Vegeterianism & Irrationality
#13
I am vegetarian too. I don't eat non-veg because of moral issues and I cant tolerate its smell.
There is nothing irrational in choice of food, but it will become irrational if you "force" your choice on others.

I liked the Paul McCartney quote:
"If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian."
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#14
Quote:Does a claim of knowledge of irrationality in behaviour/belief in anyway reduce the harm caused by the slippery slope of irrationality?

I think you have answered that yourself.

Quote:I can happily share tables with my meat chompers

I guess, irrational belief has to be tempered with the knowledge of irrationality so that you don't harm. Common people(not implying non-vegetarians hold rational notion of non-vegetarianism) won't even get the question of either shunning or embracing vegetarians.
Manju Vadiarillat
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#15
I think the survival instinct is supreme in all humans just as in other animals. If we were marooned on a deserted island with no other animal life or vegetation, after a few days of starvation, we'd try to look for and catch fish in the sea and eat them even if we've not eaten sea food ever.
As Raj points out that non-vegetarianism can be irrational too.
Humans have invented ways to preserve food and transport it world wide, so unlike earlier they can eat what would not be available locally. The sheer variety of food and their easy availability has and will cause some physiological changes in humans. They've no need to hunt animals to eat meat. Did we have fangs like the carnivores earlier?
After our basic survival is assured, then we start discerning about our likes and dislikes.

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#16
(03-Sep-2010, 11:51 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: Hi Raj, nice to see you here. The following lines are not addressed to you or prof Nayak.

I am giving up on my explanation-based approach to creating awareness on the category error known as the naturalistic fallacy. If rational skeptics cannot help but make the error, repeating it in case after case, I don't think it's going to make a difference on the public at large. I have explained this error on multiple threads. But I'm not sure that anyone has understood what it entails. I think that our ways of thinking about morality are more hardwired than we think, and some people are just more inclined to make the naturalistic fallacy.

Sajith, Lije, Murthy and Bala, you guys are some of the most rational people I know. The argument here can be cleared up in a minute- in one paragraph. Anyone game?


Hey Ajita I am always game smile
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#17
(02-Sep-2010, 09:49 PM)murthymail Wrote: What you eat is a matter of one's personal choice but there are two interesting questions that I'd like to highlight here. Firstly, does a Darwinian explanation of the living world yield Vegetarianism inherently irrational? Rather, does evolution warrant disproportionate meat consumption or mass-killing of animals for food?

Secondly, (this might be quite unrelated, it deals with epistemology and ethics/philosophy) : Does a claim of knowledge of irrationality in behaviour/belief in anyway reduce the harm caused by the slippery slope of irrationality? To paraphrase this in a better way, does the human tendency to hold on to an irrational or superstitious behaviour/belief in spite of the realization of irrationality in anyway count better than a blind belief in a certain doctrine? Note that this inclination to continue believing in something irrational even after reasoning your way out could be because of many reasons: psychological/coercion/peer-pressure/social-conformity/childhood conditioning etc.

Vegetarianism is not irrational. What did humans eat before they stopped walking on all fours and started to use their fore limbs as hands, tools for hunting?
It's just "adapt or perish".
People started conforming to/following religious diktats about food because they knew their chances of survival were greater with a group/community. In the modern world, an individual does not need to adhere strictly to any such community norms, so the reasons for their choices are varied.
We now read up on nutrition or follow a doctor's advice about what to eat or not because we want to live.

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#18
(03-Sep-2010, 11:51 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: I am giving up on my explanation-based approach to creating awareness on the category error known as the naturalistic fallacy. If rational skeptics cannot help but make the error, repeating it in case after case, I don't think it's going to make a difference on the public at large. I have explained this error on multiple threads. But I'm not sure that anyone has understood what it entails. I think that our ways of thinking about morality are more hardwired than we think, and some people are just more inclined to make the naturalistic fallacy.

Sajith, Lije, Murthy and Bala, you guys are some of the most rational people I know. The argument here can be cleared up in a minute- in one paragraph. Anyone game?

I had the naturalistic fallacy in mind when I posted my reply :-)

What I intended to say was that evolution cannot be used to say if either of vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism are rational or irrational. But my earlier reply doesn't reflect that. It kind of meandered off to a different point (purpose of evolution). Again, I was trying to say one being vegetarian or non-vegetarian has no bearing on our evolution as regardless of our choice, we are succeeding in keeping our genes alive. Of course, you are a lot more experienced in philosophy than me. So I'll keep my fingers crossed to know if I committed the naturalistic fallacy again in this reply. smile
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#19
(03-Sep-2010, 08:18 PM)Lije Wrote: What I intended to say was that evolution cannot be used to say if either of vegetarianism and non-vegetarianism are rational or irrational. But my earlier reply doesn't reflect that. It kind of meandered off to a different point (purpose of evolution). Again, I was trying to say one being vegetarian or non-vegetarian has no bearing on our evolution as regardless of our choice, we are succeeding in keeping our genes alive. Of course, you are a lot more experienced in philosophy than me. So I'll keep my fingers crossed to know if I committed the naturalistic fallacy again in this reply. smile

Lije, actually you didn't commit the fallacy, because you clearly mention that evolution cannot be used to say if our desire to eat meat is rational or irrational. I did think that you didn't follow through on the implications of that, but you're right about that being the philosophical part.

"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#20
Rationality and irrationality are terms that we can logically apply to beliefs about facts concerning the natural world. Emotional states are inherently different because they involve subjective elements that renders any logical analysis incomplete without introducing moral premises. Let me simplify this with an example.

We can rationally understand the biochemistry behind the emotion called love. This is the objective part. But love itself is neither rational nor irrational, and has no meaning unless you introduce an emotional element.

To apply this in the conversation here, the science behind the relative benefits of meat and vegetables can only inform us about the facts about the same. In rest is morality. There were two broad types of moral reasons that were discussed in the conversation, but one of those was confused with facts.
1. Compassion: This was generally expressed as 'moral reasons'.
2. Health: This was generally expressed as scientific reasons.

The fallacy is being committed in the second case. There are moral premises that precede both the above desires. We tend to think of morality as having to do only with altruism, but in reality all behaviors that include moral premises are moral phenomena. The desire for good health is no more scientific than the desire for being compassionate. Some people compromise a bit on health in order to be more compassionate (not saying such a commpromise is necessary), and others vice versa. The evolutionary reasons for why we eat meat or vegetables are irrelevant when it comes to establishing the moral premise. They are only (partially) useful in so far as determining the health benefits, and even in-depth nutritional analysis can only do just that. Similarly, scientific ideas about pain and suffering of animals would only inform us about the facts. Whether something is rational or irrational in such cases is determined by deciding on where one's moral imperatives lie, given the facts.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#21
(04-Sep-2010, 12:46 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote: Rationality and irrationality are terms that we can logically apply to beliefs about facts concerning the natural world. Emotional states are inherently different because they involve subjective elements that renders any logical analysis incomplete without introducing moral premises. Let me simplify this with an example.

We can rationally understand the biochemistry behind the emotion called love. This is the objective part. But love itself is neither rational nor irrational, and has no meaning unless you introduce an emotional element.

To apply this in the conversation here, the science behind the relative benefits of meat and vegetables can only inform us about the facts about the same. In rest is morality. There were two broad types of moral reasons that were discussed in the conversation, but one of those was confused with facts.
1. Compassion: This was generally expressed as 'moral reasons'.
2. Health: This was generally expressed as scientific reasons.

The fallacy is being committed in the second case. There are moral premises that precede both the above desires. We tend to think of morality as having to do only with altruism, but in reality all behaviors that include moral premises are moral phenomena. The desire for good health is no more scientific than the desire for being compassionate. Some people compromise a bit on health in order to be more compassionate (not saying such a commpromise is necessary), and others vice versa. The evolutionary reasons for why we eat meat or vegetables are irrelevant when it comes to establishing the moral premise. They are only (partially) useful in so far as determining the health benefits, and even in-depth nutritional analysis can only do just that. Similarly, scientific ideas about pain and suffering of animals would only inform us about the facts. Whether something is rational or irrational in such cases is determined by deciding on where one's moral imperatives lie, given the facts.

Thanks Ajita for putting that across very well. I thought Graham Hill was also committing the fallacy by talking about his improved health and weight loss because of his vegetarian diet. Maybe he should have just stuck to ecological and moral reasons to put forward his case.
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#22
(04-Sep-2010, 07:14 AM)Sajit Wrote: I thought Graham Hill was also committing the fallacy by talking about his improved health and weight loss because of his vegetarian diet. Maybe he should have just stuck to ecological and moral reasons to put forward his case.
Graham Hill would have been committing the naturalistic fallacy if he had said that the scientific or objective thing to do is to be a vegetarian because of the claimed health benefits. BTW, there are indeed plenty of studies regarding the health benefits of cutting down on certain types of meat. But the replacement diet must consist of freshly prepared vegetables, lentils, nuts, and a diversity of other non-animal food sources, in ways that retain quality. Of course, there are still significant health advantages to eating certain types of meat, especially if you're dependent on it Wink
The truth is, there are many different factors that come into play and can't be ignored. Diet and lifestyle are interrelated and require a more nuanced approach to dissect properly. There are many moral issues that must be weighed against each other after taking into consideration the scientific facts. For example, the way we acquire and propagate our food sources- both vegetarian and carnivorous- has tremendous influence on my moral premises. Not only is the quality of life of other sentient beings at stake, but also is the quality of the biodiversity we have here on earth. Such issues are often more complex than the narrative presents. Here's what I posted on a friend's thread on facebook:
Quote:I don't see a black/white moral divide between those who eat meat and those who don't. For example, some vegetarians do more damage to the planet than some omnivores. The truth is, conscientious consumption requires a more nuanced approach than our supermarket culture allows
.




"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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#23
(05-Sep-2010, 12:49 AM)Ajita Kamal Wrote:
(04-Sep-2010, 07:14 AM)Sajit Wrote: I thought Graham Hill was also committing the fallacy by talking about his improved health and weight loss because of his vegetarian diet. Maybe he should have just stuck to ecological and moral reasons to put forward his case.
Graham Hill would have been committing the naturalistic fallacy if he had said that the scientific or objective thing to do is to be a vegetarian because of the claimed health benefits. BTW, there are indeed plenty of studies regarding the health benefits of cutting down on certain types of meat. But the replacement diet must consist of freshly prepared vegetables, lentils, nuts, and a diversity of other non-animal food sources, in ways that retain quality. Of course, there are still significant health advantages to eating certain types of meat, especially if you're dependent on it Wink
The truth is, there are many different factors that come into play and can't be ignored. Diet and lifestyle are interrelated and require a more nuanced approach to dissect properly. There are many moral issues that must be weighed against each other after taking into consideration the scientific facts. For example, the way we acquire and propagate our food sources- both vegetarian and carnivorous- has tremendous influence on my moral premises. Not only is the quality of life of other sentient beings at stake, but also is the quality of the biodiversity we have here on earth. Such issues are often more complex than the narrative presents. Here's what I posted on a friend's thread on facebook:
Quote:I don't see a black/white moral divide between those who eat meat and those who don't. For example, some vegetarians do more damage to the planet than some omnivores. The truth is, conscientious consumption requires a more nuanced approach than our supermarket culture allows
.

Thats an excellent quote. Excessive consumption of any food is potentially harmful for health. One effective way to cut excessive consumption would be if we measure and limit our portions ( make better food choices) according to our ideal body weight taking into account our individual lean body mass instead of stuffing our faces?

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#24
(05-Sep-2010, 02:39 PM)Sajit Wrote: One effective way to cut excessive consumption would be if we measure and limit our portions ( make better food choices) according to our ideal body weight taking into account our individual lean body mass instead of stuffing our faces?

Yes, definitely! Steven Novella has talked about this a lot.
"Fossil rabbits in the Precambrian"
~ J.B.S.Haldane, on being asked to falsify evolution.
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