The Instigator
Caploxion
Pro (for)
Losing
4 Points
The Contender
kbub
Con (against)
Winning
18 Points

It should be considered morally wrong to kill sentient animals for their meat

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 6 votes the winner is...
kbub
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/29/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,107 times Debate No: 43104
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (42)
Votes (6)

 

Caploxion

Pro

Should it be considered morally wrong to kill sentient animals for their meat?

Firstly, before I even go into the stipulations of this debate, I would like to set the definition of sentience:

Awareness; feelings

A cow is sentient because it can become aware of you stroking it gently, and perhaps feel good as a result. A cockroach is not sentient as it may or may not be aware that you’re standing over it (it can sense you, yes), but it certainly would not, as far as we know, feel good when you stop standing over it (i.e. insects are animals, but not sentient animals).

I would like to make the reasonable assumption that animals do suffer, and not have to get into lengthy discussion as to whether a dog yelps when struck on the head with a shovel because it is suffering, or whether a cow might not suffer when being skinned alive (without the external influence of drugs). I think it is generally accepted that animals suffer (at least the sentient ones), so I am going to make this part of the assumed information for this debate, especially so we don’t waste time.

4 rounds, 2 weeks voting, 48 hrs to respond

First round for acceptance
Second and third for arguments and counter-arguments as you see fit
Last round for summary and counter-arguments (no new arguments)


Any questions about changing the rules for this debate should be asked in the comments section prior to debate, or else you are bound by the rules set.

I wish for my opponent to be challenging so that we will both enjoy this debate.
kbub

Con

I hereby accept this debate. I certainly agree that under most conditions killing another in order to gain their meat is ghastly, and factory farms are among the greatest atrocities homo sapiens have ever committed.

I am however excited about this subject. My opponent goes first of course, but I will be talking about one or more specific sets of scenarios where killing for another's meat can be acceptable. I think I already hinted at one possibility in the comments section. Anyway, I'm looking forward to my opponent's arguments!
Debate Round No. 1
Caploxion

Pro

I thank my opponent, kbub, for accepting this debate. I understand that my opponent has a specific line of argument in mind, but I'll address it once it has been argued.


Suffering is bad

Suffering, in itself, is a bad thing. This can be determined by simply asking any sentient, rational being the question: "in a world where there is only suffering and non-suffering, which would you prefer?" Some may argue that suffering can be good if it means to strengthen character, or if to suffer less in the long-run. However, without any kind of context, with this dichotomy, we can determine that no rational being would ever pick suffering over non-suffering. Thus, suffering is bad (unless there is reason to suffer).

Animal suffering is bad

Animals that have meat, like humans, have feelings. If it is bad that a human is suffering to an extent, than it is equally that if another animal is suffering to that same extent. It is irrelevant how intelligent the animal is, whether it did something silly to make itself suffer, or how much ‘better’ humans are than other animals (humans are animals too). It is the suffering that is bad, and as to whom or what is suffering is of no consequence.

I will now argue that the suffering simply isn’t required. So, specifically, let’s look at Hilal meat were it is a requirement that the animal suffer before death (the slicing of the throat, followed by a draining of blood etc.). Clearly, the suffering inflicted of zero benefit (religious benefit, to be precise) and could be avoided by putting the animal to sleep beforehand. Thus, when it comes to the mass consumption of animal meat, suffering should never be a requirement in terms of both morality and practicality.

Killing animals is morally wrong

Let’s say that there was a woman sleeping, and that you found yourself hungry. So, you inject her with a poison that causes her no suffering, but kills her. You then begin to eat her, which was the reason for you killing her. It this moral? Clearly, it is not, because of the imposition on another sentient creature’s life for personal gain. If the woman was killed so that she may suffer less, and that she gave consent in a stable state-of-mind, then that killing could be considered moral, but such was far from the case. Similarly, putting a cow to sleep before killing it is not moral, as it is imposing on its life for personal gain and without consent.

Therefore, killing animals for their meat, under any circumstance, is immoral and should be considered as such.


Non-human animals do not have rights

This seems to be a favourite counter-argument of my opponents', and it is in fact a straw-man of my position. I will now demonstrate it to be a straw-man.

Animals not having rights means that animals do not have basic human liberties (the right to vote, freedom of speech etc.). However, it is not from having a right that a non-human animal should not receive suffering, rather, it is by experiencing suffering and having humans recognise that it is suffering do we, as humans, have a moral obligation to prevent suffering wherever we see. Suffering, by itself, is always bad, regardless of what or whom is experiencing it. Furthermore, if the non-human animal were put to sleep and killed, then the imposition on life would be immoral as the non-human animal would surely resist death should it have been awake and understanding of the impending death, meaning that it has not consented.

With the context of being required to be eaten in order to sustain human life, humans still understand the burdens of suffering and imposition on life they could inflict, therefore it remains immoral to kill a non-human animal for personal gain.



Conclusion

Killing animals for their meat can bring suffering to the animal, which makes the act wrong. It is also wrong to impose death upon another sentient creature without consent and for personal gain, which should make it immoral even if the animal is asleep (i.e. a lack of pain does not mean that an animal is consenting or that taking advantage of it is justified). It is from human capacity to understand suffering and imposition that we are morally obliged to act in accordance; non-human animals do not have 'rights' per say, but they do have sentience which should be respected.
kbub

Con

Thanks again to Pro for the excellent topic and first case. Without further ado, I would like to concede most of my opponent's first round, including her/his analysis on "suffering is bad," "animal suffering is bad," and MOST of "killing animals is morally wrong," as well as the strawman argument that "nonhuman animals do not have rights" really is. The parts where I oppose my opponent should be readily apparent by the end of this round.

I will launch a four-pronged attack. The first will be that there are cases where killing for one's meat is not morally wrong. My first round will outline three such cases:
1. Euthanasia plus giving up one's body for consumption (I am ready to defend both euthanasia and cannibalism)
2. Starvation
3. Ignorance

These three cases operate as if my opponent's ideas on morality are acceptable. The latter two, while not being morally good, are at least ambiguous enough not to labeled as a "moral wrong."

My final (at least this round) contention will deal with my opponent's use of "morality." I will argue:
1. Moral binaries are problematic. Animal executions and cruelty is a complex phenomenon that can't be divided into "good" vs. "evil" or "morally good" vs "morally wrong." In fact, approaching the topics in this way may be bad for animal rights.
2. By arguing for the labeling "morally wrong," my opponent holds people to some standard of "moral rightness," and attacks deviating from that standard. This moral right/wrong divide categorically excludes people into ingroups and outgroups--a divide that structures systematic oppression including the oppression of non-human animals.

Euthanasia-meat
One must be careful not to generalize too broadly a wrong, such as "killing." Under certain circumstances, aiding in one's death may be morally admirable, or at least not morally wrong. One such admirable circumstance is allowing one to die immediately rather than living a few extra weeks in order to benefit one's family or friends. Allowing oneself to die sooner in order to save their family potentially millions of dollars. This is an example of selflessness sacrifice that should be honored, rather than labeled a "moral wrong."

In an extra step of selflessness, one may wish to donate her body for the sustenance of others. This step may be justified for several reasons: for one thing, one ought to be able to do with one's body what one will. While some choose to bury their bodies in coffins, while others prefer to burn their bodies, neither of these options particularly benefit those the deceased person left behind. Allowing her body to be eaten gives substance to others, whether these others are human or non-human animals.

Calling the eating of one's body after death a "moral wrong" is ethnocentric, rejecting a particular cultural acceptance of eating human flesh for the classic European disgust of the same. In fact, giving up one's body is a brave decision, and allowing others to be benefited after death is an example of moral bravery. Jesus effectively allowed himself to be killed to benefit others according to the Christian/literary tradition: Most would agree that this was a moral right. Allowing oneself to die quickly (killing oneself, a sentient being) for meat in this case is an example of moral goodness.

Starvation:
If one were to kill oneself in order to use one's body to save a starving friend, she/he would be doing a moral good.

If one were to kill another to save a starving self, this may not be a moral good, but we should not be so quick as to judge her/him as committing a moral wrong. This is a move of desperation, a moral gray area.

Ignorance:
I would not hold a child responsible for eating meat in a culture that condones eating meat. This is the same for adults who never encounter animal rights arguments. Blaming such persons is not helpful to the vegetarian/vegan movement. Instead, one should seek to educate, not condemn. Thus, these persons' eating meat should not be considered a moral wrong but an unfortunate act of ignorance that ought to be remedied through education. We ought to change these things; blaming is in this case unnecessary and unhelpful to the cause of change.

Moral Binaries: See above. I will elaborate next round. (Unfortunately I need to travel during the next 24 hours).

Moral Right/Wrong
Moral "Wrongness" implies a deviation from a moral "Rightness." This particular label endorses only a select in-group, based on anthropocentric, ethnocentric ideologies. If one group of people is "right" and the other is "wrong" (deviant), then one set of social values is raised above all others. This subscribing to only particular cultural norms automatically in effect assigns epistemology preference for a particular culture and a particular species. This shuts out the voices of minority values (such as cannibalism), and the values of other species. Let me be clear: It is fine to hold particular beliefs, but to categorize the behavior of others a "right" or "wrong" (deviant) devalues the less empowered or minorities. It is this same ignoring the values of the oppressed/minorities that has caused homo sapiens to ignore the plight of non-human animals in the first place.

My opponent could have said that killing sentient animals for their meat is "hypocritical," "problematic," "an enormous disservice to the inherent value in the sentient animals," or any other number of word combinations; however, by choosing to talk about "moral wrongness" by opponent unintentionally structures the same mentality that has caused non-human animal oppression in the first place. We should stop talking about moral wrongness and rightness so that we can better engage with and change the problematic societal structures instead of reinforcing them.

The above arguments suggest exceptions to "moral wrongness" and also attacks moral wrongness in general. Notice that my exceptions still minimize suffering, and actually seems to create a better world than the kind my opponent advocates.

Thanks for reading! Looking forward to my opponent's response.
Debate Round No. 2
Caploxion

Pro

I concede the debate mid-way through my response. However, I offer rebuttals for arguments that I think are weak.


Euthanasia-meat

“Under certain circumstances, aiding in one's death may be morally admirable, or at least not morally wrong. One such admirable circumstance is allowing one to die immediately rather than living a few extra weeks in order to benefit one's family or friends. Allowing oneself to die sooner in order to save their family potentially millions of dollars.”

This is not to kill a sentient creature for his/her meat.


“In an extra step of selflessness, one may wish to donate her body for the sustenance of others. This step may be justified for several reasons: for one thing, one ought to be able to do with one's body what one will.”

Yes, in an extra step, one may wish to donate. But, as to the reason for killing herself, this is only an afterthought, rather than the reason for killing herself.

“Calling the eating of one's body after death a "moral wrong" is ethnocentric, rejecting a particular cultural acceptance of eating human flesh for the classic European disgust of the same.”

We’re not arguing as to what is ethical in some cultures; morality, in this case, is founded via logical framework.

“In fact, giving up one's body is a brave decision, and allowing others to be benefited after death is an example of moral bravery. Jesus effectively allowed himself to be killed to benefit others according to the Christian/literary tradition: Most would agree that this was a moral right. Allowing oneself to die quickly (killing oneself, a sentient being) for meat in this case is an example of moral goodness.”

Jesus didn’t die so that he can be eaten; this isn’t relevant to the debate.

Starvation:
“If one were to kill oneself in order to use one's body to save a starving friend, she/he would be doing a moral good.”

I think that this is a sufficient argument which I cannot overcome – I concede this debate. I will fix my resolution so that there is a consent clause, otherwise these kind of arguments will force a loss. I wanted to see if there was a way to argue round this, but I can’t think of anything other than using word games and straw-mans. I will continue to offer rebuttals to the rest of my opponent’s arguments, as I think that some of them are ill-founded.

Basically, I think that if you consent to be eaten for your meat, then killing for your meat would be moral – I have no worthwhile counter-argument to this.

Ignorance:
“I would not hold a child responsible for eating meat in a culture that condones eating meat.”

Eating meat =/= killing for the meat

“This is the same for adults who never encounter animal rights arguments.”

It should be considered morally wrong for… meaning that it isn’t for various reasons, but it should be seeing as it is logical.

“Thus, these persons' eating meat should not be considered a moral wrong but an unfortunate act of ignorance that ought to be remedied through education.”

It is a moral wrong regardless, and my arguments do not imply that we blame them for not knowing, rather that we label their actions as morally wrong.




Moral Right/Wrong

“If one group of people is "right" and the other is "wrong" (deviant), then one set of social values is raised above all others.”

It is through doing the moral thing that, in that instance, you are moral. It is not that a group of people are moral by default, rather that they do moral things, hence the label. This is not “subscribing to only particular cultural norms”, rather it is subscribing to moral framework that is logically consistent. I think you are confusing ‘ethics’ with ‘morals’, in that ethics are cultural norms, whilst morals are not necessarily.





“Notice that my exceptions still minimize suffering, and actually seems to create a better world than the kind my opponent advocates.”

The resolution involves evaluating the moral imperative of avoiding the killing of sentient creatures for their meat, not the suffering; the suffering is a reason for the moral imperative, but it is not the moral imperative itself.

I concede

kbub

Con

Thanks for the lovely debate! It was certainly fun making the arguments. Thanks also for telling me that you concede rather than letting the clock run down.

Would you like to continue the debate on the other points for fun, or just allow the debate to stop? If not, would it be possible to just say something random to waste the rest of the rounds and run down the clock?

Thanks again for the great debate!
--kbub
Debate Round No. 3
Caploxion

Pro

I don't care either way. I've provided criticism of your other arguments, should you wish to address any of it is up to you.
kbub

Con

Eh. I suppose we can save that for next time :) Thanks again for the debate. We should do it again.
Debate Round No. 4
42 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by kbub 2 years ago
kbub
Oh, so sorry Buckethead31594, it looks like I misinterpreted your comment completely! Now I think I understand the spirit of what you were saying.
Posted by Buckethead31594 2 years ago
Buckethead31594
@kbub, yes, I agree with you completely. I was merely remarking upon the observation that we will never know for certain unless it is proven for us. Like most things, all we can do is observe and have faith that they are sentient to some degree.
Posted by kbub 2 years ago
kbub
@Buckethead31594 I understand! But don't you think that waiting for animals to speak a human language to prove sentience would be a bit unfair to nonhuman animals? I think it strange that the one requirement for animals to prove that they shouldn't be mercilessly tortured and killed is the one argument we know they can't complete.

Baby humans cannot speak, but we assume that they are sentient. You might also have to accept on faith that someone who does not speak English is sentient, though of course there are other ways of finding that out. Animals communicate with one another, protect each other, feel pain, sometimes use tools, and carry out complex tasks. Coming up with an arbitrary and entirely human argument for sentience such as following human semantic constructs would be like a mosquito believing that humans aren't sentient because they have a poor flying ability. (See my satire X^D here: http://www.debate.org...).

Even if the animals did tell you they are sentient, you would still have to base your actions off of beliefs. It would be wrong for humans to simply take the skills that evolution cause them to think are important and expect them to apply to other species. As Wittgenstein says (paraphrase): "Even if a lion spoke English you still couldn't understand her." They live in entirely different worlds, with entirely different evolutionary imperatives. Simply because they don't accel as well in skills humans value doesn't mean they are inferior, or that their perspectives don't matter. They are not inferior, but are simply different (though they do suffer, and even go insane through factory farm treatment/torture). We have no reason to ignore the sufferings of those who are different.
Even if they were inferior at human skill, what about humans who are inferior at human skills. Are they also inferior? Non human animals communicate with their species well; why must they communicate with ours to that deg
Posted by Buckethead31594 2 years ago
Buckethead31594
We have no basis for which to conclude that animals are sentient- not until they tell us themselves. Although we can observe and perceive what we think to be sentience; all we can do is assume. I personally believe that animals are sentient to some degree, but that is all I have- belief.
Posted by Caploxion 2 years ago
Caploxion
@wrichcirw

That's a nice idea that I should seriously consider, thank you :)
Posted by wrichcirw 2 years ago
wrichcirw
lol.

@PRO:

Recommend hosting "no scoring" debates. I have a very similar viewpoint about debating as you do, and have found that it works quite well. You can view some of my debates to see how it has worked out...the quality of the opposition is not relevant to whether or not the debate is scored, and it allows you the flexibility to hone arguments and forfeit points if you so desire without...negativity, lol.
Posted by kbub 2 years ago
kbub
For what it's worth, I didn't consider it a waste of time in the least!
Posted by Caploxion 2 years ago
Caploxion
I tested the idea to the point where it was no longer logical. Of course I'm going to re-do the debate, because I can see the error in logic and have made amends. You continue whine about how much of a waste of time it was, but imagine if I were to argue under the pretense that my argument was sound. For one, it clearly wouldn't be, and any victory that would result would be an error on my opponent's behalf. For a second, I would have to be insane to seriously argue for something which I do not hold to be true. Sure, I wasted some of my opponent's time, yet I realised that I was going to waste more of his time by continuing, and thus I conceded in the hope of saving time, effort and dignity.

This is the first time I have conceded a debate, so don't suggest that I want to waste everyone's time by starting and soon ending multiple debates. I have told you that I want to argue these through, but I don't want to do so when I know I have lost.
Posted by Zaradi 2 years ago
Zaradi
But the problem with that is you're not even testing the idea out. You even said down in the paragraph where you concede that you're just going to re-do it except caveat the resolution to avoid that situation. That doesn't test anything except the patience of the person you're debating because you turned the debate into an even bigger waste of time than it was before without any kind of gain since you're just tryin to skirt around the issues that you don't know how to respond to.

And people care less about their records than you think. It doesn't help that doing a single debate and losing automatically puts you with a better record than ~80% of the site.

Trust me: if you put your arguments on the forums here, you're going to get people to discuss it with. It'll work out a lot better than you doing this until you run out of scenarios you have to re-make the resolution to preclude out of.
Posted by Caploxion 2 years ago
Caploxion
There is no better test of a idea than debate. Debate is an incentive for my opponents to actually care about their arguments, as their records are on the line. Mere discussion often leaves people agreeing with each other too frequently, and thus are less productive in evaluating the value of an idea. I had numerous conversations with people before I placed my argument within the debate arena (all of which I seemed to argue adequately). It's not like I had one or two good ideas, and from that, I thought was sufficient for a debate.
6 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Vote Placed by funwiththoughts 2 years ago
funwiththoughts
CaploxionkbubTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession.
Vote Placed by Grayneer 2 years ago
Grayneer
CaploxionkbubTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Simple. You will never be able to break the food chain.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 2 years ago
wrichcirw
CaploxionkbubTied
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Reasons for voting decision: graceful concession.
Vote Placed by MassiveDump 2 years ago
MassiveDump
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession. My remarks were premature and unnecessary, and I apologize.
Vote Placed by Ragnar 2 years ago
Ragnar
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Reasons for voting decision: Concession. ... A half hearted weird one, designed to drag things out; but still a concession.
Vote Placed by Zaradi 2 years ago
Zaradi
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Reasons for voting decision: I still don't really see why pro conceded but....yeah. It happened. Damm.