Monday, November 15, 2010

On Self Interest

Occasionally, vegan advocates are accused by non-vegans of “promoting an agenda” or “forcing our desires on others.” The implication (sometimes made explicit) is that we are promoting “our self-interest.”

The poor reasoning is that since vegans want a vegan world, and therefore strongly advocate for a vegan world, we are promoting “our self-interest” in a vegan world. What such “reasoning” fails to distinguish is 1) the vegan desire to see innocent others fulfill their crucial interests in not being intentionally bred, enslaved, harmed, tortured, and killed, from 2) the non-vegan desire to fulfill their own trivial and unnecessary preferences and bad habits regarding food and other entertainment options. The former interest is entirely other-directed; the latter is entirely self-absorbed.

And whenever vegans are accused of “forcing beliefs on others” and thereby violating the One Commandment of Moral Relativity; namely, “Thou shalt not judge or attempt to persuade others on moral issues”, we should remember who is forcing beliefs on whom.

Vegans are providing reasons for going vegan: 1) enslaving, exploiting, and killing sentient nonhumans is completely unnecessary under any coherent notion of the word necessary; 2) enslaving, exploiting, and killing sentient nonhumans is harmful; 3) unnecessary harm is wrong; 4) it follows from 1, 2, and 3 that enslaving, exploiting, and killing sentient nonhumans is wrong. That is not forcing any beliefs on anyone. It is providing reasons to go vegan.

On the other hand, non-vegans force, in the nastiest and most violent, unjust, and insane sense of that word, their unjustified beliefs on innocent sentient nonhumans every time they consume an animal product.