Do you struggle with identity?

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Amarillyde
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Re: Do you struggle with identity?

Post by Amarillyde » Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 am

@Red
Why? I might need to read more into Psychology (which of course, varies from person to person). I don't know why you're so adamant about this concept of attaching identity, or why you think it's such a necessity for you.

Watch this clip from CGP Grey, maybe it'll help?
https://youtu.be/tlsU_YT9n_g?t=66
Well, I am not adamant about the idea of having to create a rule about buying or not buying animal products, per se. I'm just saying that it seems to me a convenient way to make sure that I have a piece of code running in the background of my mind every time I need to make a decision, so that that decision comes automatically, rather than being a new matter of internal debate every time. This is only because there are always other personal factors that influence my decisions when I am buying or not buying animal products. The fact that buying them is morally wrong and contributes to supporting an idea of society which I don't like is not always the winning factor when it comes to making a decision, especially in a situation where a decision must happen so quickly and so frequently as in when buying food. While I agree that overall this wish to just "do the right thing" has been enough so far for me to make the right decision the vast majority of the times, and I recognise the benefit of just building new habits as a very effective way to meet the goal, there is still a small percentage of the times in which other factors have won, and I did buy that candy bar that contained milk, for example. Although I know that my situation and my "personal circumstances" might be potentially more complicated than the average person's, I wonder whether the difference between me and someone who is successfully making vegan choices 100% of the times is that they are able to define the type of person they want to be and act accordingly in virtue of that self-qualification. And, whether we call it a "rule" or not, that self-qualification must come in a form that allows you to think of yourself in a particular way. But because generally, in life, I struggle to identify with anything, I'm the kind of person who is constantly taken off-guard when asked a direct question that involves some sort of self-labelling, I found with veganism it is not any different, no matter how much more ethically meaningful that might be if compared to the genre of music I like, or whether I am an introvert or not, or other things which bear no ethical stock at all. And yes, this has to do with the fact that I am always open to change my mind about anything, because I don't feel like anything defines me particularly... apart perhaps from this impossibility to integrate things into my identity (!).
I mean, so far just trying to do the right thing has not come with a 100% success rate for me, and because (as we touched upon) I am painfully aware of the complexity of the scenario I don't see how I could ever achieve such success rate, or whether it's even the best thing to strive for.

There are fundamentally two reasons for this:
1) The "current historical period" I mentioned in the previous post and the complications that come with it. In brevis, reducetarianism taken seriously already makes such an impact on society than making a vegan choice 100% of the times, rather than a percentage close to that, seems pointless, from a consequentialist point of view. Also, I am worried that hitting that 100% would come with more drawbacks than advantages: feeling morally superior to anyone who is not vegan and therefore damaging the cause by essentially being unpleasant for all the non-vegans around you, rather than a positive example – which, let's face it, is probably the biggest problem with veganism right now: people perceive vegans as hostile and off-putting. With that, perhaps the feeling that you're already "doing so much" and thus you're done trying to improve the world, yourself, or the lives of the people around you (I wonder how common this is, it's debatable). In a different historical period, where people eat way less animal products, hitting 100% vegan choices would be much more impactful.

2) The social component. It's again a cultural-historical problem, but I guess the vast majority of people who approach veganism have to give up on something that belongs to their culture, or simply to moments of conviviality with their family/friends or even in work situations. Perhaps I feel this particularly strongly because I come originally from a place where the culture does really revolve around food, but every time I go to visit my family, once or twice a year, I know that I am depriving both me and them of the opportunity to gather around food that they were happy to prepare for the occasion and that used to be one point of connection between us. Even though my perspective on that food has changed, theirs hasn't. And even though I am vocal about the reasons why mine has changed, I simply can't assault them with a stream of reasons why all the time –– it's going to be a lengthly process and likely not everybody's mind will change (not to mention that I would't want my family to go vegan because I can't be sure that they will be capable to handle the nutritional aspects correctly, and we know the state of the available medical assistance in this respect). So, I could either feel proud of my 100% veganism, or be able to make an exception to enjoy time with my family and elements of my cultural background. Is it worth sacrificing these other aspects of my life only to feel ethically virtuous all the time? And doesn't hurting my family make me less morally virtuous, anyway?
I don't know how else to respond to the former part of this claim, but I want to know, why do you think having a sense of moral superiority is dangerous, and that many vegans are mistaken in holding it?
I've just partially answered to this but, also to answer @brimstoneSalad 's question on whether I disagree that all other things being equal a person who chooses not to eat meat is more moral than a person who chooses to eat meat, another problem with feeling morally superior is that you can never quantify how morally good you are compared to others, because "all other things being equal" is never a condition in human experience. 1) apart from people you know really well which arguably you might judge, you can never know how morally virtuous other people are in the same or other aspects of their life which have nothing to do with veganism, so your sense of superiority might very well be unjustified; and 2) ethics and morality don't seem to me quantifiable values, rather they are a matter of quality: being "more moral" than someone else seems to me impossible. Being vegan is one way of being morally virtuous, but there are many others, and it's only arbitrarily that you might decide that one very important value is lessening animal suffering in the world; someone else might have different priorities, and they might just be as admirable. I don't think I can fully subscribe to the idea that there is an adamant scale of degrees of moral goodness, where, say, murder is the worst thing you can possibly do, and, e.g., lying is much better. There are different types of lies and different types of murders. Killing animals cannot be equated to shooting a child for no reason, because the cultural context around it matters. And even though we should strive to create a society where killing animals is deemed as wrong as killing humans, right now we cannot consider people who eat animals as morally wrong as people who kill children, because these are not the rules of our current society, and intention matters.
Why exactly do you want to be vegan?
Veganism reduces animal suffering and environmental damages, and is fundamentally healthy (though without supplements it is also a lot of work, thus I'm not 100% sure how sustainable long-term): I am interested in all three aspects and I have no doubts that it's the way to go, I'm just not sure, given the complexity of the problem, whether it's worth striving to be 100% vegan, or whether I should take a slightly more moderate approach.
I don't see why labeling yourself as a moral person is not sufficient enough. Morally speaking, you should always feel guilty when you do something wrong regardless of any labels.
I hope I managed to make it a little clearer above, too, but my problem under this respect is sheerly with 'labelling' myself, not so much 'with what' I'm labelling myself, and I do not necessarily need to label myself, but I think it might be useful or the only way to achieve 100% vegan choices, if that has to be the goal at all. I hope I showed a bit of why the situation appears to me to be more multi-faceted and complex than just "eating animal products is wrong, thus I will just avoid it". I do feel guilty when I choose an animal product, but I am also not always psychologically able to avoid that, at least for now; I do feel guilty when I say yes to eating animal products with my family, but I would also feel guilty missing out on our own traditions and disregarding their own outlook on life and the point they're at; I do feel guilty when I choose an animal product, but also isn't that guilt somewhat healthy (it reinforces my awareness; it makes me strive to make better choices; it keeps me humble), if compared to the drawbacks of the pride that might replace that guilt instead? And these are only examples. Someone might call them "excuses", I'm sure, but I think that would be simplistic and short-sighted.

It's a pickle :mrgreen: .

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Fri Jun 07, 2019 1:54 pm

Amarillyde wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 am
I've just partially answered to this but, also to answer @brimstoneSalad 's question on whether I disagree that all other things being equal a person who chooses not to eat meat is more moral than a person who chooses to eat meat, another problem with feeling morally superior is that you can never quantify how morally good you are compared to others, because "all other things being equal" is never a condition in human experience.
OBVIOUSLY that is something that doesn't happen in practice, that was not my question.
Don't dodge the question.

Obviously you agree that if all other things were equal the person choosing animal suffering is being less moral in doing so.
Which is to say YES morality IS fundamentally quantifiable.

Just because in practice there are often too many variables to reliably do so does not negate its quantifiable nature.
Amarillyde wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 am
1) apart from people you know really well which arguably you might judge, you can never know how morally virtuous other people are in the same or other aspects of their life which have nothing to do with veganism, so your sense of superiority might very well be unjustified;
On an individual level it may be, that's the problem with stereotypes of any kind: too many variables. On a population scale you can do it, though: looking at large groups and comparing them, though the individual variation within the groups may be greater than the difference between the groups. We can say things like as a group, Christians are worse people than Secular people in the Western world (in that they do more harm and less good) without saying every Christian is worse than every non-religious person.

Not jumping to judgement on individual people where you know nothing at all about their situations can be good advice to avoid errors.
You already understand that, though. You should be able to understand that veganism is a better choice and that as groups vegans are doing better than meat eaters without making that error of hasty judgement of individuals.

Amarillyde wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 am
2) ethics and morality don't seem to me quantifiable values, rather they are a matter of quality: being "more moral" than someone else seems to me impossible.
It clearly is not, and you're contradicting yourself here. See above.
Amarillyde wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 am
Being vegan is one way of being morally virtuous, but there are many others, and it's only arbitrarily that you might decide that one very important value is lessening animal suffering in the world; someone else might have different priorities, and they might just be as admirable.
Ethical positions clearly have exchange values if you reduce them to their fundamentals. E.g. environmental ethics matters because of the effect of the environment on sentient beings, human and non-human alike. Empirically, we can examine those effects and compare environmental effort to other forms of altruism like preventing disease or education.

However, you don't even have to have comparative value claims of humans and non-humans (the most difficult for most people) to come to solid quantifiable conclusions. You can, for example, leave both as variables in your calculations and still overwhelmingly find that most actions benefit BOTH or harm BOTH. Most people's net actions, likewise, are going to be beneficial or harmful to both.

You can be agnostic in the FEW cases where non-human animals are harmed to legitimately benefit humans (like animal testing for medical reasons), while still being absolutely opposed to animal agriculture in developed countries which harms non-human animals and humans.
Amarillyde wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 am
I don't think I can fully subscribe to the idea that there is an adamant scale of degrees of moral goodness, where, say, murder is the worst thing you can possibly do, and, e.g., lying is much better.
Complete straw man of consequentialism. The wrongness of the acts depends in the largest part on the effects (or probable effects) based on our state of knowledge. Most lies are likely to be better than murder, but some lies result in a lot more death and suffering than some murders (look at tobacco industry lies).
Amarillyde wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 am
Killing animals cannot be equated to shooting a child for no reason, because the cultural context around it matters.
Ignorance doesn't make something better in effect, but it can vindicate character.
It's still bad, but the person doing it may not have known it was bad.
Amarillyde wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 am
And even though we should strive to create a society where killing animals is deemed as wrong as killing humans,
Again, this is another objective claim on quantifiability: the correct means of quantifying, correcting for societal ignorance.
You clearly believe this, but have confused the effects of variables influencing judgement of character (which can be partially vindicated by ignorance) with variables that influence the actual harm of an action.
Amarillyde wrote:
Thu Jun 06, 2019 9:01 am
and intention matters.
Eh, not so much as ignorance. Hitler intended to do good too; virtually nobody, especially the most evil, intend to do evil. Intent is pretty meaningless most of the time since it's a variable with very little variation. Evil is much more banal than that.

People mostly intend to do good to varying degrees (and applying varying amounts of effort to that end), but are mainly sabotaged by profound ignorance which either justifies to them their indifference to what should be moral causes or puts them on paths counter to the actually moral.

Ignorance can only partially vindicate character, though, because very often that ignorance is elective.

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Post by Minos » Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:57 am

Red wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 2:11 pm
Amarillyde wrote:
Wed Jun 05, 2019 11:50 am
But certainly not making a decision that qualifies my alliance in some way makes it harder for me to make sure that I'll consistently make the best choice, even though it guarantees the avoidance of the very dangerous "sense of moral superiority" that some vegans (mistakenly) have.
I don't know how else to respond to the former part of this claim, but I want to know, why do you think having a sense of moral superiority is dangerous, and that many vegans are mistaken in holding it?
I agree, that vegan person is better than vegetarian person from morality perspective. But I've met vegans, which tried to use that as an argument "I'm better than you, so you should listen / don't question / do what I'm saying.". Maybe that is the danger in sense of moral superiority.

Edit: Didn't see post on second page before replying. It seems, we have similar experience with that.
Amarillyde wrote: ... feeling morally superior to anyone who is not vegan and therefore damaging the cause by essentially being unpleasant for all the non-vegans around you, rather than a positive example – which, let's face it, is probably the biggest problem with veganism right now: people perceive vegans as hostile and off-putting...

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Post by Amarillyde » Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am

OBVIOUSLY that is something that doesn't happen in practice, that was not my question.
Don't dodge the question.

Obviously you agree that if all other things were equal the person choosing animal suffering is being less moral in doing so.
Which is to say YES morality IS fundamentally quantifiable.

Just because in practice there are often too many variables to reliably do so does not negate its quantifiable nature.
Morality is a inherently human thing, thus it only makes sense if considered in the context of human interactions. By posing conditions that can never be verified ("all other things being equal") in the real world, you find a loophole to state that morality is quantifiable logically: congratulations, but this does not change that you can never make use of that alleged property of morality in the real world.
You should be able to understand that veganism is a better choice and that as groups vegans are doing better than meat eaters without making that error of hasty judgement of individuals.
What goes for individuals is also true for vegans VS non-vegans as a group: you never have 'all other things being equal' as a characteristic to be attached to each group. Even if all vegans in the vegan group have in common this one moral virtue (not eating animals), you still cannot know the value of the overall cognitive stock of either group. This is because you can't just assume that all other possible moral variables cancel each other out statistically among the two groups: it's possible that people who are not vegan try to improve their moral value in other aspects of their life, whereas it's possible that vegans feel entitled to be morally worse in other aspects of their life because of the sense of moral superiority ("I'm doing better than others" and, perhaps even more importantly, "I'm doing already enough") that they derive from that single choice. In other words, you don't know what are the consequences on the overall "morality value" that come with the 'vegan' variable. And judging by the fame of vegans and the current face of the vegan community, I wouldn't be very hopeful right now.
Ethical positions clearly have exchange values if you reduce them to their fundamentals. E.g. environmental ethics matters because of the effect of the environment on sentient beings, human and non-human alike.
I reject the whole idea that anything in the world should be judged with humans, or with sentient-beings, in mind. And with that, the idea that we can create a scale of moral values or moral horrors, that views murder as the worst possible things, and things such as love as the best possible thing. This seems to me based on nothing but the fact that we are sentient beings ourselves, and it's not good enough.
Amarillyde wrote: ↑Thu Jun 06, 2019 3:01 pm
And even though we should strive to create a society where killing animals is deemed as wrong as killing humans,
Again, this is another objective claim on quantifiability: the correct means of quantifying, correcting for societal ignorance.
You can speak of a society where "killing animals is deemed as wrong as killing humans" and language here does suggest quantifiability, but it is only with reference to the ways in which e.g. a society deals with either one of those options (e.g., the same kind of punishment), not certainly to the fact that a man who kills an animal or a man who kills a man could be judged as a completely independent entity with no other characteristics apart from 'animal/man killer', a blank sheet under any other respect. That's not even how justice itself works, even punishments themselves take into account the complexity of the morality variables attached to each individual.
People mostly intend to do good to varying degrees (and applying varying amounts of effort to that end), but are mainly sabotaged by profound ignorance which either justifies to them their indifference to what should be moral causes or puts them on paths counter to the actually moral.
You cannot make the knowledge of animal suffering as the ultimate priority for anybody in the world. Some people simply can't make that their priority, or have psychological barriers for which they cannot embrace the knowledge of the horrors behind the meat that makes it to their plates. Reality is more complex than this, and a person can eat meat and be an infinitely better person than a vegan who is horrible to anyone around him.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Wed Jun 12, 2019 2:03 am

Amarillyde wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am
Reality is more complex than this, and a person can eat meat and be an infinitely better person than a vegan who is horrible to anyone around him.
How do you not notice contradicting yourself like this?
Statements like this are all about quantification, otherwise you could not say the vegan is worse (finitely or "infinitely" :roll: ).
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am
Morality is a inherently human thing, thus it only makes sense if considered in the context of human interactions. By posing conditions that can never be verified ("all other things being equal") in the real world, you find a loophole to state that morality is quantifiable logically: congratulations, but this does not change that you can never make use of that alleged property of morality in the real world.
Difficulty of quantification does not change the fact. There are just big error bars on our estimates.

Try changing this to math to see how silly what you've said is:
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am
Math is a inherently human thing, thus it only makes sense if considered in the context of human interactions. By posing conditions that can never be verified ("all other things being equal") in the real world, you find a loophole to state that numbers are quantifiable logically: congratulations, but this does not change that you can never make use of that alleged property of math in the real world.
And just as with math you CAN make use of it in the real world too: just not on these edge cases where the uncertainty in measurement is higher than the margins. Just because we don't know if Bob or Joe is a better person doesn't mean we can't figure out if Trump or Obama is.

And that's why I gave population examples: All the individual unknowns get evened out in the statistics.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am
What goes for individuals is also true for vegans VS non-vegans as a group: you never have 'all other things being equal' as a characteristic to be attached to each group.
Incorrect. With a large group you can control for all known or plausible confounding variables and shrink those error bars to the point that you can come to clear conclusions about choices as large as meat consumption.
As with any science you never have complete control: what, do you think that invalidates all science now too?
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am
whereas it's possible that vegans feel entitled to be morally worse in other aspects of their life because of the sense of moral superiority ("I'm doing better than others" and, perhaps even more importantly, "I'm doing already enough")
There is an effect like that which is employed by people, but mainly to fight cognitive dissonance, e.g "I eat meat but I donate to our local animal shelter so it cancels that out!", and the problem is actually one of ineffective altruism giving people a false sense of moral compensation.

Not only are vegans not often confronted with that kind of dissonance, but they also tend to be of a character not to dismiss it like that (you can always find/make up a bad excuse, vegans are vegan principally because that is not their habit). Those who change their lifestyles to do one good are also likely to do more. E.g vegan and minimalist, or palm free (so much that vegan products have had a lot of pressure to drop palm oil).

The issues that vegans are challenged on are things like purchasing clothes or cellular phones made in sweat shops, and while many vegans have difficulty answering these challenges they are inherently bad arguments to begin with due to the value these industries add to the countries they operate in (completely the opposite of the harm the anti-sweatshop contingent claims).

All of that said, when you're looking at larger populations you CAN analyze even things like that in ways you wouldn't be able to do with individuals.
There's a fairly good foundation of data out there, but you could do more surveys and establish even more clearly what is already obvious.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am
And judging by the fame of vegans and the current face of the vegan community, I wouldn't be very hopeful right now.
Youtube is full of narcissists, that's a very poor way to judge a community; like judging Christians on the basis of Ted Haggard.
You need to look at the individuals and what they do in terms of harm vs. good output.
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am
I reject the whole idea that anything in the world should be judged with humans, or with sentient-beings, in mind.
:lol: Do you reject the idea that anything in math should be judged with numbers in mind?

Morality is a value system, and the only things that can generate values are sentient beings. There's an obvious relationship there that morality deals with. Preference consideration is baked into the oldest and most established definitions of morality (like the golden rule).

Or do you not care about any of that and you're just a full on Humpty-Dumptyist now?
Amarillyde wrote:
Tue Jun 11, 2019 10:23 am
You can speak of a society where "killing animals is deemed as wrong as killing humans" and language here does suggest quantifiability, but it is only with reference to the ways in which e.g. a society deals with either one of those options (e.g., the same kind of punishment)
Moral condemnation is a form of societal punishment. Is this not obvious?
When we judge character, we do it as a matter of utility.

Otherwise all we can objectively talk about is which person did more harm vs. good in the world by adding up behaviors, which obviously doesn't take into account mitigating circumstances that fully or partially vindicate the character of the person.

You seem to be failing to grasp the difference between judging a character as a more holistic process with utility and assessing the net harm footprint.

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Post by Amarillyde » Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:09 pm

How do you not notice contradicting yourself like this?
Statements like this are all about quantification, otherwise you could not say the vegan is worse (finitely or "infinitely" :roll: ).
I've already granted you in the post above that we can logically speak of morality in quantitative terms, and thus we can speak of morality that way on a speculative and theoretical way, but the problem remains in practice, when you think you can judge someone's morality in concrete. If theoretically you can say that x would make a person more moral than another, you are assuming conditions which hold in theory, but in practice they are never realised. It's a useful speculative exercise, to evaluate other things (for instance, what we think of certain moral values): but this is not enough for anyone to feel like they can say for certain that they are more morally virtuous than anybody else. This does not hold for individuals as much as for groups.
Incorrect. With a large group you can control for all known or plausible confounding variables and shrink those error bars to the point that you can come to clear conclusions about choices as large as meat consumption.
As with any science you never have complete control: what, do you think that invalidates all science now too?
Sure, as I said you can use statistics: but this doesn't mean that you can assume that 'vegan' comes with no other outcomes, or with a series of other good outcomes, while 'non-vegan' comes without any "compensation outcome" or with a series of other bad outcomes. While I agree that it's likely that people who go vegan might start a learning journey that leads them to making better choices in general, and to be better persons in general, this does not mean that I can say for sure that all vegans are better than all non-vegans just in virtue of this one characteristic, not even as a group. All other values do not cancel each other out statistically: they only do if you assume that the 'vegan' variable does not introduce further consequences but 1) you can't know that, and it's unlikely not to, given how emotionally, psychologically, politically, etc., charged it is; and 2) if no other negative traits follow the 'vegan' one, then you can't make a case for other positive values to follow the 'vegan' trait either.
In other words, you can't treat 'being vegan' as a chemical compound or another object of science: you can't "control for all other factors" and only look at vegans VS non-vegans, because they both come with unknown consequences. One approach could be detailing what these possible outcomes of vegan/non-vegan statistically are, and then accounting for them, but you're not doing that right now.
Try changing this to math to see how silly what you've said is:
Amarillyde wrote: ↑Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:23 pm
Math is a inherently human thing, thus it only makes sense if considered in the context of human interactions. By posing conditions that can never be verified ("all other things being equal") in the real world, you find a loophole to state that numbers are quantifiable logically: congratulations, but this does not change that you can never make use of that alleged property of math in the real world.
And just as with math you CAN make use of it in the real world too: just not on these edge cases where the uncertainty in measurement is higher than the margins. Just because we don't know if Bob or Joe is a better person doesn't mean we can't figure out if Trump or Obama is.
It would be even sillier if you swapped this to 'cucumber', for that matter :P
Maths is not morality, evidently. I'm not saying there isn't potentially a way to account in statistics for the intricacies of moral behaviour, but by starting from the assumption that 'vegan' implies better than 'non-vegan' you're not looking at reality, you are creating artificial conditions which do not reflect how humans work.
Not only are vegans not often confronted with that kind of dissonance, but they also tend to be of a character not to dismiss it like that (you can always find/make up a bad excuse, vegans are vegan principally because that is not their habit). Those who change their lifestyles to do one good are also likely to do more. E.g vegan and minimalist, or palm free (so much that vegan products have had a lot of pressure to drop palm oil).
I agree, and I think it is indeed likely that vegans are likely to make better choices in general, but this is no excuse to feel morally superior to others: because others might be morally superior in other areas, or because one's moral superiority is a sin against its own morality – it's hurtful for others, it's harmful for the vegan cause, it's a morally despicable feeling that is likely to establish a pattern of other moral depravations, on a scale where love prevails and killing others is the worst possible thing...
Youtube is full of narcissists, that's a very poor way to judge a community; like judging Christians on the basis of Ted Haggard.
You need to look at the individuals and what they do in terms of harm vs. good output.
It's hardly just youtube. Most non-vegans are vocal about their negative experiences with vegans, and even if this is partly due to the fact that their own guilt makes them speak ill about those who make them look bad, we can't simply assume that this is the only reason for it. Something tells me it has, more legitimately, to do with that moral superiority sense...
Amarillyde wrote: ↑Tue Jun 11, 2019 4:23 pm
I reject the whole idea that anything in the world should be judged with humans, or with sentient-beings, in mind.
:lol: Do you reject the idea that anything in math should be judged with numbers in mind?
I didn't mean that morality should be judged apart from humans, but that humans or sentient-beings should not be the ultimate value. Because we are alive and sentient we want to avoid death and pain, and we build our values scale accordingly. Those are the only reasons why, our survival and our freedom from sufferance are all there is behind what we consider good and what we deem wrong for the majority. While clearly there are other ways – e.g., there are not only sentient beings on the planet, or other currently neutral values could very well be placed at the top or bottom of the scale if we weren't so obsessed with our own mortality. Our definition of morality is informed by convenience and fear. I wouldn't necessarily want a different scale, but this doesn't mean that we shouldn't be aware of it, or that we should live as if our moral values and disvalues were ultimate truths rather than mere contingencies.
You seem to be failing to grasp the difference between judging a character as a more holistic process with utility and assessing the net harm footprint
By being vegan and reducing animal suffering you do reduce your net harm footprint, but your net harm footprint is not necessarily lower than a meat-eater, because harm has many faces, and neither 'vegan' nor 'non-vegan' are variables that work in isolation, without introducing other variables (as explained above). I don't think we are quite in a place to pat ourselves on the back just yet.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:17 pm

Amarillyde wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:09 pm
but the problem remains in practice, when you think you can judge someone's morality in concrete. If theoretically you can say that x would make a person more moral than another, you are assuming conditions which hold in theory, but in practice they are never realised. It's a useful speculative exercise, to evaluate other things (for instance, what we think of certain moral values): but this is not enough for anyone to feel like they can say for certain that they are more morally virtuous than anybody else. This does not hold for individuals as much as for groups.
You can't make any empirical claim with absolute certainty. All science is provisional. Even, for instance, that the moon exists.
Perhaps this is your fundamental mistake?

The larger the data set and the more concordance we have the more certain, but there is no point at which we can say anything empirical is absolute.
However, we can talk about things being true to a *moral certainty*.
Moral certainty is a concept of intuitive probability. It means a very high degree of probability, sufficient for action, but short of absolute or mathematical certainty.

The notion of different degrees of certainty can be traced back to a statement in Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics that one must be content with the kind of certainty appropriate to different subject matters, so that in practical decisions one cannot expect the certainty of mathematics. [1]

The Latin phrase moralis certitudo was first used by the French philosopher Jean Gerson about 1400,[2] to provide a basis for moral action that could (if necessary) be less exact than Aristotelian practical knowledge, thus avoiding the dangers of philosophical scepticism and opening the way for a benevolent casuistry.[3]
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_certainty
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:09 pm
Sure, as I said you can use statistics: but this doesn't mean that you can assume that 'vegan' comes with no other outcomes, or with a series of other good outcomes, while 'non-vegan' comes without any "compensation outcome" or with a series of other bad outcomes.
Nor with ANYTHING in science.
Again, it's about moral certainty. Nobody is claiming absolute knowledge of empirical matters, only evidence so overwhelming as for it to be unreasonable to doubt.

With individuals you have a data set of one which is terrible, which is why I referred to groups.
And you can test for all of those things you mentioned, but it doesn't mean that's the null hypothesis.

Speculative advantages and disadvantages beyond the mere fact are infinite in number and absurdity.

We can say vegans might consider veganism as an excuse not to do something else, but we can also say meat eating may dull the moral senses and make people more likely to cause other harms. It's all speculation. When we act and judge we must do so based on what we KNOW, not speculation which could go either way.

If we know only animals are harmed and nothing else, that's enough to lean toward veganism -- just with a low degree of certainty.
If we know beyond that that veganism correlates with liberalism and liberals give more to effective charity that lends a little more certainty by weakly controlling for a possible confounding variable due to a broader category membership.
If we actually look at vegan charitable giving that would give us even more.
Etc.

Anecdotes, however, are not a valuable form of evidence here.

Amarillyde wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:09 pm
It's hardly just youtube. Most non-vegans are vocal about their negative experiences with vegans, and even if this is partly due to the fact that their own guilt makes them speak ill about those who make them look bad, we can't simply assume that this is the only reason for it. Something tells me it has, more legitimately, to do with that moral superiority sense...
Really? MOST? Did you do a poll?

Note that most people I have met and interacted with positively do not know I'm vegan. Few people do. I can know somebody for years and them not know.
However, a preachy vegan will be more likely to announce it.

Not only do you need real data, but you need a representative sample of vegans. Anecdotes from anti-vegans aren't helpful for that.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:09 pm
Maths is not morality, evidently. I'm not saying there isn't potentially a way to account in statistics for the intricacies of moral behaviour, but by starting from the assumption that 'vegan' implies better than 'non-vegan' you're not looking at reality, you are creating artificial conditions which do not reflect how humans work.
Not doing that.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:09 pm
I didn't mean that morality should be judged apart from humans, but that humans or sentient-beings should not be the ultimate value. Because we are alive and sentient we want to avoid death and pain, and we build our values scale accordingly.
Do you understand how words work?
Words mean things, they have definitions. The definition of morality is something like the golden rule. You don't get to just make up a replacement because you think that's sentience-centric.

It's like complaining that gravity is biased by mass and unfair to particles without it so we should consider other definitions of gravity.
Amarillyde wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 12:09 pm
While clearly there are other ways – e.g., there are not only sentient beings on the planet,
Not that want anything. You can't extract values from thin air. We can not talk about the values rocks have, it's nonsense.

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Post by Amarillyde » Sat Jun 15, 2019 5:22 am

Your discussion about moral certainty and all that part of your answer does not address the points I made in my previous post. I understand you think it's probable that vegans are likely to be better people in general, or that by being that one thing other good things follow. But it's a partial view of reality, and it's only likely to be that way if you don't consider other things that might be equally likely to occur. The sense of moral superiority is a problem, objectively. It's a very human thing to do, to lose sight of the bigger picture and the higher reasons why you're doing something (the animals, the environment), and fall into self-praise and give in to pride. You can argue that these are good things, too, if you want, but I disagree and I think we should watch out for this very likely, very human consequence of veganism, if we want a better vegan community and ultimately a better world.

Let's assume vegans do have the right to feel morally superior to non-vegans, if we look at the two populations rather than at individuals. The problem with feeling morally superior interests interactions between individuals, more than having to do with general reflections about an individual's position compared to the rest of the world. If you feel morally superior because you're vegan, the problem lies in your behaviour in your one-to-one/one-to-small-group interactions rather than in your general conception of yourself, even though the latter influences the former. The problem remains that people tend to translate that sense of moral superiority to their everyday interactions, even if they only think that they are morally superior in general, thus it's likely that they will assume that they're morally superior to each individual they interact with. Or at least, it's a danger that comes with a feeling of moral superiority – it's counterproductive for the cause, and imo also for each individual in a very broad sense and in multiple ways.
Amarillyde wrote: ↑Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:09 pm
It's hardly just youtube. Most non-vegans are vocal about their negative experiences with vegans, and even if this is partly due to the fact that their own guilt makes them speak ill about those who make them look bad, we can't simply assume that this is the only reason for it. Something tells me it has, more legitimately, to do with that moral superiority sense...
Really? MOST? Did you do a poll?
Every person I know who's not vegan/vegetarian in my experience has always a negative reaction to my diet. Because I live in the world and occasionally talk to people, I'll go ahead and say this is not only my experience... As I said, there are other reasons why, and the fact that non-vegans feel reminded of their own flaws is a major factor in their reactions to veganism. But at the same time I don't think it's very useful to deny that this is likely to have to do with that very human, very common sense of moral superiority that vegans can display. It's party because they are doing a "right" thing and thus those who are not feel bad by comparison: but it's also because we are humans, and when we do the "right" thing we tend to feel pride and lose sight of why we're doing that right thing, displacing that with, conscious or not, self-praising. To circle back to the origin of this discussion: I do not want to feel like that, hence one of the obstacles towards being vegan for me. Others might be fine with that. I am not, and I don't think it's useful, nor I think we should underestimate it. I agree that looking at the big picture, it's a question of focusing on animal suffering/environmental issues VS what might seem as a small character flaw, and priorities and whatnot. But for me it's an unresolved issue, right now, along with other factors.
Note that most people I have met and interacted with positively do not know I'm vegan. Few people do. I can know somebody for years and them not know.
I believe you, but do you really think this is most people's experience? Perhaps you do not feel morally superior to others, and do not assume that everyone you meet is less morally virtuous than you, but I think that takes a lot of introspection and self-control, and that's not the natural thing for humans to feel – it takes practice, and only by calling attention to it we can spread a positive behaviour among vegans.
Do you understand how words work?
It would be great if you could avoid being patronising.
Words mean things, they have definitions. The definition of morality is something like the golden rule. You don't get to just make up a replacement because you think that's sentience-centric.

It's like complaining that gravity is biased by mass and unfair to particles without it so we should consider other definitions of gravity.
Amarillyde wrote: ↑Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:09 pm
While clearly there are other ways – e.g., there are not only sentient beings on the planet,
Not that want anything. You can't extract values from thin air. We can not talk about the values rocks have, it's nonsense.
Morality is human-made, so nothing in it is necessary. I'm not suggesting we "talk about the values of rocks", I am saying that humans could arbitrarily decide that we must value non-sentient beings over humans, or that indifference is higher on the moral values scale than love, exactly as humans arbitrarily decided that sentient-beings are what counts, or that murder is the worst possible thing. We extract our values from convenience and fear, not from anythings else, which is per se a perversion of our own moral scale.

Edit:
If we know only animals are harmed and nothing else, that's enough to lean toward veganism -- just with a low degree of certainty.
This discussion was never about whether we should or should not be some kind of vegan or anyway lean that direction: the premise was that being vegan is preferable to eating meat and animal products all the time and being fine with it. The problem is with vegan moral superiority, and the idea that a 99% veganism could be preferable in this historical moment.

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