Zycron's Defense for Eating Meat

Vegan message board for support on vegan related issues and questions.
Topics include philosophy, activism, effective altruism, plant-based nutrition, and diet advice/discussion whether high carb, low carb (eco atkins/vegan keto) or anything in between.
Meat eater vs. Vegan debate welcome, but please keep it within debate topics.
User avatar
brimstoneSalad
neither stone nor salad
Posts: 9237
Joined: Wed May 28, 2014 9:20 am
Religion: None (Atheist)
Diet: Vegan

Re: Zycron's Defense for Eating Meat

Post by brimstoneSalad » Wed Jan 16, 2019 6:08 pm

Frank Quasar wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:58 pm
I've heard that he has proven to counter an array of vegans, and now he's seeking the possibility of debating Brim.
He decided he didn't want to debate on discord, and wanted to do it on a forum.
I offered to make a section here where he and I could post without interference, but he turned that down and wanted to go somewhere I haven't heard of. I don't have time to participate/keep track of posts anywhere else. I also do not necessarily trust any third parties.

Frank Quasar wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:58 pm
From my memory it seems to me that SD particularly likes to focus on crop-harvest-based argumentations, and quite specifically a select niche of crops and the slaughter that follows. It's a bit of a trickier position to tackle for most vegans, especially for some deontological-based vegans whom take the whole "right to life" position really seriously.
Aha, that makes more sense in light of some of his comments. Yeah, that argument is very effective against deontologists, but I'm not one.
Frank Quasar wrote:
Wed Jan 16, 2019 4:58 pm
In fact, the reason why I'm even writing this is because I found an incredibly interesting take by a particular user that I ran into several months ago.
This one?
Death Valley Druids wrote: Actual Justice Warrior -- Excellent work. I know of three thorough refutations of Ask Yourself's entire position, but the one you've formulated has been the most effective when it comes to refuting his followers on YT comment sections. Here's the first of the three (I'll follow up with the other two in this thread when I have time):

1) The #namethetrait challenge is a fallacious argument from ignorance: Despite the fact that "vegan logicians" delight in pointing out fallacies in the statements of others -- regardless of whether or not they apply -- the #namethetrait argument for animal moral value is itself fallacious. In other words, this logical baby is a stillborn. And when the vegans who swear by it arbitrarily assert its validity, they simply expose themselves as dupes in one big circle jerk of mutual vanity and self-deception.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance

Important note: Many of AY's followers don't understand that the namethetrait argument was devised in defense of the thesis that animals possess intrinsic moral value (that is, they possess the right to life). Instead, they confuse it with AY's usual method of defending it (which commits the fallacy of equivocation in its unintentionally deceptive use of the word "justification").
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Equivocation

Even if we're oblivious of that fact that #namethetrait is invalid and we carry on defending it against those who posit what they believe to be the trait that names the difference between humans and animals, we must first consider the truth or falsity of the rational justification of their truth claim. And supposing we're persuaded, we can then consider the rightness or wrongness of their moral justification for the practice of farming and slaughtering animals for food.

It simply won't do to counter with: "So if a human lacked <trait X>, would it be okay to stab that person?" The name the trait argument calls upon opponents to identify an objective property of reality, not to defend the ethics of a human practice. Moreover, we don't formulate moral justifications in light of the presence or absence of objective traits, but rather in defense of the rightness of the means and goodness of the ends of intentional actions.

I'll reply to this soon by: 2) Actually naming the trait and 3) Giving AJW his due for his demonstration that AY's veganism employs the very double standard it seeks to avoid.
That referred to the old version of NTT which was not valid, the new one is (I'm working on an article on that).
That said, the last point is a straw-man.

"Moreover, we don't formulate moral justifications in light of the presence or absence of objective traits, but rather in defense of the rightness of the means and goodness of the ends of intentional actions."

If "trait" is all-encompassing, then yes we do. Such as: the trait of your being farmed having beneficial ends to others.
To his credit it's a bit confusing usage of "trait" which implies some innate and natural quality of the individual (not something with respect to outside relationships), it was also very confusing in the original argument context. This has also been corrected for a bit in the new version where all-encompassing "traits" don't create a contradiction with the argument itself.

And the part two?
Death Valley Druids wrote:2) Naming the trait: This is a revised and condensed version of a (way too long) comment I typed up a few weeks ago. I cut out a lot of supporting evidence but I can defend these points in greater depth if need be. First let me spell out the steps of my procedure:

a) We require a rational justification in support of the claim that trait X identifies the essential attribute absent in animals which if absent in humans would cause us to deem ourselves valueless.
b) Upon establishing the trait, we require an explanation as to why the absence of trait X in non-human animals precludes these beings from possessing intrinsic moral value.
c) Upon delimiting intrinsic moral status, we expect a moral justification for the human practice of killing and eating animals for sustenance.

So here we go:

a) The faculty of self-consciousness identifies the essential trait which distinguishes homo sapiens from all other animal species. As self-conscious beings, we're capable of mentally detaching from our direct experience of the here-and-now in order to reflect upon both ourselves and everything else as the subjects of objective reality. This faculty in turn is the necessary precondition for the faculty of rational thought, or the power to apply reason to reflexive thought for the purpose of distinguishing the true from the false and the better from the worse.

If this trait were absent in humans, not only would we be unable to deem ourselves valueless but we would be unable to deem anything anything. Our mode of sapient existence would be reduced to that of mere sentience, effectively reverting us to a species of especially intelligent primates no more capable of organizing ourselves into civilized cultures than present-day chimps.

b) Since self-consciousness allows for the cognitive exercise of reasoning out the true from the false and the better from the worse, then it must also serve as the source of intrinsic moral value, because morality is the mutually constitutive establishment of theoretical ideals of the good contra evil and considerations of practical ideals of right behavior contra wrong behavior.

Self-conscious agents achieve moral status (or "possess rights") by recognizing and validating the moral status of other self-conscious agents. This dynamic requires the deliberate choice and voluntary action of rational agents to negotiate and instantiate a system of ethics. Participation in such a system requires that most of the agents reasonably check their natural urges and instincts in order to cultivate a second nature of customs, conventions, and ideals.

And since our moral status relies for its legitimacy upon the mutual recognition and voluntary cooperation of other self-conscious moral agents, only humans can possess intrinsic moral value. We generally give our own species first priority in moral considerations because each of us possesses the traits necessary to substantiate morality itself. Having touched on all the relevant points, I'll leave off here in consideration of this extraordinarily complex aspect of human nature.

Note that non-human sentient animals and their lives are still valuable even if we can't logically characterize this value as moral. Ex: Imagine that a chicken due to be slaughtered finds itself ambling about a public road thanks to a careless farmhand, but then the chicken ends up getting cornered and stabbed to death by a malicious teenager. The teen is liable to be charged with and punished for animal cruelty (among other things), not on grounds of any notion of the chicken's "rights" being violated, but upon the criminal's violation of the ethical order we mutually impose on each other out of respect for animals.

c) Stated directly: The moral justification for the farming and slaughtering of select species of sentient animals is that their meat serves as a means to sustain our (self-conscious and so rational and moral) sapient species.

I'm under no delusion that this moral justification can be so delicately expressed as to render it uncontroversial. The purpose of this comment is not to defend the conventional diet. The moral justification expressed in step (b) continues to spark discussion within the dynamic partly described in step (c), so the real purpose of this comment is to refute the insipid doctrine of "philosophical veganism," which only serves as an impediment to open discussion.

Proponents of philosophical veganism claim to defend the only logically consistent doctrine opposite nihilism, and they argue that a belief in the moral value of all sentient creatures follows necessarily from a belief in human moral value. This absurd position stakes its legitimacy on the ill-conceived and poorly formulated 'name the trait' argument.

The trait is self-consciousness, which is the source of intrinsic moral value, and thus sapient beings who observe the moral permissibility of slaughtering sentient animals for food can do so without tacit acceptance of a double standard (which in this context could only qualify as cannibalism).

Next I'll cover AJW's ingenious series of arguments.
The "The faculty of self-consciousness" claim is about as asinine as the theistic claim that an unfalsifiable soul gives moral value.
It's vague, and once defined empirically it's clearly a matter of spectrum; one not completely lacking in non-human animals nor completely present in humans (and much less present in some humans than some non-humans).

You could try to fix that ad-hoc by drawing an arbitrary line to exclude most non-humans and include most humans, and that's something NTT doesn't prevent (which is one of my disagreements with it), but that doesn't stop you having to admit some humans have no moral value and that some non-humans do have moral value.

Then he just goes into social contract, waxing Randroid, which has nothing to do with morality. It *can* be in line with morality, but it can also very much go against it (like the social contracts that deny rights to certain races).

Finally he makes claims about the utility of meat to our species. This might have been true a hundred years ago, but now animal agriculture is a large part of several of our greatest existential threats. Even people who don't care a thing about animals can recognize that. If you care about human flourishing you'd oppose animal agriculture.

And then:

"Proponents of philosophical veganism claim to defend the only logically consistent doctrine opposite nihilism, and they argue that a belief in the moral value of all sentient creatures follows necessarily from a belief in human moral value. This absurd position stakes its legitimacy on the ill-conceived and poorly formulated 'name the trait' argument."

Come on! Don't put words in our mouths Druid. NTT is a niche thing, and at least with respect to the original version you can find extensive criticism on the philosophicalvegan wiki:
wiki/index.php/NameTheTrait
WHICH IS THE FIRST GOOGLE RESULT IF YOU SEARCH NAME THE TRAIT. Clearly philosophical vegans don't put that much stock in it.

I and most members of this community use and encourage very different arguments for veganism than NTT.
That said, he didn't even effectively refute the original NTT here. And the new version is much stronger (so his only relevant criticism is no longer relevant).

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 6 guests