What the 'meat paradox' reveals about moral decision making

#1
http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190206...ion-making

EXCERPT: . . . According to psychologists Brock Bastian and Steve Loughnan, who do research on the topic in Australia, the “meat paradox” is the “psychological conflict between people’s dietary preference for meat and their moral response to animal suffering”. They argue that “bringing harm to others is inconsistent with a view of oneself as a moral person. As such, meat consumption leads to negative effects for meat-eaters because they are confronted with a view of themselves that is unfavourable: how can I be a good person and also eat meat?" [Carnism ... Carnism.org]

This moral conflict doesn’t just threaten our enjoyment of eating meat, it threatens our identity. In order to protect our identities we establish habits and social structures that make us feel better. Meat-eating is tied to social customs, so that holidays are defined as a time to feast on flesh with friends and family. Some people may also use it as a signal of masculinity, claiming that it helps define someone as a real man, or that we humans evolved as super-predators who were meant to eat meat. And despite animal products being linked to all kinds of poor health outcomes, some people tsk when we say that we want to go vegan (“How will you get enough protein?”), and friends start "forgetting" to invite us to dinner parties.

With many decisions, including the choice to eat meat, the excuses we make are largely post hoc – after we have chosen to indulge we need to justify why the behaviour was OK, and why it is OK to do it again. And we need the excuses, or else we feel like bad people.

When we say one thing but do another, or hold inconsistent beliefs, psychologists call it cognitive dissonance [...] just as hunger motivates us to find food to reduce our hunger, cognitive dissonance motivates us to find situations to reduce the dissonance. For meat-eating, there are two ways to do this: we can change our behaviour or change the belief. We can stop eating meat, or come up with reasons why eating meat is morally OK.

In addition to our own attempts to justify meat-eating, advertising and marketing can make it easier for us to do so. [...] one way to make meat-eating seem acceptable is to dissociate it from the animal it came from [...] we do this by “transforming animals, which are loved, into meats, which are eaten, so that the concepts of ‘animals’ and ‘meats’ seem distinct and unrelated”. We call it “veal” instead of baby cow, “ham” instead of pig, “game” instead of hunted wild animal. We pack our dead animals in pretty packages – physically, verbally and conceptually distancing ourselves from the real origin of our food.

[...] This isn’t just relevant for meat-eating. When we turn animals or humans into objects, and thereby avoid the discomfort caused by knowing about the suffering behind consumer goods, we make it easier to be cruel. The same processes we see with meat, we see with all kinds of other morally unacceptable but common human behaviours that have to do with money.

We know that poverty causes great suffering, yet instead of sharing our wealth we buy another pair of expensive shoes. We fundamentally disagree with the idea of child labour or adults working under horrible conditions, but keep shopping at discount stores. We stay in the dark, to protect our delicate identities, to maintain the illusion that we are consistent and ethically sensible human beings.

In this constant effort to reduce cognitive dissonance, we may spread morally questionable behaviour to others. We begin to shape societies in ways to minimise our discomfort, to not remind us of our inconsistencies. We don’t want constant reminders. And, as Bastian and Loughnan argue, “through the process of dissonance reduction, the apparent immorality of certain behaviours can seemingly disappear.”

[...] It is time for a revolution in how we talk about human beings, animals and the planet, and acknowledge our own hypocrisies. Rather than doing mental gymnastics to justify unethical behaviour, we must consider actually changing it. Identifying and addressing even just a few of your guilt-ridden ethical inconsistencies is likely to make you a happier person, and the planet a better place.

MORE: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190206...ion-making

RELATED: Veganism isn’t a diet – it’s an ideology ... Is Veganism a Social Justice Issue?
Reply
#2
My go to meat eating excuse is this: the cow or pig or chicken is already dead. Might as well eat it.
Reply
#3
(Feb 10, 2019 08:18 PM)C C Wrote: http://www.bbc.com/future/story/20190206...ion-making

EXCERPT: . . . According to psychologists Brock Bastian and Steve Loughnan, who do research on the topic in Australia, the “meat paradox” is the “psychological conflict between people’s dietary preference for meat and their moral response to animal suffering”. They argue that “bringing harm to others is inconsistent with a view of oneself as a moral person. As such, meat consumption leads to negative effects for meat-eaters because they are confronted with a view of themselves that is unfavourable: how can I be a good person and also eat meat?" [Carnism ... Carnism.org]
Eating meat doesn't necessarily require animals suffering, just dying. "Others", as in "bringing harm to others", doesn't usually consist of livestock, in a moral sense. The moral sense is typically constrained to the intentional infliction of suffering. So these guys seem to be equivocating a bit. I'm sure vegans/vegetarians would be "confronted with a view of themselves that is unfavourable" if they ate meat, but it's only projection to assume that of omnivores.

Quote:This moral conflict doesn’t just threaten our enjoyment of eating meat, it threatens our identity. In order to protect our identities we establish habits and social structures that make us feel better. Meat-eating is tied to social customs, so that holidays are defined as a time to feast on flesh with friends and family. Some people may also use it as a signal of masculinity, claiming that it helps define someone as a real man, or that we humans evolved as super-predators who were meant to eat meat. And despite animal products being linked to all kinds of poor health outcomes, some people tsk when we say that we want to go vegan (“How will you get enough protein?”), and friends start "forgetting" to invite us to dinner parties.
And here seems to be their motive. They just want to be accepted for their lifestyle.

Quote:With many decisions, including the choice to eat meat, the excuses we make are largely post hoc – after we have chosen to indulge we need to justify why the behaviour was OK, and why it is OK to do it again. And we need the excuses, or else we feel like bad people.
No, the natural necessity for a high-protein source of food is quite the opposite of post hoc. And if these people ever found themselves in a survival situation, they'd either resort to meat or die. Necessity is not an excuse, it's a reason.

Quote:When we say one thing but do another, or hold inconsistent beliefs, psychologists call it cognitive dissonance [...] just as hunger motivates us to find food to reduce our hunger, cognitive dissonance motivates us to find situations to reduce the dissonance. For meat-eating, there are two ways to do this: we can change our behaviour or change the belief. We can stop eating meat, or come up with reasons why eating meat is morally OK.
Seems to be a straw man, as I've never met a meat-eater who felt any cognitive dissonance about their diet. Seems like more projection.

Quote:[...] This isn’t just relevant for meat-eating. When we turn animals or humans into objects, and thereby avoid the discomfort caused by knowing about the suffering behind consumer goods, we make it easier to be cruel. The same processes we see with meat, we see with all kinds of other morally unacceptable but common human behaviours that have to do with money.
I wonder where these guys fall on a fetus being called "only a lump of cells".

They also seem oblivious to the fact that calling it "baby cow" doesn't tell us whether it's alive or dead, a pet or food. So where they start off equivocating the word "others", in a moral sense, here they seem to continuing that trend by insisting on even fewer linguistic distinctions.

Quote:We know that poverty causes great suffering, yet instead of sharing our wealth we buy another pair of expensive shoes. We fundamentally disagree with the idea of child labour or adults working under horrible conditions, but keep shopping at discount stores. We stay in the dark, to protect our delicate identities, to maintain the illusion that we are consistent and ethically sensible human beings.
More projection. Some of us realize that you can only help someone who is willing to help themselves, and that what we consider "horrible conditions" are the greatest opportunities to climb out of poverty that some have ever seen in their countries. Measuring everything against the Anglosphere is shortsighted.

Quote:[...] It is time for a revolution in how we talk about human beings, animals and the planet, and acknowledge our own hypocrisies. Rather than doing mental gymnastics to justify unethical behaviour, we must consider actually changing it. Identifying and addressing even just a few of your guilt-ridden ethical inconsistencies is likely to make you a happier person, and the planet a better place.
And here they finally state their bias...that they consider meat-eating "unethical behaviour". Hence their projected cognitive dissonance.
Reply
#4
(Feb 10, 2019 09:59 PM)Magical Realist Wrote: My go to meat eating excuse is this: the cow or pig or chicken is already dead. Might as well eat it.


Same here, though if that's what everybody universally appeals to, it would be what keeps the slaughter industry going (why the animal is dead and processed, and was brought into existence to begin with). But overshadowing that is what an episode of The Good Place titled "The Book of Dougs" humorously illuminated as to why no one had made it to the Good Place in hundreds of years. The complexity of our advanced era -- such as the global goods we buy being connected to all manner of unsavory policies slash acts in terms of their origins -- ensures that we're all associated with exploitation, cruelty, wickedness, and hypocrisy in certain areas, no matter what.

A big test for we supposed disciples of carnism comes when synthetic meat becomes widely available. If I'm still eating the traditional kind because it's cheaper, tastes better, (etc), then I'll be among the offenders that vigilante patrols are posting about and militant-justice factions in neighborhoods are blacklisting.

Since there won't be an incentive to raise vast populations of livestock anymore, domestic food-source animals will ironically be wiped out as far as large-scale commercialism goes. Pedigreed breeds will still be maintained for exhibition at animal shows. As well some rural folk disdaining "in vitro cultivation" products and yet raising poultry, cattle, and swine for their own personal, limited needs as well as potentially selling to nearby interested locals.

I suppose one could today experiment with replacing all other meat consumption with eggs if it wasn't for the cholesterol; and if the store-bought ones came from true free-range hens rather than bogus claims of such. What with millions of male chicks ground-up after hatching and the living conditions of the laying hens, the unfertilized egg as a "non-organism" source for meat wouldn't prevent suffering. Likewise milk products like cheese.

21 Things the Egg Industry Doesn’t Want You to See
https://www.peta.org/features/egg-industry-cruelty/

Chickens for Eggs
http://woodstocksanctuary.org/factory-fa...-for-eggs/

###
Reply


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Moral decision making is more than gut reactions & is rife with internal conflict C C 1 102 Aug 3, 2018 04:32 AM
Last Post: Syne



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)