in the SJV, and most of my friends were in 4-H and FFA. I worked through my boyhood on my cousin’s dairy farm and at the turkey ranch down the road; my family raised laying hens. And I have visited more than a few slaughterhouses. Family friends owned the largest one in my town and I watched the process from the pit myself. I also have watched the process at the turkey ranch I worked at, at Foster Farms in Modesto, and in SF’s Chinatown with turtles and ducks. My saying “cut throats” was shorthand for the process that a sticker does when he cuts through the side of a cow’s neck and pulls out the vein/artery (don’t recall which) and severs it. Chickens and turkeys also have their throats cut, but on an assembly line, hanging by their feet.

Your young cousins are a rarity, especially with the dwindling number of smaller farms. The VAST majority of children would indeed feel revulsion, disgust, whatever. I saw it happen to my 14-year old niece, who – once she learned where her burger came from, gave up eating meat and has been a vegetarian for 6 years so far.

“Whether an animal is killed in pain or without pain (as is the case with most meat people eat in the West…”
This makes me suspect that you either don’t know anything about what you’re saying or that you simply haven’t paid attention. If you have ever been in a cattle slaughterhouse you would see the entire line of cattle and those in the lot outside totally freaked out – baying, biting the fence, hyperventilating. They can hear the sounds of the ones who are going into “the box” and they can smell the blood. They also probably spent a day or two stuffed into a trailer on the way there, with no food or water. Fish slowly suffocate. Chickens and turkeys are pushed into cage trailers to go to the slaughterhouse, and more than half of them have their wings broken in the process. I assure you, when their legs are clipped onto the chainline on the way to the shock tank and the rotating blades, they all feel plenty of pain. Your notions of a painless slaughter are an ignorant fantasy.

“You are not God, you are not infallible. Is there not a chance that you are wrong?”
Well, I spent 6 months researching and considering these issues before I decided to become a vegan (and much time since) and no, I don’t think there’s much chance that I’m “wrong” about it. Can you give me one reason to suspect that I’m wrong? I can give you four reasons to think that I’m right:

(1) The use of animals for their bodies causes at least some level of suffering for the animals. It is more ethical to cause less, rather than more suffering.
(2) The use of animals for their bodies causes more environmental damage than that which occurs from following plant-based food production. Livestock is the second highest source of water pollution, the second highest source of stream erosion and the third highest amount of greenhouse gasses in the US. It is more ethical to cause less, rather than more environmental damage.
(3) The consumption of animal products is more likely to be deleterious to human health than a properly balanced diet free of animal products. It is more ethical to avoid any unnecessary substance that may be harmful to one’s health.
(4) Plant foods are far more efficiently produced than animal foods. Since 1/3 of the earth’s population is undernourished, it is more ethical and fair to produce and eat plant than animal foods.

Now, are there any reasons to eat meat that you can suggest that aren’t selfish?

“So Rch427 do not make the assumption that all vegetarians are vegetarian for the same resaons as you.”
Oh, but I don’t! I am a vegan for the previous four reasons, and any others that I find compelling. I’m aware that vegetarians have different motivations, and I share all of them, except for any mystical or religious ones. Frankly, I’m not too concerned what a person’s motivation is for doing a good, selfless thing, and the animals certainly don’t care either.

You use the term “moral” and “morality” many times. I think that says a lot. In philosophical terms, morals and morality are related to “mores”, and are relative to the taboos of cultures, groups and individuals. For example, many Catholics consider birth control “immoral”, and Judaism calls the eating of pork or shellfish “immoral”. Those are typical of morals: subjective constructs, intended to make people “be good”. That’s not what I’m talking about. What I mean is “ethics”, which is less subjective and more universal. For example, most people, despite their backgrounds, would agree that it is “unethical” to harm an “innocent” person for some selfish gain. That is the point: ethics can be agreed upon and are the best foundation for behavior.

“Each person should act according to his own 'conscience' irrespective of what others around him say or do. “
You have not given us any good reason to accept your dictum. Please explain why Adolf Hitler’s own conscience shouldn’t have been sufficient justification for his actions. Or Richard Nixon’s. Or Ivan Boesky’s. Or Frank Purdue’s. Or…
One’s conscience is a sometimes faulty and often misinformed faculty. That’s why philosophy is a useful thing: to help understand reasons why people should behave in certain ways. BTW – when I mentioned that I have read at least 30 serious books on the subject, I wasn’t boasting, merely responding to “Anatomist” who claimed I “…apparently neglected the basic texts of the history of western philosophy, or you wouldn't say something so ludicrously naive. I can't give you a full course in Philosophy 101…” My point remains correct: most people operate from “received opinion” rather than from research and objective consideration.

In the same respect, why should anyone proclaim “people shouldn’t pour toxic waste in streams” or “it’s wrong to clear-cut all remaining old-growth redwoods”? Isn’t that overstepping bounds of other’s ”freedom of conscience”? If it were, we would still have slavery, women would be property and children would be toiling in factories from age 6. Or do they have some special status that makes them exceptions to your “free conscience” rule? Why not allow anyone to beat a dog, horse, cat, whatever to death for fun? What about the conscience of someone who wants to fight dogs to the death, as they do in Oakland? I’d really like to hear you try to answer those two questions without wildly equivocating.

As for “JUST SHUT UP!” – that’s simply pathetic. I have as much freedom to express my opinions here as you or anyone else, moderator permitting. As you can see from my earlier post, I was ready to let this thread die. Your churlish response is typical of those who have run out of anything valid to add to the debate.

By _Blackjack on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 10:45 am: Edit

Well, as I mentioned in the whole "primate diet" part of the discussion, the bulk of the protein most of the great apes get in the wild comes from insects and other invertebrates. They're about as healthy a form of meat as you can get, as long as you cook them well enough to kill any eggs inside...

Just be sure to occasionally supplement with a few marmosets, for variety.

By Baz on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 10:01 am: Edit

Don, through this and other threads I find your taste in food impeccable!
Survival course foods: depending on where the training took place, grubs, grasshoppers, ants (their back segments are actually quite sweet), tubers, assorted raw fish...
How close am I?

By Lordhobgoblin on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 09:57 am: Edit

Marc,

Sure everybody has a right to say what they think but what they don't have is a right to go about telling other people what they should think. Rch427 takes the view that he automatically and unquestionably holds the moral high ground and that everybody else ought to do what he thinks on this issue. When I put it to him initially that everybody should think for themselves on this issue he took offence at the suggestion that others should be allowed to think for themselves on this. This almost facist approach to free-thought by a minority of vegetarians is what gives vegetarians a bad name.

When someone goes around acting as if he is an infallible God and telling others what to think then sure I'll tell him to SHUT UP! There is a big difference between someone arguing his point and someone telling others what and how they should think.

So fuck you too Marc.

Hobgoblin

By Anatomist on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 08:15 am: Edit

LordH is a bit of a hothead, but he's OK in my book - so long as he isn't elected US president or hired as a stand-up comic at my wedding. In this instance, R- already hung himself with all the rope we gave him. There was no need to beat the corpse. Maybe hobgoblins just can't resist a flesh pinata.

K.

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 04:20 am: Edit

Steak Tartar, anyone?

Raw oysters? You can almost hear 'em scream when the tartar sauce hits their nerve endings.

Sashimi? Heavy on the wasabi pls.

By Marccampbell on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 03:47 am: Edit

lordhobgoblin,

for someone who has always stood up for a person's right to speak his mind where the fuck do you get off telling rch427 to shut up?
yer a fucking hypocrite!

By Don_Walsh on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 02:04 am: Edit

Not everyone goes to the supermarket to buy their chicken and pork. Or beef. Or duck. Much less venison -- yum yum! I have shot, dressed out and butchered a few deer in my time. And ate the meat.

And you'd be amazed what we ate on survival courses in special ops training.

By Lordhobgoblin on Saturday, February 02, 2002 - 01:36 am: Edit

Rch427,

So you argue that naturally all vegetarians and even meat eaters would find the prospect of killing and eating an animal repulsive if they thought about what was involved in the process. What a load of shit. I suppose you think that the people who are actually involved in the process and themselves are happy to eat meat are just a load of inhuman, vicious, bastards?

For your information I have caught, killed, skinned, butchered and eaten animals. Did I find it repulsive? Actually no. Did I find the meat tasty, very much so. Would I eat grubs? Well yes, if I was stranded in a deep forest without food I'd eat grubs, worms or whatever I could eat to survive. The prospect does not make me squeamish. When I was a meat-eater I was the sort of meat-eater who would eat anything. I used to love making and eating my own black-pudding out of pigs blood and pigs fact. So while I haven't eaten cows blood I've cooked and eaten pigs blood, so the idea of eating cow' blood doesn't make me feel squeamish. Would I drink my own piss? Not while I have a clean water supply, but if I was stranded in the Sahara I guess I would.

As to your analogy about innocent children and cute animals, well my family are from farming backgrounds. My young cousins do just as you say, they help with the birthing of animals, they care for them, they take them to the slaughterhouse and then they eat them. The also kill geese themselves by wringing the animals necks. At 13 years old one of my cousins was practically running the farm, birthing, rearing, slaughtering, the lot. So what's all this shit about 'taking children to farms', in case you haven't noticed, children live on farms already.

Your arguments are typical of an urban-dweller who has a sentimental view of animals. You make the false assumption that all vegetarians are vegetarian for basically the same reasons. My reasons for being vegetarian are not ultimately based on animal welfare issues (if that was the case then I'd be quite happy tucking into wild game and wild fish). I am a vegetarian for my own personal moral view on the sacredness of life (and yes plants or alive too but we have to eat something and I do draw a distinction between animal and plant life). Whether an animal is killed in pain or without pain (as is the case with most meat people eat in the West) is a seperate issue. (Also you seem to think that normal method of slaughtering a cow is by cutting its throat. I suggest you either visit a slaughter-house yourself or at least find out how animals are killed there, because they do not cut cows throats (unless it is a Halal butchery).)

Anyway, my viewpoint is my own and I have no right to assume that my moral stance is the moral stance that everyone should take. What right have I to go about telling my wife, my family and my friends that they are being immoral by eating meat? If I'm cooking a meal for them I'll quite happily cook them a meat dish. I'll also taste the sauce of any curry or casserole I'm cooking for them because I'm not going to serve them a bad meal. This surprises some vegetarians but my tasting the sauce is not contributing to the animal being killed because my guests were going to eat it anyway so it has been killed for them, so therefore why not taste the sauce to check its OK.

So Rch427 do not make the assumption that all vegetarians are vegetarian for the same resaons as you. Neither should you assume that your moral stance on this represents "The One True" stance that everybody should take. You are not God, you are not infallible. Is there not a chance that you are wrong? I don't eat meat, I think it's 'wrong' for me to do so but I'm not going to be so self-righteous and arrogant to try to impose my moral stance on others.

The difference between you and I is that I view morality as a personal issue because morality is not set in stone and is based on personal belief, therefore a person can only decide what is moral or immoral for himself alone. Your view on morality seems such that if you believe something to be immoral then not only is it immoral for you but it is also immoral for everyone else regardles of what they believe. It is a question of honesty. If someone doesn't honestly believe that an action is moral and they continue to act in that way out of convenience then they are acting immoraly. On the other hand if someone honestly believes that their action is not immoral then they are not acting immoraly. In the end only the individual will know and can decide their course of action.

So if you honestly believe that it's morally OK for you to eat meat then go ahead and eat meat. If you honestly believe that it's not morally OK for you to eat meat then don't eat meat. Each person should act according to his own 'conscience' irrespective of what others around him say or do.

Those 'others around him' include Rch427 so people should do what they think is right regardless of what you say. So the best thing you can do Rch427 is worry about your own 'moral' or 'immoral' actions and let others worry about their's. In other words JUST SHUT UP!

Hobgoblin

By Rch427 on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 11:56 pm: Edit

OK, uncle. Slightly wrong forum, impossible to convince others with arguments/evidence, and so forth. My reasons for posting in the first place were because (a) the thread was about vegan products and (something I know a bit about) and (b) some posters were disparaging veganism and saying incorrect things about it. Besides -- who knows? Just because a few people were pissed off by my statements doesn't mean that others may not have been interested or even challenged by what they read. One never knows where thinking about things in a new way might lead. And I don't mean Fresno.

And now back to our regularly scheduled goofin'...

By Artist on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 11:06 pm: Edit

What's that thing in the middle of her chest?

It looks like the impression of an absinthe bottle.

By Rimbaud on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 08:47 pm: Edit

boobies.jpg

By Anatomist on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 06:15 pm: Edit

"Pshh! Facts are meaningless! You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true."

-Homer Simpson

By Artist on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 05:37 pm: Edit

And here is the other kind (not blue-footed, that is):

big boobies

By Artist on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 05:35 pm: Edit

Now, that being said...as we all know, threads have a habit of wandering around in all directions, so, because you asked for it, here is a nice pair:

boobies

By Mr_Rabid on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 05:33 pm: Edit

Don't try to cloud the issue with facts!

By Artist on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 05:29 pm: Edit

No, Mr. Rabid,

This thread is called Vegan Absinthe because that is what I chose to call it and its express and initial purpose (as noted in the first post below) was to answer a friend's question if absinthe would be considered Vegan...


Quote:


By Artist on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 03:22 pm: Edit


I have a friend who is Vegan (not from the star, but a non-animal eater...)

She asked if absinthe is vegan...I guessed it was (with the exception of the red
beetle juice - Sir Piss).

Does anyone know one way or the other?

Will the Jade products (whenever they come out - hint, hint - when?) be
considered vegan...?

a.


By Mr_Rabid on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 05:06 pm: Edit

Rimbaud- I am not trying to change anyone's mind. I just like new ideas and enjoy discussions.

So don't read it if it bores you. Read another thread. What were you expecting- boobies? The thread is called 'vegan absinthe' for the love of granola.

Now someone post a picture of some boobies, cause you know you want to...

By Mr_Rabid on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 04:56 pm: Edit

"All is relative; nothing is right or wrong."

Exactly.

I am not saying that the principles you espouse- you can call them morals, ethics, or jabberwockies for all I care- are not good ones to espouse.

I am saying that the idea that it is somehow (to use your term) 'more ethical' to behave this way is bullshit. There is no more or less ethical.

That is like saying that a painting is more or less worthwhile. It all depends on the criteria the observer is using to determine that. And so it is with ethics.

You have an excellent point about personal practices. It is really easy to shout save the whales if you don't happen to need to kill them. Harder to shout save the atmosphere if you have no choice but to drive to work everyday.

You said above 'an advance in ethics.' Towards what end, I ask- and I do really want to know your answer, this is not sarcasm.

As to my reading- it is wide and varied. And, much like yours in this case, utterly irrelevant. Our ideas will stand or fall on thier own merits- pedigrees will not be considered.

By Rimbaud on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 04:43 pm: Edit

How about this?

If you like meat, eat it. If you don't like it, don't eat it. But keep your preaching and your whining to yourself. This goes for both sides. The reasoning behind my statement? Nothing will come of this argument. No one will change their ways because of what you say. So everyone please SHUT UP ALREADY! This got boring so many posts ago...

By Anatomist on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 03:57 pm: Edit

"As for "philosophy", I've read and understood probably 30 different "serious" philosophical books by everyone from Aristotle to Mill to Blackburne. How about you?"

OK. Never mind.

K.

By _Blackjack on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 02:34 pm: Edit


Quote:

Can't speak for chimps, but for humans, I think it comes down to indoctrination.



If so, it was an indoctrination that took place a long time ago, since fossil evidence shows that genus Homo has been eating meat since it first emerged. At what point does something become ubiquitous enough that it can be accepted as natural? Pandas are pretty poorly designed for eating bamboo, but I'll be damned if you'll find one that doesn't do it...

By Rch427 on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 02:13 pm: Edit

Mr. Rabid and Anatomist --
Sure, ethics are as flexible and nebulous as a cloud. I only wish that 30 million Chinese civilians realized that while the Japanese military was exterminating them in the '30s, much less however many people the Nazi's killed and the 135,000 residents of Dresden who were fire-bombed by the Allies in WW2. Apparently we simply have no way of knowing if it was wrong to have murdered these civilians, as we don't understand the context. Or perhaps ethics only apply to how humans treat humans, and not how they treat non-human animals. There must be nothing unethical about forcing nonsmoking employees to breathe the smoke produced by the smokers in their workplace. Slavery was fine, women may be considered chattel, and who are we to criticize the tribes in Africa who still cut the labia and clitorises off of pubescent girls? All is relative; nothing is right or wrong. "Follow your own conscience" -- words to live by, just as Hitler, Custer and Pol Pot did. Who are we to question another's conscience? Seriously: is it unethical to kill civilians? Is it unethical to allow people to harm innocent, weaker people? Many people would say so. Do you?

Evidently, if the subject we were discussing were whether or not women should be stoned for exposing their ankles in Islamic countries, there would be near unanimity on this board that they should not. After all, such a position involves no threat to your practices. Indeed, if I proclaimed emphatically on this board that they should not be stoned, I doubt highly that any of you would be calling me a self-righteous ideologue who is trying to force his personal values upon others. But make it an issue where your actions and egos are at stake, and suddenly I'm way out of bounds. Amazing how ethics change with the subject matter.

Should Koreans be free to keep bears in tiny cages with tubes running from their gall bladders into collection jars because bear gall is considered by some Koreans to be a cure-all? Should dogs be fought to the death for sport? Should the US military be allowed to subject beagles to head concussions to test battle wounds? Should Proctor & Gamble be free to put cosmetics that have been tested thousands of times before into the eyes of unanesthetized rabbits every year just to protect themselves from product liability lawsuits? If so, why? If not, why not? What criteria can you use that doesn't involve either ethics or selfish gain? How is the suffering of these animals different from the suffering of a dairy-hamburger cow or a battery hen? I'd really be interested to know. Could it be because the former don't affect your lives but the latter do?

Why have laws been enacted to protect animals from being tortured in labs? Why can't we beat horses? Why shouldn't people be free to continue to nail the feet of geese to boards for the convenience of being able to stick a funnel down their throats to force grain meal down them, to make foie gras? Could it be that animals deserve some protection from suffering? Apparently enough people think so to have changed countless laws and enacted many others. If it is "unethical" to whip a horse, then it is surely unethical to keep it penned up in a dark stall for its entire life just to collect its urine for the making of Premarin. And yet, it is still legal to do so. Why? Because the makers of Premarin make billions off it, and because laws change too slowly. In the meantime, people like me on one side get castigated by people on the other side. Eventually, when laws are changed and most people agree on an advance in ethics, it is forgotten that there was ever a time that it was in question.

Suppose we were not discussing whether or not it is ethical to exploit and kill animals for food, but rather whether or not it was ethical to pollute a stream with toxins, to cut down the remaining old-growth redwoods, to exterminate any remaining whales, etc. What would your position be on these ethical questions? Or is everything relative to how it can benefit you? My guess is that, like most people, your POSITION on ethical questions is usually on the higher side -- UNLESS it happens to threaten you. Obviously, the CEO of Maxxam will object to any claims that it is unethical to clearcut the entire Pacific Northwest, just as the CEO of Miri Seafood will assert that there is nothing unethical about hunting whales into extinction. In these two cases, the ulterior motive is profits, in your cases, it seems to me to be because you like eating animals and object to claims that doing so is "unethical" because your habits/tastes are threatened. That's understandable, but it has nothing whatsoever to do with whether or not an action is "ethical".

As for "philosophy", I've read and understood probably 30 different "serious" philosophical books by everyone from Aristotle to Mill to Blackburne. How about you? A few French sophists aside, my reading has shown me that ethics are not as relative as you think. Perhaps you're confusing ethics with customs or morals.

Lord Hobgoblin --
"As for the prospect of eating meat disgusting people, well what sort of nonsense is that? As a vegetarian myself I don't find the idea of meat-eating repugnant, in fact I really miss the taste of fish, game and black-pudding..."

"Nonsense", hmmm? Do you find the idea of eating raw grubs disgusting? How about drinking your own urine? Drinking fresh cow's blood? Surely there are things that you do indeed find disgusting that are done without disgust by other people every day. So, you don't find the prospect of cutting an animal's throat and bleeding it to death, cutting off its skin, butchering it, and eating it a week or more later. Amazing. I think that's an uncommon position, even amongst meat-eaters.

Take a child to a farm and introduce it to a calf; have them bottle-feed it. Let it get to know the calf as it grows. Two years later, take that child to the slaughterhouse and ask it to put the chain around the cow's back legs, then hand it the captive bolt gun. Will the child kill the cow just so it can eat a "Happy Meal"? I suspect they would be rather mortified, and certainly "disgusted". As I said (and has been demonstrated), the process by which meat is produced is an inexorable part of the product; the only way most people can eat it is through ignorance or a habitual disavowal of that reality. Because you find the smell of a steak or the memory of fried chicken to not be disgusting does not make the facts, were you to consider them, any less so. Some people prefer to have their actions in line with reality, rather than with nostalgia or fantasy. Whatever.

"...but then I have to decide which is more important to me, my moral honesty or my taste-buds. "

What kind of wimble-wamble is this? So, whether or not you eat animals is a matter of "personal honesty" rather than ethics? What is your distinction, and is it semantic?

------

If people choose to harm animals, they will do so. If people choose not to, they will not. The animals apparently have no say in the matter. But let's not be dishonest and claim that it is not an ethical issue; it certainly is. It just happens to make you feel uncomfortable to be on the unethical side of the matter.

By Lordhobgoblin on Friday, February 01, 2002 - 10:53 am: Edit

Darwin, what we are evolved to do, the length of our digestive tract and what bonobo apes or chimps do in the wild doesn't matter. In the end each of us should act according to his own conscience on this issue and nobody has a right to impose his conscience on others. Vegetarians do not have the automatic right to the 'moral high ground' on this.

As for the prospect of eating meat disgusting people, well what sort of nonsense is that? As a vegetarian myself I don't find the idea of meat-eating repugnant, in fact I really miss the taste of fish, game and black-pudding but then I have to decide which is more important to me, my moral honesty or my taste-buds. I once came across a chef who said to me in disgust that he refuses to cook 'dead animals'. If people think this then they should just keep it to themselves because self-righteous comments like this are bound to offend meat-eaters. This 'meat is murder' emotive crap is just self-righteous garbage. Bollocks to this attitude, I'm a vegetarian and I quite happily cook and serve meat dishes to my friends and family. If I don't cook it for them someone else will and anyway their eating habits are their own business (as my eating habits are my business).

If you object morally to eating meat then don't eat it, but you have no right to try to impose this view on others and you have no right to say that you are right and they are wrong. You can only say what is right for you and let others make their own honest decision on this matter.

Hobgoblin

By Anatomist on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 07:30 pm: Edit

Mr. Rabid,

Actually, I believe the standard definition of ethics is even more limited than you state. Ethics are usually a clearly defined code associated with a profession, trade or office - established by explicit definition. Morals, on the other hand, usually connotes something more broad and personal, transcending ethical concerns when they come into conflict. I agree with your basic point though, even if you substitute my word. Which brings me to...

R-,

"The difference between my positions (as they currently are) and those of most other people is that I have arrived at them through considerable research and objectivity..."

OK. If you arrived at your views from a postition of objectivity, I guess the argument is over. I never thought I'd meet God on the absinthe forum. Please don't send me to hell for my infidelity.

Give us a break. If you didn't start from a premise like theists an ideologues, where else could you derive an objective viewpoint unless you are an infinite, supreme being? While you may have done years of studying, you apparently neglected the basic texts of the history of western philosophy, or you wouldn't say something so ludicrously naive. I can't give you a full course in Philosophy 101 here, but if you think you can assert the truth and objectivity of your particular point of view by arguing from the authority of the fact that you read books for a few years, bypassing the fundamental problems of epistemology, you should avail yourself of a University.

You should also study Darwin's original texts. While he is the co-founder of the idea of natural selection, in terms of contemporary evolutionary theory, he was wrong all over the place. 'The Origin of Species' alone contains many instances of outright confusion between heritability of random variations and Lemarkian notions of heritability of acquired traits. In fact, the strain of thought known as "Darwinism" - as opposed to the much more narrow contemporary theory of evolution of species - is chock full of the kind of teleological notions of evolutionary superiority that you both espouse and condemn the consequences of. All kinds of racists, eugenicists, and Nazis love Darwinism. "Survival of the fittest" is a tautology irrelevant to evolutionary theory, but has been a great justification for all sorts of horrors.

If you want to use all your moralistic eco-choices to cleanse your own conscience, go ahead. But when you think that it earns you a platform of objectivity and moral superiority from which to condescend to everyone else in the world, you've gone megalomaniac, and you should be prepared to dodge projectiles.

K.

By Mr_Rabid on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 04:44 pm: Edit

Faugh! FIE, FIE I SAY!

Ethics dictate behavior. If the behavior they dictate is conducive to your survival, happiness, etc, then your ethics are good. If not, they suck.

I wasn't saying Nazi's and Mormons were both bad choices- quite the contrary. I was saying making a judgement on whether they were good or bad is impossible without knowing the environment they exist in.

I say that any and all ethics are relative.

Is it wrong to steal? To kill a person? Eat them? Oppress their ideology or spirituality?

I can point you out times and places where the answer is emphatically no. I can point out times and places where it is yes.

And it all depends on where you live, when, and who with.

By Mr_Rabid on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 04:36 pm: Edit

There's only one way to settle this intestinal question...

Hold still a second. You may feel a slight stinging sensation as I insert the tape measure.

Illness from raw meat is possible, but vertebrate immunity adapts to circumstance well.

Any raw meat eating ancestors we have, had immune systems much better capable of dealing with raw meat than our own, because they were exposed to the pathogens in the first place.

By Rch427 on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 04:32 pm: Edit

Pablo --
"But my question is if humans and chimpanzees arn't supposed to eat meat, why do they do it?"
Can't speak for chimps, but for humans, I think it comes down to indoctrination. Just as some humans (say, Americans) "crave" flesh, others (perhaps rural Japanese) do not. I certainly don't; now it disgusts me as much as say, the prospect of eating grubs is to most Americans. Culture and tradition are powerful factors. Perhaps chimp culture is a factor? If so, it's certainly more evidence that they are very sophisticated creatures.

Blackjack --
Sorry, sloth was a bad choice on my part. That's what I get for typing faster than I think. Please insert appropriate animal here (lemming?)

Anatomist --
"Actually, Steven Jay Gould said precisely this the last time I heard him lecture. Your idea of different senses of more evolved sounds just as made up as your idea of different senses of alive. Everything that is alive now is equally evolved, period. Some organisms are more complex than others, but all are equally adapted to their circumstances by the fact that they still exist."

Well, Gould is wrong about some things (especially about there being no fundamental dichotomy between science and theism) but he certainly knows more about evolution than I do. I do not, however, accept that "everything that is alive now is equally evolved, period". Certainly not in any sense of evolution with which I'm familiar, and both Alfred Russel Wallace and Darwin didn't think so either.

"And, oh what a surprise, you happen to be at the top of them all! You're the most evolved kind of species with the most advanced ethical beliefs - to such an extent that you can sort through every belief of every culture in the world and evaluate their relative worth. "

Ho hum. The fact is that I've spent countless hours over the past 20+ years researching and experiencing as much as I can relative to the same modes that most people simply accept out of mental laziness. The difference between my positions (as they currently are) and those of most other people is that I have arrived at them through considerable research and objectivity, unlike idealogues like theists who start with a premise and cast around for support. I'm a vegan because I spent months examining all of the factors, before I decided that it was a good thing. In the same way, my wife and I have decided to not have children, for various reasons, most of which have nothing to do with us, but with overpopulation. (I'll save you the trouble of making a lame joke about how it's a good thing that we don't reproduce.) Same goes with why we ride bicycles rather than driving a car, recycling, not buying from certain companies, etc.

The point is that some people have ethical standards that are the result of personal inquiry uncommon to many others. Naturally, that pisses people off, because it confronts them with less ethical practices they may engage in. So be it; my positions are such not to impress or offend others, but to make the world a better place and give me some satisfaction for being a positive influence. I get a lot of happiness thinking about the animals that I grew up with (cows, chickens, etc.) that went to the slaughterhouse after they were "used up", knowing that no more of them have to go through that for my sake. One last point: just about everything that you can say about animals has already been said about women, blacks, whoever. The way they've been treated in the past (and in some places still are) is wrong, as I suspect you will agree. It can be demonstrated to most people's satisfaction that it is ethically superior to extend protection -- even kindness -- to weaker or more vulnerable beings. Any argument to the contrary usually carries a self-serving motive.

Mr. Rabid --
Call it Victorian if you will, but I see nothing unobjective about my position. I don't think that the choices we're faced with on a daily basis have anything to do with your "Nazi v/s Mormon" quandry (i.e., both bad). Avoiding harming other animals is a trivial act for humans, but the effects are profound for the animals. As I said, I think that the relativism of most humans (as expressed on this page) betrays a selfish interest, and I think that ethics can be judged quite clearly on most matters such as this. My wife is getting her Ph.D. in philosophy right now, with an emphasis on animal rights. Her research, drawing upon sources from Bertrand Russell to Peter Singer, support the idea that ethics are not nearly as gray an area as some would be comforted to think.

By _Blackjack on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 04:13 pm: Edit

rch:


Quote:

Nope, neither gorillas, orangutans or bonobos have flesh in their diets. They may eat some insects such as ants, but they do not hunt or eat flesh. Chimpanzees are the only great apes that occasionally eat meat, including cannibalism. If you think otherwise, please quote sources.



Insects count as meat. Or are insect lives less valuable somehow?

Orangs and bonobos eat bird eggs routinely, Bonobos occasionally hunt, and both have been know to scavange (vertibrate) meat. As far as I know, Gorillas don't. They do, however, have to eat an enourmous amount of food, especially the more herbivorous mountain gorillas, relative to their body weight, in order to survive on their plant diet.


Quote:

You're confused. Cows and giraffes are RUMINANTS, humans and other primates are FRUCTIVORES.



I'm not confused. I was demonstrating that we are not true herbavores, which you are admitting. The issue is whether we are adapted to eat meat as a portion of our diet. Our behavior, and that of our kin, obviously indicates this is the case. As for our biology:


Quote:

Perhaps you're aware that land-based carnivores have a very short digestive tract, typically about three times the length of their trunk. The human digestive tract is about 30 feet long, or roughly twelve times the length of the human trunk, as is that of not only great apes, but most other fructivores.



You are fudging the numbers, or know very weirdly shaped people. The ratio in question is length of digestive tract to the mouth-to-anus length of the animal. In humans, that is about 3 feet. The ratio for humans is just shy of 10:1. This is far longer that, for instance, a cat (4:1). It is closer to the more omnivorous, but still basically predatory, dog (5.2). It does not even approach the 27:1 figure of a sheep.

It is in line with those of the other primates, but almost all primates consume some amount of animal matter. There are very few exclusively frugivorous species, and they tend to be small, like bats and birds. To get enough protein in the wild, you either have to eat animals, have an digestive system elabotate enough to ferment and break down the protein in leaves, or be small enough to get by on seeds.

Primates are obviously farther towards the frugivory side of the continuum than, say, bears, which are much closer to true omnivorism. But an entirely non-animal diet is not consistant with our natural history.

(Incidentally, there are a few species of hominids who may well have evolved away from meat-eating, based on their skull anatomy. Their bone structure ndicate much more developed jaw muscles, which would imply they may have eaten a more plant- or seed-based diet. Of course, they died out...)


Quote:

This means that meats which would be eliminated within one day in a carnivore take 3 to 4 days to eliminate in a human. This also means that meat putrefies well before it is eliminated, causing autointoxication.



Now, that's just bullshit (so to speak..) Elimination time for humans is actually barely twice that of most carnivores. More to the point, meat protein is almost entirely digested in the stomach. It doesn't have time to putify. Leafy vegetables, on the other hand, DO putrify, fermented in the gut by microbes, which is the only way you get any nutrition out of them at all.


Quote:

were we to eat raw meat as carnivores do, food-borne illness would be rampant.



Food-borne illnes is rampant among predatory animals in the wild, especially parasitosis. We don't HAVE to cook meat. It's just the easiest way to kill the nasties. I suppose you could irradiate it...


Destiny:


Quote:

I seem to remember that the primatologists were very concerned as they didn't consider it normal behavior at all.



Well, Goodall and pretty much every other authority I've read have observed the same patterns over and over again, among disparate groups in diferent regions. That's about as "normal" as you're going to get.

By Anatomist on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 03:36 pm: Edit

"What Anatomist said, except without the rusty spikey angry stuff."

Darn. I was trying for a kinder, gentler mode of vitriolic sarcasm. Oh well.

K.

By Mr_Rabid on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 01:40 pm: Edit

What Anatomist said, except without the rusty spikey angry stuff.

Rch427- you seem to have an almost victorian view of all this. Everything you say implies a 'higher' and 'lower' state inherent in everything.

I disagree with the sentiment on all levels, but that's personal preference and where my thinking has gotten me.

I don't think because an organism is more complex it is better than a simpler one. I think that 'better' can only be measured versus the environment the organism exists in.

You can say humans are more evolved than carp, for instance. But in each of my field trials, the humans have died in short order in the tanks, and the carp have fared no better on the land ;-)

Elephants are smarter than rats, but the rats aren't dying out.

Socially it's the same thing. Are Nazi's more or less ethical than Mormons?

Neither. They just have different ethics. You have applied a template of nonviolence and tolerance as the standard by which to measure them, but that is arbitrary too. It's the mode of the moment, it's what you like.

But it doesn't make it *better* save versus the environment. If the world were filled with bloodthirsty tribes, warring over territory with iron weapons, I would bet on Vikings over the Amish any day.

But now I would have to go with the Amish, cause if them Vikings start flinging nukes around we are all fucked.

BTW- thanks for the discussion!

By _Blackjack on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 01:30 pm: Edit

Ah, yes, but a sloth is far more specialized to its environment, and far more divergent from its nearest reltives, than a gorilla. Likewise, the sloth line has been around millions of years longer than that of the great apes, going through much more dramatic changes. Sloths' organ placement, even their hair growth, are totally unique among mammals. Sloths, as a family (or a sub-order, technically), have done much more evolving than gorillas.

Regardless of the validity of the point, sloths were a bad example. You might want to pick something like sharks, whichstill resemble their primative form and have changed little in millions of years.

By Lordhobgoblin on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 01:29 pm: Edit

Anatomist,

OK fine, so domestic cows would go extinct if we stopped breeding them to eat them, I don't have a problem with this. My issue is about extinguising an animal life for pleasure, which is what we are doing. It's based on a personal belief about the sacredness of life. An animal life that exists because of our selectrve breeding program is just as sacred as an animal whose species would exist naturally anyway. If this species becomes extinct then this is not the same as killing and eating all the animals that would have existed if we had continued to artificially keep this species going. Anyway with me it's a personal thing and I'm not into trying to 'convert' others or carry a torch for 'the cause'.

Hobgoblin

By Destiny on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 01:28 pm: Edit

I saw some TV show about those "killer" Chimpanzees. I seem to remember that the primatologists were very concerned as they didn't consider it normal behavior at all.

Interesting site about primate diets:

http://www.beyondveg.com/billings-t/comp-anat/comp-anat-toc1.shtml

By Anatomist on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 09:25 am: Edit

R,

"If you want to claim otherwise, you may as well claim that humans are no more evolved than protozoa. You may want to let the scientific community in on that insight."

Actually, Steven Jay Gould said precisely this the last time I heard him lecture. Your idea of different senses of more evolved sounds just as made up as your idea of different senses of alive. Everything that is alive now is equally evolved, period. Some organisms are more complex than others, but all are equally adapted to their circumstances by the fact that they still exist.

Whether it's relative value of species or ethical beliefs and practices, what all your ideas have in common is the superimposition of a teleological, hierarchical model - a linear spectrum of absolute value - on all things. And, oh what a surprise, you happen to be at the top of them all! You're the most evolved kind of species with the most advanced ethical beliefs - to such an extent that you can sort through every belief of every culture in the world and evaluate their relative worth. Gosh, I can't imagine why this would make people belligerent and argumentative towards you. The other commonality I can see in all your overweening prescriptions about what we should all be doing and how is that nothing short of worldwide totalitarianism would accomplish them. No thanks.

K.

By Pablo on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 04:24 am: Edit

Chimpanzees not only ocasionally eat meat, but they go through very elaborate measures to get it. They will set up an ambush of a monkey that would make the U.S. army proud. But my question is if humans and chimpanzees arn't supposed to eat meat, why do they do it? Animals tend to crave what they need. You dont see a giraffe deciding it wants to sample a little carrion with the hyenas. They instinctivly know what they need to eat. Why are humans and chimps different in this way?

By Marccampbell on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 04:06 am: Edit

I have a new hero and his name is Robert Haines.
Right on! my friend.

By Rch427 on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 04:01 am: Edit

Mr. Rabid --
"'A gorilla is more "evolved" than say, a sloth'" More evolved? WTF does that mean? Evolution is a process. The only way you could call something more evolved is if there were some end goal involved, and there isn't."

Evolution may be measured a couple of different ways -- through speciation for advantage in reproduction, feeding or defense (as with different species on the Galapagos) or in relative sophistication. It was the latter type that I was referring to. Obviously, the process of evolution doesn't imply ANY "end goal", it is merely a way to measure the progress of a life-form, looking backwards. Humans are more evolved than protozoa, in that they have developed increasingly sophisticated systems. A gorilla has demonstrably greater mental acuity, greater brain-mass per body weight, far more sophisticated social interaction, tool use, etc., than a sloth, as a sloth does compared to an earthworm. If you want to claim otherwise, you may as well claim that humans are no more evolved than protozoa. You may want to let the scientific community in on that insight.
Anatomist --

"Vegetarianism or veganism as a moral stance is a luxury, born of privilidge, and righteous indignation coming from such a perch is bound to elicit resentment. Talk to poor people from third world countries, or people who used to live in harsh conditions where they often ran out of food and ask them about vegetarianism. "

The same could be said of any cultural artifact, whether it's the eating of dogs in southeast Asia, genital mutilation in Africa or slave-taking in Africa. Traditional practices are simply that, and they are often not worthy of perpetuation. I don't want to expand this too far into related areas, but the fact is that -- while no culture is perfect, not all cultures are equal in all elements of their ethical development. This is nowhere more true than in the US, where 150 years ago, women, Native Peoples, Africans and many other ethnic groups were treated like animals, with little or no legal protection. As the culture advanced in the US, more protection began to be extended to more vulnerable groups. Not just with humans, either. 150 years ago it was legal to whip, kill -- do anything one wanted to a horse, dog, cat, whatever. As the culture progressed, the understanding of each animal's right to live without exploitation has been advanced and more protection has been afforded. It doesn't take genius to see the direction that Western societies are going. Who would've thought that factory fur farming would be banned in much of Europe? That the use of primates in labs would be strictly curtailed? That a person would be sentenced to three years in prison for killing a dog? And yet, they have. I think that omost people in the West see these as ethical advances, even if they are contrary to what was once perceived as certain "freedoms" for humans.

Nor does it require genius to see that the way that people and non-human animas are treated in other parts of the world are inferior to the way they should be treated. Why is this? IMO, it is because SOME of the ethical standards of some societies have not advanced in some of the same ways that the West has. OTOH, those societies may have higher standards about ecology or personal honesty than those in the West. It's not a matter of overall superiority, but of bits and pieces. To claim that people in the "third world" have some legitimate claim to eat other animals out of hunger is to extend that same "right" everywhere, and that is a dangerous position. It also encourages the notion that killing and eating animals is a legitimate solution for the real problem, which are (among other problems) rampant human reproduction, insufficiently-developed food production infrastructure and exploitation from other countries.

"If we all stopped killing cows because we really don't need to, they would go extinct. They are domestic animals that can't live in the wild. The same probably goes for the domesticated chicken. Do you propose that we dedicate resources to keeping these species alive without eating them, out of the goodness of our hearts, or should we commit genocide in the name of avoiding murder? "

Need I point out that domesticated cattle are not far removed from the buffalo and bison that live in the wild in most of the world? Would the world be impoverished if we no longer had herefords or holsteins? I hardly think so, and I can't fathom how such a notion could somehow justify keeping millions of them in insufferable conditions to be slaughtered for the table. That is a sick farce, and it sounds remarkably similar to 19th century claims that Africans benefitted from slavery, as they weren't clever enough to survive as free men. As for "livestock": after one generation, living in relative comfort and safety, not being allowed to reproduce, these genetically modified subspecies would simply disappear. Much better than the fate that awaits them -- and their countless offspring -- otherwise.

"Anyone who can't see the difference between a dog and a cow either isn't very smart, or hasn't spent much time with either animal. Cows are almost as stupid as turkeys..."

That's news to science, as it has long been known that pigs are more intelligent than dogs or cats, and turkeys are actually pretty bright. Have you actually spent any time with these animals? Or are you just parroting McDonald's propaganda? As I mentioned, since I grew up on a farm, I know different. If we are to value animal's lives relative to their intelligence, then surely pigs should be no less protected than cats.

Blackjack --
"All of the great apes consume some amount of meat."
Nope, neither gorillas, orangutans or bonobos have flesh in their diets. They may eat some insects such as ants, but they do not hunt or eat flesh. Chimpanzees are the only great apes that occasionally eat meat, including cannibalism. If you think otherwise, please quote sources.

"Most true herbivores have very specialized teeth for grinding plant matter and for cutting leaves. Our dentation is nothing like that of a cow or a giraffe."
You're confused. Cows and giraffes are RUMINANTS, humans and other primates are FRUCTIVORES. Both groups are herbivores, but there the similarities end. Ruminants have to prepare their grasses for processing in a totally different way, that requires four-chambered stomachs. Perhaps you're aware that land-based carnivores have a very short digestive tract, typically about three times the length of their trunk. The human digestive tract is about 30 feet long, or roughly twelve times the length of the human trunk, as is that of not only great apes, but most other fructivores. This means that meats which would be eliminated within one day in a carnivore take 3 to 4 days to eliminate in a human. This also means that meat putrefies well before it is eliminated, causing autointoxication. It goes without saying that humans are the only animals that regularly eat meat who must cook it first; were we to eat raw meat as carnivores do, food-borne illness would be rampant. (Steak tartare and sushi are hardly examples to the contrary.)

By Pablo on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 01:40 am: Edit

And tastier! But I always buy the Morningstar Farms soy cat patties. Thay taste like the real thing, but they're soy!

By Artist on Thursday, January 31, 2002 - 12:48 am: Edit

Cats are smarter than dogs...

By _Blackjack on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 10:02 pm: Edit

Probably the most cruel treatment we subject any animal to is that of the factory-farmed egg hen. REALLY fucking awful. I avoided growing up on an egg-farm by sheer luck. My cousins have horrific stories to tell.

On the other hand, chickens have been known to live for years with most of their heads cut off, so, in my book, they are nearly plants anyway...

By _Blackjack on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 09:57 pm: Edit

All of the great apes consume some amount of meat. Chimps in particular engage in organized hunting, apparently as much for entertainment as for food.

The human digestive system, like that of the great apes, is just about half way in between that of the true herbavores and the true carnivores. Most true herbivores have very specialized teeth for grinding plant matter and for cutting leaves. Our dentation is nothing like that of a cow or a giraffe. Their molars are far separated from their incisors, and the molars are almost flat. Likewise, they tend to have some mechanism for re-digesting plant matter, be it by ruminance or caprophagy (shit-eating), in order to get all of the necissary nutirents.

True carnivores tend to have very short digestive tracts and, obviously, highly developed tetth for biting and tearing. If you look at the teeth on a chimp, you know which end of the spectrum they favor. The anthropoid digestive system is, relative to body size, just about half way between that of the true carnivores and the true herbivores. Are teeth are specialized neither for meat or for plants, but are a more generalized sampler pack. A swiss-army knife rather than a steak-knife or a mortar-and-pestle.

The "innate biology" argument for vegetarianism is just false. We are, biologically, omnivores. Strong arguments can be made for reducing one's intake of animal products, but that ain't one of them.

By Mr_Rabid on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 07:08 pm: Edit

There's a good question.

One of the meanest things humanity has ever done is domestication. We took chickens, which were (for birds) smart and tough, and twisted them till they were dull, but meaty.

Same goes for cows, pigs, etc.

Should we give them back their brains and survival abilities and then let them go? Or let them starve to death?

Or maybe subject them to the pain of unrequited lust by not letting them mate, so they die out that way?

Reverend Maynard wants to know: Can you hear the cries of the carrots?

By Louched_Liver on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 06:30 pm: Edit

Now, yer talkin' domestic turkeys, right?

By Anatomist on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 06:26 pm: Edit

A misunderstanding of evolutionary theory isn't the only problem with R's diatribe. Different senses of alive? Where did that come from? Last time I checked, there was only one sense of alive, and it applies to everything from single-celled organisms on up. Only the virus is in the grey area between alive and not.

Also, the human digestive system can handle meat just fine. Genetic similarity to an ape is too oblique to have a determining influence on digestion. Domestic dogs are genetically virtually identical to wolves and their ideal diet is a far cry from that of a wild wolf. Feed your dog a fresh-killed moose carcass and see how sick it gets.

In my view, the reason people give moralistic vegetarians a hard time is twofold:

1) While their compassion is admirable, their thinking and argumentation often is not. The patchwork of pseudoscience and illogic that usually make up their arguments leads someone like me to believe that these arguments are afterthoughts... post hoc rationalizations meant to prop up what is basically just a personal, emotional reaction to seeing certain images and their own anthropomorphic imaginings.

2) Vegetarianism or veganism as a moral stance is a luxury, born of privilidge, and righteous indignation coming from such a perch is bound to elicit resentment. Talk to poor people from third world countries, or people who used to live in harsh conditions where they often ran out of food and ask them about vegetarianism. They eat anything that's food, including what we think of as 'pets'.

I knew a Haitian women who laughed long and loud at me about my indignation about the seperation of pets and food. I told her about a UW program to breed giant rats for Africans that could be kept as pets and fed garbage until they were plump enough, and then killed for food. I assumed that she would find this as laughably condescending as everyone else I told. Instead, she said it sounded like a good idea. Where she grew up, everyone was on as good of terms with their livestock as we are with our pets... until they got really hungry.

Not me, you say? A few weeks without a morsel of food and most vegetarians would nearly take off your hand if you offered them a barbequed Chihuahua, and we all know it. I don't like to watch animals being hurt or killed, but I view this disposition as circumstantial and personal, not a righteous moral creed. The sight of a deer being gutted and slaughtered doesn't make me hungry, but if I lived in different circumstances, I know I would get used to it.

Hobgoblin:

If we all stopped killing cows because we really don't need to, they would go extinct. They are domestic animals that can't live in the wild. The same probably goes for the domesticated chicken. Do you propose that we dedicate resources to keeping these species alive without eating them, out of the goodness of our hearts, or should we commit genocide in the name of avoiding murder?

K.

PS Anyone who can't see the difference between a dog and a cow either isn't very smart, or hasn't spent much time with either animal. Cows are almost as stupid as turkeys. Dogs are miraculously aware, responsive, intelligent, and adaptable. We are more similar in most important ways to dogs than we are to apes. Cows are literally born to be food.

By Head_Prosthesis on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 06:23 pm: Edit

The beast has a sweet song when it's searing on the grill...

Patting tummy, Homer says, "soon my pet, soon..."

By Pikkle on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 06:01 pm: Edit

Yeah, you should have seen Head's belly before he started eating bacon again...

By Kali23 on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 05:46 pm: Edit

Lordhobgoblin,

hunh?

Pease explain how you arrived at the conclusion that I think meat eaters being fatter than non-meat eaters makes them better.

By Mr_Rabid on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 04:32 pm: Edit

"A gorilla is more "evolved" than say, a sloth"

More evolved? WTF does that mean?

Evolution is a process. The only way you could call something more evolved is if there were some end goal involved, and there isn't.

Having a central nervous system doesn't mean you are more special or worthy of life than a jellyfish or a bean. It just means you have a central nervous system.

I'm not saying it's wrong to draw your line there, but it is just as arbitrary as drawing it anywhere else.

By Thegreenimp on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 02:57 pm: Edit

Read Jonathan Swift's "A Modest Proposal"
Jay

By Lordhobgoblin on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 12:13 pm: Edit

Kali23,

What's so good about being fat? Where do you get this notion that because (as you see it) meat eaters are more likely to be fat then this is somehow better? Obesity is a killer and is a huge problem? Fat does not equate to healthy and happy, slim does not equate to unhealthy and unhappy.

Anyway not all vegetarians are vegetarians in order to only to stop causing pain and suffering to other sentient beings. Some of us believe that the life of an animal (or human as we too are merely animals) should not be taken unless it is necessary, therefore to take life unnecessarily without causing pain to the animal is still not right. It's about the sanctity of life, not just stopping painful treatment. It is not necessary for people in the West to kill to eat, therefore I believe it is wrong for me to eat meat.

But I'm in no position to dictate to others, so long as meat-eaters don't get on my case about my being a vegetarian and I won't get on their case about being meat-eaters. In the end everybody has to act according to their own honest assessment of what is right.

Hobgoblin
(I also think Soy cheese is an affront to man, but then I'm a cheese-eatng vegetarian who loves his cheese).

By Wolfgang on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 12:04 pm: Edit

Hummm, yummy boiled baby ! Even better than lobsters.

I recommend to save the eyes for dessert...

Petits yeux sucrés flambés à l'absinthe !

By Alisoviejoguy on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 11:47 am: Edit

Hehe I love arguments like this, where everyone thinks that they are solely right, and everyone else is wrong...

Ahh, I know where meat comes from but im not the type to cry over anything. I would seriously try some cooked human if i had the chance! Not
saying i would eat a human steak or anything, but i would definitely eat a few bites to try it. Apparently we taste like pig. nummy!

Hows that for off topic? ;) Post if you are game for trying human!

By Rch427 on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 05:45 am: Edit

Re: plants being "alive" in the sense that animals are alive -- anyone who asserts such a similarity should be prepared to quote credible sources for support. I'm aware of a lot of claims in that realm, but not one of them has stood up to attempts at verifiability. They have all (unless something has happened in the last few months that I've missed) fallen under the "Kirlian effect" realm of bad science. As for claims that effects from an observer merely thinking about maiming a plant being able to be detected by an instrument attached to the plant, you may want to know that the James Randi Educational Foundation has a standing offer of $1 million in cash to anyone who can demonstrate in a controlled environment any remote mental effect such as this. Needless to say, the money is safe.

Alisoviejoguy -- when I said "animals feel pain when they are harmed" I wasn't just talking about during the slaughtering process so, no, anesthetics wouldn't do it. Anyone who thinks that the life of an animal such as a battery hen, a dairy cow or a veal calf isn't one long endurance of discomfort simply has no first-hand experience with the way they live. I grew up on a farm in the San Joaquin Valley and I had to deal with those facts every day. That doesn't even begin to address the way that animals are killed and the suffering they endure for hours or days ahead of their deaths.

The idea someone expressed about humans eating meat because they are at the top of some sort of "food chain" is ludicrous. A gorilla is more "evolved" than say, a sloth, but that hardly means that gorillas should eat sloths. We humans, like our closest relatives the great apes (especially bonobos, with whom we share about 98% of our DNA) evolved to be nearly vegan, with hands, teeth, saliva, stomachs, intestines and kidneys ideally suited to processing fruits, vegetables and seeds, and very poorly suited to digesting dense meat proteins.

As for obese vegans (notice I said "vegans", not "vegetarians"), living in San Francisco for the past 16 years, I knew dozens of vegans and not one of them is more than about 20% over their target weight. There are a few recently-converted (for lack of better term) vegans that still have weight problems, but none that I've ever met that have been with it for more than a year or so. FWIW, my wife used to have to diet to stay at her ideal weight of 120 lbs. (she had been a fat child; it ran in her family). After becoming a vegetarian, she had just as much trouble keeping off the weight. Since becoming a vegan 4 1/2 years ago, she has been able to eat as much as she likes of whatever (vegan food) she likes, and has never gone over 125 lbs.

Admin -- neither of us "eat like hogs", nor do any of the vegans we know. Drop by Herbivore on Valencia St. or Millennium on MacAllister St.(both vegan restaurants in SF) and you'll see that vegans eat no more than anyone else. Notions of them being "food freaks" is ignorant and offensive.

As for soy cheese being "an affront to God" -- I could go for that (being an atheist) but it's way off. Here in the Netherlands, there are two producers of soy cheeses whose ppoducts are just like "real" Gouda, Edam, etc. 100% vegan, zero cholesterol and delicious. Last week, we made fondue for a couple of German friends, that totally fooled them. Also, in the States are Tofutti vegan cream cheese and ice creams, Vegenaise, vegan aioli, etc. -- all as good tasting than their animal product equivalents. Anyway, what is more bizarre: eating a cheese-like product made from a plant, or the coagulated mammary secretions of another species of animal?

What pisses me off about these glib jokes about animals is twofold: first is the fact that most people who eat meat simply refuse to consider the reality of those animal's lives. To most people, "meat" is a product that originates at the supermarket, or in the back room of McDonald's. The only way they can deal with eating animal flesh is through a denial of the facts. The other thing is the way that people try to partition animals into those "worthy" of having a life free of suffering (i.e., pets) and those "unworthy" (i.e., livestock). I'm unaware of any objective difference between those two groups except in that we get somewhat self-serving gratification from pets, but (most) people have never experienced the same companionability from a cow or pig.

Anyway, that's all I'll say on the subject, but I wanted to try to set a couple of foolish notions straight. I'm not a proselyte, but I do get indignant when people joke about the suffering of non-human animals, or criticize those who try to alleviate that suffering by their efforts. If anyone has any interest in discussing this matter with me further, feel free to do so off-list at robert@konfab.com.

Now, where did I put that beer?

By Artist on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 01:55 am: Edit

Pablo reminds me of Bob pineapple a little (*grin*)...

By Pablo on Wednesday, January 30, 2002 - 01:31 am: Edit

I've know a few fat vegans. They were mostly fat because they smoked a shit load of dope and always had the munchies. I recall one who would eat soy cheese. I'm sorry but soy cheese is an affront to God! Cheese is one of the things that makes life worth living. I have become a recent convert to vegetarian breakfast sausage.
(pablo leaves and tries to figure out what the fuck he's babbling about!)

By Anatomist on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 08:59 pm: Edit

Rch437,

I don't think it's impossible to be in good athletic condition as a vegan, but as I've said, to meet what I consider my nutritional requirements without dairy, chicken and fish would be too much of a pain in the ass for me. If I was really determined, I might be able to do it, but I have no reason to. I could probably also maintain an athletic physique on nothing but Purina Monkey Chow and skim milk if I was really determined, but why?.

If I was to get more concerned about the pain and death that went into my food, I would only drop mass-produced mammal meat. I see nothing wrong with killing fish and birds and some wild mammals and eating them. From a health standpoint, I wouldn't mind dropping all mass-produced poultry and dairy too, but free range and organic is a bit too expensive and unavailable where I am now.

I've met a lot of vegans in my former home of Madison, WI. In fact, I lived right next door to a co-op. As I said before, the few athletic vegans I've met were rail thin and did not appear very healthy.

On skinniness:

My take on why vegans are less fat than most is because they usually eat mostly unprocessed and whole foods, which have an inherently less fattening hormonal effect on the body, and are less concentrated sources of calories. If you decided to become a vegan so you could pig out on cake and pastries and remain skinny, you'd be in for a surprise.

K.

By Kali23 on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 05:01 pm: Edit

So, if I turn vegan, than I get to eat constantly and not gain weight???

I could definately go for that.

By Admin on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 04:53 pm: Edit


Quote:

But I've never seen a fat vegetarian, much less a fat vegan.




I have a vegan friend, who is by no means fat, but neither is she super skinny, and someone actually told her recently when she said she was vegan, that she was too fat (!).

I've known a fair amount of vegans, and they eat like hogs. They have to eat constantly, the ones I've known have been food freaks.

By Alisoviejoguy on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 04:46 pm: Edit

"Tired old saw" maybe, but it's true.

So you are saying that if we used anesthetic on cows, then vegetarians would eat meat? Cow wouldn't feel it then.

Science kicks ass, but I remember an article on detecting plants reactions to pain.

Leaves were scalded by dipping them in boiling water. The plant didn't register anything on any of the meters hooked up to it though. Except when the person thought about maiming the plant, (cutting off a branch) the meters would go nuts. They were theorizing that perhaps plants could pickup brain waves, and understand them. I think they just had the meters sensitivity turned up to high myself, but still... ;)

Ahh, what was my point. Yes! Eat your vegetables! They are tasty.

By _Blackjack on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 03:53 pm: Edit


Quote:

But I've never seen a fat vegetarian, much less a fat vegan.



I guess I'm the only one here who went to a liberal arts college...

By _Blackjack on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 03:52 pm: Edit


Quote:

I might also add that I've never met an obese vegan, and I'll bet you never have either.



Oh, I have. Several, in fact, some morbidly so. I don't know how they did it...big handfulls of margerine I guess...

By Kali23 on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 03:40 pm: Edit

Rch427,
Some plants do have systems similar in function to a nervous system, and have responded to pain (I am only aware of this occuring in one or two plant species, and the methods used for determing this were somewhat flaky.)

Also, plants DO have discrete organs, xylem, phloem, leaves, roots, etc... Unless you wish to redefine the term organs to only apply to animal organs....

But I've never seen a fat vegetarian, much less a fat vegan.

By Rch427 on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 02:36 pm: Edit

Anatomist --
You might want to get out more often, or at least meet more people; your notions of what vegans are like are pretty quaint. I've spent the majority of my life as a vegetarian, and the past 4 1/2 years as a vegan. I'm also in better shape than most guys I see and a pretty good amateur boxer -- not bad for an ectomorph who gets his protein from soybeans and such. And no acne, no frizzy hair. I might also add that I've never met an obese vegan, and I'll bet you never have either.

Alisoviejoguy --
That's a tired old saw, with no teeth. Plants are hardly "...living too, just like cows..." Any scientist would laugh at that idea. Plants have no nervous system analagous to animals, they have no discrete organs like animals, they seldom go for a stroll. The point (or one point of many) is that animals feel pain when they are harmed. Plants have never been demonstrated to have such feelings. There is no evolutionary advantage to plants feeling pain, as it cannot help them avoid preditors.

By Mr_Rabid on Tuesday, January 29, 2002 - 01:31 pm: Edit

Mmm.... Bambi.

By Pablo on Monday, January 28, 2002 - 01:56 am: Edit

Any one here read Kitchen Confidential? Great read. He's kinda tough on vegitarians and as he calls them "their hezbollah like cousins the vegans".
But as my grandfather used to say, "Don't sweat the little petty stuff, pet the little sweaty stuff".
Guess what I'm trying to say is "can't we all just get along?" Carnivore and herbivore, together as one!-(insert Bambi music here)

By Lordhobgoblin on Saturday, January 26, 2002 - 11:06 am: Edit

Well said Rimbaud.

I don't eat meat and I get sick to death of meat eaters giving me the third degree over why I don't eat meat, some even seem to almost get a bit offended by my vegetarianism. Some meat-eaters try to covert me back to eating meat giving all these reasons why I should eat meat, telling my it's unnatural not to and that it's bad for my health etc.. What I eat (or don't eat) is my business and what they eat is their's.

Hobgoblin

By Destiny on Saturday, January 26, 2002 - 12:28 am: Edit

Do you know if she does art/figure modeling in California? There is this ballerina type where I work that sounds kinda like your description. I am completely serious! She's very beautiful.

By Anatomist on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 09:34 pm: Edit

I never took a single picture or kept one for many years, so no pictures are available. Picture Audrey Hepburn with a little Persian blood, and thighs that could crush your ribcage.

K.

By Destiny on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 04:21 pm: Edit

Rimbaud, I have a friend that would really like you!

They also found that many soldiers coming back from WW2 (or vietnam?) were lactose intolerant after not having dairy for a long period of time.

Anatomist, I've been around longer than you might think, I just like to watch. Speaking of which, what about those pix of your ex?

By Rimbaud on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 04:05 pm: Edit

I LOVE TO EAT MEAT!!! Whatever others like to eat or not eat is none of my business. Anyone who has a problem with me eating meat can take a nice big huff from my jar of antique Abraham Lincoln farts. Over & out...

By Admin on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 11:34 am: Edit

Anthropologists have known for years that certain populations can't metabolize milk products due to regional mutations based on need, and they've recently proved it genetically:

http://www.cnn.com/2002/HEALTH/01/13/lactose.reut/index.html

I find it fascinating, personally.

By _Blackjack on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 10:18 am: Edit

I have nipples...could you milk me?

By _Blackjack on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 10:16 am: Edit


Quote:

Just what is 'hard' on the kidneys?



As in, several people have died from kidney failure due to ketogenic diets, albeit primarliy children who were on the diet therapeutically. The bulk of the medical profession is of the opinion that purposefully putting yourself into a state of ketosis is a really bad idea if you are not doing so under direct medical supervision. It also leeches minerals out of your system and contributes to osteoporosis and hypercalcemia.

By Heiko on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 05:17 am: Edit

"AND, I find it extremely weird (and just plain wrong) to drink "milk". What other animal drinks milk as an adult, much less from another animal?"

Adult cats love to drink milk from cows - only normally they are a)not intelligent enough to abstract where it comes from b)if they were, they wouldn't be able to milk a cow ;-)

In addition to that, they also consume mouse-milk (because they eat the whole mouse, including the milk)

The ability to live on dairy products from cows, sheep and goats has given men the opportunity to leave their natural habitats and live in the cold northern regions. That was an act of evolution, so we can't say because there's no animals to do alike it's unnatural. There are many things we do that no animal does!

By Pablo on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 02:04 am: Edit

Without Trader Joes life would be pretty poor. They have a fantastic selection of wines, and I too look for organic produce. Life would not be worth living without cheese! (or alot of things for that matter.) I don't like the idea of putting chemicals in my body that don't get me loopy (big smiles) in some noticable way. If the chemicals in the McVomits I've been eating cause me to grow breasts and necessitate the use of viagra, I won't be happy! (Well, that depends on the cup size).

I definately agree about any mass produced meat product. I don't ask people not to eat meat, but the conditions that the animals live in are horrendous. Similar to my first apartment/crackhouse back when I was working the streets of hollywood as a ho'.

(wave of nostalgia remembering my first pimp whoppin me for not givin him his money)

By Artist on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 01:42 am: Edit

Yea, cool...and then we use BGH to get more out of our cows at the expense of their health (and ours most likely).

(By the way, I do eat cheese and Ice Cream...I try to look for organic sources wherever I can...places in sunny southern California - not for you, lackasun VW (*grin*) - like Trader Joes...)

By Pablo on Friday, January 25, 2002 - 01:27 am: Edit

Just thought I'd throw this in. Humans are the only animals who drink milk as adults because we are the only animals who are able to harvest it. And I have heard that about rat milk too, but they are reeeeaal hard to milk. Tiny nipples. (Note: make sure you are trying to milk a female, they are the ones without the HUGE sack between the legs. Thats just no good.) For information on how to milk rats, see the Simpsons episode where the mob milks rats for school children.

By Anatomist on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 10:11 pm: Edit

"We can discuss the results of our respective diets at the 20 year forum reunion over a glass of Jade (if it's out by then.)"

You haven't been around very long to be so impatient. I was fairly hopeful it was going to come out about a year ago, since then I gave up. When it comes out it will be a suprise from nowhere for me. One of the reasons I stopped coming here is that I lost all interest in the absinthes that were available and affordable to me a long time ago, and I refused to pay the extortionist prices for La Bleue. I could only be enthused about high-proof liquid Good-n-plenty with green food coloring for so long...

K.

By Destiny on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 09:43 pm: Edit

Evidently, meat increases tolerance for the absurd because I just can't continue going in circles forever. Eat whatever you want, I wish you health. We can discuss the results of our respective diets at the 20 year forum reunion over a glass of Jade (if it's out by then.)

Hey Anatomist, your ballerina ex sounds cute... why don't you post some pics?

Hello to you too Blackjack!

By Anatomist on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 08:47 pm: Edit

My impression was that ketogenic diets are not unsafe, except perhaps in the extreme long term - like maybe one's life expectancy would be a slight percentage shorter. Once the body becomes accustomed to making its own carbohydrates via that pathway, things run OK. Just what is 'hard' on the kidneys? The kidneys can do a phenomenal amount of work. Is there documentation of actual kidney or liver failure directly attributable to a ketogenic diet?

Personally, I wouldn't eat a keto diet because of all the stuff I wouldn't be eating. Carbohydrates, for one, because they taste good and I find it hard to believe that not eating any would do any good for my athletic endeavors or feelings of well-being. Next would be all the other stuff that's in carbohydrate foods, like vitamins, fiber, trace minerals, phytochemicals, and all the good stuff in there we don't understand yet... same reason I'm reluctant to cut whole categories of animal foods out of my diet.

K.

By _Blackjack on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 06:09 pm: Edit

Too much protein can most certainly be bad for you, tho it would take a real effort (like, say, the Atkins Diet) to reach that level. It isn't so much the excess protein as the lack of carbohydrates that gets you. Your brain can't efficiently metabolize protein or fat for energy, so a lack of carbohydrates forces it to reduce its activity. The origin of the ketogenic diet used by Atkins was in treating children with epilpsy: if you cut off their carbs, the electrical activity in their brains was reduced to a level which reduced seizures. Likewise, in the absence of carbohydrates, your body will take a quick route to metabolizing fatty acids, leading to the release of ketones into the blood (thus the term "ketogenic"), which puts a tax on the kidneys, as can the eleveated levels of urea produced by protein metabloism.

Like I said, this has to be a very low-carbohydrate diet to produce that effect, but it is pretty well documented.

As for the Inuit, I'll do a Medine search, but it is more than possible that they, as a population, are more adapted to a high-protein diet. I know there are several southwestern tribes with astronomically high rates of diabetes because many of them are just not able to handle the high-calorie, high-sugar diet of the white man.

By Anatomist on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 05:41 pm: Edit

Destiny,

150g protein per day is hardly a mega-protein diet: it's around 25% of the calories I consume. Years of accumulated strength-training wisdom yield about .8-1.0 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight per day as an optimal amount. Less slows progress, more is a waste of money. The idea that 'excessive' protein damages one's liver or harms the body in any other way is pure bullshit. Try to find ONE study that even suggests such a correlation, much less proves it... make sure to include epidemiological studies on tribal populations like the Inuit, whose diet is almost all meat. On the other hand, if your body wants to build some new tissue and runs out of amino acids, it's either going to halt construction, or get the building materials from somewhere else in your body - like organs or other muscle tissue that isn't currently under construction.

I have an ex-girlfriend who grew up studying ballet very seriously. Ballet dancers have weird hangups about weight and weird diets. She ate almost no animal products and tons of fruit. Even years after she quit due to an injury, her upper body was nearly anorexically thin and her legs were extremely muscular - it had cannabalized one half to feed the other.

The problem with vegetable proteins is that amino acids aren't balanced in nearly as efficiently useable a way as animal proteins. At certain times, like the 30 minute post-exercise window, this difference is significant. Moreover, most vegetable protein foods come with a whole bunch of fat or carbohydrate calories: even concentrated forms like tofu or tempeh. Lean meat is almost pure protein, so it's easier to construct meals with the macronutrient ratios of one's choice.

Despite your protestations, your continued attempts to excuse yourself from responsibility for the impact of your own existence on your surroundings are telling. If you don't have the guts to kill yourself, the next best choice would be to emulate buddhist monks who own nothing but a sheet, a food-begging bowl, and a water filtration screen (to avoid killing insects). With dilligent work, I'm sure you could shrivel yourself down to almost complete insignificance. Good luck.

K.

By Verawench on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 04:10 pm: Edit

Dairy is divinity. Ever had a frozen alexander? Mmmm....

By Destiny on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 04:08 pm: Edit

I think that rat milk is supposed to be about the closest to human milk. Can you imagine milking a rat? Whipped cream in a can... now that is a fun dairy product!

By Mr_Rabid on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 03:45 pm: Edit

Conan the Barbarian used to call people milk drinkers as an insult.

It is kinda funky. Like being a giant baby sucking at an alien (bovine) teat.

By _Blackjack on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 03:00 pm: Edit

Um, cats?

Milk tastes good. Cheese, ice cream and egg-nog taste REALLY good. Unnatural? Maybe. But yummy.

By Artist on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 01:45 pm: Edit

All right...

This debate about who is easier on the earth is misplaced and not actually the problem...

The major problems here are overpopulation (due to many reasons) and greed (corporate and otherwise).

AND, I find it extremely weird (and just plain wrong) to drink "milk". What other animal drinks milk as an adult, much less from another animal?

By _Blackjack on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 11:55 am: Edit

Getting enough nutrients (and not an excess of some) on any diet is a hassle, especially if you don't have the time or wherewithall to cook for yourself. Many of the vegetarians I know consider it a form of self-discipline; if it wasn't a hassle, they wouldn't find it as rewarding.

I have known plenty of perfectly healthy vegans. A vegan friend of mine just had a very healthy baby without the aid of animal products. And, yes, she had to take supplements and go to a lot of trouble to get enough protein, but I suspect her baby came out better-off than one born to a mother who wasn't that conscious of her diet.

By Destiny on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 11:51 am: Edit

Anatomist:

Dude, what's with all these "if you didn't exist" comments? Are you trying to convince me to commit suicide or what? <:-0 Now that I think of it, my lack of meat consumption over a lifetime more than makes up for the space that I take up or the trash that I cause. Do you know how much of the earth's land, water and food is taken up to raise all the cattle needed to supply the fast food market? The facts would prove that the earth would be better off if you, or any other individual carnivore, did not exist in favor of a vegetarian.

Yes, strength training is definitely an added variable. But the average person who took the time to eat properly, be it vegetarian or not, would have no problems getting all the nutrients that they need to not just exist but to thrive. Your diet/physical activity is obviously more extreme, hence more difficult to begin with. However, you could still get what you need in vegetarian form without a major effort, it would just take some readjustment. Again, I'm not trying to point fingers at the heathen or convert anyone to vegetarianism, just don't tell me that it can't be done or is even all that difficult.

one oz of meat, fish, poultry, one egg = ~7g protein
one oz tempeh, 1/2 cup legumes, 3/4 cup oatmeal= ~7g protein

150g protein in 5 meals? No problem. A cup and a half of oatmeal and two glasses of milk, 28g right there in meal #1. Four oz tempeh with a side of lentil salad = 42g protein in meal #2. You're almost half way there with three more meals to go. Add fresh fruit and vegetables to boost the nutritional value of a meal without adding much fat or calories, not to mention the extra amino acids and enzymes that your body can synthesize into even more protein.

Our body operates in a balance. Yes, deficiency is bad. But excess can be equally bad, and often more damaging in a quicker time-frame. If your diet is not balanced and is one of those mega-protein types, I'd be very curious (and saddened)to see your health in 10-20 years.

Damn, these posts are long!

By Anatomist on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 05:47 am: Edit

D,

You take up a lot more space than a barstool. You eat, drink, rent or own property, perhaps a car, throw all kinds of stuff away... If you died there would be more for the rest of us and it would be more help to the doomed animals than just not eating a few, too.

In some respects the general vegetarian diet is healthier than the general omnivorous diet, although in the former you're generally talking scarcity of necessary nutrients and in the latter you're talking excesses. I like the idea of my body getting everything it needs, then having it deal with too much of something or a poison better than not getting something essential. I currently do a pretty rigorous strength training schedule, and I can tell you that without chicken meat, milk, and eggs, getting about 150 grams of protein per day spread over 5 meals would be a tremendous hassle.

K.

By Destiny on Thursday, January 24, 2002 - 12:08 am: Edit

I'm not a vegetarian to register any sort of protest, it's simply a personal decision. Neither is it an act of abstinence, self-flagellation or of denying my nature. If anything, my life choices are a direct result of my nature. I choose not to eat an animal that has been needlessly killed to satisfy my (non-existent) desire for a Big Mac (or, for our French readers, a "Royalle".) The dietary choices that I make not only are true to my nature but also have the benefit of making me feel physically healthier. My band used to practice down the block from the Farmer John "processing plant", and that stench of blood and rotting flesh carried for a mile in each direction - Yuk, no thanks! We are taught from birth to eat meat and that's why you think it's a pain in the ass to eat properly as a vegetarian. Shit, it's difficult to eat properly even if you aren't a vegetarian! I don't even think about what I eat anymore. Granted, it did take some getting used to but big fucking deal, so did lots of things.

I know that nothing is changed at a "practical" or global level by my choices and that I can't save the animals that are doomed to become your lunch - but that's not what I'm striving for in life. At the advise of Gandhi, I am just trying to be the change that I want to see in the world. That's all I can do.

P.S. The only space I'm taking up is a barstool at my local strip bar and I don't feel bad about that at all. But I do deny my nature quite a bit when some tight-body gets a little too close.

What do you suggest?

By Heiko on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 08:17 pm: Edit

"If you buy non-animal food from any store or company that also sells meat products, what's the difference in practical terms?"

I've often asked myself the same question when my vegetarian friend was having fries and coke at mcdonald's...
But of course, if all people ate less meat, the production would not have to be what it is - I think it's grown a little too big with too many people eating four meals a day 90% of it being meat.

btw. the friend I was just thinking of is also a little pale, but that is probably not because of his being a vegetarian, but because of his daily (ab)use of a big glassware smoking device, LOL

By Anatomist on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 08:02 pm: Edit

Destiny,

The problem you're glossing over is that a "proper diet" for a vegetarian - especially a vegan - is a complicated pain in the ass.

The only vegan I ever knew that seemed like a vigorous, healthy person had a high athletic capacity, but he also had horrendous acne, bugged out eyes, and was very skinny... at age 30. Most any other vegan I've ever seen was listless, extremely thin, pale, slow to react, and had frizzy, brittle hair.

I would like to do what I can to avoid supporting the horrors of meat mass-production, but I don't really see how not eating the stuff has much significance, unless you just have a visceral reaction to the act of eating it. If you buy a vegetarian meal at a restaurant that serves meat to 90% of its customers are you registering a protest? If you buy non-animal food from any store or company that also sells meat products, what's the difference in practical terms?

I think the underlying disposition that causes people to make jokes about carrot murder is that it seems like many vegetarians are trying to avoid the basic implications of just existing as an organism on the earth. It's an interesting dilemma of having an exaggerated sense of one's own responsibility and wanting to be rid of it. Does such a token effort as not eating meat really absolve you of the responsibility for your existence? If you exist, you take up space and use up resources that could have gone to some other being. You're in somebody else's way right now. For you to continue, other things must die or be crowded out. No amount of abstinence or self-flagellation will change this. The only way to get out of the way is to kill yourself, and even that will probably cause pain to other beings.

Conversely, did you ask to be brought into existence? Is it your fault that you're hungry and powerful enough to get hold of something and eat it before someone else does? Why shouldn't you be allowed to pursue your own desires and be true to your own nature like any other being? Plants don't feel guilty about using up water and minerals. Wolves don't feel guilty about eating a moose or a mouse. Why should you feel guilty about fulfilling your basic needs and desires when you have such magnificent capacities as an organism? You may very well have the capacity to design or fly a space vehicle, write an opera, perform a heart transplant, win an NBA championship, make an everlasting Gobstopper... why wouldn't that be worth taking up some space and using up some stuff?


K.

By Destiny on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 01:06 pm: Edit

I don't buy into the RDA requirements at all, I was just citing the B-12 RDA as a standard that most Americans cling to. However, selectively increasing certain nutrients can negatively affect homeostasis. Too much calcium reduces iron absorbtion, too much protein reduces calcium absorbtion... it's all about balance.

It's simply untrue that a vegetarian eating a proper diet is at risk of nutritional deficiency. There are many vegetarian sources of iron and zinc - nuts, legumes, cooked spinach, peas, dried fruits or even 1 tbsp of blackstrap molasses. The same goes for calcium. Tofu, legumes, figs, squash, broccoli, green leafy vegetables all contain significant amounts of calcium.

I completely agree with Anatomist's opinion about the well balanced diet, except for the meat part. (Personally, I follow more of a Hindu type of vegetarianism, so I don't have a problem with high-quality dairy from happy cows!)

BTW, I'm really not one to ever preach the vegatarian gospel, just wanted to keep things accurate. Go back to your slaughtering of the innocent...

>:-0

By _Blackjack on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 01:04 pm: Edit

Yeah, nutrition is one of those fields where the more we find out, the more we realize that we don't know. This is why you get so many conflicting "x is good for you"/"X is bad fo you" reports on the news; the science is still sketchy enough that it is tough to draw conclusions beyond the immediate scope of the various studies. An awful lot varies between individuals to the point that you could feed the exact same diet to 100 people and get 100 different results.

This is why I don't sweat the small stuff. The major diet-related heath risks are hypertension, heart disease and diabetes, and fairly simple measures can significantly reduce (but not eliminate) your chances of developing these. Trying to eat a perfect diet will drive you nuts, but keeping things in moderation is pretty easy.

By Artist on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 09:43 am: Edit

I'm with Anatonmist...We are still learning.

By Perruche_Verte on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 09:41 am: Edit

Re: eating bugs...

A friend was staying with a Laotian immigrant family and went out once to help catch grasshoppers. They brought them into the kitchen, heated a wok with oil until it smoked, then just dumped in the strainer full of 'hoppers and slammed the lid down. They came out golden brown and crunchy - just peel the chitinous shell off like you would with a crustacean, which I guess is what they taste like, sort of.

Just call them "land shrimp".

Very nutritious, and certainly an abundant food source in the U.S. grain belt. But I'd worry about exposure to pesticides if I ate them a lot.

By Pikkle on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 08:44 am: Edit

Vegans also need to be careful I don't catch up with them and shove my three inches of man meat down their throat... you know, like some kind of nourishment deprivation scenario. WHAAHAHAHAAAA.

By Anatomist on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 07:33 am: Edit

The RDA is what a government bureacracy decided was a bit over the minimum amount required to keep a medium-sized human from getting a disease in the short term. It's not a target recommendation for optimal health and growth - especially if you're large, athletic, extremely active, ill, stressed out, or expose yourself to a lot of toxins like alcohol. Getting drunk, for instance, can suck all the B1 out of your body in no time.

The other thing about the RDA and categorized nutritional knowledge in general is that human knowledge is limited. Thirty years ago the list of 'essential' nutrients was less than half as long as it is today, and we should expect this trend to continue into the future. It's easy to observe the cause and effect relation between vitamin C intake and the incidence of Scurvey, for instance, but it's not so easy to figure out what factors contribute to diseases like cancer and osteoporosis.

The best bet for optimal health, in my view, is to eat as wide a variety of unprocessed and less processed foods as possible, including meats (preferably wild-killed, grass-fed, etc..), and also take a good multivitamin everday. I also take B1 when I drink.

BTW - Vegans also need to be careful about Zinc, Iron, and Calcium.

K.

By Heiko on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 01:13 am: Edit

There's gelatine stuff in so many products (yoghurt, all kinds of candy...) that vegetarians eat (at least the vegetarians I know). This stuff is made from whatever is left from pigs and cows - well not cows anymore in Europe, they say (you know, mad cows...).

I think it is a full time job to eat only real vegetarian food and make a healthy diet out of it.

For me, it's enough to think of eating meat as a "little sin" - so I'm still reminded of what I'm doing while eating meat, and I won't eat too much of it.

By Pablo on Wednesday, January 23, 2002 - 01:00 am: Edit

My girlfriend is a vegitarian (not a vegan) and needless to say, I eat vegitarian pretty often.

Yummy!

By Destiny on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 11:43 pm: Edit

Hello everyone. Long time voyeur, first time poster. I wanted to pop my cherry on a more exciting topic than this, but oh well...

The RDA for B-12 is only 2 micrograms and our body can store enough for 2-3 years. At this minimal requirement, B-12 is actually relatively abundant in non-animal products. You can find it in whole wheat, brown rice, seaweed, wheat grass, rice bran, mushrooms, beans, pickled vegetables, miso, yeast, and an assortment of herbs.

That said, perhaps there is B-12 in fairy juice? As a vegetarian, maybe I could have it prescribed for "medicinal purposes", just like medical marijuana.

ooooh baby, that was good - pass me a cigarette!

By Malhomme on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 10:15 pm: Edit

Emmy- LOL!!!
malhomme

By Pikkle on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 07:46 pm: Edit

Rare... I like my vegans rare but not cold.

By Anatomist on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 07:44 pm: Edit

If you're thinking about trying a cannabalistic diet, I recommend eating only non-smoking, non-drinking vegans. That's some of the cleanest, least toxic meat you'll find anywhere. They're usually so spindly and weak that you can kill 'em real easy too... almost as easy as Goths. As with rabbits, you just get a big stick stick and chase 'em a hundred yards or so 'till they're exhausted and whack 'em hard upside the head. There aint a lot of meat on 'em, so it's best to hunt some place like a co-op where you can harvest 2 or 3 at once.

K.

By Grimm on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 06:17 pm: Edit

I am sure there are people out there who are thinking how good a vegan would taste on the BBQ.

By Verawench on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 05:27 pm: Edit

And the legs make great toothpicks.

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 05:22 pm: Edit

Consider the incidental insect parts as an added bonus of free quality protein. Grasshoppers and crickets are actually some of the best foods on Earth.

By _Blackjack on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 05:14 pm: Edit

B12 (obviously not an amino acid) is one of the things vegans have to watch out for, along with iron and calcium. You can take supplements, of course, or use nutritional yeast. Bacteria in your digestive tract usually produce enough B12 for people to get by, but there are absorbtion problems.

Like I said, there are issues, but just as humans weren't designed to live purely on vegetables, they also weren't designed to deal with nearly the level of fat and easily-metabolized carbohydrates that the average American gets.

As far as the McDonalds thing goes, I suspect there are more incidental insect parts, by weight, in their fries, than there are cow parts in their beef flavoring.

By Mr_Rabid on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 04:57 pm: Edit

I tend to eat mainly vegetarian, because I feel better if I do.

Sometimes I get the urge to consume some raw red meat, or fish, and I obey such things... I have learned that what I am hungry for, I need.

I don't have any moral or ethical compunctions about eating flesh, but I understand them and hey, far be it from me...

To all the vegans out there- don't let the meat eating bastards get you down.

The idea that someone else feels the need to give you shit about what you decide to eat deserves a boot to the head. Jesus. Do they care what kind toilet paper you use too? Boxers or briefs?

Of course, it cuts both ways, but I have only rarely met a vegetarian that gave me shit for eating meat.

By Alisoviejoguy on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 04:41 pm: Edit

I meant no offense at all.

I just question the motives behind vegetarians sometimes, I used to know a few 'hippies' and they hated it when i brought to their attention that killing a plant was still killing a living thing. I think most of us non-veggies sort of automatically assume that's the sole reason why someone doesn't eat meat. That they don't like the killing of anything. So normally I feel the need to argue.

Still, i guess it might be tough sometimes. I doubt it would be an easy thing to peruse, with the amount of products containing meat on the
market.

I remember mcdonalds was in a lawsuit a while back because a vegetarian found out that they used a bit of beef flavoring on their french fries. It didn't go anywhere, because mcdonalds never claimed their fries were vegetarian, but it does show how little you know about what's in what you eat...

By Tabreaux on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 02:17 pm: Edit

How about cyanocobalamin (B12)?

Regardless of one's ethical/moral (or whatever) viewpoint on the consumption of animal products, humans evolved as omnivores, and depend on a variety of foods for balanced nutrition. Some of these nutrients do not occur in abundance in the plant kingdom.

Quite honestly, I could do without the red meat, but I don't do well with a deficiency of B12. Also worthy of note is the fact that even the most efficient of plant proteins (soy) is not in the same league with respect to efficiency as the incredible, edible egg.

By _Blackjack on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 02:05 pm: Edit


Quote:

Of course, these veggies aren't getting 2 of the 9 essential amino acids by just eating plants.




None of the essential aminos (meaning those which your body cannot maufacture from other sources) are only found in animals. All can be found in seeds and grains of various types. It does take a little work to get the proper variety of proteins in a vegetarian diet, but no more so than it is to get the right variety of vitamins and minerals in a standard diet. Amino acid deficiency is a minor health issue relative to things like cholesterol. A vegetarian diet CAN be unhealthy, but no moreso than an omnivorous one.

I'm on a vegetarian-defending kick today because in the cafeteria last night I observed a vegetarian co-worker being derided and interrogated by several people because he wasn't ordering anything with meat. It is absurd that somebody should have to defend himself just to get some dinner. Just because somebody doesn't eat meat, it doesn't mean that they judge everyone who does...

By Admin on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 01:00 pm: Edit

I agree with you logically ... but humans are emotional creatures. Nobody cries when someone runs over a potted fern.

I've met very few vegans who could say "no" to a really gorgeous pair of leather boots.

We are not logical. That's why there are (or should not be) any absolutes.

By Alisoviejoguy on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 12:33 pm: Edit

Of course, these veggies aren't getting 2 of the 9 essential amino acids by just eating plants.

You could eat something from every edible plant group, and not get those 2 essential amino acids. never thought it was very healthy because of this.

Also, as I eat my huge greasy fatburger, i like to mention that plants are living too, just like cows, and things with 'faces'. Thinking you are being 'humane' by not eating living organisms which you can relate with, but still eating plants, it's kind of like eating chicken instead of cow, and thinking you are being humane, becauce the cow is living, but the chicken is diffrent, it doesn't moo.

We still need organic sustenance, until we can eat rocks, veggies are as murderous as us meat eaters are.

Their prey just doesn't have the ability to moo and make a run for the fence. : )

By Chrysippvs on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 12:09 pm: Edit

maybe we should eat them now...

By Mr_Rabid on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 11:54 am: Edit

Someday, through the Forward March of Science, the Vegans will all have their own chlorophyll, and thus be freed of the need to eat at all.

Gradually they will spend their time contemplating the mysteries of the universe more and more, standing still in their sunny spots... needing nothing but the sun, and growing closer to God with every moment. Serene, peaceful and wise.

That is when I say we eat them- they won't be able to run away, and I bet they'll be real nutritious.

By _Blackjack on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 11:13 am: Edit

Well, since there are fungi which border on animal-like behavior (slime molds) it wouldn't surprise me if there were some vegans who felt guilty about fungi...

And then, of course, there are the fruitarians, who think vegans are needlessly brutal for killing plants to eat them, instead of just eating the fruits.

And there are the radical fruitarians who think the regular fruitarians are needlessly brutal for eating seeds...

By Heiko on Tuesday, January 22, 2002 - 09:57 am: Edit

"I'm a level 5 Vegan...I won't eat anything that has a shadow."

-- Simpsons

By Emmy on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 11:09 pm: Edit

"All your yeast are belong to us!"
-Fungi Liberation Front

By Artist on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 05:32 pm: Edit

ooh, what a fun thread!!!

By Don_Walsh on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 05:20 pm: Edit

Yeast, by the way is a one celled fungus, and not an animal life form. Vegans do eat mushrooms, don't they?

I think so, and hope so, for when they are a pain in the ass it is comforting to think they might just eat the wrong ones.

Furthermore, yeast are not killed in the fermentation process, necessarily, they just go dormant when the alcohol content gets to a certain level (which is interdependent on sugar levels among other things.) Yeast can be, and are, recovered and re-used. The problem becomes one of control of competing microbes and of removing 'toxic' byproducts that stress out the yeast. Like long chain fatty acids.

The point being that fermentation does not 'kill' yeast, in case any vegan extremists are worried about the sanctity of one celled fungal life forms.

So there.

By Don_Walsh on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 05:11 pm: Edit

There are probably vegans who also are convinced, as was George III, that a certain oak tree in Regent's Park is Frederick the Great.

That doesn't make it so.

By Wormwood on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 04:33 pm: Edit

"nope...I hear Ted has to put a drop or two of human blood in each bottle to serve his dark lord"

I have read there is blood in Jagermeister, its Stags blood, but I'm sure Cthulhu is not fooled.

By _Blackjack on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 04:20 pm: Edit

Am I the only one who cringes every time the news talks about Dennis Hastert?

Don't speak his name!

By _Blackjack on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 04:19 pm: Edit

Well, there are some vegans who won't eat refined sugar because bone char is used in the refining process, even tho none of it ends up in the sugar, per se. The problem is, if you start trying to eliminate all secondary and tertiary animal products, well, you'd better be prepared to grow ll your own food, because somewhere along the manufacturing chain, something cute was killed or exploited, be it for fertilizer or work gloves...

This doesn't mean that there is anything wrong with trying to cut down ones use of animal products, if it is important to one, but it can be taken too far...

By Chrysippvs on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 04:14 pm: Edit

mmm mmm good
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl!

By Don_Walsh on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 03:47 pm: Edit

Name the animal component in the alcohol, the water or the herbs, pls?

Because there's nothing else in there.

Can't get much more vegetable than herbs, and grape alcohol.

Justin, cut that out! You KNOW we only do the ritual thing with the special Jade we put aside for when the goths come calling, or the submarine shipments to R'lyeh. Cthulhu prefers Edouard while Hastur likes N.O.

Pardon me, there's a shoggoth at the door. Got to scoot!

By Chrysippvs on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 03:24 pm: Edit

nope...I hear Ted has to put a drop or two of human blood in each bottle to serve his dark lord

IA! IA! IA!

By Artist on Monday, January 21, 2002 - 03:22 pm: Edit

I have a friend who is Vegan (not from the star, but a non-animal eater...)

She asked if absinthe is vegan...I guessed it was (with the exception of the red beetle juice - Sir Piss).

Does anyone know one way or the other?

Will the Jade products (whenever they come out - hint, hint - when?) be considered vegan...?

a.

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