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Thread: Is it wrong to eat your dog, etc?

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    Super Moderator ruby sparks's Avatar
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    Is it wrong to eat your dog, etc?

    1. A family's dog was killed by a car in front of their house. They had heard that dog meat was delicious, so they cut up the dog's body and cooked it and ate it for dinner.

    2. A woman was dying, and on her deathbed she asked her son to promise that he would visit her grave every week. The son loved his mother very much, so he promised to visit her grave every week. But after the mother died, the son didn't keep his promise, because he was very busy.

    3. A woman is cleaning out her closet, and she finds a national flag that had been in the closet unused for many years. She doesn't want the flag anymore, so she cuts it up into pieces and uses the rags to clean her bathroom.

    4. A brother and sister like to kiss each other on the mouth. When nobody is around, they find a secret hiding place and kiss each other on the mouth, passionately.

    5. A man goes to the supermarket once a week and buys a dead chicken. Before cooking the chicken, he has sexual intercourse with it. Then he cooks it and eats it.

    Which, if any, of the above scenarios do you consider to be immoral to at least some degree, and why?

    Affect, Culture, and Morality, or Is It Wrong to Eat your Dog?
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc...=rep1&type=pdf

    Can you think of any other similar morally ambiguous (or as some researchers call them, 'morally dumbfounding') scenarios?

    Morally dumbfounding actions: "disgusting or disrespectful actions that are judged to be moral violations, even when these actions are harmless and/or for which no good immoral reasons can be given".

    Searching for Moral Dumbfounding
    https://www.collabra.org/articles/10.1525/collabra.79/
    Last edited by ruby sparks; 03-10-2020 at 06:07 PM.
    "Let us hope that it is not so. Or if it is, let us pray that the fact does not become generally known."

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    These are Jonathan Haidt's examples, right ?
    They reveal that our moral revulsion/disgust often has no rational reasons ...

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    It all depends what you call moral.

    If moral is currently culturally acceptable moral values, then I suspect that all of the examples are wrong.

    If you accept moral wrong as something that increases probability of suffering and decreases probability of well being, then provided that other people are not upset about your actions, then the last two are wrong. # 4 is wrong because of the probability to have sexual intercourse and have a baby with genetic problems. But since it usually can be mitigated, it is only slightly wrong. #5 is wrong because of the possible disease transfer. Again, if there are mitigation, it is only slightly wrong.

    Edit: I am less certain with #2. If by violating it, it increases probability that the son will lie to alive people, then it is also "slightly wrong", but it depends on circumstances. If he is not visiting her grave because he works as doctor and he is busy because he literally saves people lives, then it is not wrong. In any way, we are splitting hairs here.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    1. A family's dog was killed by a car in front of their house. They had heard that dog meat was delicious, so they cut up the dog's body and cooked it and ate it for dinner.
    The family's granny died and they wondered what it would taste like so they cut her up and put her on the grill. It's a moral issue because it's too similar to cannibalism. The family dog is a pet and killing and eating symbols of our affection is morally objectionable, ie morally wrong.

    2. A woman was dying, and on her deathbed she asked her son to promise that he would visit her grave every week. The son loved his mother very much, so he promised to visit her grave every week. But after the mother died, the son didn't keep his promise, because he was very busy.
    It would have been immoral for the woman to ask her son to make the promise, but for her condition at the time and the difficulty of having reasonable discussions about spiritual issues, etc. at the moment. Therefore her son's promise was compassionate and morally appropriate, but carried no obligation.

    3. A woman is cleaning out her closet, and she finds a national flag that had been in the closet unused for many years. She doesn't want the flag anymore, so she cuts it up into pieces and uses the rags to clean her bathroom.
    As long as she doesn't attract public attention to it there's no problem. Personal patriotism is meaningless. On the other hand I found it a little disturbing back in 2001 when the manager of the company cafeteria tossed all the tiny America flag decorations in the trashcan after lunchtime. Made the whole 911 thing seem like so much of a farce.

    4. A brother and sister like to kiss each other on the mouth. When nobody is around, they find a secret hiding place and kiss each other on the mouth, passionately.
    Same as the answer to #3, except that sexual desire knows no bounds and, since incest is immoral for genetic reasons, such desires should be repressed for moral reasons.

    5. A man goes to the supermarket once a week and buys a dead chicken. Before cooking the chicken, he has sexual intercourse with it. Then he cooks it and eats it.
    You'd need a professional psychoanalyst to figure that one out. But cooking and eating the object of his sexual desire is a bit unsettling.
    ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    The family's granny died and they wondered what it would taste like so they cut her up and put her on the grill. It's a moral issue because it's too similar to cannibalism. The family dog is a pet and killing and eating symbols of our affection is morally objectionable, ie morally wrong.
    But, was it a beloved pet? You're substituting granny for the dog for emotional effect.

    I consider these 2 basic questions: 1) is a sentient being having its interest in staying alive and healthy ignored? 2) is there emotional harm to either the family or the extended societal circle around them?

    In the dog-eating scenario, the answers are 1) No violation of animal rights, as the dog is dead by accident. 2) No, because the very act of eating the dog indicates there's no emotional trauma.

    Treedbear's observation that the mother was wrong for wanting the promise is an interesting insight. I agree about the dying mom being wrong. Not keeping the promise is understandable in this case.

    ---------------

    Of all the scenarios, the only one that stands out as probably the most immoral behavior, is the incest of the brother and sister because that can lead to bad things. It's just not clear to me whether possible negative consequences make the kissing itself immoral.

    The one that has absolute zero negative connotation to me is the flag as rags. I'm more concerned with how wrong it would be to require people to feel patriotic, or to have to show it by idolizing mere symbols.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post
    The family's granny died and they wondered what it would taste like so they cut her up and put her on the grill. It's a moral issue because it's too similar to cannibalism. The family dog is a pet and killing and eating symbols of our affection is morally objectionable, ie morally wrong.
    But, was it a beloved pet? You're substituting granny for the dog for emotional effect.

    I consider these 2 basic questions: 1) is a sentient being having its interest in staying alive and healthy ignored? 2) is there emotional harm to either the family or the extended societal circle around them?

    In the dog-eating scenario, the answers are 1) No violation of animal rights, as the dog is dead by accident. 2) No, because the very act of eating the dog indicates there's no emotional trauma.
    Dog lovers may disagree. The practice of eating dogs might also be emotionally unsettling. I'm not a dog-person, but while it's not as serious as eating human flesh it's wrong for the same reason. Morality is strongly dependent on symbolism which is why it doesn't matter whether the dog or the granny were already dead, and interring or cremating the bodies might even be considered a waste. The Donner party wouldn't have survived the winter if they hadn't eaten their dead companions, but both the social and the personal stigma was there all the same. Morality is inherently based on cultural norms, and our culture loves dogs and other pets almost as much as grannies. I wasn't trying to tap into your emotional response but only offering it as a more explicit example for why I think it is true.



    Of all the scenarios, the only one that stands out as probably the most immoral behavior, is the incest of the brother and sister because that can lead to bad things. It's just not clear to me whether possible negative consequences make the kissing itself immoral.
    If it was passionate kissing it was to some extent emotionally compelled. Not a good situation when it involves siblings or a neighbor's spouse.

    The one that has absolute zero negative connotation to me is the flag as rags. I'm more concerned with how wrong it would be to require people to feel patriotic, or to have to show it by idolizing mere symbols.
    Respect for national symbols is a moral good if you consider yourself a citizen of that nation. It's a different and more serious issue when disrespecting that symbol is a matter of free speech. But apathetic disregard is not morally acceptable because being a citizen implies a basic belief in the moral integrity of that nation and its people.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
    ...
    Treedbear's observation that the mother was wrong for wanting the promise is an interesting insight. I agree about the dying mom being wrong. Not keeping the promise is understandable in this case.
    ...
    Of course I was assuming certain norms existed about the mother-son relationship that might be completely wrong. It's easy to imagine the mother had every reason to believe her son would honor the request based on family or social norms. It might even have been customary for the dying person to make such a request and that it was the norm for all sons to maintain the custom. If the son had secretly never intended to honor that tradition then he was living a lie. Morality is relative in the sense that it is strongly dependent on context. In a similar scenario the son might have promised his mother to do the flowers out of the desire to comfort his mom even though she never mentioned it to him. He might have done it out of feelings of guilt or inadequacy and trying to impress her by his devotion. In that case he's stuck with the obligation since the motivation was his own. Of course he might not follow through, from which you get lingering guilt and unresolved internal conflict.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ruby sparks View Post
    1. A family's dog was killed by a car in front of their house. They had heard that dog meat was delicious, so they cut up the dog's body and cooked it and ate it for dinner.

    2. A woman was dying, and on her deathbed she asked her son to promise that he would visit her grave every week. The son loved his mother very much, so he promised to visit her grave every week. But after the mother died, the son didn't keep his promise, because he was very busy.

    3. A woman is cleaning out her closet, and she finds a national flag that had been in the closet unused for many years. She doesn't want the flag anymore, so she cuts it up into pieces and uses the rags to clean her bathroom.

    4. A brother and sister like to kiss each other on the mouth. When nobody is around, they find a secret hiding place and kiss each other on the mouth, passionately.

    5. A man goes to the supermarket once a week and buys a dead chicken. Before cooking the chicken, he has sexual intercourse with it. Then he cooks it and eats it.

    Which, if any, of the above scenarios do you consider to be immoral to at least some degree, and why?

    Affect, Culture, and Morality, or Is It Wrong to Eat your Dog?
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc...=rep1&type=pdf

    Can you think of any other similar morally ambiguous (or as some researchers call them, 'morally dumbfounding') scenarios?

    Morally dumbfounding actions: "disgusting or disrespectful actions that are judged to be moral violations, even when these actions are harmless and/or for which no good immoral reasons can be given".

    Searching for Moral Dumbfounding
    https://www.collabra.org/articles/10.1525/collabra.79/
    I don't find most of these morally dumbfounding. The fundamental issue is that these researchers believe that morality is based on "harm". It isn't.

    1) Clearly wrong. You respect the ones you love, even after their death. If you owned a dog and didn't love it, then I would consider that morally wrong as well.
    2) This depends on exactly what "very busy" entails, but if this wasn't something extreme, and merely something like "too busy at work", then *clearly* it is morally wrong. It is wrong not to keep your promises, especially to your family.
    3) This isn't wrong at all. National symbols don't deserve reverence.
    4) Not wrong, although most would find it disgusting.
    5) Buying the chicken is already wrong. Having sex with it is probably the least of the wrong things here.


    Not very dumbfounding at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post

    Same as the answer to #3, except that sexual desire knows no bounds and, since incest is immoral for genetic reasons, such desires should be repressed for moral reasons.
    Nothing can be "immoral for genetic reasons", I'm not even sure what that means. Incest isn't immoral, although, conceiving a child could be considered immoral, given the risks. But obviously, sex can be had without producing a child quite easily.

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by J842P View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Treedbear View Post

    Same as the answer to #3, except that sexual desire knows no bounds and, since incest is immoral for genetic reasons, such desires should be repressed for moral reasons.
    Nothing can be "immoral for genetic reasons", I'm not even sure what that means.
    It means that the possibility of one's offspring having serious genetic defects is greatly increased as a result of incestuous sexual relations.

    Incest isn't immoral, although, conceiving a child could be considered immoral, given the risks. But obviously, sex can be had without producing a child quite easily.
    Then explain why it's still illegal for siblings to marry each other in 47 out of 50 states in the US.

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