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This is Your “Philosophy” on Drugs

I am therefore inclined to embrace the heretical conclusion that we have reason to desire the extinction of all carnivorous species.

Jeff McMahan — professor of philosophy at Rutgers University and a visiting research collaborator at the Center for Human Values at Princeton University — in The New York Times.

Really, such head-shaking ignorance doesn’t even merit a post of this short length.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

47 Comments

  1. Melissa on September 21, 2010 at 14:01

    I am therefore inclined to embrace the heretical conclusion that we have reason to desire the extinction of all philosophy departments.

    My take :).

  2. Matthew Manning on September 21, 2010 at 14:07

    Q: What do computer programmers do?
    A: Turn coffee into code.

    Q: What do mathematicians do?
    A: Turn coffe into proofs.

    Q: What do philosophers do?
    A: Turn coffee into urine.

  3. Marcus on September 21, 2010 at 14:07

    Like the parasite which insures it’s demise by killing it’s host… Are we in danger of thinking ourselves to death?

  4. Joyful.Fig on September 21, 2010 at 14:08

    Un-eff’n-real.

  5. Sarah Madden on September 21, 2010 at 14:11

    Oh. The stupidity. It hurts my head. Does he know that there is an ecosystem of interdependence?

  6. Skyler Tanner on September 21, 2010 at 14:11

    I’m inclined to claim “not even wrong” in this instance.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 21, 2010 at 14:16

      I forgot who said it:

      “More wrong than a very wrong thing.”

  7. Marc on September 21, 2010 at 14:15

    “If I had been in a position to design and create a world, I would have tried to arrange for all conscious individuals to be able to survive without tormenting and killing other conscious individuals. ”

    So he is second guessing God?

  8. JP on September 21, 2010 at 14:16

    ”un vrai pelleteur de nuage”

    • Richard Nikoley on September 21, 2010 at 14:20

      Yea, shoveling BULLSHIT at least retains the virtue of possibility.

  9. Cecilia on September 21, 2010 at 14:24

    I was not able to read the whole article, but I have to said that I do agree with the authors despair about the cruelty of nature. The fact that life cannot be preserved without killing seems so incredibly cruel.
    He does not seem to care about plants, as if their death is acceptable.
    I would believe in god if live could be sustained from the sun.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 21, 2010 at 14:49

      ” I have to said that I do agree with the authors despair about the cruelty of nature. The fact that life cannot be preserved without killing seems so incredibly cruel.”

      Personally, I despair that the moon is not made of green cheese, and there’s no man in it. Ruined my life…

      Seriously, it is so impertinent and pointless to despair or complain in the slightest way about NATURE. It is what it is: causeless and purposeless. It just rolls along, evolving, according to the perfect logic of selection. It is for you to find your own purpose in all of that.

      • anonymous chris on September 21, 2010 at 20:53

        “NATURE…causeless and purposeless. It just rolls along, evolving, according to the perfect logic of selection.”

        It can’t be purposeless if selection is defined as its purpose.

        Isn’t it interesting that without advanced civilization their would be nothing like a vegan philosophy professor? Our system allows not only the unproductive but the utterly clueless to not just survive but to thrive. Just imagine the material benefits this fellow has amassed all at tax-payer expense (Rutgers is a state school). This phenomenon cannot continue ad infinitum – it IS unnatural.



      • Erik on September 21, 2010 at 21:13

        Selection isn’t WHY things happen, it’s HOW things happen. Not in the sense of some ethereal “purpose, ” anyways.



      • Richard Nikoley on September 22, 2010 at 07:00

        anon Chris, is the “purpose” of a flame to oxidize fuel?



      • anonymous chris on September 22, 2010 at 09:00

        I’m with you on this Richard. It’s that your phrase, “according to the perfect logic of selection” seems to insinuate or ascribe human traits to nature; which I know is not your intent. My point was an issue of connotation.

        We know that not all evolution is from simple to complex. If it were, progress could arguably be defined as a type of purpose. This notion that evolution can actually lead to less complexity has had me thinking about human “progress” and the inevitable decline that the West is just now beginning to clearly experience.

        Prof. McMahan is the poster child for this decline – ironic too that he most likely defines himself as a “Progressive”.



      • Richard Nikoley on September 22, 2010 at 09:17

        Buy logic, I’m referring to pure mathematical logic — like the relative movement of gravitational bodies in the universe — which is amoral and purposeless — just the way things work. …Not human reason, of which pure logic is certainly a part, as well as values, ethics and other aspects of human construct.



      • anonymous chris on September 22, 2010 at 09:30

        Understood.

        Off Topic: Have you hiked up St. Joseph’s Hill? The Jones trail up to St. Joseph’s offers a great variety of elevation changes. The Manzanita Trail section (overlooking Lexington) has a nice long section of pebble free dirt that’s great for bare-footing. On bike or on foot this network of trails offers lots of variety and beautiful vistas, including on a clear day, a view of SF and the Marin headlands.



      • Richard Nikoley on September 22, 2010 at 11:02

        Nope, Chris, but I ought to. When Bea & I hike around here it’s usually San Antonio or Quick Silver down in Almaden.

        But Ill keep a mental note handy.



    • Robert on September 21, 2010 at 14:58

      What about those poor hydrogen molecules in the sun? Don’t they have the right to live too?

      • Cecilia on September 21, 2010 at 16:16

        Oh…I see, we would be consuming light…I guess I have to go back and work on my model….get rid of entropy and a few other natural laws?
        I understand logically that nature is not cruel or kind, just ongoing evolution.
        We humans can easily fall into the thinking trap of assuming things have human feelings.
        As a former vegetarian, I can empathize with him.
        Cognitive dissonance is quite the bitch, you know?



    • JP on September 21, 2010 at 15:54

      Nature is cruel? Interesting thought. Too bad you had to put ”feelings” on a natural process (natural selection).

      “Evolution is not a force but a process. Not a cause but a law.” -John Morley

    • kenp on September 21, 2010 at 16:22

      nature isn’t cruel. that is a human take on a system that is built to provide an amazing amount of sustenance to allow and overwhelming diversity of life. Death is. Every living thing that has ever lived has or will die. for most forms of life, other life is necessary for it to exist. Why do you think there is so much abundance in nature? Why do most prey species have large broods? Because only a few will make it to adulthood and the rest will feed the land and those upon it. It’s a beautiful process and so delicately intertwined.
      Over emotional human sensitivity has no place in the ecology of the planet.

  10. Michele on September 21, 2010 at 14:33

    What an idiot.

  11. Organic Gabe on September 21, 2010 at 14:47

    Quite a remarkable statement – people like him are dangerously erroneous and misguided.

  12. Juan on September 21, 2010 at 14:48

    “Against stupidity, the gods themselves contend in vain.” — F. Schiller

  13. Russ Taylor on September 21, 2010 at 15:06

    I wanted to post something snarky but I’m so dumbfounded by this “Philosopher” that the snarky side of my brain refuses to function. Maybe it’ll be back online after I eat some dead animal.

  14. Anna on September 21, 2010 at 15:25

    OMG, I couldn’t finish reading the article. I stopped here:

    “Yet our relentless efforts to increase individual wealth and power are already causing massive, precipitate changes in the natural world. Many thousands of animal species either have been or are being driven to extinction as a side effect of our activities. Knowing this, we have thus far been largely unwilling even to moderate our rapacity to mitigate these effects.”

    Um, I guess he doesn’t see how “vegetarian” plant crops are also part of these massive changes in the natural world…is he willing to forgo his vegan meal to mitigate these effects?

    • Aaron Curl on September 22, 2010 at 03:11

      “Many thousands of animal species either have been or are being driven to extinction as a side effect of our activities.”
      This would be due to the fact that our world is extremely overpopulated!

  15. Camilla on September 21, 2010 at 15:30

    What the f**k? Seriously, someone tie this idiot down and force-feed him a ribeye… I typically do not comment on blogs I read, but this guy is so mind-blowing stupid I can’t help myself.

  16. kenp on September 21, 2010 at 16:14

    Holy mother of god, it amazes he how supposedly educated people can swirl in a vacuum of their own mental masturbation and come up with this stuff. How disconnected from reality and how shit works can one get and still be taken seriously?

  17. CPM on September 21, 2010 at 16:51

    That was pretty weakly argued for all the words he used. It is kind of ironic that of all the species on the planet, the one that developled a brain big enough to spend time on philosophy did so because he became a meat eater. No eating other animals then no philosophy.

    I also have heard that dolphins go around and gang-rape each other. Chimps go to war and commit murder. Maybe in his dream world we should just get rid of animals all together.

  18. Rip @ MIPWID on September 21, 2010 at 17:12

    Yet another ‘intellectual’ who sees the world as a food chain rather than a self-replenishing and complete circle.

    • Travis on September 25, 2010 at 19:15

      Well put.

  19. Walter on September 21, 2010 at 18:12

    Sometimes I find it funny that there are a lot of people walking around with yin/yang symbols on their tee-shirts, etc. and don’t seem to realized that its a statement about ultimate reality (the yin/yang is referred to as the tai chi or supreme ultimate) and that statement is that the universe just is.

    In response to Einstein’s question “Is the universe friendly?” It is not friendly, it is not malicious, it just is.

    Anyway, Richard the above was inspired by your statement “It is what it is: causeless and purposeless. It just rolls along, evolving, according to the perfect logic of selection. It is for you to find your own purpose in all of that.”

    I agree.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 21, 2010 at 18:25

      Yea, that reminds me of Ayn Rand who wrote often about the notion of a malevolent universe. It’s not. Not benevolent either. Existence exists and A is A. You take that raw material and go for it. The universe isn’t designed, but it can be exploited (for good or bad, in the context of our ethics).

      • Cecilia on September 21, 2010 at 18:56

        This has been a really interesting threat, that led to a long discussion at home about the morality of nature. The concept of natural selection as just being, no morality, no justice…I know you are right, but I’m struggling emotionally with this.



      • Gary Katch on September 22, 2010 at 08:53

        Yes, we all struggle. For me, Richard Dawkins said it best in _River Out of Eden_:

        The total amount of suffering per year in the natural world is
        beyond all decent contemplation. During the minute that it takes
        me to compose this sentence, thousands of animals are being eaten
        alive, many others are running for their lives, whimpering with
        fear, others are slowly being devoured from within by rasping
        parasites, thousands of all kinds are dying of starvation,
        thirst, and disease. It must be so. If there ever is a time of
        plenty, this very fact will automatically lead to an increase in
        the population until the natural state of starvation and misery
        is restored.

        In a universe of electrons and selfish genes, blind physical
        forces and genetic replication, some people are going to get
        hurt, other people are going to get lucky, and you won’t find any
        rhyme or reason in it, nor any justice. The
        universe that we observe has precisely the properties we should
        expect if there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no
        good, nothing but pitiless indifference.



    • Melissa on September 21, 2010 at 20:06

      “THE HARMONY OF OVERWHELMING AND COLLECTIVE MURDER”
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3xQyQnXrLb0

  20. Paul C on September 21, 2010 at 19:15

    We’ve already destroyed carnivore predators in the Midwest, and look at the results. A deer population out of control, ruining the vegetation with sheer numbers. You can’t find a young cedar tree in many places anymore, because they are instantly eaten. Once the food supply suffers, then the herbivores REALLY suffer. The whole lot of them.

    Now let’s talk about plant based foods. Different herbivores compete for the same plants. The predator snakes, owls and foxes are gone, now you have a rodent population out of control, all wanting to eat your grain stores.

    • Richard Nikoley on September 21, 2010 at 19:31

      Now that just unfair, Paul C, going off and injecting cause/effect, actions/consequences into the discussion. Who do you think you are? 🙂

      There are FEELINGS at stake, here. Mind your manners.

  21. […] This is Your âPhilosophyâ on Drugs – Free the Animal […]

  22. Jon Thoroddsen on September 22, 2010 at 03:32

    I thought he was trolling the vegans, and showing the absurdity of taking the vegetarianism ethics all the way. Until I found out that he is a vegetarian, and one of the proponents of vegetarian ethics and is actually taking it all the way in a serious manner! Wooh!

    I think he should argue for genetically modifying cows to be much like the cow begging to be slaughtered in “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe”

  23. LAM on September 22, 2010 at 05:58

    Someone needs to take an Ecology 101 class. If the Biology professors at Rutgers are anything like the profs at my old school, their head must have exploded when they read that statement.

  24. Elisabeth on September 23, 2010 at 09:29

    I do not believe that a vegetarian or vegan has the right to speak to “animal suffering” if he’s never had the experience of raising and processing an animal for food. The kindest of animal-lovers I’ve ever met are those who subsistence-farm and -hunt. They remain attached to the land, not detached by misguided and erroneous assumptions.

  25. Travis on September 25, 2010 at 19:11

    Wow, what an eggheaded fool! This guy spends too much time in his head and not enough time in reality. He clearly doesn’t understand even the rudiments of biology or ecology. I also gather from the article that he doesn’t understand that human are animals.

    Biology can’t be overcome through mental masturbation. Nature always and ultimately wins.

  26. Alex Good on March 9, 2011 at 19:20

    Now hold on, less wolves means more deer to eat! I mean, don’t kill them all, but a pack or two here and there would make a nice coat.

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