Two readers (about half my readers in other words) asked if I was giving up blogging because of the way I started the post below. I was talking about the last post in my recent discussion with Trevor. My post was terribly worded and thanks for your concern, but next time, try to sound a little more alarmed! I've written over 650 posts people! Giving up so suddenly would be a Big Deal (for me).
So anyway, I had a first draft of this post but it got overlong. It actually wounds my soul a little to delete so much, but hopefully it'll be good for your soul.
- I look forward to Trevor making an equally big deal of this when discussing all other topics.
- This may come across as nitpicking, but I've never seen this asserted. Seriously. The logical conclusion is basically not to eat any meat that's commercially available.
- I think it's important to note that many vegetarians don't believe this.
But I also think it's important to note that this is not what our discussion was about and I explicitly said as much. It's complicated and contested philosophically, but Trevor's failure to understand how anyone could think this is partly just because he hasn't read the relevant stuff. What makes it wrong to painlessly kill a human?
I think Trevor's most baffling bit is where he says, "but then you are not a vegetarian." Apparently we've been talking all this time without even having a common understanding of what it means to be a vegetarian! Does Trevor think I'm a vegetarian? I've kinda been assuming that he thinks I am one. But judging by this post I don't even come close, because he knows I eat some types of seafood. This is especially frustrating because it was people's impatience with any explanation of why I sometimes eat fish that led me to adopt the overly simple label of Vegetarian even though this means I occasionally get people gleefully pointing out that fish are animals. I doubt my experience is that unusual but suddenly a vegetarian is someone who will never eat meat?
Trevor poses overly strict demands on vegetarians; I doubt there are many out there who would starve rather than eat chicken. It should be assumed that we'll eat meat under certain circumstances. There are many types of vegetarian and I think a reasonable definition of one is someone who simply doesn't eat meat as a general rule.
Another factual issue is tripping us up again. How much meat is out there that we can be sure is cruelty free? I'd suggest very little, which is enough to make vegetarianism sensible. A dinner guest who demands cruelty free documentation is more annoying than a vegetarian. If you get used to going without meat you can also start to get a little grossed out by the idea of eating it. I've mentioned that in practice, even those who endorse the whole cruelty free thing tolerate little inconvenience to act on this conviction (I used my example of diary), it's best to get into the habit.
And of course we've simply ignored the arguments claiming that even painless killing is unethical, which, even if without engaging with them we assign a mysteriously low % of being sound, should still give us pause.