Originally Posted by erictheobscure
Even as a meat-eater, I disagree. Eating meat (in the first world, in which it's perfectly feasible to survive without eating meat) is hard to defend on simple, ethical grounds. Eating vegetables is not: plant life isn't sentient and we have little (not zero) evidence to believe that plants suffer pain. I think the assumptions in play in my own superficial summation are quite clear: it's ethically preferable to avoid causing sentient creatures pain when not necessary.
I think the responses below yours fall precisely into the category of facile raillery. The kind that tries to avoid the issue head-on. I know what the Bourdain-style response is: eating meat is good, pleasure is good, etc. But the substitution of aesthetic experience for ethical justification can't stand up to scrutiny.
FWIW, I think I might enter the contest, but if I do get around to writing a response, it'll be somewhat convoluted. I'm guessing Peter Singer will hate it; not sure what the other judges will think.
I'm not sure you could provide a moral argument that defends meat eating to everyone's satisfaction, but then I'm not sure you could provide an argument that defends anything
to everyone's satisfaction. The most you could do is show that something is consistent with the ethics we already abide by, but even then it will fail to persuade anyone not moved that particularly way. I suppose I have an apophatic attitude towards morality; I regard it as objective in the fact of its existence, but essentially numinous in nature.
Unfortunately, I think many people- particularly secularists who think they're forging a new path that will allow them to bypass the philosophical debates of old- accept it as axiomatic that what is moral
equates with what results in the least suffering. A little critical thought should show that this premise is not satisfactory. Even worse is when- in what should properly be a rights-based discussion- people assume this perverse, unspoken premise that the worth of a life is determined by how much something suffers in death.
I've never been able to pull myself away from the idea of a Rousseauian state of nature
as the moral gold standard, and the converse that anything that imposes on our natural state is immoral. In this light, the morality of eating meat doesn't require a defense, it's just the way things have always been
The punchline here is that I am a vegetarian, and have been since I was 14 (although the last few years I've started eating fish.) Even at my most dogmatic, however, I was always a vegetarian more for ecological than humanitarian reasons. I always accepted that it's man's natural station to eat animals; what's changed is not the morality of eating meat, but rather the ecological consequences of modern factory farms. I'm also not one of those obsessive, phobic vegetarians who think the world will end if I have a little meat (inorite herp derp). Just today I found out the Campbells soup I bought had meatballs in it, but I ate it anyway. Contrast this with my sister who wouldn't even eat leftovers from an overstocked (and delicious) catered buffet when everything was about to get thrown in the trash anyway.