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I am a politically-progressive, ethically-herbivorous anthropoid pursuing a paleontology education in the Los Angeles Basin. I am largely nocturnal, have rarely been photographed, and cannot thrive in captivity.

21 January 2012

Speciesism = Creationism; Treat It That Way

You may have noticed a distinct lack of animal rights talk on this blog last year. That wasn’t an accident, although it’s not really accurate to say it was deliberate, either.  The thing is, I have little patience for “philosophy,” particularly when it comes to explaining why I don’t eat animals.  To me, the foundation of veganism is self-evident; I noted last year that there’s good evidence to think that empathy for animals is simply a given of human nature.  As such, to my mind it requires no more philosophical justification than breathing or walking upright.  I thus treat the contrary position that it is wrong – or, some say, unnatural – to feel or act on empathy for nonhumans as akin to claims about the divinity of Hebrew zombies, or the healing powers of trigonal silicate structures.  That is to say, the burden of proof lies with the other side, not with mine.

But I’ve started noticing that a lot of other vegans don’t do this; we spend a lot of bandwidth and paper trying to convince the world that it’s OK to indulge such empathy; or worse, trying to convince the world that animal suffering really is similar enough to our own that animals deserve significantly more robust moral and ethical consideration than we currently give them.  Entire books have been written on the subject.  I’ve even read a few of them.

In short, we’ve been acting like the burden of proof lies with us.  But it doesn’t, and we really ought to start acting like it doesn’t.

I came to my veganism and support for animal rights/liberation/libertarianism not primarily through works of animal advocacy, philosophy or ethics, but through my interest in and study of biology and evolution.  Once I got a grasp on the concept of homology, the ethical implications followed naturally, and the ethical foundation seemed obvious to me: everything we know about brain evolution tells us – or ought to – that the capacity for suffering is conserved in all vertebrates.  So are consciousness, pain, emotion and most of the other supposedly unique human mental faculties whose alleged lack in animals are often cited as justification for exploiting them ruthlessly.

Biologist Gerhard Roth is clear on the evidence for this point (emphasis added) :
All tetrapod vertebrates (amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals) have brains that – despite enormous differences in outer appearance, overall size and relative size of major parts of the brain – are very similar in general organization and even in many details (Wullimann 2000).  More specifically, all tetrapod brains possess a median, medial and lateral reticular formation inside the medulla oblongata, pons and ventral mesencephalon, including a noradrenergic locus coeruleus, serotonergic raphe nuclei and a medial ascending reticular activating system.  There is a corpus striatum, a globus pallidus, a nucleus accumbens, a substantial nigra, a basal forebrain/septum and an amygdala within the ventral telencephalon, a lateral pallium, homologous to the olfactory cortex of mammals, and a medial pallium, homologous to the hippocampal formation (at least Ammon’s horn and subiculum).  This means that all structures required for declarative memory (or its equivalent in animals), emotions, motivation, guidance of voluntary actions and evaluation of actions are present in the tetrapod brain.  These structures essentially have the connectivity and distribution of transmitters, neuromodulators, and neuropeptides in the different groups of tetrapods.
That’s all just a fancy-schmancy way of pointing out that humans inherited our capacity for emotion, intellect and consciousness from a long line of pre-human, and even pre-mammalian, ancestors. The discovery of mirror neurons in birds ought to demonstrate to us that the capacity for empathy was likely present in the common ancestor of reptiles and mammals, and is thus an ancient trait in most modern terrestrial species.  Based on this evidence, I give amphibians and fish the benefit of the doubt, too.

I take it as a given that animals possess and are capable of all the mental traits that speciesists like to prop up as uniquely human, in order to justify our long tradition of exploiting nonhumans.  Any claim to the contrary – no matter how sophisticated and no matter how ancient the philosophical tradition in which it is rooted – is simply mistaken, and does not need to be taken seriously.  It’s just another kind of creationism.

And that’s the rub.  In light of evolution, we are under no obligation to take speciesist ideas seriously.  They are not entitled to any intellectual respect at all.  And we need not treat them like they are. Our position towards them should be one of conversational intolerance; claims about the uniqueness of human suffering or consciousness are as nonsensical as claims that Elvis still lives, or that the constellations influence human actions. In the words of Pauli, they are not even wrong.

Rather than being defensive about the foundation of our ethics, more vegans should be openly dismissive of the contrary position, and shift the burden of proof where it belongs: onto the creationists who claim animals can’t think, feel, or suffer.

All this is the reason I rarely write long posts on ethics or philosophy. In my day-to-day thinking and action, the claims of speciesists simply get ignored.  I don’t think about these ideas often, because they are a waste of time, just like the claims of Flat Earthers or crystal healers.  And in the relatively few instances where I am confronted by such claims, I either make fun of them, shift the burden of proof to the claimant, or simply ignore them altogether, depending on the situation.

I realize that it doesn’t make sense for all animal advocates to do this at all times and places, and there is an important role for dialogue and persuasion -- I just don't see it as my role. I can’t help think that if a few more average vegans adopted this attitude, we’d make some headway in the larger culture, the way skeptics of other parts of religion have been doing the last couple of years.

At the very least, it's a lot more fun than philosophizing with creationists.

31 comments:

  1. I came to this conclusion several years ago too, but through a different intellectual process. I realized I spent far too much time apologizing for my vegetarianism and explaining myself. As I transitioned to veganism, I noticed that explanation is simply not needed as you are not going to convince someone of something when they are bent on proving you wrong. Now I am content to talk about my personal ethics and philosophy when asked, but like you said "We’ve been acting like the burden of proof lies with us. But it doesn’t, and we really ought to start acting like it doesn’t." Very much agreed!

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  2. It seems to me that what you're arguing against is not "speciesist ideas" but arguments that meat-eating isn't rooted in speciesism. In other words, I don't see it as much of an argument against somebody whose argument is explicitly speciesist, i.e. "It's okay to eat animals because people are more important."

    Anyway, I agree that there's a good case for empathy. That said, I have trouble seeing why veganism should necessarily be the response to it. Given that vegan consumption also causes foreseeable harm to animals, most vegan consumption practices are speciesist as well. So it seems not particularly useful to establish that meat-eating is speciesist, which is what I think your argument here does.

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  3. Adam,

    No, I'm arguing against the idea that it is necessary or worthwhile to address speciesist ideas at all, with anything other than mockery or dismissal. My point is that the foundational idea of speciesism -- that humans alone possess intelligence/consciousness/empathy/etc. -- is a denial of reality, and ought to be treated by most people like any other such nonsense idea: with conversational intolerance.

    Meat-eating, in and of itself, may not be speciesist; but the argument that it is justified by humans' "superior" intellect or consciousness certainly is. I am arguing that the best response to that idea is not debate or persuasion, but ridicule. The idea does not have to be taken seriously, and animal advocates should not be wasting time arguing against it, any more than NASA wastes its time debating astrologers.

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    1. "Meat-eating, in and of itself, may not be speciesist; but the argument that it is justified by humans' 'superior' intellect or consciousness certainly is. I am arguing that the best response to that idea is not debate or persuasion, but ridicule. The idea does not have to be taken seriously, and animal advocates should not be wasting time arguing against it, any more than NASA wastes its time debating astrologers."

      The biologist you quoted, Gerhard Roth, refers specifically to "superior" human intelligence and consciousness in a more recent book:

      "Human brains, relative to the brains of other primates, have the largest number of neurons, the largest number of synaptic contacts, and, in general, the largest cortex mass. The human cortex is about four times as large as those of other great apes; it contains from 12,000 million to 15,000 million neurons and 40,000,000 million synaptic contacts. Although cetaceans (whales and dolphins) and elephants have a much greater cortical surface, their cerebral cortex is much thinner and less densely packed with neurons, and thus the inter-neuronal distances are greater. In addition, the conduction velocity of cortical axons is much slower. The combination of these facts probably accounts for the superiority of human intelligence and consciousness relative to these large-brained mammals and other primates." (230, Chimeras and Consciousness: Evolution of the Sensory Self)

      Of course that doesn't at all prove that there are no ethical implications to eating animals - informed people can disagree on how to react to research about the cognitive abilities of animals - but I don't think it's accurate to say that people who claim that other animals have a less complex consciousness and intelligence than most humans are equivalent to flat Earthers and crystal healers, even if they use the subjective term "superior" and use it as a reason for eating meat.

      If they say animals don't feel pain or emotions, that's another matter, but I doubt that most meat eaters honestly believe that (though I'm sure some say it in desperation during arguments with vegans).

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    2. Rhys,

      Of course, humans have a more complex brain than other animals. No biologist disputes this. But having the same traits to different capacities, or the same traits co-opted to new uses, is part of what it means to be a species. The point of homology and common ancestry is that the things that unite us with other vertebrates outnumber the things that set us apart. If something causes real suffering in us, we can know that it does so in other animals, too. And we can know that their experience of that suffering (or joy, or compassion, etc.) is in some way quite similar to our own, precisely because they have the same biological template.

      You say "informed people can disagree on how to react to research about the cognitive abilities of animals," but that's only true within limited parameters. Not all reactions will be legitimate or "informed." Such moral conclusions about nonhuman animals' status are ultimately rooted in factual assumptions about the biological nature of suffering and consciousness. Those assumptions can be empirically tested, and as such, we'd expect to find that some have a greater likelihood of being true than others. Some will be wrong, and a few will be utter nonsense. People who react in defense of wrong or nonsensical assumptions are not entitled to the label of "informed"; on the contrary, they have forfeited their right to be taken seriously.

      I recently discovered that my thoughts on this issue are analogous to those of Sam Harris in his book The Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values. As we come to a greater understanding of both the causes and effects of things like compassion and cruelty at the level of neurochemistry and other biological processes, we approach a situation in which science really can give us clear answers on moral questions. As he puts it (this is a paraphrase), "assertions about morality reduce to factual claims about the well-being of conscious creatures." There are factually right and factually wrong answers to such questions (even if we cannot know them at present), which means that some people are simply wrong about morality, in the same sense that some people are wrong about physics. And just as physics overturned centuries of wrong ideas about the world, it's conceivable that the new science of morality will overturn centuries of wrong ideas, as well. Being ancient or sophisticated is no guarantee of truth.

      But I go a bit farther than Harris and argue that we already know enough about evolution to conclude that animals are entitled to significantly greater moral, ethical and legal consideration than we currently give them, to the extent that their interests will trump our desires a hell of a lot more than they ever have in the past. Ancient claims about human dominion, superiority, or moral uniqueness are simply factually wrong, the same way that creationism, astrology and crystal healing are factually wrong.

      The ideas can justifiably be dismissed or ignored out of hand. They're not entitled to the facade of credibility that "debate" grants them. We do not have to take them into consideration when formulating ethical systems or public policy, any more than NASA takes the Zodiac into consideration when designing space missions, or geologists consider ley lines when locating mineral deposits.

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    3. Finally, it may be true that most meat-eaters don't believe animals feel no pain or have no emotions. But from what I can tell, that's only because most meat-eaters don't actively believe anything at all about food; they just eat indiscriminately, using only their taste buds as a guide. Most of them act on internalized, unconscious belief systems about animals that are rooted not in evolutionary knowledge, but ancient fairy tales. Those who do actively think about their food, in my experience, may not believe animals feel no pain or have no emotions, but they still act as though they believe this, and are more than willing to drag the argument out when all else fails them. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count the number times I've either witnessed or participated in a discussion of animal rights and veganism in which the denial of animal cognition was among the first lines of meat-eater defense. And not just among amateurs, either.

      If meat-eaters who make this argument or some version of it -- which is most meat-eaters I've ever encountered -- don't actually believe it, then they are arguing in bad faith, and again, are not entitled to serious consideration.

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    4. I don't think descriptions like, "the 'superiority' of human intelligence and consciousness," are strictly "scientific." Here we see the limits of positivism because what seems to be presumed in such a claim is an evaluative premise, a decidedly speciesist evaluative premise.

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  4. I agree that there's no point in taking a Descartes-style argument that animals are automatons seriously and I don't know why animal rights philosophers spend so much time addressing it. But even Singer and Regan believe there's room for discrimination based upon cognitive abilities, their thinking being that because most other animals don't have grand ambitions for the future (and couldn't enact them if they did) and don't seem to have as many varied attachments to life and other beings, probably don't fear death in the same way, etc., that it's less of a big deal to kill another animal than to kill a human being. Regan and Singer don't use this to endorse widescale animal farming - that just causes them to favor humans in emergencies - but is it really so outlandish for meat eaters to use that same logic as their reason for wanting farm animals to be treated well, but not feel bad about killing and eating them?

    Outlandish to me is the idea that morality could be proven factually. I can see how some people might be wrong about how to achieve the goals of their morality -- for instance, a utilitarian might be wrong about whether a certain policy would lead to the most happiness in the world -- but I have trouble accepting the idea that an objective right and wrong can be scientifically proven. I haven't read Sam Harris, though, which it sounds like I should do. Nevertheless, if your basis for saying that arguments in favor of species or cognition discrimination shouldn't even be engaged because they are so laughable is based on Sam Harris' case for scientific moral facts, you might be asking too much of your fellow vegans to accept this laughing-at-speciesism approach.

    Thomas Nagel argued that even though bats have consciousness, this doesn't mean that there is such a thing as an experience of being a bat (http://organizations.utep.edu/Portals/1475/nagel_bat.pdf). I assume this is the sort of argument you would consider to be utterly ridiculous. And maybe it is. I haven't read it, to be honest. Nevertheless, there does still seem to be a question of what it's like to be another animal and thus what kind of harm death would be to them. What is the best research on animal consciousness that you're aware of, and what does it say about the other animal experience? There's an upcoming conference about it (http://www.neurovigil.com/fcmc/) that's making a big point of arguing in favor of animal consciousness, which makes it seem like there are still skeptics they need to convince about the profundity and relevance of animal consciousness. Can science definitely already tell us the general outlines of what it's probably like to be another animal, and would you say this contradicts the popular thinking that death is usually less of a harm for them than for humans?

    I'm crossing my fingers that you don't simply write back "LOL."

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    1. Remember that accepting that it is okay to discriminate based on cognitive abilities means something for human ethics as well.

      The idea that in emergencies it is okay to choose a human over an animal in an emergency is an incredibly weak case against animal ethics. It is not a philosophical or moral choice. It is a frantic survival oriented response which will happen in any animal. We can accept that no species is necessarily more valuable and also accept that in survival situations we will almost always choose to save that which we deem closest to ourselves. What I am saying is simply that it is not a moral decision. Of course humans, if given a choice between them or an animal will choose themselves or other humans, similarly though most would choose a family member over a complete stranger. These fringe cases are essentially useless as arguments.

      For example the experiment of Macaque monkeys, it took a long time starving in order for the monkeys to hurt their fellow monkeys for food. This does not mean they have no aptitude for ethical behavior (in fact it shows the opposite), only that in extreme starvation, they chose to survive.

      Humans are the same way, when we are starving and on the edge of death morals do not mean much anymore, and that is simply the way it is. In a starvation scenario I have little doubt humans would exhibit behavior which is purely selfish and probably behavior which is unethical to other humans.

      So it is not a valid argument against veganism, for if we accept that in a situation where morals do apply that it is okay to discriminate based on cognitive ability, then the most intelligent can exploit the less intelligent and cause them harm as long as they are "treated well" but still being used as a means.

      The fact that selfishness will emerge in animals when pushed against the wall is not evidence for whether any species is inherently more valuable or should be treated thus.

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  5. By the way, I've now read Nagel's essay and see that it argues pretty much the opposite of what I thought it did. Rather than saying that there is no such experience of being a bat, he says that just because we cannot conceive of what that experience would be like does not mean that the experience does not exist. His main point as I understand it is that others' consciousness is almost impossible to comprehend, particularly when the beings in question are another species and so structurally different from ourselves, and science so far can't really tell us much about it.

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    1. I think Jeffrey Shallit summed it up best: "Whenever scientific subjects are discussed, you can count on some philosopher to chime in with something really stupid."

      Nagel's essay is a good example of the kind of not-even-wrong thinking I'm talking about. He doesn't seem to understand biology at all; else, he'd get the simple concept of homology, and grasp that we actually can know quite a bit about what it is like to be a bat. Being a bat is another way of being a mammal, and we know a lot about what it is like to be mammals, because we are also mammals. The parts of our brains that govern emotions, planning, memory, self-awareness, environment modelling and empathy (to name just a few components of consciousness) were inherited from pre-human ancestors. The evidence from ethology and neurochemistry shows that those brain parts do in other animals what they do in us.

      Hence, my comment that the burden of proof lies with those who deny animal consciousness, not with those who accept it. Even at the time Nagel's essay was first published, science knew the basics of all this. He writes and speculates as though none of this evidence existed; I suspect he never bothered checking to begin with.

      The essay is nonsense on its face, and need not be taken seriously by anyone. Nagel can simply be ignored in the conversation while the rest of us move on.

      Thanks for that link to NeuroVigil, though! Some of the participants are people I'd have cited to answer your question about who I think is doing the best work on animal cognition (especially Christof Koch); not on their list would be Fraans de Waal (primatologist who studies chimp politics) and Carolyn Zahn-Waxler (pioneer in empathy research, who's shown empathy emerges before language in human children, indicating that it is not a language-dependent trait).

      I'd disagree that there are a lot of skeptics of animal consciousness left in the life sciences. What the conference seems to be addressing is whether nonhuman consciousness approaches human in its depth and complexity (there is good evidence that it does so in other primates, and in birds and octopuses), not whether it exists in the first place. I'll be watching that conference and it's reverberations with some interest.

      And even if there are skeptics, it doesn't matter, or soon won't. We'll reach a critical threshold at which the evidence is overwhelming and then simply stop wasting our time with the contrarian witch doctors. Professionals at medical conferences don't accept, or even consider accepting, papers from crystal healers; they just get on with the business of medicine. Some day soon, we'll be doing the same with realms that involve questions of human and animal consciousness, and guys like Thomas Nagel will get left out in the hall rattling their shibboleths.

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    2. As for Sam Harris's book, it's definitely worth a read. He's careful not to say that science actually has proved something morally right or wrong, or that there will only be one answer to a given moral question. He does, however, reject moral relativism and notes that if there are objective moral truths in the universe, then in principle and by definition, science ought to be able to discover and investigate them. It helps that he is a neuroscientist as well as a philosopher, as he is equipped to know which arguments about consciousness simply don't accord with the evidence and therefore aren't worth the waste of ink.

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    3. Thanks for the response. I'm interested in that conference too (since I'm in the UK, I'm hoping it will be possible to attend), and will also check out Fraans de Waal and Carolyn Zahn-Waxler, as well as Sam Harris.

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    4. Moral relativism and knowledge-based morality are the same thing. It was fun listening to you two though.

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  6. The evidence is certainly on the side of the vertebrates, but what about invertebrates? I give insects the benefit of the doubt given my lack of knowledge about their potential for sentience, but there seems to be a very real possibility that they are in fact in a different ethical category.

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  7. Thank You for your post. I've been vegan and I've always made the mistake to try to proof why it's right to be vegan (ethically, healthwise etc.). Though a couple of things, after reading a bit I'm not super sure being vegan really is healthy. But as you put it, none of it matters, what matters is the ethical viewpoint that it's simply wrong. Secondly I never challenge people, people always ask me and I can't wait to switch the argument on them and ask them to justify why they eat meat. Thanks for a great insight!!!

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  8. I'm a vegan, and an atheist. I'm doing a degree in Evolutionary Biology and majoring in Palaeontology in my final year. It's nice to know there's at least one other person looking at things from the perspective i'm coming from!

    Great post!

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  9. Someone needs to start making anti-speciesist memes and share them on Facebook.

    It seems speciesism is so entranced that shirts with chickens watching chicken being cook is something available at Wal-Mart, and I feel like it they are not trying to target veg*ns. Partly because its probably made in sweatshops in China and vegans don't support the exploitation of animals.

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  10. Hi, I really like your post. But, I need to say this:
    Structures in the brain may be the same but may not function in the same way and for the same aims. So when a vegan decides to use this brain-structure-arguments, he/she may need to prove that these structures are functioning the way he expects...
    So....thinking about this and drawing the line reminded me of this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Continuum_fallacy

    Also, you may find this interesting.
    http://foodethics.univie.ac.at/fileadmin/user_upload/p_foodethik/Bastian_Brock__et.al._2011.10_.06_Dont_mind_Meat._The_Denial_of_Mind_to_Animals__used_..._247.full.pdf
    It is a very simple but indicative study – what people who eat animals think about them.

    Also, I really liked your analogy between speciesism and creationism. I came to you blog after having an argument with an atheist who thought he was very progressive but he thought of animals in a very creationist way. Then I googled „speciesism creationism“ and this beautiful post came up... thanks ;)

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    1. Hi moralna,

      I appreciate your point about continuum fallacies, but point out that it's rarely a fallacy when talking about the actual evidence before us in biology. At least, not in any way that matters, ethically speaking.

      Yes, your atheist friend's position on animals is a flat denial of evolution. Next time you talk with him, you should say so. :)

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  11. Pretty flawed.. the reason vegans go through "the trouble" of showing the points of why veganism is correct - is to convince the meat eater they are making an incorrect choice. Simply dismissing what a meat eater says is not going to win you any fans nor would I consider you a voice for animals if you were to do so.

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  12. Good analysis.

    The fact is that atheists are not really atheists. They believe that human beings are gods who can use nonhuman animals as God can use human animals.

    The arguments that so-called atheists use to justify human supremacy are the same reasons that theists use to justifiy theocratic supremacy.

    Religious persons and so-called atheists equally accept speciesism as justification for exploiting nonhuman animals. But atheism - taken to its logical conclusion - should be a rejection of speciesism.

    Anthropocentrism is more than only ignoring the interests of nonhuman animals. It´s the belief on human supremacy, it means to believe that humans have the right to exploit other animals. The belief of human exceptionalism: the idea that humans are not part of the nature and can control their destiny (as gods).

    As William of Ockham said, if God exist we´re necessarily forced to serve Him. He establish what is right or wrong. No choice. Speciesist atheists (99% of people who call themselves as atheists) believe that is right to dominate other sentient beings because we humans establish what is right or wrong. So humans believe they are gods. As Ludwig Feubarch said, religion means human beings adore themselves.

    Anthropocentrism is a religion. That´s it.

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  13. Coming in slightly out of left field here, but this may be a place where I can get an answer to a question that derailed my original intentions to become vegan and to which I've yet failed to see handled.

    Let's say I accept the speciousness of speciesism. Let's say I care about an organism to the extent that it can suffer, (rather than the extent to which it can think/reason/emote/etc or has human DNA).

    That leads me to the position, endorsed by Singer, that while killing and eating a horse falls on the wrong side of the line, eating a mussel perhaps does not.

    So why is it wrong to eat a homeless person?

    More precisely, if I could painlessly kill, in their sleep or in any case with no prior warning that would otherwise induce suffering-causing fear, a person with no future aspirations, no family or friends or other acquaintances who would experience pain through, bereavement why would that be immoral?

    The only answer I can come up with -- for I surely do believe it would be immoral -- is that their life in and of itself has value. Even if they suffer as a mussel would suffer -- not at all, let's presume -- still killing the homeless person is bad, whereas killing the mussel is not. And why -- because the human is human and the mussel is not. What else is there?

    There must be a better answer. What is it? Thanks.

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    1. Hi Anonymous,

      It seems to me that the reason we care about suffering is because that capacity -- to suffer -- is a necessary condition for having any interests at all. That is, sentience, or roughly the ability to feel or experience in a way that isn't equivocal (a tree doesn't "feel" anything, e.g.), is necessary to be (directly) relevant in ethics/morality. So that is why, if Singer is right about the empirical claim re: mussel sentience, mussel's aren't included in ethics/morality. That's the first point.

      Re: killing the homeless person painlessly, this raises the question of the harm of death. Or, more precisely for Singer's account, does the homeless person have an interest in continuing to live? Well, the homeless person is sentient so she certainly has interests. Moreover, she is consciously aware of herself as existing overtime (that is, she has a past, present and future, and she knows it). Connected to that, she has an interest in realizing some of her future preferences (e.g. she wants to graduate with a Ph.D.). So, Singer concludes, yes, it would be wrong to kill her, even painlessly, not because she is a human being (that's mere speciesism), but because she has an interest in continuing to live.

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  14. There is no proof creationism is wrong so to even compare it as such is largely flawed. We will *never* know how this all began and there are so many theories, to point any one as wrong is foolish and stupid.

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    1. Nope. Hypotheses can be tested. As such, we can know which ones are more likely to be true than others. We may not be able to decide which of the best ones are correct (at least right now), but we can know, with absolutely certainty, which ones are dead wrong.

      Creationism is dead wrong. About everything.

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  15. ...and then there are the ones who argue against "speciesism" not in order to treat other animals better but in order to treat human beings *worse*.

    Killing, rape, theft, all have been excused in the name of acting like animals.

    Is that really what we want to do?

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    1. I challenge you to produce even one animal rights or vegan thinker who has done this.

      I also dare you to use a name other than "Anonymous." Seriously, it's getting out of hand.

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    2. Of course *animal rights* thinkers and *vegan* thinkers don't do that!

      I was thinking of those "law of the jungle!!!" jerks and those "survival of the fittest!!!" jerks.

      *They* would find "speciesism" a very convenient term for *their* goals (not granting other animals equality with what humans already have, but granting humans equality with what other animals already have...).

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