Michael Huemer on Animal Welfare: Self in Society #3

Michael Huemer on Animal Welfare: Self in Society #3



welcome to the self and society podcast exploring what it means to flourish as an individual and community this is Ari Armstrong music by Jordan Smith CJ s classical calm please subscribe bio your podcast app or better yet join my email list @ re Armstrong com that's a RI Armstrong comm if you appreciate these this show please help support it ad re Armstrong comm / donate our guest today is Michael humor philosopher at University of Colorado at Boulder welcome Michael thank you thank you for being here thanks for being here I'll just read the bio off the back of your latest book dialogues on ethical vegetarianism Michael humor is professor of philosophy at the University of Colorado Boulder he is the author of more than 70 academic articles and ethics metaphysics political philosophy and epistemology as well as five other books skepticism in the veil of perception ethical intuition ISM the problem of political authority approaching infinity and paradox lost with this being the latest just came out congratulations on that thank you so I guess we'll just start off why did you feel the need to do to write this book and what is their basic argument which I think could be stated fairly briefly yeah so I mean the reason that I wrote it was so I mean first I think that the problem that it addresses is possibly the largest problem all right largest preventable problem because just the total quantity of animals that are being killed and the total quantity of suffering that we're causing is it's just like orders of magnitude larger than any other problem that we know about the reason why I am particularly one to write this book was I wanted a book that was more accessible than the existing literature so or there are lots of there are lots of books and articles that make this argument it's pretty straightforward just you know it's not like an amazing new discovery that there's there's this problem of animal cruelty but I thought by putting it in this kind of short dialogue format I would make it so more people would want to read it and you know would be be accessible to undergraduates and non non academics well I I love I love the book in the way it's written and I I wish that more academics would write more material like that that's more accessible to regular people yeah so I thought it's very effective at that and it also covers things like bias ease the way that we think about anything in the factual reality and so it's of interest even to people who aren't specifically or extremely interested in this particular issue because it there's a lot of just good introduction to sound thinking sort of principles whether you agree with your particular conclusions or not so that was really interesting and then put in this I won't see it yeah it's entertaining I would say because it's basically two people a vegetarian and a mediator arguing about whether it is morally acceptable to eat meat or otherwise consume animal products in today's context now there's a couple details here that are important first is the idea that modern factory farms so-called are extremely cruel with respect to the animals they raise so if you watch videos online put out by animal welfare groups for animal rights groups you can see and I agree profound instances of animal cruelty on these factory farms and that's the language most people use about it and so the second point is so this is you know not necessarily the case of human beings you know 200 thousand years ago or 20 thousand years ago right yeah so it's a it's a fairly contemporary problem they you know in the industrial era and the other the other point that you mentioned you estimate or you cite the estimate of 74 billion land-based animals killed per year that's globally right right for human consumption yeah so the idea is if we're killing 74 billion land animals not to mention many times that early several times that in sea creatures yeah and they're being raised in overwhelmingly extremely cruel conditions then the amount of suffering the amount the total amount of suffering is just vast and overwhelming yeah and so there's only there's only seven and a half billion people in the world so we're killing ten times the entire human population of the world in animals in just a single year the total number of people who have ever existed is somewhere around 110 billion so you know takes two years for us to kill more animals than the total number of human beings who have ever lived on the earth I don't know and you know they overwhelmingly like over a ninety-nine percent or something like that or on factory farms so overwhelmingly they had horrible lives before they were slaughtered so the total amount of suffering that's going on it's got to be more than the total amount of suffering that human all human beings have ever endured which it's perfectly straightforward but I don't think most people have ever actually considered that the consider the basic facts and I and I hadn't for most of my life yeah maybe it would be helpful just to try to convince my listeners that you're actually interested in this topic because I think everybody listening I assume no psychopaths are listening actually do care about animal welfare already at least in some respects so everyone would be horrified to see someone torturing a dog to death brutally just for fun no one listening is going to think that's a good idea so I think what you're saying is that the conditions on some of these factory farms is comparable or akin to that level of suffering and certainly I mean I'm convinced that at least in some cases that that's the case so I do have a couple of I'm just gonna put on the table my couple of broad points of pushback before we get into more specific issues one is several times in the book you refer to meat eating the benefits of meat eating are basically some sort of mild enjoyment or mild pleasure so I think that it's reasonable to think that maybe there are important nutritional factors besides that so in other words there might be more benefits to eating meat or consuming animal products then you discuss in the book so that's one one general type of pushback the other type is it seems I mean I'm convinced that we ought not do business with these farm with these farms agricultural bodies that we know or reasonably think treat their animals horribly that I find thinking about it I find that increase persuasive but it seems like the just as reasonable conclusion as vegetarianism is well we should treat the animals humanely so in other words I'm not sure that that it's a that its right to go to the complete vagin option when we could just go to humane treatment of animals and you talked about this in the book and you you admit or you grant that it might be moral to consume animal products if the animals are raised humanely but you're sort of ambivalent about that and I think your position is that you're not sure if it's okay so therefore you're not going to do it is that basically it right you know that's what's said in the in the dialogues and so you know in the in the book there's a plug for certified humane it's this animal welfare organization that they examine the treatment of animals on different farms and there's a small number of companies that get to put this certified humane label so if you go to Whole Foods there are a few products that will have that label they will say that and that means at this organization thought that it was the product was made from humanely treated animals I'm gonna go in a slight tangent here because we're in Colorado and so I've actually looked at what products are available inhumane inhumane certified version yeah and there's a company and what you cannot find is cow milk and cow butter there's actually company in California that produces these things humane certified but they produce it in a quote raw form and it's illegal to sell raw milk in Colorado therefore you cannot buy the product from the one company that I know of that makes it so maybe there's other options and I'm not aware abut not that I know now you can also buy cow shares which is arguably more humane yeah but there are a lot of products available but there are still limitations legally and practically as to what you can actually get in the stores so you know that's an opportunity for a libertarian plug I think um you know the state is on the side of the largest you know the big companies which in this case would be the the meat and dairy industry and they just want to protect their monopolies and they're gonna try to stop new products I'm coming in including vegan products so I wanted to talk about terminology because that's real important for understanding what case you're making and water actually the relevant issues on the table so number one is you use the word vegetarianism in your book title but in common usage that term is extremely ambiguous so the local there's a restaurant local to me and they're all of their vegetarian quote dishes include cheese I think all of them yeah well that's not true there's one like you can get guacamole that doesn't have cheese in it that's actually vegan yeah for vegetarians so I'm generally wanting to steer clear of this word vegetarian because it just seems like most people use it in a very strange way and so it's just an empirical claim that animals raised for dairy or eggs generally treated as bad if not worse than animals treat raised for consumption of their flesh yes sir I mean about the word vegetarian as I understand it in ordinary parlance it means not eating meat and therefore it allows eating eggs and dairy so what I'm arguing for is stronger than that I just used the word vegetarian or some I guess because it's a more common word people yet people recognize it and you know what I'm what I'm advocating isn't exactly veganism either because it's okay to eat animals that don't have a brain of which there's a small number right so you call so vagin is most people use that to be more tight and in terms of just eating plants so you throw out the word Ostrow vegan and Ostrow I think refers to a stir and so it's muscles yeah yes lambs and scallops and then all are all are all oysters included than that I think that's right yeah okay so yeah so these these are animals technically they're meat but they don't have brains so it's extremely unlikely that they can have any kind of suffering and this is important people worried about the nutritional aspects of it this is important I looked up the nutrition data for muscles yeah and three ounces or 85 grams it's 23 percent fat just the product itself and it's 59 percent protein which is over 20 grams or 40 percent of your daily value and 3 ounces isn't really that much and it's a quote complete high quality protein according to nutrition data it has 340 percent of your vitamin b12 and it has 736 milligrams of omega-3 so people worried about the nutritional benefits of animal consumption I mean to me is very plausible that if you add some muscles and such to your diet that it's at least as healthy as even the optimal meat inclusive diet that you would otherwise concoct and certainly more healthy than sort of the average meeting I think the average diet generally whether it's big and remediating is pretty poor in America yeah but you can talk about you know what's the optimal meat inclusive diet the optimal vegan diet and then I mean in terms of health not it not including other factors you know just in terms of that discussion but then then which is better overall and frankly I don't know the answer but people worry about nutritional benefits you know should consider this you know muscles which I'll of course some people also have an allergy to shellfish so that's a problem for some people just as some people have an allergy to nuts yeah so some people will have I think a harder practical time than others yes with the vegan diet yeah but for most people I think that it's you can make the switch nutritionally and be just fine if not vastly so it's not really vastly superior yes alright yeah so I mean if you have a really literally plant-based diet completely plant-based then there's risks of nutritional deficiencies and vitamin b12 deficiency is common among strict vegans so do you take do you buy a supplement for that I have supplements I don't know if they're good good for you or announcement uh-huh but you can get vegan supplements that will have these you know these that I know that they're there's algae based I'll make it 3 supplements on the market so but you know but I mean from my point of view there's well there's no reason not to eat these brainless animals so you know clams have a ton of vitamin b12 so you know have some of that have some have some clam chowder Manhattan clam chowder not New England because you know cuz of the dairy I didn't even know there's a difference honestly yeah but I had so what about what about honey are you okay with honey I don't know if most of Aegon's are or not I have no idea yeah so technically it's not vegan but I I don't really worry about the rights of bees because I'm I don't think bees can suffer but some people do worry about it some people think the bees are being mistreated that's interesting I don't see that and I think this is one of the barriers to more people taking animal welfare more seriously is that some of Aegon's seem quite dogmatic like if it's not plant you just can't eat it and there doesn't seem to be a lot of reasoning behind that so I think that your approach is actually potentially much more effective in terms of persuading skeptics and people on the fence so whatever that's worth I mean I would say there are there are people with extreme positions which sort of like you get attention if you have an extreme position that doesn't mean that's the majority position and I think and I'm not aware of any surveys or anything so I'm not exactly sure what the common views are among big concern yeah I don't know I mean to me being worried about insect welfare is an extreme position you could say well but you know we should be cautious because there's a chance there's a chance that they're suffering so but there's also like there's that chance that anything is suffering there's there's a chance that your table is suffering because you're leaning on it so but you know pan psychism is becoming surprisingly popular the idea that consciousness and here's and everything in the universe so I don't know yes there are some you know peculiar what I regard as peculiar views out there but I do want to clarify so we're also saying no use of consumer products like leather or wool in a vagin approach and so what about pets because a lot of people in America have cats and dogs and they're naturally carnivorous so are you saying don't have pets or are you saying you have to feed them plants which is I'm gonna go out I'm gonna say that's probably miserable form do you'd only plant so what do you I don't know you know I guess I would have to do research on with whether the pets can survive on only plants and and then if not then I guess you shouldn't have the pets right arguably now I will point out there there is at least one Humane certified animal pet food store company and they do both dog and cat food so for whatever that's worth if you buy anything the idea that that's okay then you could have a way in a scape hatch there but yeah and I should say you know like my argument isn't oh it's wrong to cause suffering no matter what right my argument is it's wrong to cause suffering for trivial reasons if you actually had to cause suffering to other creatures to survive then do it so like which would excuse pretty much all humans before the modern era yeah maybe well I don't know I mean they could have they could have been vegetarian too but but they weren't causing nearly as much suffering and there were hunters not factory farmers yeah you know if your cat has to kill animals to survive then it can do it but but you don't okay oh so you could actually argue that a pet owner should not consume animal products but they can let their pet their carnivorous animal do so there might be a case for that yeah I mean I guess I would say you know look for that Humane certified product okay so I'm gonna I'm gonna join a new term here I know it won't get any traction but I'm gonna say vagin plus is your have a vegan diet plus muscles and such Plus this is this could be a big deal in the future lab-grown meat so you have no ethical problem with lab-grown meat alright yeah I'm waiting for them to make that commercially viable right and it does exist but it cost I don't know like $1,000 for a hammer or something so it's not commercially yeah so I don't know if it's I don't know if I just don't know if it's possible to drop the price down to where it's copper or lower than meat products but if so this is you know probably a done deal because yeah it's the exact same thing that's grown in a lab that's cheaper yeah there's no reason at that point just speculating in principle it should be possible to make it cheaper so I don't know about the industry I'm just making stuff up because I'm off loss for okay but the energy input in the traditional method of making meat is you know much larger than necessary because you know you have to like whoa all of the other organs and in principle the energy input into lab-grown meat is much less you're only making the part that you need so yeah that makes sense to me I mean I don't see me not being an expert I don't see any Technol you know technical reason why that shouldn't be possible and then I'm gonna create a fourth category here which is called animal inclusive humane diet which of course Meghan's will say it's not human because you're still using animals but I'm gonna but I'm gonna say look you can are if you're gonna argue that humane certified and the equivalent is okay or at least better that is a different you know that's a change to your diet into particularly that's not vagin but it's also not traditional meat-eating and in the current context yeah so yeah hopefully that'll just give people a better idea of what you're actually advocating and what what you're actually asking people to change yeah you know by the way like when the lab-grown meat becomes commercially viable I bet you that some people are still going to refuse to eat it yes they're going to say it's weird and it's not real meat I think that's true but I my guess is after a decade or two that's just gonna come just slowly drop off because as more and more people do it it'll seem normal and then there will be these residual worries and he'll about hurting animals so it was just you and if it's cheaper that's me if it's cheaper like this no contest you ought to do the cheaper thing if it's equivalent otherwise right yeah I'm kind of a bargain hunter that way so like that but you know there are some people who are gonna say no I'm willing to pay more to get the real thing right but you know the economics of it is what I suspect what happen is what we now call factory farming would drop off almost entirely and it would be more specialty meats that are actually on small what you think of as the traditional American small farm where there's actually people individual people engaged with individual animals who presumably have a whole lot more concern for those animals so arguably even on that score the stuff it would be a lot better um so here is now I'm gonna throw some arguments or some push some push back points on you and so the first one I don't I don't agree with this point but I think a lot of people actually believe it so I want to just get your response even though I understand it too kind of a broad issue so I think some people think this there's no actual reason to think that the suffering is wrong which is sort of the bounding premise of your argument and what's really going on is people we empathize with animals presumably as an extension of our empathy or sympathy with other human beings and people just feel bad that animals are suffering and so they're confusing these bad feelings of animal suffering with actually a moral case yeah so I mean I don't know if the person putting forward this argument is an egoist but you know like this this is very similar to what an egoist or a psychopath would say about other people all right like there's no actual reason to think that it's wrong to hurt people it's just that you know these other non Psychopaths sometimes feel empathy with other human beings and it makes them feel bad when they see other human being suffering well actually that's kind of the basis of ethics like being able to empathize with others well I think you know at some point they're gonna have to make for that to seem plausible all they're gonna have to make a distinction between it's like it's legitimate to sympathize and empathize with people and to worry about their pain in a way that it's not legitimate to care about animal pain and so I guess at that point you just say that's kind of arbitrary so yeah so we have to okay we have to know why why is that the case and then you just like go through the suggestions that people make like oh maybe it's because people are smart and the animals are down below okay so pain is only bad if you're smart is that right so like if there's a mentally retarded person and you torture them then it's not bad because they're not smart and you know just like on the face of it that's completely arbitrary like okay when your intelligence is one thing your suffering is another like how does your intelligence suddenly make pain bad or like being stupid would make it not bad anymore and just to pitch the book for skeptics I sincerely doubt that anyone can come up with an objection to your position that you do not already cover an address in the book at least in brief and there's also really nice marginal notes that summarizes the point at hand and so and there's also a very good index that tells you what the particular what the argument is at hand and so it's really easy to flip through the book it's really easy to read for one thing it's like a hundred pages that's easy relatively easy to read even though some of its denser than some of it is really thought-provoking so you might just slow down a little bit but it's also easy to flip through I think and find particular objections and particular discussions it might be more poignant to your way of thinking yep that was my intention yeah no I mean I think I think succeed I mean beyond the topic I just like I said I just wish that more academics would take that approach in terms of popularizing their work you know right the more formal stuff elsewhere which five people are gonna read and then write it something that actually is you know normal people can pick up and read and enjoy actually and get something out of with with also you know there's there's endnotes and there's also an appendix in the end with additional sources so there's actually tips for academics and budding academics who want to dig deeper into it but it you know at the first level anyone can pick it up and read it if you have you know a basic ability to read and you know awareness of your world around you so argument to what do you think of claims that we should take a marginal approach instead of saying okay you got to become vagin tomorrow get on it yeah say so there's actually a movement called the reduce Italian movement yeah and the idea is look if you just if everybody would reduce their animal consumption by like say eighty percent whatever that would automatically reduce animal suffering by that amount at least and now and it seems like that would be a lot easier for a lot of people and there's also the argument like well maybe you should eat beef instead of chickens because you know it'll take you a long time like maybe a year to eat a whole cow but you could eat a chicken every couple days so if you can reduce just the animal suffering by eating one cow instead of an X number of chickens like that would automatically reduce suffering so yeah and then but let me so it's just a couple examples right so yes and I think about this because I because I before year-old it's it's hard when you're on the road in today's context and you just want to pull off the road and get a quick bite to eat there just aren't a lot of good bacon options out there yeah that's true social gatherings you go to your friend's house right yeah and they're not vagin yeah it's it's just awkward right it's like you need to get better friends Ari you could be nothing or you can bring your own stuff you know but it's like and now you're gonna say this doesn't matter right but you have to say oh my god I'm a I'm a Fagin do you have any other option right it's just socially awkward you talk about that and then and so like I have a four year old right so if we go to a birthday party and every other kid is eating an ice cream like then I have to pitch my four year old on the idea that hey we don't need ice cream what do you think about that so so anyway all this is under the rubric of you know what do you think of making marginal changes as opposed to going yeah they're gonna say a whole hog but that's the wrong word yeah so like there are some changes that you could bake that are principled that would at least reduce suffering by a lot that like that there's a reason why it might be ethical like you could say well I'm only buying the Humane certified products right and that would presumably greatly reduce animal suffering another thing you could say is you know I'm only gonna get only gonna get meat from animals that were wild-caught okay so because you know none of the factory farming and okay so that might be okay I heard before the suggestion that you should just like cut out chickens because the overwhelming majority of animals are being killed are chickens you just cut out the chickens and you're going to like reduce by 90% the number of animals have to be killed I thought about that but also I realized that as a kind of utilitarian suffering calculation point it's not that clear because the cows have to be raised for a longer time I think so they're they're brought up for a longer period of time until they're ready to be slaughtered than the chickens we're in after you take that into account there's not that much difference friends in this so like if you assume that the time that they're alive is time of suffering there's not that much difference in the amount of suffering okay so yeah I see so I see that there's an empirical issue there but so let's say you know if there's a what-if right let's say the Cal you know let's say it does reduce suffering by a hundredfold or whatever I mean you're gonna say better but not still not good is that how do you phrase that what do I mean so I don't know I kind of comment on like what is ethical and if there's somebody who's unwilling to be ethical but they don't like they don't want to be as bad I guess okay you don't want to be as bad as you are then reduce yeah but I mean it's a little bit weird to say how much you know like how much badness you should have well you should have none like what if there's this mass murderer right and he kills like a hundred people every year and you know he's unwilling to give it up entirely so you could try say hey just kill one person a year and so it's true that that's a lot better a lot less bad anyway yeah but it does feel weird to say so that's what you should do kill the one person here okay and some to some people's ears that's gonna sound you know that's where it starts sounding odd yeah I mean you talk about these sort of intuitions that people have in the book but I will just say I mean one of my one of the things I've thought about is if I lived in the era of slavery in where slavery was legal what would I have done would I have just you know gone with the flow or would I it cuz now it's so obvious slavery is wrong all right you're you're nuts if you don't think that and bad yeah the fact then it was very common you know to say oh yes not only that slavery is okay but slavery is necessary is actually beneficial for them and they'd be worse off there's all kinds of arguments like that yeah but I do worry about what I would have done especially if you're born you know you're born into a slaveholding household you inherit slaves right so you kind of some people just kind of got them found themselves as slaveholders without ever really consciously reflecting about it too much and then what do you do so do you take comfort in the fact that you you know maybe you only whip their slaves when they really deserve it or you maybe you you are humane slavers so you don't with them at all right you just sternly lecture them whenever they get out of line or whatever and that kind of stuff is creepy to think about um yeah because you know we want to say today look there's no humane slavery right that's just out across the board and if you're talking about that there's something straight you know you're not really getting it and I think that you want to say there's a cop there's some kind of similar or comparable point with respect to animal cruelty yeah no that's right so I mean when you imagine living back in the slavery era you probably would have endorsed it because most people did so you might not be but most people yeah I mean you know most people endorse whatever the practices are in their society at the time and then you know some centuries later people look back and go wow how could people have ever accepted that and so and if you ask people at a time they probably would have had their intuitions might have lined up with whatever the current practices were and and these extreme abolitionist people who were saying wow this is the worst injustice of our time you know like this slave holder he's comparable to some terrible criminal people would have laughed at that guy right yeah it's just true or worse right yeah laughed or ostracized or even yeah beat up and you know behind the bar oh yeah like you know the people who are trying to help a slave escape like they were subject to being arrested and putting put in prison and I will just point out you talked to four listeners you talked a lot about these tendencies for people to go with the flow even in very horrible situations not only in the vegetarianism book but in your one of your previous books the problem of political authority you have a big long chapter about how people often end up doing the wrong thing depending on the and around them yeah and so look that by itself is not proof that your case on vegetarianism is correct but I think that it should give people enough pause to at least think seriously about it yeah yeah I mean like the the point should be well your initial intuitive reaction that oh this can't be the worst thing in the world that might not be reliable alright so you have to think harder about it like can I give a reason why this enormous amount of suffering isn't really bad like if you think suffering is bad in general is there any reason why this particular suffering isn't bad and what's the best explanation for why you don't feel bad about it like it really seems like the best explanation is your society has been doing it for a long time yeah I mean that seems very compelling to me nevertheless I'm gonna push on so this I'm gonna this is an objection very similar to the last one and it's the idea that and in fact there are animal welfare groups that actively push industry animal agricultural companies to improve their practices and so take like somebody like Temple Grandin who works up the street from us at University of Northern Colorado no Colorado State University excuse me and Temple Grandin there's a great film about her on HBO and she in addition to overcoming her autism to becoming a scientist she developed more humane and cattle practices arguably she has done more to reduce animal suffering than anyone else the United States living more so than any other animal welfare activists and yet she's still basically an advocate of consuming you know she's in the beef industry essentially or at least talking to the beef industry yeah um you know I don't know what her actual dietary practices are well from and maybe they've changed but my understanding is she says something like you know this it's like an ancient contract between humans and animals we raise them but we take care of them protecting from predators in turn I think it's something along the lines of that when last I listened to something she had to say so I don't know where she is now but so in my book right it's heart I want to think of her as in addition to her other achievements being a heroic character and yet I think your case implies that that might not you know there's also something suspect about trying to improve a fundamentally bad or flawed industry well I mean so she's done a lot to improve things and you know we could do we could do more like be even better if we eliminated it but that wasn't feasible at the time I mean it's not really epically problematic unless she's actually doing something to stop further measures right like she's trying to make this slaughter more humane but she's not actually trying to stop people from buying vegan products right right yeah if you see have you seen that film by the way at the HBO fellow it's really interesting now you might be put off because it does show some pretty grisly animal agricultural practices but her idea is you know is to really attune yourself with the way that the cows are thinking so you develop ways of treatment that they aren't at least not you know that they're even that's more natural it's more natural behavior for them you know and therefore they don't suffer nearly as much so that's kind of the idea there but I encourage people to watch that by the way I'm gonna do show notes so I'll try to put everything we talked about and maybe some other stuff too in the show notes about this but here so here's another example that I wanted to mention and I mentioned this because I've actually bought this product it's called a fair life milk it turns out it's actually coca-cola coca-cola company and so here's what's on their label our promise extraordinary care and comfort for our cows yeah so if you take that at face value it's like what this is this is not hurting the cows right this is like if you're a cow this is where you'll want to be on these farms because it's extra it's not just normal Comfort it's extraordinary yeah and it's easy to take those it's easy I think for consumers to take that seriously but then I just happen to be poking around and I found somebody actually sent an undercover video crew into one of them one of their suppliers and you can see the video online and it does have practices that I regard as quite horrible and so you know I think that there's reason to be skeptical generally these claims at least Humane certified there's more you know there's actually more checking yeah but at the same time this company the the leader of this company came out with a video and a press release and said look we're really sorry we screwed up we're gonna have a lot better monitoring of the of our suppliers and a lot more training for employers so you can look at this one of two ways right all right this proves that you shouldn't take seriously these claims of their treating their animals well or you could take it as proof that look people are increasingly concerned about this the industry is listening and the industry is slowly changing so on net it's I mean I net it's less suffering but I don't know if you have any thoughts about that or not yeah well I mean you know that it just sort of points up the fact that you can't really take company's statements about their product at face value and you know they will lie to make it sound better if there's no one to stop them from lying right but you know I don't I don't know that company might be better than the other companies I suspect I suspect so I mean at least they're taking it seriously all right they they're gonna put in some real I think they're going from one inspection per year to 24 I think that's what I read that's a pretty significant in their random right so if you're gonna get checked twice a month at any given time you know that seems like it will motivate the suppliers to improve the practices pretty dramatically perhaps that seems right and you know the other point that you raised that's interesting about kind of history is yeah animal welfare didn't use to be taken seriously it's being taken seriously a lot more now and you know we now have sort of we have more vegan products than we used to like a lot more and a lot better on and that is largely because of this animal welfare movement right like the reason why people are making these better products is that there were these animal rights and animal welfare advocates so uh humanity's getting better this is there's one of the many ways in which humanity is getting better but it's still really really far away from where it ought to be okay so this next one you might find weird but I'm gonna I'm gonna throw it at you anyway and the argument is that if we had humane relatively humane treatment of animals that might actually be better than not doing that from the animals from animals perspective on net so the idea is if we use this area of land for cow grazing right there aren't a lot of other prey animals on that land and we're the ones eating them so if we kill them in a way that they're not actually suffering or feeling any pain that might be a lot better than let's say that we were we just let that land go and it reverts to antelope and deer and then we have unless the population gets out of control we have to reintroduce predators so then these antelope and deer are being literally ripped limb to limb from limb while they're alive by coyotes wolves etc so arguably our humane treatment of animals cutting out the the natural a lot of the natural predators is a lot better than just letting it revert to nature where tooth and claw and blood and guts is like that's normal right if you're an animal in the wild a man a grass eating animal you're either gonna die of like starvation or the elements or you're gonna be eaten alive right that there's those are your two options so arguably being killed by humans is less bad than that you what do you what do you think of that line of yeah might might be less bad than that I mean I don't know that that makes it okay so I mean you know so compare this I guess analogous argument so you know there's these groups of primitive people and they have pretty bad lives and you know a lot of them die on bad ways you know among primitive tribes a lot of them kill each other and so what if someone from our society comes and you know like raises those people and then kills them very humanely right and then sells their body parts well you know and when we come in there like we stopped them from fighting with each other so that they don't kill each other and so they get killed much more nicely like by lethal injection instead of being stabbed by Spears and right and plus you know we feed them so that and we give them medical care so they're better off overall and does this make it all okay so no well I think you'd have to add in an argument that there really is a difference between treating humans and tree animal in other words like it you couldn't kill a human even if they felt no pain but you could kill an animal even if if they feel no pain yeah which doesn't strike me as like I think my sense is that's actually true um but I think that's at least somewhat plausible but you know so yeah so I mean it's not exactly clear why you can't do the thing where like you know you're improving the lives of the people but you're still explaining them it's not exactly clear what the explanation is you know something to do with rights but why do people have rights why are their rights at all and if we knew the answer to that then we could answer whether animals have rights also but but there's no agreement on why anybody has rights oh it's not that clear whether animals have rights or not well I guess we'll avoid going down that rabbit hole so you know I guess people can read your book ethical intuition ISM if they want to really know your approach to things which would still won't solve this particular problem but might give you some more leads as to where where you're going but I'll just point out right the this little hypothetical that I'm going with now it's kind of irrelevant in today's context because in fact like animals are pretty brutally like they're not humanely treated right so like in our context it just almost doesn't matter because we're not anywhere close to that you know I mean you could say this as an argument for buying the Humane certified product yeah and the other thing that I want to mention is well some animal welfare people think that that's not humane enough right and that you know so they they examine the treatment of the animals on the farm or something but they don't examine the treatment during transport or you know like where the farm got the animals from they don't necessarily go and check those people out well I mean ultimately a lot of it is just simply empirics I mean if we know for a fact that an animal is not suffering any pain that's different from if we know for a fact that they're suffering a moderate or severe amount of pain and you know I don't I don't even know if some of these questions are answerable at least it's it's at least very difficult especially when there's so many suppliers right now you can't have constant monitoring all the time even though it occurred to me you know what I think a supplier should do is just say who want who says they're they care about animal welfare and use animal products why don't they just put up cameras for full-time monitoring and put it on the internet right anybody can look at our facilities all of our facilities anytime to me if they're serious let's try that that I think that approach would be the the most because then you will have people watching you know watching this looking for abuses and I think you know it's kind of the same idea of police wearing camera body cameras yeah and so you know there are a couple of explanations for why they're not doing that in both cases in the in the meat case and the police case like one explanation is oh it's expensive we don't want to buy all these cameras the other explanation is so they don't want people to see what they're doing right you know these police cameras sometimes have this magical way of turning themselves off right you get the heat of the action it's um it's amazing yeah all right I want to keep going with a few more questions if that's okay so I think it's fair to say you're a libertarian and here's certainly in kind of a free-market well you consider yourself an anarcho-capitalist I am so but I also get the sense that you would look favorably on government regulation to improve animal welfare so how are those things fitting together well so you know in I mean principal I'm an anarchist like the ideal Society would not have a government okay but that's not going to happen anytime soon and so that doesn't mean that while there is a government it shouldn't do anything right there's like given that we have one it should do some stuff I guess I guess it's okay okay now you know most of the things the government is doing it shouldn't do because there are violations of Rights but I don't think that animal welfare regulations are violations are right so if you have regulations that prohibit severe cruelty that's not a violation of anyone's rights nobody has the right to engage in horrible cruelty that seems okay and you might think oh but wait you know I'm a taxpayer and I just don't want to pay for the enforcement of that right which is what the Rotarians say about why a lot of things are wrong but I don't know why that's different from you know why can't I say well I don't want to pay for like police protection for anyone other than myself and you know like I don't want to pay for the court system for anyone other than myself and I've never had a court case so I shouldn't have to pay for that right so one argument you make in the political book is that well there's no political authority meaning or I'll one way to summarize that is to say if you if it's not moral for you as an individual to do it then you can't see that authority to some other agent be it a government or whoever else so I think an implication of that is that you're saying it would actually be morally justifiable for me as a private citizen let's say if if they're if I'm in a state where a government is broken down or something there's no effective government action to forcibly intervene to prevent someone from horribly abusing animals that seems to be an implication and therefore because an individual can do that therefore government can do it that now you might argue because there is government the individual shouldn't do that the individual should see that to government but that's kind of a different point is that basically yet yeah I mean so if you can shut down the factory farms you should do it all right now in actual fact you can't I have an actual fact if you go to a factory farm and like you tried to forcibly shut them down they'll just call the cops on you but you know that was not the case then yeah you know because yeah you know like you don't have the right to engage in horrible cruelty like I don't see what the claim is that these people would have so okay I think I bait I think I agree with the basics on this but just to kind of segue into more sort of libertarian free-market stuff I will point out that a lot of companies now are using their lobbying pressure to get legislative bodies to basically clamp down on plant-based food companies saying oh well you can't call soy milk or whatever milk because that can only be cows or and there's that I can't think of other examples but there's things I don't know if that's being used with the meat label or not but I know milk here's something else that I can't think of right now but anyway yeah I heard that they wanted beyond meat to be called something different it's like the meat industry doesn't like that you can't use the word meat you know it's like the claim that they're misleading consumers is like so obviously dishonest you know it's called beyond meat like it's kind of explicit that it's not meat when they say soy milk it's like putting the word soy in there kind of makes it explicit that it's not cow's milk so I don't think anyone's being misled about that so what's the point the point is they they're just trying to force them to call it something else that doesn't sound as good right so that you know it's less appealing slightly less appealing to consumers yeah it just seems like generally a lot of these companies are using their lobbying pressure or political pressure to kind of do whatever they can to impede their competition and that to me you know that's wrong on several levels and also there are other legal issues about is it appropriate for should it be illegal for people to send undercover camera crews into some of these slaughterhouses and so on and so I guess we want to talk about much I think they should be allowed they should not be punished for doing so yeah I mean you know just telling people the truth like there's something very suspicious if you're trying to stop people from seeing what you're doing I mean I kind of wonder about that I mean there are reasons why you do that like oh it's private but that's not the case it's not like oh we're worried about our privacy here no it's we're worried that if people see what we're doing then they won't like it and they'll be horrified like that's the only explanation for why the meat companies wouldn't want cameras in there so you talk we've talked about this a little bit and you talked about this in your book but what is your basic advice for people who are feel this really this social pressure to not go in your direction to just kind of wall this out of their thinking and say and not even pursue it like intellectually so what do you do in response to this social conformity social pressure well I don't know just you know so don't be a sheep like the independent thing for yourself you might need to get new friends you know like if if you're feeling a lot of pressure from your friends to eat meat frequently um you know you need better friends but you understand how disruptive this could be I mean it's one thing you know you live in Boulder er yeah which is not typical of Colorado but you know somebody I mean they're literally places well I mean you see politicians when they go to certain places you go to the local steak house and have the local beef alright that's just how it's done and if you don't do that you're not gonna win and so in some areas you know that's easier said in Boulder where it's pretty socially acceptable there's already vagin restaurants and so on versus ranch town Colorado and they've still exist where that's the that's one of the leading industries was raising cattle and whatnot yeah so well I'm not saying you're wrong I'm just saying it I think it is worth thinking about that it there's more social pressure for some people than others like a lot like it orders of magnitude more yeah it's almost the equivalent it would almost be like it would almost be easier to say I'm an atheist in some of these communities than to say I'm a vegan and I think that's actually literally true you know well so you know like I don't I don't really have advice for politicians I don't know but fortunately only a tiny percentage of listener our politicians if any haha you know that maybe the politicians don't have a good option right because basically if you're reasonable if you're a reasonable person and you express your views honestly then you can't get elected I know what you say about that but I mean I do want to say kind of like is a general thing I don't know you know you should be like if there's social pressure against being morally decent that has to stop and the only way it's gonna stop is for the morally decent people to like take a stand I mean you can't always give in to the pressure because like that's why the pressure is there because people keep giving in and there just need to be more people who are happy to say you know I'm vegan I'm atheist or whatever and like then people will have to get used to it but right but they don't have to get used to it if you just hide it because you're afraid of their disapproval or whatever afraid of appearing weird well I think we've hit some of the main themes of the book is there anything else specific to the book or this issue that you think we should work in at this point I don't know just you know go go buy it on Amazon I mean good book check it out I assume you can read at least the table of contents online easily I so I can maybe I'll even put that on if it's not easy I'll put it on my show notes you that's okay right I just put the table of contents online yeah it's detailed yeah there was an earlier version of this which was published in the online journal between the species which is open access the book has a sort of revised improved version and just for people's information this actually got a foreword by Peter Singer who says in the future when people ask me why I don't eat meat I will tell them to read this book which is pretty big endorsement because he's considered sort of the founder of the modern animal welfare movement yeah would you if there's one other book besides yours would you still suggest his animal liberation or there'd be some other book more recent than that no there are a lot of things I mean so before so now I would recommend my own book but before I used to have people articles there's an article by Stuart Rachel's on vegetarianism which I to have people read because it has like you know just descriptions of the horrible things that I think people don't know about their being done on the farms and you know you know there's lots of good stuff so let's just take as we head to the wrap-up let's take a minute and talk about the wider scope of your projects I mentioned I mentioned briefly or other books so my understanding is you took a year off to research American criminal justice is that right alright yeah it's on sabbatical this past year I won't say off right yes I should say sabbatical and so are you actively working on a book manuscript or where's that that's right yeah so I'm running about kind of in justices in the legal system this will be my next book I was probably gonna take a while because the academic world is really slow you know even after I finish it it's gonna take like a year and a half for it to come out so maybe two to three years away uh-huh yeah I guess anyway there are a lot of you know a lot of kind of justice defect in the American justice system but I will point out here you also started a blog and it's called fake noose you know us and you've written like about quite a few issues including vegetarianism and including criminal justice so people who want to get a taste of what your positions are can check that out and there's a good sort of topical index or what-have-you yeah check check my website and my blog what is I have a lot of givers what's sure what's the website other than big news is about 232 net okay Oh WL 2 3 2 and that's where some of your academic papers are still right that's right here I have a bunch of papers opposed to there's links to some videos and things okay I guess you can follow my me on Twitter re Armstrong I often linked to humors blog post and such um alright I think that we're gonna call it a day I really appreciate you coming I mean you know having me I encourage people to read the book even if our especially if you're extremely skeptical upfront which many people will be I guess give your I would say give yourself a chance to think it through and at least open yourself up to considering it and check out you know my podcast sorry I'm sorry calm slash podcast for more episodes and thanks a lot and we'll see you in the next episode

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