How do atheists justify eating meat on an ethical basis?

As we all evolved from common ancestors, and atheists reject the idea that we have god given dominion over the other animals, what ethical justification is there for not considering then suffering of other species?

It seems that to discriminate on the grounds of species is just as arbitrary as to discriminate on the basis of skin colour, sex etc.

I base my ethics on minimising unnecessary suffering and death and promoting well being and happiness. What are others ethics based upon?

Tags: Vegetarian, vegan, veganism, vegetarianism

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John D

You have made your position very clear in that you do not care about the suffering of others, humans or other animals. I do. I believe that humans have the greatest capacity suffer. They have very developed nervous systems like many other higher order animals. What makes humans different is their capacity to contemplate the future. They can anticipate the loss of future lives, other animals cannot. You make this point too. So on most occasions it is more ethical to avoid pain and suffering to humans than to other species. This is not to say that we can ignore the interests of other animals, they are worthy of equal consideration, it is just the outcome that may be different. But, it will not be in every instance more ethical to favour the interests of humans over other animals.
John D not sure I am following your reasoning. You don't seek out suffering. Does that mean that you do not wish it to be an outcome. If you chose to eat a factory farmed chicken, suffering is implicit. I grant you they are reared in order that they may suffer, but this is the consequence of intensive farming. If you chose to eat a factory farmed chicken, which is your choice, in what sense are you nor seeking out the suffering?

I do not share your view that in every instance the life of a human holds more value. This to me sounds like a theistic point of view, with just humans being created in gods image and humans being given dominion over other creatures.

Some people, believers and atheist, conduct their lives with an intent and a plan to be ethical.  Others will use either atheist arguments, or religious arguments to justify an un-examined and basically selfish life.  I ask, where is that "Good without god" stuff?

So one can't be "good" if they eat meat? Good to know.

Be ashamed of your ancestors, …all 3.5 billion years worth.

We live in the here and now and should be able to reason and make ethical decisions. What has 3.5 billion years got tomdomwith anything?

"Some people, believers and atheist, conduct their lives with an intent and a plan to be ethical.  Others will use either atheist arguments, or religious arguments to justify an un-examined and basically selfish life."

Some atheists, (like most fundie theists), take it upon themselves to be the arbiters of ethics and morality for everybody else, while using various factual and logical fallacies (like most fundie theists) to further their agenda; and when called on it, resort to playground name-calling.

My man! That's the crux of it, isn't it?

I am just trying to explore the ethics, not passing judgement.

I got into a similar mogambo in another thread, which ended up with a member being banned from a group. Think I'll go back, eat my pork chop, and sit this one out.

I was going to warn you, John Major.  Some here have already directed you to other sites - vegetarian/vegan or Hang with Friends.  (anywhere but where you are) Don't mention this at Hang With Friends, they'll throw you out. Some here will coolly state their indifference to causing suffering.  Others have already accused you of "religious fervor".  It may have seemed to you that a site called Ethics & Morals would be an appropriate place to bring up this quandary.  I thought that The Humane Atheist would be a place to discuss this.  WRONG!!  The discussion of ethics has no place in Ethics and Morals.  Get thee to the Vegan Atheist site or 

They will eat you for lunch.  

John Major just joined this site and this of all things, on an Atheist site, is what he chooses to discuss. If it acts like a troll...

And Steven got kicked out of Hang With Friends because he was acting like an ass. This discussion is not governed by such rules, so feel free to act like an ass all you want.

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