#namethetrait and "trait equalizable"

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Re: #namethetrait and "trait equalizable"

Post by privkeav » Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:12 pm

I think you are correct, the argument could be framed that way. Since we seem to be more on the same page, I'd like to dig a little deeper.

I know that it may seem like I'm confused when I talk about the purpose of NTT, but I'll try to explain why this is the case.

If you view the trait equalization process as slowly transforming a human to a cow, the process lends itself to examining and eliminating traits from consideration during the transformation. The first problem here is that NTT is supposed to be a consistency test, but a term within the formal argument can be taken to be a process that validates traits as you slowly transition from human to cow. If the validation of traits should take place outside of NTT, why is there a process included in P1 in which validation occurs?

The next problem is the concept of process of elimination. For example, I've already stated that the moral value of several entities could be described as follows:

human adult: { sentience, moral agent }
infant: { sentience }
cow: { sentience }

If you look at this from the standpoint of process of elimination, you could argue that since "moral agency" is not present in infants, it should be excluded from discussion. In this case, moral value might be described as follows:

human adult: { sentience }
infant: { sentience }
cow: { sentience }

But, this is not the argument that Singer is making. Singer acknowledges that a human adult may have more intrinsic value than an animal. But, the infant is no different from the animal, so, if the infant has moral status, the animal must have moral status as well.

If you agree with the process of elimination style approach, it seems like you are saying that, if a trait is not present in all humans, it plays no role in moral value. Singer never made such a statement, and there is no basis whatsoever for a statement of this nature that I can think of. If you notice, Singer's argument still has force, even if you concede that moral agency plays a role in moral value, so he didn't need to investigate this any further.

This is the actual reason that a process of elimination style approach is fundamentally incompatible with the approach that I described.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sat Oct 19, 2019 7:12 pm

privkeav wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:12 pm
If you view the trait equalization process as slowly transforming a human to a cow, the process lends itself to examining and eliminating traits from consideration during the transformation.
You don't need to view it that way. The only reason I expressed traits like composition of molecules and position separately in my original criticism was to explain how you can't have two of the same thing in the same place and time without it becoming different.

Otherwise, I don't know why you'd think about it that way. They're new thought experiments. E.g. "what if instead..." not imagining a new change in a series.
privkeav wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:12 pm
The first problem here is that NTT is supposed to be a consistency test, but a term within the formal argument can be taken to be a process that validates traits as you slowly transition from human to cow.
What term?
privkeav wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:12 pm
If the validation of traits should take place outside of NTT, why is there a process included in P1 in which validation occurs?
There's nothing about validation of traits, it only says "while retaining moral value".
It might as well say "If human moral value can be made identical to animal moral value and the result is that humans still have moral value, that reveals that animals had moral value all along."
This is explained here: wiki/index.php/NameTheTrait_2.0%2B_(off ... ions_of_P1

privkeav wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:12 pm
But, this is not the argument that Singer is making.
What does Singer have to do with anything?
privkeav wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:12 pm
If you agree with the process of elimination style approach, it seems like you are saying that, if a trait is not present in all humans, it plays no role in moral value.
Nobody is saying that.
There can be many traits that add to moral value; and when it comes to extrinsic value that should be painfully obvious.

Having a longer life expectancy, having a vital profession which saves lives, etc.

There's little doubt that a young doctor with decades of life ahead has more value than a very old used car salesman with several months to live.

You need not possess ALL of these traits to have some moral value.
privkeav wrote:
Sat Oct 19, 2019 4:12 pm
This is the actual reason that a process of elimination style approach is fundamentally incompatible with the approach that I described.
I don't know where you're getting this idea that this is how NTT works.

Anything like a process of elimination that occurs in debates is an artifact of people having usually not thought out their value systems carefully, and as such attempting ad hoc revisions to arrive back at the conclusions they'd already decided upon before bothering to think about it.

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Post by privkeav » Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am

You asked "what term?" - I am referring to the term "trait equalizable". The term is present in P1 and suggests a process is responsible for determining whether or not two objects have equivalent traits. If it's viewed in the way I described (a transformation in which traits are analyzed one at a time), then a person using the argument may be validating traits as part of the argument.

However, you've stated that the trait equalization process does not need to be viewed as transforming a human to a cow. But, could you give me some more details on how you would describe trait equalizaton? I'm not sure how a "what if instead ..." could be represented more rigorously. However, if you don't want to go into more detail, I understand.

I'm going to step back and approach the rest of my comments from a different angle. In your revised P1, you stated "a given human is trait equalizable". First, there are traits in present in adult humans that can distinguish them from a cow. This means that the given human should be a marginal case human.

But, the typical flow of an NTT discussion seems to be as follows: name a trait. I'll say "moral agency" (or some other trait that an adult possesses). The response is, this trait is not present in an infant. This could be an attempt to argue that even a human adult can be trait equalized to a cow. I'm claiming there would be no basis for this assertion. If it is viewed as starting a new NTT argument, one that compares an infant to a cow, that would be appropriate, in my opinion.

Also, there are arguments made in which an arbitrary human (for example, an adult) is transformed into a cow. Once again, I know that it does not have be viewed in this way, but, it is not uncommon to hear this description.

I understand that you are not responsible for potential abuses of your version of the argument. However, I would say that the argument is heavily abused in practice. I also think that if the term "trait equalizable" was more well defined, it would help to prevent some of the abuses. So even though I can't argue with your new wording, I do think there is some value in providing a better definition for "trait equalizable" as well as some examples of how the argument can be abused. This is what I was attempting to do when writing the essay.

EDIT - One further comment. It seems to me that some people that use NTT may be presupposing that a single trait is sufficient for an object to have moral value. This may lead them to conclude that an adult human is also trait equalizable to a cow. But, this is flawed. For example:

adult human: { sentience, moral agency }
human infant: { sentience }
human psycho: { sentience, is evil }

It's possible to describe the adult human and infant as having moral value, while also claiming that the psycho does not, in spite of the fact that sentience is present in all three. In this case, the presence of the trait "is evil" offsets any value that sentience may provide.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Sun Oct 20, 2019 7:01 pm

privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
However, you've stated that the trait equalization process does not need to be viewed as transforming a human to a cow. But, could you give me some more details on how you would describe trait equalizaton? I'm not sure how a "what if instead ..." could be represented more rigorously.However, if you don't want to go into more detail, I understand.
I mean it's just that: imagining a different hypothetical universe in which X is or is not the case (and possibly never even *has been* the case).
privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
First, there are traits in present in adult humans that can distinguish them from a cow.
Then imagine an alternative hypothetical universe in which whatever traits you have an issue with were different (and optionally may have always have been). I think you fundamentally misunderstand the argument.
privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
This means that the given human should be a marginal case human.
Could be, or could not be, depending on the trait and what you consider a marginal case. The arguments have some similarity.
privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
But, the typical flow of an NTT discussion seems to be as follows: name a trait. I'll say "moral agency" (or some other trait that an adult possesses). The response is, this trait is not present in an infant.
Either you do not believe infants have moral value, or you should have named the trait "moral agency OR X" where X is whatever trait you believe gives infants more value. Or even "Moral agency OR not X" where you believe anything that lacks X would also have moral value even without moral agency. Or use another logical operator. AND OR XOR NOT NAND NOR XNOR, whatever. Make the list a mile long with parentheses to dictate acceptable groups. Use IF THEN logic if you want.
privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
This could be an attempt to argue that even a human adult can be trait equalized to a cow. I'm claiming there would be no basis for this assertion. If it is viewed as starting a new NTT argument, one that compares an infant to a cow, that would be appropriate, in my opinion.
No, that's not the point at all. It's to point out that the trait "moral agency" probably isn't really the trait you value, or isn't the WHOLE PICTURE, if you don't regard infants as lacking moral value.
privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
Also, there are arguments made in which an arbitrary human (for example, an adult) is transformed into a cow. Once again, I know that it does not have be viewed in this way, but, it is not uncommon to hear this description.
I don't know what you're hearing or not hearing. It's fine to view it that way if you find it rhetorically helpful, but if you have trouble with it then don't look at it that way and in discussions ask for it to be explained differently.
privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
I understand that you are not responsible for potential abuses of your version of the argument. However, I would say that the argument is heavily abused in practice.
It's not my argument, you'd have to take that up with Isaac.
I don't really promote or use NTT personally, as I've said a few times. It's just an option. I happen to use very different arguments.

I think the conclusions of NTT, that you need to justify moral valuation, are very obvious and can also be argued for differently (I do so principally through the utility of moral discourse).
privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
I also think that if the term "trait equalizable" was more well defined, it would help to prevent some of the abuses. So even though I can't argue with your new wording, I do think there is some value in providing a better definition for "trait equalizable" as well as some examples of how the argument can be abused. This is what I was attempting to do when writing the essay.
I'm not clear on how it's being abused. Can you share some quotes that highlight this?
I'm also not sure what better wording there would be, if you have any ideas I can pass them onto Isaac, or he's probably reading this thread. I do know he wants to keep it fairly short, and he would probably prefer a term that needs explaining sometimes to something much longer that seats the explanation into the text of the argument.
privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
EDIT - One further comment. It seems to me that some people that use NTT may be presupposing that a single trait is sufficient for an object to have moral value. This may lead them to conclude that an adult human is also trait equalizable to a cow. But, this is flawed.
I don't understand your fixation on adult humans as thought they can't trait equalize with cows. Anything is "trait equalizable" in a hypothetical where you swap out the traits.

An adult human is trait equalizable to a statue if you swap out all of the organic molecules for marble. However, the reason that this doesn't suggest marble statues of humans have moral value is because in the process of equalizing a human to a marble statue moral value would likely be lost-- that is, the statue (once imagined as a human) does not retain that moral value that we considered in the imagined human.
privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 10:39 am
It's possible to describe the adult human and infant as having moral value, while also claiming that the psycho does not, in spite of the fact that sentience is present in all three. In this case, the presence of the trait "is evil" offsets any value that sentience may provide.
NTT does not assume traits are removal of something, like sentience, adding something could be relevant too. The trait of is/is not evil can certainly be relevant. And again, multiple traits can be considered as sets. You can put any logic to it you want, the argument isn't picky.

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Post by privkeav » Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:29 pm

OK, my apologies, because I think I've figured out what's going on here. Basically I'm confusing my definition with yours.

If you recall, my definition is, ignore all traits that are not morally relevant. So we could possibly get:

adult: { sentience, moral agent }
cow: { sentience }

Since the set of traits does not match, the two objects are not trait equalizable using my definition. In other words, my notion of trait equalization can be described as set equality with respect to a certain type of trait. And, within this definition, there are going to be many situations in which two objects are not trait equalizable.

In your view, any two objects can be made trait equal through some sort of transitional process. If one has moral value and the other does not, you're basically saying that at some point in the transition, the one with moral value must lose moral value. I hadn't considered that a transition type process could be applied solely to morally relevant traits.

Since, my analysis was being made using my definition and not yours, I think I've figured out what was confusing me.

BTW - thanks for the lengthy conversation and also your patience. I think that I actually have pretty decent understanding of the NTT argument, but there always seems to be another layer that needs a little further investigation.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Oct 21, 2019 2:25 pm

privkeav wrote:
Sun Oct 20, 2019 9:29 pm
Since the set of traits does not match, the two objects are not trait equalizable using my definition.
You seem to be (or were) confusing equal (in which case you'd be right) with equalizable.
Equalizable means only that they can be made (forced to be) equal, either in actuality or hypothetically for the thought experiment.
It means that IF you make them equal, moral value is retained, which means that the non-human had moral value all along.
Or, like you said, if it loses moral value that demonstrated that there is a morally relevant trait difference.

I would be interested in your reply to this, which I said a few posts ago:
Most people's intuitions compel them to find a "single" or more coherent and eloquent trait, usually something that resonates as meaningful, rather than an ad-hoc hodgepodge of traits to get the result they want.

You can balk at heliocentrism and make a model of the solar system that's geocentric and works too-- that is, if you make the laws of gravity complicated enough with a bunch of special rules. That is not, however, how rational people prefer to view the world.

I would wager that most rational people intuitively understand it to be intellectually dishonest to create an overly complex ad hoc system just to avoid having to admit you were wrong.

If in any sense you treat your moral value system with a fraction of the critical thinking most skeptics prefer to apply to other empirical matters, then I think you have to challenge yourself to reject that kind of thinking and in the very least work on answering the hard questions of WHY all of those arbitrary intersecting traits you needed to get the answer you wanted should be relevant.

So sure, you CAN combine a bunch of traits, make conditions and exceptions, make some traits which only mean anything if other traits are absent, you can make your list a mile long and so complex you need a spreadsheet with thousands of nested logical operators to actually parse it... but is that the kind of person you are? Is that the kind of answer and thought process that satisfies you?

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Post by privkeav » Mon Oct 21, 2019 4:27 pm

I agree completely with what you said.

Now that I'm on the same page as you, I'd like to ask one last question. It's concerning a difference between P1 and a person who makes an argument such as:

"Suppose you transform Bob into a cow. At what point does Bob lose moral value?"

I think that the above question is non-sensical, and I'll try to explain why. Suppose that moral value is lost when we remove trait T. There are many different possible transformations that can be used to equalize Bob's traits to that of a cow. For example:

Ex1: T, ... -> moral value is lost at step 1 of the process
Ex2: ..., T -> moral value is lost at the last step of the process
Ex3: ..., T, ... -> moral value is lost somewhere in the middle of the process

The above examples pose no problems for P1 of NTT because P1 simply states that moral value must be lost at some point during the process in which traits are equalized. It does not specify at what point. It seems to me that the transitional process is important because it is used to justify P1. But, once P1 has been accepted, the transitional process may no longer be relevant.

If a person is asked, "At what point does Bob lose moral value?", in my opinion, the question cannot be answered because we would need to know the order the traits are being evaluated to be able to answer the question. Moral value could could be lost at the very beginning of the transformation, at the end, or somewhere in the middle. Obviously, you could reply that what is important is naming the trait responsible for loss of moral value, not the specific point in the transformation. But, it seems to me that this would make the transformation process irrelevant when we are actually applying NTT to a specific set of objects.

So, I know that this sounds weird, but it actually makes perfect sense to me to use a transitional process in P1 because of the abstract nature of P1, but it does not seem appropriate when applied to a specific set of objects.

My question is, do you see a flaw in my reasoning?

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Mon Oct 21, 2019 11:51 pm

privkeav wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 4:27 pm
I agree completely with what you said.
What do you think the basis for morality is?
privkeav wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 4:27 pm
If a person is asked, "At what point does Bob lose moral value?", in my opinion, the question cannot be answered because we would need to know the order the traits are being evaluated to be able to answer the question.
Not sure what "point" would mean here, you mean like "10% into the transformation"?
I don't think that would have any resemblance to the function of the argument.
privkeav wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 4:27 pm
Obviously, you could reply that what is important is naming the trait responsible for loss of moral value, not the specific point in the transformation.
That would seem to be what the argument would be about.
privkeav wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 4:27 pm
But, it seems to me that this would make the transformation process irrelevant when we are actually applying NTT to a specific set of objects.
Sure, but what's the problem with that? A lot of rhetorical devices aren't strictly logically necessary. You can phrase things in a way that's easier for some people to understand without having those analogies or modes of examination be strictly necessary otherwise.
privkeav wrote:
Mon Oct 21, 2019 4:27 pm
So, I know that this sounds weird, but it actually makes perfect sense to me to use a transitional process in P1 because of the abstract nature of P1, but it does not seem appropriate when applied to a specific set of objects.

My question is, do you see a flaw in my reasoning?
Like I said, what helps you understand it/is a useful visual can have nothing to do with what is strictly necessary. I don't really see an issue there, it's just a question of what approach to the explanation is used in conversation. If the "transitional process" as you call it throws you off then don't think of it that way.

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Post by privkeav » Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am

As far as the transition visual, fair enough.

You asked how I felt about this quote, and I missed your question:
Most people's intuitions compel them to find a "single" or more coherent and eloquent trait, usually something that resonates as meaningful, rather than an ad-hoc hodgepodge of traits to get the result they want.

You can balk at heliocentrism and make a model of the solar system that's geocentric and works too-- that is, if you make the laws of gravity complicated enough with a bunch of special rules. That is not, however, how rational people prefer to view the world.

I would wager that most rational people intuitively understand it to be intellectually dishonest to create an overly complex ad hoc system just to avoid having to admit you were wrong.

If in any sense you treat your moral value system with a fraction of the critical thinking most skeptics prefer to apply to other empirical matters, then I think you have to challenge yourself to reject that kind of thinking and in the very least work on answering the hard questions of WHY all of those arbitrary intersecting traits you needed to get the answer you wanted should be relevant.

So sure, you CAN combine a bunch of traits, make conditions and exceptions, make some traits which only mean anything if other traits are absent, you can make your list a mile long and so complex you need a spreadsheet with thousands of nested logical operators to actually parse it... but is that the kind of person you are? Is that the kind of answer and thought process that satisfies you?
I actually think this view is pretty uncharitable. I understand that, according to your wiki, you have defined "trait" in such a way so that it basically can be anything. But, I don't think that viewing something from the standpoint of a trait is always the best approach.

I'm sure that I don't have the background in philosophy that you do - I have a math background and am primarily interested in the logic behind some of the arguments. But, I've read enough to notice that when past philosophers have tried to distill something down into some sort of "essence", there ideas can usually be challenged because they tried to reduce something that is very complicated into something very simple.

My own morality relies on certain observations: for example, I feel that our society has taken on the obligation of protecting all humans (including marginal cases) from rapists and murders. However, we have not taken on this obligation for animals. I think that this is an objectively good feature of our species - that we do want to protect our own members under some circumstances that cannot be applied to animals. Clearly, this shows that we do not treat animals and humans equally in every conceivable way, even though I can't name a property that distinguishes the two. Since we do not treat both the same, our obligations to animals may be a completely separate issue from how we treat humans.

I could list other examples, like neutering/spaying animals, and not the marginal cases. Or, accepting crop related deaths of animals when we probably would not do the same for the marginal cases.

The problem is, how do you "fit" my reasoning into the NTT argument? Do I simply not agree that humans have moral value to begin with, and therefore it was never lost in the process? Is my trait, "sometimes it's good that we look out for our own interests, and there's no proof that animal harm isn't one of those situations"? Am I simply stating that "protecting" is not an obligation, but a choice, (sort if like dating a member of a specific sex), and therefore we can choose to protect members of our species. If so, doesn't the notion of protection imply not harming members of our own species? Is the reasoning even more complex than this?

This isn't an attempt to create an "overly complex ad hoc system". This is an honest investigation of a complex topic. I'll concede that my philosophical prowess is not even in the same ballpark as your own. But, if you're claiming that a person is wrong because their reasoning is too complicated, I'm just not sure what else needs to be said.

And, why stop at intellectual honesty. Let's be completely honest. It is always going to be easier to find flaws with an idea if you force a person to simplify their rationale. So, is NTT useful in investigating a person's thought processes, or is it simply an easy way to tell somebody that they're wrong?

Thanks for the conversation.

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Post by brimstoneSalad » Tue Oct 22, 2019 4:23 pm

privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
I actually think this view is pretty uncharitable.
Do you fundamentally oppose the principle of Occam's razor?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor
I wonder: why are you an atheist?

A classic example in philosophy is:

God created the Universe + God just exists
Vs.
The Universe just exists.

While that doesn't mean absolutely that the former is wrong, there's a very good reason that rational people prefer the latter.
Models that use large numbers of assumptions are empirically more likely to be wrong, and otherwise more subject to abuse: e.g. you can justify believing in anything and make it internally consistent if you prop it up with a convoluted enough set of assumptions.
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
I understand that, according to your wiki, you have defined "trait" in such a way so that it basically can be anything. But, I don't think that viewing something from the standpoint of a trait is always the best approach.
That's one definition the wiki covered. The one that makes NTT work is bound by the universe in which it's operating.
That's completely aside from the point of my criticism with respect to the ad hoc complexity of the moral justifications you're using.

I already explained how "traits" are not clearly quantifiable, one or many. You can call it anything you want. The question is what's your justification for devaluing non-humans to the point it's morally permissible to do all of the things we do to them we would otherwise consider quite terrible?

I'm looking for your justification. Call it trait, call it a set of traits, call it a can of worms, I don't care.
The only attempts at justification you provided so far seem intellectually dubious -- for example, "potential moral agency".
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
I'm sure that I don't have the background in philosophy that you do - I have a math background and am primarily interested in the logic behind some of the arguments.
A mathematics background isn't going to get you far -- it may even hold you back by giving you a false sense of competence (Dunning Kruger effect). The field of mathematics is rife with conservatism and often a deep ignorance of empirical science and skepticism. Traditionally religious belief among mathematicians has been much higher than that in other fields in STEM; while surveys are older, it's easier to understand why and it probably still holds true.
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
But, I've read enough to notice that when past philosophers have tried to distill something down into some sort of "essence", there ideas can usually be challenged because they tried to reduce something that is very complicated into something very simple.
I'm not sure what "ideas" you're talking about or how you think they're "challenged".

However, you don't seem to understand the notion of emergent complexity. Occam's razor doesn't forbid emergent complexity-- that's complexity that derives from simpler rules. Indeed, ethics can be very complex when we take into account the empirical minefield we find ourselves in. Simple but inaccurate assumptions about empirical reality can result in devastating unintended consequences.

Do not confuse a conceptually simple foundation for simple answers.
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
My own morality relies on certain observations: for example, I feel that our society has taken on the obligation of protecting all humans (including marginal cases) from rapists and murders. However, we have not taken on this obligation for animals.
The same "observations" would have noted in the past that white society protects whites but doesn't take that obligation for "inferior races".
Likewise to protection of the property rights of men, and women as chattel.

This is where your ignorance of science is a serious problem: these are not objective observations, these are your distilled biases, and your codification of those biases into a sham of a moral system.
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
Since we do not treat both the same, our obligations to animals may be a completely separate issue from how we treat humans.
You're jumping from is to ought here in the most terrible way. "This is how we do things so that's how it should be".
The same thinking has been the root of evils in society from the beginning of history, digging its claws into social progress and screaming against change.
That's both the most naive and harmful approach you could take. If you want to discuss ethics, don't simply attempt to describe the current state of what passes for ethics for most people and then try to mass that description off as prescriptive.
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
I could list other examples, like neutering/spaying animals, and not the marginal cases. Or, accepting crop related deaths of animals when we probably would not do the same for the marginal cases.
What we happen to DO is not relevant to what we should do.
The fact that humans seem to behave inconsistently should NOT be an invitation to rationalize and defend that inconsistency.
Instead, maybe you can open your mind to the possibility that we are wrong about some things we do?
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
The problem is, how do you "fit" my reasoning into the NTT argument?
Like I said, I don't really use NTT. I'd rather talk about how convoluted your justifications are and whether that's the way a rational person answers these questions.
But when it comes to NTT, that would demonstrate you to be inconsistent.
Your options would be to:

A. Be intellectually dishonest and develop a convoluted ad hoc "system" to defend your otherwise inconsistent conservative beliefs -- no different from classical geocentrists creating convoluted models of the heavens to save their belief that the Earth is at the center. This is what I'm challenging you on.
or
B. Open your mind to the possibility that you're wrong about something.

privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
Do I simply not agree that humans have moral value to begin with, and therefore it was never lost in the process?
That's one way you could change your mind.
The NTT article covers this as a risk of using the NTT argument:
Worst case, most people exposed to the argument reject human rights for sake of eating meat, and the world becomes a worse place because of it. Best case, most people exposed to the argument accept veganism for sake of being consistent with human rights, and the world becomes a better place because of it.

The balance of these two inform whether the argument is good for the world or not. This is an empirical matter that's hard to assess, but it's important to keep in mind just as health arguments for veganism may lead people to reject beef (the worst offender) and eat more chicken as a "middle ground" despite the consumption of chicken leading to more animals being killed.

Thus: knowing your audience is important. If it's somebody who is very involved and dedicated to human rights, NTT may be a very safe bet. If it's somebody who you know leans a little on the psychopath side of the spectrum, it may be best to avoid it unless you have a public stage to convert audience members to veganism when they witness the deranged conclusions your opponent will support to avoid veganism.
wiki/index.php/NameTheTrait_2.0%2B_(official)#Niche
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
Is my trait, "sometimes it's good that we look out for our own interests, and there's no proof that animal harm isn't one of those situations"?
Here is where it would be beneficial to understand something about burden of proof. You're placing the burden of proof on those arguing we should abstain from certain apparently unnecessary harms to nonhuman animals; that is those who argue that there's no compelling reason to exclude non-humans from moral consideration merely because they aren't human.

Are you an ethnonationalist or white supremacist?
If so, then you are arguably being consistent here.

See:
"sometimes it's good that we look out for our own [white] interests, and there's no proof [that harming other races] isn't one of those situations"
Are you fine with that reasoning? Will you defend that stance which employs the same logic you're employing to justify harm to animals for lack of "proof" that it's not good?
Or are you ready to furnish undeniable "proof" of the same order that you demand that it's bad to commit genocide against other races?

There is the bitter bullet of consistency you must be willing to bite if you're going down this road.

The overwhelming majority of vegans can and do kill animals when there's good evidence that it's necessary for protecting themselves or other human beings. Virtually nobody is considering non-humans equal here. The difference is that vegans accept that most non-humans have at least *some* value and don't feel it's appropriate to devalue others without evidence -- vegans put the burden of proof on anybody advocating for those acts of harm, rather than those advocating against the harm.
And especially when we're talking about harming animals for our taste pleasure. And especially when there's already overwhelming scientific evidence that the industry that does this is causing additional unnecessary environmental harm that adversely affects human beings too.

If you still think there's not enough proof that meat isn't good, then the level of "proof" you must be demanding is so extraordinary that it's impossible to meet for non-human animals, for women, for other races, for the disabled, for anybody really.

So, if you want to argue burden of proof, you need to decide where the goal post is, and you need to be consistent about respecting other people who decide to genocide another race due to the same lack of "proof" that reaches whatever inordinate height that goal post is set at.

privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
This isn't an attempt to create an "overly complex ad hoc system".
It seems like an attempt to employ a double standard in order to to shift the burden of proof for your special case so that it makes you right by default and then reserve the right to shift the goalposts at any point because you haven't clearly defined them.
Seems like you have made or put on reserve at least three fallacies there.
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
This is an honest investigation of a complex topic. I'll concede that my philosophical prowess is not even in the same ballpark as your own. But, if you're claiming that a person is wrong because their reasoning is too complicated, I'm just not sure what else needs to be said.
The topic of the basis of morality is nowhere near as complex as the actual implementation.

This new justification isn't as superficially complicated as the former that seemed to include potential moral agency, although I think it's pretty safe to assume that "moral agency" stuff lies underneath to explain the "why" of it being good to protect humans, with some Ayn Rand styled rationalizations there.
But let's assume that it's not that complicated: it's still wrong. It's an inconsistent standard as I have explained.
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
And, why stop at intellectual honesty. Let's be completely honest. It is always going to be easier to find flaws with an idea if you force a person to simplify their rationale.
Doesn't necessarily matter much until the point it becomes too complex to be human-readable. Regardless of complexity, it's easier to identify flaws when you get a person to explain it clearly enough to point out those flaws; otherwise they can be hidden in ambiguity.

Since people are bad at consistency and actually evaluating their own beliefs, the more complicated explanations are actually more likely to display internal inconsistencies, as I think you have demonstrated.
A simpler explanation, like "humans have value non-humans don't period", if a person sticks to his or her guns, is much harder to argue.

So no, you're wrong about that too in practice.
privkeav wrote:
Tue Oct 22, 2019 8:45 am
So, is NTT useful in investigating a person's thought processes, or is it simply an easy way to tell somebody that they're wrong?
Like I said, I don't tend to use or advocate NTT. However, if used correctly it doesn't merely tell people they are wrong, it demonstrates a contradiction. It's only useful for those who have some basic respect for logic and wish to be consistent in their beliefs.

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