Friday 28 April 2023

A sacrifice on an altar: the same thing happened to Agamemnon's daughter.

Someone asked me about vivisection (and animal experimentation in lab research, generally) for the first time in (perhaps?) seven years.


[Member of the audience:] Regarding dissection being mandatory on invertebrates only, that is something that was confirmed to me by the Faculty (the courses wherein lab work involves mice, frogs, etc. are all optional, meaning I wouldn't be taking them) and further experimentation on animals is only done during one's MA (which one chooses the direction of; obviously, not the direction I'd be going in). Perhaps it sounds implausible to you (given that you speak of having to perform vivisection on frogs in high school even, which is something that hasn't been done here since before Yugoslavia ceased to exist), but it varies from country to country quite a bit, including simply due to the limited resources the Faculty has and the programs here generally being more focused on theory as a result. I've spoken to former students who also confirmed that other than one class involving the dissection of invertebrates, they haven't had any contact with experimentation/dissection/vivisection of animals.

I'm assuming you're still of the opinion that it isn't justifiable (due to having to dissect/kill invertebrates)? Are you of the opinion that no vegan should pursue a degree in biology until the circumstances surrounding the involvement of animals change?

My answer is that different people are playing different games by different rules: I think a university degree in biology is utterly worthless, whereas (e.g.) I think winning a war is worthwhile, so it's easier for me to imagine embracing the compromises and contradictions that military service would entail, in order to win a war, than to imagine making excuses for the ritualistic torture and murder of animals for a diploma in biology.  If you think that my assessment of the value of university education is impossibly bleak, you're right: a significant percentage of my book (N.M.M.) deals with just that —i.e., philosophy of education, with the options for the reform of our universities including "renovation" by the torch, and starting again on a heap of ashes.  You may be playing a different game by different rules, but no: I'm not playing the game where a professor tells me to torture animals to death and I pretend that I have no choice but to follow orders.  That's not a game I'm willing to play.  And I do have choices other than following those orders.

@à-bas-le-ciel  I thought that pursuing an education in biology as a vegan specifically could potentially be worthwhile (the paper you mentioned on the sentience of invertebrates had to be written by someone and likely isn't entirely worthless).

Ultimately, I don't think killing an animal (whether it be gastropods or what-have-you) is a compromise worth making in order to obtain a degree in biology either; going that route and eventually coming to the realization that the degree in question was utterly worthless would be incredibly bleak indeed and could very well happen (although you were speaking of your attitude towards the educational system more broadly, which I don't have a formed opinion on).

Either way, again, thank you for taking the time to offer your perspective on this.

[Further question from a different member of the audience:] What about the medication that comes out of these experiments? For context I know people in biology and virology. To justify it they use the reason I cited above. My girlfriend told me of another excuse a friend gave her yesterday for giving rats cancer, “they are born for it, so it’s ok”.

This person is vegetarian btw

The problem isn't whether the excuse is good or bad, IMO, the problem is that you're making an excuse at all —and what I reject is the excuse-making mentality as such —and belief as such —and the excuses are harder to quit than the thing itself. It isn't the case that killing a rat cures cancer: it is, rather, that you believe (or that you want to believe) that in some indirect and invisible way, its death contributes ("it helps"). A sacrifice on an altar: the same thing happened to Agamemnon's daughter.