Leiter Poll — The Sequel

Brian Leiter has reported the results of his poll here and contributed his own analysis of veganism, which he concludes to be a “kind of harmless and in many ways sweet eccentricity.”  I am omitting his preceding discussion, which is quite thoughtful and interesting and bears reading in its entirety.  However, in my view, his conclusion relies on an unsubstantiated assumption that animal existence is synchronic (as opposed to diachronic).  Furthermore, even if animals did exist only synchronically, that fact would not be morally dispositive.  Michael Dorf and the commenters at his blog take this argument on quite ably, and I commend their posts as well as Leiter’s responses to you.

Overall, despite an intellectual disagreement, I remain grateful to Leiter for his willingness to take on this issue — which he does, as far as I can tell, purely in the spirit of intellectual curiosity.  I continue to believe, however, that his choice of words when describing veganism is sub-optimal.  Describing it as a harmless and sweet eccentricity demeans both vegans and their values.   The question of how we relate to other species, both in and outside of the legal realm, offers some of the most interesting, complex and important moral issues of our time.  I hope that as this discussion continues, all points of views can be respectfully considered (by all sides), even as they are rigorously challenged and debated.

–David Cassuto

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