Category: Philosophy

Skepticism’s Blind Spot

·

The skeptic movement is broad and it would be wrong to imply that it has rigid doctrines that its followers think about and appeal to constantly, as in some religions. Skepticism is more about *how* we think than it is about *what* we think. This, in theory, puts skeptics (and people who identify with similar movements) in a unique position to be able to »

Read on »

In Defence of Clear Speech and Clear Thinking

·

I had an art teacher who told me, *if you want to draw well, learn to draw with a sharpened HB pencil*. Charcoal, watercolours and soft pencils make it easy to hide your mistakes in the fuzzy edges. When you draw with the exact, unforgiving line of HB you can see every mark and every glaring error. There’s no drawing tool more honest: each slip »

Read on »

Better Never To Have Been: An Interview with David Benatar

·

Disclaimer: some of the opinions expressed in this article are extremely controversial. There are significant, spirited, mostly reasonable debates on the r/philosophy and r/vegan subreddits (among other places) which explore some of the analytical philosophy surrounding Professor Benatar’s claims. This article does not constitute an endorsement of antinatalism; rather, it is intended to be a critical introduction to a position that is held by many vegans, and which some people consider intrinsically linked to veganism.
There’s a lot of talk in the vegan community about whether having children is a good idea or not. Obviously the default human position is that giving birth is encouraged, or at least accepted. Most of us exist as a result of the decision to create life, and government policies that attempt to restrict procreation are met with harsh criticism. »

Read on »

Ask a Philosopher, Part Seven: Abortion

·

*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. For this bonus instalment, we opened a Pandora’s box of controversy.* »

Read on »

The Story So Far: An Interview With Ian McDonald

·

*[The Vegan Option]( http://theveganoption.org/)* is a UK podcast and radio show hosted by BBC trained radio producer Ian Mcdonald. Not to brag, I was a listener long before I got the chance to meet Ian. I enjoyed episodes on veganism in [science fiction](http://theveganoption.org/2013/07/05/science-fiction-doctor-who-hg-wells-swift-frankenstein-under-skin-planet-apes-trek/#more-924), some in-depth explorations of social science and biology and some controversial topics such as [vegan cats](http://theveganoption.org/2013/03/13/cats-evolution-diet-ethics-erin-red-eric-weisman-diet-lorelei-wakefield-andrew-knight/#more-899) and »

Read on »

An Appeal to Reason

·

Arguments for veganism frequently get polluted with spirituality, pseudoscience and misinformation. If you’re already vegan, I hope this article gives you further insight into the logical support for veganism and helps you to bolster your reasoning. If you’re not vegan you’ll find the following is largely addressed to you. »

Read on »

Ask a Philosopher, Part Six: The Moral Boundaries of Hedonism

·

*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. For the final insstallment, we delved into the realm of personal responsibility.* »

Read on »

Ask a Philosopher, Part Five: False Dichotomies

·

*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. This week, I asked him to compare the utility of deontological approaches and the logic of utilitarianism.* »

Read on »

How to Veganize Sam Harris

·

For those who don’t know him, Sam Harris[*](http://www.samharris.org/ “Sam Harris’ website has links to all his projects”) is an author on philosophy, religion & atheism, rationality and a lot of other topics, and has quite a large following. In his latest podcast, Sam Harris talks with psychologist Paul Bloom about “the dark side” of human nature. One of the topics under scrutiny this time is vegetarianism/veganism »

Read on »

Exploding the myth of the Moral Underclass

·

In my [previous article](http://rvgn.org/2015/07/31/oppression-olympics/) for RVGN, I spoke of how there are many people throughout the world who are unable to immediately convert to vegan living. Such people include those living in; mental health facilities, prisons, food deserts[*](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Food_desert “Wikipedia describes a food desert as ‘a geographical area where affordable and nutritious food is hard to obtain’”), and extreme climates where few edible plants grow. I have also, there as in nearly all of my works, expounded »

Read on »

Ask a Philosopher, Part Three: Who Deserves Moral Consideration?

·

*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. This time, I asked him how we decide which kinds of things deserve moral consideration.* »

Read on »

Ask a Philosopher, Part Two: The Morality of Death

·

*Robert Johnson is a British ethicist and moral philosopher. He is the author of [Rational Morality: A Science Of Right And Wrong](http://www.robertjohnson.org.uk/) and commissioning editor of [Ockham Publishing](http://ockham-publishing.com/). He has kindly agreed to allow us to pester him with questions relevant to veganism. This week, I asked him about the morality of inflicting death upon sentient creatures.* »

Read on »

Vegan Stories

·

>After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the things we need most in the world. — Philip Pullman[*](http://clubs-kids.scholastic.co.uk/clubs_content/7922 “Quoted here, amongst other places, in an ‘Interview with Philip Pullman’ – Scholastic Book Club”) I was listening to the journalist and author David Aaronovitch talk on the subject of conspiracy theories and I detected an interesting note in a conversation he recounted that took place between himself and a Labour MEP, that ended »

Read on »

Talking Vegan Atheology with Kim Socha

·

Last year we had a chance to [review Kima Socha’s book](http://rvgn.org/2014/11/13/vegan-atheology-the-next-big-thing-a-review-of-kim-sochas-animal-liberation-and-atheism/) *Animal Liberation and Atheism: Dismantling the Procrustean Bed*, which explores how the concept of religion is inherently antithetical to animal liberation. Kim was kind enought to answer some questions about her book and her position in general. »

Read on »

Do we have a generation who are unaware of postmodernism?

·

As an ethicist, my work falls outwith the realms of classical science. But by using the scientific method whilst working within the non-physical, I have a unique appreciation for the problems caused by postmodernism. Indeed, if you don’t actively take an interest in both the scientific method and philosophy, you may not even know »

Read on »

Religion and Vegan Advocacy

·

Should animal advocates use religion to promote veganism? The majority of religious belief depends on the idea of hierarchy, chiefly the belief that we humans are given value by and should humble ourselves before someone or something that is ostensibly “greater than us” — be that a deity, deities »

Read on »

Flight From the Body: A Psychoanalysis of Veganism

·

Veganism is often defended but rarely described. By way of correction, the following is a tentative, psychoanalytic exploration of the meaning behind an individual’s choice to be vegan. Interpreting human nature through the lens of Freudian psychoanalysis is to make the error of being about 100 years out of date. It also requires »

Read on »

On Meat Eating and Rationality: Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris

·

A late professor of mine once said: “if you want to quickly anger even the most reasonable person and make sure that he or she is no longer thinking rationally, start a conversation about eating meat.” I have found that this - the part about not thinking rationally about meat eating - applies even to the most rationally thinking people. Even the people »

Read on »

Vegan Atheology: the next big thing. A review of Kim Socha’s Animal Liberation and Atheism

·

Kim Socha begins *Animal Liberation and Atheism: dismantling the Procrustean Bed* by introducing us to Procrustes and the ‘Procrustean Bed’ — a metaphor often employed to critique ill-formed arguments. Procrustes is a character from Greek mythology who invited travellers into his home - located conveniently near to an entrance to the underworld - and »

Read on »

If a Tree Were to Fall

·

If a tree were to fall on an island where there were no human beings would there be any sound? The question is probably so familiar to some that it has become trite. To cut to the chase, the answer was meant to lie in the definition of “sound”. Sound is defined as a perception[*](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_a_tree_falls_in_a_forest “In June 1883, in the magazine The Chautauquan, the question was put, ‘If a tree were to fall on an isla nd where there were no human beings would there be any sound?’ They then went on to answer the query with, ‘No. Sound is the sensation excited in the ear when the air or other medium is set in motion.”). The tree falling creates vibrations in the air, but no ‘sound’ because no »

Read on »

Do animals have souls, and does it matter?

·

I am often reminded by well-meaning non-vegans that animals ‘are *only* animals’. In response, I often succumb to the temptation of reminding them that ‘humans are also only animals’. This slightly pedantic comeback sidesteps an important underlying assumption which deserves thorough investigation: what is it that people think makes »

Read on »

Skepticism could save the animal rights moment, but will it? I’m sceptical.

·

Skeptical thinking is the asset within scientific and rational progress which has achieved more than any other. It’s that ability to objectively analyse evidence, no matter how compelling, and ask whether it’s reliable, whether it works or even just whether it’s completely made up. In animal rights, it’s that nagging doubt that presents itself when »

Read on »

Of Aliens and Vegans

·

Many people who report having experienced abduction by aliens give horrifyingly graphic descriptions of violence and physical violation. The treatment of animals by humans, which I intend to demonstrate parallels and informs the abductees’ reports, is real and perhaps equally horrifying. It includes violence that would also be deemed »

Read on »