Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Calling All Amateur Philosophers

Your philosophical question to debate today:

Vegetarians often claim that slaughtering livestock for meat is "cruelty." However, in general the livestock exists because we grow it to be eaten. With that in mind, answer me this:

Is it better for something to live a life of pain or to not exist at all?

(Other implications of this question could include the abortion debate, euthanasia, etc... in which case, are the standards different for humans than for other animals?)

Also, for those who were, like me, confused about the Israeli flag that a Ghanaian player displayed in the celebration after Ghana's second goal against the Czech Republic on Saturday: the flag-waver, defender John Pantsil, plays his club ball at Hapoel Tel Aviv in Israel and was giving his second home a shout-out. Spiffy.

4 comments:

OWM said...

do livestock live a life of pain? It seems they do what they would do in the wild. They eat, stand around, and then die. If anything they're killed quicker and with less pain by man then by nature.

For humans, I think its better to live for at least a little bit(even in pain) then to not exist at all. The experiance of life is by human standards the greatest gift. If you believe in a after life then to get there you have to live here, right? I'm too hung over for a philosophical comment. I'll probably change my mind in a few hours.

Here is a story from Khan on King of the Hill. A man was being chased by a lion and he fell down a cliff. He managed to grab ahold of a rock but when he looked down to see about climbing to the ground he saw a hungry tiger ready to eat. He looked back up and saw that hungry lion ready also to eat. He then looked over to his side and saw a single strawberry growing from a branch on the cliff. He plucked it off, ate it and it was the most delisicous thing he had ever eaten.

So to answer your question. Humans yes, life for a least a little bit. Animals, no idea. Not sure cause I'm not a cow. Though, being feed beer like they do in Japan, I may need to rethink that.

OH and for the record. Vegetarians make NO sense. The human body is designed to eat meat along with plants. Mythbusters did a experimant with growing plants while music was being played and all the plants that had music beat out the others that didn't in size and health(didnt' matter if it was rock to classical) So what does that mean. Plants like music? Does that mean they are a living being in some sense?

Ben said...

OWM, I'm not sure I understand your last paragraph at all!

To me, the issue is not whether it's better for something to live a life of pain or never exist....the issue is whether we have a RIGHT to make that decision for them.

When it comes to humans, we don't have the right to say "your life's too painful to be worth living, so I'm going to kill you." In the case of abortion, that rules out (in my mind) aborting an unborn child because of painful birth defects. This principle is a bit harder to apply in the case of euthanasia. Clearly, forced euthanasia under my principles is murder. But voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide......that brings up the separate issue of whether one has a right to end one's own life. I'm not sure what I believe in that one either way. My only point here is that we have no right to IMPOSE death on humans, even for humanitarian reasons.

With animals, it's different. Frankly, I believe nature exists for our benefit. Therefore, we have the right to kill and eat animals and the right to choose whether to end their painful lives.

Personally, I have no problem killing and eating animals BUT I do have a problem with causing them needless suffering. For instance, contrary to OWM's assertion, some animals are made to live under very painful conditions before being killed. Many factory farms, for instance, keep pigs cooped up their entire lives inside boxes too small for the pig to even turn around. Such a life is physically uncomfortable and causes the pigs needless distress (as judged by the fact that they start to chew endlessly on the metal bars in front of them even as it damages their mouths).

With power comes responsibility and all that jazz. While I believe nature exists for our benefit, there are 2 caveats: (1) There's no cause to be needlessly cruel. (2) We must preserve nature for the benefit of future generations.

Ok, that's enough for now. Back to studying for the Bar Exam.

OWM said...

Sorry Ben, I guess you haven't known me long enough to understand one of my paragraphs when I fail to actually finish the point. My point is if a plant grows better with music(something that isn't needed for its life like water, soil, sunlight) couldn't you make at the least a weak argument that it is more then just alive. I mean what else could the music do other then make the plant "happy" in a sense. Maybe its capable of thought in a simple way. Would it then be right to eat it. Mike was telling me about this group that only eats the things that fall off of plants so they don't harm the actual plant. That makes the most sense of all the nonmeat eating groups. Weak argument but how do we know if the plant doesn't have thought. Basically, if your gonna stop with meat you might as well go all the way just to be safe.

Barzelay said...

I come down strongly on the side that it's better to live a life of pain than not to live at all. Don't take that too far, though; I'm still pro baby-killing.

OWM, you say that animals in captivity do the same things they would do in the wild. Well, I'll buy that, arguendo, but then how is that any different for humans?

When humans are imprisoned, they still eat, sleep, dream, sit around, and try to fill their time with whatever tasks they can. They still strive toward goals, make friends, form social relationships, and think about why we're here. I don't quite see the difference. The one exception I can see is procreation--but even that disappears with conjugal visits.