Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Number 457

Thanks to Dan Cudahy from Unpopular Vegan Essays for the heads up on this short (but effective) SlideShare presentation that lets you have a look at the true cost of milk.


Lucas said...

wow that's powerful stuff! short and to the point.
thanks for sharing!

Mylène Ouellet said...

You're welcome. I wish that more people could connect the dots about dairy.

ScreamingChicken said...

Hey Mylene,

Thanks For featureing my presentation on your site - it got more views that mine lol =P

Glad ppl liked it =)

Mylène Ouellet said...

Hey! I blogged about some other stuff you did back in May.

Nice work!

Karin Hilpisch said...

This presentation is very powerful indeed, and I'm glad I have discovered it on this blog.

''Abolition in a Nutshell'' on ''Screaming Chicken'' is also excellent. It's only a pity that there is no mention of Gary Francione on whose work the text is based throughout, as any abolitionist text is bound to be.

In ''Theory of Animal Rights,'' it says:
''Most mentally delayed humans and animals both share a want to live free of pain, without death and suffering, because both have some degree of sentience.''
''They are more or less the same when viewed for intelligence...''

1. ''Most'' mentally delayed humans and animals share a want to live free of pain, not all of them ??? ''Most,'' but not all, have ''some degree'' of sentience ???

2. As Gary writes in his blog essay, ''Equality and Similarity to Humans,'' ''it is problematic to assume that ... nonhumans are somehow analogous to 'intellectually impaired humans'.''

Another slide reads:
''Supporting animal rights doesn't have to be an all or nothing thing, however. By cutting out portions of animal products out of one's diet, and slowly reverting to a plant based diet one can slowly start to become a voice for the voiceless, and end unnecessary suffering and death.''

Not ''an all or nothing thing'' is the kind of phrase we know from welfarist places. The same applies to the second sentence which suggests that people who aren't vegan can nevertheless be ''a voice for the voiceless''.

A nonvegan voice can't send a vegan message, and anything else is counter-productive.

Mylène Ouellet said...

Hi Karin. Did you contact young ScreamingChicken directly about these other different works he's produced to inform him of this, as you'd indicated to me a few days ago you'd intended to do? I don't have an email address for him, but I think that I'd sent you a link to his website.

Dan Cudahy said...


You have excellent points, and I agree entirely with your critique of the site's content.

I just want to make it clear that I don't think it's a problem that we bring attention to the slide-show. I think we can do that without endorsing slide-show author's other material, unless it's obviously intentional welfarism. It is not clear to me at all, however, that the author is intentionally welfarist. I believe if the items you pointed out were politely brought to the author's attention, he would likely agree with your points and change the items in question.

Mylène Ouellet said...

I should add that I do agree completely with Karin's critique of the other content, as well. Like Dan, I'm also quite certain that if the points made were brought to the creator's attention that he'd alter the other material in question.

Brendan E. said...

Hey Everyone,

I'm ScreamingChicken, the author of the presentations in question - except I changed my name since my last post.

It was kind of funny reading these posts. I subscribed to receive notifications from preceding posts on this page, and so I was able to read all your comments via email.

Firstly, I am not welfarist. When I made that presentation back in like January I didn't have that much of a problem with Welfare. I'm Abolitionist now and if you look at my presentations, you can see a general progression towards abolition(I think they also improve graphically as well, if i do say so myself =P).

Also, thinking back My intention was more to say that If someone couldn't go vegan, than they should slowly substitute foods into their diet and than become vegan.

Maybe changing it from " reverting to a plant based diet" to reverting to a vegan diet" would be better?

And to your second point Karin, I can change it from "most" to "all". I'm not sure about the severity some mentally delayed humans - can vegetable humans think and feel? Thats why I kept my terms general by using the word most.

I'll have to look that blog entry up - I don't see any problems with using the analogy. Its not like I'm discriminating against either, but again I'll look it up when i get some more time.

Oh, and I usually Link readers of my work to - i didn't for "abolition in a nutshell" (which still has some mistakes - I know), but its done now!

I think that was all the points that were brought up, I'll go and make the changes now.

Brendan E. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brendan E. said...

I read Francione's post on Equality and Similarity, and I believe my position reflected in my presentation is not at odds with Francione's. His position rests on senteince, as does the position in my presentation:

"All mentally delayed humans and animals share a want live free of pain, without death and suffering, because both have some degree of sentience".

My point was simply that intelligence doesn't matter, and I used the analogy to illustrate that example. If that is unclear I can change it, but I'm uncertain of what to change it to.

gfrancione said...

Dear Brendan:

You state:

"All mentally delayed humans and animals share a want live free of pain, without death and suffering, because both have some degree of sentience".

To the extent that you are trying to base moral status on sentience alone, it might be better to say that "all sentient humans and nonhumans share..."

Your statement suggests that the relevant similarity is between marginal humans and animals. It isn't. It's among all sentients; all sentients have the same interest.

Also, your use of "some degree of sentience" suggests that there are degrees of sentience. I think that presents a serious problem of creating a hierarchy of sentience (which is what welfarists try to do anyway).

Gary L. Francione
Professor, Rutgers University

Karin Hilpisch said...

First off, I would have preferred to address my criticism to Brendan in a private email, but I couldn't find any contact information on the website; I'm sorry if I missed it. I'm also sorry if I have inadvertently given the impression that my post's intention was denunciatory which it was not. From what I have seen so far, I don't think ''Screaming Chicken''is welfarist, and I didn't mean to suggest it is.

Brendan, I'm aware that the abolitionist approach is based on sentience alone, as it says in the mission statement on Gary's website. However, assessing nonhumans' cognitive capabilities in ways which render them similar to those of ''mentally delayed'' or ''intellectually impaired'' humans is deeply misguided because it makes human intelligence the measure of what it is not suited to being the measure of.

To say that nonhumans are similar to humans who lack normal intelligence is like saying that nonhumans have ''delayed'' or ''impaired'' communication systems because they don't use symbolic language.

Viewing nonhumans in these terms is part of the hierarchical approach of the similar-minds theory that Gary criticizes in his essay ''Taking Sentience Seriously'' (in Animals as Persons, 2008) (If my backing up my point with Gary''s argument is a misinterpretation thereof, I hope he will correct me.)

As a general matter, terms that are used to describe levels of human capabilities which rank below the norm have as much of a defining function as they have a stigmatizing effect and should, therefore, never be used uncritically. Even if the word ''human vegetable'' was appropriate to identify a state of lacking measurable mental activity, your lumping it together with terms which describe human mental states different from the norm indicates that you have reflected on neither their defining function nor their stigmatizing effect.

I hope you won't take offence at my remarks which I'm offering as a feedback on the work of someone who I consider a colleague.

Brendan E. said...


Thanks for the comments, I never thought of it as a hierarchy of sentience before. I'm pretty sure I wrote that with a Peter Singer talk in mind in which he talked about the degrees of sentience in an animals. My intention was to say that any animal that presents any degree of sentience should be morally considered, but I can defiantly see how that would lead into a "hierarchy of sentience" in which some animals are viewed as better than others. I think I'll have to reconstruct that part of the presentation.

No worries, your comment wasn't received as denunciatory. I think I'm understanding the similar minds approach a little clearer, and that that section of my presentation was a variation on it. My intention was never to create a hierarchical approach, but as I understand it (please correct me if I'm wrong) grouping mentally disabled humans with animals creates a hierarchical category?

I think I need to have a better understanding of this topic before I adjust my presentation, so thank you for the chapter recommendation. I happen to have borrowed Gary Franciones book from a friend and have yet to read that chapter, and I will do so when I get home. (I also find it funny, in a good way, that I'm talking with him online as well).

Anyways, thanks to everyone for the comments/constructive criticism!

Peace =)