Psychological/virtue ethics approach at getting past the 'I don't care' response.

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NonZeroSum
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Psychological/virtue ethics approach at getting past the 'I don't care' response.

Post by NonZeroSum » Sat Jan 19, 2019 6:43 pm

Theo
Mon frer Shadow Starshine, what animal captiving behaviours did you grow up around aha?


Shadow Starshine
I'm not sure I even understand the question
Animal captiving behaviors?


Theo
Yeah it's jokes, just curious, meat come in a plastic rapper, or country boy, family like pets, etc.
Captivity - captive-ing

Shadow Starshine
Like, just what interactions have I had with animals in general?

Theo
Yea just general answer on how you learnt to experience your place in the world and other animals.
First time you heard meat came from an animal, first time you heard what a vegan was, etc.?

Shadow Starshine
Hmmm I'm not sure when the first time I heard meat came from an animal, I must have been very young. Veganism I think probably in my early 20s? I've had pets basically my entire life. I'm worked on a farm gutting chickens before, met a cow before.
I've been to aquariums a few times, I'm not sure there's anything else

Theo
So not many farms, safaris or petting zoos when you were growing up, just wildlife documentaries?

Shadow Starshine
Oh I've been to petting zoos, yeah, with sheeps and goats. They usually have those at amusement parks I go to. I've been to things like dog shows, or stables. I haven't been to an actual zoo though yet. I worked on a farm, but I don't visit a bunch of them.

Theo
And any mixed feelings when you were growing up? Vegeterians in school you could compare notes with?

Shadow Starshine
Mixed feelings about eating meat?

Theo
Aye

Shadow Starshine
No, never had mixed feelings about that

Theo
So not even as a child you don't think you'd have been a bit put off if they said this is the goat on your plate you petted yesterday?
What do you remember thinking at the time?

Shadow Starshine
No, I didn't have a problem like that. At first, I didn't think about it, it just is what it is. Then I thought about it, and I was okay with it.
Like, yes, animals can be nice to pet and play with, but that doesn't elevate them to some moral status.

Theo
mhm, I'm just wondering when the first thought process occured of; these animals have nice behaviours, I enjoy them and they have interests to go on living, if I could have less meat on my plate and more veg, then it wouldn't be for me to say whether those interests that I enjoyed in the animal are cut short.
And how you dealt with that at the time.

Shadow Starshine
It's just not something I wrestled with. I don't see animals "interests to go on living" as some sort of goal that I had to reconcile with. Whether they do that, or whether I eat them, are both fine to me.
It's like if I told you, if you didn't eat that carrot, it could still be growing in the ground and get bigger
You would say: So what?

Theo
mmm so a disconnect in empathy with the animals desires to go on living?

Shadow Starshine
I suppose you can describe it that way, but that makes it sound like it was supposed to be connected, or that it originally was.
But it's fair to say I don't make that connection

Theo
Well why would it be wrong for a person to empathise with an animal crying out in pain?

Shadow Starshine
I never said that would be wrong

Theo
but you don't think an animal's desires and pains are something that need to be wrestled with?

Shadow Starshine
Well, that depends who you ask, but it's not for me. But I also don't think it's as simple as that. I think those within my moral consideration (Humans and Self-aware things) are okay to purpose things without these qualities. But that doesn't mean I think every possible purpose is okay, either.
Like for sure, medical research on animals will cause animals pain, but to me, that is a purpose that is okay

Theo
What animals are in the category of self-aware?

Shadow Starshine
Most likely dolphins, elephants, great apes, possibly whales and corvids.

Theo
Btw you might be interested in this:
Penan Relationship To Animals - Nomadic Hunters Against Livestock Farming
Tribe in Malaysia who could never see themselves raising animals, for as long as they spend any time around them they see them as family
So hypothetical field of goats outside your window when you were growing up, you go out and play with them most days, your state declares war on the union and they blockade you in, so no food shipments, there's plenty of veg still, but your goats are the last meat in the state, you're accustomed to the taste and habit of eating goat most nights, do you go vegan and get to carry on seeing the goats frolic out the window and play with them, or do you carve them up until they're all gone?

Shadow Starshine
I think it would be dependent on what I value more, the food, or the company they provide.
In general, when we declare something as a pet, it's like making a pact with yourself, you give yourself responsibility
Breaking that feels like breaking our word

Theo
Yeah I'm more thinking of you seeing goats playing together as a desirable thing to watch in and of itself

Shadow Starshine
Now, if those goats were being raised with the idea of being processed into food, then I wouldn't be breaking any such oath.
I mean, it could be, depends if I have nothing else to do I guess

Theo
Like something that they desire and you feel compassion towards, and wouldn't want to deprive them of just for taste pleasure
A factor that is maximized by you enjoying the compassion you feel for them every day

Shadow Starshine
Sorry was a bit distracted helping someone. I mean, if it's against your values, you wouldn't do it. But if I valued my taste pleasure over playing with them, I'd eat them.
I don't feel like I owe them anything.

Theo
Yea I think it comes down to you viewing them as robot sims at the end of the day aha

Shadow Starshine
I don't think they are robot sims
Animals are more complex than robots, but less complex than anything that is self-aware
More of a middle zone
I'm not confused about what an animal is

Theo
I think if you can get compersion, enjoyment out of watching other animals enjoy themselves, then at the very least it's lazy to not change your taste pallet so you can go on enjoying that.

Shadow Starshine
It's not about laziness, I can both eat animals and play with animals, I'm not in a situation where I'm running out

Theo
Yea in the hypothetical though

Shadow Starshine
Well sure, in that hypothetical, I need to figure out what is more important to me

Theo
But considering tastes are malleable I don't think it's an either or, I think it's either one or be lazy at the very least, and immoral in my eyes

Shadow Starshine
So, if you found out your life causes harm, why wouldn't you end it?

Theo
No it's not about harm calcus
It’s about something you say you enjoy doing, which you don't have to go without

Shadow Starshine
I don't see how it's lazy, it's just a choice I have to make. I understand you find it immoral.

Shadow Starshine
I could go without video games and everything else in my life, I could even go without my life

Theo
Yea so I'm trying to tie you to a hypothetical in which you get compersion from watching other animals enjoy themselves and no other way of getting meat, and then obviously next step is dealing with self-awareness issue and can you really enjoy eating meat knowing you get compersion from seeing animals living out their interests not to be cut short.

Shadow Starshine
I understand the question, and I'm trying to say whichever is more important. If I had lots of other food, and no other enjoyment, then I'd want to keep the animals. If I had lots of other enjoyment and was craving meat, I'd eat the animals. I'd cater my decision to my needs.
I don't think there is an inherently wrong or right choice

Theo
And if all outside enjoyment factors held constant, you can accept it would be a little lazy to not change your taste pallet and get equal or more enjoyment from learning new cooking skills while still getting to watch the goats enjoy themselves?

Shadow Starshine
That's a weird way of phrasing it, you could say I'm lazily not changing my enjoyment pallet
Why don't I go find something better to do then watch goats

Theo
Lol
Nothing is inherently better in this hypothetical

Shadow Starshine
Am I being lazy by continuing to enjoy goats when I could do something else?

Theo
No you're tied down helping your family, but you get to glance out the window and get enjoyment from seeing goats enjoy themselves
You have a routine in which you’re topped out on enjoyment elsewhere aha

Shadow Starshine
I mean if you keep adding factors, then sure, keeping the goats becomes better than eating the goats

Theo
Ochay, so... what I'm getting at is, you said your first way of rationalising animals as food as a kid was it just is the way it is,
We’ve domesticated animals over 1000s of years
But you know you get enjoyment out of watching other animals enjoy themselves, you know it's better for the environment for people to buy less meat,
So why not take the enjoyment you feel for the animal, know that all animals are capable of that, and work to move towards that world where maximum number of wildlife can be enjoying themselves and you're aware of that.

Shadow Starshine
I wouldn't say not thinking about something is rationalizing. It's the same reason we don't hold animals morally culpable for their actions, because they can't think of their actions.
In this world, I can both enjoy watching animals, and eat them. So this isn't a real world issue.
Because I'm not trying to maximize anything.

Theo
If you feel compassion for something, why wouldn't you want to know that more sentient beings are experiencing this thing that you get enjoyment out of them doing.

Shadow Starshine
I tried to argue that stance before, a somewhat virtue ethical stance for creating an optimal society, but I couldn't just beat the fact that people can make reasonable distinctions.

Theo
I do want to be able to treat all life as end's in themselves to a degree, letting plants try to figure out ways to evolve and colonize new areas, etc.
Not sure what you meant with your last response.

Shadow Starshine
The problem as I see it that you are posing, as to whether killing and eating an animal truly does "taint" my enjoyment of playing and enjoying animals in other ways. This is to say I'm somehow getting these two things confused, I'm blurring the lines, I'm doing neither genuinely. I don't think I can accept the argument that humans are actually incapable of seeing something in two different ways, both clearly and distinctly. If I sit to read my newspaper, I think of the item as a conveyer of news. Now, if some annoying mosquito starts buzzing around my head, and I roll up my paper and smack it, have I become confused as to the purpose of that newspaper? Do I not truly think of it as a source of news anymore, because it now shares two completely different purposes? Were I to burn the newspaper after to start a fire, has the news it conveys lost value in my eyes? I think people can very much keep the multipurpose nature of things as very real distinct possibility, and cater them to their needs.

Theo
There's no real parallel for me there, because you're still talking about what it does for you, whereas I'm trying to encourage you to think about how more virtue creates a better society, where it's a positive thing that people show empathy towards other animals enjoying themselves.
We can walk back from human to monkey to pig/dog and question why you don't see treating them with empathy one moment and being willing to cut their interests short the next as not tainting that empathy.

Shadow Starshine
How would having empathy for everything I could possibly have empathy for make a better society for me? Wouldn’t what "better" is, be whatever I value? If I value eating meat, how does empathizing help me out there?

Theo
Better society, as in better for everyone if no one made these compromises, so for example we wouldn't make the local slaughterhouse the only industry in small towns that suck up all the low skilled jobs and cause higher rates of domestic abuse.

Shadow Starshine
There's a lot of problems I have with what you just said. First off, why would that be the only industry responsible for poor working conditions and low skilled jobs? Why are the conditions of factory workers necessary to get meat from animals? Why do you think it's animal slaughter that causes domestic abuse, and not the poor conditions?

Theo
It wouldn't be, it is on the scale people eat meat currently and studies I can link.

Shadow Starshine
So perhaps the scale is a problem, and not just eating meat in general
I've worked on a free ranged farm with chickens, everyone there isn't working in some horrible conditions (though farm work is still hard), and people were happy there.

Theo
No you brought up factory, the act always has that potential to cause trauma.

Shadow Starshine
When did I bring up factories?

Theo
You brought up factory conditions I mean
But we're getting off track here

Shadow Starshine
You said slaughterhouses
I didn't bring that up

Theo
It doesn't matter, I'm just saying you brought that up as a variable which is probably true, but it doesn't take away from the act as being the first cause

Shadow Starshine
Perhaps getting our wires crossed here

Theo
Yea so back to empathy
Humans -> monkeys -> pigs/dogs
Why and when isn't it a problem that
Empathy is given and then taken away arbitrarily

Shadow Starshine
All values are arbitrary, but beyond that, I assign them to self-aware creatures and to humans. There is no why, that's just how I feel about it.

Theo
But you acknowledge there would be detriments to society if we were able to feel empathy for humans or monkeys one moment, then dissociate from that feeling and eat them in a sandwich the next yes?

Shadow Starshine
Yes, if people's empathy fluctuated randomly, that would be problematic

Theo
Okay so where is the cut off going down the sentient scale in animals and why?
Because you acknowledged you can feel empathy for a goat say.

Shadow Starshine
First off, I don't see why it has to be on a "sentient scale", you can have empathy for things beyond sentient things. Second, there is no why other than how you feel about it.

Theo
No why wouldn't it be a detriment to society

Shadow Starshine
How is it at all a detriment to society, which I'm not even sure how you are defining, to not have the amount of empathy required to prevent you from eating animals

Theo
Did you not just agree that it would be a detriment with monkeys?
I'm just trying to get you to explain the cut-off

Shadow Starshine
It's a detriment to me
Not to society

Theo
How is this true of monkeys and not goats?: "if people's individuals empathy fluctuated randomly, that would be problematic"

Shadow Starshine
I think you are confusing "fluctuating randomly", and having cut off points
I value human beings, that doesn't fluctuate
It remains a constant
As it does with almost everyone else
We don't wake up and roll a dice

Theo
Okay so people showing empathy for self-aware creatures and this not fluctuating is a mark of an unproblematic person and society.
But people showing empathy for creatures who can share many of the behaviours and interests as monkeys, and this fluctuating is not a mark of a problematic person and society.
I think it has fundamentally bad effects on future growth of people and society that we ask people to try and disentangle their empathy when eating, farming or slaughtering animals.

Shadow Starshine
I don't see the bad effects
What are they?

Theo
Animal cruelty, ecological devastation and domestic abuse rates

Shadow Starshine
None of those are required to eat meat
Unless you count killing animals as animal cruelty

Theo
If we didn't make it human’s problem to decide what animals are born into this world and what are killed for our own selfish taste pleasure, we'd have a 100% guarantee of our empathy / compassion not being misdirected in this way.
And can be put to better use of our time.

Shadow Starshine
That's not true either, you can have someone who is empathetic towards animals, but not towards humans. There is no "100% guarantee" of any particular value unless you're gonna brainwash people. And if people have the same empathy towards the same thing I do now, I'd have a 100% guarantee of the world I want to be in.
Like everything you suggest just works out worse for me
But you keep telling me it's better

Theo
Maybe your current value system, I am thinking global sure.

Shadow Starshine
Right, but if you changed your value system to mine, suddenly you'd be okay with eating meat, and you wouldn't have this problem

Theo
But objectively worse for society I'm arguing

Shadow Starshine
I don't get how. You keep bringing up bad slaughterhouse conditions, we've already established those are not necessary, so what is left to be bad for society?
There are a lot of different permutations of values that work just fine

Theo
The person who has more empathy for animals than humans is a problem too, but I'm saying we'd alleviate a massive waste of human energy and time without animals being reliant on us that we feel empathy for, where there's always a 100% chance of us abusing their interests.

Shadow Starshine
I'm not sure what you mean waste of human energy here. If you don't concern yourself with have empathy for every single thing in every single scenario for every single purpose, you use a lot less energy.
Like, imagine people who sit and think to themselves about how their mere existence causes harm, and then they contemplate suicide
You know what's easier than that? Accepting that your existence is valuable to you, and just moving on.

Theo
Yea again not thinking of a harm calculus, thinking of empathy for interests just like our own that we then end for selfish reasons, I can't see how this is not a net negative in society.

Shadow Starshine
I can't see how it's not a net positive
I can see how it's a problem with you, given your values

Theo
Alright coolio, can end it there aha, can I put this up on philo forum for others to give feedback on?

Shadow Starshine
Yeah of course

Theo
I just tried to give you a line of questions that was more psychologically and virtue probing
As opposed to mathematical hypotheticals

Shadow Starshine
I understand and like I said before, it was an argument line I have tried before
I used to argue for that same position

Theo
Interesting, in relation to meat eating or politics?

Shadow Starshine
In regards to human morality, or actions between people
But I got stumped when someone hit me with a hypothetical of the impervious being

Theo
Never heard of it

Shadow Starshine
What if it was the case, that you could express your values and shape the world however you saw fit, and there was no repercussions
No one could stop you
Is there any argument you could give this being to not express its values?
Does it even matter what they are?

Theo
Not sure the context this hypothetical relates to?

Shadow Starshine
Well, if it's the case, that the only thing that gates off your expression of values is a reasonable assessment of the power something can levy on you to stop you, or essentially, the consequences of your choices, then if you cna reasonable express your values, they are fine.

Theo
So it's like a utility monster for virtue ethics, where virtue can be confused with power and might makes right?

Shadow Starshine
Well there's two understandings of "might makes right", might decides who values are expressed, yes. That's an unavoidable aspect of the universe. The second understanding, is to say, whatever is mighty, you value. That understanding is just nonsense.

Theo
Right, and what were the character virtues you felt you held that didn't make sense if a future world lead to this hypothetical?

Shadow Starshine
I'm saying the values you hold don't matter, so long as you can reasonably express them.

Theo
You might have to explain over voice again some time, I'm not sure if this is a feature I've already accounted for in my existentialist virtue ethics or not.

Shadow Starshine
Okay, we can do that sometime. :smiley:

Theo
Coolio, good chat
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NonZeroSum
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Post by NonZeroSum » Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:15 am

Image

Egoist
• The Ethics of Post-Anarchism by Saul Newman
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3190
• The Scientific Image of Man
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3283

Preference Consequentialism
• The Issue with Gary Francione and Deontological Veganism?
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=785

Co-operative Virtue Ethics
• Anarchism: Ethics and Meta-Ethics (Benjamin Franks)
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic ... 17&p=32706
• Stoic virtue ethics (Matthew Sharpe)
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3384

Intuitionist Deontology
• Daniel Kaufman On Intuitionism and Folk Psychology
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XggAkFIzFoI
• Of the Standard of Taste by David Hume (1909)
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3361

Absurdism
• Existential questions raised in ‘Rick and Morty’
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2973

Theology
• Peter Harvey, Buddhism and Human Flourishing: Key Ideas
- https://philosophyreligion.wordpress.co ... key-ideas/
• The Selfless Mind; Personality, Consciousness and Nirvana in Early Buddhism by Peter Harvey
- https://toleratedindividuality.files.wo ... ddhism.pdf

Absolutist Deontology
• Kant and the Constitutional Model (Christine Korsgaard)
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3419
• Consequentialism and Deontology in Hegel's Philosophy of Right by Dean Moyar
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic ... 22&p=36138

Conservative Virtue Ethics
• AFTER VIRTUE by Alasdair MacIntyre.
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=3721

Hedonistic Utilitarianism
• Is veganism based on utilitarian ethics?
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?t=968#p9743

Amoralism
• Moral nihilism and veganism
- http://philosophicalvegan.com/viewtopic.php?f=7&t=2998
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Lay Vegan
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Post by Lay Vegan » Sun Jan 20, 2019 4:06 am

@NonZeroSum It sounds more like you’re arguing some kind of vegan-like virtue ethics from a consequentialist framing. In the case of animal agriculture/veganism, adopting x virtues equals greater outcomes (reduced environmental harm, less animal suffering, increased energy efficiency, reduced risk of superbugs developing in animals etc.)

Have you taken a look at this research paper? Some professional philosophers have used this moral theory to make a strong case for ethical veganism.
https://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/view ... xt=ny_pubs
Carlo Alvaro, Ph.D wrote: Consequently, a number of contemporary philosophers have emphasized the importance of a virtuous character and acquiring the virtues over obeying moral prescriptions derived from universal principles or duty. However, the discussion of how a virtuous character leads to embracing ethical veganism has not yet been properly considered. Husthouse (2006; 2011) illustrates how we can account for the ethical treatment of nonhuman animals through an appeal to virtue ethics. She claims that starting with the question of moral status is not correct in the animal ethics discussion. Rather, we should begin by morally questioning the attitudes that underlie the use and abuse of non-human animals. When we do so, we often find that we act viciously. Thus, if one is committed to living a virtuous life, he or she will change his or her attitudes toward the use of animals.


I do think the entire discussion highlights my problem with virtue ethics; namely drawing any kind of moral prescription from said virtues, and conflicts between virtues themselves. As a consequentialist, I’ll concede that acting in accordance to some virtues (fairness & kindness) usually brings good outcomes, but the utility doesn’t lie in the virtues themselves. E.g. if I always acted in kindness I'd have a house full of dogs. :mrgreen:

I think the value dissonance is too great here. You might have to get into meta-ethics. It’d be useful to talk about the nature, origin, and connection between your values, and reasons to take action on them (Why is animal suffering bad? Is it even relevant to anything else? And how does this set the standard for my behavior?)

Meta-ethics is not a topic I don't feel qualified to discuss in depth (I’m a novice), but I’m sure you’re more than capable of engaging him on that. These kinds of discussions are really useful to me, thanks for posting!

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NonZeroSum
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Post by NonZeroSum » Sun Jan 20, 2019 5:39 am

Lay Vegan wrote:I think the value dissonance is too great here.
Yeah I think Shadow's main hang-up is an exagerated significance on animals needing to have a high level of self-awarness for him to care, like being able to pass the mirror-test, so they've created subjectivist categories for seeing all animals under that cut-off as ''means to an end'. Rather than attack the first part directly where you're coming up against the strong intuition of not caring, I tried the latter meta-sociatal relationships in cultures and probe for a personal experience where he could relate to feelings of caring.
Lay Vegan wrote:You might have to get into meta-ethics. It’d be useful to talk about the nature, origin, and connection between your values, and reasons to take action on them (Why is animal suffering bad? Is it even relevant to anything else? And how does this set the standard for my behavior?)

Meta-ethics is not a topic I don't feel qualified to discuss in depth (I’m a novice), but I’m sure you’re more than capable of engaging him on that. These kinds of discussions are really useful to me, thanks for posting!
That's a really good idea, would be good to be able to ask better probing questions when someone says it's just how they feel.
Lay Vegan wrote:@NonZeroSum It sounds more like you’re arguing some kind of vegan-like virtue ethics from a consequentialist framing. In the case of animal agriculture/veganism, adopting x virtues equals greater outcomes (reduced environmental harm, less animal suffering, increased energy efficiency, reduced risk of superbugs developing in animals etc.)
Yeah I think it's important to talk about goals that we can scale up and see working to the betterment of everyone internationally. I tried to touch on not making excuses for relationships that drag us back in the here and now, just because it's possible to do so better in some abstract.
Lay Vegan wrote:I do think the entire discussion highlights my problem with virtue ethics; namely drawing any kind of moral prescription from said virtues, and conflicts between virtues themselves. As a consequentialist, I’ll concede that acting in accordance to some virtues (fairness & kindness) usually brings good outcomes, but the utility doesn’t lie in the virtues themselves. E.g. if I always acted in kindness I'd have a house full of dogs. :mrgreen:
Aye a virtue ethicist would frame it as needing an alignment of good charachter virtues that result in your own happy flourishing so you can help others around you, not overly practicing one virtue to the detriment of yourself aha.
Lay Vegan wrote:Have you taken a look at this research paper? Some professional philosophers have used this moral theory to make a strong case for ethical veganism.
https://academicworks.cuny.edu/cgi/view ... xt=ny_pubs
Carlo Alvaro, Ph.D wrote: Consequently, a number of contemporary philosophers have emphasized the importance of a virtuous character and acquiring the virtues over obeying moral prescriptions derived from universal principles or duty. However, the discussion of how a virtuous character leads to embracing ethical veganism has not yet been properly considered. Husthouse (2006; 2011) illustrates how we can account for the ethical treatment of nonhuman animals through an appeal to virtue ethics. She claims that starting with the question of moral status is not correct in the animal ethics discussion. Rather, we should begin by morally questioning the attitudes that underlie the use and abuse of non-human animals. When we do so, we often find that we act viciously. Thus, if one is committed to living a virtuous life, he or she will change his or her attitudes toward the use of animals.
I hadn't seen it no, looks really good. I tried looking for detailed papers like this before and couldn't find anything. The only vegan related one read previously was the part of Cora Diamond's essay about how we can teach virtues through poetry:
viewtopic.php?f=7&t=3665
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