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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Maybe I'm still missing the point, because I don't see your examples as speciesism. To put it this way, it's not racist to say that blacks have darker skin than whites. It's just a fact. What is racist is to say that blacks are less moral than whites. In order for something to be racist, it first needs to be a statement about the entire group, and secondly it needs to be incorrect.

In the case of speciesism, it wouldn't be speciesist, by this definition at least, to say that animals are less intelligent in many ways compared to humans. It's just a fact, so I don't see that as speciesist - unless your definition of discrimination includes positive or amoral versions of discrimination, in which case we're all discriminatory. The problem is primarily with the negative discrimination.
Oh, c'mon, Aaron! It's about he abitlity to suffer. Not all this crap about who is more intelligent.

The simple fact is that, as rational beings who have the capacity to suffer, we, for ethical reasons, would not want to inflict suffering needlesly on other setnient beings. It's common sense. It's the Gloden Rule, a rule that predates all religion and which is seen, albeit in pre or proto form in other animals. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours. Forget speciesism. Think 'sentience' and the ability of creatures with complex nervous systems to suffer.

Just don't hurt things unecessarily. Do to them as you would have them do to you.

Vegetables cannot suffer. They don;'t have nervous systems. So we can eat them without qualms. Animals liek us can and do suffer. So we must think about that when we choose how to treat them. Speciesism is simply like racism. It is a denial that others can feel as we do and the subsequent authority we give ourselves to treat them as less than sentient.

Rob
I see your point, I was just trying to explain my understanding of what constitutes proper speciesism. Also, I'm not sure how to "forget speciesism" while remaining on topic, since the discussion is first and foremost about speciesism... :P
In addition to the above, I also wanted to add: If -we- are going to avoid eating other animals, should we not also prohibit -other animals- from eating other animals? But I think even most vegetarians can see the absurdity in that statement. There is a natural food-chain that even the most adamant of vegans can detect and understand.

Well I just consider humans a part of that food chain, where as some people disagree. Or more accurately, the "methods" in which we've executed our status in that food chain often come to bother certain people, and not so much others. The way we've decided to execute our status on that food chain (with technology, and bred-for-food animals, and the way animals are kept, and so on) just doesn't bother me like it does others. I don't mind saying that, and I don't feel bad about it either.

Vegetarians don't bug me in so much as Religious Fundamentalists don't bug me: If they leave my choices alone, I leave them alone. They get in my face? I'll get in theirs.

"Species-ism" sounds very close to getting in my face... or it at least is at a high danger of doing so :P
In addition to the above, I also wanted to add: If -we- are going to avoid eating other animals, should we not also prohibit -other animals- from eating other animals?

I seem to be the odd crackpot that would actually advocate this, though I think it would be such an incredibly expensive project that pragmatically we'd need to solve virtually every other problem in existence first, since it'd be so much easier to get rid of other, relatively small problems like war and poverty.

Undoubtedly, it's perfectly natural to kill animals. However, it's also perfectly natural to rape, steal and murder. That's not a good reason to accept them - in fact it's known as the "naturalistic fallacy".
Aaron: Undoubtedly, it's perfectly natural to kill animals. However, it's also perfectly natural to rape, steal and murder. That's not a good reason to accept them - in fact it's known as the "naturalistic fallacy".

It's also known as "nonsense". This is the same derangement that PETA uses by making comparisons to Auschwitz. And it is a derangement that exposes the absolute disconnect from reality and intellectual poverty of those who make it.
That's exactly the kind of response that racists would make when they claimed that this or that racial minority could be equal with the ruling class. Unfortunately for both racism and speciesism, both are unsupported by science.
No. There is a difference here. For petty reasons, more linked to the puritan impulse than anything else, you try to fabricate a moral high ground from which you can frown down upon those you label as moral degenerates.

I refuse to even acknowledge your argument because it is a nonsense construct born out of too much comfort and too much idle time. It's a cow. Get over it.

This is as bad as PETA protesting Al Qaeda for using donkeys as mobile bomb delivery, and not really caring about the people that get murdered. Priorities warped by deranged pseudo-religious crusader thinking.

Is it really a surprise that liberalism has been debased to the point of comedy in the eyes of ordinary people? No it's not. Thanks.
I don't find your responses surprising: I've cited hard science that many non-human animals are not so different from us as omnivores seem to like to think, I've pointed out that nearly every moral argument applies as well to animals as well as humans (or at least a category of human that we would extend moral consideration to), and basically all the counterarguments I've gotten from you and other omnivores is "veganism is stupid". You've found flowery ways of saying it, but stripped of the rhetoric, it's the same argument.

Why do omnivores refuse to provide actual arguments, instead of empty rhetoric, simple assertions, and plain denial that morality even matters? Because there's nothing else they can do. Any moral standard that would exclude farm animals would also strip rights we now grant to humans.

Maybe you've got some of the others convinced, but the real reason why you won't respond to my arguments with actual arguments isn't because you're too lazy, it's because you can't.
Without disputing the science that all animals have lots of similarities, it's not necessarily true that that is sufficient reason to grant rights to animals besides humans. For one thing, I don't think that morality is based on rights. I think rights are based on morality.

Morality, at root, is essentially selfish. This does not mean that selfishness is moral, but rather that morality is based on a practical, non-mystical version of karma. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, because it's likely, though not guaranteed, to pay off for you. Why? Because your fellow animals have memory and can make the same game-theory calculations that you do. Rights are just a way of codifying certain rules.

I don't harm other people because I want them to return the favor. Ants and cougars aren't likely to extend me the same consideration. Still, I don't go around burning anthills or trapping cougars because I recognize that whether ants and cougars know it or not, they play a role in the ecosystem that keeps me alive. But they don't have rights in the same way that humans do.

Rights aren't based on the ability to suffer. If they were, no vegan would ever condone abortion. All things suffer and die. I don't go around making things suffer unnecessarily, but that's the key word--unnecessarily. I eat meat. It's part of my evolutionary background, and there's nothing immoral about that, any more than there is when a lion eats meat. When I die, I'll be worm food. I'm OK with that. I'll put off feeding myself to worms as long as I can, but I'm both at the top and at the bottom of the food chain. Cows are in the middle somewhere, and unfortunately for them, that means they have less choice in the matter.

I am swayed by the resource argument, however. It is simply harder on the planet and the ecosystem that keeps me alive to raise grain to feed to animals for me to eat than it is for me to eat the grain directly. Given that, I try to eat less meat than I otherwise would, but cutting meat out of my diet completely is unlikely to happen.
Okey-doke, then :3 Lemme give you a thought experiment. Let's say you have a disenfranchised group of humans that has no political power, and that never will. Is it okay to discriminate against them, even though they'll never be able to hurt you back? Is there any point in helping them, even though they'll never be able to do something good back to you?

Or, put in another way, let's say that there's a group of humans with some sort of genetic defect you lack that prevents them from being able to take care of themselves. Is the moral thing to let them starve to death, since they'll never be able to pay you back?

As a sidenote, it's perfectly justifiable for a vegan to advocate abortion, since there's not just the rights or suffering of the fetus to consider, but the rights and suffering of the mother, as well.
I have a hard time imagining a group of humans that would be incapable of returning a favor, at least in part. For example, in the antebellum South, I would have treated slaves as well as possible, not because they had the political clout to help me out politically, but because there would always be the possibility that they might someday be in a position to help me, if only in some small way. Or maybe a big way, by saving my life. But humans as permanently incapacitated as Terry Schiavo are not, in fact, human in any meaningful sense. Short of that, again, I have a hard time imagining that they might not be able to help me out in some way.

To the extent that other species can "pay me back", I extend them a certain amount of moral consideration. Dogs help people in many ways, even saving their lives on occasion. Same with whales and dolphins. Chickens just don't have the neurons to do any such thing. Cows, maybe. Pigs, probably.

In any case, calling it speciesism doesn't alter the fact that species are species in part because they tend to look after their own kind. Species that don't, don't last long as species. It's the selfish gene, preferring to get copies of itself into future generations. I share a lot of genes with cows, but not as many as I do with humans. Cows just aren't as important as people, and it's odd to think that they are. They're not as important as people because they're not as useful to people as people are.

And by your logic with the rights and suffering of the mother weighed against the rights and suffering of the fetus, then it's OK to eat meat because my rights and suffering count more (at least to me) than the rights and suffering of a cow. You can't have it both ways.

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