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Veganism under Objectivism

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This is one issue that has left me puzzled when it comes to the objectivists arguments I've heard. An issue that most likely stems from it not being something people in our sphere question often. I'm sure you know by the title but this issue is veganism. More specifically the belief that animals shouldn't be harmed for food, cloathing, entertainment, etc. by HUMANS(I will get to this later)

I personally am vegan because I think it comes from objective morality. People like Ayn Rand and Yaron Brook do not. However objectivism has no idols and if I can make a more logical argument that's what matters. Yaron Brook unsurprisingly has the same opinion Ayn Rand had on this topic that is: 

Quote

rights are derived from the capacity to reason, and thus people have rights and animals do not.

I think this is objectively untrue. But to prove that we have to go back to what is reason. Reason is the ability to make logical descisions and not just act on impulse. Unlike plants or rocks or anything else animals have brains and thus we can deductively prove as much as we can prove other humans are sentient animals are also sentient. This is because temperament and damage to the nervous system and brain damages sentience. Therefore plants and other objects don't have sentience. Now sentience is defined as subjective reality meaning that you act not purely on stimuli like how a Venus fly trap does when it closes its mouth but that you can take in information and process it based on many factors such as things previously learned. This itself shows reason because animals don't act purly on instinct like many objectivists say. This is shown with events like elephants revisiting locations other elephants have died, monkeys being taught sign language and with the example of Koko the gorilla who after being taught some sign language independently signed "finger" and "necklace" to describe a ring, or pigs being taught to solve jigsaw puzzles. This shows that these animals can take learned information and apply it in various ways and goes beyond training and instinct. Another argument I frequently hear is that humans don't have instinct. This is untrue for example human babies know to get milk from suckling.

so yes an animal can reason because of the fact of it being sentient. From species to species it varies how sentient they are which is heavily linked to how intelligent they are. But objectivism wouldn't be objective if it only applied to one species now would it? 

So based on this since an animal can reason you shouldn't kill that animal for the same reason you shouldn't kill a human, it is illogical. But this brings up a very complex issue, that being what about animals that must kill to live? Veganism can be easily applied to humans because we do not need animal products to live. But for example lions do. I have been pondering this issue for a long time and have come to the conclusion that it is neither moral nor immoral. See when we are attacking this question we can't apply a lot of the same reasoning we use on humans because humans unlike some animals have no need to kill. As explained by Ayn Rand: 

Quote

...every code of ethics must be based on a metaphysics -- on a view of the world in which man lives. But man does not live in a lifeboaat -- in a world in which he must kill innocent men to survive.

So we have a situation where it is in the lions self interest to kill and the zebras self interest not to be killed. You might say since the lion is initiating the force it's immoral but then is nature itself immoral? Well unlike a murderer who dosent need to kill to live a lion must kill. Also the lion didn't have any role or control over being in that situation. So surely the lion shouldn't have to die because it was born a carnivore. So I would say this is a lose-lose situation and thus there is no good option. And finally because of this I would say the lion killing isn't moral or immoral but the zebra protecting itself is moral. This is because the zebra didn't put the lion in that situation so it is thus not responsible for the lion having to kill and should act in its own self interest. 

I would love to hear everyone's opinion on this.

 

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Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses.  It works by abstracting from individual concretes to concepts, such as "finger: and "necklace", and then using those concepts.  Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.

Memory, association, choice, and feelings do not qualify as reason or logic.

Apes like Koko are engaging in reason and therefore have rights.  But this does not apply to your other examples.

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Personally, I am somewhat sympathetic to this position. I don't think it follows from the fact that animals are sentient that animals can reason. Certainly they don't have conceptual thought and language, not even remotely the way humans do. And if they did posses full rights, it wouldn't follow that you shouldn't just kill them, but you couldn't compel them at all. I want to clear out some land and build a farm, well I can't because some muskrat of some sort has made it his home. Silliness follows from this.

But I am somewhat sympathetic, like I said, to some sort of basic animal rights, to be differentiated from human rights. It is clear that they are sentient beings, and have some sort of basic level of awareness and free will, they have emotions and personality, research shows even that some of the more intelligent ones can abstract and even form some first level concepts. I think this leads to a certain very basic level of protection, that you can be compelled by the law not to cause unnecessary suffering and cruelty to animals. They can still be killed and eaten, can still be used for our ends and purposes, but that has to be done within certain cruelty laws. 

Idon't think most objectivists believe this, unfortunately, they believe it to be monstrous and immoral, of course, just that the law cannot address it.

Interestingly enough, it seems that Ayn Rand was also very sympathetic to the idea of animal rights, she just thought ultimately it couldn't be proven, according to Barbara Branden in an interview in Liberty Magazine.

Branden: Here she was very honest. I remember her a few times saying that she would love it if someone would come along with a proof for animal rights. She wasn't able to prove it. But she would be thrilled if somebody could. It was something she felt quite strongly about. But she herself was not able to find proof.

 

Source: http://mises.org/journals/liberty/Liberty_Magazine_January_1990.pdf

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42 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Reason is the faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by the senses.  It works by abstracting from individual concretes to concepts, such as "finger: and "necklace", and then using those concepts.  Logic is the art of non-contradictory identification.

Memory, association, choice, and feelings do not qualify as reason or logic.

Apes like Koko are engaging in reason and therefore have rights.  But this does not apply to your other examples.

Almost all animals that can effectively be studied have been shown to reason. pigs can be taught the mechanicas of a jigsaw puzzle and that the goal is to solve it and they can apply that to other jigsaws. This is reason as they are not just being taught a one size fits all principle because they can be given jigsaw puzzles that work differently than others and still figure it out with a combination of prior knowledge and things they learn as they play with the new jigsaw. Dogs can also be taught puzzles and other first principles. Most animals can be proven to reason but with some it is harder to prove like bugs or fish or just unintelligent animals. But we don't need studies to know this because given your definition of reason we know sentience requires reason. Sentience is in definition and practice taking simuli and processing it based on existing knowledge and judging and using it accordingly. This is by definition interpreting material provided by the senses.

 

Edited by ⓋObjectivist

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1 hour ago, 2046 said:

Personally, I am somewhat sympathetic to this position. I don't think it follows from the fact that animals are sentient that animals can reason. Certainly they don't have conceptual thought and language, not even remotely the way humans do. And if they did posses full rights, it wouldn't follow that you shouldn't just kill them, but you couldn't compel them at all. I want to clear out some land and build a farm, well I can't because some muskrat of some sort has made it his home. Silliness follows from this.

But I am somewhat sympathetic, like I said, to some sort of basic animal rights, to be differentiated from human rights. It is clear that they are sentient beings, and have some sort of basic level of awareness and free will, they have emotions and personality, research shows even that some of the more intelligent ones can abstract and even form some first level concepts. I think this leads to a certain very basic level of protection, that you can be compelled by the law not to cause unnecessary suffering and cruelty to animals. They can still be killed and eaten, can still be used for our ends and purposes, but that has to be done within certain cruelty laws. 

Idon't think most objectivists believe this, unfortunately, they believe it to be monstrous and immoral, of course, just that the law cannot address it.

Interestingly enough, it seems that Ayn Rand was also very sympathetic to the idea of animal rights, she just thought ultimately it couldn't be proven, according to Barbara Branden in an interview in Liberty Magazine.

Branden: Here she was very honest. I remember her a few times saying that she would love it if someone would come along with a proof for animal rights. She wasn't able to prove it. But she would be thrilled if somebody could. It was something she felt quite strongly about. But she herself was not able to find proof.

 

Source: http://mises.org/journals/liberty/Liberty_Magazine_January_1990.pdf

I did not know that about Rand. I guess I should have assumed it was unlikely she was so unreasonable as to not think as animals as deserving any rights. But I strongly believe if she was alive today she would believe in an animals right to life. This is because back in her days we knew almost nothing about animal intelligence. However today we know they can reason. But with the animal property rights arguement I think it is similar to children. Things like this are contractual but to engage in contracts like owning land and being able to purchase anything you want requires more developed reason. This is why children can be made to do certain things like eat vegetables by their parents. That is that their ability to give informed consent has not matured. I think of animals as always in this state for example, a child can't own property but a child also can't be murdered. I feel these are the same rights that should be applied to animals.

Edited by ⓋObjectivist

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Veganism: slow suicide for the sake of lower life forms. Though perhaps that doesn't apply for you...are trolls lower or higher life forms than a cow?

Who here had troll bourguignonne before?

Edited by Nicky

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36 minutes ago, Nicky said:

Veganism: slow suicide for the sake of lower life forms. Though perhaps that doesn't apply for you...are trolls lower or higher life forms than a cow?

Who here had troll bourguignonne before?

For someone who claims to follow an ideology based on reason and fact you sure do turn to emotions and ad hominem s rather quickly. It is not slow suicide it is nutritionally adequate. 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19562864

Also because you consider them lower which in respect to intelligence is true that dosent mean they deserve no rights please actually read my post something I doubt you actually did. But nice job resorting to calling me a troll so you don't have to dismiss any of my fact or reasoning. 

Check your premises.

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I question the underlying idea that people have rights because they can reason. Not saying it is not true, but it sure is not an "argument". It's just an unsupported claim. I'd like to see the OP support this claim with an argument.

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42 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

I question the underlying idea that people have rights because they can reason. Not saying it is not true, but it sure is not an "argument". It's just an unsupported claim. I'd like to see the OP support this claim with an argument.

 Would be happy. It wasn't meant to be an unsupported claim because I was commenting on the arguement that Yaron Brook uses and the one that Ayn Rand used which is that since animals cant reason they don't deserve rights. It was more of an addition to the already existing framework. But it goes as follows. Rights are negative and are only things people can't do to you. So the question is why can't someone harm you and it comes from the ability to reason. Let me let Rand explain it:

Quote

To force a man to drop his own mind and to accept your will as a substitute, with a gun in place of a syllogism, with terror in place of proof, and death as the final argument—is to attempt to exist in defiance of reality. Reality demands of man that he act for his own rational interest; your gun demands of him that he act against it. Reality threatens man with death if he does not act on his rational judgment; you threaten him with death if he does.

this comes from the ability to reason because it says that it is illogical or anti reason to have to use force against innocent people. But it is only anti reason because the thing receiving the force is capable of reason. This is because if they can and are being peaceful you need an arguement not a gun. My point was that this also applies to animals because they can reason.

 

Again I'm probably not the best person to be explaining this is a very clear way because I was just commenting on existing work. Hope this made sense!

 

Edited by ⓋObjectivist

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13 minutes ago, ⓋObjectivist said:

Rights are negative and are only things people can't do to you. So the question is why can't someone harm you and it comes from the ability to reason. Let me let Rand explain it:

this comes from the ability to reason because it says that it is illogical or anti reason to have to use force against innocent people. But it is only anti reason because the thing receiving the force is capable of reason. This is because if they can and are being peaceful you need an arguement not a gun. My point was that this also applies to animals because they can reason.

Why is it illogical to have to use force? The reason specified is "because the thing receiving force is capable of reason", but so what? What's the capability of the recipient got to to with the requirement for the other -- the person taking the action -- not to use force. In other words, why is an argument more logical than a gun?

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48 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

Why is it illogical to have to use force? The reason specified is "because the thing receiving force is capable of reason", but so what? What's the capability of the recipient got to to with the requirement for the other -- the person taking the action -- not to use force. In other words, why is an argument more logical than a gun?

Quote

A rational mind does not work under compulsion; it does not subordinate its grasp of reality to anyone’s orders, directives, or controls; it does not sacrifice its knowledge, its view of the truth, to anyone’s opinions, threats, wishes, plans, or “welfare.” Such a mind may be hampered by others, it may be silenced, proscribed, imprisoned, or destroyed; it cannot be forced; a gun is not an argument. 

Using a gun instead of an argument requires to force others to act irrationally. One only uses force when they can no longer reason. This is because if they were using reason their arguments would win and not need to be forced. And since reason is where all morality is derived from in objectivism the only situation where you can initiate violence is when acting immorally. 

Edited by ⓋObjectivist

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To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion—which is the policy of savages, who rule men by force and plead with nature by prayers, incantations and bribes (sacrifices). It does not work and has not worked in any human society in history.

Picture yourself "reasoning" with a hungry polar bear,  crocodile or python not to eat you. My guess is that no prayer, incantation or bribe will keep you from being eaten by the aforementioned. I'm envisioning the bourguignonne at the moment, albeit with beef, not troll.

If you choose a vegan lifestyle, that is your right. If you seek to impose such a vegan lifestyle on other men, you would discover it would require the very same initiation of force you are presumably railing against.

 

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Reacting to stimuli based on memory, association, and feelings is not interpretation and is certainly not identification or integration.

If you try to work out a deal with a pig or dog under which you and the animal will trade goods and/or services, the animal won't understand this.  At best they may be able to learn that certain behaviors will get them food or, in the case of a dog, human attention.

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37 minutes ago, Doug Morris said:

Reacting to stimuli based on memory, association, and feelings is not interpretation and is certainly not identification or integration.

If you try to work out a deal with a pig or dog under which you and the animal will trade goods and/or services, the animal won't understand this.  At best they may be able to learn that certain behaviors will get them food or, in the case of a dog, human attention.

Sentience is interpretation of the world subjectively. It's not exclusively based on memory but they can use knowledge to understand how other things work and what certain things are. Ayn rand applied concepts she could remember to other things. Can she not reason?

 Obviously you can't trade with a dog or pig because you can't communicate with them. However is mutualism not trade in itself? Because their reason and ability to understand human concepts in limited dosent mean it's not there.

Edited by ⓋObjectivist

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9 hours ago, dream_weaver said:

To deal with men by force is as impractical as to deal with nature by persuasion—which is the policy of savages, who rule men by force and plead with nature by prayers, incantations and bribes (sacrifices). It does not work and has not worked in any human society in history.

Picture yourself "reasoning" with a hungry polar bear,  crocodile or python not to eat you. My guess is that no prayer, incantation or bribe will keep you from being eaten by the aforementioned. I'm envisioning the bourguignonne at the moment, albeit with beef, not troll.

If you choose a vegan lifestyle, that is your right. If you seek to impose such a vegan lifestyle on other men, you would discover it would require the very same initiation of force you are presumably railing against.

 

Imagine reasoning with someone hellbent on killing you. Maybe you could. Now imagine you couldn't speak their language. By this logic humans can't reason. Also in the case of a python they must kill to survive and I've already covered this. Yes you can't persuade a python who you can't speak to who and who must kill to stop killing but that dosent mean they have no sense of reason. After all if they will die if they don't kill is it not reasonable for them to try to find food? 

Edited by ⓋObjectivist

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9 hours ago, ⓋObjectivist said:

Using a gun instead of an argument requires to force others to act irrationally. One only uses force when they can no longer reason. This is because if they were using reason their arguments would win and not need to be forced. And since reason is where all morality is derived from in objectivism the only situation where you can initiate violence is when acting immorally. 

I'm not convinced. Allow me to react to each sentence above:

"Using a gun instead of an argument requires to force others to act irrationally. "

  • I agree. These are our two options: reason or force.

"One only uses force when they can no longer reason."

  • This the statement you're attempting to prove below. So, let's see...

"This is because if they were using reason their arguments would win and not need to be forced." 

  • This is a re-statement of the first sentence: i.e. if reason worked, you would not need to use force. But, it does not say why one is better or worse than the other, or why we cannot use some combination.

"And since reason is where all morality is derived from in objectivism the only situation where you can initiate violence is when acting immorally." 

  • With respect, this sounds very much like "begging the question". The reason to use reason is.... Objectivism says so? Objectivism derives morality from it? But why is the correct? I don't get it. 

Take a concrete example:

  • Let's say you are a frail old woman who needs her walking stick to hobble around and I an a big, burly male high-schooler in his prime
  • And you have an apple and I do not. I love apples. I'm hungry. I would love to eat that apple
  • I use my reason and it tells me I could reason with you about why you should give it to me. I might be able to convince you to part with it
  • I have some money, but I reason that I may be able to get the apple for free
  • So, I speak to you and tell you I'm hungry and that I have nothing to trade, but I'd like to have the apple. Let's say I'm good at this, and I build up via a conversation that builds empathy for me. And, it goes on for a while, and you're friendly, but you insist that you are hungry too. You say you're willing to cut out a quarter and give it to me, to help me out
  • I really want the whole apple, so I contemplate offering money. (Maybe I search through my pockets and act as though.... Hallelujah! I do have a dollar after all; God be praised!! He did it with fishes, and he's doing it with dollars now ;)  )
  • But, my reason tells me that if I can keep my money, I can trade it for even more stuff
  • So, I "reason" with you by saying: "Give me your apple or I will take it from you, and you will get hurt" (Yes, I recognize this is actually a threat, and therefore force) You say "No"
  • So, I grab it and run away

In that story, I fully recognized that reason and force are the alternatives. I even used reason to figure out how I might try to convince the old lady to part with her apple. When that failed, I used reason to threaten her before actually acting, because I cannot gain anything from injuring her, as such (and she was sweet enough to offer me a quarter of the apple for nothing). But, when that did not work either. I recognized it was either-or, and chose the next logical option: force.

What's wrong with that? The only answer I see in the propositions you listed is "Objectivism derives all morality from reason". Well, I used reason all along. But, if that means Objectivism also wants me to use reasoning in all my interactions with others, maybe Objectivism got that part wrong.

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Human consumption of meat is both healthy and logical, at least until technology provides us with a healthier and more cost-effective substitute that doesn't taste bad.

17 hours ago, ⓋObjectivist said:

so yes an animal can reason because of the fact of it being sentient. From species to species it varies how sentient they are which is heavily linked to how intelligent they are. But objectivism wouldn't be objective if it only applied to one species now would it? 

So based on this since an animal can reason you shouldn't kill that animal for the same reason you shouldn't kill a human, it is illogical.

 

When with only his mind and ten digits, an ape can research and present an argument contrary this this one: http://time.com/4252373/meat-eating-veganism-evolution/ ,  I might consider your "animals-reason-and-therefore-must-not-provide-my-nourishment." If necessary, I could "ape" many more articles making basically the same argument. There is overwhelming evidence supporting the benefits of eating meat in moderation. Of course, I limit my choices of animals delicacies to cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, fish, and on rare occasion, lamb. I have not been in a situation where eating dogs, horses, or even apes has been necessary, but my rational life-style has allowed me the luxury of other choices.

I might even be convinced of his intelligence with an ape possessing the ability to create a fairly realistic self-portrait or pass a public school first-grade math test. Until then, I am unconvinced that my omnivorous diet violates anyone's rights.

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11 minutes ago, softwareNerd said:

I'm not convinced. Allow me to react to each sentence above:

"Using a gun instead of an argument requires to force others to act irrationally. "

  • I agree. These are our two options: reason or force.

"One only uses force when they can no longer reason."

  • This the statement you're attempting to prove below. So, let's see...

"This is because if they were using reason their arguments would win and not need to be forced." 

  • This is a re-statement of the first sentence: i.e. if reason worked, you would not need to use force. But, it does not say why one is better or worse than the other, or why we cannot use some combination.

"And since reason is where all morality is derived from in objectivism the only situation where you can initiate violence is when acting immorally." 

  • With respect, this sounds very much like "begging the question". The reason to use reason is.... Objectivism says so? Objectivism derives morality from it? But why is the correct? I don't get it. 

Take a concrete example:

  • Let's say you are a frail old woman who needs her walking stick to hobble around and I an a big, burly male high-schooler in his prime
  • And you have an apple and I do not. I love apples. I'm hungry. I would love to eat that apple
  • I use my reason and it tells me I could reason with you about why you should give it to me. I might be able to convince you to part with it
  • I have some money, but I reason that I may be able to get the apple for free
  • So, I speak to you and tell you I'm hungry and that I have nothing to trade, but I'd like to have the apple. Let's say I'm good at this, and I build up via a conversation that builds empathy for me. And, it goes on for a while, and you're friendly, but you insist that you are hungry too. You say you're willing to cut out a quarter and give it to me, to help me out
  • I really want the whole apple, so I contemplate offering money. (Maybe I search through my pockets and act as though.... Hallelujah! I do have a dollar after all; God be praised!! He did it with fishes, and he's doing it with dollars now ;)  )
  • But, my reason tells me that if I can keep my money, I can trade it for even more stuff
  • So, I "reason" with you by saying: "Give me your apple or I will take it from you, and you will get hurt" (Yes, I recognize this is actually a threat, and therefore force) You say "No"
  • So, I grab it and run away

In that story, I fully recognized that reason and force are the alternatives. I even used reason to figure out how I might try to convince the old lady to part with her apple. When that failed, I used reason to threaten her before actually acting, because I cannot gain anything from injuring her, as such (and she was sweet enough to offer me a quarter of the apple for nothing). But, when that did not work either. I recognized it was either-or, and chose the next logical option: force.

What's wrong with that? The only answer I see in the propositions you listed is "Objectivism derives all morality from reason". Well, I used reason all along. But, if that means Objectivism also wants me to use reasoning in all my interactions with others, maybe Objectivism got that part wrong.

Well I don't believe that stealing the apple is reasonable. When you steal from that women you are declaring that to you her property does not matter and she has no right to it. Imagine this today you steal instead of paying. But tomorrow she has no apple to trade because she will avoid you or not carry an apple outside of her house. You rely on stealing for your food and today you are hungry. You have made yourself a parasite and you will now go hungry and maybe even starve. You might try it with another person but the same thing will happen tomorrow and it will get to the point where everyone knows you're a thief. Now look what you've done you have destroyed your means to survival by relying fully on being a parasite and not supporting yourself. This is not in your long term interest.

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5 minutes ago, Repairman said:

Human consumption of meat is both healthy and logical, at least until technology provides us with a healthier and more cost-effective substitute that doesn't taste bad.

When with only his mind and ten digits, an ape can research and present an argument contrary this this one: http://time.com/4252373/meat-eating-veganism-evolution/ ,  I might consider your "animals-reason-and-therefore-must-not-provide-my-nourishment." If necessary, I could "ape" many more articles making basically the same argument. There is overwhelming evidence supporting the benefits of eating meat in moderation. Of course, I limit my choices of animals delicacies to cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, fish, and on rare occasion, lamb. I have not been in a situation where eating dogs, horses, or even apes has been necessary, but my rational life-style has allowed me the luxury of other choices.

I might even be convinced of his intelligence with an ape possessing the ability to create a fairly realistic self-portrait or pass a public school first-grade math test. Until then, I am unconvinced that my omnivorous diet violates anyone's rights.

You are creating standards on reason based on what? Where does "if they pass a maththest they can reason." Come from? Where does themhaving to research come from? Take early humans. "Make a realistic self portrait" have you seen cave drawings? "Pass a math test" they wouldn't be able to. Did we wake up one day being bale to reason? No it was with us we just haven't been able to use it in ways we do now. We usedreason back then to understand our environment and how things within it work. We used our sentience. Animals do this too. Your faulty line in the sand on what makes sentience is subjective at best. Check your premises.

And yes with the acception of untouched tribes or people in extreme poverty a vegan diet can be affordable sustain the person and be healthy. Look back to my pubmed abstract. 

 

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I don't see this as an argument over whether or not basic survival behavior constitutes reason, so much as an argument over whether or not humans have a right to balance their diets without feeling guilty. "Feeling guilty" is in this case quite subjective.

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50 minutes ago, Repairman said:

I don't see this as an argument over whether or not basic survival behavior constitutes reason, so much as an argument over whether or not humans have a right to balance their diets without feeling guilty. "Feeling guilty" is in this case quite subjective.

I think if you are doing something objectively wrong then it follows that you should feel guilty.

and if you say that it's not objectively wrong then the argument goes back to does sentience lead to rights which I've already given evidence for. So no whether you should feel guilty can be said objectively.

Edited by ⓋObjectivist

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2 hours ago, ⓋObjectivist said:

Imagine reasoning with someone hellbent on killing you. Maybe you could. Now imagine you couldn't speak their language. By this logic humans can't reason. Also in the case of a python they must kill to survive and I've already covered this. Yes you can't persuade a python who you can't speak to who and who must kill to stop killing but that dosent mean they have no sense of reason. After all if they will die if they don't kill is it not reasonable for them to try to find food? 

I've given this the consideration it was due.

I did manage to find someone that appeared to have understood cow-ese and wrote the following:

Spoiler

He sat down.
The waiter approached.
'Would you like to see the menu?' he said, 'or would you like meet the Dish of the Day?'

'Huh?' said Ford.
'Huh?' said Arthur.
'Huh?' said Trillian.
'That's cool,' said Zaphod, 'we'll meet the meat.'

- snip -

A large dairy animal approached Zaphod Beeblebrox's table, a large fat meaty quadruped of the bovine type with large watery eyes, small horns and what might almost have been an ingratiating smile on its lips.

'Good evening', it lowed and sat back heavily on its haunches, 'I am the main Dish of the Day. May I interest you in the parts of my body?'

It harrumphed and gurgled a bit, wriggled its hind quarters in to a more comfortable position and gazed peacefully at them.

Its gaze was met by looks of startled bewilderment from Arthur and Trillian, a resigned shrug from Ford Prefect and naked hunger from Zaphod Beeblebrox.

'Something off the shoulder perhaps?' suggested the animal, 'Braised in a white wine sauce?'

'Er, your shoulder?' said Arthur in a horrified whisper.

'But naturally my shoulder, sir,' mooed the animal contentedly, 'nobody else's is mine to offer.'

Zaphod leapt to his feet and started prodding and feeling the animal's shoulder appreciatively.

'Or the rump is very good,' murmured the animal. 'I've been exercising it and eating plenty of grain, so there's a lot of good meat there.'

It gave a mellow grunt, gurgled again and started to chew the cud. It swallowed the cud again.

'Or a casserole of me perhaps?' it added.

'You mean this animal actually wants us to eat it?' whispered Trillian to Ford.

'Me?' said Ford, with a glazed look in his eyes, 'I don't mean anything.'

'That's absolutely horrible,' exclaimed Arthur, 'the most revolting thing I've ever heard.'

'What's the problem Earthman?' said Zaphod, now transferring his attention to the animal's enormous rump.

'I just don't want to eat an animal that's standing there inviting me to,' said Arthur, 'It's heartless.'

'Better than eating an animal that doesn't want to be eaten,' said Zaphod.

'That's not the point,' Arthur protested. Then he thought about it for a moment. 'Alright,' he said, 'maybe it is the point. I don't care, I'm not going to think about it now. I'll just ... er ... I think I'll just have a green salad,' he muttered.

'May I urge you to consider my liver?' asked the animal, 'it must be very rich and tender by now, I've been force-feeding myself for months.'

'A green salad,' said Arthur emphatically.

A green salad?' said the animal, rolling his eyes disapprovingly at Arthur.

'Are you going to tell me,' said Arthur, 'that I shouldn't have green salad?'

'Well,' said the animal, 'I know many vegetables that are very clear on that point. Which is why it was eventually decided to cut through the whole tangled problem and breed an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly. And here I am.'

It managed a very slight bow.

'Glass of water please,' said Arthur.

'Look,' said Zaphod, 'we want to eat, we don't want to make a meal of the issues. Four rare steaks please, and hurry. We haven't eaten in five hundred and seventy-six thousand million years.'

The animal staggered to its feet. It gave a mellow gurgle. 'A very wise choice, sir, if I may say so. Very good,' it said, 'I'll just nip off and shoot myself.'

He turned and gave a friendly wink to Arthur. 'Don't worry, sir,' he said, 'I'll be very humane.'

It waddled unhurriedly off to the kitchen.

From the book "The Restaurant at the End of the Universe" by Douglas Adams

 

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2 hours ago, ⓋObjectivist said:

Imagine reasoning with someone hellbent on killing you. Maybe you could. Now imagine you couldn't speak their language. By this logic humans can't reason. Also in the case of a python they must kill to survive and I've already covered this. Yes you can't persuade a python who you can't speak to who and who must kill to stop killing but that dosent mean they have no sense of reason. After all if they will die if they don't kill is it not reasonable for them to try to find food? 

But you don't need to speak their language to persuade them. For a python though, there is nothing to do our gesture or anything else to a python for it to understand you.

The wider disagreement I think is that you are using the word differently than most of us here. You seem to say reason is any means of thinking. So of course any sentient being would be a reasoning being by this standard, and meat would be murder.

You also mentioned knowledge, that having knowledge is an indication of possessing reason. But when we say knowledge in the concetual sense, this is different than knowledge in a basic sense of noticing and awareness. So you've combined these both to say any kind of knowledge is an indication of reason.

Objectivism understands reason to be the ability to form knowledge in the rich conceptual sense, to form concepts, to consider one's life in the long-term, and all these rich ways of thinking. The essential factor is conceptual thought. Elephants and dolphins might be at this level, but that's it besides humans. Not cows, not dogs, not Koko. Sure, these animals are quite intelligent and people are surprised all the time at their abilities. Yet there is no scientist I am aware of that says any animal can think with full-fledged concepts. Koko was not able to learn in this sense, nor was her learning going on in a way that showed any full comprehension of words. Apes like Koko are great at learning to communicate even with humans, but doesn't mean they need -reason- to survive and exist.

 

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36 minutes ago, Eiuol said:

But you don't need to speak their language to persuade them. For a python though, there is nothing to do our gesture or anything else to a python for it to understand you.

The wider disagreement I think is that you are using the word differently than most of us here. You seem to say reason is any means of thinking. So of course any sentient being would be a reasoning being by this standard, and meat would be murder.

You also mentioned knowledge, that having knowledge is an indication of possessing reason. But when we say knowledge in the concetual sense, this is different than knowledge in a basic sense of noticing and awareness. So you've combined these both to say any kind of knowledge is an indication of reason.

Objectivism understands reason to be the ability to form knowledge in the rich conceptual sense, to form concepts, to consider one's life in the long-term, and all these rich ways of thinking. The essential factor is conceptual thought. Elephants and dolphins might be at this level, but that's it besides humans. Not cows, not dogs, not Koko. Sure, these animals are quite intelligent and people are surprised all the time at their abilities. Yet there is no scientist I am aware of that says any animal can think with full-fledged concepts. Koko was not able to learn in this sense, nor was her learning going on in a way that showed any full comprehension of words. Apes like Koko are great at learning to communicate even with humans, but doesn't mean they need -reason- to survive and exist.

 

I didn't say that knowledge means reason I said that reason can be using known concepts (knowledge) and being able to apply it to other situations which is abstraction. Animals do abstract concepts like being able to understand death. Also there are acedmeics that believe animals can abstract. For example Cameron Buckner.

Quote

Dogs, too, seem to have better than expected abstract-thinking abilities. They can reliably recognize pictures of other dogs, regardless of breed, as a study in the July 2013 Animal Cognition showed. The results surprised scientists not only because dog breeds vary so widely in appearance but also because it had been unclear whether dogs could routinely identify fellow canines without the advantage of smell and other senses. Other studies have found feats of categorization by chimpanzees, bears and pigeons, adding up to a spate of recent research that suggests the ability to sort things abstractly is far more widespread than previously thought.

But really the answer is we don't fully know. Animals don't speak language (there is some evidence that ravens or dolphins have language with dolphins even giving eachother names) so it is almost impossible to test. However every day we figure out better ways to test we always get shown more abstract thinking from animals. It haven't been proven with every animal on earth but seems to at the very least highly correlate with sentience.

Edited by ⓋObjectivist

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There is no such thing as a species that possesses rights, that has no means of exercising or implementing its rights.

My response to those who argue in favor of "animal rights" is always: If animals possess rights, then why is it only humans who are able to violate an animal's rights?

If you're going to argue that animals have rights, with all that the concept means and entails, then you'd better be prepared to hold them accountable whenever they initiate force against another animal (or a human being).

And if we're to hold them morally accountable, must we not also hold them legally accountable? Are animals properly subject to arrest and prosecution? Do they have the "right" to a fair trial, by a jury of their peers?

How would an animal be made to pay restitution to someone who has been damaged as a result of its actions?

Naturally, all of this is absurd. Animals have no abstract understanding of the rightness or wrongness of their behavior. As far as they're concerned, the entire subject of morality is nonexistent — and rights, a moral concept, is likewise entirely inapplicable to them.

Edited by KevinD

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