Monday, August 25, 2008

comment splat

Fortunately for readers, I don’t really have the energy for another epic post with any attention paid to minimal coherence. Trevor’s recent posts did inspire some thoughts though. So here’s a rambling comment splat.

“The thing is people don't like feeling like they are being morally judged, which is probably a large reason why vegetarianism gets under the skin of others.”

I think it’s strange that vegetarianism seems to have a bigger effect on people than most of our ethical views. We have moral views on so many things! Judgment is always implicit when people act in ways that conflict with out moral views. Don’t get me wrong, I realize that this does upset people, but generally we expect our friends and family hold at least some different moral views from us and judge us accordingly. What does Trevor think of the people who think he’s immoral for not being a teetotaler? Check out the comments section of vegan posts on Megan McArdle’s blog; where the hell does that kind of stuff come from?

“Is it a problem making people feel uncomfortable about things that you believe to be true?”

I think I could easily misinterpret this, but my understanding is that Trevor wasn’t exactly shy about his views on apartheid (which was good!), so I find the question puzzling.

“As I said, this kind of thing gives me `impending doom' because I find the idea of being very accepting of different points of view very appealing.”

This combined with the comments about how I’m not a liberal and wanting to run naked through the fields makes me want to clear up how I understand liberalism and permissiveness. In terms of what I think it’s morally acceptable to do, I am incredibly permissive. Way beyond the average person. There is an important proviso however, which is that our carefree frolicking shouldn’t harm others!! If we don’t have this constraint, then being tolerant of other points of view quickly becomes tolerance of stuff we normally don’t much approve of.

“Do I think that if I had read enough and thought about it enough, I would still believe what I do. I would like to think not, but that is probably what I think.”

I guess I agree with the sentiment here and call me a quibbler, but I think if we think our beliefs would change if we studied up then either we should simply believe what we think our views would change to, or if we expect our views to change, but don’t know how, we should simply give up our belief without replacing it. If we think our views would change after study, I don’t even know if we can really be said to hold the views we think we do.


Tracy said...

I find it very difficult when people feel like I'm judging them simply because I don't eat meat and avoid animal products. I'm trying to make the best choice I can considering the knowledge I have. It puts me in a very awkward position of having to apologise for being vegetarian or hide the fact. I'm trying to live according to my values, complemented by evidence of animal sentience and cruelty to animals in most farming practices.

By removing animal products from my life as much as possible, out of concern for animal welfare, I am saying that consumption is an ethical choice that should be considered. This could be extended to the consideration of the environmental and social consequences of the things we consume. I suppose that makes people uncomfortable because it could mean changes of lifestyle.

Most ethical discussions are centered around abortion or the death penalty, or whether you should save many men by sacrificing one? These topics are very far away from our usual daily lives. So we generally don't get as upset by other people having different opinions from us. Essentially it makes no difference. We hope never to face these choices in real life.

Stuart said...

I agree totally.

I think I've gotten very few self righteousness brownie points from going vegetarian. I've spent much more time defending myself from "attacks" than launching my own.

So in reality, the choice often dealing with the costs of both giving stuff up and the negative response rather than basking in our goodness.

I should post something like that...