For some reason, all my posts seem to be Ethics and Morals issues. Sorry about that.

So my brother attended a colloqium lecture on species-ism, which is basically what it sounds like. The speaker was saying that it's wrong to discriminate animals. And he was, as you could guess, a devout vegan.

I know Athiest Nexus has a lot of strong vegetarians/vegans and a lot of carnivores as well. The reasons for both have been debated often. Species-ism, however, is a completely different genre.

In particular, I wonder how making the decision to be vegan isn't completely species-ist in and of itself. The moral reasoning of many vegetarians and vegans is that we can make a conscious decision not to eat our fellow creatures and live just fine. But humans are animals, and I've heard this argument from meat eaters, but the general defense is that we're smarter, we have more logical and ethical capabilities and therefore we have more responsiblity and more choice. I think that's true, but I think it's also species-ism! If we're saying that we're above eating animals, we're still putting ourselves above the animals, are we not? Again, this isn't really a vegetarian/meaty discussion, I respect both decisions.  But is species-ism something you could get behind? Does it even make sense?

There are the other obvious arguments, such as the fact that you kill animals every day, and the majority of us are species-ist in how we don't care if we step on a bug but we certainly do if we step on a cat. We don't flinch when we kill living bacteria with our hand sanitizer, but when you shoot Bambi's mum we've got a problem. Maybe the whole purpose is to get beyond that, or maybe it's about just doing what you can. I don't know. But I don't really understand it.

Thoughts? Arguments? Rude remarks? Compliments on my adequate grammar?  Does speciesism contradict vegetarianism? Is it a viable idea?

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For me, the food chain is the food chain. "Species-ism" is just an attempt to find issues where there are none. *shrugs*

It sounds like veganism or vegetarianism taken to an extreme: putting yourself in a position where any position outside of your own is not just different but malicious. On the one hand, we can have carnivores and omnivores and vegetarians living peacefully.. but once you start classifying the issue as "species-ism", suddenly anyone who is a carnivore or an omnivore is "bad". Suddenly, there is an issue, where just a moment ago there was none.

Not cool with me. And a little too much potential to be like religion if you ask me; ie: a dualistic worldview: Who's in (vegetarians/vegans) vs. who's out (the meat eaters, because they're "bad").

As for me... I love animals. They're incredibly tasty. If it helps, I make an attempt to try all edible animals -equally- ;)
Even baby pandas?! You monster. :o
Well I'm lazy I'll admit it, so unless someone's gonna put it in my grocery store, then probably not.

But hey, sure, if it shows up there tomorrow, I'll give it a shot ;)
Well, then, do you think rape is okay? If someone said that they were going to take this person, and rape them, would you be okay with that? Do you think anyone should try to stop them?

It's not about personal preferences, it's about ethics, and if someone's doing something wrong, you have every right (and even a responsibility) to step in and try to stop it. That's what morality is. Now, you may not agree with veganism, but you can't expect someone to allow something they view as inherently immoral to just go on without saying anything - not unless you'd expect people to allow murderers, thieves or rapists to just go around doing what they're doing.
Technically, veganism isn't about changing your diet, it's about not hurting animals. So, the person eating the hamburger isn't doing any harm at that moment, since the hamburger is already dead. However, I would basically cede your larger point - although reasoning with people, and hopefully enacting progressive legislation to end animal cruelty I think is a more effective long-term strategy than violence.

Exact equivalence is difficult to establish - is a mentally retarded person absolutely equivalent to a healthy person? You could argue that, but it's slightly more difficult to prove - not that I'm saying it's impossible (though it is a separate discussion, I think). The basic argument behind animal rights is that inasmuch as a being has the capacity to suffer, we have a responsibility not to inflict it. Most people take this for granted in their relations with humans - when you punch someone, they don't say "Hey, I'm a sentient being!" they say, "Hey, that hurts!"

I don't think it's necessary to provide lots of links showing the fact that animals have the capacity to suffer, since it ought to be pretty obvious.
A vegan online friend was posting something about how fish feel pain and therefore we shouldn't eat them. I said that not eating fish will not eliminate pain for them. All living things feel pain and all living things die, and animals also feel pain when other animals kill them. Again there are reasons for not eating fish (like overfishing) and it's understandable that someone wouldn't want to inflict pain on someone else, but it's not going to eliminate pain.

Technically, veganism isn't about changing your diet, it's about not hurting animals.

It has everything to do with changing diet. I don't see vegans eating the aforementioned hamburger.
You're correct, but the point isn't avoiding the hamburger per se, it's not supporting an industry that hurts animals. Most vegans I know wouldn't have any problem with buying leather from a charity shop, for instance, since it's not promoting the leather industry.
Really? My vegan friends wouldn't wear silk from a thrift shop. I know there are some who will eat meat if it's an issue of wasting food, but I don't know any personally. I can see how that's a slippery slope though.
Well, it's complicated - there's the worry that if you wear something non-vegan, other people will think "that's cool!" and go out and buy it, and then there's the issue that a lot of people just don't understand veganism, and any time you make even the tiniest compromise or exception, they assume that veganism is therefore false or that you're a hypocrite. So, they may have had their own reasons, but in a basic sense there's no reason why a vegan couldn't buy thrift-shop stuff.
Well, except that the thrift shop might have paid some token amount for the item, which would, in effect, be paying back upstream and stimulating demand, to some small extent.
Stephen: At the moment, I can't see your argument as anything other than a false analogy

It's worse than that. I am hoping it's just devil's advocacy, but it's certainly a slide down the slippery PETA propaganda slope - reductio ad absurdum specifically to appeal to emotion. It's a toxic nonsense argument best suited for addressing irrational mobs that already agree with you anyway.
Aaron I don't think you dealt with her main point. I think she was basically saying this: vegans say it's wrong to eat animals. Animals eat animals. The response is usually that humans are different, have the intelligence to not do it, etc, which is in and of itself a form of species-ism: we are superior to animals in that we can avoid eating other animals.

This has occurred to me too. This is not to say that I don't support vegans all the way, although I do get tired of the hostility coming from some. The species-ism could be factually based: humans are capable of reasoning beyond what other animals can do and they can live without eating other animals. Carnivorous animals need to eat animals to live. So fine, it is a form of species-ism. Humans have used anthropocentrism to justify a lot of things by saying "people are more important than animals". In this case the anthropocentrism is used to justify giving humans more responsibility instead of less, when it's usually used as an excuse for humans do do whatever the hell they want. So fine, be anthropocentric this way, just don't say you think people and animals should be treated equally, because this is not equal treatment.




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