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splitprimary

Would you eat your cat?

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Would you eat your cat?    5 members have voted

  1. 1. Betty's cat was killed in a tragic accident with an out of control lawnmower. She had heard that cat meat was tasty and wanted to try it, so she cut up her cat, cooked it, and ate it for dinner. -Does the idea of eating a dead pet bother you or disgust you?

    • that's messed up, i'd never choose to eat a pet (unless it was a matter of survival)
    • it's a little weird, but i don't see any problem with that
  2. 2. Does the idea of throwing the cat in a dumpster bother you, or would it be important to respectfully bury your pet?

    • i'll be reading a heartfelt eulogy at the gravestone
    • the dumpster would be acceptable, it doesn't matter much

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12 posts in this topic

Wait, so Nazis aren't even threatening my family? And I'm not starving on a deserted island? I'm supposed to just eat my cat out of curiosity?

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Correct! The questions in the original quiz were designed to show that there are things most people are uncomfortable with and find repellant on an aesthetic level, yet which they do not consider to be at all morally problematic, mainly because the actions are not thought to harm anyone.

In their words, it "measures the tendency of your moral judgments to reflect feelings of distaste or disgust" by focusing on a "class of activities that are harmless, private and consensual, yet violate strong social norms".

On the cat question, 97% of people say no harm was done, only 27% call it immoral, but 73% of people say it bothers them.

The creators of the quiz consider "rooting [of] moral attitudes in emotion" to be dangerous.


 

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What's weird to me is 27% were not bothered, and 27% said it was immoral. I'm almost wondering if there's a typo in the data, because identical numbers almost never happen except for small data sets (this data set is 69056 people).

I said it's a perfectly fine to eat the cat, and I'd probably join in. 

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I thought that was strange too, but they tell you that in different places, and they ask the questions totally separately in the quiz too. Still it might be that they got confused, and then we don't know which one that percentage really represents.

What's interesting to me is that they seem to approve of the split they see (or to think highly of low 'yuk-o-meter' readings). They do not want moral feelings (or "raw sentiment", which they take for granted and assume to come from deeply ingrained social norms and taboos) to be translated into moral judgments. “A yuk-factor might lead us to condemn actions- and even people- we have no good reason to condemn”, they say. The example they give is “untouchables” in the Indian caste system. If such feelings as disgust for eating one’s pet are felt, then, they should be ignored when considering the morality of the action and whether the person should be judged negatively for it.

I would expect Objectivists, on the other hand, to be less affected by societal norms, but based on the philosophy’s theory of emotion, to demand consistency between moral feelings and moral judgments. So whatever the ‘Moralizing’ score may be, to always have a 'Yuk-o-Meter' score of 100%. We would want to say that only what is rationally considered to be immoral and harmful should be distasteful, and if something such as incest (another example from the quiz), is disgusting, there must be a reason we find it so.

Edited by splitprimary

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The thing to be careful about is that sometimes people will judge something as immoral based on the yuk-factor alone. Or if it's not outright immoral, they may say the moral question becomes deeply problematic. To be sure, if someone finds incest "gross", there is a reason for it, but it doesn't mean it stems from a rational reason. Raw sentiment would be a version of morality for Hume, where our emotions are the basis for all moral judgments. Ideally, you'd be in a state where both reasoning and your emotion would be consistent, as I think you're saying.

What to do though if you figured out that incest is not normally wrong, but your feelings didn't catch up to match yet?

 

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11 hours ago, splitprimary said:

Correct! The questions in the original quiz were designed to show that there are things most people are uncomfortable with and find repellant on an aesthetic level, yet which they do not consider to be at all morally problematic, mainly because the actions are not thought to harm anyone.

In their words, it "measures the tendency of your moral judgments to reflect feelings of distaste or disgust" by focusing on a "class of activities that are harmless, private and consensual, yet violate strong social norms".

When I decided that no, I wouldn't eat my cat, social norms never even crossed my mind. I routinely ignore social norms. They have nothing to do with my decision making.

It just wouldn't make sense to cook and eat the dead body of a creature I was emotionally attached to. I'm quite confident that if I was living alone on an island, with no social norms to pay attention to, I would feel the same exact way.

11 hours ago, splitprimary said:

On the cat question, 97% of people say no harm was done, only 27% call it immoral, but 73% of people say it bothers them.

I would say that harm was done (the person eating the cat is inflicting harm on themselves), therefor it was immoral, therefor it bothers me.

11 hours ago, splitprimary said:

The creators of the quiz consider "rooting [of] moral attitudes in emotion" to be dangerous.

As do I. But there's a huge difference between rooting moral attitudes in emotion and considering the emotional consequences of our choices.

softwareNerd and Jon Southall like this

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I think my position is pretty much in line with the opinions everyone else on here has expressed. I would not consider it moral to interfere if someone wants to eat their dead cat, but I would consider that action to be profoundly immoral. An animal that someone has an emotional attachment is one of that person's values, and disrespecting the dead animal by eating it "just out of curiosity" is not consistent with upholding one's own values by any stretch of the imagination.

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1 hour ago, Eamon Arasbard said:

but I would consider that action to be profoundly immoral.

How so? To me, there is no good reason to say it's bad, there's nothing about eating that is disrespectful - so I'd say anyone who says it's immoral is letting emotion dictate what is moral. Even if it's curiosity, it's a pretty good time to try.

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When I think of eating my cat should she die, I personally find the idea repulsive. So is the reason for finding it repulsive just because it is an irrational social convention?

What then would be the ethical status of eating the corpse of a relative that has just passed away? Would being curious and wanting to eat the corpse of say your deceased child be immoral? I would personally find such an idea to be horrific.

When we value another living being, its because of the virtues we identify in their character. We hold them in such high regard that we are willing to make exceptions for them - we also respond emotionally to them. To then do damage - to then destroy and consume what's left when they die only for pleasure seems totally at odds with this. It would seem immoral to replace a greater value for a lesser value in this way, driven only by hedonistic impulses.

I could entertain the idea of eating cat meat, but not if it was meat taken from my pet cat.

 

Nicky likes this

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What a strange thread!

I don't really have a dog in this fight (or, er, a cat), but it has inspired a few thoughts...

For those who say that eating one's pet cat would be immoral, does this account more to one's attachment to a "pet," or to... catness? For instance, if one owned a chicken one was attached to in the manner of a pet, and that chicken died such that the meat was still good, would it then be inappropriate to have a chicken dinner? (Suppose this was entertained as a possibility all along, given that people in the Western world often eat chicken. Maybe that was even the reason why the chicken was maintained as an owned creature initially, but then an emotional attachment developed. Would that make a difference?)

Also, it seems conceded that the act of eating is somehow harmful or disrespectful; that eating the corpse of a dead pet conveys some lack of regard, or etc. But there have been cultures (or so I have been told) which have looked upon eating differently, as in taking in/absorbing/uniting, in the manner of communion, and etc. Now this is to suggest a very different motive than culinary curiosity, obviously, but would it change anyone's evaluation if some pet owner wanted to eat her pet cat as more of a... funerary rite?

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On 1/29/2016 at 3:56 PM, Jon Southall said:

When I think of eating my cat should she die, I personally find the idea repulsive. So is the reason for finding it repulsive just because it is an irrational social convention?

What then would be the ethical status of eating the corpse of a relative that has just passed away? Would being curious and wanting to eat the corpse of say your deceased child be immoral? I would personally find such an idea to be horrific.

When we value another living being, its because of the virtues we identify in their character. We hold them in such high regard that we are willing to make exceptions for them - we also respond emotionally to them. To then do damage - to then destroy and consume what's left when they die only for pleasure seems totally at odds with this. It would seem immoral to replace a greater value for a lesser value in this way, driven only by hedonistic impulses.

I could entertain the idea of eating cat meat, but not if it was meat taken from my pet cat.

 

Oh yes. By all means, fly me to Korea (or is it China) and feed me cat meat prepared in a fancy restaurant. I'll be grateful and pleasant company. Just don't feed me MY cat.

This does bring into question the widely accepted taboo status of cannibalism though...anyone care to make this thread a little more interesting and address that? Let's say you're in an exotic foreign country where they eat homo sapiens (road kill, no murder or disease involved). Would you partake?

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