This post outlines an argument against vegetarianism. I originally used it in a workshop to show how arguments can be convincing without being one-sided or overly aggressive, a problem which I find many debaters arguments fall into. I repost it here in case anyone else is interested.
Vegetarians believe that eating meat is always wrong. As I see it, most modern vegetarians believe animals have some degree of rights and hence that eating animals, which involves killing them, is wrong. I absolutely agree that animals have a certain degree of rights but I still believe that eating meat is by no means immoral. I believe this because I believe that being killed is preferable to never being born. Not eating meat indeed does mean that animals are not killed but it also means they never live. This is because my individual decision to not eat meat means that there is less demand for meat which in turn means fewer animals are produced to satisfy that demand. This is a problem for vegetarianism as, if we assume that animals like humans would rather be alive than dead, then not eating meat means animals are worse off than eating it. Instead of living short lives before dying, they do not live at all. There are three potential responses to my argumentation which I would like to tackle. One response is that the conditions animals in factory farms suffer are indeed worse than death. I do not believe this is true but even if it is, it is entirely possible for meat eaters to restrict themselves to free-range meat which gives the animals it is taken from a reasonable quality of life. If this means eating meat less often, so be it. The second, better response is that morality if absolute, not relative. Even if eating meat is better for animals than not eating meat, that does not make it moral, just comparative less immoral. For example, torturing and raping someone is worse than just torturing them. That does not mean torture is moral, only that it is comparative less immoral. Hence, both eating meat and killing animals as well as not eating meat and causing the non-existence of potential animals are both immoral. The moral course of action would be to ensure animals exist and to not kill them, for example by donating money to animal sanctuaries The issue with this line of argumentation is that it presumes acceptance of not only a negative duty to not harm animals but a far stronger positive duty to ensure they live and live well. If you accept we have such a duty then vegetarianism can indeed stand up to my objection. But, the consequences of accepting we have such a positive duty are that we need to intervene wherever animals are suffering, even in nature at the hands of other animals, in order to prevent that suffering. Given that most people would not accept that we have a duty to intervene in nature in such a way, I doubt most people do believe that we have a positive duty of care towards animals and hence I believe that this specific defence of vegetarianism is not sufficient to persuade the average informed voter that they should be a vegetarian. The final response is that talking of the preferences of non-existing beings is ludicrous. For example, arguing that women should always be pregnant else they deny non-existent children their right to life is crazy. So is arguing that not eating meat denies non-existent animals the right to life. Our aim should be to avoid killing and if that means fewer animals so be it. The problem with this response is that even looking only at the preferences of currently living animals, insofar as we can assume animals have preferences, it is hard to imagine that any species of animals would prefer a world where their species did not exist or existed in far reduced numbers, to one where they did exist but some of their kind who would otherwise not have been born are killed by humans. Hence, even ignoring the preferences of non-existent animals my argument still holds.
Banner image source: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320047
There are many debate formats in the Netherlands. In this new series, debaters tell you why they think a certain debate format is the best. This time: Eloquentia. Do you want to read more about how Eloquentia works? Click here.
I am Noah, twenty years young and the president of ASDV Bonaparte. I am also a municipal councillor for GroenLinks and I study law at the University of Amsterdam.
At Bonaparte, we debate in both the AP and BP format but my absolute favourite is Eloquence (Eloquentia in Dutch, elo for short). Rhetoric and eloquence are central to this format. You don’t win with just good argumentation but you have to actually convince your audience.Read More
There are many debate formats in the Netherlands. In this new series, debaters tell you why they think a certain debate format is the best. This time: British Parliamentary (BP). Do you want to read more about how British Parliamentary works? Click here.
My name is Silke Zwart and I am currently studying political science at the Radboud University in Nijmegen. About a year and a half ago I discovered Utrecht Debating Society. This year I can also take on the role of vice-chair of the association! In these eighteen months, I have experienced a lot of fun debates on many different topics. I’ve debated whether Cookie Monster should be on a diet, whether we should sacrifice our partner at the European Championships to an Aztec God, and whether we support lean-in feminism. Although these debates sometimes took place in the American Parliamentary (AP) format, since my membership I have developed a fondness for British Parliamentary (BP) debates. In this article, I’ll explain why this is the case!Read More
There are many debate formats in the Netherlands. In this new series, debaters tell you why they think a certain debate format is the best. This time: American Parliamentary (AP). Do you want to read more about how American Parliamentary works? Click here.
My name is Joeri Willems. I work as an employment consultant and debated at the Erasmus Debating Society. The American versus British Parliamentary (BP) discussion was a big topic when I started debating but a fight that AP unfortunately lost. To me, this discussion is kind of a false contradiction; kind of like a discussion between chocolate and pizza. Most prefer to live in a world where both pizza and chocolate exist. AP is the debate flavour that is unique and delicious and I wouldn’t want to miss it.Read More
In this article, I discuss whether all criminal defendants should use a public defender. This was the topic of debate during round 1 of the Leiden Open 2020.
Infoslide: A public defender is a lawyer employed by the state in a criminal trial to represent the defendant.
Motion: THW require all criminal defendants to use a public defender.Round 1 – Leiden Open 2020
In this article, I discuss the trade-off between common law and civil law. This was the topic of debate during round 5 of the Eindhoven Open 2020.
Infoslide: In a civil law system (like in the Netherlands, Germany and France), the law is primarily made by parliament. Judges apply and interpret it but generally try to keep as close to it as possible. In a common law system (like the UK and US), the law is primarily made by judges. They formulate generally applicable rules based on individual cases, which they base on what is common and what is perceived as just.
Motion: This House prefers a common law system over a civil law system.Round 5 – Eindhoven Open 2020
By Victor Domen
Tabbing is easier than ever. Tabbycat has all sorts of built-in features that allow for efficient and fair judge allocations and breaks based on the imported data. Nevertheless, I am of the opinion we currently do not use Tabbycat to its full potential. In this short article, I will make the case we should use standardised tests to assess judges and create a more fair and equal judge break.
In my opinion, the motion of the novice final of the Delft Open 2020 is one of the most interesting of the tournament. In this article, I will briefly outline an important characterization, after which I will present an argument for both sides of the debate. Have you come up with other arguments? Then leave them in the comments!
THW rather be an individual of average appearance and extreme intelligence, than of extreme beauty and average intelligence.Novice final – Delft Open 2020