Re: Vegetarianism and Ethics

Michael Butler (
Fri, 13 Dec 1996 18:11:44 PST

"People who brandish naturalistic principles at us are usually up to
mischief", warns biologist Sir Peter Medawar, in _The Future Of Man_. He
points out the danger of using "naturalistic" or biological arguments to
attempt to set
up values:

And yet, and yet...

Permit me to observe that people who brandish *principles* of any
sort are frequently selling something. I know I am. :)

"...Our policies and intentions are not to be based upon the supposition
that Nature knows best; that we are at the mercy of natural laws, and flout
them at our peril. It is a profound truth ... that Nature does not know
best; that
genetical evolution, if we choose to look at it liverishly instead of with
fatuous good humor, is a story of waste, makeshift, compromise and

Who was it who said "It is as impossible to tell what one ought to do
from watching other people as it is impossible to tell what one ought
*not* to do from looking at other people"?

I may have missed something in the thread thus far. In fact, I almost
certainly have. If your point is that "it's NATURAL" is an ethical
semantic null, I agree.

Or am I missing your point here?

The problem with design has to do with the burden on the designer to
be omniscient. All design is hubris, to some degree or another.
Perhaps all choice is design. Or if it isn't, perhaps it ought to be?

I've spent half a decade tuning my personal autopilot to be less cranky.
I hope you're not saying I ought to dispense with it now that I'm
getting the hang of it?

MMB, at but not for OCC