Seven Deadly Sins of Bad Vegan Activism

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

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 8942
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Seven Deadly Sins of Bad Vegan Activism

Post by brimstoneSalad » Fri Dec 15, 2017 7:05 pm


User avatar
Lightningman_42
Senior Member
Posts: 489
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 12:19 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan
Location: California

Post by Lightningman_42 » Sat Dec 16, 2017 4:39 am

First thought: Is this title a good idea?

"Seven Deadly Sins" has a very religious sound to it, and I don't want people new to veganism to get the impression that it's something religious in nature, nor based on rules (implying deontology).

Still need to read the wiki itself. Will do that later. I need to go sleep now.
"The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil but because of those who look on and do nothing."
-Albert Einstein

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 8942
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:58 pm

I don't think it'd be an issue, but I'd be curious if other people think so.
"Seven deadly sins" is used broadly in secular circles when there are lists of seven bad things.

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/609048/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-ai-predictions/
https://www.hamilton.edu/academics/centers/writing/seven-sins-of-writing
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/3479226 Seven deadly sins of childhood
https://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/operations/our-insights/avoiding-the-seven-deadly-sins-of-customer-experience-transformations
https://press.princeton.edu/titles/10970.html The Seven Deadly Sins of Psychology

Basically look up any random secular and especially academic topic, and somebody has a seven deadly sins list for it. :)

User avatar
Jebus
Master of the Forum
Posts: 1819
Joined: Fri Oct 03, 2014 2:08 pm
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by Jebus » Sat Dec 16, 2017 2:28 pm

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 12:58 pm
I don't think it'd be an issue, but I'd be curious if other people think so.
"Seven deadly sins" is used broadly in secular circles when there are lists of seven bad things.
Sounds good to me although I was recently told on a Facebook vegan page that I shouldn't discuss morality with regards to veganism because of the biblical connotations to morality. Her point was that vegan = good, and non vegan = bad so there's no point in sounding like a religious fanatic.
How to become vegan in 4.5 hours:
1.Watch Forks over Knives (Health)
2.Watch Cowspiracy (Environment)
3. Watch Earthlings (Ethics)
Congratulations, unless you are a complete idiot you are now a vegan.

User avatar
EquALLity
I am God
Posts: 2993
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2014 11:31 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan
Location: United States of Canada

Post by EquALLity » Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:57 pm

I think it's good. Maybe you could give some examples for pro-vegan pseudoscience, seeing that the people who promote pro-vegan pseudoscience don't understand that their "facts" aren't true, and hearing that they aren't from a vegan source would be more credible to them than hearing it elsewhere.

For example...
"Meat is the worst thing for your body ever, it's like poison, blah blah blah."
"Humans aren't really omnivores, we are herbivores... Our bodies aren't made to digest meat, our teeth are designed to chew fruit not meat, blah blah blah."
"Vegan diets have been proven to cure cancer, diabetes, etc. (misusing the word "proof")."
"Milk has a ton of puss and blood."
"Eggs are chicken periods."

Also, I have noticed that many vegans will immediately believe something that supports veganism without fact-checking it. Maybe you could say something about that too, since it's a big cause of why there is so much pseudoscience in the vegan community.

P.S. A general question, what is the POV of the wiki? Sometimes it is in first person, but sometimes it isn't. I think it should be consistent.

Also yeah, I'm alive! :P
"I am not a Marxist." -Karl Marx

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 8942
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Sun Dec 17, 2017 2:48 am

Welcome back from the dead!

Can you sign up to the Wiki? Somebody will authorize you to edit.
EquALLity wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:57 pm
I think it's good. Maybe you could give some examples for pro-vegan pseudoscience,
Good idea!

EquALLity wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:57 pm
"Milk has a ton of puss and blood."
"Eggs are chicken periods."
I'd call those more gross-out arguments, since they're kind of subjective and mainly made to be disgusting. What's a ton? Etc. and shouldn't matter.
EquALLity wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:57 pm
Also, I have noticed that many vegans will immediately believe something that supports veganism without fact-checking it. Maybe you could say something about that too, since it's a big cause of why there is so much pseudoscience in the vegan community.
Yes, we see the same in religious circles with respect to Einstein quotes, etc.
EquALLity wrote:
Sat Dec 16, 2017 3:57 pm
P.S. A general question, what is the POV of the wiki? Sometimes it is in first person, but sometimes it isn't. I think it should be consistent.
First person stuff is probably a mistake.
If you see it, feel free to fix that.

Margaret Hayek
Junior Member
Posts: 92
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:45 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by Margaret Hayek » Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:04 am

Yes, re. this:
There are also a lot of very bad intuitionistic arguments out there. These are a particularly big problem when they are meant to be rationally compelling, because these moral theories only follow from intuition you can not per se reason another person into them unless you get lucky and they happen to share your intuitions.

The vegetarian motivated by ethics, then, is the very rare person who has come to see all animals in the manner that we see some animals – pets – and in which we see all people. The ways in which this can happen are, as already mentioned, haphazard and many, but one way in which Diamond has shown us it does not happen, is by virtue of the ethical vegetarian having noticed that the animal in question has certain morally relevant characteristics and having concluded from that fact, that it must be inviolable. And having come into being in this sort of way, it also is hardly something that can be prescribed to others, which is why, among all the things that Diamond dislikes about the ethical vegetarian movement, its often “nagging, moralistic tone” is one of the things she dislikes about it the most, a feeling that I certainly share.
-Daniel Kaufman[1]
Intuitionistic and similar moral theories are thus not linked as functions to normative conclusions: it makes them as useless to rational activism as emotionally charged assertions. Some might agree with them by chance, but they aren't compelling arguments, and IF you use them and people reject them the very last thing you must be is insistent or offended.
Thus our focus on naturalistic realism: something that does provide functions for discussing and arriving and normative beliefs without the bias of variable intuition.
What exactly do you take to be an 'intuitionistic argument', and what exactly do you take to be the distinction between moral theories that require some appeal to intuition (or some ethical claim seeming to be true independent of inference) - which I think all substantive moral theories very clearly do - and other moral theories, which this passage seems to presuppose?

You seem for example to be a very big fan of consequentialism, and in particular some version of utilitarianism. All honest arguments for consequentialism and utilitarianism appeal to intuitions, or uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths - albeit very secure ones, like that there's moral reason not to harm others, there's moral reason to promote the well-being of others (which come to the same kind of reason if the things like the moral relevance of the doing/allowing distinction cannot be defended - but all honest arguments that it can't be again appeal to intuition; see e.g. those of Jonathan Bennett, Shelly Kagan, Alastair Norcross - really any that I can think of). Similarly when we come to the theory of the good, all arguments for hedonism or preference fulfillment theory again appeal to uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths, like that suffering is in itself a harm, enjoyment is in itself a benefit, and so on (see e.g. the arguments of Roger Crisp, or those discussed by Derek Parfit, or of Christopher Heathwood, or really any you like).

There is a distinction to be drawn between more variable case-intuitions (e.g. whether it's wrong to push someone into the path of a trolley if you can be sure it will save 5) and more secure general intuitions like those mentioned above. But it's not a distinction between uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths and something else. It is rather a distinction between uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths that pertain to particular cases and are more variable / maybe don't withstand more careful reflection, and uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths that are more general, secure, and able to withstand careful reflection about what it's actually saying.


By the way, this sort of talking down to people is disgusting, particularly since (at least apart from a few neo-Kantian kooks who say things like Isaac in terms of substantive ethical conclusions following simply from logical consistency) the actual philosophical literature DOES NOT make the sort of distinction that you assert here between 'moral theory that yields conclusions from deduction and one that cannot':
"[If you're not very well versed in philosophy, and particularly if you don't understand the difference between moral theory that yields conclusions from deduction and one that can not, it's best to stick with empirical arguments (Like just talking about the facts of animal agriculture, or climate change, which are all strong on their own without any philosophical claims)."
Every moral theory, or set of substantive ethical claims, has logical entailments, and thus yields conclusions by deduction - none don't; I'm sorry to have to tell you this. If you mean a non-obviously-fallacious way of arriving at a substantive moral theory without any appeal to uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths, then I'm very sorry to have to tell you this, but it just doesn't exist. I mean for Pete's sake just take the work of ANY philosopher arguing for ANY substantive ethical claim: e.g. Sidgwick, Singer, Parfit, Kagan, Norcross, whomever defending consequentialism; Ross, Quinn, McMahan, Jeske, whomever defending anti-consequentialism, Thomson or McMahan defending abortion (given the facts about fetal dependency & development), Don Marquis attacking the permissibility of abortion given these same facts, Wayne Sumner defending the permissibility of assisted death when it benefits the patient & she gives informed consent, David DeGrazia defending the view that death harms non-human animals substantially, Singer, DeGrazia, McMahan, Engel, Norcross, ANYONE defending the moral considerability of non-human animals. Etc. Etc. ad nauseam ad nauseam. I see that you like Stanford links (it is indeed a great resource). Just look at the entries on consequentialism, doing and allowing harm, the doctrine of double effect, well-being, the moral status of animals, voluntary euthanasia, or really any substantive ethical topic you like. EVERY PAPER (that isn't doing some obviously fallacious hard core neo-Kantian stufff) you will see cited that makes a substantive ethical case will be appealing to uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths - or what are commonly known as 'intuitions'.

Can you cite even ONE paper by a professional philosopher (or heck, anyone, anywhere!) that makes the kind of ethical argument that you seem to be suggesting is the only kind it's OK for the unwashed masses to make, viz. that does NOT appeal to some kind of uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths (and that isn't obviously fallacious hard-core neo-Kantian type stuff)? If even the bloody professional philosophers don't make these arguments, BECAUSE THEY KNOW THEY DON'T WORK - then how can you talk down to the unwashed masses and demand that they make these arguments, which everyone but you (and some Neo-Kantians, and Isaac in his less careful moods) knows better than to make, because, again, they don't bloody work?

Or perhaps you just meant a distinction between the BAD / Unreliable uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths, like about particular cases and which don't withstand comparison to other cases or more careful reflection about what they mean / entail, which you pejoratively dub 'intuitions', and the GOOD / Reliable uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths, like about general principles which DO withstand critical clarification about what they're really saying and what they imply in other contexts and such, which you deem, 'the deliverances of reason' or some such? Then you would be fine substantively, but it's a very misleading way to talk without further clarification of what you mean by 'mere intuitions' on the one hand and 'uninferred seemings as of substantive ethical truths which are indeed the deliverances of reason' on the other.

Finally, even if this last is the only distinction you're after, I think it's a very bad idea to require people only to appeal to uninferred seemings that turn out to be defensible at the end of all possible philosophical inquiry. Why not let people show that the most defensible version of their views will entail sufficient concern for non-human animals to support veganism in light of the empirical facts even if their views aren't defensible? I think e.g. that we should show hard core deontologists that the right way to be a hard core deontologist is to extend their hard core deontological concern to non-humans, to show loopy virtue ethicists that the right way to be loopy virtue ethicists is to extend their loopy (but still motivationally powerful) concern to non-human animals, and so on. It does indeed require one to know one's audience, but that seems to be an important precondition for a lot of effective advocacy.

I would agree that basic ethical argument (of ANY kind) should not be a first resort in many, many contexts of advocacy. As I think you've noted, most people agree that we should have at least a minimal concern for non-human animals for their own sakes, and it's most effective to focus on how this minimal concern should lead them to be vegan given the empirical realities of the harm done to non-humans by consuming animal products (both directly in farming and indirectly via environmental degradation), as well as that done to other humans via the environmental degradation, and the extremely low - and indeed probably in most cases negative - net costs of being vegan given the lack of health issues and indeed health benefits. The place for basic ethical argument about non-humans is typically if the response to the first bits of this is "yeah, but why should I care; they're just animals?" or in giving more "Full Monty" style arguments to vegans to prevent recidivism, or to curious young people, etc. Another important place is showing that the concern for non-human animals part of veganism doesn't depend upon unreasoned emotion but is instead most rationally defensible (which, in addition to engaging curious young people, I take to be the point of the sorts of debates that Isaac has been having - although with Isaac & Richard vs. the Warskis I think it was a clear case of Andy Warski starting off with basic concern for non-humans but then finding veganism difficult and falling prey to recidivism due to being insufficiently convinced of the degree of importance of the animal ethics issues). But this is true of all basic ethical arguments, including the best ones, and not just the not-so-good ones.

Apart from that, something very much like your principle 5,that one ought to avoid "Loudly advocating unrelated fringe claims" requires keeping the ethical assumptions in the ethical arguments as logically weak as possible (i.e. keeping them as minimal or such as to require as few things to be true as possible). For instance, you do not want to insist that your audience must first all become consequentialists who hold that we're morally required to bring about the most well-being possible, and that before even talking about veganism they must of course agree that if they could be sure of the results and it was the only way to do so they'd be morally required to harvest the organs of one to transplant into five others to save their lives. That may well be true, but NOTHING like that is needed to support the sort of ethical concern for non-human animals needed to support veganism, and, like advocating hardcore anarchism, it is needlessly alienating (whatever the merits of conseqeuntialism and whatever the merits of anarachism). That sort of "first you have to become a consequentialist - or even better, a really particular and thus even more controversial kind of consequentialist, like a preference utilitarian - and then I'll consider letting you into my vegan club" nonsense is WAY more "fully Monty" than even what Leenaert calls "full Monty" arguments for veganism that defend the view that bare biological species membership is completely devoid of intrinsic morally relevance (and not just not so relevant as to make it the case that, while we owe a whole lot to humans who are mentally and otherwise well-being-wise comparable to non-human animals, like orphaned profoundly intellectually disabled humans - we owe absolutely nothing to the non-human animals). Remember, we need to make it as easy as possible for people with a broad variety of views and predilections to be vegan, and this definitely requires making the logically weakest ethical assumptions possible - and in particular avoiding insisting on ethical views that some of us might like a lot but that tend to be alienating to the general public, and are FAR FAR more than is required to support the sort of ethical concern for non-human animals needed to support veganism.


PS I still have absolutely no idea what you mean by 'naturalistic moral realism' in alleged contrast to intuitionism. For instance, you seem in some contexts to refer to the normative ethical theories like utilitarianism - or just consequentialism with clearly specified theories of the good - as instances of 'naturalistic moral realism', but three of the most famous consequentialists (and in particular two of the most famous utilitarians), Henry Sidgwick, Derek Parfit, and Peter Singer, are all very clear non-naturalists about the metaphysics of ethical truths and intuitionists about philosophical methdology (although as I mentioned above ALL practicing philosophers or at the very least normative and practical ethicists are in at least some sense intuitionists about philosophical methodology). In the actual philosophical literature 'naturalistic moral realism' tends to refer to a particular metaethical theory, of the kind advocated by Peter Railton and Richard Boyd (and rejected by the most famous consequentialists and in particular the most famous utilitarians), which as far as I can see has absolutely no clear relevance to anything going on here.

For references to the philosophical literature on moral naturalism vs. non-naturalism, you might want to check out the SEP entries on moral realism (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-realism/), moral naturalism (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism-moral/), and moral non-naturalism (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-non-naturalism/). Once more, I really, really, don't think that where one comes down in any of those debates should affect what one regards as effective vegan advocacy in the slightest. One should be able to agree what is a compelling and effective normative ethical argument for veganism regardless of whether one is a Sidgwick-Moore-Parfit-(present-day)-Singer style non-naturalist, a Railton-Boyd style Cornell School realist, an Allan Gibbard-style expressivist, a Sharon Street style constructivist, etc.
Last edited by Margaret Hayek on Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 8942
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:12 am

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:04 am
Yes, re. this:
I thought you might. :D We should really discuss this on Discord or some kind of real-time chat. There's going to be too much talking past each other here.

I'd rather draw the distinction between meta-ethics and applied normative claims. I will try to clarify the wording there.

We can in the very least talk about the number of assumptions that need to be made, and appeal to Occam's razor to limit those to basic meta-physical and meta-ethical claims, then let deduction follow from there to fill in all of the normative results.

Provided we want an objective argument that can't merely be dismissed, and that is what vegans are looking for when we make assertive moral claims, we have limited options.
There are assumptions that are not simply intuition, but categorically necessary to make in order to make these kinds of claims and have this kind of discussion; much like the laws of thought.

Realism is a must to be in any way useful (we obviously can't make the claims we are after if at least minimal realism is not accepted).
The arguments we are trying to make are clearly making moral claims, and we at least generally expect and imply them to be true.

If you think the error theorists are right, then the whole endeavor is pointless -- sure -- but if it is not, and we are making these broad and assertive claims about ethics in support of veganism, then it is from a particular vantage of moral realism that we make them.

Making such claims and then falling back on some irrealist position seems dishonest or contradictory. For as much as some people want to say "Killing animals is wrong" actually means "boo on killing animals", that doesn't vindicate a bad argument where the expectation on both sides is substantiation of the claim.

Naturalism is also a must, unless we presume the truth of some supernatural metaphysics (I'll make a note of that, and that's perfectly legitimate within those contexts) which is pretty questionable if you're speaking to a general audience. Otherwise we're just babbling incoherently about a morality we won't define or substantiate.
If that's not dishonest, it's intellectually dishonest and at least rude. It's just making an assertion without having the honesty of admitting it's just that. If we're talking about arguments, the standard is a little higher than that.

Just following from the basis of using a moral argument to support veganism, there are assumptions that are already made based on teleology of the vegan argument. These are not choices of intuition, they are matters of necessity.

I've gotten the sense before that you feel like that's somehow circular (well I want to argue for veganism, so the meta-ethics that supports that must be true), but what I'm saying is that anything else is not being consistent -- we should not be making self-defeating arguments.
IF you are arguing for veganism on moral grounds like that and you expect your argument to have some rational force, if you did so based on any other assumptions that would be disingenuous because what you're really looking for is agreement with more specific intuitions, which isn't so much an argument as a "How do you feel about this?" probing of the intuitions the other party already holds.

Beyond that, I don't think consequentialism is really an intuition so much as the only option for lack of a viable alternative.

We can talk about whether hedonic or preference based considerations make sense (or even if maximizing pickles in the universe could somehow be substantiated), but I somehow doubt that's the critical sticking point here. But if it is: no, I don't think that's intuition either.

Margaret Hayek
Junior Member
Posts: 92
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2017 12:45 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by Margaret Hayek » Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am

brimstoneSalad wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:12 am
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 1:04 am
Yes, re. this:
I thought you might. :D We should really discuss this on Discord or some kind of real-time chat. There's going to be too much talking past each other here.
Shit; I was adding edits to the above after you replied - I just wanted to draw your attention to the fact that it got longer.

Just very quickly:

Yes, real time text chat would be fine; back in the day we used various kinds of IMs; would something like that work?

We're both on the same page that certain very specific metaethical views are a problem (but I can't imagine any vegans actually appealing to these - or any sane vegans really presupposing anything about metaethics other than their falsehood - in the course of arguing for veganism); these are:

(i) error theory + no reform or a reform that cuts non-human animals out (the latter of which is I think is present in or at least very much like Mackie & Gauthier), and
(ii) a simplistic version of non-cognitivism that cannot make sense of basic ethical inquiry or argument (as was arguably true of those like Ayer's, but is most certainly not true of contemporary expressivist quasi-realist metaethical views like those of Allan Gibbard)

But to reject (i) & (ii) is not to embrace Cornell Realism; again, if you want references to the actual philosophical literature on naturalism & non-naturalism in ethics see e.g. the SEP entries on moral realism (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-realism/), moral naturalism (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism-moral/), and moral non-naturalism (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/moral-non-naturalism/). It really, really does not matter if one is a Sidgwick-Moore-Parfit-(present-day)-Singer style non-naturalist, a Railton-Boyd style Cornell School realist, an Allan Gibbard-style expressivist, a Sharon Street style constructivist, etc. so long as one rejects (i) and (ii).


I have absolutely NO idea what you mean by 'intuition' or how on earth you think that arguments for things like consequentialism, hedonism, the preference fulfillment theory of well-being - or really ANY substantive position in ethics does not depend upon intuition. I thought that I explained very clearly what I meant by intuition, exactly why all of these things depend upon intuition, and I gave you ample references, including in the readily available Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, to pretty much the entire main philosophical literature on these topics which you can look at and see invoking uninferred seemings as of ethical truths. By the way, a locution often employed to get at these uninferred seemings is what 'makes sense'; thus, 'it seems to make sense to promote the well-being of others', 'it seeems that we ought to promote the well-being of others', 'it seems that there's moral reason to promote the well-being of others' may all be articulations of the same un-inferred seeming as of what we should / have reason to do - i.e. in my sense 'intuitions'.

I am becoming DEEPY frustrated by the fact that you simply ignore my arguments are references, and proceed to yap on WITHOUT ANY HINT OF ARGUMENT OR EVIDENCE OR ANY REFERENCE TO ANY ARGUMENT OR EVIDENCE about how e.g. consequentialism and hedonism don't depend upon intuition, when I have very clearly explained how e.g. consequentialism depends upon e.g. the uninferred ethical seemings that 'one ought all else held equal / has moral reason to omit harming others' and that 'one should all else held equal / has moral reason to promote others' well-being'; and how hedonism depends upon the uninferred ethical seemings that 'pleasure is good / beneficial / what one should want for someone out of care for her' and that 'suffering is bad / harmful / what one should want not to happen to someone out of care for her'. As far as I can tell in these discussions about whatever you mean by 'intuition' and whatever you mean by 'naturalistic realism' - and about what you do mean I have repeatedly asked and received no answer and still have ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA - I just give you tons of examples and arguments and references to examples and arguments and explanations and options for what you might mean and you have simply ignored everything I that I have said and neither made ANY argument, nor given ANY explanation, nor given ANY reference to ANY actual argument or explanation. Are you just trying to troll me or something?

User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 8942
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Post by brimstoneSalad » Tue Dec 19, 2017 6:38 pm

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
Shit; I was adding edits to the above after you replied - I just wanted to draw your attention to the fact that it got longer.
Thanks, I probably don't have time to respond at length point-by-point.

FYI I have seen those SEP entries and more. Please don't assume I'm ignorant on these topics, doing so will really slow down the conversation and result in us talking past each other.
Assume I am rejecting something after careful and informed consideration, not due to ignorance, which will help us get to the discussion of why I am rejecting certain claims (even if it's just semantic, as may be the case for the naturalism/non-naturalism distinction, although I'm not convinced it is).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
Yes, real time text chat would be fine; back in the day we used various kinds of IMs; would something like that work?
Yes, we can do that on Discord.

This link should get you there:
https://discord.gg/R3rFfQt
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
We're both on the same page that certain very specific metaethical views are a problem (but I can't imagine any vegans actually appealing to these - or any sane vegans really presupposing anything about metaethics other than their falsehood - in the course of arguing for veganism); these are:

(i) error theory + no reform or a reform that cuts non-human animals out (the latter of which is I think is present in or at least very much like Mackie & Gauthier), and
(ii) a simplistic version of non-cognitivism that cannot make sense of basic ethical inquiry or argument (as was arguably true of those like Ayer's, but is most certainly not true of contemporary expressivist quasi-realist metaethical views like those of Allan Gibbard)
(i) Are you arguing a hard and objective line between idealization and reform?
The fact that most people would have been wrong about the shape of the Earth at some point would not make the underlying assumptions of error theory correct that the Earth has no shape or does not exist, or require some kind of drastic and arbitrary reform of the definition of "Earth" itself since the original concept of a flat one didn't represent anything that existed (which seems quite like semantic silliness; we can easily idealize the notion of what "Earth" people were referring to by freeing it from that incorrect assumption).
(ii) I've looked into expressivist quasi-realism, and it's quite clearly incoherent and on some fundamental level intellectually dishonest (at least if put to such a use as vegan argumentation in the way I explained).

I genuinely do not find these ideas in even the most remote sense capable of being used in honest and compelling discourse on normative ethics; It's comparable to coming on strong and making hard assertions that are implicitly backed by some substantial argument only to reveal they're based on the Bible (outside an explicitly Christian context) and substantiated only through personal faith which may not be shared, and if so can not be so shared with your interlocutor through rational discourse. I see that as intrinsically intellectually dishonest.

I don't need to read the entire Bible to understand what it is; there's a point at which I think academics are beaten into submission to absurdity because they just don't have time to fully understand the theories being represented (and some are as incomprehensible and nonsensical as the trinity) so they brush them off as plausible and respectable for fear of peer ridicule.
This is a victory by way of impenetrability by their advocates; very much akin to the Emperor's new clothes. Either you make an entire career out of reading and arguing against it, or you don't dare imply it may not be credible for fear of being branded ignorant of the theory you're criticizing.

I'm sorry, but I don't buy into that culture.

These theories need to prove themselves comprehensible and credible or be assumed not to be. When the only argument on their side is intuition, they have not done the hard work. We could claim that the Earth is intuitively flat too, but that does not count as evidence for the point.

The strongest argument for objective morality seems to be the process of elimination of any viable or equally credible alternatives, and that can be falsified by either showing the remaining option to be incoherent (and not by vice of conflict with intuition), or showing a mutually incompatible alternative to be coherent as well (and not only by virtue of compatibility with intuition).

So far, the overwhelming evidence seems to favor realism and consequentialism, with alternatives squeezing by on ambiguity.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
But to reject (i) & (ii) is not to embrace Cornell Realism;
Not on its own. But if I also reject the position of reform in favor of idealization (if there is a meaningful difference), and I reject expressivist quasi-realism and other nonsense, then it does lead that way.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
It really, really does not matter if one is a Sidgwick-Moore-Parfit-(present-day)-Singer style non-naturalist,
Non-naturalists who look very much like naturalists.
If somebody believes moral properties are natural properties, or reduces moral claims to natural properties (although maybe not non-moral natural properties?) -- like experiential pleasure and pain (which is about as natural as it gets) -- and believes that science can be used to assess the truth value of those claims (even if it requires an understanding of the the mind that we don't have yet) I see no reason to consider those moral systems non-naturalist. The waters here seem pretty muddy, and while I don't follow Singer closely I've never heard him make claims that couldn't easily be naturalist, and if Singer isn't a naturalist then the distinction may have no clear meaning (as I suggested was possible before).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
I have absolutely NO idea what you mean by 'intuition' or how on earth you think that arguments for things like consequentialism [does not depend on intuition]
I really feel like I already explained that.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
hedonism, the preference fulfillment theory of well-being
And I spoke on that a bit too, there are also several threads on it (including one active right now), but let's say for the sake of argument that it can't: let's say that reason can get us almost all of the way there, but then this final decision of preference vs. hedonistic consideration must be made on intuition.

The objective approach would be to still reject intuition, and then call the black and white of morality that in which there is convergence of the two, and the rest grey.
We can still make substantive claims without appealing to intuition on any level, they're just more limited (not every moral claim has truth value, but many still do), or we can throw out morality as akin to religion and not based on anything objective or inherently convincing to a rational being.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
- or really ANY substantive position in ethics does not depend upon intuition.
And I disagree.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
I thought that I explained very clearly what I meant by intuition, exactly why all of these things depend upon intuition,
And I am arguing that you are wrong.

Intuition is not necessary, and using it undermines the credibility of moral claims because it results in a belief in gnosis and a form of religion, or rampant subjectivism/relativism. Neither of those are intellectually honest approaches to making the kinds of arguments and kinds of claims we're apt to make for veganism.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
and I gave you ample references, including in the readily available Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy,
Which I have seen, and quoted, and even linked you to IIRC in the other thread.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
By the way, a locution often employed to get at these uninferred seemings is what 'makes sense'; thus, 'it seems to make sense to promote the well-being of others', 'it seeems that we ought to promote the well-being of others', 'it seems that there's moral reason to promote the well-being of others' may all be articulations of the same un-inferred seeming as of what we should / have reason to do - i.e. in my sense 'intuitions'.
I am aware.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
I am becoming DEEPY frustrated by the fact that you simply ignore my arguments are references,
I didn't have time to reply point by point before. Looks like I almost have this time (although I shouldn't have).
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
and proceed to yap on WITHOUT ANY HINT OF ARGUMENT OR EVIDENCE OR ANY REFERENCE TO ANY ARGUMENT OR EVIDENCE about how e.g. consequentialism and hedonism don't depend upon intuition,
Well that's not correct.
For one, I don't ague for hedonism, I argue for preference based considerations. I don't think hedonism can be substantiated.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
when I have very clearly explained how e.g. consequentialism depends upon e.g. the uninferred ethical seemings that 'one ought all else held equal / has moral reason to omit harming others' and that 'one should all else held equal / has moral reason to promote others' well-being'; and how hedonism depends upon the uninferred ethical seemings that 'pleasure is good / beneficial / what one should want for someone out of care for her' and that 'suffering is bad / harmful / what one should want not to happen to someone out of care for her'.
Right, and I disagree with the use of such arguments.

A good argument for consequentialism is demonstrating the problems* of deontology; particularly its failure to be a reliable function, say based on a simple interpretation of the categorical imperative, and how when corrected for it converges with consequentialism.
*These problems are not simply violations of intuition, but contradictory indications within the system.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
As far as I can tell in these discussions about whatever you mean by 'intuition'
I'm pretty sure I mean the same thing you mean by intuition.
I reject it categorically as the same kind of substance as religious faith, I don't think it's an argument.
It merely "seems to make sense" to Christians that God is one and three and that he had a son Jesus who is all god and all man who had to die sinless to absorb the sins of mankind and then rise from the dead and ascend bodily to heaven.
That something seems to make sense to somebody is not a compelling argument on its own; we can't lean on that kind of intuition.

Something like the laws of thought ARE compelling, because there just aren't alternatives. That's necessity, not mere unsubstantiated intuition.
Likewise, when we choose between a couple options -- like deontology or consequentialism -- one of them breaks down pretty quickly while the other is viable.
Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
and whatever you mean by 'naturalistic realism'
I've tried to discuss the meaning of naturalism with you. It was in the other thread, I believe. You didn't respond to it AFAIK.
I've done so again, briefly, above.

I don't think there's that much confusion over realism, although I'm sure we could find something to disagree with there. There is of course the question of creeping minimalism that some people are worried about.

Margaret Hayek wrote:
Tue Dec 19, 2017 3:47 am
Are you just trying to troll me or something?
No, I'm trying to not spend all day on replies when 90% of it is talking past each other. ;)
Again, real-time conversation would probably resolve most of this pretty quickly.

Unless you're open minded to abandoning intuitions, though, I don't think we'd be able to find common ground since I categorically reject intuition as a source of insight into matters of objective morality.
We can talk about the semantics of what sounds we're going to tie to the concept under consideration, and I think there is a point where connecting those involves some investigation into what people believe about morality (you could say the intuitions of English speakers to call a table a table) to make sure we're using the right word, but that's where its utility ends. The level of inconsistency and arbitrary that is introduced into most of these theories through intuition discredits them.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest