Brown University Student Won’t Accept Veganism: DEBATE A VEGAN

by birtanpublished on September 28, 2020

Anyone else want a conversation welcome yeah yeah hi I'm ed ed nice to meet you Bradley please take a seat are we still good to go so Bradley I'm here at Brown University and I have a tablecloth that says can you justify not being vegan and so I was wondering what

Justifications can you think of or do you use that justify not bein vegan well okay so I think it's any argument you put for the morality of any action yeah there's basically nothing that you can say that you can't poke some sort of

Hole in so I would be interested to hear what would your like positive argument be for like why eating my eating meat or drinking milk or eating eggs is wrong I think it comes down to an issue of necessity and so in times of necessity

We can just define action that could cause harm to someone else and so let's take an example of a human situation and so there's that there was a plane crash in the Andes I think in the 1970s and the survivors of the plane crash

Survived and lived to tell the tale because they cannibalized on the dead flesh or the flesh of the other dead passengers yeah and so in that moment we'd argue that cannibalism became a morally justifiable act and so likewise

If we had to consume an animal product to live that could become a morally justifiable act but in in a contemporary society especially in the US where we have an abundance of our alternatives or we get all the protein calcium iron

That we need from plants it then becomes that there is a lack of necessity and therefore a lack of necessity means that it's impossible to more you justify the action because the action contains a victim and so there's the ethical side

Of it the moral consideration to animals there's also the environmental aspect to the fact that raising consuming animals is devastating for our environment in so many different ways and so that's why I've posed this question because I

Believe that the the logical and moral emphasis lies on the side of vegan but I think that most of us to go through life without ever having to justify not being vegan because we've never justified that we've never fought about it or be held

Accountable for those decisions okay so I understand your argument so one one way that I would justify I think is if you look at where like where should our morality actually come from and so you're you're

Basing your argument on the fact that animals can even be victims so one possible argument you can say is that the basis for morality itself is that you need morality to create a system in which rational beings can live together

Right so moral laws should be something that that make that make life in our society better for everyone right so yeah so this is kind of I'm some a lot of this argument is not my own thought so I've read a paper by Peter Carruthers

And the argument there is this idea of moral contractual ism so basically it's this hypothetical agreement that moral agents agreed to morality in a system where morality should benefit other moral agents so it's you gain you gain

Something by living in a society where everyone agrees you know because some because most of us understand that there is this concept of morality we should treat those people better but since animals have no ability to act morally

Then there's no real incentive for humans to treat animals better but if we take so let's take an example of of rats only vaji because they've been studied the most in terms of many tests and so one of the things that they've seen it

In animal testing for rats is that rats will share food they will actually deny themselves a treat if it means not harming another rat so you know if they could shock her out and they'll get a treat for that but they recognize the

Other out was in pain through the action so they refuse the treat and not harm the other out and so we would define that as being a moral action and so I think that that part of the issue when you look at this is we apply a very

Human centric idea to it to what being moral means but actually the foundation to be moral do exist within certain species of animals as well and so I think and I guess one point was gonna make beforehand was what is it

About humans what is it about our existence that means that we deserve moral consideration well the fact is we can actually think about the morality so if a rat's being compassionate it's being compassionate because it's it's

You know it's psychologically painful like even even you know even if I say it's not morally bad to harm animals I'll still admit like if I were to kick a dog that would hurt me you know like I don't like seeing other things in pain

Yes so that's it's that same kind of reaction for rats but the difference for humans is that we can actually think about it we can actually think about okay you know if if I if I harm another human right not only

Is that painful for me to watch another human being pain yes but you know that also has other consequences on that human's life and I can think about a larger you know rationale picture of morality beyond just you know the

Immediate compassion of Oh someone else is in pain I don't like that you know that's painful for me too but but at the same time what we see from the animals like like the right example is that they can display complex emotions such as

Guilt and now guilts a complex emotion it's and so what I think it's unfair for us not to grant some element of benefit of the doubt these animals and it's that the purpose of this conversation really would be to define whether or not the

Suffering of an animal is something that we should be morally considerate of and it's not I think we can sometimes get bogged down within wherever or not non-human animals have the same cognitive or emotional capacities as

Humans I find that almost to be irrelevant as it's the purpose of of why I'm vegan is because we can isolate that the things that matter to us most an experience of happiness and the experience of joy but also a reduction

As far as possible of the experience of suffering and pain is what is kind of what drives us and and so those those intrinsic values are a mouse our feelings are also the same in non-human emos as well and should the

Fact that they can suffer and and can experience happiness does that not mean that we should grant them that the right to their own autonomy to experience these things in a way that is devoid of of human exploitation well I wouldn't go

As far as saying that we should grant them the right I I think I think it is better when animals don't suffer so if there's you know if there's two ways of doing something and one of them doesn't cause animals to suffer I mean that is a

Better outcome but I don't think that it's a negative moral thing I think it would be morally neutral to harm animals versus it would be morally good to avoid harming animals so it's you know I would say eating meat would be a morally

Neutral act but then abstaining from eating meat and and choosing to be vegan like that's admirable I would say that's that's a that's a good thing but it's not a bad thing to not be vegan what about say like an issue of dog fighting

Because we could say that it's admirable to not bet or partake in dog fighting but is it morally neutral to to be involved and to pay and to part to be part of something like dog fighting well I think part of you can argue that you

Can be a healthy you know you can be healthy without eating me that's definitely possible but we that's not what we're biologically programmed to do right so we're we have this innate sense of you know we enjoy we enjoy eating

Meat and that's you know that's kind of I I wouldn't necessarily argument argue that it's fundamental to you know human consciousness but I would say that that is that is how our brains are built were built to enjoy me we're not built to

Enjoy watching dogs kill each other what is it about our biological makeup our brain that means that we are hard wipe rogram to to consume animals I mean we are omnivores we you know there's the the way that our the way that our

Digestive system is built the way that our mouths are built were built to be able to both consume plants and animals whereas you know some animals are built to only consume plants some of them animals are built to only consume meat

So let's say let's say okay so let's say some people believed there were half of us I find that I am I'm not interested in that in the subtleties of where we lie on that spectrum but let's say whether we're definitively omnivores as

We've already acknowledged we can live without consuming animal products and so the argument where they're making it is an appeal to nature fallacy but also falls in line with the idea of of somewhat of a Mike's makes rights and

The ability that because we can physically do something where then somehow justified to do that thing but we I mean do we argue that like might makes right or it's kind of a good way to justify our actions I wouldn't say

That might makes right I it's I mean we we like it's it's I think it's a different thing to say that we can do something versus we are built biologically to want to do that thing but okay let's say we're not built

Biologically to want to kill animals none of us go about a day wanting to kill the animal but so at the same time the reason that we probably go to McDonald's or consume any animal product we do is is partly cultural partly how

Were raised and also I guess habitual as well and so because we've done this for our whole lives I don't hold you up and 24 but I was been vegan 20 so up until that point I'd always eaten these products and so I could say well my

Brain is kind of naturally hardwired to do this but I would make more make the argument that it was a cultural form of conditioning so to speak there's something I've always done you go to India where like 40 percent of

Vegetarian they're gonna tell you that you know they'll say their brains are not hardwired to be me because culturally habitually and socially then they never have and so do you think that that kind of intrinsic desire is more of

A cultural situation rather than an intrinsically natural one I guess they're you can always find examples of cultural of cultures that didn't have some practice but I think as far as as far as meat you

Know you you obviously gave a few exceptions but I think the general rule is most people in most places do eat meat and you know there's outliers like India yeah but I would I would say still that doesn't that doesn't prevent the

General rule from being humans are built as omnivores and so do you think that the general rule should define what we deemed to be acceptable moving forward I'm saying if we think historically what what was the the

General rule historically would not necessarily be considered as being as been justifiable today and so do you think that the part of the reason we feel this ways because we're still stuck in in the paradigm all of today and so

We like somewhat of a self-reflection to say well actually this is something we should assess because well we're part of that it's almost like a bandwagon effect you know like a I guess it'd be called like a false consensus bias the idea

That because everyone around this is doing it that that's somehow makes it acceptable but with historical context that isn't always the case well I would say you know I would I would say like in any historical situation event of

Injustice I would also say that it's it's hard it's hard for me to go all the way to saying like it isn't a negative to be a part of a historical injustice if that was the norm for the time but I think it's definitely more of that

Situation and then it's particular particularly good person you know if you if you oppose slavery in the 1800's you know so I and I realized it's kind of bad for me to go all the way to saying like oh well people who had slaves

Weren't bad they just like weren't particularly good like I realized that that's kind of a flaw of my argument like a morally neutral position to have slaves in the eighteen hundreds I'm not saying that's what you're saying but but

The consistency of the argument you're using would suggest that that's what would be the consistent end tonight essentially yes or that it's so I'm not saying that it goes all the way but I'm saying

To to the extent that like some historical practice was the norm at some time that moves that moves the morality more in the direction of its morally neutral to be part of that process versus it's morally good it's

Particularly morally good to not be part of them and I I do understand what you're saying by that because of the cultural aspects that the the kind of the paradigm suggest that's acceptable and so if we established earlier from it

From your own admittance that to be vegan would be seen as an admirable act right and if it is therefore seem to be an admirable act then why isn't an act that we should strive to be what why wouldn't we want to be admirable in that

Sense I mean well there's a lot of things that you can do that that are admirable and it's like you you only have so much effort you can put into it so you know if if you're you know you can do all kinds of morally admirable

Things you know you can you can donate lots of money and I don't think you can say that like someone who's you know a philanthropist who gives like 90% of their money away to charity or something but who also happens to eat meat like

It's hard for me to say like oh that's a bad person could be because they did this one thing that's wrong so you it's it's good to at least like choose a set of things that it's like well I can at least do this and these things are

Morally admirable and so you know I would say veganism is one of those but I don't think you necessarily like that it necessarily negates all of the other good stuff that you're doing if you're not a vegan that's a good I think that's

A valid point in the sense of there are so many aspects of our life we need to consider it and and but I don't think they also need it I almost create some sort of a defeatist attitude well we overwhelm ourselves with the abundance

Of things that we could change as individuals but also as a society and we say well you know then I'm gonna push this decide but intrinsically what we consume three times a day is one of the one of the the biggest habits that we

Have and so and also situations of injustice are not mutually exclusive and we do have in our ability to care about human issues and that could be homelessness or it could be poverty in the third or whatever it is but at the

Same time three times a day when we're eating just simply eating plants it's it's it when it becomes your new habit it's an unconscious decision in the same way that go into the cafeteria now and

Buying a chicken sandwich is an unconscious decision so it's about changing those habits and routines and that may take up time at the beginning but once you've done that it's no different to now and then you can focus

On becoming more morally admirable in other departments I don't for me the primacy is I don't stand why we wouldn't do it that's if we have that power we have that control to do it and what happens to animals is directly

Influenced by we as consumers then that means we can empower ourselves to know that we can change something that we deem to be even even even at the best scenario morally neutral but I would say to be morally um to deficit well the

Fact is like with our with our current with the current economic market basically just about anything you do is harming someone right like the the clothes we buy the the phones we buy it's all made by you know art I won't

Say all of it but the majority of it is made by people in disadvantaged situations by people who are being taken advantage of by a corporation so you know when lessons might be leap might be one of those but like still the stuff

The the you know the vegetables or you know whatever it would be that you would be eating instead of me well that was also probably produced by you know people who are being taken advantage of by a corporation so it doesn't seem like

You're avoiding that much harm by saying okay well I'll just stop eating meat right because then you're still you're still hurting people you're you're participating in the modern economic system but is it so that it's not the

Duty and responsibility of our society to hold ourselves morally accountable to these things and say yes there's no denying exploitation can happen to human workers it in in crop farming but we've got to also look at the fact that in

Animal-based farming those animals are fed crop so you've got the exploitation of humans there for crops anyway you then have the exploitation of the animals who have been killed and they know the exploitation of slaughterhouse

Workers who suffer psychological problems and so we can isolate that there's this huge system of exploitation there now that doesn't negate the exploitation that happens to humans and in plant

Based agriculture but that doesn't mean we shouldn't stop eating animals eliminate those problems and then try to address the other issues that occur I think would we overwhelm ourselves with all these these these exploit a plug

Exploitative situations in our world and then we become almost apathetic to trying to change anything but we can isolate as a progressive society or I should say as a civilized society all these different aspects and then hold

Ourselves accountable to change these things I mean we should be buying our clothes from Africa retailers and secondhand stores but also we should be asking those those clothing retailers to change how they produce those clothes

But at the same time one form of exploitation that we care in doesn't justify all of them and I just think with let's hold ourselves accountable and use the veganism as a stepping stone to living more consciously in helping

Other areas as well that's what I think ok that's a reasonable argument but so you're you're saying well that we should just work towards making the practice better so why why can't that extend to the meat industry as well why can't we

Say ok well factory farms exploit animals so let's let's try to make a farming system where we encourage more you know free-range animals we we say ok well we'll make animals suffer less in their life and that way we won't be

Exploiting them as much but that doesn't necessarily you know we can have we can have a system that doesn't exploit animals but we would still be able to eat meat and have animal products so the situation's of human exploitation in

Crop farming or Garman production to improve the standards for the living conditions and the working conditions these humans is mutually beneficial both pies win in that situation but in in terms of what we do to animals even if

We improve their their welfare and their standards it's still not a mutually beneficial or mutually consensual agreement because that animals will still be being killed and even if we improve it for them the end result is

Still the same well I don't agree that killing animals is necessarily morally bad eye not beneficial to the animals I well I think a lot of what's wrong with killing humans is the fact that we have this we have dreams and ambitions we

Have plans for the future and so if you if you kill a human I would say that what's bad about that is that you're depriving that human of the things that they wanted to do for the rest of their life

So if animals don't have that then I would say it's not as bad it's not bad to kill them because you're not actually depriving them of you know the things that they're gonna do for the rest of their life because they don't have plans

For the rest of their lives I would say not it not as intrinsically complicated as our plans but we know from having dogs as pets that they look forward to walks you know they look they're excited at the prospect of what they will do in

The future it's a very simple excitement right and their aspirations were of course very simple but they still look forward to things and I would argue that you could use what you're saying there to place humans and their value of life

Is higher so if you had a situation between killing a human and killing a cow you could use the argument you've just made there to justify killing the human but that's an attack I'm sorry killing the cow but that's that's an

Extreme situation but the situation that we live in is we have can the human killing the cow were killing neva and because none of those are a necessity to save the life of the other the killing neva becomes the morally right action

Because regardless wherever that cow has aspirations to travel 1/2 a family or whatever it might well be they still enjoy simple things like grazing and being happy and um being maternal because they are matriarchal beings and

So those those considerations still warrant us not harming them well ok so you use you went to the case of you know killing a cow versus killing a human well what about killing a thousand cows versus killing one human and I'll this

Is the moral dilemma I have arrived because like I said to you at the beginning ok but it's an if it's a necessity it can be justified but say say we could make the argument killing one chicken is fine if it's necessity

But then a billion chickens ten billion there has to be aligned somewhere I think there are a whole host of of estimates I think a conservative estimate is there we are responsible for about 100 animal

Deaths a year by being on vegan that includes like tins of sardines insert right yeah so say it is a hundred animals in the year say we live to be 80 years old hopefully longer of course so say it is 8000 animal deaths is that is

That worth one human life or would you know where's that line for you well I I'm just saying like I don't know exactly where the line is but the thing is like you're you're admitting like you don't really know whether 8000 animal

Deaths is worth one human life so you know it's hard to quantify and really the only thing that humans are gaining by killing animals is that we enjoy our meals more so if you say pleasure doesn't justify it taking life we

Wouldn't we wouldn't we wouldn't we wouldn't have a dog walk past now and if when these people here killed the dog we would say that's fine because they enjoy it but will it eat the flesh and enjoy that if we use sensory pleasure as a

Justification then we then we justify things like rape because the rapist enjoys the active right we and we would justify a whole host of really what we'd consider to be apparent actions simply because that the perpetuated the

Violence enjoys that I I wouldn't say that because in a case of rape it's hurting the victim far more than the than the pleasure that the the perpetrator gains it's not about the amount of pain or the amount of

Psychological trauma it's about the fact that there is an element of pain and so we could argue that one action is worse than the other but that the the severity of one action didn't justify the severity that the not lack of severity

But the the different level of severity in the other you know if it actually is wrong it's wrong universally regardless who ever one actions worse than the other well but I think I I think if you if you say that the benefit that I get

From eating one animal you know if you whatever scale you used for determining you know how much animal benefit you know how much animal benefit is worth the same amount of benefit for a person right if you there it's possible that

You could say well the the amount of benefit that I get from eating an animal is worth more than the loss that you got from killing an animal and I wouldn't I wouldn't say that I I would not say that that's

Comparable to something like rape because it's it's not the two actions but the logic behind the idea that sensory pleasure justifies the action would therefore I mean any action that we there is as a human or any other gets

This gets pleasure from is automatically justified simply because we get pleasure from it it's not about saying this is the same as that in terms of the action itself but the logic behind the justification has to be applied

Universally in that case well I would say it's only justified if the pleasure is greater than the harm to the other person and if also you you act in a compassionate way towards the person that you're causing harm towards so if

We that's a paradox then itself I mean how do you compassionately cause harm to an animal when harm does not need to be caused to the animal I mean it's if I mean it's okay so you can you can be you can at least say I'm

You know you can at least say that like I'm sorry that that something that I got benefit from caused harm to you without saying that like I should have not done that thing right like if okay you know I'm trying to think of an example this

Maybe isn't the best example but let's think about like traffic right so we let's suppose everyone's time is worth an equal amount of value so if I if I am driving and I decide you know I need to go you know I something I do slows you

Down if I cut you off or something but if the net effect of that action is that I get where I'm going sooner than whatever delay I caused for you slowed you down I would say that that's okay for me to do right but but

They did I preached I was because probably the comparison came to head but the it's almost a false equivalence because what's at stake is so is so the disparity between what's at stake is is its life or like five seconds of

Inconvenience and being slightly more delayed in traffic and so III understand the logical what you're saying but it's a false equivalence in the sense of the two acts are completely what I would need to be known comparable well isn't

Your entire life just made up of a series of five-second periods of time so if you took off if you took off you know if you say okay well I'm gonna live to be you know eighty nine years and three hundred days old well if you then said

Okay I'm gonna take off that last day so it's only gonna be eighty nine years and two hundred and ninety nine days right yeah like that's one day of my life I'm not sure that I would care that much right so but at this moment your life is

Just made up of short periods of time so it is equivalent and it's just a much much smaller scale so five seconds of my life is worth you know whatever proportion of the of the total amount of years I'm gonna live put it five seconds

But at the same time if a cow skill to 18 months and their lifespan is twenty to twenty five years you're taking eighteen and a half years off of them and it's not just small incremental things where they get to enjoy their

Life their life is taken away from them by having the blade pulled across their throat and so again the it's it's it's it I feel the less kind of pointers it's pointed straws because the two actions are getting on comparable if over time

Because of people wasting your time you cut a year which would be a sizable amount of time off of your life but you've still had a family in tune or things you want to do that's not comparable to pull the knife across the

Furrow of an animal at eighteen months when the lifespan is twenty years well I guess I guess that's probably natural conclusion right we it's anything else yeah I think we've done quite welcome well I appreciate the conversation very

Very much yeah I really enjoyed that I was very stimulating in it and I'm not had a conversation but those kind of topics prompt so I really really appreciate that I'm sorry I forgot what you said your name was it's Ed's Edie

Yeah was Bradley yes quite impressed that wrote lovely to meet you Bradley thank you so much and have a wonderful day yeah you do have I appreciate that take camera

You do thanks Bradley you

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