Animal Rights Zone

Fighting for animal liberation and an end to speciesism

Bees Make Honey

 
Just in case a person is vegan that doesn’t mean that a person has to accept every idea that many (or most) vegans do accept, especially if and when such an idea is ill conceived.  For example, just because “most vegans” think that honey isn’t vegan that doesn’t mean that honey isn’t vegan.  Perhaps honey isn’t vegan, but that depends on what a person means when they say that some food product “is vegan” as well as on what it means for a person to live as a vegan.

Veganism is a practice, not a thing, in the same way that “liberalism” is a practice and not a thing.  So, in the same way that publicly funded health care for every citizen is, in and of itself, neither “liberal” or “conservative”, then a particular food item is, in and of itself, neither “vegan” or “non-vegan”.  Publicly funded health care just is what it is and whether “liberals” or “conservatives” support it has to do with them and not it.  Just the same, a piece of venison is just what it is and whether vegans think that eating venison fits with their practice has to do with them and not it.  Certainly one could choose to eat venison cut from the body of a free-living deer who died of natural causes and still consider themselves vegan.  There’s nothing about eating the body of a dead animal that causes that animal any direct harm, if no one harmed or killed that animal solely for that purpose.  Direct harms can’t be caused to someone who is dead – when someone is dead, there is no one left to harm.

Considered in that way, for the harming or killing an animal to matter, the harming and killing would have to matter to her, for her; one cannot harm another in ways that matter to them when another has no interest in being free from such harm.  For example, that one might choose not to include Rover the Dog in one’s trip to Modern Museum of Art causes no harm to Rover – Rover has no interest in Modern Art.  Modern Art doesn’t matter to Rover and so Rover can’t be harmed by being deprived of the experience of Modern Art.  (Perhaps someone wants to argue that we don’t really know whether Modern Art matters to dogs, but we do know that Modern Art – as Modern Art – doesn’t matter to dogs.  It hardly matters to most humans.)

Why do interests matter?

Suppose that ants have an interest in remaining free to form ant colonies in any way that they please – that is, suppose that ants are conscious of themselves and their environment such that it matters to them, for them, where and how they are able to live.  Perhaps it would harm ants to confine them to an “ant farm” the size of a small aquarium; maybe ants want and need more space than that.  But, would it harm ants to confine them in an “ant farm” the size of a bathtub, or of a swimming pool?  How about an “ant farm” the size of two-story house?  It seems that, at some point, ants are unlikely to be harmed simply by virtue of the fact that they are confined; if the “ant farm” is big enough, it’s likely that ants won’t even be conscious of their confinement.  (As a friend of mine [thanks Jay!] has correctly pointed out, we human beings are confined on the planet Earth, most of us are fully conscious of our confinement, and yet we still seem to manage without being harmed by that confinement.)  Is it likely, that in an “ant farm” the size of a two-story house, that ants could be somehow harmed even though they wouldn’t be conscious of their confinement?  It seems not likely at all, unless there was something about the confinement that was harmful to them despite them having no conscious interest in it.  I’ll come back to that in moment, in relation to bees and honey.

Is honey vegan?  As I said, that depends.

Surely if one happens upon an abandoned beehive, that still contains usable honey then to eat that honey wouldn’t be “non-vegan” any more than eating “road kill” would be non-vegan.  Just as surely, if there were ways to collect honey from bees such that the bees would not be not harmed in ways that would matter to them, then collecting honey from bees wouldn’t necessarily be harmful to them.  We could not harm bees – as bees – if they had no interests in being so harmed.  We cannot harm rocks – as rocks – because rocks have no interests in remaining unharmed.  We can only harm rocks in ways that matter to us and other conscious beings.  But, bees are conscious beings.

It is tempting to say that, since bees are conscious in some ways that bees must also be conscious in other ways.  That is, it is quite easy to think that since bees are conscious of themselves in the world – they are not always just non-consciously reacting to external stimuli as plants are – then we think, “of course it matters to bees that they are left alone to do what bees do”.  But that does not necessarily follow.

Bees may be (and I will guess that they are) quite unaware of any meaningful sense of past, present and future and their behaviors are, for the most part, the result of hard-wiring in their neurophysiology.  Bees don’t want to make honey, nor do they consciously choose to make honey – bees just do make honey.  There aren’t some colonies of bees out there who occasionally take the day off from making honey so that they can do something else instead – bees do what bees do because they have no real choice in the matter.  Bees don’t go on strike to protest having to make so much honey, nor do they decide, since next Tuesday they are all going to the beach, that they will work extra hard in the meantime to store up enough honey so the “day off” won’t be missed.  Bees just do make honey.  That’s not to say that within the scope of what bees do that every action that bees take is taken unconsciously, certainly not.

Bees are aware of the environment in which they operate and there is likely to be a range of behaviors from among which they choose this or that.  However, just as Rover the Dog has no interest in Modern Art and cannot be harmed by being deprived of a visit to an art museum, so it is that bees cannot be harmed by being deprived of certain things in which they have no interests.  The choices that bees might make are such that those choices aren’t necessarily thwarted just in case bees are kept by beekeepers.  Like ants in two-story house “ant farm”, it is likely that, to some degree, bees really have no conscious awareness or preferences when it comes to where and how they live.

It is of course possible to harm another even when another has no conscious awareness of what harms her.  A human child likely has no conscious awareness of how a lack of nitrogen in the air he breathes would harm him, and yet he surely would be harmed when deprived of adequate nitrogen.  Likewise, bees may not be conscious of the harms to them from confinement and control but they may be harmed nonetheless.  Destroying a beehive in order to harvest honey, completely disrupting the colony and killing many bees in the process, certainly causes harm to bees, even if bees are not conscious of themselves being harmed.  As conscious beings, bees have some interests – they may even have some conscious interests that extend in some way into the very near future – and we ought to give proper weight to those interests in our dealings with bees.

In any case, it isn’t clear that bees are necessarily harmed just in case they are kept and the honey they produce is harvested.  It seems reasonable to believe that there are ways that aren’t harmful to bees to keep bees and to harvest some of the honey they produce.  It may be that we need two-story houses of beehives.

The practice of eating honey isn’t necessarily “non-vegan” no matter what “most vegans” think.  Anyone who chooses to live as a vegan ought to think clearly and deeply about what vegan means, and not just accept what others may think.  If it means anything at all, being vegan means being mindful of our actions and interactions in the world; it doesn’t mean just doing what one is told.

(This same reasoning about Bees Making Honey applies to chickens and eggs, and the same conclusion follows.  That the current methods of confining chickens in order to harvest the eggs they produce are likely to be extremely harmful to chickens doesn’t mean that every method of confining chickens and harvesting eggs necessarily causes chickens harm.  Of course, it is not possible to harm an unfertilized egg as far as the egg is concerned because an egg has no concerns – nothing matters to an egg.  The practice of eating eggs isn’t necessarily “non-vegan” no matter what “most vegans” think.)


tim gier

http://timgier.com/2012/05/25/bees-make-honey/





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 tim

ther are so many things wrong with this argument,from the point of view of basic logic as wel as the more important ethical angle ,that i harldy know wher to start. 

however ,ill giv it a go -

you state that the only reason honey is regarded as anonvegan product is because "most vegans" hav labelled it as such .this suggests you hav no ethical problem with the consumption of honey urself . if the idea of refusing to profit from the violation of the rights of others seems "ill conseived" to you,its a wonder you bother being a vegan at all (presuming you are in any meaningful sense ,of course ) you seem unclear about what veganism actualy means in the first plase ,an imply that its imposible to define what is vegan an what isnt . in my opinion the issue couldnt be clearer - honey is not ours to consume because taking it from the sentient beings who prodused it is a rights violation .veganism stands against the violation of all living creatures rights . it stands for the respect an protection of those rights .it is not for us to disrupt the rich an complex social an emotional lives of our fellow living creatures for our own purposes,or judge how much interferense with them an exploitation of them they can tolerate. thus your complex analogys involving prisons for ant colonies the size of two story houses are utterly irelevant - because it is speciesist to assume we hav the right to quibble over the amount of space we "allow" other creatures to live in . an arguing that certain means of confining an using other animals causes them no harm is missing the point entirely - we simply hav NO right to take there  freedom whatever the circumstanses.

your position has nothing to do with animal rights. your attempts to undermine the ethical vegan position are based on the  nonsensical welfarist notion that  the institutionalized slavery of nonhumans can be practised without harm . what you dont seem to grasp is that ther is a moral problem with eating any product of exploitation ,whatever the details of how it was prodused. consuming anything which involved taking the freedom or lives of others in the production prosess is morally wrong an completly unjustifyable ,both because it is a violation of the individuals rights an because it reinforses the property status of sentient beings -somthing you dont appear to object to .

also,belittling the complexity of other animals lives,emotions an experienses by putting evrything down to instinct is the standard tactic employed used by those oposed to the animal rights movement,in order to emphasise our suposed superiority.it is disheartning an disgusting to find it expresed by somone suposedly fighting on the side of nonhumans against this opressive,speciesist society .

veganism is a refusal to partisipate in or benefit from the exploitation of other animals.it is a boycott of animal slavery an a demand for the liberation of all sentient beings from human domination.i fail to see how the fact that a dead body feels no pain when eaten is relevant to the vegan position .

 

Tina, 

Thanks for taking the time to read what I have written and to offer your comments. However, it appears to me that you have misunderstood what I have written.  I have not said "that the only reason honey is regarded as anonvegan product is because "most vegans" hav labelled it as such".  What I have said is that just in case "most vegans" say that honey isn't vegan that doesn't necessarily mean that honey is not vegan.  I go on to say that before we can decide whether honey is vegan, we have to first understand what it means for a food product to be vegan and what it means to live as a vegan. What I have written is my attempt to make those things clear, perhaps I wasn't as clear as I would like to have been. 

You then say, "if the idea of refusing to profit from the violation of the rights of others seems 'ill conseived' to you,its a wonder you bother being a vegan at all (presuming you are in any meaningful sense ,of course )". Ignoring your questioning of my sincerity and you thinly veiled attack on my character (we can be above that sort of thing, can't we?) you should notice that you are assuming at the outset exactly what I am questioning. That is, you assume that bees are rights-bearers and that harvesting the honey they produce would violate their rights.  What I am asking is on what basis can we grant rights to bees and how would harvesting their honey violate whatever rights we may grant them?  I do not take it as given that bees have rights, and no one should take it as given: If bees ought to be granted rights then we need to be able to construct an argument that clearly and convincing makes the case that bees ought to be granted rights and only thereafter can we talk about whether harvesting honey necessarily violates whatever rights we have successfully argued for.

If there are moral problems with harvesting the honey that bees produce then those problems can only arise because bees have interests in their lives and interests in not having their honey harvested.  Similarly, it absolutely matters when it comes to keeping ants in a two-story house "ant farm" whether ants would be harmed in being kept that way.  If ants would not be harmed, and if they have no interests in remaining outside the "ant farm", then there would no reason for us not to keep them in such a way. Notice, this doesn't mean that we ought to keep ants in "ant farms", it only means that if it just so happened that we had some good reason to keep ants, as long as keeping them wasn't harmful to them or disrespectful of their interests, then we could keep them.  If bees or ants have no interest in their freedom, or if they weren't harmed in any way that mattered to them by denying them their freedom outside of a two-story house beehive or "ant farm", then there would be no principled reason why we ought not to deny them their freedom.  They can't be harmed being denied something that they don't value.  Do bees and ants value their freedom such that they would be harmed if kept in two-story houses?  Would bees and ants be able to do all the things they usually do even if they were kept in two-story houses? I don't know, but, if we can know that they wouldn't be harmed and that they could still do all the things they usually do, what would be the harm - to them - to keep them? Some people will argue that we must always err on the side of caution, and never do anything that has the potential to cause harm.  However, that would mean that we could never do anything at all (anything we might do involves some risk of harm).  There must be a way to resolve these sorts of questions and I'm willing to listen to any thoughtful argument that aims to resolve them.

It's not belittling the lives of bees, or ants, to recognize and value them for who and what they are. I think it is unfortunate that many people go to great lengths to anthropomorphize nonhumans - it's not necessary for us to pretend to raise nonhumans "up to our level" somehow in order to realize that the lives they live have value to them, for them.  

Finally, I reject the welfare/abolition dichotomy and the "property status" argument as well. There is no convincing argument to support abolitionism when abolitionism entails the complete abandonment of incremental reforms in the here and now for actually existing conscious beings.  Others can persist as much as they like in believing that abolitionism is the holy grail of the animal rights movement, to my mind it is and will remain an ineffectual ideology that chases an impossible dream at the expense possible progress.

ps: If being vegan means removing oneself, as far as is practical and possible, from behaviors and practices that cause suffering and death in the world, then there can be no reason - on those terms - to not eat the dead bodies of other animals who die naturally while free-living.  There may be other reasons a vegan wouldn't want to eat such dead bodies (or the dead bodies we call "road kill") but those reasons have nothing to do with not causing harm or death.

I will offer the following response to what Roger has said, and will let others have the last word should they choose to do so.

Roger said, “there is no suggestion that people must adhere to the views of other vegans” and yet he declares without qualification that “Honey is not vegan” and he says, “vegans don’t eat animal produce.  People that do are not vegan”.  I wonder which I ought to believe, that there is no suggestion that I must adhere to Roger’s views or that I must accept his definitions of what and who are vegan?  It is difficult to know from his comment, contradictory as it is.

Roger’s comment, in addition to being self-contradictory (which is, by itself, enough reason for anyone to ignore it), is confused in any number of ways.  Roger wants to consider veganism as a social movement and to offer some criticism of my writing based on that.  That’s his right, of course, but given that I clearly indicate that my post concerns veganism as a practice and that I am considering what it means for “a person to live as a vegan”, Roger is confusing two aspects of veganism in order to object to what I’ve written.  Had I been writing about veganism as a social movement his comment might make more sense.  In any case, Roger seems to want to criticize what I’ve said while ignoring why I have said.  That is, Roger wants to talk about the “social construction” of what vegan means while I, again quite clearly, start off putting my readers on notice that I am not concerned with that and, indeed, I am setting to one side what “most vegans” think.  I am not interested in this post with the social construction of what vegan means (although I am interested in that generally).  Rather, what I am interested in is the underlying reasoning that supports the concept of veganism itself.  Again, Roger’s comments show a confusion on his part – certainly it can’t be that just in case the meaning of veganism has been constructed by people over time that that, in and of itself, grounds the meaning of veganism in any objective sense.  Whatever the social construction of veganism, there are (or certainly ought to be) principles of veganism that each individual can evaluate against objective standards and then adopt or reject for themselves.  The social movement might have adopted an ill-conceived notion of veganism, after all, and as I clearly indicate, it is that very possibility that I am exploring. 

Now, Roger appears to be building some straw men just so he can knock them down.  First, there is nowhere in my post that I mention veganism as religion nor do I mention any “holy book” - so Roger can’t be referring to what I’ve written.  Second, I do not suggest anywhere that “anything can count as being vegan”.  I’ll let Roger argue against himself on both those points – neither of them has anything to do with what I’ve written.  Roger might as well have suspected that my blog entry is a covert advertisement for two-story houses; I can’t respond to every suspicion that every reader might divine from words I don’t write about meanings I don’t intend.

Roger wants us to understand that veganism is the practice (!!) of abstaining from the use of animal products as well as “all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man”.  That’s all well and good, but what I am asking is just what counts as exploitation and why.  No one should have any reason to accept without question what the English Vegan Society or Leslie Cross or Roger Yates declares about what is or isn’t vegan or what constitutes exploitation.  Those are the questions my post is seeking to answer.  Moreover, if what a vegan world would entail is the liberation “for creatures” that presupposes that there are creatures for whom liberation has value, in whose interests liberation would be.  What does liberation mean to bees and ants?  I don’t know, but if we are going to speculate about a world where they are liberated, then we ought to be able to talk about it without fear of others disliking our sentiments.

Roger says that veganism “has always had a lot to do with humans not using other animals, even benignly”.  What does that mean?  Does veganism mean that even in those cases where human “use” of other animals is not harmful to them that we must still not “use” them?  I put “use” in scare quotes because I am having a hard time understanding exactly what “use” means in this context.  Does veganism mean that every interaction or relationship between human and nonhumans constitutes “use” of the nonhuman by the human and does it therefore mean that even benign interactions and relationships are made off limits by veganism?  If that’s what the social construction of veganism means, then I am right to question it, for there can be no basis for governing how we interact and relate to other animals if even all those interactions and relationships that cause no one any harm are forbidden.  If “use” only means those interactions and relationships between humans and nonhumans that provide products that benefit humans, then it becomes somewhat clearer, but then we are back to the central question I have raised: If there is no harm to another animal, on what basis should we decide not to use another animal?  If the use of another benefits us and causes no harm whatsoever, then where’s the harm in that?  If veganism holds that all uses of other animals – even those that involve no harm whatsoever – are forbidden, on what grounds does it hold that?  It seems that if the interests of individual animals are not at stake, then any objection to the use of those animals reduces to “it’s wrong to use other animals because we ought not to use other animals because it’s wrong” and of course that tells us nothing.

Roger is even more confused when it comes to dead animals.  It is not only that  “within the limited scope of Tim Gier’s essay, it is true that no harm can be caused to a dead nonhuman animal just as no harm can be caused to a dead human animal.”  No, Roger, it is absolutely true, within the scope of the entire universe: One cannot cause harm to a dead animal.  This point isn't extracted from anywhere, it is just how things are out here in the real world where we all live and die.  Once we are dead, we no longer exist and there is nothing that anyone can do to harm us.  It has nothing to do with the meaning of veganism, but it has everything to do with the essential confusion that seems to permeate Roger’s (and many other people’s) thinking about veganism.  There is nothing mystical or magical about the flesh of dead animals (or of the other products we derive from them).  We are not less pure if we ingest them.  We cause no living being any actual harm just in case we use products that have been taken or derived from them.  We certainly can and do harm other animals in order for us to get the products from them that we use, but that harm is not contained in those products themselves – the harm exists, when it exists, by virtue of what we do to the living conscious beings themselves.  That’s why it isn’t (or at least it ought not to be) an open question as to whether a person could remain vegan even while she eats the dead body of a once free-living deer who has died naturally.  Of course she could – there is no harm done.  (Notice, I said could and not should.)

Roger also seems confused over what is the point of what he calls, with apparent derision and disdain, “intellectual exercises” of the kind I use in my post.  However, thought experiments of the kind I use are regularly employed whenever careful thinkers are trying to get to the essential questions involved in complex problems.  Seemingly odd, arcane, or even bizarre scenarios serve to focus our thinking on particular aspects of difficult problems in order to make those problems easier to solve.  The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy has this to say about thought experiments: “There is widespread agreement that thought experiments play a central role both in philosophy and in the natural sciences and general acceptance of the importance and enormous influence and value of some of the well-known thought experiments in the natural sciences, like Maxwell's demon, Einstein's elevator or Schrödinger's cat.”  So, I am not simply extracting out one element of veganism (causing harm) in order to rethink the meaning of veganism.  What I am doing is focusing on the essential element of veganism – which is to refrain from causing harm – in order to apply that meaning in the real world.  I am not trying to redefine veganism at all.  I am trying to understand what a consistent and coherent definition of veganism entails, regardless of what “most vegans” may think.  

Roger, ironically, conducts his own “intellectual exercise” and asks whether any human rights advocate would think that cutting flesh from a dead human is consistent with human rights.  What if the answer is no?  Would that mean that eating dead human bodies actually is inconsistent with human rights or would it mean that human beings generally have some other strong reasons to not consume the bodies of their own dead?  Remember, the dead cannot be harmed, so if human rights advocates object to people eating dead bodies they can’t object because anyone would be suffering a direct harm.  I should note that there have been societies in the past that considered it the highest honor to their dead to eat their bodies, thereby incorporating their essence into the living flesh.  One might think that we do something similar now when we harvest the organs of the recently dead to reincorporate those parts into the living flesh of others, others who I am sure honor those dead.  See, thought experiments do help us think more clearly, don’t they?

Roger says that he doesn’t want to guess about such a thing as the consciousness of bees, but of course, he does guess about it, and he decides that my shallow and reductive guesses (guesses, not conclusions) are ones he doesn’t share.  He is prepared to give bees the benefit of the doubt, which is magnanimous of him, but of course, there’s nowhere in what I have written that I don’t give them the same benefit of the doubt.  I am considering what that doubt means.  Roger appears to be not interested in such a consideration, given that he states unequivocally “Honey isn’t vegan”.  An honest doubt would include the acknowledgment that there are unanswered questions, and despite Roger’s perfunctory nod to “none of this is set in stone” it’s easy to see that Roger acts as if it all was.

Roger can make whatever interesting sociological observations about my choice of words as he pleases, that won’t change what are the central issues at stake.  Indeed, Roger has chosen a few interesting words of his own, that show evidence of more confusion about those issues on his part.  He speaks of “stealing the honey that belongs to the bees” and how we “have no right to pinch it”.  But this just presupposes those things about which we are supposed to have doubts.  Do bees perceive themselves as the owners of honey?  Do bees have any conception of property rights?  Do bees think that we are “pinching” what “belongs” to them?  Roger appears to have moved beyond doubting whether bees are simply a bundle of instincts (another straw man of his own making – I claim that bees are conscious creatures who are able to “choose this or that”) and moved to thinking that bees have higher order thoughts and beliefs about such abstract notions as property.  Whatever we may think that bees think, it is absurd, frankly, to ascribe to them such abilities of abstract reasoning.  But then, maybe I am being too harsh, and it was just an interesting sociological choice of words on Roger’s part.  One final point about words.  There are positive rights and negative rights; Roger confuses those two notions of rights when he says about honey that we “have no right to pinch it”.  The truth is, absent the negative right of bees of keep “their” honey, we have no duty to refrain from taking it.  It isn’t necessary for us to “have the right” to take it, what is necessary is that bees have no claim on it that would constitute their negative right against us taking it.  One can’t steal things on which no one else has a claim.  Do bees make such a claim, do they have such a right against us?  That seems absurd.  Therefore, if we choose to not take honey, it’s not because we’re obligated not to by the “rights” of bees.

In any case, Roger says, about an abandoned beehive, whether a vegan “can eat the honey there (and roadkill) consistent with being a vegan.  No, she cannot unless she refuses to acknowledge the accepted definition of being vegan which involves humans not eating other animal produce.”  I really hate to belabor the point by repeating it, by in his single-minded wish to disagree with me, Roger again misses what are the central questions and claims I am making.  I claim that what is vegan isn’t simply decided by what “most vegans” think, and I question, if being vegan means to avoid the exploitation of other animals, then what does it mean to say that something or other “is vegan” and what does it mean to live as a vegan.  Roger can’t counter my claim by just saying that I am wrong and he doesn’t answer my questions by avoiding them.

As far as whether my claim that “It seems reasonable to believe that there are ways that aren’t harmful to bees to keep bees and to harvest some of the honey they produce”, Roger wants to consider it false in terms of what is the case.  He may be right about that and there may not currently be any ways to keeps bees and harvest honey without harming bees.  I doubt that to be the case, but even if Roger is correct, he hasn’t effectively countered my claim: he’s simply placed a limit on my claim that my claim doesn’t include – my claim isn’t limited to what is currently the case.  It is reasonable to believe that there are ways to keeps bees and harvest honey without harming bees -even if we are not currently employing them - and it almost certainly the case that there are ways to do so that we haven’t yet discovered.  Therefore, it is not necessarily the case (even if one was to concede that it is currently the case, which I do not concede) that there is no way to keep bees and harvest honey that doesn’t harm bees.  If there are ways to keep bees and harvest honey in ways that cause no harm to bees, then there can be no principled objection to eating honey based on the vegan principle of the avoidance of causing harm or death.  What is true for bees and honey is true for chickens and eggs.

Roger has failed miserably to counter my claims, answer my questions, or effectively argue for different conclusions.  His comment is rife with unwarranted presuppositions and confusions as well as being self-contradictory in both the spirit and the letter of what he writes.  He has added next to nothing to what should be a thoughtful discussion about complex problems.  I stand by all that I have written.

 

tim

you hav failed miserably to understand the essense of veganism ,an the content of rogers reply to you. it seems to be you whose comments are rife with confusions - by your own admission, you dont know what constitutes exploitation ,you claim it is posible for honey an eggs to be consumed by vegans,an you constantly fail to grasp that ANY use of nonhumans violate the right of the victims to freedom , autonomy an equality . trying to explain the whole idea of animal rights to you is lik trying to explain it to the average member of the speciesist public one encounters while leafleting - xsept it is even more demoralising to be having this conversation with an admin of ARzone .

i disagree with your comment about my "veiled attack" on your character -im not ashamed to question the character of somone who shamelesly defends exploitation while calling themselvs a vegan ,or writes what you just hav about roger ,who has done incomparably more in defense of nonhumans than you hav .the grasp of basic vegan principles he shows in his comment makes your comments look lik what they are - a moraly confused mess . you dont seem to hav any principles you arent prepared to turn upside down an inside out for the purpose of intellectual exersises or whatever these are suposed to be . one wonders why you dont conduct your thought experiments somwhere other than arzone ,whose work for animal liberation must surely be at odds with your own wilingness to defend the consumption of honey,eggs, nonhuman an human corpses etc etc

  it may surprize you to learn that im not interested ina "thoughtful discusion" about how to exploit other living creatures without harming them -because no other animal is ours to use . exploitation is always wrong an can never be justifyed . the presense of somone who doesnt understand this in a forum called animal rights zone is a disgrase . 

on rereading your comments to me - thers not a lot to say to somone who doesnt think all sentient beings are rights bearers ,or claims that rights hav to be bestowed on other animals by humans, xsept what are you doing on ANIMAL RIGHTS zone in the first plase ? an what right hav you to critisize roger or accuse him of being confused in his response to you - a vegan who defends the consumption of animal products ? an who doesnt even grasp that evry living creature has rights by virtue of there sentiense,without needing humans to somhow "approve" a grant of rights to them based on our own asessment of how much they deserv ?

Tim Gier said:

Tina, 

Thanks for taking the time to read what I have written and to offer your comments. However, it appears to me that you have misunderstood what I have written.  I have not said "that the only reason honey is regarded as anonvegan product is because "most vegans" hav labelled it as such".  What I have said is that just in case "most vegans" say that honey isn't vegan that doesn't necessarily mean that honey is not vegan.  I go on to say that before we can decide whether honey is vegan, we have to first understand what it means for a food product to be vegan and what it means to live as a vegan. What I have written is my attempt to make those things clear, perhaps I wasn't as clear as I would like to have been. 

You then say, "if the idea of refusing to profit from the violation of the rights of others seems 'ill conseived' to you,its a wonder you bother being a vegan at all (presuming you are in any meaningful sense ,of course )". Ignoring your questioning of my sincerity and you thinly veiled attack on my character (we can be above that sort of thing, can't we?) you should notice that you are assuming at the outset exactly what I am questioning. That is, you assume that bees are rights-bearers and that harvesting the honey they produce would violate their rights.  What I am asking is on what basis can we grant rights to bees and how would harvesting their honey violate whatever rights we may grant them?  I do not take it as given that bees have rights, and no one should take it as given: If bees ought to be granted rights then we need to be able to construct an argument that clearly and convincing makes the case that bees ought to be granted rights and only thereafter can we talk about whether harvesting honey necessarily violates whatever rights we have successfully argued for.

If there are moral problems with harvesting the honey that bees produce then those problems can only arise because bees have interests in their lives and interests in not having their honey harvested.  Similarly, it absolutely matters when it comes to keeping ants in a two-story house "ant farm" whether ants would be harmed in being kept that way.  If ants would not be harmed, and if they have no interests in remaining outside the "ant farm", then there would no reason for us not to keep them in such a way. Notice, this doesn't mean that we ought to keep ants in "ant farms", it only means that if it just so happened that we had some good reason to keep ants, as long as keeping them wasn't harmful to them or disrespectful of their interests, then we could keep them.  If bees or ants have no interest in their freedom, or if they weren't harmed in any way that mattered to them by denying them their freedom outside of a two-story house beehive or "ant farm", then there would be no principled reason why we ought not to deny them their freedom.  They can't be harmed being denied something that they don't value.  Do bees and ants value their freedom such that they would be harmed if kept in two-story houses?  Would bees and ants be able to do all the things they usually do even if they were kept in two-story houses? I don't know, but, if we can know that they wouldn't be harmed and that they could still do all the things they usually do, what would be the harm - to them - to keep them? Some people will argue that we must always err on the side of caution, and never do anything that has the potential to cause harm.  However, that would mean that we could never do anything at all (anything we might do involves some risk of harm).  There must be a way to resolve these sorts of questions and I'm willing to listen to any thoughtful argument that aims to resolve them.

It's not belittling the lives of bees, or ants, to recognize and value them for who and what they are. I think it is unfortunate that many people go to great lengths to anthropomorphize nonhumans - it's not necessary for us to pretend to raise nonhumans "up to our level" somehow in order to realize that the lives they live have value to them, for them.  

Finally, I reject the welfare/abolition dichotomy and the "property status" argument as well. There is no convincing argument to support abolitionism when abolitionism entails the complete abandonment of incremental reforms in the here and now for actually existing conscious beings.  Others can persist as much as they like in believing that abolitionism is the holy grail of the animal rights movement, to my mind it is and will remain an ineffectual ideology that chases an impossible dream at the expense possible progress.

ps: If being vegan means removing oneself, as far as is practical and possible, from behaviors and practices that cause suffering and death in the world, then there can be no reason - on those terms - to not eat the dead bodies of other animals who die naturally while free-living.  There may be other reasons a vegan wouldn't want to eat such dead bodies (or the dead bodies we call "road kill") but those reasons have nothing to do with not causing harm or death.

i quite agree - arzone clearly isnt the plase to hav logical discussions about animal rights ,or indeed any sort of discussion about animal rights . luckily , as a human supremasist who believs rights hav to be "granted" by humans to nonhumans ,this wont bother tim gier very much . 

Actually, ARZone, being a place which supports rational discourse and civil debate is exactly the place to discuss issues which involve the way in which humans relate to, and respect other animals. 

I'm sorry that, by discussing issues which you either don't understand, or choose to pretend aren't issues, Tina, you feel somehow wronged by the willingness and ability of others to engage in such discussions. Perhaps that is something you need to question about yourself and your willingness to work toward an end to speciesism and for the interests of other animals, rather than incessantly repeating the same thing, without comprehending what is actually being said around you. 

Tim has tried time and time again to explain his position on animal rights and much more to you, but you continue to choose to ignore any dialogue which doesn't favour your own opinion. Perhaps ARZone is not the place for you, if you are unwilling to engage in rationality and logical and civil debate.

I wish you well. 

carolyn

my impression was that, far from discussing how to respect the rights of other animals , tim gier was attacking evrything veganism stands for by defending the consumption of animal products .his posts sugested that ther are circumstanses in which using other animals for our own purposes would be moraly aceptable . this is against the whole message of the animal liberation movement . rather than working towards an end to speciesism ,he is expresing typical speciesist views himself -questioning the level of consiousnes of nonhumans an excusing animal use .  this is at best an extremly twisted view of the meaning of animal rights .i was disgusted to hear such views being expresed on a site which calls itself animal rights zone - an it was particularly depresing that they went unchalenged ,xsept for rogers an my comments. 

i fail to see what it is i "dont understand" about tim giers position. i understand it perfectly well - i just hapen to completly disagree with it .

an finaly - a site wher the welfarist an human supremasist views of tim gier are welcomed an defended ,while real anti-speciesist campaigners lik roger are forced to leave ,is definitly not the place for me. you wil no doubt be thrilled to hear i had alredy reached that conclusion myself 


Carolyn Bailey said:

Actually, ARZone, being a place which supports rational discourse and civil debate is exactly the place to discuss issues which involve the way in which humans relate to, and respect other animals. 

I'm sorry that, by discussing issues which you either don't understand, or choose to pretend aren't issues, Tina, you feel somehow wronged by the willingness and ability of others to engage in such discussions. Perhaps that is something you need to question about yourself and your willingness to work toward an end to speciesism and for the interests of other animals, rather than incessantly repeating the same thing, without comprehending what is actually being said around you. 

Tim has tried time and time again to explain his position on animal rights and much more to you, but you continue to choose to ignore any dialogue which doesn't favour your own opinion. Perhaps ARZone is not the place for you, if you are unwilling to engage in rationality and logical and civil debate.

I wish you well. 

Hi Tina, 

I have absolutely no desire to argue with you, or to speak to you in a disrespectful manner, but when you continue to make false and misleading statements like "his posts sugested that ther are circumstanses in which using other animals for our own purposes would be moraly aceptable", you make it very difficult to hold a reasonable discussion with you. 

The essay we are speaking about suggests that there may be circumstances in which it is not an act of exploitation to consume honey, and that the consumption of that honey, in and of itself, is not a harm to the bees. The harm is caused when the bees are exploited and commodified for their honey, not when humans eat the honey. 

To take honey from a naturally abandoned beehive does not cause any harm or exploitation and is not an act of commodification, objectification or oppression. Not to eat the honey from an abandoned hive is a personal choice, and a choice I respect, however one would choose to look at their decision, but, it is just that, a personal choice, and in no way that I can determine, an act of exploitation. 

You have also stated that Tim is: "questioning the level of consiousnes of nonhumans an excusing animal use".

Again, there is no "use" that Tim has excused, so I won't go over that again. To question the level of consciousness is our duty, as vegans and as advocates for the very individuals we are speaking of. Not to ask such questions would be irresponsible, lazy and immensely unfair to those we claim to be working for. I honestly don't understand how any advocate for other animals couild be offended with questioning these issues and working toward better solutions to the problems we, and other animals, are facing. 

Claiming that "Roger was forced to leave", again, is misleading and completely wrong. Tina, are you making these false claims intentionally, or do you just not care for the truth? This claim in particular hurts and offends me. I would never, EVER force Roger, who I consider a very dear friend, to leave ARZone, and you have absolutely no right to suggest otherwise. 

Please consider the hurt some of your false accusations cause in future, prior to posting such comments. 



Tina Cubberley said:

carolyn

my impression was that, far from discussing how to respect the rights of other animals , tim gier was attacking evrything veganism stands for by defending the consumption of animal products .his posts sugested that ther are circumstanses in which using other animals for our own purposes would be moraly aceptable . this is against the whole message of the animal liberation movement . rather than working towards an end to speciesism ,he is expresing typical speciesist views himself -questioning the level of consiousnes of nonhumans an excusing animal use .  this is at best an extremly twisted view of the meaning of animal rights .i was disgusted to hear such views being expresed on a site which calls itself animal rights zone - an it was particularly depresing that they went unchalenged ,xsept for rogers an my comments. 

i fail to see what it is i "dont understand" about tim giers position. i understand it perfectly well - i just hapen to completly disagree with it .

an finaly - a site wher the welfarist an human supremasist views of tim gier are welcomed an defended ,while real anti-speciesist campaigners lik roger are forced to leave ,is definitly not the place for me. you wil no doubt be thrilled to hear i had alredy reached that conclusion myself 


Carolyn Bailey said:

Actually, ARZone, being a place which supports rational discourse and civil debate is exactly the place to discuss issues which involve the way in which humans relate to, and respect other animals. 

I'm sorry that, by discussing issues which you either don't understand, or choose to pretend aren't issues, Tina, you feel somehow wronged by the willingness and ability of others to engage in such discussions. Perhaps that is something you need to question about yourself and your willingness to work toward an end to speciesism and for the interests of other animals, rather than incessantly repeating the same thing, without comprehending what is actually being said around you. 

Tim has tried time and time again to explain his position on animal rights and much more to you, but you continue to choose to ignore any dialogue which doesn't favour your own opinion. Perhaps ARZone is not the place for you, if you are unwilling to engage in rationality and logical and civil debate.

I wish you well. 

i dont even see how the last point is an alegation -an who says i am targeting you in particular ? i dont know you or tim gier personaly , so it is ridiculus to suggest that i personaly dislike either of you ,an am inventing "alegations" to cover up the fact .i am speaking in general terms of  arzone ,which has departed from its original values to the point wher it is not a comfortable or sympathetic enviroment for  anti-speciesist campaigners.  

i am obviusly wel aware that no individual can be literaly forced to leave arzone ,an wasnt refering to you in particular by this remark. what i ment is that roger felt obliged to leave because of the views that were beings expresed an tolerated on the site ,which were no longer consistant with his own.my point is that the changing values of arzone forced him to make the desision to leave .i know this because he told me. so perhaps i care for the truth more than u think.

anyway, roger is more than capable of speaking for himself ,so i wont continue this childish debate any further- xsept to say that if you choose to be hurt an insulted by a remark aimed at the entirety of arzone,that is your problem an not mine. an i personaly find it hurtful an insulting that you accuse me of disrespect to roger .i wasnt aware that speaking out in suport of ones friends ,when one feels they hav got a raw deal ,constituted disrespect. if roger feels disrespected by my support an indignation on his behalf ,he can say so. but i dont think you wil find this is the case .  

Carolyn Bailey said:

Hi Tina, 

I have absolutely no desire to argue with you, or to speak to you in a disrespectful manner, but when you continue to make false and misleading statements like "his posts sugested that ther are circumstanses in which using other animals for our own purposes would be moraly aceptable", you make it very difficult to hold a reasonable discussion with you. 

The essay we are speaking about suggests that there may be circumstances in which it is not an act of exploitation to consume honey, and that the consumption of that honey, in and of itself, is not a harm to the bees. The harm is caused when the bees are exploited and commodified for their honey, not when humans eat the honey. 

To take honey from a naturally abandoned beehive does not cause any harm or exploitation and is not an act of commodification, objectification or oppression. Not to eat the honey from an abandoned hive is a personal choice, and a choice I respect, however one would choose to look at their decision, but, it is just that, a personal choice, and in no way that I can determine, an act of exploitation. 

You have also stated that Tim is: "questioning the level of consiousnes of nonhumans an excusing animal use".

Again, there is no "use" that Tim has excused, so I won't go over that again. To question the level of consciousness is our duty, as vegans and as advocates for the very individuals we are speaking of. Not to ask such questions would be irresponsible, lazy and immensely unfair to those we claim to be working for. I honestly don't understand how any advocate for other animals couild be offended with questioning these issues and working toward better solutions to the problems we, and other animals, are facing. 

Claiming that "Roger was forced to leave", again, is misleading and completely wrong. Tina, are you making these false claims intentionally, or do you just not care for the truth? This claim in particular hurts and offends me. I would never, EVER force Roger, who I consider a very dear friend, to leave ARZone, and you have absolutely no right to suggest otherwise. 

Please consider the hurt some of your false accusations cause in future, prior to posting such comments. 



Tina Cubberley said:

carolyn

my impression was that, far from discussing how to respect the rights of other animals , tim gier was attacking evrything veganism stands for by defending the consumption of animal products .his posts sugested that ther are circumstanses in which using other animals for our own purposes would be moraly aceptable . this is against the whole message of the animal liberation movement . rather than working towards an end to speciesism ,he is expresing typical speciesist views himself -questioning the level of consiousnes of nonhumans an excusing animal use .  this is at best an extremly twisted view of the meaning of animal rights .i was disgusted to hear such views being expresed on a site which calls itself animal rights zone - an it was particularly depresing that they went unchalenged ,xsept for rogers an my comments. 

i fail to see what it is i "dont understand" about tim giers position. i understand it perfectly well - i just hapen to completly disagree with it .

an finaly - a site wher the welfarist an human supremasist views of tim gier are welcomed an defended ,while real anti-speciesist campaigners lik roger are forced to leave ,is definitly not the place for me. you wil no doubt be thrilled to hear i had alredy reached that conclusion myself 


Carolyn Bailey said:

Actually, ARZone, being a place which supports rational discourse and civil debate is exactly the place to discuss issues which involve the way in which humans relate to, and respect other animals. 

I'm sorry that, by discussing issues which you either don't understand, or choose to pretend aren't issues, Tina, you feel somehow wronged by the willingness and ability of others to engage in such discussions. Perhaps that is something you need to question about yourself and your willingness to work toward an end to speciesism and for the interests of other animals, rather than incessantly repeating the same thing, without comprehending what is actually being said around you. 

Tim has tried time and time again to explain his position on animal rights and much more to you, but you continue to choose to ignore any dialogue which doesn't favour your own opinion. Perhaps ARZone is not the place for you, if you are unwilling to engage in rationality and logical and civil debate.

I wish you well. 

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