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[deleted] wrote

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[deleted] wrote (edited )

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GrimWillow wrote

I don't consider indigenous people who hunt to be idiots or particularly oppressive.

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DataPacRat wrote

A question to highlight a moral point:

A building is burning, and via the magic of thought experiments, you have the opportunity to save only one of two organisms: a human toddler, or a piglet. Which do you choose?

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[deleted] wrote (edited )

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DataPacRat wrote

If it ever came to the crunch, and you were honestly faced with a choice of whether or not to save a human life, and you took more time thinking about it than it took to figure out how, I don't doubt that you would receive all sorts of social pressure, the very least of which would involve being called "inhuman" and "monstrous". Depending on the circumstances, it wouldn't be out of the question for the legal system to convict you of some degree of murder.

Even if you don't feel any particular inclination for or against rugrats, there are very solid reasons why humans as a whole have evolved tendencies to promote the welfare of the tykes, and if you want to maintain the freedom and social respect to be able to save lots of nonhuman lives, it's in your own self-interest to cooperate with the larger group's values here.

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[deleted] wrote (edited )

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DataPacRat wrote

To the best of my understanding, values can't exist in a vacuum. That is, when someone says "X is good" or "Y is bad", they're leaving out a bit of implication: "X is good (according to standard-of-value A)" or "Y is bad (according to ethical system B)". Without referring to /some/ system of values, even if just a vague wishy-washy pointing in the general direction of things that are assumed to be in common, then it makes no sense to try to claim anything has moral significance.

I'm sure there are people who disagree with the above, but it's worked well enough for me in resolving a number of practical philosophical matters.

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DataPacRat wrote

Which is why I mentioned the "magic of thought experiments". Hypothetical situations have a purpose: because they /are/ simpler than reality, they let you ignore all the complicated factors that muddle matters, allowing you to figure out what your actual preferences and values are. Eg, "Which is more important to me, the life of a baby or the life of a pig?", or "Which is more valuable, the life of a child or the life of a dog?". It's only once you understand the basics of your own moral-and-ethical system that you can understand how to apply value judgements in more complicated arenas.

(Of course, one of my usual .sig lines is "Then again, I could be wrong.")

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DataPacRat wrote

The reason I'm bringing up this old saw is simple: Different people value different things, and prioritize values differently. There seems to be a minimal baseline of shared values required for us humans to be able to scratch out any sort of living at all on this planet, and one of those core values seems to be "other humans are more important than non-humans". Anyone who tries to push against that idea, so fundamental to human society and culture, is going to face rather firm opposition by the vast majority of people.

That said - I'm not claiming that animals have /no/ moral worth. When scientists can put together vat-grown meat that doesn't lack any of the important nutrients my reasonably unhealthy body needs, and which doesn't put me into any deeper debt than I am already - sure, I'll be happy chomping down on vat-burgers instead of cow-burgers. Animal rights may not be as important to me as they are to you, but as long as it doesn't cost me too much of my scant resources, I'm a fellow traveller willing to help you fulfill your values in much the way you're willing to help me with my own pet causes that you feel are less important than yours. We're all in this together, right?

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GrimWillow wrote

That's an interesting point, and I don't necissarily dissagree with you, but I just see so many white people shaming indigenous for eating meat, so I felt compelled to mention it. The indiginous have a lot of respect for other species' communities, and white people have never ceased in telling them how to do things.