Meat eaters don’t deserve to live

This argument seems to grow on trees in our groves of academe. However, the fruit is poisoned, best left unbitten. But judge for yourself.

Save Daisy and win a valuable prize

Suppose you are a good swimmer and a man drowning before your very eyes isn’t. You could easily save him, but should you?

Not necessarily, according to Dr Michael Plant, philosophy don at Oxford. For, according to some moral philosophies, eating meat is a mortal sin. Hence, if the drowning person is a carnivore, he doesn’t deserve to live.

On the contrary, you have a moral duty to watch him sink. After all, writes Dr Plant, “It seems universally accepted that doing or allowing a harm is permissible – and may even be required – when it is the lesser evil.”

Being a philosopher, he correctly ignores the practicalities involved. Yet these are worth a moment’s thought. Let’s say you ponder life while sipping a beer on the beach. Then you see – let’s add a touch of sentiment to the discussion – a child thrashing and splashing about some 50 yards from shore, screaming “Help!!!”

Your first impulse is to jump in but, on general principles, you desist. Some preliminary work is required first. Hence you scream back: “Do! You! Eat! Meat?” There’s the danger that all you’ll hear in reply will be a gurgling sound, but at least your philosophical conscience will remain pristine.   

Lest you may accuse Dr Plant of self-interest, his idea isn’t just impartial but also potentially self-sacrificial: he himself is a meat eater. Here’s a man with the power of his convictions, a rara avis these days. Good to see that young people do have principles after all.

However, as a logical corollary to his proposition, you’d be morally obligated not just to watch a carnivore drown but also to push him off the pier if he wouldn’t jump of his own accord.

All you’d have to do is close your eyes, think of the herds of livestock you’d be saving from this reprobate’s murderous appetite – and push as hard as you can with both hands. After all, “some moral philosophies” say that killing a man is a lesser evil than eating a burger.

Assuming that Dr Plant agrees with Jacques Maritain’s definition of philosophy as a science of first principles, he must believe that our founding code of first principles, the Bible, contains a thou-shalt-not commandment not to eat meat.

It doesn’t though, quite the opposite. Thus, for example, Genesis 9: 3: “Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things.”

Animals, therefore, are created strictly to serve man, and, according to Aquinas, himself no slouch at philosophy: “There is no sin in using a thing for the purpose for which it is.”

Now, I realise that Dr Plant may not derive his notion of first principles from the same source as Aquinas did. In fact, that’s the way to bet – he is, after all, a modern Oxford don. I even suspect his definition of philosophy in general and of first principles specifically may differ from Jacques Maritain’s.

To be fair to him though, even first-rate Christian thinkers also pondered the morality of carnivorism. C.S. Lewis, for example, devoted many an essay to the subject of animal suffering and, implicitly, meat eating. Now, accuse me of irreverence to the great man if you will, but I genuinely believe Lewis’s brilliance was wasted on this issue.

My own approach to it, along with many other dilemmas preoccupying the modern mind, comes from another, admittedly cruder, discipline: advertising. It’s encapsulated by the acronym KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid.

Any thought starts from a premise; it’s the foundation on which an intellectual structure is built. The structure then acts as proof of the foundation’s integrity, its ability to prop up a sound thought. The KISS principle suggests that certain premises are best left alone – even if the resulting superstructure (dread term) doesn’t seem to totter.

Dr Plant’s philosophical speciality is eudaemonia, the theory of happiness. Hence I’m sure he could use his evident mental agility to make a valid point in favour of, say, necrophilia.

Even I, tragically lacking the benefit of formal philosophical training, could make a good fist of it. For example, I’d start by saying that, although necrophilia is technically criminal, it’s by definition a victimless crime. Raping a corpse isn’t the same as raping a living, breathing woman: she will hate the experience, but a corpse won’t mind.

On the other hand, the perpetrator will enjoy the act, be the happier for it. Thus the sum total of happiness in the world will be greater as a result and, on balance, this has to be a good thing. There you go, a plausible eudaemonic case made. Long live necrophilia, even though I’m not sure the slogan works semantically.

You may or may not be capable of punching logical holes in this argument. You needn’t bother though: this structure had no right to be built. The premise shouldn’t even be pondered: remember KISS and just say that the practice is degenerate and so is anyone who takes it seriously. Then start thinking about things that really matter.

“I argue that,” continues Dr Plant, “if meat eating is wrong on animal suffering grounds then, once we consider how much suffering might occur, it starts to seem plausible that saving strangers would be the greater evil than not rescuing them and is, therefore, not required after all.”

And I argue that the conditional clause at the beginning of his statement should be dismissed out of hand, even though the wonderful C.S. Lewis didn’t. Let’s just KISS and make up.

P.S. The other day I wrote about the plight of the Irish priest who dared describe homosexuality as a mortal sin. He found himself on the receiving end of slings and arrows, to which Taoiseach Micheál Martin has now added his own: “In my view the language used was not the language of Christianity, and certainly would seem to me to be the language of exclusion as opposed to inclusion.”

I agree with Ireland’s PM: the language of exclusion is un-Christian. Here’s another example of such heathen invective: “Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.” Clearly, whoever said that had no clue of what a Christian should sound like.

16 thoughts on “Meat eaters don’t deserve to live”

  1. Vegans do not want any animal even involved in their food source. So, I ask the ones I meet, “Do you eat nuts?” Bee’s are transported about to polinate nut farms, so those cruel vegans support using bee’s in a prison transportation system then as slave labour. Hypocrites!

  2. It’s very simple. People who do not believe in the Judaic conception of nature are finding it increasingly difficult to turn a blind eye to the monstrous suffering of animals. We don’t have the luxury of telling ourselves that such suffering is not real suffering because the victims don’t have ‘souls’

    I for one try to put such thoughts to the back of my mind whilst munching on flesh. Alternately I remind myself of how much I dislike dogs (and dog owners) and imagine I’m eating them instead!

  3. Several months ago, on this topic in your blog. I offered a link to a post in my blog. Then I was engaged in a somewhat friendly battle with someone who followed my link from your blog. When the inevitable stalemate was reached, I continued to ask the same question: if the Vegan Religion could finally succeed in eliminating the eating of meat, what will we do with all the animals? If we have to kill them to reduce the gases they emit, shouldn’t we just eat them? You know, since they are dead anyway?

      1. When it is clear for me that I can’t make headway in a difference of opinion, I allow the opposition to have the last word. In this case there was constrained frustration and a reference to a vaccine that is available that supposedly reduces flatulence in cows. As usual, though, rebuttals that defend the Ideology are usually more about virtue signaling, generic, and not especially science based – much less practical or arrived at by cold common sense.

    1. April , was reading the comments here and about to put my two cents worth in but you’ve stolen my thunder! I have said this many times in the past in posts and verbally about the corollary of saving animals , only to leave them redundant for lack of use . No meat to supply so we’ll use their skin for leather products .. hold on no furs or skins allowed as PETA so often demonstrates with such class. So plastic it is then , hold on – aren’t we banning straws , utensils and receptacles now ,plastics persona non grata ? Ban all horse racing , rodeos etc , well no need to keep methane emitting equines around anymore taking up valuable cropland (ditto cows ) , or land for wind farms and solar panels from sea to shining sea ! An d on that topic , wouldn’t environmentalcases prefer the wilderness to be just that ? Apparently not . Millions of acres of toxic materials , unrenewables , bird killing tokens to green philosophy . I’ve always maintained that these greenies, leftists etc don’t love the earth , they just hate humanity . They would grind the statue of David into powder if they could for their cause , as recent stunts have proven.

      1. So pleased to meet you sir. I must admit to getting weepy when I come across someone who speaks words I’ve thought, typed and published for decades. It is a comfort to find there are other outliers, free thinkers who do not fear asking tough common sense based questions in this declining age of commonsenselessness. it’s a lonely road for the mavericks but long ago I resolved that I’d rather be one who can see clearly than one who refuses to see because the day does come when those who refuse to see are blinded lest they see and then condemned to perish for their stupidity.

        1. Cheers April , and welcome to Mr Boot’s site . Have been on it for a few years , and nice to see some new faces (as it were). I constantly find myself swimming against the tide on most issues and it baffles me that so many cannot , or will not use their brains for what appears to be cut and dried logic , as our simple connect – the – dots on climate hypocrisy demonstrates . One doesn’t even have to be an intellectual , although it is usually they that manage to square circles in the first place!

          1. Thank you! It’s always refreshing and encouraging to find what I think of as common-sensers. I feel obligated to admit I am not new either in age or follower of Alex. I just don’t post comments much. I don’t even recall what introduced me to his work. I think someone suggested I read one of his books. You know how one crumb leads to another.

            My following this blog, commenting or not, is rooted in a mutual respect for the foundations of all that is civil about civilization, that, by the way, also aligns with Christian values – integrity, common sense, courtesy, grace, appreciation of the value of history, thirst for truth and knowledge and understanding of how well crafted words matter. Even in the age of shorthand in a dumbed down populace.

  4. Don’t forget no consumption of eggs or dairy product of any type. Can’t forget that stuff. And leather goods of whatever sort. Hold your pants up with string. Wool also forbidden perhaps.

      1. Oh dear me, I didn’t think about the poor bees. What retched beings humans are. Mother earth would truly be so much better off with the human fungus removed. I do have to wonder if that includes the tree huggers and animal righters though. Do they get to live? I’ve heard some say that plants have feelings too so eating bugs is all that is left to us. Do bugs have feelings? So many questions…

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