Dog Fighting and Bacon

Human treatment of animals has been on my mind a lot lately, particularly how different cultures seem to have internal contradictions. Western culture tends to put a lot of stock in logic and reason, but when it comes to animals there is a bit of cultural relativism. We see what we do as moral and others as immoral, even when the two things are very similar. If you ask someone from the United States what they think of eating dog they will probably act disgusted and even claim that eating dogs is “wrong” or “immoral”, but we eat pig all the time. Not only is there cross-cultural views on what is right or wrong, there are also seeming contradictions within our society. Take dog-fighting, for example.

Most people think dog-fighting should be illegal. They see the act of raising animals simply so that they can fight, suffer, and die for human entertainment and profit to be deplorable. Human entertainment, at its core, is simply pleasure we achieve through the use of our eyes. Humans watch dogs fighting and the thrill of the fight and the potential for gaining money through gambling gives them a thrill, it gives them pleasure.

Many people see this as wrong, but at the same time eat bacon. Bacon, and generally all meat, is consumed because it gives the person eating it pleasure. It is pleasure derived from taste and the satisfaction from a full stomach. Bacon has no nutritional value that is necessary for survival, but people enjoy it. While some people may need animal protein for survival (I’m not sure how common that medical necessity really is) there are other sources that it can come from other than pigs.

If you are against dog-fighting and abusing pets, but support eating bacon then I can only come up with three reasons: This is a hypocritical stance, morality and ethics are relative to a particular society, or there is some sort of important difference between pleasure that comes from sight and pleasure that comes from taste with taste allowing you to perform acts of violence (or pay someone to) that sight doesn’t allow. If morality and ethics with regards to animals are relative to a particular society than we shouldn’t be using the state to enforce them, particularly at the federal level. This means that laws against dog fighting are unjustly targeting a particular sub-culture in the United States.

Personally, I think it is a hypocritical stance. If a dog shouldn’t be abused for pleasure or profit, than neither should pigs (and pigs in our society are treated terribly before being killed for human pleasure). If harm must be done for survival, if meat must be consumed, we should attempt to minimize that harm and only eat the amount of meat necessary and make sure it comes from sources that are raised in a way to minimize harm.

I think most people are fine with being hypocrites. Challenging the consumption of bacon is almost a sacrilegious act and is commonly defended with “but it tastes so good”. The argument is basically, I derive pleasure from it therefore it is okay. It is moral hedonism, which I don’t have a problem with if you aren’t harming. Though, if they saw me beating my dog with a bat and I said “but it feels so good to do it” I doubt they would shrug and say “okie dokie, as long as you get pleasure from it”.

Advertisements

Ex Sext Ethics

Yesterday, I encountered an all too common, but kind of modern, ethical dilemma. While searching through my old emails for an address I stumbled upon a message that contained nude pictures of an ex. Since the invention of pocket porn studies (smart phones) most people in modern relationships have sent nude pics to their lovers and friends and, until the popularity of Snapchat, those pictures were pretty permanent. That brings me to my conundrum, what do I do with pictures of ex partners?

My intuition is to just trash them, but intuition isn’t good enough to guide just actions. My primary moral guide (the non-aggression principle) isn’t really a lot of help. I am certainly not harming or aggressing against my ex by having these pictures or by using them for masturbatory pleasure. I guess you could make the argument that there is an implied contract when you send the pictures that they are only to be used and kept during the duration of the relationship. I’m not sure if implicit agreements are really a good thing to assume, and these particular pictures are from a fuck-buddy who I am still on good terms with. It wasn’t a romantic relationship and it wasn’t a bad separation, we just stopped living in the same area. Should I treat photos in the same way that I would treat other items?

Take, as an imperfect example, a situation where an ex let me borrow a jacket and after we separated I still had the jacket. If it was raining outside and I needed to go out to get the mail, would it be unethical of me to wear the jacket to keep dry? I would think not. It isn’t harming anything. But, does the situation change if I have access to other jackets but simply prefer my ex-partner’s jacket because it is comfortable, familiar, and I know it will get the job done? Again, I would think not. I am still not harming anyone. Is sexual release (and pleasure) a different ethical category? I don’t think so.

This also raises other questions. Like, is it wrong to think about an ex or a friend or a celebrity while masturbating? The “be excellent to each other” half of my moral code offers little to no guidance. Using my mind to receive pleasure through fantasy harms nobody by itself. I think it is probably socially unacceptable to admit to fantasizing or using photos of your friends for sexual pleasure, but society is pretty terrible as a moral compass, especially a society like in the US that is incredibly sex-negative and shaming.

So, I am left without a real answer. I think the appropriate middle-ground would be to contact the women in the photos and ask if they want me to destroy them or if they care if I keep them. We live in an interesting time.