Comment by dxe on Arguments Against Speciesism · 2013-07-29T21:09:14.562Z · score: 4 (6 votes) · LW · GW

My sperm has the potential to become human. When I realized almost all of them were dying because of my continued existence, I decided that I will have to kill myself. It was the only rational thing to do.

Comment by dxe on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-26T18:57:13.060Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

Agreed. The proper translation of "too hard" is usually "I don't care."

Comment by dxe on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-26T18:45:35.810Z · score: -6 (10 votes) · LW · GW

This post is a demonstration of what social justice activists (along with scholars such as Steven Pinker and Richard Dawkins) describe as species bigotry.

I assume you similarly would have stood with white supremacists in the 1950s and 60s, as they sought to crush the hopes, dreams, and dignity of non-whites, because even if said white supremacists were violent and abusive, well, at least they were white?

Comment by dxe on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-26T08:42:39.616Z · score: -2 (8 votes) · LW · GW

So what you are demonstrating is that it is possible (and apparently, in your eyes, desirable) to whitewash rape and make it seem morally neutral.

No thanks.

Comment by dxe on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-26T02:25:30.943Z · score: 1 (1 votes) · LW · GW

Nagel had no problems with taking objective attributes of experience -- e.g. indicia of suffering -- and comparing them for the purposes of political and moral debate. The equivalence or even comparability of subjective experience (whether between different humans or different species) is not necessary for an equivalence of moral depravity.

Comment by dxe on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-26T00:47:28.073Z · score: 1 (7 votes) · LW · GW

The language I use is deliberate. It accurately conveys my point of view, including normative judgments. I do not relish the idea of antagonizing anyone. However, the content of certain viewpoints is inherently antagonizing. If I were to factually state that someone were a rapist, for example, I could not phrase that in a neutral, objective way.

For what it's worth, I actually love jkaufman.. He's one of the smartest and most solid people I know. But his views on this subject are bigoted.

Comment by dxe on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-25T21:45:48.159Z · score: -3 (13 votes) · LW · GW

jkaufman,

  • Justifying violence against an oppressed group, on the basis of some unobserved and ambiguous quality, is the definition of bigotry.

  • Have you interacted with a disabled human before? What it is it about them that you think merits less consideration? My best friend growing up was differently abled, at the cognitive capacity of a young child. But he is also probably the most praiseworthy individual I have ever met. Generous to a fault, forgiving even of those who had mistreated him (and there were many of those), and completely lacking in artifice. A world filled with animals such as he would be a good world indeed. So why should he receive any fewer rights than you or I? What is this amorphous quality that he is missing?

  • Factually, it is not true that human inequality is "socially destructive." Human civilization has thrived for 10,000 years despite horrific caste systems. And even just a generation prior, disabled humans were systematically mistreated as our moral inferiors. Even lions of the left like Arthur Miller had no qualms about locking up their disabled children and throwing away the key.

Inequality is a terrible thing, if you are on the wrong side of the hierarchy. But there is nothing intrinsically destabilizing about bigotry. Far from it, prejudice against "outsiders" is our natural state.

Comment by dxe on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-25T16:44:27.271Z · score: 8 (8 votes) · LW · GW

Here is a thought experiment. Suppose that explorers arrive in a previously unknown area of the Amazon, where a strange tribe exists. The tribe suffers from a rare genetic anomaly, whereby all of its individuals are physically and cognitively stuck at the age of 3.

They laugh and they cry. They love and they hate. But they have no capacity for complex planning, or normative sophistication. So they live their lives as young children do -- on a moment to moment basis -- and they have no hope for ever developing beyond that.

If the explorers took these gentle creatures and murdered them -- for science, for food, or for fun -- would we say, "Oh but those children are not so intelligent, so the violence is ok." Or would we be even more horrified by the violence, precisely because the children had no capacity to fend for themselves?

I would submit that the argument against animal exploitation is even stronger than the argument against violence in this thought experiment, because we could be quite confident that whatever awareness these children had, it was "less than" what a normal human has. We are comparing the same species after all, and presumably whatever the Amazonian children are missing, due to genetic anomaly, is not made up for in higher or richer awareness in other dimensions.

We cannot say that about other species. A dog may not be able to reason. But perhaps she delights in smells in a way that a less sensitive nose could never understand. Perhaps she enjoys food with a sophistication that a lesser palate cannot begin to grasp. Perhaps she feels loneliness with an intensity that a human being could never appreciate.

Richard Dawkins makes the very important point that cleverness, which we certainly have, gives us no reason to think that animal consciousness is any less rich or intense than human consciousness (http://directactioneverywhere.com/theliberationist/2013/7/18/g2givxwjippfa92qt9pgorvvheired). Indeed, since cleverness is, in a sense, an alternative mechanism for evolutionary survival to feelings (a perfect computational machine would need no feelings, as feelings are just a heuristic), there is a plausible case that clever animals should be given LESS consideration.

But all of this is really irrelevant. Because the basis of political equality, as Peter Singer has argued, has nothing to do with the facts of our experience. Someone who is born without the ability to feel pain does not somehow lose her rights because of that difference. Because equality is not a factual description, it is a normative demand -- namely, that every being who crosses the threshold of sentience, every being that could be said to HAVE a will -- ought be given the same respect and freedom that we ask for ourselves, as "willing" creatures.

Comment by dxe on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-24T16:36:35.256Z · score: 1 (25 votes) · LW · GW

"Suppose we found a morphine-like drug which effectively and provably wireheads NON-WHITE PEOPLE to be happy with their living conditions, and with no side effects for WHITE PEOPLE consuming their flesh."

Has a different sort of emotional impact, no?

Comment by dxe on Why Eat Less Meat? · 2013-07-24T16:32:00.666Z · score: -13 (13 votes) · LW · GW

The extended discussion here is unnecessary. Violence against helpless children is a very simple issue. And it is wrong. Period.

Anyone who says otherwise is:

  • thoughtlessly parroting a bigoted culture;
  • a monster; or
  • both.