I had an argument with my best friend, a philosopher, today, about veganism. He compared something to killing an innocent animal, stating that he couldn't do it. So I told him he was a hypocrite for putting money into and supporting the meat and dairy industry (which he admitted to). His response was to attack my lifestyle, telling me that if I use a car that uses oil that could come from a company that spilled it and killed wildlife, or buy books that use paper, or put money into a restaurant or even grocery store that also sells meat, I am also indirectly contributing to the death of animals. My response was that I am doing all that I can, and that I am doing more than most people, and that the money I spent at a grocery store goes toward plant foods rather than animal ones so it doesn't support the meat industry. (He claimed that some of my money does still go into that industry which I suppose is true.) He thinks he has won this argument. But I would like to go back with further counterarguments, does anybody have anything to contribute? Maybe any books or movies regarding ethical veganism/philosophy that I could make him read or watch with me? Much thanks.
There is something in philosophy called a confirmation bias. Your friend will likely cite examples and use cases that "confirm" his perspective or make yours seem questionable. Confirmation bias is why political debate sounds so childish sometimes. To transcend confirmation bias, simply live your truth. If you feel the need to defend it or convince others, go ahead and try, but keep in mind that some people will never change no matter what.
Thanks, that's interesting and I have heard of it. I'm usually not necessarily motivated by trying to change people, was just discussing with him since we're friends. And naturally he questions everything--which is a good thing I suppose!
One of our best vegan philosophers on this site goes by Prad:
Either look through his plentiful past discussions, or ask him personally for his input.
A consideration. You're on the right track by doing "all you can." That's all any of us can do, and we are and should be constantly learning, growing, and finding new ways to improve.
As lifestyle vegans, it's impossible to eliminate suffering. For instance, by breathing we're killing air microbes. By walking, we're killing insects. But we do the best we can. And yes, even in a store that sells items we don't agree with, every dollar we spend on good products is a purchasing vote. In the world of business, such votes equal money, and the more they count, the more likely they'll be to cater more to your style of buying in the future. That's a positive all around.
Thank you for your response, I will definitely look into Prad's stuff. And yes, I completely agree on the voting with your dollar.
I actually do not own a car, create much trash, or buy books often. The books is probably the worst thing I do. So I am doing "the right thing." He was referring to riding in cars (and even buses that use gas), which is honestly sometimes unfortunately unavoidable. I do buy local and at farmers markets whenever I can (but these places also sell animal products, so his argument could still be considered valid I suppose).
Ok I didn't see you mention any of that in your original post, thank you. The last thing I want to do is just agree with everyone who is vegan because it's "us against them"...so the details do matter.
Philosophy is using the laws of logic to seek of ultimate truths.
For you to be in the right you need to get him to admit that "living a lifestyle that minimizes the death and damage to animals" and/or "living a lifestyle that does minimal damage to the environment" are objective morals.
If he argues that "these values can't be proven to be correct and on your own worldview everyone is free to create their own morality" then you are dead in the water.
But if he admits that those two things are legitimate ultimate goals either for both you and him...or for all individuals...then you can simply go to statistics.
Essentially "contributing to something directly" is not the same as "contributing to something indirectly". These two things are not equal. Once you establish this, every point he has given thus far falls apart. Give statistics, give examples, should be easy to come up with both. The points your friend has made thus far are weak at best.
Whether or not a person calls themselves a "philosopher", they still have to abide by the laws of logic, if he is not straight up joking with you...wow his points are very weak.
Yes, it's tough to argue with him simply because he enjoys winning for the sake of winning. I was essentially stating the points you are also making, but perhaps I needed more confidence or more statistics, or maybe he just wasn't interested in having that discussion at that time.
Haha that's for sure--can be very frustrating!