On Morality: Intent Vs. Consequence – Why “Good People” And “Evil People” Don’t Actually Exist

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I don’t think “evil” is something that “exists.”

By which I mean to say that I don’t believe in the idea that evil is a physical force which hovers in the air and enters people and makes them do things. Nor do I believe in the idea that “some people are ‘evil’ but some people are ‘good’.”

Many people throughout history, no less on social media recently, have expressed the idea that specific people or groups of people “are evil” based on their actions towards human or nonhuman animals. This can range from simply saying that non-Vegans in general are bad people, to saying that hunters are worse than others, saying that people who torture animals are the worst, saying that pedophiles are all monsters, etc. etc. ad nauseam.

However, the idea that “some people are evil, and some people are good” doesn’t make much objective sense. All humans have the capability to perform actions that seem either “evil” or “good”, depending on the perspective of the person performing the action, as well as the person observing the action. Because of this, the very idea that some actions are “good” and some are “evil” doesn’t really make much sense either.

This is not to say that some actions are not destructive or harmful. But ascribing the term “evil” to a person because of an action that they’ve committed, as if simply using that term puts the action into a category that divorces it or the doer from all complexity or renders the doer incapable of being anything other than “evil” is far too simplistic and narrow-minded.

Our human concept of morality itself is an automatic, logical response to the recognition that each being who is capable of feeling pain has an individual interest in not suffering. This recognition is the basis for our notion of whether individuals have such things as “rights.” A “right” is merely a term that we use to mean that we agree to a rule that allows us to protect an interest that we all have. Chief among the “rights” that individuals have is the right to not be used as merely a replaceable resource for human pleasure and other non-necessary (aka non-survival, non-health) interests.

Our human system of justice is based on the notion of a human interest in creating a “social order”; this order aims to regulate our behavior in a way which induces the most happiness, satisfaction and “good health” in general in as many of the members of our moral community as possible, and the least unhappiness, despair and other forms of suffering. But this is only because we recognize that individuals who are capable of suffering have this right to not be made to suffer for the non-necessary interests of a human.

Now, from a purely practical perspective (before even considering any abstract notions of moral philosophy) if we examine the ideas advanced by Chaos Theory – for instance – we see that any choice we make between a wide array of possible actions means that our chosen action will affect everything else in the world. So basically, everything that happens in the world is a product of a near-infinite number of different actions that are performed by everyone and everything in reality over “the course of time” (since by our commonly-held perspective, time is linear, even though from what we can figure out scientifically, it most likely is not).

This seems to indicate that any action we commit could have a near-infinite array of both positive and negative consequences. Indeed, each action, as well as each of the consequences which automatically follow from it, could seem either positive OR negative OR both from the perspective of the beings both observing and being affected by them (This has been recognized already for thousands of years by some cultures).

So taking all this into account, how do we determine whether an action that affects others is morally right or wrong? Its simple: we must start by asking whether their are other beings who can feel pain who could become a victim of our actions. Since our actions could be seen as either positive or negative depending on who’s perspective they’re being seen from, it should need no explanation why we should be using the perspective of a potential victim as the measuring stick, and not the perspective of a potential victimizer.

It’s not just the actions or the consequences which determine whether something is right or wrong, but our perspective on those actions and consequences. So that is the ruling factor in whether we should commit an action or not; our own knowledge of whether or not we ourselves perceive our intent and our resultant action to be morally justifiable, based on whether we know if others may or may not be harmed by them unnecessarily. In other words, we must endeavor to commit only actions that have the best chance of causing the least harm through causing the least violations of the rights of others.

In my estimation, this would indicate that the consequences of our actions have absolutely no bearing on our moral culpability. Our actions obviously need to follow logically from our intent, but only our intent means anything when we are determining whether an action fits within our notion of moral responsibility. In other words, only our intent, not the consequences of our actions, should give someone the ability to morally blame us or morally praise us.

People often try to prove the argument that evil people exist with the assertion “But there definitely are people who are evil. I know this is true because this person committed this, this or this horrible action.”

But the point that someone committed an immoral action is not proof that the person in question is evil. This is merely a list of wrong-actions that the person committed. Their actions can be morally justifiable, or not morally justifiable (what we call “immoral”) but that doesn’t make the person “immoral,” nor does it make them “moral.” Everyone, even those who have committed the most heinous acts, has the ability within themselves to change their moral stance so that they are never again going to commit such acts.

Many people often try to counter that argument with the assertion “But this person never did change, so this proves that they were evil. They committed those actions, never regretted it, and died without repenting. This means that they were evil.” But this argument doesn’t prove that at all. All it proves is that the person in question didn’t change, not that they couldn’t have, if they’d lived longer or encountered the right set of circumstances. No human has been proven to be able to predict the future, so saying that we know whether someday someone will change or not is nonsense. There are amazing stories of people who have committed the most heinous actions doing a complete moral “about-face” years afterwards. Add to this point the fact that there are plenty of people who, for one reason or another, have never let on about the regret they felt for their actions. In other words, we often have no way of knowing who will change their moral stance in a specific way, when they will change, or in many cases, even whether they’ve changed at all.

Even putting aside the obvious problems with considering people evil from a rational standpoint, there is a moral problem with just dismissing someone as evil before you’ve seen how their life will turn out. This is because it doesn’t take into consideration the fact that people are eminently capable of changing their moral actions based on new perspectives. In fact, the only real constant in human behavior is change. To dismiss or condemn the entirety of the person as morally worthless based on some of their actions is illogical from a moral standpoint as well.

Also, keep in mind that there are a lot of factors involved in the viewpoints of various people on the myriad actions one could commit and how they relate to morality. In many cases, the intent of a person is to do good, but they are merely confused or unsure what the best course of action is. Some people have been heavily indoctrinated regarding whether an action or set of actions is morally justifiable or not, in various ways and regarding different kinds of beings. Some are more indoctrinated than others, and fear, especially when it’s not even consciously recognized by the fearful, is an incredibly powerful obstacle to moral consistency. There is also the existence of mental disorders, both created by physiological elements and also those related to trauma. These are only a few of the things that often cause perfectly “morally conscious” people to say or do immoral things.

The point is, when we consider the question of how we should be responding to the actions and even the arguments used by non-Vegans to attempt to justify their actions regarding nonhumans, we should keep in mind that we’re not dealing with monsters. We’re dealing with humans, and humans are fallible. They are also capable of massive changes in their moral stance as well as incredible acts of bravery and kindness. I personally have met or have heard the stories from many people who now identify as Vegans and would never have considered going Vegan (and some, in fact, who were die-hard anti-Vegans beforehand, including trophy hunters and slaughterhouse workers) if someone hadn’t been compassionate enough to forgive them and then educate them peacefully on why it’s wrong to use animals. If not for this, they would still be enthusiastically exploiting nonhumans to this day. They themselves admit this. If we want the people who are harming animals for palate pleasure and/or simple convenience, who would otherwise consider ending that behavior, to consider Veganism, then we have to be willing to put our hatred aside and educate them with understanding instead of condemning them. Representing them as evil (or even “sociopathic,” “psychotic, etc.) to others merely causes them (and other people) to avoid our message about the rights of nonhumans.

Another point to consider: Many of our family and friends may be non-Vegan. They are inflicting just as much unnecessary suffering and death by living that way as any other non-Vegan. Are we ok with considering them “evil” as well? If not, we’re just arbitrarily picking and choosing whom we consider to be evil based on our own fits of anger, random self-interests, or whims. Almost all Vegans were non-Vegan at some point, probably including the person reading this (you). Were we evil? Were you? Doesn’t that mean you are still evil? If we think people are one or the other, good or evil, then where is the line? Where do we draw a line and say that this set of actions makes someone evil, but this other set of actions doesn’t? And who is the authority to draw that line? What makes one person’s opinion on what makes someone evil better than some other person’s completely different (and usually contradictory) opinion?

In summation, it’s irrational, not to mention cruel, to just dismiss someone as evil before you’ve seen how their life will turn out. And publicly stating that someone is evil is a great way to guarantee that they, and probably at least a few other non-Vegans, will refuse to go Vegan, which means that the nonhuman animals lose. Is that what we’re trying to accomplish? Is some sort of catharsis where we obtain a few moments of sick pleasure from publicly vilifying another person (which is almost always due to our own shame because we once engaged in the same non-Vegan actions that they currently are engaging in) worth the very real lives and suffering of nonhumans?

Veganism is a movement of peace. If you think animals have moral value, then follow the path of peace, towards human animals and nonhuman animals alike. Live Vegan. Educate others peacefully about why they need to live Vegan as well.

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If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

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The Green Party In Ct. Recognizes Sentience, But Will They Recognize Morality?

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Someone on my friend’s list who is a fellow Green Party member in Ct. recently posted this:

“I’m excited to announce that history was made last night when the Connecticut Green Party voted unanimously to accept my proposal to form an Animal Rights Committee. Based on the principles set forth in the Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness (2012), numerous countries/states/provinces are defining non-human animals as “sentient beings,” changing their status from “property” to “person,” thus granting them rights and protections similar to human beings (Quebec, New Zealand most recently). All those in attendance recognized the urgent need for this important work, and I’m proud to see the Connecticut Green Party aligned with this position and taking a leadership role in animal protection policy making.”

They then went on to make a separate comment, that I totally agree with, about how we need to stand up for nonhumans every chance we get.

Someone else then responded to the OP, saying:

“Defining nonhuman animals as sentient beings appears in no way to alter their status as things or grant them the status of person for any purpose or grant them any legal rights. As I travel, I ask lawyers in those jurisdictions whether they believe that the use of “sentient beings” is anything but symbolic. No one has told me that it actually means something.”

In regards to the first half of the OP’s post and the respondent’s comments, here is my response (names withheld out of courtesy for the aformentioned):

“As a longtime member of the Green Party (25 years!) and a committed Abolitionist Vegan living in Ct., I have to agree with the reply quoted above. I want to first say that I agree completely with the second half of your post. We should definitely stand up for nonhumans whenever we get the chance, and I applaud your intentions. However, if our efforts on behalf of nonhumans are to mean anything we simply need to educate every person we can on the fact that Veganism is the non-negotiable moral baseline. This means that we explain to them that just recognizing nonhumans as sentient is not enough; we must take a strong, clear stance that if nonhumans matter morally, the only sensible thing to do is stop using them in any way.”

For you who are reading this post, in the USA the Green Party is one of the more progressive political parties around. However, they are still quite resistant to Veganism on the whole and have not yet officially embraced it. I’ve written quite a few blog posts on the subject of nonhuman rights. Perhaps some of you could show some of them to the Green Party members you interact with, if you do so?:

How we need to be educating people on Veganism:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/create-new-vegans

A basic simple explanation of what Animal Rights means in relation to Veganism:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/the-argument-for-veganism

Factual, logical proof that human animals and nonhuman animals are morally equal:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/are-humans-superior

An explanation of why the only coherent and consistent moral stance is the principle behind Veganism:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2015/02/10/the-moral-baseline

All the info you will ever need on whether a non-Vegan diet is optimally healthy or not:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/06/15/do-doctors-think

Massive amounts of info on how humans exploiting nonhumans is destroying this planet:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/07/05/ecological-problems

Hundreds of links to info on why it’s wrong for human animals to use nonhuman animals as replaceable resources:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

Chicken Exploiters, Hampton Creek, Reverse “False-Flags,” And Why We Need To Increase Our Educational Efforts

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Recently, there’s been quite some talk about the fact that the egg industry is up in arms over Hampton Creek and their awesome Vegan Mayonnaise:

http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/sep/06/usda-american-egg-board-paid-bloggers-hampton-creek

This kind of thing makes me think maybe it could be a diversionary operation by industry instead (I’m stating right now that I’m not claiming that it’s more or less likely than any other scenario, this is only my perspective and a guess).

If you think about it, it’s brilliant. Let’s say that for the sake of argument, educating people about Veganism is the biggest threat to industry, and a much smaller, but equally morally justifiable threat is Vegan food startups. What is your best play, if you’re industry?

Well, you might consider finding a company that isn’t a huge threat to industry and making a big scene about how you think they’re a huge threat to you, in order to divert attention from the real threat. This would get advocates who aren’t sure what the best form of activism is, but who are trying to figure it out so they can devote more of their resources to that, to focus on Vegan startups, and takes away interest in AbVegan Educational Efforts.

In a normal False Flag Operation, Entity A (AbVegan Education) moves against Entity B (Industry) in a way that makes it seem like Entity C (Vegan Food Startup Company) carried out the operation unassisted, to keep everyone ignorant of the fact that Entity A was responsible. In this version, Entity B is making it seem like Entity C attacked them in order to divert people’s attention away from joining the bigger threat to them, which is the one that holds the only chance of winning (AbVegan Education, aka Entity A). I’m going to dub this idea “The Reverse False Flag” maneuver.

Notice that nowhere in there did I say that we shouldn’t create Vegan startups or that we can’t educate while doing so, or anything like that? We can most definitely do both at one time. But the more important action we should take is to increase our efforts to educate. Everything else we do should enable and accommodate that.

Here’s how we need to educate others on Veganism:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/create-new-vegans

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

Why We Need Less Compassion In The Animal Rights Movement And Why Decreasing Cruelty And Suffering Is Not The Point Of Veganism

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I can’t count the number of times I’ve heard “I’m Vegan because I have compassion for animals,” “We should be Vegan to stop cruelty to animals,” or “I’m Vegan because it’s the right thing to do for people, animals and the planet.”

All three of these statements are counter-productive to the cause of Animal Rights, and hence will cause the amount of suffering we inflict on both nonhuman animals and human animals to increase.

Both “compassion” and “cruelty” are concepts related to kindness. All three terms are about what kind of emotional responses we have and are related more to our own perception of our need to feel a certain way than whether we are meeting our moral obligations. Kindness is also essentially an act of charity from a position of advantage. Animal Rights and Veganism are not about being kind to someone who needs our charity. Animal Rights is about justice, which is born from a basic notion of decency, fairness, and respect. It’s a “Social Justice Movement,” not a “Social Kindness Movement.”

Living Vegan is not an act of kindness that we grant to nonhumans, it’s a moral baseline, a moral responsibility that we must observe if we want to claim to be morally consistent or to deserve to not have our claims of our rights dismissed without due consideration. Veganism is the absolute minimum of decency we need to enact to call ourselves morally consistent. It’s not about granting someone rights that they don’t already have, they already had those rights – we’ve simply been violating them all this time.

Veganism is about ceasing to violate those rights – it’s about a commitment to nonviolence in order to help end the massive, systemic, intentional violence that we are already constantly perpetrating on all sentient beings. Not just “other people” have a responsibility to cease committing these wrongs, but each one of us. Nonhuman animals don’t need primarily for us to have compassion for them, they need for us to be just and stop committing these massive and ongoing violations of their rights.

Using the term compassion to drive a theory of Animal Rights is seriously flawed. Promoting the idea that anything except justice for nonhumans is the driving force behind animal rights diverts attention from the truth. Compassion also can be seen as a way to achieve forgiveness for a rights violation someone has committed. Since we are the ones committing the violations on them, nonhumans don’t need our compassion anywhere near as much as they need our empathy, our reason, our fairness, respect, and justice. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have any compassion at all, or that cruelty is a good thing. Indeed, having compassion towards humans – who can understand human moral codes and still commonly break those codes – for their transgressions is a very important way of setting an example for people who would otherwise have no reason to believe that they should have compassion nor forgiveness for anyone, human or nonhuman.

As most non-Vegans will tell you, anyone can feel compassion for someone and still inflict suffering and death on nonhumans merely for their own selfish interests. They will argue ’til they’re blue in the face that they don’t lack compassion, merely because they strive to give nonhumans a good life before “humanely” slaughtering them for “food.” In fact, the very notion that this is not the case is insulting to most people. This is because they irrationally see themselves as the ones who should decide whether the “inferior beings” that they exploit should get to live or die at all in the first place.

The reason it makes more sense to use the idea of justice to drive Animal Rights is because you can’t have justice and still inflict unnecessary suffering and death. It can’t be coherently argued that it’s Just to inflict suffering on nonhumans when there is no necessity.

Another aspect of this issue is that when we say we’re Vegan to decrease or avoid “cruelty” then non-Vegans will argue that it’s not cruel to exploit nonhuman animals, as long as you do it “nicely.” They will argue that breeding animals is not cruel because the animals “have a good life” and “get to have a family” and other such nonsense. It’s much harder to argue against this than arguing that we have a moral responsibility to not exploit anyone, whether human or nonhuman, because humans are not morally superior to nonhumans. Another word that is implicitly tied to “cruelty” is the word “abuse.” Animals rights, at its core, is not about the immorality of abuse, it’s about the immorality of use. The abuse of nonhumans is not what we need to focus on, what we need to focus on is educating people on why it’s wrong to use nonhumans as replaceable resources for human interests in the first place.

Indeed, Veganism is not merely about a reduction in cruelty, abuse or even in overall suffering. It’s about not intentionally causing any suffering at all through exploitation, but that is really only a result of the fact that Veganism is a fundamental rejection of speciesism, which is an irrational, harmful moral double-standard that stems from the Myth Of Human Supremacy. Living Vegan does reduce the overall suffering in the world, but the reason we live Vegan is because it’s the only morally justifiable way to live.

If Utilitarian concerns of suffering were the main issue, we could justify harming some number of sentient beings, as long as it helped a greater number of sentient beings, or even just reduced a greater amount of suffering. But Veganism is about Rights, not Utilitarian concerns. In order to call yourself Vegan you must, as a Rights matter, reject the very idea that any being who can feel pain should be considered the chattel property of a human being, or used for human interests. Fortunately for everyone, when it comes to the issue of the infliction of unnecessary suffering, Utilitarian concerns are already addressed through Rights solutions.

Basically, if we always keep in mind that it’s a notion of justice that must include both nonhuman animals and human animals if for no other reason than to be sure that it’s rationally and morally consistent, then we can see that arguing about compassion and cruelty are counter-productive to a truly coherent dialogue on the idea of Animal Rights. Making such claims are speciesist, since we don’t argue that we’re being compassionate by not violating humans rights, and speciesism reinforces and perpetuates speciesism, which ensures that even more sentient beings will be harmed.

If we convince enough people of the moral argument for Veganism we won’t have to worry about systemic human cruelty, systemic human-caused suffering or widespread human compassion. A decrease in cruelty and an increase in compassion are natural results of Veganism, just like a decrease in the sum total of nonhuman suffering is a natural result of humans observing nonhumans rights. Only by arguing for justice can we convince people to be Just.

Also, Veganism is not about humans first. Veganism is a human rights issue as well as a nonhuman rights issue, since it’s true that human animals are sentient being just as nonhuman animals are sentient beings, and thus it makes no sense at all to say that it’s wrong to oppress nonhumans but ok to oppress humans. But the facts are that the exploitation of nonhumans by humans is, by a gigantic margin, the most massive and at the same time the most ignored social justice issue in existence. Also, since the myth that humans are morally superior to nonhumans is fundamentally ingrained into the worldview of almost every human practically from birth, we can get to a world free from systemic human rights violations by observing, and educating on, Animal Rights, but we can never get to a world free from systemic nonhuman rights violations or human rights violations merely by observing, and educating on, human rights.

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Update – On the terms we use to describe how we unjustly use nonhumans: The term “meat” is really a euphemism, created by our speciesist society, that’s meant to divert attention from the real issue, which is that we’re talking about the flesh of an innocent being who could feel pain, fear and other sensations, just as much as humans can. A being who had an interest in their own survival and freedoms just as much as humans do. The reality is that it’s impossible to obtain the flesh of those beings without inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on them. Every nonhuman whose flesh we consume was immorally slaughtered using violence, and it was completely unnecessary. Let’s call it what it really is: animal flesh. Let’s point out with every sentence we utter that we’re talking about actual animals, not some morally neutral “product” that was somehow obtained in a “compassionate” way.

Using nonhuman animals for their flesh is also morally not distinguishable from using any sentient being merely as a replaceable resource for any other human purpose either. All forms of exploitation of any animal, nonhuman or human, are morally equal. Furthermore, to distinguish between different kinds of exploitation ensures that the people observing our arguments will inflict even more unnecessary suffering and death on nonhumans (and humans) than before.

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If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s incredible for the animals, easy and great for you, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

On The Intersection Of Oppressions And Alliance Politics

I’m making separate posts on individual issues related to Veganism, so that anyone who wants a handy reference guide to each issue won’t have to go through my entire link list to find it. The links included in each individual post may not be updated regularly, so the Master List will be the only place to find complete updates. These posts will be comprehensive enough to cover most or all questions related to each issue however.

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

Here’s one interesting view on the intersectionality of oppressions:

https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2015/02/07/are-humans-superior

Sub-Section 1B6:
Intersectionality And Alliance Politics:

“Essentialism, Intersectionality, and Veganism as a Moral Baseline: Black Vegans Rock and the Humane Society of the United States”:
http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/essentialism-intersectionality-and-veganism-as-a-moral-baseline-black-vegans-rock-and-the-humane-society-of-the-united-states

“The Myth Of Vegan Progress In Israel”:
The Myth of Vegan Progress in Israel

“Vegan Killers: Israeli Vegan-Washing and the Manipulation of Morality”:
http://www.turkeyagenda.com/vegan-killers-israeli-vegan-washing-and-the-manipulation-of-morality-1656.html

“Intersectionality and Abolitionist Veganism: Part I”:
http://veganethos.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/intersectionality-and-abolitionist-veganism-part-i

“Abolitionist veganism is not a “white” practice”:
http://veganethos.wordpress.com/abolitionist-veganism-is-not-a-white-practice

“Workshop on Intersectionality and Alliance Politics”:
http://veganinformationproject.org/audio-workshop-on-intersectionality-and-alliance-politics

“Project Muse – Volume 65, Number 3, September 2013”:
http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/american_quarterly/toc/aq.65.3.html

“Animal Rights, Multiculturalism, and the Left” by Will Kymlicka and Sue Donaldson:
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/josp.12047/full

_

Sub-Section 1B3:
Main Vegan Blogs And Sites:

My own AR blog:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com

“My Face Is On Fire”:
http://my-face-is-on-fire.blogspot.co.uk

“Veganarchism Ain’t No Joke”:
http://veganarchismaintnojoke.tumblr.com

Sub-Section 1B2:
Facebook Pages And Groups:

Sub-Section 1B2a:
Facebook Pages:

“International Vegan Association”:
https://www.facebook.com/internationalvegan

“Let’s Make a Vegan World”:
https://www.facebook.com/letsmakeaveganworld

“Vegan Information Project – VIP”:
https://www.facebook.com/theveganinformationproject
_

Sub-Section 1B2b:
Facebook Groups:

“South Florida Vegan Support and Education Group”:
http://www.facebook.com/VeganSupportGroup

“Vegan Philosophy Forum”:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/219573241562192

“Vegan Influence & Persuasion”:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/Vegan.Influence.and.Persuasion

“Vegan Scientific Facts”:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/vegan.scientificfacts

“The Human Vegan”:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/168804706659566

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

On Morality: Are Human Animals Superior To Nonhuman Animals?

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The most fundamental problem in AR debates right now is the fact that we are not continuously addressing the myth that humans are morally superior to nonhumans. This idea needs to be eradicated before any truly revolutionary thinking about Animal Rights can begin on the part of morally confused and inconsistent humans. This idea is so ingrained in our societal mindset that it’s completely invisible to almost everyone, and it’s the underlying structure for all irrational, harmful moral double-standards regarding human-nonhuman interaction. There is no speciesism without Human Supremacy.

The single most overlooked, and at the same time most foundational error in logic whenever anyone tries to justify human animals exploiting nonhuman animals is the irrational idea that human animals in general are morally superior to nonhuman animals. This idea can be easily disproved, and yet most people do not even question it. It is assumed to be indisputable when it’s not based on, as some would have us believe, objective fact.

Unless we can explain how human animals are morally superior to nonhuman animals, whenever we try to justify humans exploiting nonhumans in the ways that we do, we can’t rule out humans exploiting other humans in the exact same ways and for the exact same reasons (our mere pleasure, amusement or convenience).

All other forms of moral supremacy, from ethnic, to religious, to gender-based, etc. stem from this one basic idea; that it’s acceptable to refuse the same moral consideration to another being that we accord ourselves, merely because of morally irrelevant criteria like the color of their skin, which genitalia they have, or their species membership.

The belief that humans are morally superior to nonhumans is not based on instinct. If it was, then why would anyone even question it, and therefore, why would you even be reading this? And yet, it’s the reason why we believe it’s just fine to torture a nonhuman, who is fully capable of desiring to not suffer or die as much as a human, in ways that we wouldn’t torture the worst human criminals.

The myth of human moral supremacy is almost never even examined. But when it is, it’s obvious that, just like the arguments we use to try to justify racism, sexism, homophobia, religious intolerance, or any other irrational form of oppression, it’s based on nothing more than arbitrary personal opinion (and biased, self-serving opinion at that).

The idea that humans are superior to nonhumans is based on the misconception that all humans have some characteristic or set of characteristics that all nonhumans lack. These criteria are commonly believed to include: “intelligence;” “mind;” “consciousness;” abstract thought; the capability of understanding and following moral codes; creativity; the ability to invent tools, technology, or art; some sort of physical ability or physical adaptation; proliferation; a “soul” or some other form of divine endowment; the capability of surviving in conditions or environments that others can’t; or some other unspecified faculty.

All of these criteria are obviously as arbitrary as gender, ethnic membership, or religious belief when it comes to moral superiority, since we can’t prove that either they are possessed by all humans, nor that they are lacked by all nonhumans. Not only that, but whichever faculty is being proclaimed as superior is always one which is possessed by the person arguing on behalf of Human Supremacy.

Although human animals created a concept of morality, many humans commonly break the moral codes imposed by society. This is why we have human slavery, rape, torture, murder, and all the other atrocities that ethical humans abhor. Nonhuman animals, who cannot be proven to understand the concept of a human moral code, almost always follow our moral codes better than we do. They do not enslave us, create concentration camps, weapons of mass destruction, torture chambers, or pollute or otherwise destroy our habitats. Nor do they wage war on humans, or any of the other atrocities that humans are guilty of. They merely wish to be left alone to live and die on their own terms. To claim that they should have to follow our moral codes to benefit from them would be like claiming that we should punish a severely mentally handicapped human for failing to pass the S.A.T.s.

Human animals created individual moral codes for ourselves because most of us believe that enslaving, raping, torturing and murdering other humans is wrong. “Normal” adult human animals are moral agents, while nonhuman animals, infant humans, and severely mentally disabled humans (among others) are moral patients.

In order to be a moral agent, one must be capable of abstract thought in order to have a specific minimum understanding of the meaning of morality. That is to say, moral agents can understand the concept of morality and can therefore make moral decisions, meaning that they can make decisions that affect the interests of both moral agents and moral patients. Furthermore, moral agents have moral responsibilities to both other moral agents and moral patients. This means that they are capable of being assigned blame if they make a moral choice that causes a being who is capable of feeling pain and other sensations to suffer unnecessarily.

A moral agent must be capable of giving informed consent, which means that an explicit meeting of the minds takes place (via spoken or written human language, and no less) where both parties are capable of abstract thought, understand what the nature of the social contract is and what the general future ramifications of the agreement are.

Moral patients, on the other hand, cannot understand the human concept of morality and are thus incapable of giving informed consent. Moral patients cannot make moral decisions that affect either moral agents nor moral patients. They do not have moral responsibilities; however, in order for there to be moral consistency, moral patients must benefit from our individual moral codes without being able to have moral responsibilities themselves.

This is why, for instance, it’s morally wrong for an adult human to murder a severely mentally disabled human, and also why it’s wrong for an adult human to have sex with a human child. This is also why ethical people believe that humans having sex with nonhuman animals is also wrong. We don’t hold nonhuman animals morally culpable to this code simply because we understand that, like severely mentally disabled adult humans and human babies, nonhumans are incapable of understanding and abiding by human moral codes (or at least, any truly rational human understands that they are not capable of this) plus the fact that, regarding their interactions with us, they almost always, by default, follow our moral codes better than we do regarding our interactions with other humans (and even moreso, with nonhumans).

On the other side of the coin, humans enslave, rape, torture or murder nonhumans by the hundreds of billions each year, merely because we enjoy the taste of their dead bodies and secretions and the conveniences that it affords us. And we also are intentionally destroying every wild habitat that we can. We regularly treat nonhumans worse than we would treat the worst human criminals. So who is morally superior to whom again?

The idea that we should be able to do these things because say, a lion eats a zebra is ridiculous in the extreme. A male lion often will kill a rival male and their offspring before copulating, in public no less, with the mother. If a mother lioness gives birth to a severely ill or deformed baby, she will usually cannibalize them. When applied to human contexts, do we think these are morally justifiable ways to behave?

This is where the Human Supremacist says “Either we are morally superior to animals, in which case exploiting them is fine, or we aren’t morally superior to them, in which case we can kill them merely because we want to consume them, just like any other animal does.”

However, this completely fails to recognize that claiming one is “morally superior” means that one adheres to a code of fairness and justice more than the other does, not that one can merely understand human concepts of morality. If a human can understand the concept of the injustice of slavery, rape, torture or murder, but does not refuse to engage in such behaviors, where is the moral superiority in that?

As I mentioned, we very rarely hold completely to our optimal code of conduct. We claim, as a society, to believe in The Golden Rule, but we routinely inflict massive unnecessary suffering and death on innocent beings merely for our pleasure, amusement, or convenience. We enslave, rape, torture and murder upwards of a trillion nonhuman animals each year merely so we can unnecessarily eat their flesh and secretions and use their body parts for clothing (among other things), which not only causes massive suffering for them, but massive amounts of chronic disease for us and massive ecological devastation as well.

We should realize that if we don’t follow a 100% egalitarian system of justice regarding every innocent animal, human or nonhuman, then the same arguments we use to attempt to justify inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on them (“that animal isn’t as smart as I am,” “they don’t have souls,” “it’s how I make a living,” “meat/fish/dairy/eggs/honey tastes good,” etc.) can also be used by other humans to justify inflicting unnecessary suffering and death on us (“that person isn’t as smart as I am,” “I’m one of the chosen people and that person isn’t,” “I wanted their stuff,” “rape feels good,” etc.).

There is no way to morally justify the intentional, unnecessary exploitation of nonhumans by humans without also morally justifying the intentional, unnecessary exploitation of humans by other humans. This means that if we are personally in favor of violating nonhumans’ right to be completely safe from being forced into existence against their will, enslaved, slaughtered, or in any way used merely as replaceable resources for unnecessary human interests, then we have no rationally consistent claim that we ourselves should be safe from having those same things done to us by other humans. Any argument we try to use to justify harming nonhumans can also be used successfully by other humans to justify harming us in those same ways. This also means that until we as a species evolve past our irrational belief that intentionally exploiting nonhumans merely for our trivial interests is morally justifiable, we will continue to endure racism, genderism, homophobia, ableism, tyranny, mass murder, and all the other human systemic rights atrocities we commonly abhor.

Furthermore, claiming that, because we can’t be perfect and not cause harm to any living being whatsoever is a valid reason to intentionally cause easily avoidable harms is like saying that just because we know that some people will die in traffic accidents its a good reason never to post any warning signs. The fact that we can’t prevent all homicides does not justify us intentionally committing mass-murder, just as the fact that we can’t survive without unintentionally killing a lesser number of animals or plants does not justify intentionally breeding nonhuman animals and feeding them a much larger number of plants, merely to slaughter and eat them or their secretions, when we can thrive perfectly well on a plants-only diet. Nor does it justify exploiting nonhumans for clothing, research, or entertainment. The only reasonable, morally justifiable thing would be to work to decrease the number of all living beings we harm in all cases, not to try to justify harming them in some cases while claiming to decrease harm in others.

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. Its easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.

Self Righteous Suicide: An Alcoholics Journey Home

“I now know what life is about, what is important. I know the reasons why we say do not judge people. I have seen the true power of love. The true power of forgiveness. I have seen magic. I have seen what it feels like to be at the end, with nowhere to go, and people thinking you are some monster.”

And this is why we do not judge the character of a non-Vegan, but only their actions. Anyone can wake up and be reborn. ANYONE. But when you tell people this is not true, you negate that. You make reality worse by telling people that reality is not better.

If you’re not already Vegan, and you think animals matter morally, then please go Vegan. It’s easy and great for you, incredible for the animals, and wonderful for the planet. If you’re already Vegan, please educate non-Vegans about why they should go Vegan. Please rescue, volunteer, adopt, foster, spay, and neuter the nonhuman refugees of domestication whenever you can. Please feed your nonhuman family Vegan where you can. These things are the most important, morally responsible things to do and are desperately needed by everyone.

To learn more about Abolitionist Veganism and the issues I’ve outlined in this post, check out The Master List Of Vegan Info:
https://legacyofpythagoras.wordpress.com/2014/04/10/master-list-of-vegan-info

Disclaimer: My only goal with this list is to produce as comprehensive a resource for Vegan information as possible. I am 100% Abolitionist Vegan and 100% against exploitation of nonhuman or human animals, any type of violence against human or nonhuman persons or property, welfare regulation, any form of speciesism, ethnic bigotry, genderism, ableism, heterosexism, etc., any of the large governmental or non-governmental nonhuman animal organizations, “happy meat,” vegetarianism, veg*nism, Meat-Free Mondays, or other forms of reductionism and anything else that makes it seem like any form of violence or exploitation of animals is ok. If any of those positions are endorsed on any site in this list, or any language is used to imply that, it’s not that I included that link because I agree, but simply because I don’t control every bit of information on all of these sites.