The Instigator
xxXChelseaXxx
Pro (for)
Losing
18 Points
The Contender
Valladarex
Con (against)
Winning
26 Points

The consumption of meat is ethically wrong

Do you like this debate?NoYes+16
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 10 votes the winner is...
Valladarex
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/6/2013 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 10,246 times Debate No: 33327
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (163)
Votes (10)

 

xxXChelseaXxx

Pro

Greetings Valladarex,

Here is the debate!

Ethics: normatively to refer to a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons.

Outlines:

- First round acceptance, just so I can outline everything (you can briefly outline your arguments if you want to).

- 4 rounds because of the outlining in the first.

- No new arguments in the last round.

- The burden of proof is 100% with me.

- Prepare to have your arguments demolished

Good luck!
Valladarex

Con

I accept, and I'd like to thank Chelsea for allowing me to debate this topic. I hope for another great debate!

As you have the burden of proof, I will be brief with the introduction.

Beliefs:

-Animals outside of humans do not deserve the rights of a person, since the holders of rights must be able to distinguish between their own interests and what is right. As professor Carl Cohen argues, "The holders of rights must have the capacity to comprehend rules of duty governing all, including themselves. In applying such rules, [they] ... must recognize possible conflicts between what is in their own interest and what is just. Only in a community of beings capable of self-restricting moral judgments can the concept of a right be correctly invoked." (1)

-I also agree with his response to the contention that brain-damaged individuals deserve rights as well. His response is that the test for moral judgment "is not a test to be administered to humans one by one," but should be applied to the capacity of members of the species in general.

-Since animals should not be given the inherent rights of a person (and therefore not the right to life), people should determine what rights they should have on a human needs/desires vs animal suffering basis. I believe that killing animals for consumption can be justifiable since it is valuable to us, and our need/desire of eating meat trumps the suffering of those other species.

-I believe that there should still be laws against animal torture as it has no value to humans outside of the pleasure of a few sick individuals. This pleasure doesn't trump the suffering that is inflicted.

-There should be regulations to ensure that animal farms are as humane as possible, so as to ensure a maximum net value for the suffering caused.

With my beliefs outlined, you may now outline your arguments for the motion. I look forward to Round 2!


1. http://spot.colorado.edu...


Debate Round No. 1
xxXChelseaXxx

Pro

My line of argument will be as follows:


1. Suffering is bad
2. Animal suffering is bad
3. There are ethical arguments for the preservation of life amongst humans
4. Even if the suffering of harvesting animals could be nullified, the imposition on life in unethical
5. In regards to suffering and impositions on sentient life, there can be no distinction made between humans and other sentient, feeling creatures
6. As meat can only be obtained by imposing suffering and or a restriction on sentient life, by extension, the consumption of meat is ethically wrong unless the suffering can be justified



Suffering is bad

In a sense, you cannot derive an is from an ought. So, objectively speaking, suffering itself is not inherently bad. However, there can be an objective truth derived relative to the intersubjective spectrum. In other words, everyone will agree that, by itself, suffering is bad. Perhaps if there are 'rewards' for suffering, notions tied into 'character building' or 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger', then there would be a reason (which themselves seem to be based on avoiding suffering, something I will explain next). So, purely by itself, based on what everyone feels/thinks, suffering is bad.

In regards to character building, humans have these notions because humans think that suffering is bad; by becoming 'stronger' (which is thinking that the suffering isn't that bad), we can deal with life better and experience less suffering. To demonstrate this idea, say a man suffers a scratch to the face from a rose bush as he treks through the jungle. If he were to sit down and cry, you wouldn't think he was very strong. The fact is that crying won't make the pain go away. However, the man can suffer less if he thinks that the pain isn't anything to worry about. This is the placebo effect in action (the mind changing the severity of the pain). So, character building is a method used to experience less suffering in painful circumstances engineered on the fact that everyone thinks suffering is bad. To put it another way, character building does not make suffering good, it only makes it less bad.


Animal suffering is bad

I suppose that I must first affirm that animals (specifically ones with meat) can experience suffering. From Richard Dawkins himself: "I conclude that we have no general reason to think that non-human animals feel pain less acutely than we do." [1] While this does not explicitly say that animals can feel pain, it is heavily implied as it an assumed premise for what he said. I know that this isn't the best evidence, but Valladarex essentially concedes this point in his outline, thus I think it would be waste of time to search for further evidence.

By extension of my first premise (suffering is bad), it follows that animal suffering is also bad. It is of no consequence the exact nature of what entity experiencing suffering -- factors like intelligence are irrelevant when it comes to experiencing suffering (albeit relevant in reducing suffering). To put it clearly, the only relevant factors to suffering pain are sentience and nerves. Yes, plants don't have nerves or sentience, therefore it doesn't matter what we do with them (at least ethically speaking in regards to suffering).



I expect Valladarex to make the argument that we should be ethically allowed to kill animals if we ensure all measures are taken to lessen the suffering induced. I am now going to try and prove that the act of killing animals is unethical itself.



Humans are animals

I'm going to make this point because I think it will help people understand my argument. I think it is often forgotten that humans are simply intelligent animals. All this self-glorification and celebration holds no truth in regards to our biology. We are not special in any realm other than our thoughts. Sure, we've done some 'amazing' things, but these are only 'amazing' relative to our own standards. Ultimately, we have flesh like the animals we kill.


In the hope of showing a contradiction, I guess you could try to tie this point back to how I said that humans can say suffering is bad. My counter-argument would be that these atrocities (killing of animals) are not seen by everyone. If people could physically see and logically understand what exactly their existence currently necessitates, I daresay that everyone would think very differently.


It is unethical to murder another human

I know this will seem like a given to everyone, but I think the method in which it is determined requires analysis as this will lead to a conclusion in regards to other sentient, feeling creatures (animals with meat). For example, an argument such as 'I don't kill other people because I don't want them to kill me' is not grounded in an ethical context. This example is simply stating the facts, rather than providing an ethical framework...

...but I have a solution. Humans have a welfare state, a regard for their own well-being. I believe that it is the imposition which is unethical, in other words, forcing or causing the murder of someone imposes an unwanted state (a non-wellbeing state) upon him or her. Relative to this debate, most likely, the justification for the consumption of meat is that we need to eat meat to survive...


If you agree with me up until now...



It's here where I'm going to take this debate into relatively new territory: why is the existence of humans necessary? Not only that, but how can it be justifiable to cause suffering to others in order to survive when the necessity of survival is yet to be affirmed? Sure, animals should not have rights considering the definition that Valladarex outlined, but we are certainly responsible for the suffering of other sentient, feeling creatures. Ethically, there should be a justifiable reason for the suffering caused.

If you agree with the tenants I have previously proposed, then you must justify human existence. I urge you, Valladarex and anyone reading this, to calmly consider the need for human existence. I want you to consider the price being paid for your survival. Do not only consider your life, which may be full of fun and happy times. Consider all the suffering endured for your meat product. Consider the imposition of keeping animals in pens and cages for their entire lives -- bred and kept alive only to be eaten. To strike closer to home, also consider the suffering of other humans, the ones in third-world countries working in horrible environments so you can have your cheap clothing. Imagine that other sentient, feeling creature was you. Sure, the animal isn't exactly the same as you, but it is when it comes to the fact that it experiences suffering. Especially since we, as humans, can understand the suffering being inflicted, should it not be our responsibility to prevent it?

Your existence is causing other sentient, feeling creatures suffering and I want you to justify this.


[1] http://old.richarddawkins.net...

Valladarex

Con

Suffering is bad

"In a sense... based on what everyone feels/thinks, suffering is bad."

First off, I guess one could say that suffering by itself is a bad thing, but it is never by itself in reality. Suffering can be a beneficial or ethically justifiable thing depending on the circumstances.

"In regards to character building, humans have these notions because humans think that suffering is bad... character building does not make suffering good, it only makes it less bad."

The problem with this line of thinking is it ignores the fact that the temporary suffering is what makes the suffering later easier to handle. That temporary suffering is no doubt a beneficial thing to that man, as he can deal with suffering better later.

Animal suffering is bad

"I suppose that I must first affirm that animals (specifically ones with meat) can experience suffering... Valladarex essentially concedes this point in his outline..."

I will go with the assumption that all animals feel pain as we do.

"By extension of my first premise (suffering is bad), it follows that animal suffering is also bad..."

Your first premise was that suffering is bad by itself. When we talk about farming, fishing, and hunting animals, we are talking about keeping people alive through nutrition. When it comes to keeping people from suffering through giving them the sustenance needed to live, this trumps the short amount of time the animals must deal suffering with during their deaths. I would also like to point out that the slaughtering methods that are used to ensure the suffering in the killing is at a very minimum.

Methods include:(1)
Carbon Dioxide

This method is approved for sheep, calves and swine. The animal is asphyxiated by the use of carbon dioxide gas before being bled.

Captive Bolt

This method is approved for sheep, swine, goats, calves, cattle, horses, mules, and other equines. A captive bolt stunner is applied to the livestock so as to produce quick unconsciousness in the animals before they are bled.

Gunshot

This method is approved for cattle, calves, sheep, swine, goats, horses, mules, and other equines. The gun is used to render the animal quickly unconscious (and presumably dead) before being bled.

Stunning or Slaughtering with Electric Current

This method is approved for swine, sheep, calves, cattle, and goats. The current applied is sufficient to ensure surgical anesthesia throughout the "bleeding" of the animal.

Each of these methods is outlined in detail, and the regulations require that inspectors identify operations which cause "undue" "excitement and discomfort" of animals.

Humans are animals

"I'm going to make this... Ultimately, we have flesh like the animals we kill."

A big distinction between us and other animals is the ability to know that we will die in the future. When people are about to be executed, they suffer all the way up to that point until they actually die, because they have the capacity to understand what is exactly going on. This is why it is extremely different between the deaths of humans and the deaths of animals. For animals, they don't know that they are about to die. If it is a quick painless death, like the USDA approved methods of slaughtering, the suffering is so much less.


"In the hope of showing... everyone would think very differently."

Again, suffering is not necessarily a bad thing if there is a net benefit from the suffering. The well-being and happiness of people trumps the amount of suffering done to the animals, so long as the farming is done humanely.


It is unethical to murder another human

"Humans have a welfare state..the justification for the consumption of meat is that we need to eat meat to survive... "

I think there should be a distinction between murder and killing. Murder is the crime of unlawfully killing a person especially with malice aforethought.(2) Killing is to deprive of life : cause the death of. When it comes to murder, one could say it is wrong since it is usually tied to laws which are made to ensure a maximum amount of happiness for everyone. For the umbrella term of killing, it is free from these laws designed to protect innocent people.

Killing a person can be justified if it is done to ensure the well being of other people. For example, when a criminal is about to kill an innocent person with a gun, a police officer is justified in shooting him, and even taking his life if saves that innocent person. Another example could include a soldier fighting for a cause to protect other people from harm. When a union soldier in the Civil War killed a confederate soldier to help free more people from slavery, it is just.


If you agree with me up until now...


"It's here where I'm going... there should be a justifiable reason for the suffering caused."

The justifiable reason for the suffering caused is that it provides a maximum well-being for people. As you said before, humans have a regard for their own well being. We want to provide maximum happiness for everyone. If the happiness caused by our consumption of animals is greater than the suffering caused, then maximum happiness is being provided.

"If you agree with the tenants I have previously proposed...understand the suffering being inflicted, should it not be our responsibility to prevent it?"

I'd like to think the price being paid for my survival will be paid off in the end through the amount of happiness and well-being that I get for myself and I provide for others. I hope that in the end, there will be a net amount of good from my existence. It may be uncertain whether it will happen or not, but I will personally try my best to make it happen.

For the animals in pens and cages, their conditions may not necessarily be better off if they weren't kept in captivity. I agree that some conditions that exist today in animal farms aren't better, but many actually allow the animals to be happy in their lives until death. It's easy to focus on the short moment of suffering at the end of their lives, but we also have to look at what was done in the vast majority of their life. If they lived their lives happier than what would have been if they lived in the wild, then there is a net amount of happiness, not only for us, but for the animals too.

For the suffering done to people working in horrible working conditions to provide us cheap products, it is definitely tragic. But, we must still see how things would be if these companies didn't work in the third world. In our desire to provide the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people, we have to ensure our actions provide this. There is no simple solution to third world poverty, but we must do everything we can to try to equalize the opportunities for people everywhere. If the people would be worse off if the sweatshops didn't exist, then a net benefit is being provided to these people. They take these job because they have no better options knowingly available to them. If these options are not artificially limited by other people, then the factories can be just, if done legally They provide greater pay to these poor individuals than they would have from other jobs. This ends up contributing to ending poverty by giving them more money to use on other things, which actually makes conditions better in their area. If the factories weren't able to use the third world for cheap labor, and had to provide them with higher wages than would be profitable for them, then they would in turn bring their jobs back to better-off countries, and actually hurt the third world.

Conclusion

I hope I've helped illustrate why things aren't always so simple, and things such as suffering have to be viewed in a larger picture. The sentient, feeling creatures may suffer for a short amount of time, but that suffering is just if a net happiness is had on a larger scale.

I'll give you the chance to respond now.

Sources:
1.
http://www.animallaw.info...

2. http://www.merriam-webster.com...

Debate Round No. 2
xxXChelseaXxx

Pro

Suffering is bad

My opponent concedes the point that, purely by itself, suffering is bad, that there has to be a justification for it in order to be ethical.

“The problem with this line of thinking is it ignores the fact that the temporary suffering is what makes the suffering later easier to handle. That temporary suffering is no doubt a beneficial thing to that man, as he can deal with suffering better later.” – Yes, but he is still going to suffer now and later, regardless if the amount is lessened. I mean, you’re justifying suffering with suffering! Do you see how bad this situation is, that it is the best solution?

Animal suffering is bad

“Your first premise was that suffering is bad by itself. When we talk about farming, fishing, and hunting animals, we are talking about keeping people alive through nutrition. When it comes to keeping people from suffering through giving them the sustenance needed to live, this trumps the short amount of time the animals must deal suffering with during their deaths.” – Basically, human existence is not worth the suffering inflicted (I’ll expand upon this later).

“I would also like to point out that the slaughtering methods that are used to ensure the suffering in the killing is at a very minimum….

…Methods include:(1)…” It's not just that the animals suffer, it's also that you're imposing a life-style/death on another sentient, feeling creature.

Humans are animals

“A big distinction between us and other animals is the ability to know that we will die in the future. When people are about to be executed, they suffer all the way up to that point until they actually die, because they have the capacity to understand what is exactly going on..” – A difference, but not a relevant one in regards to ethics. For example, say a sleeping man is killed. The man could not see his death coming, hence, according to your logic, the killing of the man is ethical. No, it’s the imposition of ending a sentient, feeling life that makes it unethical – it’s imposing something on another sentient, feeling creature’s welfare that makes it unethical.

“If it is a quick painless death, like the USDA approved methods of slaughtering, the suffering is so much less.” – I find it strange that you would make this argument, considering that your previous sentences imply that the suffering of a specific feeling, sentient creature (‘animal’) is justified when another’s survival is maintained. Should preservation of human existence be maintained at any cost? Why does it matter if any animal suffers if it is for the benefit of human existence?


It is unethical to murder another human

As your response sufficiently counters my point here, I would like to modify my argument point to now read as: ‘It is unethical to kill another human’.

The supposed rational reason someone would ever have to kill anyone is to preserve his or her own life. However, this can only take place in an unethical world where humans force impositions on others – I’m saying that this unethical decision should not have to take place in the first place. You’re essentially making ethical arguments based off unethical premises. Ultimately, if there is no justification for the survival of humans, your point is countered…


If you agree with me up until now...

Your whole counter-argument in this section revolves around the underlying premise that existence is necessary. I’m arguing that life is bad, that the game of life is inherently bad and isn’t worth playing.

“The justifiable reason for the suffering caused is that it provides a maximum well-being for people.” – But this is relative to an awful game that we’re playing. Sure, it’s better if we make more people happy by doing certain this, but this does not justify the awful game that we are playing. It’s awful that we have to eat animals in order to survive. It’s awful that there are limited resources in the world so that everyone will miss out on something that they want. It’s awful that the Holocaust happened. It’s awful that people are starving to death in North Korea by the tens-of-thousands every year. It’s awful that our psychology pumps out these wants and needs incessantly. It’s an awful game we’re playing, so why do we have to play it?

“As you said before, humans have a regard for their own well being.” – Yes, but this state of wellbeing often comes at the expense of other states of well being. Besides, and I’m going to repeat this a lot because it’s the crux of my final argument: it’s an awful game we’re playing. Do you see how bad it is that we have to deprive other sentient, feeling creatures in order to survive?

“If the happiness caused by our consumption of animals is greater than the suffering caused, then maximum happiness is being provided.” – Who derives happiness simply by eating meat? Maybe someone who hasn’t eaten for days, but that’s really a subjective argument based on personal circumstances. No, it’s alleviating a depravation – that’s what meat does. That then allows us to the do things that will make us happy.

Besides, not everyone would agree with the notion that happiness is worth all the suffering, especially when considering that happiness is simply overcoming a depravation and that to be happy he or she has to impose negatively on another’s welfare state.

“I'd like to think the price being paid for my survival will be paid off in the end through the amount of happiness and well-being that I get for myself and I provide for others. I hope that in the end, there will be a net amount of good from my existence. It may be uncertain whether it will happen or not, but I will personally try my best to make it happen.” – While this is noble, the game is horrible. Is happiness really worth all the pain and suffering that not only non-human animals, but humans too? Consider the ramifications of life and what they impose. Consider that you could never be happy without first over-coming a depravation of some sort, and that sometimes the depravation is not fulfilled.

“For the animals in pens and cages, their conditions may not necessarily be better off if they weren't kept in captivity.” – Yeah, the game is so awful that keeping them in cages is the best choice we have.

“I agree that some conditions that exist today in animal farms aren't better, but many actually allow the animals to be happy in their lives until death.” – You can’t simply judge a life based on how much happiness it has brought someone or something. You’re imposing a certain life upon another sentient, feeling creature to simply continue your survival in an awful game that makes you impose in the first place.

“It's easy to focus on the short moment of suffering at the end of their lives, but we also have to look at what was done in the vast majority of their life. If they lived their lives happier than what would have been if they lived in the wild, then there is a net amount of happiness, not only for us, but for the animals too.” – The happiness fades -- it will never be enduring. There is no point in its existence other than to chase its biological wants. The animal will always want ‘one more’ or ‘one more time'.

“For the suffering done to people working in… actually hurt the third world.” – While this is a nice argument relative to the restrictions on life, it’s an argument relative to the restrictions on life. Life is a depravation state – it is inherently bad. You can only overcome the depravation by consuming other things in one way or another.

As you can see, my opponent’s arguments are based on the idea that we have to play the game of life. I’m saying that we shouldn’t because it’s such a repulsive game that forces us to make ‘not as bad’ decisions which are inherently awful in themselves. These decisions only seem good because the game is so bad. We’re not caught in a philosophical game, we’re caught up in a psychological game (pandering to life’s impulses) in which philosophy is only justifiable if it is consistent with this psychological game.

Valladarex

Con

Suffering is bad
"Yes, but he is still going to suffer... it is the best solution?"

The solution to his problem of dealing with suffering later is through temporary suffering. It is a trade off that has a net benefit overall.

Animal suffering is bad
"
It's not just that the animals... feeling creature."

Your 6th point in your line of argument is "the consumption of meat is ethically wrong unless the suffering can be justified."

Since the suffering can be justified through a net amount of happiness and benefits overall, my point that slaughtering can be done with little pain is very important. If this suffering is justified, your 6th point in your argument makes the consumption of meat ethical, regardless if the animal dies or not.

Humans are animals

"A difference, but... welfare that makes it unethical."

The test for moral judgment is not a test to be administered to humans one by one, but should be applied to the capacity of members of the species in general.

If no other species should have the inherent right to life, then there must be a justification in order for you to say it is unethical to kill another animal. You have yet to give one reason why animals should have the right to life. Only that they should not have to deal with suffering.

"I find it strange that... suffers if it is for the benefit of human existence?"
My whole argument is based on the idea of getting net happiness and net benefits out of the suffering caused. Keeping suffering at a minimum is the best way to ensure that a net happiness is made.

It is unethical to murder another human

"The supposed rational reason... justification for the survival of humans..."

This isn't the only reason someone would kill someone else. Many people fought and died for the betterment of society as a whole. Many are willing to risk their lives so that others may be free and happy. The world itself isn't unethical. Only actions done by people are. Some actions are ethical, some aren't. I think that any rational person would agree that protecting innocent people at the expense of one who intends to do harmful things is an ethically justifiable thing to do.

I saw on your profile that you support the death penalty. How could you think this is ethical, if taking away the life of a sentient being is unethical in any circumstance?

If you agree with me up until now..

"Your whole... life is inherently bad and isn’t worth playing."
I didn't think this argument would end up turning in to a "is-life-worth-living" debate. I thought that was a given when talking about the formation of a code to make a better world. Is the world really better when we "stop playing the game of life"?

"But this is relative... why do we have to play it?"

We play the game of life because we hope to have more happiness in life than suffering. We want to make life worth living for us and for others. The game of life is only awful if you look at the suffering alone.

Yes, there are plenty of awful things in the world. The Holocaust, the North Korean government, limited resources, and world-wide starvation are some of the worst things that humans have done or failed to solve.

But, this does not mean we stop trying. There is a solution to all of these things. Future genocides could be solved through greater education on different cultures and teaching anti-discrimination . The North Korean government will be changed in the future through the failure of the government to keep itself alive.

The way we begin to solve the limited resources issue we have on Earth is by looking to the stars. Everything that we've ever desired on Earth, we could have in endless amounts through the use of resources in space. I am optimistic that we will have a world where no man, woman, or child will suffer from the lack of resources to keep them healthy and happy.

"Who derives happiness simply by eating meat... things that will make us happy."

I don't know about you, but I love eating meat products. Alleviating hunger is a good feeling any time. Also, the hunger that we would feel from not eating would cause a lot of suffering. The prevention of this suffering and the happiness gained from eating the meat is enough to counteract the very small amount of suffering done to the animals in the FDA approved methods of slaughtering.

"Besides, not... impose negatively on another’s welfare state."

People who are not suicidal/depressed would, at the least, agree that the happiness in life is worth all the suffering that occurs in their personal lives. But you also point out that there is suffering imposed on another's welfare state. This is true, but you ignore the happiness that is imposed on others from the person's existence, and whether the animals had a net amount of happiness in their lives. This is all a balancing game. Life can have a net amount of happiness depending on how things are done.

"Is happiness really worth all the pain and suffering... the depravation is not fulfilled."

I think my life has had more happiness than suffering. I also think I've given a lot of happiness to others. Although there is no clear method of adding up the happiness and suffering that my life has created, I think that I've done more good than harm to other sentient beings. Yet, one could never be certain. Of course, you have the burden of proof in explaining how there isn't more happiness than suffering overall.

"Yeah, the... the best choice we have."

It'd be hard to determine how much happiness and suffering an animal has throughout its life, but having them in captivity doesn't necessarily mean they would have been better off not existing. Animals may very well be happy a lot of the time, and suffering less of the time.

"The happiness fades... or ‘one more time'."

The fact that happiness can fade doesn't mean there isn't a net amount of happiness in their lives. Sure, animals will always want more. But the suffering it gets from this doesn't necessarily make the life not worth living.

"While this is a nice... in one way or another."

Life is not inherently bad because it is a deprivation state. Life is full of good moments and bad. There are times of great happiness, and others of great suffering. If we want to make the world a better place through ethics, then we must always try harder to make life worth living. To say it is inherently bad is to give up on all that we have and have done. It is giving up on the hopes of a better tomorrow, and the hopes of maximizing the happiness for all life.

"As you can see.. this psychological game."

I really hope you don't believe in what you say. Asserting that we shouldn't play the game of life is counterproductive to everything that people have done to make life better. All of human progress, all the scientific advances, philosophy, government, and ethics would be for nothing.

I assert that happiness can overcome suffering in the long run. People will become smarter, wiser, and more ethical. The major problems humanity has today will be solved in time, and all mankind will, in the end, be happy. Although suffering will never be completely erased, life can be worth living. This option of working and fighting for a better world is the one I believe we should take.

The other option we have is the only way we could solve suffering once and for all. To do that, we'll need weapons of mass destruction. Whether it be hydrogen bombs, antimatter bombs, or even asteroid wrangling, it should be something strong enough to effectively destroy our atmosphere, destroy all habitable regions on land, and forever damage the oceans. Only when we end all sentient life will suffering finally be cured.

I hope I have made it clear that, although there is suffering in the world, there is also it's opposite. Happiness. In the philosophy of ethics, I hope we can agree that we are capable of creating enough happiness to trump the suffering that sentient beings must deal with in life. If we can, then we could also agree it is possible that human consumption of meat is ethically sound.

Debate Round No. 3
xxXChelseaXxx

Pro

I’m going to summarise by re-arranging my arguments into the most coherent forms I can manage. I will sparingly quote my opponent when it is relevant because quoting every piece he wrote (even after I condensed) left me with over 2500 words. I also found that what I saw to be prevailing faults were being made frequently, so I can hopefully hit multiple birds with a stone by addressing them all with a few words. My main points are bold to avoid a hard-to-read wall-of-text.

I found this argument was quite pervasive, so I’m going to address it before I go anywhere:

“But the suffering it gets from this doesn't necessarily make the life not worth living.”

“If no other species should have the inherent right to life, then there must be a justification in order for you to say it is unethical to kill another animal. You have yet to give one reason why animals should have the right to life. Only that they should not have to deal with suffering.”

I’m not arguing that any life is necessary, I’m arguing that restrictions and suffering imposed on sentient, feeling creatures by creatures of a similar nature that can understand these impositions, is unethical.

Suffering is bad, and my opponent tries to justify human inflicted suffering by saying that the happiness generated exceeds that of the suffering.

We have an insatiable need to consume -- we are designed to be motivated, not satisfied. What I mean by this is that the state achieved through doing things is temporary, it is never enduring. That’s why people play sports over and over again, that once isn’t enough. That’s why people have sex over and over again. That’s the reason we do anything, to achieve that state once more. We think that by doing these things, that there will be some sort of ‘completedness’. However, you can never be complete – you will always want one more or one more instance of something.

My opponent then argues that there is nothing wrong with this drive, this desire to be satisfied because this generates more happiness than suffering. This can be true in certain instances, but if we analyse what exactly generates this happiness, we realise that happiness is simply a ‘less bad’ state, rather than a good state. It’s as simple as this: life is depravation, and a ‘positive’ life will be seen as eliminating these depravations. Want a job? Go out and get one. Want a car? Go and buy one. Hungry? Eat. Depravation then fulfilment.

As you can hopefully see, your life is a constant depravation. I ‘need’ or ‘want’ are essential lines of argument to your existence. However, we make these wants based on the situation at hand. Take this example:

A sentient, feeling creature suffers 100 times a day instead of 200, with each suffering equalling any other. Relative to the situation, it appears that this is of net benefit.

The creature is still suffering is she not? Sure, she is suffering less rather than more, but the creature is still suffering. In the event that your suffering cannot be reprieved, you will lower your standards to deal with sufferings that can be fulfilled. There is no “net benefit”, there is less suffering.

With this in mind, the best you could ever do is remove every depravation. This is called a ‘zero-sum equation’ wherein there is still suffering, it’s just that every suffering is removed at best. Clearly, the equalling of this zero-sum equation is not realistic to the world, an example being sentient, feeling animals. If we make it a given that humans must eat meat, it will always come at the expense of imposition and sometimes suffering. This is what I argue is unethical, hence why the human need for meat is unethical regardless of whether it is pertinent to survival.

Since it’s almost non-negotiable, in regards to ethics, that suffering is bad and that preventing suffering would be neutral, then I now need to show why the imposition is unethical. Keeping animals in cages, or even roaming on a specific field is unethical. It would also be like Joseph Fritzl keeping that girl in a basement for a good proportion of her life. He probably derived a lot of pleasure from that, and she probably didn’t suffer all that much because she didn’t know better. I hope you now see how the imposition is unethical, that it’s not just the suffering involved.

We, as humans, are animals. We share sentience and the ability to feel with other animals. In this sense, there are no relevant distinctions, ethically, that would put us ahead of these animals. Sure, we are more intelligent, but if an animal is suffering, it is suffering. Yes, intelligence could help it avoid suffering, but if the suffering is occurring, the suffering is occurring. A similar line of argument would apply to imposition. In fact, because we can understand this occurrence of suffering, we should be ethically obliged to prevent it altogether.

I think this is the core of my opponent’s argument to sustain life for happiness:

“I hope I have made it clear that, although there is suffering in the world, there is also it's opposite. Happiness.”

Happiness is not the opposite, it is simply a state of less suffering, less bad, less imposition etc. By becoming happy, you are essentially recognising that you are making your life less bad. Again, it’s a zero-sum equation. Furthermore, since you cannot rid yourself of every depravation, you then formulate a relativistic complex from which you can derive ‘reasonable’ wants. That’s why people living in squalor in India don’t have a problem, that this is the way life ‘is’. However, if you showed them life in the Western world, they would re-evaluate their standards based on that. They would begin to think: ‘this is horrible!’ Again, this is only relative to what they have seen. But consider this: life is inherently bad and it’s simply though this relativistic process that we rationalise ourselves to thinking that it is good. However, objective to this process, it is simply less bad, that happiness is a result of living in a less bad situation than what you are accustomed to. Remember how I wrote that humans are designed to be motivated and not satisfied? Yes, we will always want more, that happiness can only continue to be produced by having more. Once that occurrence has generated that happiness, this psychology will need the occurrence to be ‘more’ in order to generate more happiness because we are accustomed to the original occurrence. Do you see? Happiness is based purely on relativity, the reality is simply ‘less bad’.

It’s clear from the comment section of not only this debate, but other areas where I have argued this, that I haven’t got a hope in hell to win this debate. From this, I have learned that people love to make relativistic arguments and attempt to shroud them as ethical. Also, speciesism is rampant among humans because of this relativistic tendency (or a belief in God) – at least I can now see where the problem lies. I urge you, as the reader, to simply try to understand where I am coming from; read my arguments closely because your inherent tendencies will try to steer you away from agreeing with me. Please, question these tendencies.

Imagine if you were not participating in this game of life; you live as a non-human far away. What would you think of what humans do? I know what I am arguing will naturally seem bleak to you; I was once a good Christian girl whom would cringed at and despise people who came up with these ideas. Nevertheless, I can assure you, if you understand my rationale in this argument, you would see how the world revolves around irrational tendencies that are designed to motivate and never satisfy sentient, feeling creatures.

Considering that human survival has no purpose or value, causes unethical imposition and causes suffering to some extent most of the time, the consumption of animals is ethically wrong.

Anyway, I thank Valladarex for a chance to test this different line of argument.

Valladarex

Con

Restrictions on Animals

"I’m not arguing that any life is necessary... impositions, is unethical."

There is a clear difference between imposing restrictions on humans and imposing them on other sentient life.

Humanity, as a species, is capable of understanding what type of life we would enjoy having the most. Just as in your example with Joseph Fritzl, the girl is capable of knowing what life would better for herself. When it comes to a chicken in a pen, or a cow in a field, do you really think this is parallel? If the chicken was in the wild, it would still not have the intellectual capabilities to understand that it is having a more or less desirable life than if they were kept in that pen. The cow, if not in the farm field, would still eat grass and live life just as it would in the wild. A difference is food would probably be harder to come by, and there is a risk of getting eaten by a predator, creating a lot more pain that what would have been created in a farm. This isn't desirable to animals.

This distinction allows for us to ethically keep sentient creatures in captivity, so long as they are not put into more suffering than they would be in if they were "free". Again, most animals are not capable of understanding freedom as we do.

The Existence of Happiness

"My opponent then argues that there is nothing.. Depravation then fulfilment."

The mechanism in which we attain happiness is irrelevant to the happiness gained in life. The idea that happiness comes from depravation then fulfillment doesn't change what we should base our ethics on.

I disagree that happiness is a "less bad" state, rather than a good state. The very definition of happiness is a state of well-being and contentment.(1) There is not a "less bad" state in this state. That bad state is nonexistent in that instance of happiness, or at the least not noticeable.

"As you can hopefully see... There is no “net benefit”, there is less suffering."

The creature would indeed be suffering. If the 100/200 days of suffering actually did pay off in a net benefit, then it would be worth the suffering. You are again focusing on the animal only, as opposed to everyone affected by the process. If the net happiness was maximized from that 100 days of suffering, then it is ethical.

You claim there is no net benefit, there is only less suffering. Even if happiness was just an illusion, is less suffering not a net benefit? I would expect you to support having an overall less net suffering in all animals, including our species. If less suffering was created by me eating an animal than if I didn't eat the animal, it is ethically justifiable.

"Happiness is not the opposite... Happiness is based purely on relativity, the reality is simply ‘less bad’."

Happiness is certainly not based purely on relativity. Happiness comes from a chemical reaction in the brain, which results from the stimulation your senses. This is also the case with suffering.

This is a photo of a synapse, which is a structure that permits a neuron to pass an electrical or chemical signal to another cell. It illustrates how these emotions are transferred in the brain. All the emotions we've ever had is a result of neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are endogenous chemicals that transmit signals from a neuron to a target cell across a synapse. The only direct action of neurotransmitters is to activate receptors. One neurotransmitter actions is dopamine. Dopamine affects brain processes that control movement, emotional response, and ability to experience pleasure and pain.(2) It is also responsible for the brain's reward system. Other actions involved with pain and suffering include substance P and opioid peptides.(3)

As you can see, suffering and happiness are not merely relative. They are actual things, with a lot of science put into the study of them. The chemical reactions which make up these emotions prove that happiness isn't just less suffering, it's something completely different. Whether one feels happiness or suffering depends on which neurotransmitter is being released in the brain.

Zero-Sum Apocalypse

"With this in mind, the best you could ever do is remove every depravation. This is called a ‘zero-sum equation’..."

The zero-sum equation is a poor model for ethics, as its eventual goal is the complete removal of suffering. This brings me back to my point in the last round, where I stated that the only way to completely remove suffering is by ending all sentient life on Earth. I hope you agree that removing suffering should not be the goal. The goal should be to maximize the net amount of happiness in life.

"Since it’s almost non-negotiable that suffering is bad.... it’s not just the suffering involved."

I conceded that suffering on its own is bad, but it is never on its own in reality. Like I said, the girl didn't know better, but she is capable of knowing. The animal is not intellectually developed like the girl. It doesn't understand freedom, nor rights.

"We, as humans, are animals. We share sentience and the ability to feel... should be ethically obliged to prevent it altogether."

Intelligence is a relevant distinction when it comes to having the right from being imposed upon. Suffering is justified with a net happiness.

Speciesism

"speciesism is rampant among humans because of this relativistic tendency (or a belief in God)..."

Not all people in support of speciesism believes in a personal god. I explained in round one why I am a speciest. Animals don't deserve inherent rights because the holders of rights must have the capacity to comprehend rules of duty governing all, including themselves.

Does this mean we should be free to do whatever we want with animals? No. It means that we can take a utilitarian approach in determining the ethics of our interactions with other animals. Utilitarianism being a theory in normative ethics holding that the proper course of action is the one that maximizes utility, specifically defined as maximizing happiness and reducing suffering.

Conclusion

"Considering that human survival has no purpose... consumption of animals is ethically wrong."

Whether or not human survival has a purpose or value, it doesn't change how we should determine what is ethical. Ethics demands that we create a code of conduct which creates the best world we could possibly have. We have a decision to make. Do we base our ethics on eliminating as much suffering as we can, or do we base it on creating a maximum amount of net happiness?

We already know where the first philosophy would lead us. It would lead to a world without the existence of humanity, and if we really kept to the philosophy, it would lead to the extinction of all sentient life on Earth. You never responded to my doomsday scenario to eliminate suffering, but I surely hope you don't think it is an ethically justifiable thing to do.

Now we think of what the latter philosophy will bring us and all life. It will lead to a world of scientific, technological, and philosophical progress. It will lead to a world where human suffering will continue to diminish worldwide, and the pursuit of happiness will be a universal right for all people. This philosophy will encourage people to treat all sentient beings with due respect, and only allow for impositions which could be justified from a net benefit from those impositions. Needless animal torture will always be illegal, and animal abuse will never be allowed. This is the world I believe is the most ethically sound, and the most desirable.

Though this debate has gone way beyond the topic at hand, I believe all of it has made it clear that animal suffering is justified from the net happiness it can create. I hope I convinced you and anyone that reads this that this is the best argument for the ethicality of the consumption of meat.

Sources

1. http://www.merriam-webster.com...

2. http://www.utexas.edu...

3. http://courses.washington.edu...

Debate Round No. 4
163 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by dewboy21 4 years ago
dewboy21
The consumption of meat is ethically correct. We have canine teeth specifically made (though evolution of intelligent design, your choice) for the eating of meat. Also, these animals will suffer anyways through wild animals of death by other natural causes
Posted by O.Z 4 years ago
O.Z
"You will not get a logical debate from any religious fanatics that cling to superstitious nonsense, and the Bible." Sorry, but that was you typing was it? Or did someone sneak onto your computer and started typing stuff? You know dang well what I'm talking about, so I am telling you to clean up your act.
Posted by GWL-CPA 4 years ago
GWL-CPA
Whatever, I have to idea what you are ranting about. Take that grow-up and bury it somewhere.
Posted by O.Z 4 years ago
O.Z
GWl-Cpa, that's not very "ethical" of you to insult people who hold a different belief than yours. And I have heard very logical arguments from religious people. How can you criticize others about their logic when your own fails. Just because one religious person annoys you doesn't mean the whole bunch of them are crazy. Grow up.
Also, I do like meat, very much so. I do think animal suffering is wrong, but its not like we torture them before letting them pass on. Plus, its completely natural to eat meat. We've been doing it for thousands of years, its healthy for you and you get proteins, and its good. I like green vegetables, but I am not down for eating just them for the rest of my life.
Posted by GWL-CPA 4 years ago
GWL-CPA
GeekiTheGreat, great post about ethics! You also made a great comment about Gordonjames who is a right wing radical Christian. You will not get a logically debate from any religious fanatics that cling to superstitious nonsense, and the Bible. The only proof for any religious beliefs is faith. You either have faith or you do not.

Of course, ethics are a personal issue, and there are no absolutes, universal ethics or morals, unless you are a metaphysician (e.g., Immanuel Kant) or epistemologist (e.g., James Frederick Ferrier) who just play word-games and present meaningless arguments that are usually very circular and rely on their definitions of words, like Gordonjames has done here.

I respect xxXChelseaXxx very much on her position on not eating meat; it is an ethical issue for her; but, not for many others.
Posted by bla60ah 4 years ago
bla60ah
Could I then argue that the consumption of plants is ethically wrong as well? Plants are living organisms and can feel and respond to any given stimuli just like animals.
Posted by newbiehere 4 years ago
newbiehere
I didn't get to vote, but this debate really got me thinking about my bacon-eating habits. Well done, both of you.
Posted by xxXChelseaXxx 4 years ago
xxXChelseaXxx
"The consumption of meat is ethically wrong" is a incorrect or incomplete statement, because you cannot decide what is ethically wrong for others by saying what is ethically wrong for you." - Straw-man -- you are not addressing my argument.

"Everyone in the world, every form of culture, every religion, every race, every civilization has its own set of ethics ,or "Moral Code" if you will, and by saying that the consumption of meat is ethically wrong does not apply to those cultures that believe the consumption of animals is the only way into their paradise that their god has set for them." - No, please understand that you are restricting the use of the word "ethics" arbitrarily. Besides, moral relativism is ridiculous as you can 'ethically' justify anything.

Please look up 'normative ethics'.
Posted by xxXChelseaXxx 4 years ago
xxXChelseaXxx
@wrichcirw

Yes, the original sin concept has many problems, but the psychology a person has from believing in a creator god really messes with his or her rationale. I struggled to understand the idea that ethics could be based on human reasoning (instead of being entirely objective). I thought that ethics could not be determined by humans, thinking that our human nature could never allow an objective truth.

---

"I love steak, medium rare, salt and pepper. It's a great dish. I love chocolate too... It's something I look forward to." - This is really a personal decision rather than an ethical argument.

---

"... The question I'd be asking (and which CON asked throughout the debate) is "what is the benefit?"" - The benefit is most frequently a product of our psychology, which is based upon an evolutionary background (which itself is senseless outside of the need to survive and reproduce). If you analyse this psychology, you can see that it is inefficient and ineffective. In other words, the methods in which pleasure is acquired have costs that could be lessened; furthermore, the pleasure which is derived from a method is not lasting, another fault in our psychology.

----

"My responses would be 1) enlightened self-interest, it just might be that what benefits us benefits the whole, and 2) psychology I'd put on a scale from zero to infinity. Infinite satisfaction looks quite appealing to me. :)" - Given the current ramifications, these cannot always come, plus there will be a cost of some kind. Perhaps an overhaul of human psychology or virtual reality might be the answer.

Anyway, thank you for the conversation -- it's pleasing to be able to converse with intelligent and civil people once in awhile :D
Posted by makhdoom5 4 years ago
makhdoom5
oh man.
lol
10 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by Sleezehead 4 years ago
Sleezehead
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Agreed with after the debate:Vote Checkmark--0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:51 
Reasons for voting decision: Just based in the title.
Vote Placed by rross 4 years ago
rross
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: This was a surprising and interesting debate. Pro argued that the imposition on life was unethical and I can't see where Con rebutted this. He said about animals not knowing they're going to die (effectively demolished with the sleeping victim example) and that killing animals is justified by the net happiness it might cause humans. But, as Pro pointed out, eating meat does not create "net happiness". I think Pro's refusal to accept hypocrisy of any kind has lead her to extreme conclusions that many people might find difficult to accept. But her arguments were strong, and I especially liked her clear rebuttals. Nice one.
Vote Placed by tyounes312 4 years ago
tyounes312
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con because his points were made that animals are not humans and cannot live an ethical life. The debate was very good, but Con had a more convincing argument.
Vote Placed by RoyLatham 4 years ago
RoyLatham
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: cons winning arguments were (1) since animals are not bound by moral rules, they do not have equal moral rights with humans; (2) animals can be killed for food without causing the animal to suffer. Suffering is by definition prolonged.
Vote Placed by wrichcirw 4 years ago
wrichcirw
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: see comments. I agree with PRO, and will continue to eat meat. Nice debate by both parties.
Vote Placed by jackintosh 4 years ago
jackintosh
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Great debate!!! I would say that eating meat is ethically neutral.
Vote Placed by Darong 4 years ago
Darong
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:16 
Reasons for voting decision: CVB Rayze, how in the world was Gondun's vote a vote bomb?
Vote Placed by GeekiTheGreat 4 years ago
GeekiTheGreat
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:-Vote Checkmark-2 points
Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Chelsea kept going to the argument that eating animals is the same as eating a human. By that logic, when other animals eat other animals, it is ethically wrong for them, which it isn't. Valldarex's argument was more convincing , and was more accepting of his opponents argument, also Valladarex showed better conduct through out the entire debate. I would have liked to see more sources that backed up Pro's argument.
Vote Placed by Rayze 4 years ago
Rayze
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:-Vote Checkmark-1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:61 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments/ CVB Gondun
Vote Placed by Gondun 4 years ago
Gondun
xxXChelseaXxxValladarexTied
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Con was much more convincing. Pro's arguments rested on the idea that humans are no better than animals, which I do not believe.