May 6, 2006

Eat meat...

Because animals are evil.

26 comments:

Ron said...

They'd eat us if they could...but they wouldn't hold any grudges at least...

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Troy said...

Guns don't kill animals -- people do.

Ron -- you are correct. Were the tables reversed (and sometimes they are -- a la Grizzly Man) we would all be dead.

Nels said...

Not many people in this country eat wild animals, for which this argument works. The vast majority of the animals that we eat exist only because we pay for them to be born. As we have complete control over production, if our real motivation were self-defense it would make more sense to stop creating these things that wish to harm us.

Wickedpinto said...

Ron said...
They'd eat us if they could...but they wouldn't hold any grudges at least...


The Needle Beaked finch of the Galapagos was identified as a blood drinker because one of the people traveling with darwin noticed a small bird licking an open wound on one of his companions legs. Darwin is credited with observing, but likely someone who didn't get it, was asked to observe the actions of the Needle Beaked Finch of the Galapagos Island, and it was the vampiric Finch that actually guided darwin to viewing and indentifying the various forms of boobies.

Since the needle beaked finch feeds, by trailing a boobie, and pulling out feathers, environmentalizing the boobie to the random pain of feather loss, and then using that said same pain, to then Spear the flesh of the boobie so that the finch might then lick the blood from the wound the boobie is oblivious of.

Thats all true info. Don't ask me why I remember it, other than having used it as a sarcastic comment about customers in the past, and I don't believe even for me that is reason enough.

Patrick Martin said...

My dad raised cows for a few years (until he saw that to get the tax break, you actually had to lose real money). The last two, we named "Brisket" and "Veal".

A friend was visiting the property one day, and Brisket tried to charge us. From the look in his eye, he wanted us dead and gone. It took quite a bit of maneuvering with the car to block the bull and drive through the gate. When we got home, I told dad it was about time to have some nice Brisket for dinner.

My friend came back into town about 3 months later, so we had a barbecue to celebrate. Reaching into the freezer which was chock-full of "Brisket" was oh so satisfying. Let me tell you, it was the best steak I ever had in my life.

Tibore said...

Well, I don't know about evil, but they sure are damn tasty.

What's that old joke? If we're not supposed to eat cows, why then did God make them out of steak? Or something like that...

Johnny Nucleo said...

The kid's got skills.

It's not that animals are evil. It's that humans are good, or can be.

Palladian said...

From Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography:

"...in my first voyage from Boston, being becalm'd off Block Island, our people set about catching cod, and hauled up a great many. Hitherto I had stuck to my resolution of not eating animal food, and on this occasion consider'd, with my master Tryon, the taking every fish as a kind of unprovoked murder, since none of them had, or ever could do us any injury that might justify the slaughter. All this seemed very reasonable. But I had formerly been a greatlover of fish, and, when this came hot out of the frying-pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanc'd some time between principle and inclination, till I recollected that, when the fish were opened, I saw smaller fish taken out of their stomachs; then thought I, "If you eat one another, I don't see why we mayn't eat you." So I din'd upon cod very heartily, and continued to eat with other people, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable diet. So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do."

Ann Althouse said...

Johnny: I agree. That's the answer. Animals are incapable of higher reasoning and of thinking that anything is wrong. No mens rea.

Palladian: Chris discusses that quote in his post.

TWM said...

Hmmm, maybe they were trying to help him out just in case the food police were watching and he didn't clean his plate?

bearbee said...

Animals are incapable of higher reasoning and of thinking that anything is wrong.

Animals have it all figured out. They are waiting for us to catch up........

Joseph Hovsep said...

Prof. Althouse: Animals are incapable of higher reasoning and of thinking that anything is wrong. No mens rea.

Have you ever gotten to know a dog?

Should we eat people who lack the mens rea for murder or have very low IQs?

Ann Althouse said...

Joseph: My comment was in the context of saying why the animals aren't blameworthy for the killing they do and why they give us no justification for behaving "like them." Since we have reason, we are not like them, and can't ask for such a low standard. As for human beings without reason, we only hold them to a low standard too. As to what beings we're allowed to kill, that's another question entirely. On that, I would say that we must treat human beings on a higher standard than animals, because they are human, even the individuals who cannot think on a level higher than other animals.

Ann Althouse said...

Oh, and those dogs? That's your love for the dog your seeing. The actual dog will eat your face off if you slip into unconsciousness -- as soon as he's hungry. Do you seriously think he won't?

Joseph Hovsep said...

I know animals, dogs included, can be vicious, but they are also capable of love, loyalty, shame, etc. In other words, I disagree with the premise that animals are never capable of being "good" or knowing when they do something wrong. I'm sure some animals who would eat my face off, as you so gently put it, given the chance, but there are others who can learn and have learned that that would be wrong.

Although your comment was made in the context of explaining why its ok for other animals to kill, it seems to be part of the larger defense of why humans can kill other animals (we can eat them because they eat other animals). You say since humans have reason we must be held to a higher standard than they-kill-so-we-can-kill. I agree, though perhaps we use our reason to come to different conclusions.

Johnny Nucleo said...

"I'm sure some animals who would eat my face off, as you so gently put it, given the chance, but there are others who can learn and have learned that that would be wrong."

Lassie was a fictional character.

Dude, you love your dog. That's a good thing. But there are three reasons why your dog doesn't eat your face off, and none of them has anything to do with morality. One, your dog has been conditioned not to view humans as prey. Two, even if he did view humans as prey, dogs tend not to hunt animals larger than they are unless they are hunting in a pack. And three, in your dog's world, you are the Alpha Dog, the big cheese, the head honcho, who also has magical powers, like the ability to spontaneously generate play-time. He basically sees you as a cross between Tony Soprano and God.

I'm no dog expert. This is basic Discovery Channel stuff. Anthropomorphizing animals is not good for animals and it's not good for humans.

bill said...

If we're talking dogs, I'll mention one of my favorite articles from slate.com: "What's wrong with eating man's best friend?"

Strip out Bardot's silly arrogance and her Korean colleagues' sentimentality, and their philosophy boils down to this: The value of an animal depends on how you treat it. If you befriend it, it's a friend. If you raise it for food, it's food. This relativism is more dangerous than the absolutism of vegetarians or even of thoughtful carnivores. You can abstain from meat because you believe that the mental capacity of animals is too close to that of humans. You can eat meat because you believe that it isn't. Either way, you're using a fixed standard. But if you refuse to eat only the meat of "companion" animals—chewing bacon, for example, while telling Koreans that they can't stew Dalmatians—you're saying that the morality of killing depends on habit or even whim.

I've never eaten dog, but I'm not opposed to trying it. I would not be offended if the grocery store sold dog or cat or horse next to the ground beef. The farmer's market sells rabbit loins and you can't get much cuter than a bunny.

Pastor_Jeff said...

Johnny Nucleo -

Excellent answer, and right on (and I'm a dog owner). If you think about it, it's actually pretty amazing that we keep carnivores in our homes. And it ain't their "love" or morality that keeps us safe.

This reminds me of an old joke.

Dog: "He feeds me, cares for me, and entertains me. He must be God!"

Cat: "He feeds me, cares for me, and entertains me. I must be God!"

Johnny Nucleo said...

Dog: "He feeds me, cares for me, and entertains me. He must be God!"

Cat: "He feeds me, cares for me, and entertains me. I must be God!"

It's funny because it's true.

And you're right. It is amazing that we keep big carnivores like dogs as pets. It says something good about us, and creation, I think.

(I exclude cats and small dogs because even though they are carnivores, they are not scary, as big dogs sometimes are.)

LoafingOaf said...

Johnny Nucleo: Dude, you love your dog. That's a good thing. But there are three reasons why your dog doesn't eat your face off, and none of them has anything to do with morality. One, your dog has been conditioned not to view humans as prey. Two, even if he did view humans as prey, dogs tend not to hunt animals larger than they are unless they are hunting in a pack. And three, in your dog's world, you are the Alpha Dog, the big cheese, the head honcho, who also has magical powers, like the ability to spontaneously generate play-time. He basically sees you as a cross between Tony Soprano and God.

I'm no dog expert. This is basic Discovery Channel stuff. Anthropomorphizing animals is not good for animals and it's not good for humans.


Don't you have to be careful about going too farr with anthropomorphizing humans, too? Couldn't the Discovery Channel do a program which argues that, say, you are just a machine, your sense of self is an illusion, and the emotion you call love for your mate is just to help your genes get passed on?

I'm not sure I get why you think it's better for animals if we only see their differences to humans and not their similarities. The way you say this makes me feel suspicious that your intentions are to discourage people from having more empathy for other animals. Is that truly more in touch with reality?

We're not talking about making a dog into a talking cartoon when we see similarities to ourselves in our dogs. I know my dog is very different from me and our brains are much more complex. But I also know my dog has emotions, can feel things such as shame and happiness, and is capable of something pretty close to what we call love.

Whether I'm taking that too far or not is an open question. However, I don't understand why you say it's not good for animals or for humans for the other commenter to have observed what he did in dogs. It's good for both humans and animals because it's probably closer closer to truth. His eyes open to the fact that humans are animals and dogs are both intelligent, complex animals, that we are related to each other, and that we have far more similarities than differences.

LoafingOaf said...

Typo correction on the last paragraph: His eyes are open to the fact that humans and dogs are both intelligent, complex animals, that we are related to each other, and that we have far more similarities than differences.

bearbee said...

Henry Beston
Author (1888-1968)
"We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of animals. Remote from universal nature and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creature through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion. We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken form so far below ourselves. And therein do we err. For the animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with the extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren, they are not underlings: they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and travail of the earth."
~ "The Outermost House"

Abraham said...

But I also know my dog has emotions, can feel things such as shame and happiness, and is capable of something pretty close to what we call love.

I agree with nucleo on this. Dogs can certainly feel primal emotions, but if you think a dog's love of his owner is anything like a human's love of another human, you are simply selling yourself a pleasant fiction. In fact, the reason we are so fond of dogs as companions is precisely because they don't act like humans in that respect. The dog, unlike the human, doesn't love you for who you are, for your personality, for your virtue, or anything like that. The dog loves you simply because you are the leader. For the dog, joy is in following the leader and being rewarded. You could be a child-molesting serial murderer member of the Nazi party, and the dog will still "love" you if you boss it around and don't hurt it.

But as soon as you are not the leader, or don't act like the leader, the same dog will challenge your authority, boss you around, and eat your face. The dog doesn't love you at all. It only loves your position of authority.

LoafingOaf said...

Abraham: Dogs can certainly feel primal emotions, but if you think a dog's love of his owner is anything like a human's love of another human, you are simply selling yourself a pleasant fiction.

But if you think a dog's love is nothing like a human's love, isn't that a fiction as well?

the reason we are so fond of dogs as companions is precisely because they don't act like humans in that respect. The dog, unlike the human, doesn't love you for who you are, for your personality, for your virtue, or anything like that. The dog loves you simply because you are the leader.

You're setting it up so that love is defined as coming from rational thinking ("this person is very virtuous; I have decided to love this person"). So, since dogs aren't rational they don't have love. Is love rational? Don't people often love their families nearly unconditionally? Didn't the emotion evolve in our brains so that we'll go further in caring for our families than we would when that emotion isn't triggered? Are we in control of when it's triggered?

My dog might love me because she perceives me as the alpha dog in her pack, but if I had a daughter I'd love my daughter simply because she's my daughter. And I might fall romantically in love with a person in part for the reasons you say, but aren't there un-conscious reasons going on, too, that aren't so different from what's going on in some other animals?

You could be a child-molesting serial murderer member of the Nazi party, and the dog will still "love" you if you boss it around and don't hurt it.

But as soon as you are not the leader, or don't act like the leader, the same dog will challenge your authority, boss you around, and eat your face. The dog doesn't love you at all.


I'm not entirely disagreeing. I'm saying you go too far in the other direction. You call a dog an "it" and declare confidentally that it's absurd to think of how my dog feels about me as anything like love. I'm not saying it's exactly the same as when humans love. But I think something that one can call the emotion of love does exist in dogs and many other animals. It might be triggered by reasons you respect less, but it's there.

Also, my dog is not your average dog. She's a standard poodle, and they are extremely sensitive, intelligent dogs! :) If I were laying unconscious and she was starving, she would never "eat my face off" because her emotions for me prevail over her carnivoristic tendencies. A starving person who doesn't love me...I'm not sure I'd be safe from being murdered and eaten.

Johnny Nucleo said...

Loafingoaf,

Anthropomorphizing animals is dangerous.

In the comment threads of this blog otherwise morally sane people have argued that dolphins and other higher mammals may have a greater claim to personhood than retarded humans. They see nothing wrong with this view. And because of smiley-face monsters like Peter Singer, and a general ignorance of history and science on the part of slap-happy animal lovers, it's becoming more and more common.

I'm telling you right now, the ideas of Peter Singer are pure evil. To quote the psycharatrist Carmella sees in season three or four: "You can never say nobody told you." Singer's philosophy will lead to very bad things.

But lets put aside unprovable assertions and deal with this rationally.

Here's the unbridgable difference. "Should" is meaningless when applied to an animal. Animals do what they do because that's what they do. There is no "should" about it. They cannot - repeat this over and over again until you get it - they cannot circumvent their instinct. It is beyond them. It is ridiculous to apply moral standards to animals.

Your dog feels shame when she poops on the rug or steals food from your plate not because she thinks it's wrong, as in immoral, but because she knows you'll get mad. That's it. That's all that's going on. She "loves" you, because dogs love being part of a group, having a place. If your dog thought for one second that she could be top dog, she'd challenge you. Has your dog ever growled at you? She's challenging you because she thinks your weak. Your not going to like this, but the "love" she feels for you is rooted in fear.

Dogs are wolves that have been domesticated by man over thousands of years. You really want to understand dogs? Spend some time with wolves.

As for your suspicion that I argue what I do because I'm trying to promote the idea that there's nothing wrong with mistreating animals, what are you smoking? Humans love animals because that's what we do (sometimes). We love. We love animals because we love life, even life that is not our own (or our genes'). We are the only species on earth that really does.

Admittedly, that's a bit rhapsodic. The purely scientific reason is this: animals are cute and dumb and remind us of human babies.