Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why (Only) Meat Eaters are Hypocrites

On the discursive road to human and non-human
animal flourishing; humility and cooperation
will be vital virtues for all concerned
Recently, a friend whom I respect greatly but disagree with on the basic ethics of eating meat, posted a link on Facebook to the Carnism Awareness and Action Network, the activist leg of Humanistic Psychologist, Melanie Joy's efforts to found the concept of Carnism; an invisible belief system that blinds meat eaters to the inherent hypocrisy in their caring for animals.

Now, despite my carnistic ways, I do agree that something like what Joy describes is indeed going on in the minds of many meat eaters. As a moral psychologist; there is really nothing new about Joy's work - yet it I did still find it shocking. Shocking at the twisted approach Joy took to the sciences, and disturbed by the impact I believe it could have. 

As as result of my concerns I crafted a simple blend of quantitative and qualitative analyses to illuminate what is going on in terms of how Vegan's are using the scientific literature on cognitive biases - and how they perhaps can do it better. It's an argument that applies equally to meat eaters - though as you will see; Vegans are dominating the discourse in this arena, and without justifiable cause for such an imbalance.

I invite you to read the full report on my investigation; but for those who want to skip to the lessons learned, I'll quote here:

"[Compared to the current direction of Vegan moral discourse]Modern moral psychology suggests a different approach. An approach that renders Joy's unduly weighted theory of carnism incomplete at best, and harmful to non-human animal progress at worst. It is an approach in which all who are concerned with the genuine well being of non-human animals engage collaboratively and respectfully in the co-examination of each others moral matrices. All moral entrepreneurs must be willing to put our most sacredly held beliefs on the table for deep introspection. All moral entrepreneurs must come to the table expecting that their own moral community is just as likely to be blind to certain arguments as their moral out-groups. Lastly, all moral entrepreneurs should seek to engage the complexity requisite in as issue as ancient and interconnected the eating of other animals."

I don't portend to have all the answers; no one should - but I do believe that on the discursive road to human and non-human animal flourishing; humility and cooperation will be vital virtues for all involved.