18 December 2006

Introducing Myself

Hi there, I'm Jonathan. First of all, I would like to thank Keith for inviting me to be a part of this blog. I think it is an honor to be offered the opportunity to post on here with him and Mylan. Keith has not only been my favorite Philosophy professor that I have studied under during the course of my college experience, but my favorite professor in general. I admire him both for his patient and clear way of conveying material, and for the humble manner in which he equates himself to God.

I was a Biology major for two and a half years before I finally got the courage to take the plunge and switch to Philosophy, though I had been taking Philosophy courses since my first semester. I had a strong interest in science because of its reliance on reason and skepticism, which struck me as very good tools for truth seeking (which is ultimately what I am interested in). When I came across Philosophy, I immediately saw that it was the tree from which the branch of science had grown. Philosophy struck me as a very powerful force, and seemed as if it was where the "real" truth seekers were. I knew fairly quickly that Philosophy was what I really wanted to study, but it took me some time to make the switch because I needed to ensure that I would be okay with the consequences of jumping in. I eventually decided that I was okay with potentially going insane, and that being poor is not necessarily a vice. So, I took the plunge.

Currently, I am very interested in social and political philosophy and ethical issues. I felt a strong sense of connection to the ideas of Peter Singer while taking Ethics from Keith. My personal perspective regarding Animal Ethics is not fully formed, which is one of the reasons why Keith and I felt it would be a good idea for me to post on here. We think it will be interesting to see how my perspective shifts as I meander through new data and material in regards to this subject.

I have always felt a sense of connection to animals since as far back as I can remember, and the current manner in which they are treated in factory farms disturbs me. I find animals to be valuable for a number of reasons, one of which is for their aesthetic value. There are some personal anecdotes I plan on sharing on this site that range from my most recent experience of getting trapped on a hunting trip with my relatives, to an early memory I have of experiencing empathy for the first time with my dog Tabatha.

Currently, I do not believe that killing an animal is prima facie morally wrong. I simply believe that when animals are killed it ought to be for a good purpose, and in a manner that is respectful to their capacity to suffer. I do not believe that the current factory farm system in place lives up to both of those standards. Also, I am not a vegetarian, though I attempted to be one last year (an experience I plan on posting about). I believe it will be interesting to see if these characteristics about me change, and how they change, in exploring Animal Rights issues more. I can sense that one of the arguments I will be coming into contact with soon that will challenge me is the idea that the killing of animals is not necessary due to the availability of alternative, nutritious food sources, and therefore all suffering on the part of the animal killed is done merely for preference in taste. I think this is a very powerful moral argument that is compelling to anyone who gives animals moral consideration. Aside from moral issues, I have also been learning more about how vegetarian diets are actually much healthier for humans in many ways—which I find very encouraging.

Anyway, there are lots of different angles out there on this issue, and I respect and care about animals enough to explore all of them with sincerity.

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