Even if you assume the lives of farm animals to be worth living (according to your standards?), it is still the sign of an optimization failure. Surely farm animals aren't the best possible causal vector to maximize happiness in the universe? They are a by-product of something else, namely sustenance for interesting human lives, which means there is waste in the process of sustaining interesting human lives, which means that a better system without animals could potentially sustain a greater number of interesting human lives.

Alternatively, maybe you just want to maximize your own happiness, and screaming animals make you uncomfortable? Then do exactly what you have to do in order to discharge those emotions, at minimal cost.

In the spirit of Eliezer Yudkowsky and Katja Grace, find out what best approximates your values and then be efficient about implementing them. Don't rationalize sub-par optimization and don't pretend efficiency is a bad thing. Claiming the existence of farm animals is good because their lives are worth living implies that this is the best available way of creating lives worth living, and that hypothesis is unlikely to hold true upon critical examination.

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I don't think i'm so much ambivalent as I just accept that nobody's suffering really matters until it's personal. You make a personal connection and it's going to matter to you. Otherwise it's just a drop in the bucket. Genocide wipes out a whole people and I don't lose any sleep. My best friend gets killed and I mourn for a month.

In general none of this stuff matters ("feelings" or cruelty or whatever). What matters is when you get into the strange additives used to help make the most money out of the slaughter and their eventual bad side-effects on the consuming population. This is more related to the general trend of food-tampering that's been going on for decades though.

I have a question which I don't think anyone has an answer for: is my food safe? If it isn't, why the fuck are we eating it?

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If this were true, it implies you should not care about the well-being of most far-away people.

If you think that way, you should also find it acceptable to breed a genetic branch of humans that wouldn't otherwise exist, then slaughter those people in their prime, and serve them in restaurants.

A simple way to create a genetic branch of humans for food, that wouldn't otherwise exist, would be to pay a substantial amount to a bunch of pregnant women who would otherwise abort their babies.

If you don't care about the animals' well being, and you don't believe that there's a magical difference between human animals and other animals, then you should be fine with such a branch of humans being used for other humans' food.

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I agree, MoN. I think everyone who eats meat should slaughter a mammal at least once. I've rarely met a hunter who didn't have a very great respect for the animals they pursued and ate.

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I would change the last point to shift the focus away from spending and onto consumption

I.e. We provide a minimum level of comfort to animals we plan to eat, regardless of cost; if that means we end up eating fewer animals because meat becomes expensive, so be it.

Also, we should encourage meat-eaters to "do the deed" themselves before allowing them to outsource the task to butchers. This would, at least, help limit the absolute level of hypocrisy by forcing the issue (i.e. change habits or beliefs)

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And in fact the number of people who claim in public to be vegetarians is greater than the number of practicing vegetarians. Saying "I'm a vegetarian" may be a weak signal but it is still used that way.

Nonetheless, I agree, the more compelling reason to adopt vegetarianism is not moral consistency (or health) but sustainability. I don't care if a wolf kills a deer or a hunter kills a deer, unless the deer is endangered. It's factory farming, overfishing, hunting to extinction that could be avoided.

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Identity, politics, identity politics, and somewhere desire.

It gets to a point where one has to defend the politics for taking a piss - behind a bush, in an alley, in a public restroom, in your own bathroom - indoor or outhouse. That my need to take a piss should be weighed by my peer collective, culture, community and society as a whole as to when I should, how I should, where I should and sometimes with who - whether as to arguments for privacy, communal joints unisex or not, and perhaps even erotic and intellectual sports.

It's nothing.

Maybe someone better suited can debate the economic impact and solutions rather than pulling on moral and ethical strings or social nazism of the current green trend.

Personally, I'm for solyent green as a recommendation for a sustainable future.

But eh, likewise I am also lost on the arguments of.

I eat what I eat because I have a desire to and to promote survival. It's my selfish need - which arguably could be the need to eat at all.

I'd be keen to say my politics aren't dictated by my diet, my diet isn't dictated by my politics. But thinking on it... maybe it truly was a manifesto in the making in protest of VeggieTales or an herbivore fursuit fetish.

Yeah, what was the argument here...?

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Both your current actions and your current principles can embody relevant info about what you should do - it is only if you thought your actions completely uninformative would you want to rely only on your principles.

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Let us seek principles that can account for most of our acts, ...In other words, let's rationalize our actions away. Actually, though, there are two ways to take this: prescriptive and descriptive. If this curious way to start is prescriptive, meaning if it is supposed to actually be a respectable belief on what we should do, this can't be defensible because it starts with the assumption that current practice is correct. But whether we should continue current practice is actually the question. It is theoretically permissible to justify current practice, but not this way. We can all think of examples in history where starting with the assumption that we should justify current practice would go astray (human sacrifice, slavery, holocaust, etc.)

And if these principles more or less just describe what we do, so that we can formalize our actions and maybe cut out a tiny bit of the worst ones, then it's of course not really an answer to whether we *should* eat meat, since the latter is a prescriptive question. One would instead end up with descriptive principles, merely generalized behavioral observations that have no moral impact. It's not really a compromise, just principles that fits most of the behavioral data with an unargued for prescriptive assumption that these principles should be continued. In other words, the whole idea that this is a compromise is never truly defended.

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How kind and compassionate is it to be nice to an animal...up to the point you kill it?

Defining a meat animal based on intelligence...then why don't we eat retarded people?

Some of us are vegetarians for reasons that have nothing to do with concern for animal welfare. Or health. We abstain based on environmental degradation. Becoming a vegetarian is more effective than the top ten sustainable strategies COMBINED. At best, most will drive a hybrid, buy better lightbulbs, recycle their trash or bring their own bags and call it good. Few are willing to make substantive life style changes and go against the grain of culture and family norms. You become an outcast. Who wants to signal that? Assuming you could. Speaking of, Tim wrote:

“vegetarianism is not about animals – it’s about holier-than-thou signalling – to illustrate to each other what saintly creatures we are”.I've written quite a bit about this. You can't effectively signal your vegetarian status. You can signal you care about sustainability whilst tooling around in your Prius; perfect strangers will think you're hip. Diet is private. At best, your family and friends know. Diners at the next table won't know or care. I've long argued that were it possible to signal your vegetarian status to perfect strangers, the number of vegetarians would dramatically increase.

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I agree with the post and djcb that if we consider the issue at all we have to become vegetarian or change our our principles. As someone who cares about truth, as any academic or curious mind should, it seems silly to me to change my principles in such an intellectually dishonest way. I think anyone who enjoys learning and knowledge should be committed to truth almost like a vow, and therefore as a corollary would probably become vegetarian/vegan as these positions are, to my mind, objectively stronger.

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Evan, that's pretty insightful and very rationally written! Thumbs up.

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In the past sixty years $2.3 trillion have been spent by the West to fight poverty in poor countries,with little success ,probably due to over reliance on top down management of the programs. Source of information:"The White Man's Burden" by William Easterly.

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I don't really enjoy any of the other species as companions. Thus, the "eating pets" contradiction has no weight with me. Bring on the posintang.

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Agree with Robin; non-vegetarians that want to be consistent with their moral values regarding the killing of animals either have to become vegetarians or have to admit that they find far-away non-cute animals not really *that* important.

However, vegetarians/vegans (for animal-right reasons, not Hitler) probably have an interesting problem as well in determining the relative rights of, say, cows, fish, insects, bacteria. I understand that there is some discussion on the use of insects (honey, silk). It seems that one who worries about insects would also be on the pro-life side in the abortion debate, or?

Maybe all of this will become moot when so-called in-vitro meat hits the mainstream.

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I really enjoyed the recent South Park episode about whaling. It points out the bizarreness of Americans being angry at Japanese for killing dolphins when they slaughter millions of cows. American culture embraces hamburgers while some cultures of India see cows as valued and not to be slaughtered. Who's right?

I've never understood this. Americans think that the Vietnamese custom of eating dog as barbaric and worship their pets but killing chickens and pigs is fine. The horse nuts in California made it illegal to kill a horse or even use a dead horse for meat. Yet these same ranchers drive around with "Beef: Its whats for dinner" bumper stickers.

So is it just what creature is cuter? I'm for consistency. Kill all animals or kill none. Meat eaters who cry about dolphins being slaughtered for meat need to choose a side and stop being hypocritical.

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