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Is eating meat unethical?

The select group who came on Sat 1st Dec felt we have for the time being exhausted the God issue. We wanted to talk about something very different.

So come and discuss whether it is ethical to eat meat. You may not want to know the answer, but you ought to consider the arguments carefully!

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  • GuanKong

    Ethics is about right and wrong. Right or wrong is defined by society. In many societies, it is wrong to have more than one spouse but not so in other societies.
    Similarly, is there a right or wrong to eat? And what you eat is up to you. In cannibalism, human eat human but that is not unnatural because animals do that to thier own kind too. We are all part of the food chain. Big fish eat small fish and if you happened to be in the ocean or forest you are just game. Once the shark or animal tasted human flesh and cultivate a gastronomy for it, you are on the menu!

    April 4, 2013

  • Tim B.

    A lively but balanced debate that clarified the issues - one of the best.

    January 13, 2013

  • sl.lim

    Great session. Lots of fun. Given some of the arguments and claims further thought; doubt I am the only one. Perhaps, in future, if a session is fruitful, we can consider a follow up session so attendees can delve even further and give those that missed the first round a chance to partipate.

    2 · January 7, 2013

  • Rizwan

    Great fun, lots of food for thought. Exactly what a meetup should be.

    1 · January 5, 2013

  • Richard L.

    I didn't really expect the session to be as informative, multi-faceted and fair-minded as it turned out to be. I'm certainly glad I came. (And even though I had intended to leave about 5:00, I wound up staying until the very end, almost two hours later.

    2 · January 5, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    great discussions all round. looking forward to the next session.

    January 5, 2013

  • Raymond H.

    my point is
    1) concrete action to push for green globe only happen when signs of evident of threat to environment disaster, prior to this, it remains just talks, discussion with no attention pay to it

    2) more and more countries push for partial or complete ban of sale of tobacco when it becoming evident over years of data showing social health care problem and cost

    anything that doesn't directly harming human being, and that human being has direct control over it, and can benefit from it in some form will continue, mindset change don't come from discussion, but the benefit/ pleasure/ choice/harmful effect on human being dictates, it is ALL surrounding human being, just human nature deep within

    1 · January 4, 2013

    • sl.lim

      Bad ideas can be very entrenched. It takes time. And discussions. And negotiations with stakeholders. And consciousness raising. And more discussions. Good arguments don’t change the world overnight. But even this irrelevance is irrelevant: We are not having a United Nations Ethics of Meat-eating Panel, we are having a philosophy meetup and discussion session. Furthermore, it’s not a foregone conclusion that meat-eating is bad or good. “anything that doesn't directly harming human being, and that human being has direct control over it, and can benefit from it in some form will continue, mindset change don't come from discussion, but the benefit/ pleasure/ choice/harmful effect on human being dictates, it is ALL surrounding human being, just human nature deep within.”

      Well, this is sort of a philosophical argument. But you (me or anyone else) can’t just declare it to be so, you have to justify it.

      January 5, 2013

  • ye bao q.

    sorry guys, I'm down with cough. need to rest over the weekend. ( and watch what I eat ... haha XD )

    regarding the topic, I would like to highlight the following points for consideration:
    1. It is possible to produce "meat" without causing harming to any living animal at all. e.g. in vitro meat, or collecting animals that are already dead. If we accept that, can we still find reasons, unrelated to harming living animals, that eating meat should be considered unethical ?
    2. If eating meat turns out to be generally less healthy than a vegetarian diet, should that have any bearing on whether it is *ethical* ? ( this is partly in response to Raymond and Hayden's comments )
    3. General questions: how do we know what animals deserve moral standing? Are we only restricting the discussion to vertebrates ?

    Have a nice discussion !

    and Happy New Year !

    January 4, 2013

    • Hayden H.

      Good points. 1)Point to note. Testing the in vitro meat on animals may raise ethical concerns about "animal testing", which could lead to another ethical dilemma. 2)Animals ethics revolve around animal well being(directly or indirectly). Meat turning out to be generally less healthy, has no bearing whatsoever to animal ethics. The main contention in my reply to Raymond's post was to prove that his opinion on human "rational decision making(where human will change their eating habit when their health is directly compromise)" is false.

      3)In my opinion, any living orgasm with a nervous system(which can feel pain) have to be treated humanely. However, we humans tend to act against our better judgement(akrasia) primarily due to practically reasoning and hyperbolic discounting...

      January 4, 2013

  • Raymond H.

    ethical or not, the conclusion will not change meat eating habit unless human health is compromised for eating meat.

    if a discussion will never result in change, what is the significance of the discussion?

    January 4, 2013

    • sl.lim

      If we should only discussions (for a few hours) that will change the minds of everyone in the world, what could we possibly discuss??

      1 · January 4, 2013

    • Hayden H.

      Do you think your premises are fallacious?

      1)"...ethical or not, the conclusion will not change meat eating habit unless human health is compromised for eating meat."

      What you are trying to assert is that humans will only stop doing X when X directly compromise their health.

      Do you really think this is so? Cigarette smoking anyone? And besides there are diseases directly related to meat consumption: Swine flu, E.coli, Listeriosis, Pre-eclampsia just to name a few.

      2)"...if a discussion will never result in change, what is the significance of the discussion?"

      What you are trying to assert is that a discussion has no significance when it does not result in change. Do you really think this is so? A discussion on animal ethics does not change your opinion on morality?

      1 · January 4, 2013

  • Hayden H.

    Interesting topic, will attend after I finish reading the pdfs provided. Cheers.

    January 3, 2013

  • Rizwan

    A good article on the "The way we think about animals, rather, flows from a fundamental ontology, characteristic of a society that is structured in a certain way"

    http://www.berfrois.com/2012/12/the-peccaries-and-the-maize-beer/

    December 15, 2012

    • sl.lim

      Odd thesis, imo. “The boundaries of our moral community were not established in the first place based on a misinterpretation of the empirical data about what the inner lives of animals are like.”

      The author seems to disregard the people opposed to animal activism because they are unaware of the empirical fact of animal suffering, or the depth of it. The successes of authors such Peter Singer in raising awareness and changing minds also demonstrates that there are large numbers of such people. The salient point in highlighting the inner lives of animals isn’t mere sentimentality, it is worthiness of empathy, arguably an important buy-in for moral consideration: hitting a punching bag isn’t quite the same as kicking my dog as when I am frustrated—why?

      December 18, 2012

    • sl.lim

      “We need anthropology, zooarcheology, and related disciplines in order to adequately understand the problem of human-animal relations, and in order to even begin to make normative claims that can have any kind of purchase on us about how we should be interacting with animals.”

      A counterfactual: if we have a history of personifying plants and abusing animals, the author would presumably argue that empirical data “changes nothing” and plants, but not animals, should continue to be part of our moral community.

      December 18, 2012

  • sl.lim

    A philosophical position on the ethics of meat-eating:

    The Animal Liberation Movement: http://www.utilitarian.org/texts/alm.html

    Equality for Animals?: http://www.utilitarian.net/singer/by/1979----.htm

    NYT Essay Competition on why it is ethical to eat meat:

    The winner: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/06/magazine/the-ethicist-contest-winner-give-thanks-for-meat.html?ref=magazine The other finalists: http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2012/04/20/magazine/ethics-eating-meat.html?ref=magazine Some arguments for eating meat by philo students: http://www.mesacc.edu/~davpy35701/text/meatarg.html

    1 · December 3, 2012

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