Ethics Trading

January 24th, 2015
ea, veg
I have a friend who is vegan for animal welfare reasons: they don't think animals should be raised for food or otherwise suffer for our benefit. On the other hand, they used to really enjoy eating cheese and miss it a lot now that they're vegan. So we've started trading: sometimes I pass up meat I otherwise would have eaten, and in exchange they can have some cheese.

From their perspective this is an improvement, both ethically (cheese production involves much less suffering than meat production) and selfishly (mmm, cheese). From my perspective this is ethically neutral (I don't think eating meat or cheese is wrong) and kind of complicated selfishly: I'm giving up some meat, but only occasionally and only the meat I'm least enthused to eat. On the other hand, I get some enjoyment from their eating cheese (they're a close friend) and from making trades like this (gains from trade are weird to talk about if you just like trading).

This trade is a kind of ethics offset, a partial version of paying someone else to go vegetarian, which does mean there are counterfactual trust issues. The biggest question is, how do we know what meat I would have eaten otherwise? My approach here has been to only occasionally avoid meat for trading purposes, so that I keep up a sense of how much I typically eat. Then when I'm about to serve myself some, I either take half as much or if that's not an option flip a coin and either take it or not. If I look down at my plate at lunch and realize I've happened to choose an entirely vegetarian meal, without making any intentional choices to pass up meat for trading, that doesn't count for trading (and it should not).

(Some people have an internal sense of how much of different foods they've been eating lately and find themselves equilibrating over the course of a few days. For me, however, any balancing happens over a much shorter timeframe, like a few hours, so I'm not worried about this.)

We currently keep track of our balance in a shared note on Keep but I've been looking for other options.

Comment via: google plus, facebook

Recent posts on blogs I like:

Pay For Fiction

Against piracy

via Thing of Things February 29, 2024

When Nurses Lie to You

When the nurse comes to give you the flu shot, they say it won't hurt at all, right? And you trust them. Then they give you the shot, and it hurts! They lied to you. A lot of nurses lie to children about shots and blood draws. Part of it is they probabl…

via Lily Wise's Blog Posts February 28, 2024

How I build and run behavioral interviews

This is an adaptation of an internal doc I wrote for Wave. I used to think that behavioral interviews were basically useless, because it was too easy for candidates to bullshit them and too hard for me to tell what was a good answer. I’d end up grading eve…

via benkuhn.net February 25, 2024

more     (via openring)