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Veganism is unjustified

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JohannesJohannes (PRO)
Hello everyone. First I want to thank my opponent for their participation in this debate, I've been trying to get this one going for a while now but I guess this topic isn't too interesting for a lot of people. Nevertheless, I'll just get right started.

Veganism, as defined by Google, is the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products, particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals. Obviously, there is nothing wrong or morally reprehensible about being vegan and you could even argue that all the vegans of the world have perhaps brought awareness to a very relevant issue. However, it is my goal to prove to you that there is nothing that necessitates being vegan and thus that veganism as a philosophy is unjustified. To be clear, I don't think there is anything wrong with being vegan -- I just don't think it's justified in the sense that people ought to become vegan.

The major reason that veganism is unjustified is because animals are unable to engage in the mutual respect that vegans grant to animals. Meaning, a vegan will not eat a lion but if that lion saw that vegan in the wild -- the lion would eat the vegan. Perhaps a simpler and more comprehensive way of wording this would be that animals are incapable of honoring social contracts. This is true in a vast amount of ways, including the way already aforementioned. Another example is the fact that we restrict certain animals' habitats from being harvested for resources. However, deer, squirrels, and other animals have no semblance of this and simply walk on our property every day -- eating our grass, etc.. 

My point in this is that it is not justified to treat something with the same respect it is incapable of treating you with and the basis for this is already rooted in our society today. For example, if someone kills another person -- society deems that person unfit to participate in society for breaking the established social contract and they're sent to prison. Thus, already, we see that we treat people who are incapable of participating in social contracts differently. This is precisely why eating meat is justified. Because an animal will never be capable of engaging in a social contract or respective relationship in the way that we can with it -- there is no justification for us to hold up our end of the respect knowing full well that the animal cannot. 

Now, to be clear, this is not to say that we should just genocide all animals or something like that. Despite the fact that they are incapable of participating in a mutual respective relationship with us, we should still have enough common decency to let them be, in a sense. I understand this point might be hard to understand so let's use another example from our current society. For example, people with down syndrome or other mental diseases are in some cases incapable of understanding respect and thus engaging in a mutual social contract. Despite this, we do not kill them or put them in prison or anything like that. Why? Because as a society we have deemed it appropriate to look out for these people because despite their mental deficiencies they are still human people -- which is what truly matters. Thus although animals cannot honor mutual social contracts that doesn't mean we should completely genocide them. Because this would, in fact, be unjustified. Because we use animals for food and work in some situations we should allow them to exist as a species to, if nothing else, continue to provide us with food and work. Although this is the only thing justifiable, society has still granted animals many common decencies such as the right to their habitat and to not be hunted to extinction. Although under my thought process this might not be justified, I see nothing wrong with it. Thus, my point in saying this is to prevent a common spin on this argument that I really don't want to have to delve into on this debate because nothing will ever be accomplished. 

To summarize this argument, I see nothing wrong with veganism but I don't think there's anything about the philosophy that necessitates me or others becoming vegan --  thus veganism is unjustified.

On another note, one of the main arguments for veganism is that something needs to be done about the, in many cases, cruel agricultural industry. I agree that the way certain animals are treated in the agricultural industry is often cruel, however, to be consistent with my thought process, I don't think it's necessarily unjustified because of the idea of the social contract. However, just because it might be justifiable doesn't mean we have to do it and I do think the industry should slow down a bit. Again though, this is an argument from common decency not from what is actually justifiable.

Thus, my main point is, although we grant animals a lot of certain respects, privelages, and emotions -- these animals will ultimately never be capable of participating in that mutually with us. Therefore, I see nothing that justifies me not eating meat and in that, that the philosophy behind veganism is unjustified.

Return To Top | Posted:
2019-01-12 07:26:37
| Speak Round
KohaiKohai (CON)
I want to thank my opponent for this debate. I negate the resolution that veganism is unjustified. First I would like to establish a few definitions:

Veganism: the practice of abstaining from the use of animal products,
particularly in diet, and an associated philosophy that rejects the
commodity status of animals.
Unjustified: not shown to be right or reasonable.

Analysis of the Resolution

The debate asks whether or not Veganism can be justified. My opponent has already supported a few of my arguments. First I want to bring everyone's attention to a few important quotes:

"there is nothing wrong or morally reprehensible about being vegan and
you could even argue that all the vegans of the world have perhaps
brought awareness to a very relevant issue..."

"To summarize this argument, I see nothing wrong with veganism but I
don't think there's anything about the philosophy that necessitates me
or others becoming vegan -- thus veganism is unjustified."

With this I will be using these quotes to defend my case.

Contention 1: The moral status of animals

According  to utilitarian philosophy, any being that has an interest in not  suffering deserves to have that taken into an account.[1]

“When  you pity a suffering animal, it is because you are perceiving a reason,  a reason to change its conditions. And you can no more hear the cries  of an animal as a mere noise that you can the words of a person. Another  animal can obligate you in exactly the same way another person can…So  of course we have obligations to animals.”

So to put everything together in syllogism form, we get this (from Scott D. Wilson):

(1) If a being is sentient, then it has a direct moral status.

(2) (Most) animals are sentiment.

(3) Therefore, (most) animals have direct moral status.

“"Sentience"  refers to the capacity to experience episodes of positively or  negatively valenced awareness. Examples of positively valenced episodes  of awareness are pleasure, joy, elation, and contentment. Examples of  negatively valenced episodes of awareness are pain, suffering,  depression, and anxiety.” [Ibid]

 Because  animals have a direct moral status, they therefore have certain rights  and can be wronged. Since killing animals for meat and putting animals into horrendous condition is contrary to their interest, then it follows that it is the conditions that we put them through for meat is immoral.

**Note: This contention was taken from my debate on Debate.org on Dog Fighting**


In conclusion because animals are sentiment and can feel pain, we have a moral obligation towards them to reduce their suffering. Current factory farm conditions is horrendous for those animals and cause tremendous suffering. My opponent conceded already that there is nothing reprehensible about veganism and that it has brought a relevant issue to the front line.

Back to you!

Return To Top | Posted:
2019-01-15 04:55:43
| Speak Round
JohannesJohannes (PRO)
Ok thank you to my opponent for their response and let's continue with the debate.

Maybe it was my fault for not defining my position clear enough, but I feel like my point was ignored. I already conceded that the agricultural industry in a lot of cases probably is cruel and immoral. But that doesn't necessitate eating meat in general as being wrong (you can get organic meat, etc., etc.). 

Also, again, my opponent makes the point that the reason people become vegan in the first place is out of pity for animals which is justified because animals feel pain and can suffer too. However, I already stated this. My point was that this isn't really justified because animals would never be capable of doing the same for us. Again, I'll go back to my example of criminals. When someone kills someone, we don't really grant them with basic human rights anymore and they're put in jail and outcasted from society. So, my point is, when one of the parties is unable to participate in the respect that one party is giving the other -- it's not really justifiable. For example, if I am in a relationship and I love my partner but she cheats on me. I don't have a moral obligation to not break up with her just because she will feel pain. Because she was unable to participate in the respect I was granting her, I have no obligation to her. The same is with animals. Animals are incapable of granting any of the respect that we grant them. Therefore, as a person, I have no obligation to not eat an animal if that animal would just as easily eat me(or if it's not a predator kill me, go on my property, etc. etc.).

So when I say that veganism is unjustified this is what I mean. I'm not trying to justify the agricultural industry, I'm not trying to justify mass and unnecessary slaughtering of animals. I'm saying as a blanket statement, the philosophy of veganism that claims eating meat in any form to be immoral is unjustifiable because animals would never be able to grant us with that same philosophy.

Hopefully we can come to a better resolution next round. I look forward to it. Vote PRO!!

Return To Top | Posted:
2019-01-17 12:18:52
| Speak Round
KohaiKohai (CON)
Thank you for your response. My opponent has left my case and my syllogism completely untouched. The wording of the resolution is awkward and is kinda titled towards the con position anyways. Recall the following syllogism that I posted in round 1:

(1) If a being is sentient, then it has a direct moral status.

(2) (Most) animals are sentiment.

(3) Therefore, (most) animals have direct moral status.

My opponent's main argument is that animals will never be able to grand us with that same philosophy. SO what? In what way does this give us the right to cause harm to them? Since my opponent drops my entire syllogism, we can conclude that it is structurally sound and the conclusion follows.

Return To Top | Posted:
2019-01-17 15:16:37
| Speak Round
JohannesJohannes (PRO)

First I would like to clarify the resolution of this debate. The prompt is whether or not veganism, as a philosophy is justified. Therefore, as I have stated numerous times, the resolution is whether or not a philosophy that necessitates not eating any animals/animal products can be logically justified. Again, my argument was that since animals would never be able to share this philosophy in regards to us -- it isn't really justifiable for us to give it to them. Once more, this philosophy(veganism) isn't harmful or anything but it's not justified in the sense that other people have an obligation to adopt the philosophy. 

To respond to CON's syllogism, the reason I didn't respond to it in the first place is that I didn't think it was relevant. In my last round, I again stated my argument that if someone is incapable of treating you a certain way -- it's not necessarily justified for you to have to treat them in that way. Just because animals have a moral status doesn't necessitate veganism. There are a lot of ways to show this. For one, in Neolithic times, people had no choice but to kill these animals for food and undoubtedly there are people who still survive off of hunting today. And undoubtedly as a society, we value the moral status of our own race over something like a squirrel or cow. So when our lives are at stake due to hunger, we kill them -- not let ourselves starve. Is this unjustified? Also, everyone has a moral status. Hitler had a moral status but it wasn't a question whether or not it was justifiable to try to kill him. Why? Because, as my argument goes, a being incapable of honoring the same respect you're granting it isn't justified in receiving that respect from you; and, as I have said that argument is already ingrained as a universal truth into our society via the criminal justice system, etc. etc..

And FINALLY, CON has responded to my argument with the outstandingly intelligent rebuttal of: "SO what?". Now I'll admit it took me a while to get my feet centered after this but I think I've put together a decent response. The reason that it matters whether or not animals will ever be able to grant the same philosophy to us that we grant them is because, as I have stated time and time again, if you're treating someone a certain way and they're either unwilling or incapable of treating you in that same way --  you have no obligation to continue treating them in that way. And again, this is ingrained to our society as a universal truth. Let's repeat my example from last round, if I am in a relationship and my girlfriend cheats on me -- I have no obligation to stay together just because she may be pained by me breaking up with her. This is because she failed in giving me the same respect that I was granting her(to not be cheated on). Thus, once one of the parties has violated this, the other party has no obligation to continue granting the respect. Now veganism isn't as cut and dry as the cheating example because animals, unlike a cheater, have not chosen to violate this mutual respect -- rather they're physically incapable of participating it in the first place. Again, because of this, and because animals would never be able to consider our well-being or how we feel, I see no justification for veganism(which is based off of animals' well-being how they feel). 

CON has yet to make a single point/argument/rebuttal against this argument and all they have really done is played the moral-high ground game by talking about how animals have feelings too and we shouldn't cause harm to them on the scale we are right now. Yeah, thank you for the observation. I never said animals couldn't feel pain or that the way they are consumed now isn't unnecessary. This debate is over whether or not veganism as a philosophy is justified. To be honest, I'm not convinced that the current circumstances of the agricultural industry are event relevant. The debate is really one based in logic on whether or not a philosophy that dictates any consumption of animals products as wrong is justified. So, when CON immediately resorts to talking about mistreatment of animals, that tells me that he has no rational/logical justification for the philosophy of veganism. Rather they're only trying to spin the debate and appeal to people's sympathy by talking about mistreatment and the feelings of animals. 

I would like to hear some actual arguments from CON as opposed to just more and more feeling-based normative statements that don't really mean/justify anything. 

Return To Top | Posted:
2019-01-20 13:25:48
| Speak Round

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