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Old 05-01-2006, 03:15 AM posted to alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian,talk.politics.animals,,alt.animals.rights.promotion
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Default The collateral deaths argument and the 'Perfect Solution Fallacy": a false dilemma.

Glorfindel wrote:
Dave wrote:


Ok. How does an ordinary Joe with no direct control over his
food supply ensure that his diet is not responsible for any
animal rights violations?

Glorfindel wrote:

Probably not possible in the real world.

OK. How does an ordinary Joe with no direct control over his food
supply ensure that his diet is not responsible for more animal rights
violations than it would be if he replaced some of it with flesh from
large wild animals shot in their natural habitat? I realise that the
question may be purely academic for many people.

It's academic for most people. It also ignores all the additional
animal deaths and rights violations which are involved in that
animal shot in his natural habitat, if the hunter does not also
live in that habitat. It's not just one hunted animal = one death.
It's all the collateral damage involved in the environmental impact
of the things required to get the hunter there and back.

These fatcors are not ignored any more than the environmental
impact of getting beans from the farm to your plate.

kind of calculation ends up being pretty much academic as well,
because the variables are so difficult to measure against each other.

It is almost impossible to measure. The best we can do is make
an educated guess.

The best alternative would be for a person with even a small area
where he can raise crops to grow as much food as possible --
anything from a couple of fruit trees and some tomato plants in his
backyard to a real vegetable garden, or participating in one of
the community gardens which are found in many progressive towns.
After that, buying from local farmers. In my town, there is a tour
of local organic farms every year, so that customers can see
for themselves the conditions under which the produce is grown,
and a co-op which buys the produce and distributes it to members in
the nearby towns. Beyond that, all one can do is research the
products one buys, and try to choose those with a lower environmental

No dispute with any of that.

In the real world, all people have to work to reduce their
negative impact on others, direct and indirect, as far as
reasonably practical. It will never be perfect, for human
or animal rights, but we can try to do our best to avoid the
worst choices. Vegetarianism/veganism I see as one of the
better choices.

I agree with that vegan diets and to a lesser extent vegetarian diets
are better as a general rule but there are exceptions.

Yes, one can't make black-and-white statements about diet or other
aspects of lifestyle.

While some human pain can be seen as
punishment or teaching, animal pain and pain in innocent
humans are difficult to square with an all-good, all-powerful

One response which makes sense to me is the idea that God
is love, and love requires more than one being for its
expression. The Christian idea of the Trinity involves the
idea that the three Persons within the unity of God allows
God to express love perfectly within His own Being. He
created a universe outside Himself so that He might love it,
conscious beings within it might love Him, and all might
glorify Him.

God might eliminate all pain and sin by making all created
beings unable to act sinfully, and all nature to be unable to
harm those within it. But in doing so, He would eliminate all
freedom for created beings,

Fair enough but why not create beings with no desire to sin?

Sin is defined as turning one's will away from God -- it does
not have to result in harm for any other being. It's an issue
of freedom again. For a being to say "yes" *freely* she must
be able to say "no" freely; to obey freely, one must be
capable of disobeying as well. To have a will which can turn
to God *freely* and love and obey Him freely, a person must
have the capacity to turn away freely as well. God does not,
we believe, want zombie automatons, but loving sons and

Christianity has generally taught that humans had a bit of help
in becoming sinful -- they were tempted. Most modern Christians
see this as metaphorical, rather than a literal Adam and Eve.
My church teaches that original sin does not follow from the Fall
of Adam and Eve, but from this ability and tendency of humans to
act contrary to God's will.

I don't feel that really answers the question. I can accept that God
to give us the freedom to commit sin but that still doesn't explain why
should have the desire to sin.

Again why can a being need some evil in order to have free will?

He doesn't, but free will will usually involve some times when a being
will make wrong choices, just because we aren't perfect.

And if God is all powerful and we are not perfect the only logical
explaination is that God doesn't want us to be perfect.

That means
they must have, be allowed, the ability and freedom to act
sinfully, harmfully, as well as morally, in good ways.

Freedom to act sinfully is not the same as willingness to
act sinfully.

No. In fact, many people, starting with St. Paul, have
complained that they don't want to act sinfully, but they
end up doing so anyway. It's part of being human.

beings will use this freedom in wrong and harmful ways.
According to Christian belief, Satan has already done so, and
Linzey and C.S. Lewis suggest Satan has corrupted created
nature by introducing predation and animal pain even before
humans existed.

I suppose if Satan is infinitely powerful and infintely evil then
it is possible for evil to be compatible with an infinitely good
infinitely powerful god.

No, that's a Gnostic or Zoroastrian belief. Christianity teaches
that Satan is also a created being and less powerful than God,
but more powerful and cunning than humans (or animals). He doesn't
really have to be blamed for human sin; we do it on our own.

OK. Thanks for the Theology lesson. BTW it is mathematically
possible for the Devil to be infinitely poweful *and* less powerful
than God.

Humans also create(d) pain, suffering, injustice
through their own free-will sinful acts. But that free will
also allows them to love God and other beings (including
animals) and act morally toward them. Without freedom, good
and evil cannot exist, there can be no good moral action.

They say I don't belong.. I must stay below, alone..
Because of my beliefs, I'm supposed to stay where evil is sown..
But what is evil anyway? Is there reason to the rhyme..?
Without Evil, there can be no good..
So it must be good to be evil sometimes..

It's sort of like light and dark: without dark, we wouldn't understand
light. There can be good without evil, but there cannot be
good done *freely*, good with moral value, unless there is
the capacity to do otherwise.

That can explain away a small amount of sin and suffering but not
realisitically on the scale we witness in the real world.

This is similar to the secular
idea that moral patients ( in Regan's system ) cannot violate
rights, because they cannot act either morally or immorally.
Many people have said animals are sinless, or innocent, in
this way, but it does not mean they cannot do harm to others.
They are just not morally responsible for what they do. In
the same way, a severely retarded person or a young child can
do harm or even kill another person, but we don't hold them
morally responsible, or try them as adults in our legal system.

A similar thought to yours

I stole the thought from the South Park movie.

is an old medieval poem:

"Adam lay yboundan, bounden in a bond
Four thousand yeare thought he not too long.
And all was for an apple, and apple that he took,
As clerkes finden written in here booke.
Never had that apple, apple taken been,
Never had Our Lady been Heaven's Queen.
Blessed be that apple, apple take was.
Therefore we maun sing, "Deo gratias!"

The idea is that God always brings good out of evil, and turns
all sin into redemption. The sin isn't good in itself, but
God will use it to bring about a good result.

It's still very hard to believe that sin is necessary on the scale
of reality.

How does following Jesus's example require us not to eat meat?

There is a fairly elaborate discussion of this in Andrew Linzey's
books, and for a more complete analysis, I'd suggest reading
at least _Christianity and the Rights of Animals_ and _Animal

Animals are more like us than the rest of Creation -- something
which is obvious to everyone who has had any experience with them.
They have consciousness and ability to feel pleasure and pain,
and what we do to them matters more to them, than what we do to
other created things matters to them. This is reflected in the
Biblical story of the Flood, where the Covenant between God and
humanity afterward includes animals as well, and animals are said
to share the same basic nature -- the same "breath" -- as humans,
unlike plants or inanimate objects. The story in Genesis states
that in our uncorrupted state, in Eden, humans were created to be
vegetarian (Genesis 1:29-30). This is the ideal. In the same
way, there was no predation in the paradicical state, no violence.

If the "paradicial" state is superior to our current state why did
God abandon it? If it wasn't why did he create it in the first place?

We should remember that the animals are created by God, and thus
*belong* to God -- anything we do to them, we are doing, in essence,
to Someone Else's property, and only under His sufferance.

The same can be said of plants, mountains, rivers, everything.

We have
to answer to God for the life of every one of His creatures that
we take, and had better have a really good reason. "It tastes good"
is not a good enough reason to kill. What Linzey says is that:
"When we have to kill to live we may do so, but when we do not, we
should live otherwise." We almost never *have* to use animals in the
way they are used in commercial farming today, or kill them as they are
killed in factory farms. We have other options. Even so, Linzey adds,
"The truth is that even if we adopt a vegetarian or vegan life-style, we
are still not free of killing, either directly or is
only *one* very small step toward the vision of a peaceful world."

If we take the example of Jesus, Linzey notes that, "...there is a
powerful strand in his ethical teaching about the primacy of mercy
to the weak, the powerless and the oppressed...Who is more deserving
of this special compassion than the animals so commonly exploited
in our world today?" In other words, the example of Jesus is
showing mercy to those in our power, in "lowering" ourselves to
serve those who are helpless, suffering, and in need, in sacrificing
ourselves for those who cannot help themselves and are oppressed
and hurt and killed. The animals, even more than humans, are "the
least of these" whom we are to feed and offer shelter and comfort,
for as we do it to "the least of these," Jesus says, we do it to
Him. The fact that we *have* such near-absolute power over other
conscious, feeling beings capable of suffering -- as God does over
us -- is the very reason we should do our best to use it wisely and
compassionately, and to try to reduce suffering and harm whenever
possible, rather than add to it.

I'm not disagreeing with the sentiment but I find it odd trying to
find a justification for it within Christianity. Firstly because many
of the concepts of Chrisianity make me incredulous. A perfect
God creating a sinful World being an example. Secondly
because the Old Testament explicitly permitted people to eat
animals (at least of those species that were deemed "clean")
and there is no record of Jesus rescinding this permission or
even forbidding his followers to eat meat.

I think that means we should not involve ourselves in modern
commercial meat/animal products production, especially factory
farming, and if we do not *have* to kill animals to live, we should,
as Linzey says, live otherwise. In general, that would mean
being vegetarian or vegan, except in the case of things like
gathered eggs, milk shared fairly with the mother animal's young, and
scavenged meat. We should care for other animals as we would have
God care for us, and as He has shown He does care for us.

  #197 (permalink)   Report Post  
Old 05-01-2006, 03:45 AM posted to alt.animals.ethics.vegetarian,talk.politics.animals,,alt.animals.rights.promotion
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Default The collateral deaths argument and the 'Perfect Solution Fallacy": a false dilemma. Part II

Glorfindel wrote:
Dave wrote:
Glorfindel wrote:

To continue:

To be just and recognize their rights, euthanasia cannot be based
on our own utilitarian considerations ( for example, how difficult
it is for us to care for them, or how expensive the treatment
required, or how much it bothers *us* to watch them suffer, or
how nice it would be for us to have a new, healthy pet) but on
the basis of what value their continued life has *for them*.

Thanks for that summation. I think Regan is wrong to trivialise
the financial and emotional and time costs to the parents.

I don't think he trivializes those things, but he ( and I )
believe they can't be used as the primary reasons for
euthanasia, unless the subject consents.

I see all the interested parties, as having needs that ought to
be given consideration. It appears that Regan and you want to
pay far more attention to the needs of the infant than his/her
parents. In your ethics the parents needs appear to be little
more than a tie-breaker if the judgement is too close to call.
Is this fair?

Let's take another example. Suppose we have a sick old woman
who wants to spare her family financial and emotional
suffering. She asks her family to help her with assisted
suicide, and they do. In that case, she is taking the costs
to others into consideration, and suicide under those conditions
would respect her right to choose what she wants done with her
own body, and be based on a utilitarian analysis of the total
system as well.


OTOH, take the same sick old woman who does *not* want to die.
If her family kills her to spare themselves suffering (or for her
insurance) it would be considered murder and a violation of
her rights.

Although it is perhaps inconsistent of me to be introducing
non-utilitarian considerations, I think there is a relevant difference
an old woman and infant here. The woman will likely have invested
a great deal of time and/or money and (during pregnancy) health in
order to bring her children up. If she wants to be kept alive the
sort of owe it to her in a way. A baby killed shortly after birth is in
the same position as a baby who hadn't been concieved, at least
from an atheistic perspective.

If we accept Francoine's argument that we are obligated not to
violate the rights of others but not morally obligated to help
others then is it not better to painlessly euthanise the infant
than to wait for him/her to die of neglect?

Oh, yes. I think so.

I'm still not entirely sure what reasons. You have conceded that
lethal methods of pest control are in violation of animal rights. Is it
implausible to you that the number of rodents deliberately posioned per
calorie of grain is greater than the number of deer deliberately shot
per calorie of venison?

No, it is entirely plausible and even probable. However, from a rights
perspective, the violation of the deer's rights as an individual cannot
be justified on the basis of the violation of the mice's rights as
individuals. In effect, "two wrongs don't make a right."

But we are not talking about violating the rights of the deer and the
of the mice. We are talking about violating the rights of the deer or
the rights of the mice.

Either one is wrong from a rights perspective. While one may have to
choose between two wrongs, it is better to try to avoid either one by
looking for least-harmful sources of vegetables.

Of course.

And, of course,
humans are not pure carnivores. Even if a hunter reduces the amount
of vegetable food in his diet, he will still eat some. Unless it is
gathered plants, he will then violate the rights of both groups

Surely what matters is how many individual animals are violated, not
how many groups are? Do vegans not eat more plant matter than

The only
just course of action would be to respect the rights of *both* by
trying to avoid poisoning the mice in production of vegetables and
using some other method of protecting the crop (for example, better
fences, or more secure storage buildings).

Well, that's a major question, isn't it? I'm not sure I can give
a simple answer off the top of my head. You first: what do *you*
see as the purpose of ethics?

How about to balance the conflicting interests of sentient beings
in such a way as to foster the greatest overall quality (x quantity)
of life?

I would see that as a good goal, as long as the inherent value of
each individual within the whole is respected first, as in the
example of the mice above, or the euthanized animal above. I would
see considering *only* the overall sum of welfare as a potential
slippery slope which can lead to very bad consequences for the
minority victims.

This is where the concept of rights comes in - as a means to an end.

I guess one major purpose would be to defend and define rights
and assure they are not violated for purely utilitarian considerations.

I see rights as a means to an end, not an end in themselves.

I see them as a means of defining how the inherent value of each
individual should justly be respected, independent of utilitarian
benefit to others.

I guess that's where we have to agree to differ. I am interested in
the whole.

I understand. We can agree to disagree here.

Sure. You are welcome to present arguments in favour of your
position but my belief that it is the whole that matters is an axiom
to me.

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