8

A semi-serious question:

(a) Excluding the rare cases of atheists who are also dualists, most atheists are materialists who don't believe in souls.

(b) Many such atheists are also moral/ethical people, in fact they are usually adamant that atheism doesn't imply immorality - they don't need a deity to force them to behave, etc....therefore a moral atheist would consider it immoral to take an innocent life.

Now given (a), from an atheist point of view, there's nothing that privileges human life over other forms of life. A theist might be able to claim, like Descartes did, that only humans have souls, or take some other such human-centric worldview. An atheist on the other hand, has no such grounds for privileging humans over other living beings. The difference between Einstein and an amoeba is merely one of degree, not kind.

So if an atheist holds that (a) there are no souls, and (b) killing is bad - then the only logical course of action for her is to be vegetarian. She can eat plant products, because eating plant products doesn't necessarily require killing the entire plant. But if she is to respect the value of life, she cannot eat any meat since killing a living creature would be unavoidable.

The only other conceivable option is for atheists to become carrion eaters.

Is this reasoning valid? If one claims to be both a materialist atheist and a moral person, then the only choices they have are being vegetarian or eating carrion?

  • 1
    Most atheists accept the fact/value dichotomy, so deriving ethics from material facts is indeed fallacious to them, as is deriving it from God and souls. Indeed, the traditional idea of "deriving" ethics was based on providing a whip to make humans behave instead of letting them do it freely, that was a major point made by existentialists (most of whom were atheists). And if need be something other than soul (intelligence, complexity, freedom, etc.) might privilege human life if that were required. – Conifold Jul 17 '17 at 19:48
  • @Conifold I don't think that's obvious, unless restricted to non-academics and perhaps being more prevalent in the continental tradition, since one of the main streams of naturalism (cf. Hilary Kornblith and his ilk) reject the fact/value dichotomy. Also, evolutionary based theories of ethics tend to see the moral "values" as, at least, emerging from biological facts. – Dennis Jul 18 '17 at 5:28
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    @Dennis I think, much "credit" goes to Putnam's Collapse of the Fact Value Dichotomy. But Putnam is heavily reliant on Quine's epistemological holism, which even Quine dialed back, and there has been a backlash against the postmodernistic "dissolution of all distinctions", especially after the Sokal hoax (documented by Zammito). Fodor et al. content theorists hold on even to the analytic/synthetic distinction, which implies fact/value. Also, no-ought-from-is is strictly weaker than the dichotomy (with subjective/objective mixed in), and most of Putnam's entanglement arguments do not affect it. – Conifold Jul 20 '17 at 3:21
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    @Dennis At least according to Putnam, "within the scientifically significant there are, according to the logical positivists, analytic as well as synthetic (that is, factual) statements. Thus the search for a satisfactory demarcation of the “factual” became the search for a satisfactory way of drawing “the analytic-synthetic distinction”." According to PhiPapers, 65% of academics accept the analytic-synthetic distinction. But Putnam also draws a distinction (pardon the pun) between "distinction" and "dichotomy", so the devil may be in the details of what exactly is accepted or rejected. – Conifold Jul 20 '17 at 18:31
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    @Conifold my understanding of Putnam's collapse of the fact/value dichotomy is roughly the following: Per Quine, there is no analytic/synthetic distinction -> everything is theory laden -> theories are inseparable from values -> therefore everything is value laden. I'm a getting it ? – Alexander S King Jul 20 '17 at 18:34

13 Answers 13

7

This notion that 'killing is bad', just forwards setting up 'life' as a god. There is no immorality in requesting people to undertake tasks that will doubtless kill them, if they make those choices with all the freedom available to them.

It would be hard to take an objective view of history that was thoroughly pacifist from a logically consistent atheist position. Pacifism between humans in the modern technological world may have value as a means to an end, but a fully pacifist view of all species, and of humans in earlier history would be simply cruel.

A pacifist view that accepted like rights for all species would condemn lions for eating the only things they can reasonably digest, which would go beyond any sense.

But just sticking to humans, it is not reasonable. War has done us a great deal of good in certain ways. Much of our technology was forced on us by the urgency of war. Without it we might be a culture too primitive to become largely atheist.

Returning to the first assertion, compare a cow to a human. Does a cow accept the course of its life with all the freedom available to it? If we let it go, and it did not return, would it be better off? How about if it were never cultivated, so that there were no such thing as cows? Would those nonexistent cows necessarily be better off? Is a cow's life so bad it would be better off never having existed? Can we know, or would we even guess, that what would exist in place of the cow, were there now cows, would be any better off than the cow itself? I would suggest not.

This nets us an obligation to make sure no cows life is that bad, since we have indeed created them. It is only consistent with the obligation we take on ourselves to limit how bad human's (especially children's) lives are likely to be. But it does not net us an obligation to keep them alive or to stop creating them.

So your third premise 'killing is bad' is the problem with your argument.

  • 1
    Your reminding of Dennett's "getting domesticated was cattle and sheep's smartest evolutionary move ever." – Alexander S King Jul 17 '17 at 20:17
  • Very much my inspiration. He is not the first person to say it, though. It is in some earlier work of Dawkins'. I would cite, but my memory is not that good, and I am at work... – user9166 Jul 17 '17 at 20:44
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    Your example doesn't really contradict the maxim that killing is bad. One could bite that bullet or argue that it's not an act of killing. A "pacifist view" could add that lions are not moral agents and we have no responsibility for wild animals. As for the cow example, we can't be agnostic about it. Postponing judgment can lead to acting as though it's the case or it's not, so pragmatically we have to make a guess. An animal rights view can certainly argue for the option of no cows existing being better, so it's at least not off the table. – Marc H. Jul 19 '17 at 10:19
  • @MarcH. 'Noblesse oblige' is proof of privilege. If lions are not moral agents, then humans are privileged to be the ones making moral decisions, and human life is special. If killing is bad, it is bad. Not requiring those we look down on not to be bad is just an attempt to make up for looking down on them. You also totally ignore that this is one of two redundant arguments, omitting it does not break the thread -- the remaining argument is that war is normal, and has produced major improvements in the world which we enjoy, so we cannot reasonably at this point say it was all bad. – user9166 Jul 19 '17 at 14:54
  • Interesting. Does it, however, at least "net" us an obligation to ensure that while we raise cows for food we should try not to incur on them undue and unnecessary suffering like, e.g. factory farms? And thus for it to follow that for an individual, if that individual cannot access meat or other animal products not obtained by such undue means, veganism for that individual is the best, if not mandated, choice given existing circumstances and not as an absolute? – The_Sympathizer Jul 20 '17 at 6:45
5

A semi-serious question:

(a) Excluding the rare cases of atheists who are also dualists, most atheists are materialists who don't believe in souls.

Actually not that rare. Most professional philosophers are physicalists, but not all of them. Dualism isn't just the Cartesian idea of some soul - also called substance dualism - but there's some other forms as well like property dualism.

An atheist on the other hand, has no such grounds for privileging humans over other living beings.

No. Usually people give human life more value then other life because humans are thought of to have more sentience than other life forms.

The difference between Einstein an amoeba is merely one of degree, not kind.

In general yes. Although some viewpoints would draw a line for certain for a life to get moral consideration. There are a few exceptions, but those are much harder to argue for I'd say.

So if an atheist holds that (a) there are no souls, and (b) killing is bad - then the only logical course of action for her is to be vegetarian.

Well, you only need (b) for the conclusion here. But like said, it depends on whether the life in question ought to be given moral consideration. For example, we might not give plants consideration because they haven't got a central nervous system and therefore don't possess the necessary degree of sentience.

Is this reasoning valid? If one claims to be both an materialist atheist and a moral person, then the only choices they have are being vegetarian or eating carrion?

Factoring in premise (b) it's valid.

But (b) isn't completely self-evident. For example, an utilitarian would argue that killing isn't inherently bad, but something like "Suffering without necessary purpose ought to be reduced.". If the situation allows it then that viewpoints can ofc also lead to vegetarianism or veganism. Not necessarily, but it would be a fair and defensible position. Your viewpoint here comes from a different approach of normative ethics - a deontological or a rights-based approach I'd guess. Which are popular and certainly defensible positions too.

So in short it's valid. Whether it's sound depends on your moral framework and can be discussed. Also there are quite different positions which also lead to vegetarianism or veganism.

4

No, atheism is not a set of ethical rules

The entire reasoning of the question is a bit of a non-sequiteur. You can replace "atheist" with any label of your choice and it remains the same question, and the same answer: no, because the decision to be a vegetarian does depends on one's label/title but one's ethical considerations, and these do not follow from the label/title.

To exemplify:

Does being a moral [plumber/store clerk/marketing account executive] require being a vegetarian?

So if a [plumber/store clerk/marketing account executive] holds that (a) there are no souls, and (b) killing is bad - then the only logical course of action for her is to be vegetarian.

Now it is obvious, that the decision of being a vegetarian does not come from one's label, but from b), which does not follow from the label but is a personal ethical choice.

A-theism does not infer b), atheism is simply is simply the rejection of theism. however you want to define theism, as a belief in a god, or as faith-based doctrine, a-theism is simply the rejection of that. Atheism is a descriptive term, not a prescriptive one; atheism does not provide any do's and don'ts. The only thing atheism says is "We will not use the religiously based edicts as a foundation for any argument in the public discourse".

Which set of ethics you then choose as an atheist, that is entirely up to you. Does that lead to veganism? Not necessarily. You can be an atheist and a nihilist. But you can also be an atheist and hold animal life to the same or nearly the same standard as human life. To quote Christopher Hitchens in God In Not Great, chapter 3 "A Short Digression on the Pig; or, Why Heaven Hates Ham":

The pig is so close to us, and has been so handy to us in so many respects, that a strong case is now made by humanists that it should not be factory-farmed, confined, separated from its young, and forced to live in its own ordure. All other considerations to one side, the resulting pink and spongy meat is somewhat rebarbative. But this is a decision that we can make in the plain light of reason and compassion, as extended to fellow creatures and relatives, and not as a result of incantations from Iron Age campfires where much worse offenses were celebrated in the name of god.

Hence after concluding that he have excluded the religiously inspired arguments from the discourse, whatever kind of premises you then add — "Killing is bad", "Animals do not have the same rights as humans", et cetera — is besides the point, because atheism gives no prescriptions in either direction.

So the answer to your question is:

No, atheism does not prescribe you to be a vegan because atheism prescribes nothing. Atheism only describes the rejection of religiously inspired arguments.

2

If one is exploring "normal" morality, one can use phrases like "killing is bad" informally. However, when exploring edge cases such as a dualist atheist, one has to be precise with wording or the arguments turn contradictory very quickly.

The assumptions you state are insufficient to reach the assumption that one should become a vegetarian. You are assuming "killing is bad" should be taken to the extreme form, "any preventable death is worse than any possible benefit that could ever come from it." In such a case, you don't need qualifiers such as "atheist" or "moral." All you need is to state that a given person believes such an extreme statement and they will be forced to be a vegetarian (or unable to even eat plants, as the case may be). This is true whether they arrive at this belief through atheistic methods, or if they are given them through divine intervention from a deity.

In general humans, atheist or not, recognize that morals need to be more nuanced than that.

2

So if an atheist holds that (a) there are no souls, and (b) killing is bad - then the only logical course of action for her is to be vegetarian. She can eat plant products, because eating plant products doesn't necessarily require killing the entire plant. But if she is to respect the value of life, she cannot eat any meat since killing a living creature would be unavoidable.

If your atheist vegan drives in the summer, insects (which probably are not “robots”) will find their deaths in her car's grill. And this is not an unforeseeable accident, it is guaranteed to happen. So she “should” (the vague word used in moral realist discourse) not drive.

But as J. L. Mackie noticed amusedly, “anyone who really means business uses ‘must’ [instead of should]”.

Do you think she must not drive with her car in the summer? I doubt it.

So, there is no good way to judge partial compliance. You could also claim that everyone who does not live like a Jain nun or monk (sans celibacy) is not a moral person, but this would border on the absurd.

Is this reasoning valid? If one claims to be both a materialist atheist and a moral person, then the only choices they have are being vegetarian or eating carrion?

Why “if”? Why can carnivorous soul-believers claim to be moral persons?

Do you think that the Aztec priests were moral people because it followed from their religion that human sacrifices were good, pious acts?

Well, if you're already so deep into moral relativism, some inconsistency is the least you should worry about.


@Marc H.

She must not drive if and only if insects are sentient enough to receive moral consideration. The link is an indication that it shouldn't be dismissed. As Singer argues, with vertebrate animals we can be sure that they can suffer.

Why not give insects the benefit of the doubt?

One could also argue that she can't avoid driving, but can avoid eating meat, and add that "Ought implies can".

Many people don't have a driver's license or a car and they still manage to live their life. Also, much driving is connected to definitely non-essential purposes like leisure.

But even if we dismiss the driving argument, we can quickly construct another:

In modern plant agriculture, there is no way to avoid killing vertebrates like mice, lizards, snakes, rabbits, etc., this is caused unintentionally by ploughing and harvesting and intentionally by vertebrate pest control.

Since human survival depends on plant agriculture, we “can't” just stop doing it.

But... this doesn't excuse that most vegans do not live by a principle of truly “maximal harm avoidance”. Let's say:

  • Alice eats a rich omnivore diet. She especially loves steaks, burgers and curry chicken.
  • Betty eats a rich vegan diet. She likes tofu-vegetable lasagna, vegan pasta, vegan pizza, vegan sweets, etc. and also drinks coffee.
  • Carol uses a vegan diet that causes the least animal suffering and provides her with enough calories and essential nutrients. This means Carol exclusively
    • eats bland dishes made of a small variety of highly efficient crops with minimal impact on animals
    • takes mineral/vitamin-supplements
    • drinks water.

Betty obviously causes massively less animal deaths and suffering than Alice, but Carol still causes noticeably less animal deaths and suffering than Betty.

“Ought” we to live like Carol? And if we don't because we just can't be bothered to, what then? Do we stop to be a moral person? Is Betty immoral? And if she isn't, why isn't Alice, too? Don't you think that Alice, Betty and Carol are all pretty far removed from a person which we judge to be truly immoral like an unrepentant murderer?

  • She must not drive if and only if insects are sentient enough to receive moral consideration. The link is an indication that it shouldn't be dismissed. As Singer argues, with vertebrate animals we can be sure that they can suffer. Hence reducing suffering for them takes precedence. One could also argue that she can't avoid driving, but can avoid eating meat, and add that "Ought implies can". – Marc H. Jul 19 '17 at 10:10
  • On the edit: I think there at least aren't obvious answers here as you're painting it, hence Singer as example. The main issue here is the intention of an act. Should we stop walking because we might step on ants? We'd then become obsessive and that obsession might actually give us mental suffering. The intentional act seems morally wrong, while unintentional seems less morally wrong. If we think that, then we mainly need to find out what would count as intentional and what doesn't. A vegan position could argue that eating meat is murder itself, as murder is intentional without justification. – Marc H. Jul 20 '17 at 11:26
  • @MarcH. 1.) eating animals is murder? But even eating humans wouldn't be murder, if you didn't kill them yourself. 2.) if intentionally killing animals for food is murder, driving with your car would still be wanton disregard for life 3.) it's irrelevant if some acts are more morally wrong than others. The question is how to define a “moral person”. 4.) Singer hasn't supplied any argument why he thinks such and such animals are “sentient enough (?) to receive moral consideration”, he's just asserting, so that's really not worth anything. – wolf-revo-cats Jul 23 '17 at 8:07
  • 1) You're right. That's certainly predominant though. 2) Yes, that is a problem for a consequentialist position. For deontology, likely less so. Singer seems to just bite the bullet. 3.) Not at all. Most normative ethics think that at least one has to find out which rules there are for acts being immoral - then go from there. Although virtue ethics does directly start at figuring out traits of moral people, so then one might consider it irrelevant. 4.) Singer has argued for that at some point. There's a whole debate around the issue. – Marc H. Jul 23 '17 at 8:44
  • 1.) most people eat meat from animals which they didn't kill themselves. 2.) yeah, but I wonder how to actually develop it in deontological ethics. A rule like “Murder includes intentionally killing animals. Do not murder.” will not work b/c of point 1. Also, deontological veganism clashes extremely firmly with our intuitions. Imagine someone lost in the wilderness who, to survive, starts hunting animals. Even then he does something immoral. – wolf-revo-cats Aug 4 '17 at 23:51
1

If your postulation is that atheists do not believe in a 'soul', and I might argue with that under other circumstances, then that would put them in the same moral category as other animals, who are also believed by some to have no soul.

In the wild, a cow has natural predators, such as a wolf or a bear. Both subsist, when possible, by killing cows and eating them. In nature, this serves an observable purpose: it keeps the herbivore population in check.

Other apex predators appear to hold to behavior patterns that roughly approximate morality, though this may not be from a sense of morality. They don't kill animals indiscriminately - though that is most likely from the hazards of hunting, where injury while pursuing a large herbivore will probably result in the death of the injured predator. They don't kill unless necessary, to preserve their own life. To them, it's a dangerous business.

Humans and their simian ancestors have been omnivorous for hundreds of thousands of years, so humans eating meat is not a recent event. Native Americans subsisted in part on buffalo meat, and weren't too discriminating about the hunting method - they were known to stampede buffalo herds into running off of a cliff, leaving a good deal of wasted meat, but much less hazardous to the predator.

By the definition of an apex predator, an atheist is not required or obligated to be a vegetarian.

An atheist who held that any killing of any animal is 'wrong' and not for practical reasons (such as remaining uninjured), is getting perilously close to believing in a higher spirit.

  • Humans having eaten meat before doesn't mean that it's morally permissable to eat meat. It seems like a naturalistic fallacy. Atheist can certainly be moral realists etc. – Marc H. Jul 19 '17 at 10:23
  • Why would it be morally impermissible for a human to eat an animal, yet other animals, including closely related simians, to do so? Humans eat meat because that's how they evolved, evolution being a process of (among other things) changing to utilize a new food source. – tj1000 Jul 19 '17 at 15:05
  • A common argument is: animals aren't rational. Hence they're not moral agents. A lion is not gonna think about whether eating animals is bad. We do have the capability therefore we ought to think about it. We can survive without meat, so we can choose freely whether we eat meat or not. What we've done in the past or are doing right now doesn't matter. – Marc H. Jul 19 '17 at 16:15
  • So why is eating meat 'bad'? And are all creatures with some demonstrated intellectual capability and a strong social order, such as chimpanzees and killer whales, 'bad' by nature? Where is the dividing line, other than the desire to impose one's personal beliefs on others? – tj1000 Jul 19 '17 at 17:26
  • We could for example make the consequentialist argument that eating meat is linked to suffering and unnecessary suffering ought to be avoided. Or we could posit that eating meat is linked to climate change. There are many arguments to discuss. As for the diving line we could draw it exactly at humans. To back that up we could say that without the capability of learning a language there's not the necessary ability for abstract reasoning in order to think about moral issues. – Marc H. Jul 19 '17 at 18:16
1

I'm not sure that all atheists don't believe in the soul. I think a lot might depend on a) the atheist b) the atheist's cultural surroundings c) the way in which we define "soul" Plenty of people atheistic and theistic define soul mainly as human rationality or freedom of choice. You can be an atheist and believe in these things as real things which impact behavior and are part of human nature. You can even be an atheist and believe in some other definition of soul naturalistic or not. There is a lot to disentangle here, but the way in which "soul" is defined is not the same from culture to culture, or religion to religion. Even without the concept, most people recognize that human life has some distinctiveness to animal life even without necessarily theorizing or verbalizing about it. So I don't think an atheist has to be a vegetarian to be consistent in his beliefs (also remember that some meat-eating can be important for nutritional reasons, especially in areas in which it is hard to find protein-rich or nutritious food).

  • If you have an example of an atheist who takes these views by citing a reference that would strengthen your answer and give the reader a place to go for more information. Welcome! – Frank Hubeny Jan 16 at 22:04
1

Being an atheist removes the justification for treating humans as privileged by a deity.

The position re: vegetarianism is even clearer for humanists. They are committed to evidence and reason and grant moral consideration to humans. In some formulations, this moral consideration is also extended to sentient animals e.g. https://humanists.international/what-is-humanism/.

If sentience is the characteristic that warrants moral consideration, a logical consequence has to be veganism. Dairy production causes significant suffering + death, so vegetarianism doesn't go quite far enough.

Humanists disagree on whether sentient animals warrant moral consideration and to what degree. Sentientism (see Singer / Ryder) makes this explicit and also acknowledges that sentient AI and even aliens would warrant moral consideration. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sentientism.

1

therefore a moral atheist would consider it immoral to take an innocent life.

This is where you run off the rails. You will then have to explain away all the positions that seem to conflict with this as either not being atheistic or not being moral. Here are just a few that seem to conflict and that can't be explained away:

  1. An atheist who believes that it is moral agency (that is, the ability to make moral decisions) that entitles a living thing to its own rights. Otherwise, it is not immoral to kill living things.

  2. An atheist who believes any right not to be killed would have to come from some kind of implied contract not to kill in return and then a lack of evidence of such a contract would render killing someone permissible. Alice can't kill Bob because Bob has implicitly agreed not to kill Alice or anyone else. Hence it's not mere innocence that entitles one not to be killed but affirmative benevolence. Animals don't have any such benevolence and will kill us if it's to their advantage. There's no evidence animals have agreed not to kill humans, hence no reason for humans to agree not to kill animals.

  3. An atheist who believes that they directly perceive that murdering humans is wrong and that they do not directly perceive that killing other animals is wrong. They explain that they do not know precisely how they know this is true other than to explain that they perceive it directly, much as a person who does not understand how color vision works still knows that some apples are red and some are green though they can't explain exactly how they know this. They will point out that arguing to them that killing animals is as wrong as killing humans is like arguing that two apples that they plainly see are different colors are the same color. Without a scientific understanding of color, they can't prove the apples are different colors, but nevertheless they will not deny what they perceive directly.

  4. An atheist who believes that morality is purely a matter of universal practical advantage. They accept that they can't make moral rules like "I can kill and you can't". So moral rules must be reasonably universal. A moral rule that humans may kill each other does not benefit him, so he won't accept such a rule. But a moral rule that humans can kill animals benefits him, so he will accept such a rule.

So are all of these people not moral? Are any of these positions incompatible with atheism?

0

I think there are multiple questions here, namely, a) the moral and spiritual status of animals b) do animals have free will (closely linked to a) c) what form of consciousness do animals possess and how is it similar and how is it different to our own d) the ethics of vegetarianism e) the permissibility of meat eating within either a religious or secular values system f) ethics of food and agriculture g) our responsibility to the environment and how those obligations are articulated h) how can we as humans living in the present possess obligations towards humans yet to be born i) the ethics of environmental consciousness

I would argue that being a moral atheist does not require being a vegetarian since meat eating is a health necessity for some people. But clearly there are multiple overlapping and interrelated ethical and philosophical concerns here.

  • If you have references supporting your answer they would also give the reader a place to go for more information on your position. – Frank Hubeny Feb 26 at 19:40
0

... a moral atheist would consider it immoral to take an innocent life.

How does it follow from this that :

... killing is bad in such a way that killing a plant or an animal for food is bad ?

You need the missing premise that plant and animal life is innocent. Since neither plants nor animals are moral agents, they lack moral responsibility and can therefore be neither innocent nor guilty nor evil.

Sympathy for suffering and the moral obligation to avoid unnecessary killing prompt me towards veganism but I find the innocence of plants and animals conceptually hard to take. And I don't think the moral defence of veganism needs it. So we arrive at the same place on veganism but by different routes.

0

Vegetarianism is quite a heated topic.

Ethics requires care of the self. My suggestion is to prioritize one's health and well-being over abstract reasoning; basically, I am saying to adopt the diet that your doctor suggests.


I believe Peter Singer is an atheist who advocates for (semi-)vegetarianism on consequentialist grounds. Singer argues that a Supreme Being is not necessary to justify morality and also advocates for vegetarianism; according to him (semi-)vegetarianism is a natural consequent of his moral reasoning.

0

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-11998687

Here's some information on the question of animal free will. It seems the existing evidence is inconclusive and difficult to read. However, one important point is that many people agree, including in the scientific community, that animals do not have as sophisticated a form of consciousness as do humans - they can't write philosophy treatises, for example. Of course, that doesn't mean our form of consciousness is better and it begs the question: how would we know how to value what theirs is like if we can't experience it from their perspective? Maybe it's actually wiser than ours in many ways. Maybe it's completely wiser than ours.

However, from our current - limited - perspective, it seems that in some ways animals lack the moral awareness and sophistication of humans, for better or for worse.

And I do think that the care of self argument is important here - we should be careful about establishing ethical standards that are too arduous for people to actually observe, noble though they may be. That just makes progress less likely to happen, not more. So the protein value of meat should be a factor in this discussion. Peter Singer has argued in the past that we should all give massive amounts of money away to charity - to the point of self impoverishment. To my mind, establishing an ethical standard that is so contrary to human nature, so beset with difficulty and so punishing to those who follow it is not very ethical in itself - and in the long run is more likely to cause unethical behavior, than the good and kind sort, I would wager! After all, if ethics is such an extreme art as to require total or near total self-sacrifice, why should people try to master it in the first place? Moralists ought to be careful of being overly demanding of a human nature with built-in limitations. MY 2 cents. W/ all that said, treating animals ethically and not hurting them without good reason seems like a good thing, and if a vegan diet offers a way to do that without hurting one's own health, that's fine w. me. Just as long as the issue isn't presented as completely one-sided.

  • The question is about moral atheism and vegetarianism. I don't see any reference to atheism in this answer let alone moral atheism. – Frank Hubeny Mar 14 at 23:20
  • ain vegetarianism is practiced by the followers of Jain culture and philosophy. It is one of the most rigorous forms of spiritually motivated diet on the Indian subcontinent and beyond. The Jain cuisine is completely vegetarian and also excludes underground vegetables such as garlic, etc, to prevent injuring small insects and microorganisms; and also to prevent the entire plant getting uprooted and killed. It is practised by Jain ascetics and lay Jains.[1][2] Jain objections to the eating of meat, fish and eggs are based on the principle of non-violence .Wikipedia article on Jainism – Leah Mar 20 at 23:40

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