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Alex Pozdnyakov
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I listen to 1421 about a year ago and thought it must be funded by Chinese propaganda. It was pretty clear from the text that it is very speculative and full of unsupported conjectures. I deeply discounted its historical value. It is, however, a sign of the times that people are trying to raise the historical profile of China. There will only be more revisionist history in this vein in the future. 1421 is pretty crude even for this genre. I dont really fault Mike for passing along the recommendation someone else made. The prompt disclaimer neutralized any bad taste.
Toggle Commented Sep 6, 2011 on 146- The Spear of Destiny at The History of Rome
Submitted to philosophy bites blog on 6.12.2010 I have continued to be an "examined" meat eater even after studying Peter Singer, but Jeff McMahan made me think, for the first time in my life, that being a vegetarian might be manageable. However, his motivation for becoming a vegetarian failed to move me. I admired Mr. McMahan’s presentation of the vegetarian discipline because it gives an out to societies/circumstances where eating meat is essential to survival. Mongolia is one example of such an insecure habitat I know. My objections to vegetarianism have always been practical, rather than ethical. Too much mastication, too complicated to balance a diet etc. I recognize that these can be easily overcome with proper motivation. Alas, I am not convinced that "not robbing animals of happy experiences" is a sound motivation for becoming vegetarian. My impression is that animals in the wild, much like many humans in the world, do not live lives full of happy experiences (even on balance). Instead, they struggle to survive against fairly even odds. Farm animals would not even be alive unless they were intended for food - their alternative happiness would be nil or no higher than wild ones'. And we don't eat our pets, whose happiness is actually important to us. So, once you start comparing the happiness of food animals to your happiness from enjoying their meat, then at best, its not a clear cut win for either side. Perversely, the wealthier the person, the more pleasure he/she may extract from eating meat at the better steakhouses. I find it difficult to think ethically about nutrition, which I stoically see as being, at its core, a means of survival rather than an epicurean object. Ethical calculus based solely on happiness is a privilege of the secure. For the rest, security is a value in itself and leads to a very different ethical calculus - the kind that is sometimes condescendingly called vulgar or base - but is very real and legitimate nevertheless. I appreciate that Mr. McMahan's view encompasses various ethical conditions. I also agree that rich educated people should not need to eat meat, especially factory farmed/processed type. They can make do with adzuki and quinoa. However, Mr. McMahan is basically asking us to treat cattle as pets, and, while I sympathize, I am unmoved.
Toggle Commented Jun 12, 2010 on Jeff McMahan on Vegetarianism at philosophy bites
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Jun 11, 2010