Friday, August 01, 2008


I had intended this to be my last post, but I think I'll have one more, if you're lucky!

  1. I have no idea (in the case of humans, our culture can make us comfortable with eating just about anything)
  2. Post below.
  3. A being has moral status if it has interests.
  4. Your particular right doesn't have anything to do with how you upheld your obligation with respect to that right. Failure to respect the rights of others can lead to a curtailment of your rights, but not generally the right you violated. Raping someone may lead to your right to freedom of association being revoked, but not the right not to be raped.

    I'd turn it around and ask, where does your right to mess with other beings come from? What gives you the right to tax/punch/steal from me? Sometimes we can provide a reason, but the default should be just to leave well enough alone. Say I'm out, prancing through the fields and I'm suddenly overwhelmed with curiosity over what it'd be like to smoke that plant and someone pops up to try to stop me. I could say, "my freedom –which includes my right to smoke this- is instrumental to getting the best results in the long run." Or, "I simple value my freedom really highly, even if my stupid choices ruin my life in other ways. Or I could say, "who the fuck are you? And what makes you think you have any say over what I do?"

  5. I'd say that simply looking at the environment we evolved in that there are excellent reasons for expecting horrific immorality to be the norm rather than the rule. We didn't agree not to go there, we simply agreed.

  6. How bout meat eaters.

  7. I meant harm to animals. I don't understand this first bit. Would you support massive population growth for humans if it meant living standards dropped to Somalia's level?

  8. In some kind of trivial sense this is true. But adding ingredients to the "allowed" list necessarily increases possible health. Having cyanide on the menu doesn't reduce my health cos I won't order it. As a practical matter, there is a huge bias towards eating too much meat rather than too little. Vegetarians are healthier and live longer.

    Of course many jobs in the meat industry would be lost this would be a harm. But the guilt issue does nothing for me. It would be bad, but really negligible. People act on all sorts of misguided beliefs and seem to do okay.

  9. History should make us feel very anxious about our own moral views. Of course I hold a (very) different estimate, but I still find it striking how comfortable Trevor is with a 20% chance of being wrong about something that, if it is wrong has an enormous impact. I can't guarantee that bad things won't happen as a result of my actions, but I don't need to wait until something goes wrong before I evaluate my behaviour. A 20% chance of a negative result is plenty to give me pause and wonder if I can go about lowering that %. Drunk driving is wrong because of the impact on the odds of something bad, but the odds are still probably less than 1% even when you're pretty drunk. That's why I'm unmoved by people who tell me how many times they've driven home drunk by way of justifying the practice.

    I'm interested to know what Trevor's response would be to the person who cuts pigs testicles off because he enjoyed it. Even meat eaters condemn kitten killing, but if the kitten killer really enjoys the act, what principled objection could Trevor give (this example is taken pretty much straight from the famous animal rights tome "Anarchy, State and Utopia" by Robert Nozick)?

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