For the last couple of days I have been having a little exchange of short messages on www.youtube.com on a video entitled "I, omnivore."
I went on, carrying the vegan flag, explaining why it is that I feel eating meat is unethical. It deliberately causes unnecessary suffering and death. Therefore it is unjustified and therefore it is unethical.
Well, a poster responded saying something like "You don't get to decide for everyone what is ethical and what isn't."
How would you respond to this? Are ethics really arbitrary? Is "It's ethical because I say so" really a sound argument? If not, then what is it that ethics rest on? Why is it that we feel eating meat is unethical, while our omnivorous brethren do not? Is it really a matter of agreeing to disagree?
Could it be that the word "ethical" adds to the confusion? If ethics are so maleable and changeable according to culture, time, and different from person to person, then perhaps the conversation should focus on something else, something more specific and to the point, namely - justification. In other words, perhaps the conversation should really be whether or not eating meat is justifiable. My argument is that deliberately causing unnecessary suffering and death is unjustifiable. But then again, what's to prevent someone from saying "I disagree - it's justifiable. Because I say so. We'll have to agree to disagree." Where can the conversation go from there? Without objective morality, without a fixed and unchangeable code of what is right and wrong in perpetuity, is it really a mere matter of opinion that torturing and killing innocent animals is unjustified?