PhilosophicalVegan Wiki Questions

Technical problems, questions, comments, and suggestions for the forum and wiki.

Margaret Hayek
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Re: PhilosophicalVegan Wiki Questions

Post by Margaret Hayek » Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am

Sorry I just noticed that this discussion was going on here; I'd only been looking at the wiki (not the forum)

Margaret is obviously not vandalizing and has already made some good contributions and edits, but I would say we don't know her well enough yet to know she wouldn't add others who might not be as considerate."
Many thanks. I really support the basic idea of a resource where people can go to understand arguments for veganism and their drawbacks (as well as this forum in general, sorry I only got around to joining recently), both practical and philosophical, and I do sincerely want to help. Moreover I have absolutely no idea how to add others. So you have nothing to fear from me on the score of adding trolls.

We definitely need to establish some editing guidelines, though.
Any substantial edits of what others have contributed -- particularly those involving disagreement -- should be discussed on the forum first, it's very difficult to have a back and forth on the Wiki and keep track of things.
No worries; again I'd only looked at replies in the discussion part, which didn't seem quite to say this, although I'm sorry if I misinterpreted them.

Comments like these are ideally made on the forum, not in-line:
Margaret Hayek wrote:In response, those who wish to share an alternative perspective might worry about the extent to which they ipso facto get labeled as 'apologists' and are accused of 'attacking' those who have a different view. They also might not understand why there is such worry about a cult and hijacking of vegan youtube by someone who has only 13,000 followers.
.
Got it, I think that's clear enough.

We care because Vegan Gains has a huge following, and has promoted this through debates to an even larger audience.
I see; good point.

The issues of intellectual dishonesty and apologia for or opposition to action against pseudoscience and pseudophilosophy are substantive and probably warrant their own articles.
I hope you'll forgive me if I wouldn't quite characterize my views / edits in this way, but sure; if you'd like to break off the debate about the value / disavalue of allowing young individuals without formal philosophical training to make these arguments, and what is best done in terms of reaching out to them to offer them something more useful for their purposes, that would be great. As I'm still very early on the learning curve about wikis and edits, I'd be most grateful if you would just make it clear where the new locations are.

Margaret Hayek wrote:Those who hold the view that concerns about NTT's deleterious effects are exaggerated might be very glad that information is being shared about its logical shortcomings and that the text of arguments without those shortcomings is in the process of being linked to these discussions. But they might attempt to clarify that, if critics are so concerned about NTT being popularized on Youtube at the expense of better arguments for the same purpose, it would be nice if these critics would undertake some popularization of these better arguments, perhaps on Youtube. They might agree that it would be naive to think that the sheer superior rational force of better arguments would cause them to spread - but that this is all the more reason for those who find it dangerous that NTT is being used in the place of them to do more to actively spread the better arguments, beyond begin the task of explaining why they are better on this wiki. This is sincere - it seems for instance that in an early debate Vegan Gains took the wording of NTT from Isaac in the comments section, not only because he's a long-time supporter of Isaac, but because he really was looking for a short convincing ethical argument that gets the rational force across quickly and efficiently. It at the very least had the practical drawback of the second premise being pretty difficult for many people to comprehend on the fly. If there was something better to offer (and proponents of this view would be inclined to agree that there is) it really would be good to make it available to people for such contexts.
This was already addressed in editing in the article, although she might have missed it. Thus why the forum thread is more suitable for these discussions.
I very well might have missed it, although I did recently respond to what I took to be a round of response that came from the discussion page. Please feel free to move the discussion where you like, or continue it here.

"Better" from an objective standpoint is not necessarily the same as what will be perceived by biased and uncritical activists as better. Ineffective and counter-productive activism based on the flaws of human psychology is predominant (look at how many activists use accusatory and alienating approaches). NTT leverages many biases to gain unfair advantage in the activist's mind against objectively better arguments (such as laziness, because the best arguments are empirical, and science is HARD).
I certainly agree that there is much more of a task convincing the young vegan advocates to use arguments that are better for their purposes than simply displaying arguments that are better (in either technical or practical senses). Indeed, many of my responses have been along exactly these lines. I suppose what I've been most critical of is simply showing them technical logical drawbacks of the argument without explaining to them why that matters, especially when (i) they don't understand the technical points, and (ii) they don't see why they need to, especially because they and their carnist interlocutors mutually feel its force, which I think is in virtue of its in practice communicating the force of something like the corrected argument on the wiki or the argument from less able humans, (iii) no one is telling them how to do better for their purposes (do you think they should go around using the corrected argument on the wiki? If so that wasn't clear. It also seems a bit cumbersome. I'm sure you could compress the content of the third and fourth premises into a single additional premises; do you think that they should use a version of the argument from less able humans? that might not be that short and pithy, especially since a lot of the substantive reasoning goes into defending the premises, not just stating them), and (iv) no one is explaining to them how other arguments are not just superior in a technical logical sense that both they and their carnist interlocutors don't even know about but in a sense that will matter for effective advocacy very broadly construed (which includes not only getting more people to go vegan / reduce animal product consumption but continue to do so, win new converts, not lose existing converts, etc. etc. etc.).

We can work out how to clarify this in the wiki, but we should discuss it here first if possible.
It may even warrant an entire article, because this criticism is likely to be repeated.

As to the focus on NTT right now, it is topical and we can't afford substantial distraction while people are interested in this.
But if you're up for adding to this, please do:

http://philosophicalvegan.com/wiki/index.php/Arguments_for_veganism

I'm going to remove those comments form the wiki since we can discuss them here (ideally in a new thread)
Edit: I guess I can't do that yet, because it's hard to tell what has been edited."
Sorry; I didn't mean to cause trouble. Just let me know if I can help with moving things to a more helpful place.

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brimstoneSalad
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Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Nov 16, 2017 4:31 am

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am
Sorry I just noticed that this discussion was going on here; I'd only been looking at the wiki (not the forum)
No problem. Now that you know, we'll do most of the discussing here. :D

I saw your reply about marginal cases; that source cited will be removed if it's a problem. Does it suggest incorrectly that it is a deductive argument?

I assumed it was a good representation of Singer's argument (since it's .edu) but I didn't have time yet to look at carefully. The article is a work in progress, and still needs a lot of review and work on sources.
We'll make an article on Marginal Cases, and a section in that article explaining in more detail the comparison.

Even when framed in a deductively valid way, I do not believe marginal cases to be a very good argument for veganism (the only major advantage it has over NTT, beyond being more coherent and making more modest claims, is the lack of a deontological part 2).

A better argument (when comparing traits) is an informal comparison of cats and dogs to pigs and cows, as Melanie Joy does. This way the potentially offensive devaluing of humans never occurs. It's a question that sparks discussion.
If you meet somebody who doesn't care about cats and dogs, or doesn't mind not having a good reason, then just move on and talk to somebody else. There are so many carnists to convince, there's no reason to make a hard sell and waste time.

Better arguments tend to be more distant and less accusatory, and also less assertive (ask for less than you want). Environmental arguments work well, and the conclusions should usually ask for reducetarianism. Direct accusations of ethical wrongdoing need to be taken on with extreme caution, and I'm not sure if it's very useful to use formal arguments most of the time.

If somebody wants a formal argument (for whatever reason) the best formal argument is probably the argument from unnecessary suffering, which of course starts with a pretty clear meta-ethical claim (one most people already accept, but isn't independent like NTT purports to be).

Something like this:

P1 - All other thing being the same, a world with less unnecessary suffering is better than one with more.
P2 - All other things being the same, animal agriculture causes unnecessary suffering.
C - It would be better to reduce or end animal agriculture, work on going vegan, etc.

The first premise is relatively non-controversial. The second is an empirical mine-field, but probably not too hard for most people to argue.

I probably wouldn't put Marginal Cases in a list of actually good arguments at all...
http://philosophicalvegan.com/wiki/index.php/Arguments_for_veganism

It will take me a while to update the NTT article, please feel free to contribute on that one if any of those arguments are things you feel you have something to add onto.
It's important to note that most arguments are highly empirical... so, a lot more science than philosophy. We really just need to help people understand that it's healthy and good for the world.

Beyond that, good activism for veganism aspires to inform, not offend or contradict. Many people are already interested, and just teaching people how to make delicious and nutritious meat-free meals is one of the paths of least resistance.

It has been argued, very well by Vegan Strategist, that we need to be focusing on HOW to go vegan, and less on WHY.
http://veganstrategist.org/2016/12/06/going-vegan-why-versus-how/
Channels like Hot For Food and credible vegan nutrition websites do more for the vegan cause than confrontation like Vegan Gains ever could.

I love these philosophical arguments in an abstract sense, it's fun to discuss philosophy, but I do not think it is very effective. The root of your misunderstanding may in the assumption that I'd want to promote any particular philosophical arguments as alternatives.

Where philosophy IS effective is at tearing apart bad arguments that are counter-productive and get in the way of good outreach (which is most of them), and encouraging people to change their strategies... and maybe to stop trying to make philosophical arguments at all if that's what necessary ;)
I know everybody wants a big win of conversion, but the true path to victory is probably in the tiny things like promoting meatless meals.

Just because an argument wins occasional short term converts using a shotgun approach doesn't mean it's really effective; the question has more to do with broad reception.

It's much easier to teach people to hand out vegan recipes with a couple platitudes about saving the planet than teaching people to engage in Socratic debate -- AND stay calm and collected while doing it. I think there's much more potential for harm than benefit in sending people out to argue.

For good Socratic activism, we want to emulate things like Street Epistemology:
https://streetepistemology.com/

Not the aggressive styles of Isaac et al.
These in your face strategies are dinosaurs; they didn't work for religion, and they won't work for veganism.
Questions, not answers. Help, not condemnation.

When it comes to public discourse, that's a little different, and the most productive thing we can probably do is debunking.
Debunking anti-vegan pseudoscience.
Debunking bad vegan arguments to gain good will and push vegans into more effective activism (better arguments, maybe, but not necessarily a replacement syllogism).
Debunking bad meta-ethical systems like Randian Objectivism.

But this kind of thing (the debunking), honestly, is only for "experts". Whether with university education in the topics or substantially self-taught and well read.
That's where I'm hoping the Wiki will be helpful as a source to enable vegans to debunk pseudoscience and problematic meta-ethics without having to scour the web to find arguments which may be total bunk. There's currently nothing useful like that.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am
what is best done in terms of reaching out to them to offer them something more useful for their purposes, that would be great. As I'm still very early on the learning curve about wikis and edits, I'd be most grateful if you would just make it clear where the new locations are.
I'll link you to them when the pages are made. I'm out of time for now.

I'll just say that for Isaac, unfortunately nothing right now. When confronted about the potential harmful nature of his outreach (like the name calling, and even the racism), and even in general, Isaac makes it clear he is not an activist and that his youtube channel is for his own self-expression, and the entertainment of his patrons/his employment. He could not radically change what he is doing and be safely assured of his income from his perspective.
He doesn't focus on science based debunks, and he's uninterested in science, so he doesn't have a viable alternative to the ranting and hammering with overly-simplistic arguments.

However, if the utility of #NameTheTrait for his goals is eliminated, he will be forced to. He's talked about doing some vegan cooking stuff, and that would be an amazing change for his channel.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am
I certainly agree that there is much more of a task convincing the young vegan advocates to use arguments that are better for their purposes than simply displaying arguments that are better (in either technical or practical senses).
Even more when we come to terms with what "better" really is. It takes away the win of conversion, and the thrill of confrontation, and replaces it with this nebulous sense of nicely asking people to do slightly less of something that's possibly the most evil modern enterprise there is.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am
I suppose what I've been most critical of is simply showing them technical logical drawbacks of the argument without explaining to them why that matters,
We'll make a whole article explaining that... it's a hard sell, though, for young and energetic activists who want to fight the good fight.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am
(iii) no one is telling them how to do better for their purposes (do you think they should go around using the corrected argument on the wiki? If so that wasn't clear.
They should absolutely not use that correction, it's a terrible argument. :D
Sorry, that will be made much more clear.

I hope the novella above helped clear up some of that.

I think people should be nice friends, teach their friends vegan recipes, talk about the environment and health and congratulate reduction, encourage meatless Mondays, and talk about the emotional aspect of animal agriculture when people are receptive to it... and just generally be supportive.
Vegans do not need to make arguments unless a friend links them to something that challenges veganism, in which case they just need to nicely debunk it with another link (hopefully a video). The force of animal ethics is already felt by virtually all empathetic human beings in the developed world, we just need to remove the barriers. Adding more pressure only does so much.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am
Sorry; I didn't mean to cause trouble. Just let me know if I can help with moving things to a more helpful place.
No worries, I'll figure it out (probably this coming weekend or maybe before, unless NonZeroSum beats me to it).

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Post by Margaret Hayek » Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am

I saw your reply about marginal cases; that source cited will be removed if it's a problem. Does it suggest incorrectly that it is a deductive argument?

I assumed it was a good representation of Singer's argument (since it's .edu) but I didn't have time yet to look at carefully. The article is a work in progress, and still needs a lot of review and work on sources.

There is nothing at all wrong with the IEP presentation of the argument from less able humans (aka "marginal cases" - while I do deplore SJW policing of language, I am not actually going to refer to my loved ones and childhood friends as 'marginal'. In what sense are they marginal? In that they don't fit in well with messed up ancient Greek notions of species, that conflate what we today can recognize as distinct biological and adult-typical-psychological criteria? Probably not a good usage to follow...).

My point was that it is laid out in premise conclusion form, it isn't deductively valid, it doesn't purport to be, and that is not a problem, as the editors of the entry correctly realized. However, I feel that the exact same is true of written presentations of NTT, which the editors are wrongly castigating for being deductively invalid, in contrast to their rightly not castigating the IEP's presentation of the argument from less able humans. I was trying to get these editors to see in a new light why the castigation of the deductive invalidity of NTT might be unhelpful and unfair, by comparing it to how this would be unhelpful and unfair in the case of the argument from less able humans as presented the IEP.

We'll make an article on Marginal Cases, and a section in that article explaining in more detail the comparison.
I already made one, under the main heading of the argument from less able humans, and managed to link it to the NTT wiki in at least some places. I believe that my choice of title and not just personal use of terms is desirable, as it is not good outreach (including to other vegans) to insult whole groups of individual by calling them 'marginal'. That would be fine if you want a more detailed comparison.

Even when framed in a deductively valid way, I do not believe marginal cases to be a very good argument for veganism (the only major advantage it has over NTT, beyond being more coherent and making more modest claims, is the lack of a deontological part 2).

A better argument (when comparing traits) is an informal comparison of cats and dogs to pigs and cows, as Melanie Joy does. This way the potentially offensive devaluing of humans never occurs. It's a question that sparks discussion.
If you meet somebody who doesn't care about cats and dogs, or doesn't mind not having a good reason, then just move on and talk to somebody else. There are so many carnists to convince, there's no reason to make a hard sell and waste time.
That's very interesting. You will see that the version of the argument from less able humans I have included doesn't actually devalue humans but defends the value of intellectually less able humans in the process of defending the value of non-human animals. The bit that actually argues for veganism also backs away from the full blown principle of equal consideration to a principle of minimal consideration, and combines that with empirical considerations and such. It essentially uses the main argument for the principle of equal consideration to show how bare species membership can't be that ethically relevant because it likely is completely ethically irrelevant. That said there is still a comparison drawn.

I agree that this is not the most helpful argument for many practical contexts. What I would suggest is that it may be a helpful version of what Tobias Leenaert once called the "full Monty" argument for some of the logically strongest but actually very philosophically defensible principles that justify concern for non-human animals, which he suggested might be better in contexts that involve young people in settings ideal for wide-ranging learning, like universities. It is not ideal for many settings that do not foster prolonged, very open minded engagement - like especially street advocacy with members of the general public. While I agree that vegans advocates should not use such arguments in such settings, it would probably behoove the relevant vegans and vegan advocates to know about the best such "full Monty" arguments, so they can appreciate the philosophical defensibility of the strongest principles that support it. It's likely helpful for enabling advocates to respond to challenges to reasons to care about non-human animals at all, which might in some contexts be worth responding to (e.g. when such challenges are being offered as ways to discredit veganism, or to deprioritize concerns with non-human animals as against other concerns).

Better arguments tend to be more distant and less accusatory, and also less assertive (ask for less than you want). Environmental arguments work well, and the conclusions should usually ask for reducetarianism. Direct accusations of ethical wrongdoing need to be taken on with extreme caution, and I'm not sure if it's very useful to use formal arguments most of the time.
Sure; good. I'd just add that this holds for most contexts, and there may be exceptions, like with young people in learning promoting settings, where the "full Monty" argument is more appropriate, as Leenaert suggests. I'd also add that certain Youtube videos may actually be like this: the audience is young and interested in prolonged, open minded engagement (at least relative e.g. to outreach to the general public on the street etc.)

If somebody wants a formal argument (for whatever reason) the best formal argument is probably the argument from unnecessary suffering, which of course starts with a pretty clear meta-ethical claim (one most people already accept, but isn't independent like NTT purports to be).

Something like this:

P1 - All other thing being the same, a world with less unnecessary suffering is better than one with more.
P2 - All other things being the same, animal agriculture causes unnecessary suffering.
C - It would be better to reduce or end animal agriculture, work on going vegan, etc.

The first premise is relatively non-controversial. The second is an empirical mine-field, but probably not too hard for most people to argue.

I probably wouldn't put Marginal Cases in a list of actually good arguments at all...
http://philosophicalvegan.com/wiki/index.php/Arguments_for_veganism
You will see that I actually added the version of the argument from less able humans for which I created a separate page to that list of arguments for veganism, and mentioned its possible interaction with the argument from unnecessary suffering. I do not think that it is doing any harm there. If you mean to include arguments about rights and such in that entry, then I think that the version of the argument from less able humans should at least be included, since it's far less controversial and off-putting than that.

It will take me a while to update the NTT article, please feel free to contribute on that one if any of those arguments are things you feel you have something to add onto.
It's important to note that most arguments are highly empirical... so, a lot more science than philosophy. We really just need to help people understand that it's healthy and good for the world.

Beyond that, good activism for veganism aspires to inform, not offend or contradict. Many people are already interested, and just teaching people how to make delicious and nutritious meat-free meals is one of the paths of least resistance.

It has been argued, very well by Vegan Strategist, that we need to be focusing on HOW to go vegan, and less on WHY.
[veganstrategist][/veganstrategist]/12/06/going-vegan-why-versus-how/[/clickylink]
Channels like Hot For Food and credible vegan nutrition websites do more for the vegan cause than confrontation like Vegan Gains ever could.
I think that we're largely on the same page about much of this. That said I do think that it is helpful for people to be able to appreciate / get the sense that there are good rational arguments for caring about non-human animals for their own sakes, and that it is not just unreasoned emotion / empathy / compassion. So I think that there is a place for the rational arguments about moral reasons to care about non-human animal well-being to be heard. Again I'd also mention Leenaert's points about restricted contexts - which might include Youtube - where the full Monty can be more helpful.

I love these philosophical arguments in an abstract sense, it's fun to discuss philosophy, but I do not think it is very effective. The root of your misunderstanding may in the assumption that I'd want to promote any particular philosophical arguments as alternatives.

Where philosophy IS effective is at tearing apart bad arguments that are counter-productive and get in the way of good outreach (which is most of them), and encouraging people to change their strategies... and maybe to stop trying to make philosophical arguments at all if that's what necessary ;)
I know everybody wants a big win of conversion, but the true path to victory is probably in the tiny things like promoting meatless meals.

Just because an argument wins occasional short term converts using a shotgun approach doesn't mean it's really effective; the question has more to do with broad reception.

It's much easier to teach people to hand out vegan recipes with a couple platitudes about saving the planet than teaching people to engage in Socratic debate -- AND stay calm and collected while doing it. I think there's much more potential for harm than benefit in sending people out to argue.

For good Socratic activism, we want to emulate things like Street Epistemology:
https://streetepistemology.com/

Not the aggressive styles of Isaac et al.
These in your face strategies are dinosaurs; they didn't work for religion, and they won't work for veganism.
Questions, not answers. Help, not condemnation.

When it comes to public discourse, that's a little different, and the most productive thing we can probably do is debunking.
Debunking anti-vegan pseudoscience.
Debunking bad vegan arguments to gain good will and push vegans into more effective activism (better arguments, maybe, but not necessarily a replacement syllogism).
Debunking bad meta-ethical systems like Randian Objectivism.

But this kind of thing (the debunking), honestly, is only for "experts". Whether with university education in the topics or substantially self-taught and well read.
That's where I'm hoping the Wiki will be helpful as a source to enable vegans to debunk pseudoscience and problematic meta-ethics without having to scour the web to find arguments which may be total bunk. There's currently nothing useful like that.
That's all very interesting. I think I'm largely sympathetic but my ability to completely agree may again be limited by my views about the role of ethical argument in clarifying that concern for animals doesn't rest on bare unreasoned emotion, etc., which is consistent with it being better street activism to talk in such a restricted context about the environment. Incidentally you may well know that in Cooney's Veganomics it sounded like very few people went vegan or vegetarian for environmental reasons. As I recall the environment didn't even rank that high for reducitarians; it was mostly concern for animals and personal health. Since that's the main source with which I'm familiar, I'd be interested to know what your empirical basis is for saying that it's better to say something about the environment than about non-human animals. (Also: you seem to use the term 'metaethics' in a way that is alien to me; I think most professional philosophers use 'metaethics' to refer to different views about the nature of ethical judgments and truths, the foundational ones being e.g. non-naturalism, constructivism, and expressivist quasi-realism. You seem to use the term 'meta-ethics' to refer mostly to what I'd recognize as 'normative ethics', or the most general proposals about what underivative substantive ethical / practical reasons we have)

I'll just say that for Isaac, unfortunately nothing right now. When confronted about the potential harmful nature of his outreach (like the name calling, and even the racism), and even in general, Isaac makes it clear he is not an activist and that his youtube channel is for his own self-expression, and the entertainment of his patrons/his employment. He could not radically change what he is doing and be safely assured of his income from his perspective.
He doesn't focus on science based debunks, and he's uninterested in science, so he doesn't have a viable alternative to the ranting and hammering with overly-simplistic arguments.

However, if the utility of #NameTheTrait for his goals is eliminated, he will be forced to. He's talked about doing some vegan cooking stuff, and that would be an amazing change for his channel.
Very interesting - I would only say that if one wants to get Isaac to stop making arguments like NTT (and I can see the force of the reasons to want to do that), I don't think that the best way to get his audience to demand different content is to make what appears to them to be pointless, nit-picking criticisms of his argument, or worse, assertion that the argument can't be rationally compelling (as a "full Monty" style argument) without their having any idea as to why other than its not meeting a technical condition that they didn't even know about and don't see any reason to care about (I'm referring to the most discussed first part of it, for animal moral value. I agree that the second part, from animal moral value to veganism, has all sorts of much more obvious substantive problems which should be more readily appreciated by his audience).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am
I certainly agree that there is much more of a task convincing the young vegan advocates to use arguments that are better for their purposes than simply displaying arguments that are better (in either technical or practical senses).
Even more when we come to terms with what "better" really is. It takes away the win of conversion, and the thrill of confrontation, and replaces it with this nebulous sense of nicely asking people to do slightly less of something that's possibly the most evil modern enterprise there is.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am
I suppose what I've been most critical of is simply showing them technical logical drawbacks of the argument without explaining to them why that matters,
We'll make a whole article explaining that... it's a hard sell, though, for young and energetic activists who want to fight the good fight.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 12:12 am
(iii) no one is telling them how to do better for their purposes (do you think they should go around using the corrected argument on the wiki? If so that wasn't clear.
They should absolutely not use that correction, it's a terrible argument. :D
Sorry, that will be made much more clear.

I hope the novella above helped clear up some of that.
Yes, you've greatly clarified what you have in mind as alternatives; thanks. I'd only emphasize that these intentions or ideas are in no way clear from anything in the wiki. I really do think that a sincere young advocate (e.g. I have in mind especially people like Banana Warrior Princess, who mentioned how she sees herself as using NTT in her anonymous for the voiceless street advocacy) will read that entry and come away with the impression "OK, so they're saying and showing how NTT doesn't meet this technical condition, and they seem really triggered by that. I'm not sure why that matters, and I really have absolutely no idea what they want me to use instead as a better argument. Do they want me to just use the thing with all of these added premises? That will take forever; no one will give me time to get through anything like that. So why on earth shouldn't I keep using NTT? It still seems clearly like the best thing I have. So what was the point of this entry? Why are they going on and on about this technical condition without offering any clear alternatives or explaining why I should care about the technical condition - and doing all this in a very angry way that involves hurling insults at Isaac at every turn? Oh, I get it - it must be that they're just salty because Isaac murked them, and have nothing helpful to offer actual vegan advocates like me."

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:43 pm

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
There is nothing at all wrong with the IEP presentation of the argument from less able humans ...
My point was that it is laid out in premise conclusion form, it isn't deductively valid, it doesn't purport to be, and that is not a problem, as the editors of the entry correctly realized.
This argument? It does look like it's meant to be deductively valid.
1. In order to conclude that all and only human beings deserve a full and equal moral status (and therefore that no animals deserve a full and equal moral status), there must be some property P that all and only human beings have that can ground such a claim.
2. Any P that only human beings have is a property that (some) human beings lack (e.g., the marginal cases).
3. Any P that all human beings have is a property that (most) animals have as well.
4. Therefore, there is no way to defend the claim that all and only human beings deserve a full and equal moral status.
Can you show me what you mean about it not being deductively valid?

Do you just mean the difference between "conclude" and "defend the claim"?
If so, that's a mistake worth criticizing, but it's maybe not worth raising a big fuss over.

I would not argue against NTT based on such a small variation in word choice; it's very easy to translate this argument in a way that is deductively valid by just assuming it was a minor mistake, and the formulator either meant to say "conclude" or "defend the claim" in both places.

If simply giving NTT the benefit of the doubt on a reasonable interpretation of word choice like that were the only issue, I wouldn't criticize it. That would bee nitpicking, particularly because the distinction between "conclude" and "defend the claim" doesn't seem to be meaningful in practice (whereas Isaac uses ambiguities like that to argue substantive claims).

Contrary to nitpicking, we have tried very hard to steel-man the NTT argument, and are consistently sabotaged in the attempt my Isaac's own usage and assaults on attempted corrections.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
However, I feel that the exact same is true of written presentations of NTT,
Not at all.

The difference in "has" vs. "deem to have" is even a more extreme issue than the minor one in Singer's wording, and it's one we have pretty much ignored (trying to steel man everything as have, since that's what the second part starts with too).
I think I can speak for everyone critical of the argument when I say we would be happy to accept the usefulness of the argument IF that were the only issue AND it weren't being leveraged in the argument to sow confusion in practice as it is, switching between deeming to have and having in actual fact at will.

In Singer's mistake, I can't see how that would be useful as an argumentative exploit in the way that the ambiguity between deeming and fact is with Isaac's usage.

It would possibly be very informative to discuss that minor problem in Singer's by analogy. Singer's is a small mistake in wording that is easily corrected in either way and is not being exploited... Isaac's is quite the opposite, it's functionally impossible to correct and does not yield a valid argument in either case, and it's also being exploited in discussion.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
I already made one, under the main heading of the argument from less able humans, and managed to link it to the NTT wiki in at least some places. I believe that my choice of title and not just personal use of terms is desirable, as it is not good outreach (including to other vegans) to insult whole groups of individual by calling them 'marginal'. That would be fine if you want a more detailed comparison.
Thanks! And I think your argument is probably much improved in terms of efficacy in outreach.
I will examine it in more detail ASAP.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
That's very interesting. You will see that the version of the argument from less able humans I have included doesn't actually devalue humans but defends the value of intellectually less able humans in the process of defending the value of non-human animals.
The trouble is, when we look at moral consideration based on properties that implicit devaluation is almost unavoidable unless we consider all animals equal (from insects to us), and the latter is a serious problem, both in making veganism impractical and as a credible attack on veganism from carnists.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
The bit that actually argues for veganism also backs away from the full blown principle of equal consideration to a principle of minimal consideration,
That's good, and I wonder if something like that could be worked into the original argument form to avoid the risk of bringing up the above issue.
Or do you think it would take away the argument's force or make it too complex?

P3 seems to be untrue, due to strong correlations between intelligence and sentience and consciousness. It may be worth incorporating something like a threshold theory: you need enough intelligence to be sentient, but beyond that it may have diminishing returns to moral value (although there is always a risk with these arguments that severe disability will fall out of the morally important range, and cause offense, it seems at least much safer since most people can agree that irreversibly unconscious/catatonic or brain-dead humans probably have less moral value).

It's kind of like "race and IQ"; one of those things we should probably avoid talking about in public because it's just too complex to explain simply and it's liable to put people off or cause offense and impeded activism.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
It essentially uses the main argument for the principle of equal consideration to show how bare species membership can't be that ethically relevant because it likely is completely ethically irrelevant.
Perhaps we should make a broader page about speciesism and arguments against speciesism specifically.

It can start with the most effective arguments and talk about highly intelligent animals like other apes, like cetaceans, or hypothetical alien beings. Showing just that species doesn't matter in itself is a good counter-argument to assertions that it's all about species...

But going in the other direction and talking about disabled humans seems a little dangerous, at least outside of an academic setting (or, say, a forum like this) where people are prepared for hard questions, or we have to tread very lightly.

We should include those arguments, but with some caveats for the reader to be careful in using them.
If we put them lower down in an article that is "arguments against speciesism" there may be enough necessary context to help prevent misuse.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
What I would suggest is that it may be a helpful version of what Tobias Leenaert once called the "full Monty" argument for some of the logically strongest but actually very philosophically defensible principles that justify concern for non-human animals, which he suggested might be better in contexts that involve young people in settings ideal for wide-ranging learning, like universities. It is not ideal for many settings that do not foster prolonged, very open minded engagement - like especially street advocacy with members of the general public.
I think it's safe on the Wiki, as long as there's context and some warning about where the arguments should not be used, since it's directed at vegans and those already very sympathetic.

I want to make some outreach material at some point, but I think that will look very different from what we'd share with vegans.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
it would probably behoove the relevant vegans and vegan advocates to know about the best such "full Monty" arguments, so they can appreciate the philosophical defensibility of the strongest principles that support it. It's likely helpful for enabling advocates to respond to challenges to reasons to care about non-human animals at all, which might in some contexts be worth responding to (e.g. when such challenges are being offered as ways to discredit veganism, or to deprioritize concerns with non-human animals as against other concerns).
It could absolutely serve to reduce recidivism, even if never actually used as outreach. When people become stressed or jaded and suffer peer pressure I think they become particularly vulnerable to attack against their foundational moral motives. If those are not understood clearly, the risk of returning to carnism would seem to be much higher.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
I'd also add that certain Youtube videos may actually be like this: the audience is young and interested in prolonged, open minded engagement (at least relative e.g. to outreach to the general public on the street etc.)
I think with youtube people tend to come in at any point in the discussion without the background or context, and that can be kind of dangerous.
It might be possible, but I don't think that represents typical usage (for video series, for example, views fall off drastically with each installment).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
You will see that I actually added the version of the argument from less able humans for which I created a separate page to that list of arguments for veganism, and mentioned its possible interaction with the argument from unnecessary suffering. I do not think that it is doing any harm there. If you mean to include arguments about rights and such in that entry, then I think that the version of the argument from less able humans should at least be included, since it's far less controversial and off-putting than that.
I mainly worry about the soundness of P3 in the first statement, but the weakened version is much stronger. I wonder if the latter could become the main argument.
That said, even if it's possibly offensive, as long as we put a disclaimer on it it's probably safe.

The argument about the arbitrary limit on rights is critical of the minimalist/borderline-psychopathic approach to rights. The idea it's critical of is certainly offensive, but I don't think the idea of gradually expanding out consideration is.

It probably needs to be reworded and clarified.
If it's good to extend consideration beyond the bare minimum, it's always good to extend that consideration as far as we are reasonably able unless there's a justified stopping point.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
So I think that there is a place for the rational arguments about moral reasons to care about non-human animal well-being to be heard. Again I'd also mention Leenaert's points about restricted contexts - which might include Youtube - where the full Monty can be more helpful.
I agree, although I think it's hard to do that on youtube, and at least there it should probably be limited to arguments framed in a way least likely to cause offense. People might watch a 30 minute video explaining an argument for veganism, but it could also work against us if that naturally implies that mentally disabled people have less moral value.
If we don't need it to give people a strong logical foundation for valuing animals, it probably should not be a highly visible aspect of vegan argumentation.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
That's all very interesting. I think I'm largely sympathetic but my ability to completely agree may again be limited by my views about the role of ethical argument in clarifying that concern for animals doesn't rest on bare unreasoned emotion, etc.,
Maybe an argument that addresses that directly would be good? I'm not sure how that would look.

But even one or two reasoned arguments (avoiding the more controversial ones) could probably prove this well enough. With this point, we don't need to convince people to go vegan with these arguments, but just that we aren't doing it purely based on appeal to emotion.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
Incidentally you may well know that in Cooney's Veganomics it sounded like very few people went vegan or vegetarian for environmental reasons. As I recall the environment didn't even rank that high for reducitarians; it was mostly concern for animals and personal health.
This may be an indication of how outreach is done (if we have mostly pushed health and animals so far, it's no surprise), and that environmental organizations don't push veganism.

I think we'd need to look more closely at reactions to specific arguments, but environment also needs to be tied in better to human ethics. People need to know that people are being displaced, are dying, and wars are starting because of this.

I think people also feel like if they turn off the light when they leave the room and recycle they're doing about as well as going vegan; we need to do a better job of demonstrating impact, and the bang for the buck people are getting.

I think Monbiot is doing a better job of promoting these arguments, but this seems to be a new thing... and a lot of people still don't even believe global warming is a real thing.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
Since that's the main source with which I'm familiar, I'd be interested to know what your empirical basis is for saying that it's better to say something about the environment than about non-human animals.
People already care about human beings, and there's much more research into this, and broader consensus. You don't need to get them to care so much as show them information.
When it comes to non-human animals it's too easy for people to muddy the water with concerns about animals dying in plant agriculture, "happy meat" etc.

In many ways, environment is an easier argument to make. When it comes to animal ethics, I think we're primarily relying on pre-existing empathy, and rational arguments don't go as far to convince people to care when they didn't already.
Showing people cute animal videos, however, can stimulate that empathy. That's a very easy thing to do (and should be done), but I'm not sure I'd call it an argument.

Cute animal videos > Healthy delicious vegan recipes > Environmental arguments > Animal ethics arguments > Health arguments (although health information is essential to prevent recidivism)

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
(Also: you seem to use the term 'metaethics' in a way that is alien to me; I think most professional philosophers use 'metaethics' to refer to different views about the nature of ethical judgments and truths, the foundational ones being e.g. non-naturalism, constructivism, and expressivist quasi-realism. You seem to use the term 'meta-ethics' to refer mostly to what I'd recognize as 'normative ethics', or the most general proposals about what underivative substantive ethical / practical reasons we have)
Normative ethical claims tend to draw from meta-ethics to substantiate themselves, unless they're just assertions (which I don't think we have to pay much attention to). And, of course, some meta-ethics denies the validity of any normative claims.

I think if you strike the foundation, the rest crumbles pretty easily. I'm less concerned with contradicting the normative claims of aberrant systems than debunking their ontology, and even semantics (as the case may be in Randian Objectivism).

One easy example is deontology, where I don't think it's possible to substantiate it as a naturalist and realist.
Not sure if they have a better explanation, but this is brief: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-deontological/#DeoTheMet
I don't think I've ever met an actually naturalist deontologist, so it's usually an argument of meta-ethics.

I also don't think normative discussions are very useful unless there's meta-ethical agreement, and I think most substantial and difficult disagreements are of the meta-ethical variety.
I know not all philosophers agree with this, but I think normative ethics usually follows pretty naturally from clear meta-ethics, and because of that I don't think there's a hard distinction or a coherent phylogeny of branches of ethical discussion.

If I say "meta-ethics" that can more plausibly encapsulate normative discussion too, since the question of the distinction is a metaethical one... but if I say "normative ethics" that excludes discussion of meta-ethics which I think is very rarely useful (it would only be if you were in perfect agreement on meta-ethics already, whatever that means).

I guess I could say we're talking about both to remove any ambiguity, because in practice that's probably true. I certainly have had normative arguments with people given meta-ethical agreement, but those arguments are usually pretty short. :D

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
Very interesting - I would only say that if one wants to get Isaac to stop making arguments like NTT (and I can see the force of the reasons to want to do that), I don't think that the best way to get his audience to demand different content is to make what appears to them to be pointless, nit-picking criticisms of his argument, or worse, assertion that the argument can't be rationally compelling
I'm not trying to convince Isaac or his fans. I suspect that is futile at this point. It's much easier to reach the carnists he argues with so he will be forced to change his tactics or argument, or look bad in debates (which is his real fear). Or he might stop debating -- that's an option too. If he just keeps to making response videos, that would be less harmful since it would just be his audience and this wouldn't be spread around so much.

I do not think he will carry on after a couple embarrassments in debate.

However, if you have some ideas to reach them, that would be amazing. I had just pretty much given up on that, since it seemed the path of most resistance.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
I agree that the second part, from animal moral value to veganism, has all sorts of much more obvious substantive problems which should be more readily appreciated by his audience).
That is the part I will be working on addressing. The first part may be invalid, but the conclusion is true so there's no much point in arguing it aside from to show the logical form is wrong in both halves.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
Yes, you've greatly clarified what you have in mind as alternatives; thanks. I'd only emphasize that these intentions or ideas are in no way clear from anything in the wiki.
If you can help make that more clear, and have any good ideas about reaching Isaac's fans to get them to encourage him to improve the argument, that would be greatly appreciated.

I'd love to be able to communicate these things with people like Banana Warrior Princess.

Margaret Hayek
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Post by Margaret Hayek » Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 7:43 pm
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
There is nothing at all wrong with the IEP presentation of the argument from less able humans ...
My point was that it is laid out in premise conclusion form, it isn't deductively valid, it doesn't purport to be, and that is not a problem, as the editors of the entry correctly realized.
This argument? It does look like it's meant to be deductively valid.
1. In order to conclude that all and only human beings deserve a full and equal moral status (and therefore that no animals deserve a full and equal moral status), there must be some property P that all and only human beings have that can ground such a claim.
2. Any P that only human beings have is a property that (some) human beings lack (e.g., the marginal cases).
3. Any P that all human beings have is a property that (most) animals have as well.
4. Therefore, there is no way to defend the claim that all and only human beings deserve a full and equal moral status.
Can you show me what you mean about it not being deductively valid?

Do you just mean the difference between "conclude" and "defend the claim"?
If so, that's a mistake worth criticizing, but it's maybe not worth raising a big fuss over.

I would not argue against NTT based on such a small variation in word choice; it's very easy to translate this argument in a way that is deductively valid by just assuming it was a minor mistake, and the formulator either meant to say "conclude" or "defend the claim" in both places.

If simply giving NTT the benefit of the doubt on a reasonable interpretation of word choice like that were the only issue, I wouldn't criticize it. That would bee nitpicking, particularly because the distinction between "conclude" and "defend the claim" doesn't seem to be meaningful in practice (whereas Isaac uses ambiguities like that to argue substantive claims).

Contrary to nitpicking, we have tried very hard to steel-man the NTT argument, and are consistently sabotaged in the attempt my Isaac's own usage and assaults on attempted corrections.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
However, I feel that the exact same is true of written presentations of NTT,
Not at all.

The difference in "has" vs. "deem to have" is even a more extreme issue than the minor one in Singer's wording, and it's one we have pretty much ignored (trying to steel man everything as have, since that's what the second part starts with too).
I think I can speak for everyone critical of the argument when I say we would be happy to accept the usefulness of the argument IF that were the only issue AND it weren't being leveraged in the argument to sow confusion in practice as it is, switching between deeming to have and having in actual fact at will.

In Singer's mistake, I can't see how that would be useful as an argumentative exploit in the way that the ambiguity between deeming and fact is with Isaac's usage.

It would possibly be very informative to discuss that minor problem in Singer's by analogy. Singer's is a small mistake in wording that is easily corrected in either way and is not being exploited... Isaac's is quite the opposite, it's functionally impossible to correct and does not yield a valid argument in either case, and it's also being exploited in discussion.
I think that you're basically correct here about there being a significant difference between the IEP presentation of less able humans and NTT, in that the most charitable way to make the IEP argument valid is to simply change a predicate and the most charitable way to make NTT valid is to add premise / premises. I was trying to make the point that, if you can make the argument valid without adding adding / changing anything controversial, then it's nit-picking to harp on the fact that it's invalid. (FWIW, I've removed the IEP reference, since I believe that all relevant issues are covered in the section on comparison to the argument from less able humans which I"ve added. There wasn't anything wrong with the IEP formulation, but I think the discussion there wasn't as good from a standpoint of outreach / not offending people than the discussion we have now. Also as I explain in the added section, Singer himself presented the argument in text, at least in the canonical presentation in "All Animals are Equal" in Animal Liberation; he wasn't presenting it in premise-conclusion form.)

Now since working on the wiki and thinking more about all of this, I think that I can see a way in which the invalidity of NTT does matter, and I wonder if you can tell me if you and the other main editors would agree with this (if you would, then I think we're all on the same page, and we can have a univocal authorial voice on the wiki, although I think it's best then to simply assert things, like most wikis I've seen, rather than say 'we hold x' (I worry that sounds too tribal)).

I've found it helpful to distinguish between the NTT argument per se and the particular defense of the premises that Isaac has given. I believe that this is actually very important for understanding the issues, because when NTT works well, I think that the audience at least (and in many contexts the presenter, at least if it isn't Isaac) is NOT assuming that the premises should / can be defended in the way that Isaac is when he tries to say that the argument is completely independent from substantive ethical assumptions (including whether one believes in any kind of morality beyond what oneself and others happen to want - I'd say that this is more Isaac holding that the argument's soundness is supposed to be compatible with error theory than with relativism, the mere rejection of robust realism, or what have you). The problem with Isaac's views about how one can justify P1 and P2 is that he assumes that if follows from one's simply desiring not to be harmed in a given context that one has moral value in that context. Call this 'the mere-desire' defense of P1 and P2. Now, if one uses the NTT argument without assuming that the premises can be defended by the mere desire-based defense, one is presumably assuming that P1 and P2 can be defended by their clear plausibility: it seems obvious that I have moral value (that e.g. others aren't morally justified in harming me for no reason), and yeah, even if I lost what occur to me as the traits that distinguish me form a sentient non-human animal (e.g. I became profoundly intellectually disabled), I'd still have moral value (others wouldn't be justified in harming me for no good reason). Call this this the 'substantive-plausibility' defense of P1 and P2. Now, to someone who assumes that P1 and P2 must be justified by something like the substantive-plausibility defense, then the need to add an additional substantive premise / premises (let's say P3 and P4) isn't very threatening, since they're at least as substantively plausible as P1 and P2, and substantive plausibility was one's justification for those premises anyway, so no harm done.

Where the problem with having to add an additional premise / premises comes in is if one thinks that P1 and P2 can be defended by the mere-desire defense, because there is no comparable defense of the additional premises P3 and P4. So if one was hoping that a commitment to the value of non-human animals was going to follow SIMPLY from one's desire not to be harmed in various cases plus deductive logical consistency, one will have failed. This is presumably what pisses in Isaac's soup: he thought NTT didn't require any substantive ethical assumptions at all, because he thought P1 and P2 could be defended without any substantive assumptions (just one's having certain desires about how to be treated) and logical consistency, which also wasn't supposed to bake in any substantive assumptions. This presumably matters to Isaac (i) because he wants to debate with other bright young skeptic-type people like himself, many of whom may be error theorists about morality, but still desire not to be harmed, and / or (ii) he's learned his metaethics from Sam Harris's book, so he may not realize that one can believe in substantive ethical ideas without being a robust realist (one can be a dispositionalist / constructivist or an expressivist quasi-realist). So, OK, yeah, he fails at that. But that doesn't mean that other advocates who are talking to people who aren't assuming error theory but instead are fine with substantive-plausibility defenses (as I think most are), it isn't a problem to use NTT because they and their interlocutors are already appealing to substantive plausibility anyway, and they tacitly find P3 and P4 at least as substantively plausible as P1 and P2, so it's no harm done that P3 and P4 are suppressed premises (even, I believe, if the argument is presented in premise-conclusion form).

If that's right, then I think this removes my confusion about some of what the main editors had been saying. It isn't that Isaac can't as he thinks be neutral among the main metaethical theories (dispositionalism / constructivism, non-naturalistic realism, and quasi-realist expressivism and / or a version of relativism that basically works much like quasi-realist expressivism). It's that he can't be neutral between non-reconstructive error theorists (i.e. who don't even want to reconstruct moral language in a way that will allow for arguments like the argument from less able humans or NTT+P3+P4 to be sound) who still want not to be harmed by others, and adherents of every other metaethical view - i.e. he's just gotta rule out error theorists like that, and then he can be neutral among pretty much every other foundational metaethical view. Now, from what I recall of error theorists like Mackie and Joyce, they do want to reconstruct moral language after ditching the old one that they think doesn't refer to anything, but I can't remember if either wants to do it in a way that rules out the possible soundness of the argument from less able humans / NTT+P3+P4. I actually sort of think I recall that Mackie might have - he started to do this weird social contract thing. Maybe you can even interpret the arch-contractarian David Gauthier as doing something like this. So well, in any event, if so, then those are the baddies that Isaac has to rule out, those who hold views like those of Mackie & Gauthier if I remember them correctly. And some of Isaac's bright young skeptic debate opponents may hold views like those. So yeah, Isaac is (in terms of the philosophical merits if not the rhetoric) screwed if he can't respond to those views. Incidentally one can indeed respond to those views: quasi-realist expressivists and construtivists (and I guess even non-naturalists, but I think their responses clearly don't work - apologies to any non-naturalists on here) can explain how their views are better than error theory on the foundational meta-ethics side, and there's no shortage of explanations of why contractarianism fails in its own terms on the normative-cum-metaethical side (see e.g. the work of Holly Smith). But of course Isaac isn't doing any of that. How could he; since he hasn't taken classes in or otherwise read about ethical theory? But if someone like him would actually learn about that and respond in debates, I'm sure that philosophers who teach ethical theory would be absolutely tickled pink about the practical relevance of the sort of thing that they are teaching (which can sometimes seem so far removed from practical concerns).

Incidentally there's been a new development with Isaac pursuing the "identity of indiscernibles" sort of defense that I mentioned over on the discussion page for NTT (although he's digging in about not having to add the identity of indiscernibles or just its relevant entailment for this case as an additional premise in order to make the thing deductively valid, but he is actually using the term 'valid' in his special way, and all of that; see e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=31Z2oXLzrlw&t=1s if you're interested). Substantively all this really does (whether we take II as a suppressed premise or just go ahead and add it in there) is shift concerns about the validity of the old argument into concerns about the defensibility of premise 2. All an error theorist who (i) wants not to be harmed, and (ii) would want not to be harmed if intellectually disabled would have to do in order to respond to Isaac now is to say "yeah, if you changed out my traits in such a way that I'd be a non-human animal, then I'd have no value, even given the way in which you interpret having value. I wouldn't even be me in any relevant sense, so have at it and harm the crap out of the entity that isn't in any relevant sense m, I don't even desire that you not do so".

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
I already made one, under the main heading of the argument from less able humans, and managed to link it to the NTT wiki in at least some places. I believe that my choice of title and not just personal use of terms is desirable, as it is not good outreach (including to other vegans) to insult whole groups of individual by calling them 'marginal'. That would be fine if you want a more detailed comparison.
Thanks! And I think your argument is probably much improved in terms of efficacy in outreach.
I will examine it in more detail ASAP.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
That's very interesting. You will see that the version of the argument from less able humans I have included doesn't actually devalue humans but defends the value of intellectually less able humans in the process of defending the value of non-human animals.
The trouble is, when we look at moral consideration based on properties that implicit devaluation is almost unavoidable unless we consider all animals equal (from insects to us), and the latter is a serious problem, both in making veganism impractical and as a credible attack on veganism from carnists.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
The bit that actually argues for veganism also backs away from the full blown principle of equal consideration to a principle of minimal consideration,
That's good, and I wonder if something like that could be worked into the original argument form to avoid the risk of bringing up the above issue.
Or do you think it would take away the argument's force or make it too complex?

P3 seems to be untrue, due to strong correlations between intelligence and sentience and consciousness. It may be worth incorporating something like a threshold theory: you need enough intelligence to be sentient, but beyond that it may have diminishing returns to moral value (although there is always a risk with these arguments that severe disability will fall out of the morally important range, and cause offense, it seems at least much safer since most people can agree that irreversibly unconscious/catatonic or brain-dead humans probably have less moral value).

It's kind of like "race and IQ"; one of those things we should probably avoid talking about in public because it's just too complex to explain simply and it's liable to put people off or cause offense and impeded activism.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
It essentially uses the main argument for the principle of equal consideration to show how bare species membership can't be that ethically relevant because it likely is completely ethically irrelevant.
Thanks for noticing this and letting me know - I've added clarifications to the discussions of the argument from less able humans (including clarification of the contents of the premises and conclusion of the argument(s) put in premise-conclusion form) that I think handle these concerns, but do please let me know if you think otherwise.

Perhaps we should make a broader page about speciesism and arguments against speciesism specifically.

It can start with the most effective arguments and talk about highly intelligent animals like other apes, like cetaceans, or hypothetical alien beings. Showing just that species doesn't matter in itself is a good counter-argument to assertions that it's all about species...

But going in the other direction and talking about disabled humans seems a little dangerous, at least outside of an academic setting (or, say, a forum like this) where people are prepared for hard questions, or we have to tread very lightly.

We should include those arguments, but with some caveats for the reader to be careful in using them.
If we put them lower down in an article that is "arguments against speciesism" there may be enough necessary context to help prevent misuse.


Yeah, I actually added remarks somewhat like this in the comparison part of the comparison between the LAH and NTT that I've added. I'd be interested to know what you think. (and yes, at some point having a separate entry on speciesism might be nice, or perhaps it could just be part of the arguments for veganism page, or even the page on the argument from LAH).

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
What I would suggest is that it may be a helpful version of what Tobias Leenaert once called the "full Monty" argument for some of the logically strongest but actually very philosophically defensible principles that justify concern for non-human animals, which he suggested might be better in contexts that involve young people in settings ideal for wide-ranging learning, like universities. It is not ideal for many settings that do not foster prolonged, very open minded engagement - like especially street advocacy with members of the general public.
I think it's safe on the Wiki, as long as there's context and some warning about where the arguments should not be used, since it's directed at vegans and those already very sympathetic.

I want to make some outreach material at some point, but I think that will look very different from what we'd share with vegans.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
it would probably behoove the relevant vegans and vegan advocates to know about the best such "full Monty" arguments, so they can appreciate the philosophical defensibility of the strongest principles that support it. It's likely helpful for enabling advocates to respond to challenges to reasons to care about non-human animals at all, which might in some contexts be worth responding to (e.g. when such challenges are being offered as ways to discredit veganism, or to deprioritize concerns with non-human animals as against other concerns).
It could absolutely serve to reduce recidivism, even if never actually used as outreach. When people become stressed or jaded and suffer peer pressure I think they become particularly vulnerable to attack against their foundational moral motives. If those are not understood clearly, the risk of returning to carnism would seem to be much higher.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
I'd also add that certain Youtube videos may actually be like this: the audience is young and interested in prolonged, open minded engagement (at least relative e.g. to outreach to the general public on the street etc.)
I think with youtube people tend to come in at any point in the discussion without the background or context, and that can be kind of dangerous.
It might be possible, but I don't think that represents typical usage (for video series, for example, views fall off drastically with each installment).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
You will see that I actually added the version of the argument from less able humans for which I created a separate page to that list of arguments for veganism, and mentioned its possible interaction with the argument from unnecessary suffering. I do not think that it is doing any harm there. If you mean to include arguments about rights and such in that entry, then I think that the version of the argument from less able humans should at least be included, since it's far less controversial and off-putting than that.
I mainly worry about the soundness of P3 in the first statement, but the weakened version is much stronger. I wonder if the latter could become the main argument.
That said, even if it's possibly offensive, as long as we put a disclaimer on it it's probably safe.

The argument about the arbitrary limit on rights is critical of the minimalist/borderline-psychopathic approach to rights. The idea it's critical of is certainly offensive, but I don't think the idea of gradually expanding out consideration is.

It probably needs to be reworded and clarified.
If it's good to extend consideration beyond the bare minimum, it's always good to extend that consideration as far as we are reasonably able unless there's a justified stopping point.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
So I think that there is a place for the rational arguments about moral reasons to care about non-human animal well-being to be heard. Again I'd also mention Leenaert's points about restricted contexts - which might include Youtube - where the full Monty can be more helpful.
I agree, although I think it's hard to do that on youtube, and at least there it should probably be limited to arguments framed in a way least likely to cause offense. People might watch a 30 minute video explaining an argument for veganism, but it could also work against us if that naturally implies that mentally disabled people have less moral value.
If we don't need it to give people a strong logical foundation for valuing animals, it probably should not be a highly visible aspect of vegan argumentation.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
That's all very interesting. I think I'm largely sympathetic but my ability to completely agree may again be limited by my views about the role of ethical argument in clarifying that concern for animals doesn't rest on bare unreasoned emotion, etc.,
Maybe an argument that addresses that directly would be good? I'm not sure how that would look.

But even one or two reasoned arguments (avoiding the more controversial ones) could probably prove this well enough. With this point, we don't need to convince people to go vegan with these arguments, but just that we aren't doing it purely based on appeal to emotion.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
Incidentally you may well know that in Cooney's Veganomics it sounded like very few people went vegan or vegetarian for environmental reasons. As I recall the environment didn't even rank that high for reducitarians; it was mostly concern for animals and personal health.
This may be an indication of how outreach is done (if we have mostly pushed health and animals so far, it's no surprise), and that environmental organizations don't push veganism.

I think we'd need to look more closely at reactions to specific arguments, but environment also needs to be tied in better to human ethics. People need to know that people are being displaced, are dying, and wars are starting because of this.

I think people also feel like if they turn off the light when they leave the room and recycle they're doing about as well as going vegan; we need to do a better job of demonstrating impact, and the bang for the buck people are getting.

I think Monbiot is doing a better job of promoting these arguments, but this seems to be a new thing... and a lot of people still don't even believe global warming is a real thing.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
Since that's the main source with which I'm familiar, I'd be interested to know what your empirical basis is for saying that it's better to say something about the environment than about non-human animals.
People already care about human beings, and there's much more research into this, and broader consensus. You don't need to get them to care so much as show them information.
When it comes to non-human animals it's too easy for people to muddy the water with concerns about animals dying in plant agriculture, "happy meat" etc.

In many ways, environment is an easier argument to make. When it comes to animal ethics, I think we're primarily relying on pre-existing empathy, and rational arguments don't go as far to convince people to care when they didn't already.
Showing people cute animal videos, however, can stimulate that empathy. That's a very easy thing to do (and should be done), but I'm not sure I'd call it an argument.

Cute animal videos > Healthy delicious vegan recipes > Environmental arguments > Animal ethics arguments > Health arguments (although health information is essential to prevent recidivism)
All very cool; I'd like to talk more about this at some point. For now (at least from my narcissistic perspective!) it might just be most relevant if it feeds into the comparison between the argument from LAH and NTT. I'd certainly be interested if you thought what's there is good as it stands or could do with supplementation from the ideas expressed in many of these remarks.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
(Also: you seem to use the term 'metaethics' in a way that is alien to me; I think most professional philosophers use 'metaethics' to refer to different views about the nature of ethical judgments and truths, the foundational ones being e.g. non-naturalism, constructivism, and expressivist quasi-realism. You seem to use the term 'meta-ethics' to refer mostly to what I'd recognize as 'normative ethics', or the most general proposals about what underivative substantive ethical / practical reasons we have)
Normative ethical claims tend to draw from meta-ethics to substantiate themselves, unless they're just assertions (which I don't think we have to pay much attention to). And, of course, some meta-ethics denies the validity of any normative claims.

I think if you strike the foundation, the rest crumbles pretty easily. I'm less concerned with contradicting the normative claims of aberrant systems than debunking their ontology, and even semantics (as the case may be in Randian Objectivism).

One easy example is deontology, where I don't think it's possible to substantiate it as a naturalist and realist.
Not sure if they have a better explanation, but this is brief: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ethics-deontological/#DeoTheMet
I don't think I've ever met an actually naturalist deontologist, so it's usually an argument of meta-ethics.

I also don't think normative discussions are very useful unless there's meta-ethical agreement, and I think most substantial and difficult disagreements are of the meta-ethical variety.
I know not all philosophers agree with this, but I think normative ethics usually follows pretty naturally from clear meta-ethics, and because of that I don't think there's a hard distinction or a coherent phylogeny of branches of ethical discussion.

If I say "meta-ethics" that can more plausibly encapsulate normative discussion too, since the question of the distinction is a metaethical one... but if I say "normative ethics" that excludes discussion of meta-ethics which I think is very rarely useful (it would only be if you were in perfect agreement on meta-ethics already, whatever that means).

I guess I could say we're talking about both to remove any ambiguity, because in practice that's probably true. I certainly have had normative arguments with people given meta-ethical agreement, but those arguments are usually pretty short. :D
Interesting; my main suggestion would simply be to use the phrase 'ethical theory' - that covers everything in meta, everything in (at least sufficiently high-level) normative, and interactions between the two.

As it happens I disagree with you strongly about the dependence or lack thereof between normative and at least foundational metaethics (non-naturalism vs. constructivism vs. quasi-realist expressivism). You can find tons of philosophers of different foundational outlooks on different normative-ethical sides:

Non-naturalists: Consequentialists (Henry Sidgwick [& tons of other Sidgwick-Ewing period Oxbridge people], Peter Singer [act], Derek Parfit [rule]); Non-Consequentialists (W.D. Ross [& tons of other Sidgwick-Ewing Oxbridge people]; Jeff McMahan)

Dispositionalists / Constructivists: Consequentialists (Richard Brandt [rule], I think maybe Melinda Roberts [act]); Non-Consequentialists (John Rawls, Christine Korsgaard, Jeff McMahan's past selves)

Quasi-Realist Expressivists: Consequentialists (Allan GIbbard [rule], J.J.C. Smart [at least sort of] [act]); Non-Consequentialists (Stephen Darwall if he can't get non-naturalism; maybe Mark Schroeder; maybe Mark van Roojen).

The only odd-theory-out may indeed be Cornell school naturalistic moral realism. But honestly I don't understand what is going on with those people. As I recall both Railton and Boyd start by saying OK, I'm going to develop a metaethical theory on the assumption that consequentialism is true. To my mind, I'm like WTF is that? I find this totally alien to the way you get into the main 3 above foundational metaethical views above. The way you do that is you ask: hey, there are like these substantive disagreements in normative and practical ethics, what are people doing in those disagreements? What should we interpret people as meaning when one says "we're morally required to bring about the best consequences" and the other is like "no, fuck that, reasons not to inflict harm are like stronger than reasons to prevent harm," and then the first is like "wait, come on, here's this trolley case, you're like fetishizing the course of nature if you think we shouldn't divert it" and the other is like "oh, I see, well how about this: it's also harder to justify intending harm than foreseeing harm; that sounds plausible, right, like as plausible as how we should promote the good, no?" and the first is then like "no, here is how that DDE shit will get shredded when you think about it more carefully..."? What will make what one of them (e.g. which we will bet is the first one if we agree with Sidgwick / Singer in normative ethics, or which we will bet is the second one if we agree with Ross / McMahan in normative ethics) says true and the other false? Is there even a fact of the matter? What will those facts be like?

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
Very interesting - I would only say that if one wants to get Isaac to stop making arguments like NTT (and I can see the force of the reasons to want to do that), I don't think that the best way to get his audience to demand different content is to make what appears to them to be pointless, nit-picking criticisms of his argument, or worse, assertion that the argument can't be rationally compelling
I'm not trying to convince Isaac or his fans. I suspect that is futile at this point. It's much easier to reach the carnists he argues with so he will be forced to change his tactics or argument, or look bad in debates (which is his real fear). Or he might stop debating -- that's an option too. If he just keeps to making response videos, that would be less harmful since it would just be his audience and this wouldn't be spread around so much.

I do not think he will carry on after a couple embarrassments in debate.

However, if you have some ideas to reach them, that would be amazing. I had just pretty much given up on that, since it seemed the path of most resistance.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
I agree that the second part, from animal moral value to veganism, has all sorts of much more obvious substantive problems which should be more readily appreciated by his audience).
That is the part I will be working on addressing. The first part may be invalid, but the conclusion is true so there's no much point in arguing it aside from to show the logical form is wrong in both halves.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Thu Nov 16, 2017 6:34 am
Yes, you've greatly clarified what you have in mind as alternatives; thanks. I'd only emphasize that these intentions or ideas are in no way clear from anything in the wiki.
If you can help make that more clear, and have any good ideas about reaching Isaac's fans to get them to encourage him to improve the argument, that would be greatly appreciated.

I'd love to be able to communicate these things with people like Banana Warrior Princess.
Interesting about what you see as useful purposes for this. I'm not sure just how useful this entry as it stands is as ammo for Isaac's future debate opponents, but it might not be that hard to write out how a smart error theorist could respond to the argument to illustrate how Isaac's attempted substantive-assumption-free defense of P1 and P2 (and P3 & P4, or on that score just P2 again if we go the identity of indiscernibles route) - or edit the wiki to make this clear. I also don't know how much the second part of the argument comes up in Isaac's debates (I confess that I largely stopped watching after the initial ones, which impressed me greatly - I"m very sorry if that means that there's a whole bunch of evidence about rhetorical problems with his use of NTT in debates of which I'm not aware...).

Thanks in advance for the planned contributions on why the second part of NTT has a lot of problems; I think those will be great. (I think there's already a certain amount of stuff on the second part of NTT spread out in myriad sections / subsections of the wiki as it currently stands, like the itemized issues discussion, the section on "personal contradictions," and such. I was largely just planning to move a lot of it around and maybe fill some stuff in. But of course I think that any and all new material, and help with this sort of thing, will be most helpful!).

I'm working on both making the additions to the wiki that you suggest (thanks; I'm glad to see that you seem to be happy with my doing this) and trying to keep up a line of communication with Isaac which I think has been at least somewhat fruitful in terms of trying to facilitate understanding (or at least my understanding of how he's now been seeing things in terms of the stuff about the identity of indiscernibles). If you don't mind I'll be trying to structure things so that there is a distinct section on the second part of the argument, with sub-sections on the various aspects; in addition to another big section on the problems with the defense of the premises of the first part of the argument and its interaction with the deductive validity issue (as outlined above). I think that this will make it all much clearer what sort of substantive assumptions the entry is talking about various points.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:37 am

Apologies for the large number of errors in this post, no time to proof read.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
As it happens I disagree with you strongly about the dependence or lack thereof between normative and at least foundational metaethics (non-naturalism vs. constructivism vs. quasi-realist expressivism). You can find tons of philosophers of different foundational outlooks on different normative-ethical sides:
[...]
The only odd-theory-out may indeed be Cornell school naturalistic moral realism. But honestly I don't understand what is going on with those people. As I recall both Railton and Boyd start by saying OK, I'm going to develop a metaethical theory on the assumption that consequentialism is true. To my mind, I'm like WTF is that?
Well, it's true that incoherent meta-ethics can't necessarily be used to deduce anything further, but I would take that as a reason to abandon them ;) .
From my perspective, you argue somebody to naturalistic moral realism and the rest is pretty easy going from there (with occasional hiccups on hedonistic vs. preference based consideration).
I'm not going to say anything more on that for now, since we could probably argue for several hours about this and not get much done on the issue at hand (although it would be interesting). Maybe another time?

Point taken, though, we'll use the phrase "ethical theory" on the wiki to avoid ambiguity.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
although I think it's best then to simply assert things, like most wikis I've seen, rather than say 'we hold x' (I worry that sounds too tribal)
Sure, we can do that.
We'll keep "we" statements to the pages discussing the wiki itself/the perspective it takes.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
I've found it helpful to distinguish between the NTT argument per se and the particular defense of the premises that Isaac has given.
That could be helpful in practice.

I think Isaac is an authority on NTT, though, as its creator... so it's a little difficult to discuss one without the other. When he says something about the argument, it seems incorrect to "fix" it against his assertions of how it works.
Or maybe we shouldn't respect his authority as an author, and argue that it has taken on a life of its own and Isaac doesn't own it?
Maybe it's just enough to talk about that a little, then talk about NTT in itself as it's used outside the context of Isaac.

If we do that, I think it's important to break it down into the first and second half, though, since the second half seems irreparably broken no matter what.

So we might have:

1.NTT (first half) as an argument for animals having some moral value
Discuss its use as an informal argument (and what should be avoided, e.g. p1 p2 c which imply at least all possibly contentious premises are included) or how premises can be added to make it deductively valid as a formal argument.
2.NTT (second half) The problems with that
All the crazy stuff that derives from exploitation and contradictions with a spectrum of value, etc.
3.Problems created by Isaac's defense of NTT
With respect to the ethical theory independence he claims it has (thus rejecting additional premises that would fix it formally) etc.
And otherwise his bad defenses of its validity.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
so it's no harm done that P3 and P4 are suppressed premises (even, I believe, if the argument is presented in premise-conclusion form).
I think that looks bad. As long as it's informal that's fine, but once you start making it look like a formal deductive argument, and use assertive language in the conclusion or talk about logical contradictions you get into trouble.
There are a number of things that suggest this is meant to be a deductively valid argument (beyond Isaac's insistence).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
If that's right, then I think this removes my confusion about some of what the main editors had been saying. It isn't that Isaac can't as he thinks be neutral among the main metaethical theories (dispositionalism / constructivism, non-naturalistic realism, and quasi-realist expressivism and / or a version of relativism that basically works much like quasi-realist expressivism).
It very likely could work in several of those, depending on how the premises would be worded... although I don't think those perspectives are common enough to merit concern.
We're mostly dealing with realists and proper moral relativists if we're talking about bringing this argument to the general public. I've seen very littl nuance between those two positions among the general population.

It's probably worth mentioning briefly how it works under each of these theories, and talking about what it needs and where it fails for error theorists (which is what Isaac is, sort of... he's sitting on the fence between error theory [improperly understanding it] and minimal realism of some kind).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
And some of Isaac's bright young skeptic debate opponents may hold views like those.
This is what caused me to notice, when Isaac responded (incoherently) to accusations from FriendEd of him being a moral objectivist.
This is a real problem for him (where it may not be for banana warrior princess), since this has been his target demographic for this argument.

That might be worth mentioning too. It's the specific context of people who naturally disagree with any of the ethical theories needed to make NTT work, where the argument or its practice stand out as looking dishonest.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
Incidentally one can respond to those views:
Of course, but that means being educated enough in those theories to take them on as you said... but even with that, Isaac has been championing NTT in part by saying you don't need any of that, and specifically tells people to avoid any talk of meta-ethics etc.
It would make him look very foolish to turn around and admit you need it after all.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
But if someone like him would actually learn about that and respond in debates, I'm sure that philosophers who teach ethical theory would be absolutely tickled pink about the practical relevance of the sort of thing they teach (which can sometimes seem so far removed from practical concerns).
The lack of this is kind of makes me feel like I need to start getting involved in those live debates.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
All an error theorist who [...] now is to say (yeah, if you changed out my traits in such a way that I'd be a non-human animal, I'd have no value, even what you interpret me as having. I wouldn't even be me in any relevant sense, so have at it and harm the crap out of the entity that isn't in any relevant sense me).
I've seen that done a couple times now in comments. It would be pretty interesting to see that happen live.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
If you don't mind I'll be trying to structure things so there's a section on the second part of the argument, with lots of sub-sections on the various aspects; in addition to another big section on the problems with the defense of the premises of the first part of the argument and its interaction with the deductive validity issue (as outlined above). I think that will make it all much clearer what sort of substantive assumptions the entry is talking about what various points.
That sounds pretty good.

Moving things around a little is fine, just try not to wholesale delete anything without mentioning it on the forum first.
I'll try to jump back in soon. This has all been very helpful, thank you. :)

If possible, could you PM me your e-mail address? I'd like to send you something for feedback related to this.

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Post by Margaret Hayek » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:06 am

Just quickly for now:
brimstoneSalad wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 2:37 am
Apologies for the large number of errors in this post, no time to proof read.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
As it happens I disagree with you strongly about the dependence or lack thereof between normative and at least foundational metaethics (non-naturalism vs. constructivism vs. quasi-realist expressivism). You can find tons of philosophers of different foundational outlooks on different normative-ethical sides:
[...]
The only odd-theory-out may indeed be Cornell school naturalistic moral realism. But honestly I don't understand what is going on with those people. As I recall both Railton and Boyd start by saying OK, I'm going to develop a metaethical theory on the assumption that consequentialism is true. To my mind, I'm like WTF is that?
Well, it's true that incoherent meta-ethics can't necessarily be used to deduce anything further, but I would take that as a reason to abandon them ;) .
From my perspective, you argue somebody to naturalistic moral realism and the rest is pretty easy going from there (with occasional hiccups on hedonistic vs. preference based consideration).
I'm not going to say anything more on that for now, since we could probably argue for several hours about this and not get much done on the issue at hand (although it would be interesting). Maybe another time?

Point taken, though, we'll use the phrase "ethical theory" on the wiki to avoid ambiguity.
Thanks. Also I SO agree with this 100%: "I'm not going to say anything more on that for now, since we could probably argue for several hours about this and not get much done on the issue at hand (although it would be interesting). Maybe another time?" I'd actually meant to say / ask you something exactly like that, so right back at you!


Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
although I think it's best then to simply assert things, like most wikis I've seen, rather than say 'we hold x' (I worry that sounds too tribal)
Sure, we can do that.
We'll keep "we" statements to the pages discussing the wiki itself/the perspective it takes.
Sweet; sounds good.


Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
I've found it helpful to distinguish between the NTT argument per se and the particular defense of the premises that Isaac has given.
That could be helpful in practice.

I think Isaac is an authority on NTT, though, as its creator... so it's a little difficult to discuss one without the other. When he says something about the argument, it seems incorrect to "fix" it against his assertions of how it works.
Or maybe we shouldn't respect his authority as an author, and argue that it has taken on a life of its own and Isaac doesn't own it?
Maybe it's just enough to talk about that a little, then talk about NTT in itself as it's used outside the context of Isaac.

If we do that, I think it's important to break it down into the first and second half, though, since the second half seems irreparably broken no matter what.

So we might have:

1.NTT (first half) as an argument for animals having some moral value
Discuss its use as an informal argument (and what should be avoided, e.g. p1 p2 c which imply at least all possibly contentious premises are included) or how premises can be added to make it deductively valid as a formal argument.
2.NTT (second half) The problems with that
All the crazy stuff that derives from exploitation and contradictions with a spectrum of value, etc.
3.Problems created by Isaac's defense of NTT
With respect to the ethical theory independence he claims it has (thus rejecting additional premises that would fix it formally) etc.
And otherwise his bad defenses of its validity.
That's almost exactly what I had in mind, except with (i) this bit of material from 3.: "Problems...With respect to the ethical theory independence he claims it has" distributed into both 1. and 2., and (ii) the "(thus rejecting additional premises that would fix it formally)" stuff distributed into 1. I was also thinking (although I did not mention this in my last response to you) of collecting some of the material on the page on 'otherwise his bad defenses of its validity' into a sub-section of 1., which includes some of the other bad defenses of its validity pertaining to confusion about what the technical notion of 'deductive validity' and such are, as these are, in terms of actual content, distinct from the issues about Isaac's claims about NTT's independence from substantive issues. (The distinction in terms of content is true even though I suspect that they are probably causally related in terms of Isaac's behaviour - i.e. I suspect, although I can't read minds, that Isaac's mind won't let him recognize the technical logical senses, because if he does, that would cause him to see that, contrary to what he's been claiming, for his argument to be rationally compelling, he has to be appealing in certain ways to substantive issues, which goes against his motivations to keep it substance free).


Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
so it's no harm done that P3 and P4 are suppressed premises (even, I believe, if the argument is presented in premise-conclusion form).
I think that looks bad. As long as it's informal that's fine, but once you start making it look like a formal deductive argument, and use assertive language in the conclusion or talk about logical contradictions you get into trouble.
There are a number of things that suggest this is meant to be a deductively valid argument (beyond Isaac's insistence).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
If that's right, then I think this removes my confusion about some of what the main editors had been saying. It isn't that Isaac can't as he thinks be neutral among the main metaethical theories (dispositionalism / constructivism, non-naturalistic realism, and quasi-realist expressivism and / or a version of relativism that basically works much like quasi-realist expressivism).
It very likely could work in several of those, depending on how the premises would be worded... although I don't think those perspectives are common enough to merit concern.
We're mostly dealing with realists and proper moral relativists if we're talking about bringing this argument to the general public. I've seen very littl nuance between those two positions among the general population.

It's probably worth mentioning briefly how it works under each of these theories, and talking about what it needs and where it fails for error theorists (which is what Isaac is, sort of... he's sitting on the fence between error theory [improperly understanding it] and minimal realism of some kind).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
And some of Isaac's bright young skeptic debate opponents may hold views like those.
This is what caused me to notice, when Isaac responded (incoherently) to accusations from FriendEd of him being a moral objectivist.
This is a real problem for him (where it may not be for banana warrior princess), since this has been his target demographic for this argument.

That might be worth mentioning too. It's the specific context of people who naturally disagree with any of the ethical theories needed to make NTT work, where the argument or its practice stand out as looking dishonest.
Perfect, I think that that is precisely the sort of thing that I had in mind!


Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
Incidentally one can respond to those views:
Of course, but that means being educated enough in those theories to take them on as you said... but even with that, Isaac has been championing NTT in part by saying you don't need any of that, and specifically tells people to avoid any talk of meta-ethics etc.
It would make him look very foolish to turn around and admit you need it after all.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
But if someone like him would actually learn about that and respond in debates, I'm sure that philosophers who teach ethical theory would be absolutely tickled pink about the practical relevance of the sort of thing they teach (which can sometimes seem so far removed from practical concerns).
The lack of this is kind of makes me feel like I need to start getting involved in those live debates.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 10:50 pm
All an error theorist who [...] now is to say (yeah, if you changed out my traits in such a way that I'd be a non-human animal, I'd have no value, even what you interpret me as having. I wouldn't even be me in any relevant sense, so have at it and harm the crap out of the entity that isn't in any relevant sense me).
I've seen that done a couple times now in comments. It would be pretty interesting to see that happen live.
Great; I think that we agree substantively here even though we're used to using different terminology (and incidentally I didn't bother to explain mine to you in my previous post, which I think can cause much confusion, but I think that I did it largely because we seem to have some substantially shared background and I'm already spending way too much time on this so...boom, lack of clarification of WTF I'm talking about). The key will be explaining any terminology used on the wiki in lay terms, which is absolutely essential since this is intended for a general audience. I've been endeavouring to do that so far in my edits, and I'm sure that we can find a way to do that when it comes time to editing the bits that deal with this issue.


That sounds pretty good.

Moving things around a little is fine, just try not to wholesale delete anything without mentioning it on the forum first.
I'll try to jump back in soon. This has all been very helpful, thank you. :)
I'm so glad to hear that you're finding this helpful; I certainly am too.

Just about the wholesale deletion: I'm definitely not wholesale deleting, but in one case I did create a page on Isaac Brown and move some stuff there, the content of some of which I noted I'd probably move back into the sections on the new layout that we've been discussing here. I hope that's OK. Is there a way for me to explain to people how I'm migrating it to a new entry so they can find it and don't worry that I've just deleted it?


If possible, could you PM me your e-mail address? I'd like to send you something for feedback related to this.
I would be happy to, but fear that I must confess, to my great embarrassment, that I tried to figure out how to send a PM on this forum and I failed to determine how to do so :(. Can you tell me how to do this (or maybe just PM me on this forum?)

Many thanks,
Margaret

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Post by Canastenard » Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:22 am

This is a follow-up to my last post which inspired me to suggest something: adding a section about sustainable agriculture in the Wiki. That page would describe what agriculture would look like in a vegan world, and the evidence based practices to make sure we get a sustainable agriculture which provides people their nutritional needs while minimizing environmental damage. Obviously widespread veganism would imply a massive shift from agriculture as it currently exists, with animal agriculture being a large part of it, so if we want to advocate for veganism then we must show how a world without slaughterhouses would sustain its food suply.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:30 pm

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:06 am
That's almost exactly what I had in mind, except with (i) this bit of material from 3.: "Problems...With respect to the ethical theory independence he claims it has" distributed into both 1. and 2., and (ii) the "(thus rejecting additional premises that would fix it formally)" stuff distributed into 1.
If you think that's a better way to format, that's fine.

So basically:

1.A Part 1 informal utility of the golden rule formulation + likely assumptions made in those exchanges
1.B. Part 1 formal invalidity and missing premises/connection to ethical theory + how to fix it
Somewhere in there, cautions on how not to use formal looking presentation and deductive claims if it's not deductively valid.
1.C. The additional problems with Isaac's defenses of Part 1
How a charitable interpretation is made impossible due to his exploitation of the ambiguities & rejection of added premises.

2.A Part2 intrinsic problems
2.B additional problems with Isaac's defenses and incompatibility with his existing beliefs
2.C How/why this half of the argument needs to be totally replaced (or avoided), and how to do it


This would mostly be a restructuring of the Itemized issues section. Do you think the symbolic section should go before or after this?
We should probably discuss any reorganizing on a full article scale with DrSinger & Nightcell

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:06 am
I was also thinking (although I did not mention this in my last response to you) of collecting some of the material on the page on 'otherwise his bad defenses of its validity' into a sub-section of 1., which includes some of the other bad defenses of its validity pertaining to confusion about what the technical notion of 'deductive validity' and such are, as these are, in terms of actual content, distinct from the issues about Isaac's claims about NTT's independence from substantive issues.
I suppose I just saw them as pretty intimately connected, but they are unique points of confusion that might benefit from being explained separately.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:06 am
(The distinction in terms of content is true even though I suspect that they are probably causally related in terms of Isaac's behaviour - i.e. I suspect, although I can't read minds, that Isaac's mind won't let him recognize the technical logical senses, because if he does, that would cause him to see that, contrary to what he's been claiming, for his argument to be rationally compelling, he has to be appealing in certain ways to substantive issues, which goes against his motivations to keep it substance free).
Right, I agree with this assessment.
Like a typical theistic apologist, any logical manipulations can be justified to preserve that core belief because it just must be true.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:06 am
The key will be explaining any terminology used on the wiki in lay terms, which is absolutely essential since this is intended for a general audience. I've been endeavouring to do that so far in my edits, and I'm sure that we can find a way to do that when it comes time to editing the bits that deal with this issue.
We can probably explain it briefly, and then link off another page with a more comprehensive explanation.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:06 am
Just about the wholesale deletion: I'm definitely not wholesale deleting, but in one case I did create a page on Isaac Brown and move some stuff there, the content of some of which I noted I'd probably move back into the sections on the new layout that we've been discussing here. I hope that's OK. Is there a way for me to explain to people how I'm migrating it to a new entry so they can find it and don't worry that I've just deleted it?
I would just leave a tiny note and a link in the article (it can be removed later after we clean everything up).

I'm wary of having articles on people specifically, but I guess that's fine in this case. There's some utility to talking about these personalities that attract a cult following and who are very "problematic", whether it's these irrational defenses or echoing racist rhetoric (behavior like that is not going to endear anybody to the cause that we want promoting it, the world isn't going to become MORE friendly to racism any time soon).


PMed. There's a link after "contact" right under usernames to the right, also under the profile image/avatar. It provides a PM option.

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brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 8948
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
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Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Sun Nov 19, 2017 3:55 pm

Canastenard wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:22 am
This is a follow-up to my last post which inspired me to suggest something: adding a section about sustainable agriculture in the Wiki. That page would describe what agriculture would look like in a vegan world, and the evidence based practices to make sure we get a sustainable agriculture which provides people their nutritional needs while minimizing environmental damage. Obviously widespread veganism would imply a massive shift from agriculture as it currently exists, with animal agriculture being a large part of it, so if we want to advocate for veganism then we must show how a world without slaughterhouses would sustain its food suply.
That's a great idea!

Can you get it started? If you can sign up to the wiki, and let us know your username, we'll give you permissions.

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