Religion in the abattoir
#25
(Archiving continued from previous post)

UN Wrote:I am still not getting how inter-subjectivity is possible without empathy.

Priyabrata Mahapatro Wrote:Here is an earlier conversation that happened in one of the FB threads regarding 'tear-jerking emotions' and 'moral reasoning' . I'm pasting the question that I asked and the response that Arvind gave.

Question :
********
"Can tear-jerking emotions in a person, especially if it triggers for all kinds of social injustice irrespective of any group and not a temporary one, be a base for moral reasoning?

Also, would reasoning on such a premise be rational or irrational ?"

Response:
********
//Can tear-jerking emotions in a person, especially if it triggers for all kinds of social injustice irrespective of any group and not a temporary one, be a base for moral reasoning?... Also, would reasoning on such a premise be rational or irrational ? //

If a particular state of affairs causes 'tear-jerking emotions' in many of us, then it is evidently related with some aspect of human well-being. Concern for and maximization of human well-being is foundational to at least one major school of moral reasoning, namely utilitarianism. If the 'tear-jerking emotions' are shared and experienced by more or less everyone, then such considerations can be treated as foundational in an 'intersubjective moral system'. As long as we clearly acknowledge and explicitly state these intersubjective premises which we base later moral decisions on, such an approach cannot be dismissed as irrational.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/nirmukta...643093152/

Priyabrata Mahapatro Wrote:^ Apologies for the digression but I felt it necessary.

Bobby Krishna Wrote:it looks like you guys are going to put me off meat completely!

Kanad Kanhere Wrote:UN - I am not sure why you are concluding that there is absence of empathy in the example that I have given. They might have empathy but do not choose that as a standard for deciding their morality. Maybe they are bunch of compulsive gamblers, who understand the perils but enjoy gambling so much that can't keep away from it.

In anycase, as I said before, it was just hypothetical case to understand more about moral premises.

UN Wrote:Kanad - You began by a premise where aliens inter-subjectively "decide" to treat people inequally in the society, for which I said that power of empathy enables us to see the inequities.

You replied back saying that aliens may not have empathy...and my response was that in such a case they may not agree on such a premise in the first place.

I feel your premise is logically incoherent. How can inter subjectiveness exist without empathy. If they do have empathy, why would they not see the problem in their ethics?

If you are going to say that they understand that someone else is suffering and yet they keep doing it, then they are not ethical when looked at from inter-subjective morals which promote equal opportunities.

It also depends on what they feel when someone acts in a way that denies them everything. What would they do? Will they accept that as a legitimate way of life or will they protest?

Kanad Kanhere Wrote:Priyabrata Mahapatro - That wasn't digression at all (atleast IMO). Its spot on with what I was trying to put forth when I said that emotions are equally important

Kanad Kanhere Wrote:(Interestingly facebook didn't post my last comment: I didn't know the quality was that bad smile, although I do agree it was written in a lot of haste)

UN - My bad. Let me give this another try.
Firstly lets consider what is ethics. Ethics is coming with up with "what is wrong and what is right", basically the philosophy of morality. Now consider that there is just one rational agent. In that case that agent can decide what is right and wrong by just analyzing his long term goals and then evaluating his actions based on whether they lead them towards or away from those goals. Just like any logic system, the agent has to come up with moral prioris using instrumental rationality, and then apply logic to evaluate his actions. The complications start when there are multiple agents. These agents might have conflicting wants and then deciding prioris becomes tricky. In such case prioris have to be decided intersubjectively, i.e. with consensus (weak definition of intersubjectivity). In the strong sense, shared ideas/notions etc, thus subjectively true across most rational agents, become the base for prioris. e.g. Hypocrisy is wrong will be an intersubjective truth for Humans.

The main point is that "betterment of everybody" is not a necessary priori in ethics, which is probably what you are presuming. And which is what I was trying to clarify in that example of aliens. Now trying to rationalize why the aliens wouldn't choose to improve everybody's life might be a tricky business, because we are humans and can only think in our way. The aliens might have empathy or might not. Even if they have it, they might choose to not act on it etc. These are just rationalizations from our angle.

Kanad Kanhere Wrote:I just went through this thread again, and strongly feel that Arvind's comments were, as usual, brilliant an need to be preserved. Probably we can create a doc, or archive this nirmukta.net. I can do the later, the former not sure (because of my pathetic language skills). So any suggestions, takers?
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#26
(12-Dec-2011, 11:55 AM)Kanad Kanhere Wrote: Can somebody help me here to understand how one can be responsible for a cruelty somebody else is committing? Ofcourse giving up meat would be easy way to not feel responsible for cruelty to animals in slaughterhouse, but thats just "na rahega baas na bajegi basuri" kind of philosophy. If the slaughterhouses use ethical practices, meat consumption would be equally ethical. Then whose fault it is? The person who consumes meat or the person who is running the slaughterhouse?


Arvind, I have some questions that have been haunting me ever since a discussion about the same topic with a friend this valentines day -the video that sparked it(for context )


These, I wish that you resolve
Warning:A confused rant ahead. Sweatdrop

(28-Jun-2011, 10:31 PM)arvindiyer Wrote: There is no absolutist stance in the intersubjective framework where the epistemic limits of the reasoning process are well-acknowledged. Declaring someone immoral without allowing a chance to participate in the process of public reasoning does indeed amount to the worst form of disenfranchisement, but this is precluded almost by definition as the intersubjective approach is itself meant to universalize inclusiveness into the process of deciding what is moral.

Considering that our moral code is buggy, and unlike peter singer who bases his arguments on suffering most of the arguments are based on misfiring neurons, thus causing most of the people to take the anti-choice stance(which is mostly resolved not by explaining the suffering argument but rather by explaining that it is unjust for women) , to find homosexuality immoral (which is mostly not resolved by explaining why that unconventional or what you find to be gross ≠immoral-the way it should have been , but rather it is explained by helping them understand how their judgements cause a lot of people feel ashamed of their sexual orientation that they cannot help it- i know this sounds bad but this what mostly works) , that causes people to feel bad in case of death of a cute,perhaps yet-to-be-aware of it's surroundings chick or a kitten but not feel so bad in case of death of a ferocious beer or tiger.My point is most of the arguments or based on ewww,icky,cute or ouch factors , rather than what peter singer based them on- "are they capable of suffering ?" considering this , would it be fair to say:that the conclusion of the inter-subjective discourse of which majority of decision-parameters are wrong ,should be implemented
Quote:via regulations (and possibly by social stigmatization)

arvindiyer Wrote:If society at large does bear a cost for the lifestyle choices of a meat-consumer, then does it seem altogether unfair that a critique of this lifestyle is conveyed to the meat-consumers?
But is it about the cost? or what we consider as immoral ? or the trauma of experiencing something immoral thus incurred as 'cost' , or is it not about any of these but what the deciding population finds to be empirically and progressively progressive for the society (as in case of pro-ecological movements,gay-rights movement,anti-racism,feminism-a win-win for all,supporting female empowerment, preventing child labour, anti-eugenics etc.)
I mean a society would be against an immoral act even if it may have benefits for the society, right? like in case of vivisection, a society would oppose vivisection because frogs suffer,even in a case when say the vivisection would help in scientific advancement or development of medicine,

If it is indeed about cost incurred , then it would be true that if a life-style choice does cost a majority ,it's critique be conveyed, but should we also not take into account what the cost is, I mean the amount of criticism justified should correlate to the cost, and also if cost itself worthy of being taken into account, for example as long as the cost is based on arguments on the ecological footprint of meat-eating, it could be worthy, but in many cases of moral stigmatisations costs which are actually driving the actions could not be considered as worthy, like the cost:discomfort caused by experiencing an action considered taboo by one's own religion, discomfort caused by experiencing an action that misfires empathy neurons, likewise in other cases, there is a cost of discomfort incurred by conservative hindus as they see what they consider to be a cherished heritage destroyed by say a valentines day,another case would be (disclaimer: I do not wish to trivialise a serious issue by comparing it to meat eating but just to explain the point) , the discomfort incurred by a fundamentalist when just cannot digest that women could drive if they so wish.

My point is about stigmatisation,as long as the cost incurred by non-meat eaters is not as much as the cost incurred by meat-eaters because of the stigmatisation , would the stigmatisation be justified?
I mean,extending from your earlier comment:
arvindiyer Wrote:Sustainability is too important a matter to be left just to vegans. Not all proponents of responsible consumption are vegetarian (Enter the one-day-a-week vegetarians); and not all vegetarian dietary options are particularly gentle in terms of their ecological footprint (Enter the advocates of local food with slashed transportation overheads). The site of the consensus is usefully visualized as the marketplace, where regulatory mechanisms can be formulated to incentivize responsible consumption, under electoral review of course.

A tl;dr version of my earlier comment along this one could be as follows: Nobody is owed immunity from society's critique on lifestyle choices impacting others. Preferably the issuing and responses to such critiques must be participative and voluntary, eschewing coercion by the majority or the privileged. However if the critique is acted upon by the majority to enforce a denial of certain consumption choices via legislation, such legislation must be subject to a provision to appeal.
I wouldn't like it in boolean, shouldn't there be a continuous gradient from "owed immunity from society's critique on lifestyle choices impacting others" to deserving criticism to deserving strong criticism to deserving punishment to "denial of certain consumption choices via legislation : all along the level justified being correlated to the cost,'worth' of cost, impact of the penalty/stigmatisation on the accused.

(most of the images are for the meat eating crowd, the last image is for the diary product consuming crowd (by a go-vegan campaign)

Edit-made a collage instead.
[Image: 7e55db86-def6-4797-b38e-110749d6c618wallpaper.jpg]
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#27
Here are some responses to what to me seemed the central questions above:

Q: Can moral intuitions influenced by the 'ewww,icky,cute or ouch factors' be considered legitimate influences on an attempted reason-based morality?

This question is similar to an earlier question that was posed as: Can tear-jerking emotions in a person, especially if it triggers for all kinds of social injustice irrespective of any group and not a temporary one, be a base for moral reasoning?... Also, would reasoning on such a premise be rational or irrational ?

Quoting the response to the same: If a particular state of affairs causes 'tear-jerking emotions' in many of us, then it is evidently related with some aspect of human well-being. Concern for and maximization of human well-being is foundational to at least one major school of moral reasoning, namely utilitarianism. If the 'tear-jerking emotions' are shared and experienced by more or less everyone, then such considerations can be treated as foundational in an 'intersubjective moral system'. As long as we clearly acknowledge and explicitly state these intersubjective premises which we base later moral decisions on, such an approach cannot be dismissed as irrational.

A couple of caveats are always in order when a distinction is forced between morality based on 'Reason' versus one based on 'emotions'.
(i) The function of the brain areas corresponding to what have traditionally been recognized as the reasoning faculties have been shown to be seriously compromised when areas corresponding to what have been called emotional responses suffer damage. A brief outline of these findings is linked to here.
(ii) Approximating human behavior as that of agents with 'rational self-interest' has in several settings been shown to be an inadequate caricature as discussed briefly here.

Q: When state intervention into individual liberties is effected citing the 'harm principle', what are some fair criteria for determining 'cost' and its apportionment?

We can consider the problem of taxation as a case study of how societies choose how to apportion collective costs. The pitfalls of taxation models at extreme ends of the spectrum like a 'flat tax' or an ultracustomized code of progressive taxation are both discussed here, to establish the necessity of a participatory process of arriving at a mutually acceptable tradeoff. What society considers as acceptable cost will be determined by what it considers its non-negotiable priorities and vital interests, and in a genuinely democratic polity, every citizen will have a say in this determination. Quoting from the same post: Which rights should be regarded universal and which ones exceptional, and what should be the grounds for invoking exceptions, are questions which constitute the core content of public reasoning about morality.

Q: Does the demonization of meat-eaters of the sort adopted in vegan activist poster art, deserve to be part of the discourse?

Some of the sordid, grisly motifs in the posters can undoubtedly be considered 'bad form' or a 'breach of taste', but do not warrant an application of the 'harm principle' which can be used to justify exceptions to free speech on grounds of danger to life, limb or public property. These posters are a result of the exercise of the same freedom that is invoked when images mocking religious beliefs, which to many are too benign to warrant mocking, are posted with aplomb in the public domain. Folks who adopt these techniques are as free to make them as their opponents are to choose to respond in kind, stigmatize, reclaim, inure themselves or simply laugh off.
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#28
(16-Feb-2012, 09:39 AM)arvindiyer Wrote: Q: Can moral intuitions influenced by the 'ewww,icky,cute or ouch factors' be considered legitimate influences on an attempted reason-based morality?

This recent TED presentation by Steven Pinker and Rebecca Newberger Goldstein has these thinkers debating which is the 'better angel of human nature': Empathy or Reason, looking back to history to see whether moral progress has relied more upon 'reasoned arguments' or 'emotional awakenings'.





The video, like this thread, quotes Bentham's arguments for animal rights and adds how an early version of gay rights advocacy was similarly reasoned by him. Staying with the topic of this thread, "mistreatment of animals in factory farms" is among the responses to the question:
Quote:When our great grandchildren look back at us, will they be as appalled by some of our practices as we are by our slave-owning, heretic-burning, wife-beating, gay-bashing ancestors?
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#29
Vegetarianism, Morality and the Stance of Famous Sceintists - Dawkins vs Einstein

http://nirmukta.net/Thread-Vegetarianism...s-Einstein

http://vegetarianfuture.blogspot.in/2014...chard.html
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