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Shells
Jan 19th, 2008, 03:13 PM
Hi everyone. I had a former Vegetarian of 17 years, Vegan of two years, and now proud meat eater question my decision to elminate animal product. I don't usually get angry at this when people ask, and I didn't get angry at her at the time. I don't want to put people off, or judge them, since I ate meat not a month ago!

But how do you respond to someone who says something so incredibly stalling without coming off like an overeducated twat?

What this person said to me when I mentioned my animal rights concerns was this:

"You're not anthropomorphizing too much, are you?"

As if this was some kind of mistake that hippie children make. At the time I just sort of said "No" weakly, but later on I did think of a response. That I don't subscribe to an anthropcentric ethic, that I don't see the only value in nature and animals to be how much they are like humans, that I don't believe in the assume superiority of humanity simply because that's "us."

But how would you respond to someone who simply assumes a certain ethical framework? Is there any way to break through and make any sense at all? I don't want to come off pretentious, because then no one can really hear you, but I don't know how to respond without tapping into my philosophic point of view.

On a similar a note, have you seen this article? It's beyond infuriating:

http://commentisfree.guardian.co.uk/brendan_oneill/2007/03/why_fur_is_humane.html

vava
Jan 19th, 2008, 03:40 PM
"You're not anthropomorphizing too much, are you?"



sounds like this was their experience - when you are vegetarian and vegan and then go back to the dark side you must have to make a very special reason for your 'lapse' surely. I would have said is this what happened to you then?

Shells
Jan 19th, 2008, 03:55 PM
You mean like, because someone convinced her how silly it was to care assume animals were worthy of our compassion, she now feels compelled to make sure people know just how silly it is to anthropomorphize so that she can appear justified?

That would definitely explain the superiority complex...!

twinkle
Jan 19th, 2008, 05:41 PM
How irritating! I wonder why she decided to eat meat again? And then make a comment like that? She must have had her share of similar comments and know how they come across!

ALexiconofLove
Jan 19th, 2008, 08:38 PM
Oh gosh, this always happens to me. I don't have an immediate response, but then I think of something five days later and there's no polite or sauve way to slip it into conversation. Boo.

I think the question of whether or not veg*ns anthropomrophize is an important one. Death is probably not the same for a dog as it is for a human... they probably DON'T sit around worrying about where they go after they die, contemplating the ephemerality of life, etc.... And if you kill a spider, its family probably doesn't miss it (because their family dynamics are very different from ours...). Omnis will think we are crazy if we literally equate the death of a human with the death of a spider. Or even if we equate the death of a dog with the death of a spider.

But of course your response (the one you thought of eventually!) was dead on. It doesn't matter that their experience of life or death or love or pain is different. Frankly, we will NEVER know exactly how they experience these things. What they do have in common with us is that they are concious (have a brain) and feeling (have nervous sytems), so it's wrong to kill them even if their experiences are vastly different from ours.


But how would you respond to someone who simply assumes a certain ethical framework? Is there any way to break through and make any sense at all? I don't want to come off pretentious, because then no one can really hear you, but I don't know how to respond without tapping into my philosophic point of view.

I don't know, I always sound like a jackass. I seem to have much better luck when I feed people vegan cupcakes and talk about the health benefits of going vegan. Obviously that's very frustrating since we don't go vegan for health and good food, but it gets the job done. My mother is now a psuedovegan (cheating vegan?) for health reasons, and if nothing else, that means fewer animals are being exploiting.... My fiance, on the other hand, was talking about going vegetarian for a while, and then I think I turned him off it by talking about animal rights and veganism too often. Should have just kept feeding him cupcakes. :(


On a similar a note, have you seen this article? It's beyond infuriating

I understand part of it: "I don't see what all the fur fuss is about. If it's okay to eat animals, hunt animals, keep animals as pets, and wear the hides of animals in the form of leather jackets and leather shoes, why is not okay to wear animals' fur too?"

In other words "If animals can be treated as property in a dozen other circumstances, why can they not be treated as property in this one circumstance?" And I think he's right. It doesn't make sense to eat meat and protest fur. The pet thing is a little iffy, as pets (like children) are treated by law as both property and living agents. I think he threw it in to confuse the veg*ns.

ALexiconofLove
Jan 19th, 2008, 08:44 PM
Sorry to double post, but I just saw this: "Only by housing chickens and livestock in factory-like spaces can we guarantee feeding millions of humans."

Yes, because keeping livestock is such an efficient use of resources!

Sluggie
Jan 19th, 2008, 09:15 PM
Jeremy Bentham put it succinctly (more than 200 years ago):

The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor "Can they think?" but "Can they suffer?"

You don't need to anthropomorphise an animal to acknowledge that it is just as capable as a human of feeling pain and fear. The argument that "they are not like us" bears an uncomfortable similarity to the justifications used in the eighteenth century and later to justify the enslavement of black people by whites.

Haniska
Jan 19th, 2008, 09:57 PM
Oh gosh, this always happens to me. I don't have an immediate response, but then I think of something five days later and there's no polite or sauve way to slip it into conversation. Boo.

I think the question of whether or not veg*ns anthropomrophize is an important one. Death is probably not the same for a dog as it is for a human... they probably DON'T sit around worrying about where they go after they die, contemplating the ephemerality of life, etc.... And if you kill a spider, its family probably doesn't miss it (because their family dynamics are very different from ours...). Omnis will think we are crazy if we literally equate the death of a human with the death of a spider. Or even if we equate the death of a dog with the death of a spider.

But of course your response (the one you thought of eventually!) was dead on. It doesn't matter that their experience of life or death or love or pain is different. Frankly, we will NEVER know exactly how they experience these things. What they do have in common with us is that they are concious (have a brain) and feeling (have nervous sytems), so it's wrong to kill them even if their experiences are vastly different from ours.



I don't know, I always sound like a jackass. I seem to have much better luck when I feed people vegan cupcakes and talk about the health benefits of going vegan. Obviously that's very frustrating since we don't go vegan for health and good food, but it gets the job done. My mother is now a psuedovegan (cheating vegan?) for health reasons, and if nothing else, that means fewer animals are being exploiting.... My fiance, on the other hand, was talking about going vegetarian for a while, and then I think I turned him off it by talking about animal rights and veganism too often. Should have just kept feeding him cupcakes. :(



I understand part of it: "I don't see what all the fur fuss is about. If it's okay to eat animals, hunt animals, keep animals as pets, and wear the hides of animals in the form of leather jackets and leather shoes, why is not okay to wear animals' fur too?"

In other words "If animals can be treated as property in a dozen other circumstances, why can they not be treated as property in this one circumstance?" And I think he's right. It doesn't make sense to eat meat and protest fur. The pet thing is a little iffy, as pets (like children) are treated by law as both property and living agents. I think he threw it in to confuse the veg*ns.


You're pretty neat:p
I wonder as well what all the fuss about animal rights is about (among meat eaters). Of course, every chip in their non-compassionate armor is something but still I get tired of hearing "Hunting is so cruel." Umm.. yeah its way worse than farming because the deer get to fugg and eat acorns all of their life.

There was a lady down in Florida that had her pot bellied pigs ears pierced and animal welfare actually prosecuted her for it. Its fine and dandy to eat pigs and dock dogs tails and crop their ears but DON'T pierce your pets ears in a practice that many humans do.
Actually, I tried to find that article online and couldn't. Maybe an urban legend? Spread by vegans?:D

harpy
Jan 19th, 2008, 10:50 PM
You don't need to anthropomorphise an animal to acknowledge that it is just as capable as a human of feeling pain and fear.

I agree with this, except I don't even think the animal needs to be "just as capable as a human", just "capable".

Shells, I would be tempted to put the ball back in your questioner's court by asking them why they think it's OK to eat a living creature that is not much like a human, since that's what their question implies.

Shells
Jan 20th, 2008, 02:39 AM
The problem I had with the article was the assumption that the domination of nature (and then likewise, all those who have been oppressed, women, ethnicities, etc.) is something to proud of, as if something only has worth if it's useful and exciting for humanity. That the domination and destruction of animal life is really doing it a favor, because otherwise it'd be totally pointless. Talk about anthropocentric!

harpy
Jan 20th, 2008, 11:53 AM
I agree. I suspect that article is one of those ones that they publish just in order to enrage readers and generate a huge postbag/amount of blog comments.

Also, when he says, "The anti-fur movement is motivated by a base and childish anthropomorphism; by a belief that animals have similar feelings to humans and thus should be protected from the pain and distress caused by the fur industry" he's making exactly the same error as your friend - the objection to using animals for fur etc doesn't depend on the idea that animals are like humans.

ALexiconofLove
Jan 20th, 2008, 04:02 PM
You're pretty neat:p

Thanks. :o You too! :D


I wonder as well what all the fuss about animal rights is about (among meat eaters). Of course, every chip in their non-compassionate armor is something but still I get tired of hearing "Hunting is so cruel." Umm.. yeah its way worse than farming because the deer get to fugg and eat acorns all of their life.

The hunting thing with omnis is so bizarre. I really prefer to hear that someone is eating hunted meat than farmed meat (still wrong, but at least the animal got to live its life naturally for a while...).

The only meat-eater I know with a position on animals that makes *any* logical sense is a Catholic who believes that animals have no souls and are therefor completely insignificant. While I disagree with her COMPLETELY, her viewpoint is consistent and logical given the premise (that people have souls and animals don't).

Then there's my boss. The other day she told me that she believes all animals have souls and go to heaven. How on earth can you believe that and eat animals? Then she was talking about how her yard has lots of bunnies in it, and she leans out the door and tells them to run away before she lets her cats out. Lady, what do you think is in the kitty kibble? Okay, not rabbits, but ANIMALS. She is a typical "animal lover" (feeds feral cats, worries about the geese in the winter, hopes people don't catch anything when they go hunting), but she has eaten meat every day at lunch the whole time I've been there. She says she understands my arguments, but just loves meat too much. Madness.

Of course, I was just like her a few months ago, so what do I know....

John
Jan 21st, 2008, 09:16 PM
One fallacy that flesh eaters often rely on is that intelligence has a positive correlation with capacity for suffering. For instance, while a human would suffer from living in a small cage it would be anthropomorphisizing to believe that an animal suffers under the same circumstances.

I believe that when we are discussing the suffering of other beings it is far better to err on the side of compassion and place the burden of proof on those who say that animals don't suffer as we do, since really, the only suffering I can comprehend absolutely is my own.

Haniska
Jan 22nd, 2008, 01:29 AM
My dad doesn't believe that animals have souls. Of course, he thinks that we are put on earth like, as a trial or test or something to see if we go to Heaven. I imagine he doesn't see animals as going through that same test. Actually, what he explained is that the reason for a soul is to go to Heaven and animals do not go to Heaven and therefore do not have a soul. You can tell that he has put thought in it and I do respect that. I told him that I believe that they have a soul because I cannot understand them having life or a personality without one. I saw this article in Reader's Digest about how part of our brain houses a place for God. I wonder do animals have the same thing? I maintain that animals do not have the intellectual capacity to not believe in God. Of course I have no proof of that and it makes me wonder about dolphins.

John
Jan 24th, 2008, 03:04 AM
^
So why should it matter if animals have souls or not? Having a soul is not a prerequisite for sentience. Sentience, by the way, is the ability to feel and does not mean self-awareness.

Roxy
Jan 24th, 2008, 07:14 AM
I believe that when we are discussing the suffering of other beings it is far better to err on the side of compassion and place the burden of proof on those who say that animals don't suffer as we do, since really, the only suffering I can comprehend absolutely is my own.

I have to agree with this.

Studies have been done to prove that animals have feelings and emotions and that they also feel physical pain.

Let them prove that it's not so. They can't.

ALexiconofLove
Jan 24th, 2008, 12:11 PM
^
So why should it matter if animals have souls or not? Having a soul is not a prerequisite for sentience. Sentience, by the way, is the ability to feel and does not mean self-awareness.

I don't know. I think from the Christian perspective, anything that does not have a soul is just a thing. Animals may seem to feel, think, etc., but they are really just complicated machines that respond to stimulus. They are pure matter, no spirit, so hurting them is not wrong. That's what I think the argument is, anyway.

I don't believe in souls, so I think we are all just complicated machines (pure matter) responding to stimulus. My logic is that it is still wrong to harm a complicated machine as long as that machine is sentient. We'll probably have to fight for robot rights in the distant future. :D

John
Jan 25th, 2008, 01:51 AM
^
I believe in souls. Whether our souls are immortal, however, I go back and forth on.

If I were a Christian and I believed that my soul was facing severe punishment for sin I wouldn't take any chances--especially not for a hamburger. But do Christians actually follow the Bible or do they use it to justify what they already believe--or want to believe?

Roxy
Jan 25th, 2008, 03:03 AM
I don't know. I think from the Christian perspective, anything that does not have a soul is just a thing. Animals may seem to feel, think, etc., but they are really just complicated machines that respond to stimulus. They are pure matter, no spirit, so hurting them is not wrong. That's what I think the argument is, anyway.



For those people who put forward that argument, I wonder why they don't go home and cut their pet dogs throat, let it bleed to death, then skin it and eat it. After all, according to them, their dog is just a compicated machine responding to stimulus. It has no spirit, so hurting it isn't wrong.

I can guarantee, there wouldn't be many people in the western world who would be willing to do that.

Shells
Jan 25th, 2008, 03:55 AM
All these "Christians" who think that animals are just machines with no souls apparantly aren't up their theology... animals have souls, generally, just not "rational" souls. Which, given the heavily Aristotelian basis of all the Abrahamic religions, means they don't have thumbs (ie, they can't make tools).

But souls they have. At least, according to St. Thomas, who's pretty much as canonical as you get.

My general feeling when people say things about the "foolishness of anthropomorphism" is that humans are incredibly arrogant. I'm in philosophy, and I've always felt a horrid tension with the fact that half of philosophy is spent mulling over what makes human so special, why we're better than animals, blah blah. I think there's a definite way to talk about man as a rational animal without all this superiority crap.

So really, when I hear about people laughing because "I think the animals are like us!" I just get boiled up - I don't think the animals are like "us", I just don't see how we aren't like them! What makes us think our desire for survival is anything more than instinct? Because we can rationally articulate that instinct.

Pfft. We're in bodies too, and that influences us just as much as our "rational" minds do - what exactly would we be without our phenomenological experience? Stuck in the Epoche - anonymous subjects, subjectless subjects. What's so wrong with our bodies, and the knowledge gotten through them? Why is it that we constanty need to reassert how much more awesome we are than creatures who really listen to their bodies and live in a natural way?

So... ah, rant over. Sorry. Anthropocentrism ticks me off.

Roxy
Jan 25th, 2008, 04:40 AM
I can tell! Good post though :D

Korn
Jan 25th, 2008, 05:21 AM
It's possible to respect someone (to the degree that you won't kill, abuse or eat them) even if we don't think they're similar to us. One doesn't even need to like someone to respect them. There's a number of vegans and animal rights activists that have said that they aren't even particularly interested in animals. The abuse and supression of animals till provoke them. NOT wanting to hurt or harm someone doesn't imply that you love them more than others do (let alone ascribing them certain characteristics) - it just requires a tiny bit of common sense, and the ability to feel...


The question is not, "Can they reason?" nor "Can they think?" but "Can they suffer?"

You don't need to anthropomorphise an animal to acknowledge that it is just as capable as a human of feeling pain and fear. It doesn't matter if they can reason or think - but personally, I also somewhat disagree in the focus on 'Can they suffer?', because it's about more than fear and suffering. If an overly drunk person suddenly would put his hand in my pocket, I wouldn't suffer, I probably wouldn't be a afraid either, but I'd simply tell him that I didn't want him to do it. Likewise, if some weirdo would take a scissor and cut off part of my hair while I was asleep, I wouldn't feel pain or be afraid (I wouldn't even know what he was doing, because I was asleep) - I still wouldn't want it to happen. It's about freedom, a natural sense of 'territory' and again - common sense. Someone else's skin, hair/fur, muscles, blood, eggs, legs, teeth, bones and mother's milk is their territory, not mine. That's why those 'Can fish feel pain?"-discussions IMO aren't really interesting, they probably can feel pain, but even if we didn't know or couldn't prove that they could, it's obvious that they don't want to be caught and killed.

Of course we should make someone suffer, but humans have been relying on their their own judgement, and not Google, for hundreds of thousands of years when trying to figure out if a eg. a fish enjoys being caught and killed, and since it definitely doesn't look like it does, is the neurological definition of 'pain and suffering really important? I don't think so, and we don't need to ascribe human characteristics to a fish to see that it does not want to be killed... This isn't about anthropomorphizing, and IMO discussing anthropomorphizing is a dead end.


Racism and speciesism is all about respecting someone only if they are similar to us, and the idea that vegans respect animals because we think they are 'human like' is just a misunderstanding. If a white person would agree to respect a black on the conditions that it could be proven that the black person was 'white-like', he would still be a racist.

If any living being would express any kind of interest in not being harmed, abused or caught, I'll leave it alone. I won't google it and check if it there's any scientific evidence that it is 'human like' or even sentient. It doesn't matter if it's an unknown creature inside an UFO (not that I have seen one!), a scallop, a stone with four legs or an unidentifiable object floating in the water that may or may not be sentient.

I'm not even interested in if someone thinks that 'it' has any rights or not: In a way I think the discussion about whether animals have rights or not (which eg. Peter Singer has been involved in, without claiming that animals have rights) - or if certain living beings are sentient - somewhat represents a dead end too, because someone can always claim that 'I disagree, I think xxx are inferior beings, I don't think xxx have any rights' and so on. What I know is that I don't think that I have rights to harm or catch someone who doesn't want it. This is based on something as simple as the fact that I wouldn't want anyone to harm me or keep me in a cave. (If anyone tried, I wouldn't be interested in whether they thought I were similar or 'equal to them or not.) The problem is that someone thinks it's OK to annoy someone as long as they are different from us.


My own sentience, my ability to feel and perceive things tells me that it feels wrong to harm it or act against it's will. I don't need any theoretical analysis of our degree if equal-ness. There's no need to ascribe human characteristics to an animal or ascribe white, European body characteristics and ideals to a Baka pygmy to not want keep animals or pygmies in caves, use their hair for making clothes or take their milk and give to our kids.

ALexiconofLove
Jan 25th, 2008, 01:02 PM
Anthropocentrism ticks me off.

Perfect! The next time someone says, "Don't you think you're anthropomorphizing?" I can say, "Don't you think you're anthropocentrizing?" Er... maybe not....

vava
Jan 25th, 2008, 01:06 PM
Perfect! The next time someone says, "Don't you think you're anthropomorphizing?" I can say, "Don't you think you're anthropocentrizing?" Er... maybe not....

I anyone asks you this question you look them square in the eye and say,"no!"
Nuff said.:)

emzy1985
Jan 27th, 2008, 08:33 AM
I have no idea what anthromorphizing means and have never even heard the word before - going to look up now!

As for the souls argument. I was recently helping out Emily on her essay and suggested that she write it on animal rights and religion. We came across an interesting theory about a story told in Bible where Jesus exorcises demons from a man/woman and sends them into a heard of pigs, which then goes crazy and commits suicide by jumping off a cliff. The theory goes along the lines of that if the animals didn't have souls, how could they be possessed by demons? Also how would they have any intelligence to know how to kill themselves.We also looked at whether Jesus was vegan, but this storey seemed to be in contrast to that - until we read another theory that Jesus did this to make a point about animals having souls. (Apparently Jesus and his Brother were both raised as vegans (something like they only partook of fruits, nuts and seeds)...again written in the Bible somewhere) That is written right there in the Bible. Maybe people need to read it more indepth.

As for Ex-Vegans - they obviously had no idea what they were being vegan for in the first place because when you truely know, you NEVER go back.