Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Philosophical quibbles

Once again Trevor provides more succinct digestible chunks and I lamely follow his lead.

  1. See above.
  2. I guess I should have been more explicit, but I have deliberately not focused on death. I don't find our disagreement on the harm of death baffling. Philosophically it's contested and involves considering self-conceptions of selves existing over time and how this could apply to animals. Though if an animal must suffer before it dies I'd think that's bad.
  3. I don't find that so convincing. Lots of people explicitly subscribe to the idea that it's ok for you to try kill me and I'll try kill you. They're usually gangsters and have a comparative advantage in killing. Generally, we do find fault with their moral system. I also think that people sign up for war far too easily (though I wouldn't rule it out for myself).
  4. Rights and obligations are correlated, but in a subtle way. A right may be defined by an obligation placed on other people but a person's claim to have rights doesn't depend on whether they have upheld their obligations. Infants have rights but zero obligations, same with retarded people. We place strict limits on how responsible we hold children for their actions. Your example of the death penalty is a good example, you don't think that failure to fulfil your obligation not to kill someone doesn't mean you no longer have the right to life. Besides, dogs often have a very strong sense of duty to their masters. Way stronger than many humans feel.
  5. I don't get this at all. We need to justify not acting in a natural way? Are vegetarians acting immorally by simply refusing meat? Natural things are normally a guide to moral behaviour?
  6. Umm...
  7. Err...
  8. Hmm...
  9. I think this is only a reasonable default position if you think that the odds of vegetarians causing more suffering are about the same as meat eating; a case you haven't made. Say that the animal rights people are wrong, does that mean giving up meat was pointless or that we have actually done positive harm? If the former, then the two positions are not symmetrical; eating meat and then changing your mind later means there'll be a trail of suffering in your wake.

I'm surprised you haven't declared the article about how more animals are killed by growing crops completely useless since you don't care at all about animal death and that's the only thing the paper considers.

So... Are vegetarians doing harm? Or just pointlessly inconveniencing everybody?

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