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 Post subject: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:19 am 
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A Nov. 4 Atlantic article by Nicolette Hahn Niman (a "compassionate" rancher who appears in JS Foer's Eating Animals) argues that it's OK to eat pigs but not dogs (in the West) because we in the West have built up such a complex symbiotic relationship with dogs.

http://www.theatlantic.com/food/archive ... ism/66095/

A Nov. 16 rebuttal by philosophy teacher Adam Phillips dismantles her argument in three neat steps.

http://www.theatlantic.com/food/archive ... her/66440/

Very few things in either article were new to me, but I thought the rebuttal was succinct and nicely put.

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:58 am 
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Niman's piece is like a collation of every bad argument I've ever heard against veganism, and the response, although more than sufficient to demolish her argument, only scratches the surface. She dedicates five paragraphs to a genetic fallacy ("Dogs helped us to survive, therefore dogs are magic.") The idea that dogs make us human is vaguely offensive, given that we didn't even domesticate them until ~80,000 years after the migration out of Africa. She indulges a kind of naive relativism (whatever standards a society sets are necessarily morally right). And she doesn't even seem to realize that she's undermining her own argument that dogs are somehow special (if the specialness of dogs is mere tradition, then prohibitions on eating them are nothing more than cultural imperialism).

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 12:19 pm 
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just mumbles wrote:
She indulges a kind of naive relativism (whatever standards a society sets are necessarily morally right). And she doesn't even seem to realize that she's undermining her own argument that dogs are somehow special (if the specialness of dogs is mere tradition, then prohibitions on eating them are nothing more than cultural imperialism).

Exactly! She essentially demolishes her own argument by acknowledging that which animals we eat vs. those we buy prezzies for at Christmas is determined by cultural relativism. Which is why some cultures don't eat certain animals that others do, and vice-versa. Idiot. I liked VoR's response in the comments:

"My book, Righteous Porkchop, extensively describes pigs' natural behaviors and expressly compares their intelligence and capacity to suffer with that of dogs. Yet none of these traits are connected to why Americans refrain from eating dogs." Yes they are. Dogs' natural behaviors (which, as you point out, evolved in symbiosis with human behaviors), their intelligence, and their capacity to suffer, are part and parcel of the close relationship between humans and dogs. The fact that we observe these things closely in dogs, and therefore (in the west) tend to refrain from eating them, just validates the fact that these traits are, in fact, the central issues. If you don't eat animals who are your friends and companions, it's not simply because they're your friends and companions; it's also because the factors that *make* them so, make them worthy of compassion. The fact that we haven't made pigs our friends and companions is a cultural circumstance; their underlying qualities remain, and are the reason for compassionately refraining from eating them.

Bingo. Anyway, I never really understand the point of pieces like this: is she attempting to convince vegetarians that they're wrong ("Ay, caramba! The porkchop lady is right - I do want to eat pigs!"), or merely justifying her own choices ("I'm against factory farming, but I'm all about the respectful exploitation and slaughter of intelligent animals: go, me!")? Either way, the whole thing devolves into exchanges like the following:

Commenter 1: "'Either you deem it acceptable to eat both dogs and pigs or you deem it acceptable to eat neither.' Thank you, well said."

Commenter 2: "Well, I deem it acceptable to eat pigs, but not dogs. Fact. I don't need to question it. I think bacon is tasty, and I love the companionship of my dogs."

Ooooh - Commenter 1 got schooled! It's useless to argue against Dr. Porkenstein's Theory of Cultural Relativism (aka "bacon is tasty; 'nuff said"). I mean, that's like, SCIENCE!

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:00 pm 
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Desdemona wrote:
is she attempting to convince vegetarians that they're wrong [...], or merely justifying her own choices [...]?


The second, all the way. Every time. It appears to be these people's driving impulse.

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:04 pm 
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She's a vegetarian.

I don't get her.

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 2:38 pm 
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just mumbles wrote:
She's a vegetarian.

I don't get her.


I don't get her either--she totally frustrated me in the Eating Animals book. I think her problem is that if she admits to herself that eating animals is just wrong for everyone (not just herself) then she would have to make some major life changes and she can't psychologically handle that.


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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 5:04 pm 
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hopshackgirl wrote:
just mumbles wrote:
She's a vegetarian.

I don't get her.


I don't get her either--she totally frustrated me in the Eating Animals book. I think her problem is that if she admits to herself that eating animals is just wrong for everyone (not just herself) then she would have to make some major life changes and she can't psychologically handle that.


I know - it hurts my brain!

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2010 10:15 pm 
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y
hopshackgirl wrote:
just mumbles wrote:
She's a vegetarian.

I don't get her.


I don't get her either--she totally frustrated me in the Eating Animals book. I think her problem is that if she admits to herself that eating animals is just wrong for everyone (not just herself) then she would have to make some major life changes and she can't psychologically handle that.

yes! after watching the Niman v. Lyman debate I pretty much said this word for word. I cant really blame her for not wanting to fully embrace the truth; I would be horrified, having sent so many animals to their deaths.

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:05 am 
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Excellent articles! Thanks for posting these.


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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Nov 25, 2010 3:34 pm 
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Nebraskalaska wrote:
y
hopshackgirl wrote:
just mumbles wrote:
She's a vegetarian.

I don't get her.


I don't get her either--she totally frustrated me in the Eating Animals book. I think her problem is that if she admits to herself that eating animals is just wrong for everyone (not just herself) then she would have to make some major life changes and she can't psychologically handle that.

yes! after watching the Niman v. Lyman debate I pretty much said this word for word. I cant really blame her for not wanting to fully embrace the truth; I would be horrified, having sent so many animals to their deaths.


+1. In Eating Animals, she emerged as a terribly tortured individual who had not come close to working out the implications of what she believes and does, and these exchanges make me (happily) realize that JS Foer was not setting her up in any way. She really is that much of a mess.

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2010 7:56 pm 
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I do enjoy the Atlantic, and I'm glad you posted these links! Always an education, reading what people think.

*WARNING* Sidetrack ramble, or me thinking "out loud."
To be fair, certain ideas pertaining to ethics (e.g. the harm principle, and to whom it extends to, and if there is ever a case where a little harm now for the "greater benefit" is ever permissable. Does consciousness matter? If so, to what extent, and how is that even determined?), and more precisely the notion of radical individualism and its tearing down (wait... you mean that I am NOT only ethically accountable to how my actions benefit/do not benefit me, but that my actions affect others and I am accountable for it, and which in turn, greater affects me?! Whoa...) and dealing with the idea of the "other" (if you are "other," it is ok to do X, Y, Z to you....the harm principle doesn't apply, you aren't "human," etc. etc.) are REALLY hard to deal with, as they tied so closely with the foundation of how they see the world and are, philosophically speaking, a "big deal." Some deal with it better than others, and some are aware of it/their inconsistencies/use the toolbox of logic/notice that logic isn't "all that is needed" to change more so than others. The "mess" that she is really makes me want to have a chat with her, see how she engages in the topic on the fly, when she isn't being prepping via writing/editing/etc.

Then again, I use chatting as an excuse to grab tea. I always crave tea, including now. Nom om om.

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2010 1:05 am 
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Minus one-thousand smart points to any omni that thinks "animal rights people" eat dogs and cats to prove a point. Only the intellectual equivalent of a bag of rocks would think that since I am saying, "you don't eat yer dog, so don't eat pigs!" means I am going to eat yer dog. Bag of rocks, I say.

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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Tue Nov 30, 2010 10:10 pm 
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I spent a few days at a pig sanctuary and the idea that anybody could eat a pig makes me sick inside, and this is coming from someone who grew up on bacon and deli ham. I had already given up meat a long time before the visit, but now it really offends me to see or hear about people eating pigs. It only takes some face-to-face time with these beautiful and smart creatures to really shake your paradigm.


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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Thu Dec 02, 2010 5:43 am 
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BFH wrote:
I spent a few days at a pig sanctuary and the idea that anybody could eat a pig makes me sick inside, and this is coming from someone who grew up on bacon and deli ham. I had already given up meat a long time before the visit, but now it really offends me to see or hear about people eating pigs. It only takes some face-to-face time with these beautiful and smart creatures to really shake your paradigm.

I know what you mean. When we went to a Farm Sanctuary a few months ago I actually heard a pig LAUGH when he got his back scratched. They are amazing.


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 Post subject: Re: Eating Pigs, Eating Dogs
PostPosted: Mon Dec 06, 2010 2:23 pm 
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BFH wrote:
I spent a few days at a pig sanctuary and the idea that anybody could eat a pig makes me sick inside, and this is coming from someone who grew up on bacon and deli ham. I had already given up meat a long time before the visit, but now it really offends me to see or hear about people eating pigs. It only takes some face-to-face time with these beautiful and smart creatures to really shake your paradigm.

Love how you put that.


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