Harvard Students Argue Against Veganism

by birtanpublished on September 26, 2020

I'm here at Harvard University today and I'm gonna be asking Harvard students questions about quality and moral consideration and seeing what they think about whether or not we should include non-human animals into our circle of moral consideration as well and so the

First question I'm asking people is do think all humans should be granted kind of that same moral consideration so yeah I think I think certainly everybody is like everybody deserves some some sort of equality should we kind of consider

All humans within our moral consideration and kind of grant a kind of a blank equality to everyone to have the right to life absolutely and what is it about the humans that gives us that or what attributes to humans possess

That mean that we should be granted a right to life Wow okay that's a that's a tough one I do think all humans should have a equal right to yeah life and liberty yeah I can you define what liberty means what does that mean to you

To me I think each human should kind of have the right to exercise some autonomy over their own life and whether or not they choose to exercise that I think is up to them but I do think of that everybody should have the right so free

From the coercion of poverty like definitely from physical violence economic violence or poverty I guess so I'm more attributes of being human do you think grants us those rights it's a really good question I think being

Intelligent living beings being a member of the same fabric of broad society and being individuals who experience suffering pain joy yeah if I expand it expand the question out and say we consider humans a moral consideration

What about non-human animals should they be considered in our moral consideration as well interesting so I mean I'm personally I'm a vegetarian and and so I do feel I personally feel like you know a connection with the animals no not but

I think you know it's tough because then when we when we choose life forms in general like why do we draw the line and animals and like we can think about the number of bacteria that our gut is killing every day and like that's like

You know I mean it seems like at some point we do end up drawing a line somewhere and and so I guess I'm not even though I personally would have like a very tough time like killing an animal or thinking about harming animals I'm

Not sure that I would be comfortable imposing that on others who have decided that the line lies closer to humanity then interesting when I guess the the difference in bacteria will be would be like extensions who consciousness

Whereas I think for me the moral consideration of non-human animals is is that our moral code dictates the human should be granted consideration because there's a conscious sentient have individualistic experience of life but

Then the animals that we exploit also have those same traits they're enough but I guess I think sometimes like for instance we will we will suggest that animals you know obviously animals have emotions and feelings but like we are

Not able to experience those in the same way that we are able to maybe empathize with humanity so I think it makes it difficult when we're like talking about a starfish for instance like where's sentience they're like you know I think

It's just the clock if she becomes a little more complicated and I'm not saying I personally again feel like you know that that that line should be drawn maybe a little bit farther away but I I do think that we feel a solidarity with

Humanity that we don't with other species and that's just the nature of like we feel solidarity with our family more than we feel with the rest of humanity and those are maybe lines that we draw arbitrarily but maybe here I

Guess that's the point isn't it's like an arbitrary distinction between and it makes sense for us to have close alliances with our own species because it's easy as say to amplifies but do you think that

That kind of lack of ability to amplify is somewhat demotes the value of an animal's life or non-human animals life or so they still be granted that right to life Oh interesting yeah I think that I think it does I think it does think it

Makes it I think maybe the the project should be recognizing that it is arbitrary and right you know making sure that we are okay with the decisions that we are making the lines in the dirt that we're drawing if they don't have any

Like specific moral backing then we just have to be may be aware of those and in very conscious okay so if we branch the question out further and we say outside of just the human context what about say all non-human animals as well should

They be granted some sort of notion of moral consideration absolutely yeah yeah why would you say absolutely because well in the case of animals it's very clear that that animals like have you know they have desires they they have

Like preferences they take pleasure in certain things they socialize they they like find joy and they're in their own lives and in their own activities and and so do we so to deny you know entities that that that experience life

In much the same way that we do the ability to live their lives the way that they want to I think is is not really defensible so I think that the way I think about it I don't think that animals are humans humans but but that

Humans are maybe animals or at least we exist within the animal kingdom sure so I think that humans have the responsibility to take care of animals I think that out of the kind of beauty of humanity and creation like if if

Humanity is living rightly and in right relationship with each other I think that flows and I think that you know humanity will take care of the earth in its creation and that includes animals and so I think when things are rightly

Working I think that animals are well taken care of and not exploited and so could you define what taking care of wheat means what so say for you and I in our day-to-day lives what would it take for us to take care of animals I think

That that is not maltreated mistreating animals rights of maltreatment I think in terms of like animal abuse and those kind of things I think that that's like absolutely an exploitation and just a degradation of animals dignity I guess

They're altona me as well right their autonomy as well I guess in some ways yeah what would be animal abuse what would be like an example of what does the word abuse how do you define that word III mean I guess animal abuse

Like as you think of like I guess you see those commercials kind of on TV like in the middle of the night yeah so like obviously like beating animals that type of thing is obviously abusive depriving them of the things that they need to

Survive it's that type of thing yeah what about the what about like the the opposite of that what about say when we take that life from them is that as that form of abuse um I I think in some instances yes I don't think in all

Instances but I do think in some instances it definitely can be abusive yeah could you define like an instance where it wouldn't be an abuse to take the life an animal um I mean I think different people obviously like fall on

Different places of the spectrum morally right I think there are circumstances in which like animals are especially if you think like are we considering fish animals yeah I mean I think people could imagine circumstances in which fish are

Allowed to kind of range like free-range wild fish yeah and or not call it and people eat them and I think I wouldn't consider that abuse and I think there's a valid argument that there's that that's not

Abusive what would that argument be do you think what would be the we use the word immoral what would be the moral justification to consume animals or animal products I think the moral justification that argument would

Probably be that to some extent I think that animals could live full and like I don't know they could live lives free of like torture and free of abuse and at the same time humans could consume them so if we had like a big like lush green

Pasture with cows like grazing we would then be morally justified to to take them to a slaughterhouse is that the general thinking I don't know then so the next question I could have expanded a little bit further and I say or what

About say non humanimal do they deserve a sense of moral consideration as well yeah that's an interesting question I think a lot of people think that there's kind of a correlation between intelligence and the possession of a

Soul and they kind of link their answer with that I don't know that I believe that do you think intelligence just define worth of life all oh I don't think so no do you think that there is a a moral justification to exploit animals

For food and clothing hmm yeah I I would say that yeah I don't know I feel like that's that's a difficult question because I feel like we also you know we exploit yeah I don't know I feel like yeah I think it's I think it's tricky

And you know if you think about the the meat industry or like cows for instance in you know it's it's I feel like it's very terrible what we do to them but at the same time like I guess I'm imagining alternative

Options of like you know cows have become so domesticated that you know their existence as a species has kind of devolved into you know being used useful for humanity and and I don't know I mean maybe you know maybe there there is all

There are alternatives in which you know those those distinctions don't exist but I don't know yeah I think it's a that's a very that's a very tough question so could you maybe expand on what what alternatives that would that would be

Interesting yeah I mean I guess I could envision a world or at least my the way that I would I choose to sort of envision relationships with humanity and animals is that you know we try our hardest to stay out of their way and and

Respect their their autonomy but but I don't know I mean I don't even know how feasible it is I mean I private I've not done so much research in this matter I don't even know how feasible it is in the context of domesticated animals at

This point so like you know if we just like let them you know if we if we stopped mass-producing them or whatever like what what you know certainly like living in the wild is not really an option for

Them and all right so and then I don't know so I think it makes it difficult to to especially the concept of evaluation like how do we evaluate an animal's life as a human as useful for as a you know object for humans and then how

Do we evaluate an animal's life and what that means like you know if it's not and and I guess to to to kind of understand whoever an animal should be granted moral considerations to work out whether they should be considered as an

Individual or as property you know in the eyes of the law that considers property with which creates this system where we can exploit them kind of rather freely but if we acknowledge them as been individuals with as a someone then

The the consideration would behind the property aspect of it becomes a lot more difficult to justify so I guess it's about perceptions okay so let's say we do give them like really big lightning we give them a lush life okay these

Animals live an amazing life but we still have to take that life from them and so how would we how do we kill them in a way that would be morally justified so yeah again I don't know I don't know as much about fart like farming or not

Farming so I don't know exactly what that looks like but I do think that there is an argument for humans being able to kind of have some level of I think humans have some level of dominion over over animals and I and I think that

There is a way that that exists that you couldn't do that rightly and you can do that without being abusive and exploitative what do you think okay so let's say let's say in a slaughterhouse okay okay what happens to an animal in a

Slaughterhouse they're killed I think I don't know but I guess like how were they killed you know like did you have any ideas I imagine it's a pretty bloody and kind of so if they say cut the throats around a

Slaughterhouse just when I say the word like if the phrase we cut an animal's throat do you think that objectively speaking that we've seen you seen us as a violent act I do but then at the same time how do we take

The life of an animal from them in a way that isn't violent there's so there's so I guess there are levels to the violence right I think that probably right when you think of maybe not hunting for sport but I think in some like for instance

And some indigenous communities like hunting as a source of food supply is something that has been historically done and I don't I don't think it's been I think there when it's done rightly I think there's a respect for animals and

For what they provide that allows you to do that without just what about you in a high-rise and it cuts every side here we are in in Cambridge in the east coast of the US we don't have that indigenous culture necessarily the same way that's

What we would describe yeah and so how do we then when we have an abundance of options how do we justify paying someone to cut the fur of an animal and that in that circumstance no I mean I do think that that's definitely something to take

Into consideration right I I think that there I I will what I will say is I don't think that like hunting animals humanely has I don't think that's entirely ancient like I I think that that pub leagues is today in ways that

Aren't inhumane but I do think that it's important for us to be mindful of how we consume animals why we consume them how often and so I do think that that's absolutely something to be mindful of what does the word humane made you say

Like humane hunting or humane slaughter we have to define what that word means to use it if I was to treat you humanely what you I would be treating you in what manner I guess probably in the literal way it's probably like as is rightful to

Treat another human but I guess right from the word human but I guess synonyms would be like compassion benevolence and do you think there's a compassionate or benevolent way to take the life of an animal if we don't have to I I guess

It's like a matter of personal opinion right like I do think that there is there should absolutely be a level of compassion like you said with which we treat animals I guess it's a matter of personal opinion like I I think that

There are ways that animals can I don't know that humans can I don't know consume them I don't like I said I'm not as knowledgeable about aspects of like slaughterhouses right like I do think that there's a way as far as I

Know that animals are like held in these cages and slaughtered and injected with chemicals and I think that is not befitting of their dignity and we value human life because we say well there's a sentence there's an experience of

Suffering and pain but also happiness and joy do you think that the Nanshan animals are also capable of experiencing that those same emotions and sensations I am Not sure I don't think I know in that but I would I would say so yeah and

So if we would say so does that mean that we should grant a noncom animals the same kind of moral consideration and in terms of that I mean like a right to a life by that logic I would say yeah yeah and do think though that we

Logically honest in that way and do we grant animals a right to a life free from suffering and exploitation that's like it seems like a bit of a loaded question guys yeah so can you maybe name some examples in which we do take

Animals lives in a way that would be unbefitting of our moral code totally food clothing pretty much anything consumable that we use animals for which is most things yeah and so how do we morally justify

Using animals per say food or clothing yeah I think a lot of it comes down to intelligence but intelligence doesn't define what less right right yeah it depends on us but I would say broadly intelligence might be one of those

Things the possession of a soul I think for a lot of people is a question that that they factor into whether or not they consume animals animal products what about for you what moral justification would you use yeah I'll do

You yeah I would say I just shy away probably from thinking about it too much it's probably what I personally use and what most people would use is because we don't interface with animals in the same way that we interface with humans on a

Daily basis we probably just don't ask those questions very often since I said that I think so we're very much disconnected from the process yeah do you think that that's kind of a if we were to think about what happens when we

Buy certain products do you think that would make us feel would that change our opinion of the others products yeah I definitely think so for example I had my birthday was recently and we went out to dinner and one of the things I was

Looking at getting had foie gras and I was like I don't know what that is so I looked it up and I decided not to get it because I learned what they do to to make foie gras and so I think if when purchasing products or like meat or

Things like that if we were constantly reminded of the process that it probably you would see a reduction people will buy clothes products that's a really valid point do you think that morally there's a difference between purchasing

Something like foie gras or a steak or a piece of cheese you it morally there's a difference no not really and I think even above and beyond like the effect on the animal there's broader considerations as well

That could be used to get people to care such as like environmental impact and things like that so I think if you start to like pile on all of those different considerations and you're likely to be able to achieve an outcome as far as

Like reducing people's like consuming animals absolutely all about education and awareness isn't there maybe today just have a look and see what happens this slaughterhouse see if you think is something that morally

You subscribe to see if it's something you think that's not abusive and yeah it's all about education and the more we know the more we can empower to make informed decisions so maybe just when you've got a bit time later just just

Have a little bit but let's see what you I do I can't promise they're pleasant but I can happily ride the dog I really appreciate the the conversation than ever yeah it's really interesting so there's a documentary called Dominion

Which is it ties in nicely to what we were trying but there's also another documentary called Land of Hope and Glory which is about yeah oh land which is yeah sorry that's mine which is a UK documentary but at the

Same time I explore traditional farming practices so those two I'd recommend okay I mean if you want it but what about the environment in Kota goose it's almost infamous for like the fur trim and stuff and so I was wondering when

You bought the jacket were you aware of but it'd been like a real fur trim do you think though that behavioral traits that from our ancestors should set a moral precedent for what we do today you

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