Those Vegan Hedonists is the forum I created to discuss all aspects of veganism, animal rights, spirituality, skepticism, and philosophy.
Hedonism is the philosophical stance that pleasure or happiness is the only intrinsic good. I'd suggest that this idea is the reason many of us became vegan, and the basis of much of the animal rights movement. I contend that ethical hedonism requires veganism. But this blog isn't intended just for vegans. It's a place for everyone to respectfully discuss all manner of ideas and issues.
Right now it's primarily an effort between myself and Kimberly Steele. In the future, more bloggers may lend their voices. We will each have our own unique vision and things we want to explore. I'm coming at things as a Pagan/shamanic practitioner/lay Buddhist. Kimberly comes from an atheistic/agnostic perspective. Some days we might post recipes. Some days we might want to critique Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.
I'm a philosophy major going for an AA, in a school that doesn't have a big philosophy selection. The rest is self taught. One could say I'm more philosophically and logically minded than anything. That's why this is a site for discussion - I don't claim to teach philosophy.
I want, one day, to put forth a fully fleshed out ethical theory that embraces and unites aspects of Utilitarianism, Kant's duty, and rights-based ethics. I really hope you'll help critique my thought processes along the way!
The essence of my view is this: nothing is important unless it's important to someone. Nothing has value existing off in a vacuum, away from living beings.
To put it another way, only beings have intrinsic value. Everything else only has extrinsic value. Things with intrinsic value are valuable in and of themselves. Things with extrinsic value have value insofar as they fulfill a purpose.
Therefore no concepts, like virtue or the natural order, have value unless they have value to us. No nation, no concept of purity, no principle of law and order, or any of it had any meaning outside of what it means to us: conscious beings.
There is no good thing we can do for a non-living concept or principle, just as there is no good thing we can do for an inanimate object. For something that isn't living, nothing makes any difference to it. If I am loyal to a concept, or disparage it, if I promote it or denounce it, it doesn't care. That is essentially why I say it has no inherent value - it has no inherent need of being valued. A living being, on the other hand - we can do good or bad to it. The essence of good is to help beings, and the essence of "bad," if we're going to use that terminology, is to harm.
A large part of this blog, at least on my end, will be to promote, refine, and justify these ideas. I'm always willing to hear criticisms. People are also most welcome to point out where I'm merely repeating what someone else has said. I think a lot of us have had the experience of "accidental plagiarism" when we have ideas and later find out that someone else published them thousands of years ago.
Why Vegan Hedonists? Because if doing harm is the basic thing that we shouldn't do, and if animals count as full-fledged beings, then of course veganism will be an essential part of "do no harm." And when it comes to doing good, promoting a vegan way of life has the farthest-reaching implications I can imagine. The human diet affects not only humans, but billions of other living beings. A diet full of meat, dairy, and eggs is often harmful to the person eating it, requires ending lives, and is harmful to the environment. No other human pursuit ends as many lives or causes as much environmental damage. A vegan diet, on the other hand, is often healthier; causes us to engage with our own natural compassion, which is also good for us; and if universally adopted, would spare billions of lives from torment.