Dawkins on lab-grown human meat and “yuck reaction” absolutism

An interesting tweet from Richard Dawkins:

Tissue culture “clean meat” already in 2018? I’ve long been looking forward to this.

What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism? An interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus “yuck reaction” absolutism.

30 Replies to “Dawkins on lab-grown human meat and “yuck reaction” absolutism”

  1. keiths keiths
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    says:

    The Dawkinsphobes are spinning this like crazy, of course.

    Phoebe Weston of the Daily Mail writes:

    Dawkins, who has previously claimed forcing religion on children could be compared to ‘child abuse’, tweeted ‘I’ve long been looking forward to this’.

    This, he explained, was because it could help humans ‘overcome our taboo against cannibalism’.

    As if Dawkins has been longing for years to be a cannibal.

    Wesley Smith of the Discovery Institute takes a similar dishonest tack:

    Seen in this light, Dawkins’s cannibalistic yearning — there is no reason to eat human meat except as a means of sticking a finger in the Judeo-Christian eye — is both decadent and subversive.

  2. keiths keiths
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    says:

    The “yuck factor” regarding the consumption of human flesh — even if it is lab-grown — reminds me of Haidt et al’s classic paper on “moral dumbfounding”:

    Abstract

    Are moral judgments based on reason, or on intuition and emotion? Thirty participants were presented with a classic moral reasoning dilemma, and with four tasks that were designed to put intuition and reason into conflict. It was hypothesized that participants’ judgments would be highly consistent with their reasoning on the moral reasoning dilemma, but that judgment would separate from reason and follow intuition in the other four tasks. This prediction was supported. In the four intuition stories (but not in the reasoning dilemma) judgment preceded reasoning, judgments were based more on gut feelings than on reasoning, and participants more frequently laughed and directly stated that they had no reasons to support their judgments. This phenomenon — the stubborn and puzzled maintenance of a judgment without supporting reasons — was dubbed “moral dumbfounding.” The existence of moral dumbfounding calls into question models in which moral judgment is produced by moral reasoning. These findings are linked to other dual-process theories of cognition.

  3. petrushka
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    says:

    Even reason is based on reasons.

    Emotions are the axioms of morality.

  4. keiths keiths
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    says:

    petrushka:

    Emotions are the axioms of morality.

    What’s interesting about the moral dumbfounding cases is that the judgments don’t follow rationally from the moral axioms that people think they hold.

    Hence the laughter:

    In the four intuition stories (but not in the reasoning dilemma) judgment preceded reasoning, judgments were based more on gut feelings than on reasoning, and participants more frequently laughed and directly stated that they had no reasons to support their judgments.

  5. keiths keiths
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    says:

    Christians, what do you think? Is it morally permissible to eat lab-grown human flesh?

    And isn’t the sacrament of Holy Communion a form of cannibalism?

    26 And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, Take, eat; this is my body.

    27 And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, Drink ye all of it;

    28 For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.

    Matthew 26:26-28, KJV

  6. PeterP
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    says:

    keiths: Christians, what do you think? Is it morally permissible to eat lab-grown human flesh?

    Not a christian but I’ll chime in and give my $0.02 worth…….From a moral perspective (whatever that might be) I’d say it depends. It depends on the society you live in and what its sociatal norms deems are acceptable. You (person eating human lab meat) might find themselves ostracized over such an act regardless if no harm came to any individual in its production. More of a societal ‘yuk’ factor than anything else. The implications of the documentary Soylent Green leaps to mind!.

    From a personal perspective on morals sure why not but on a pragmatic basis it is probably not a good idea given the risk of prion/spongiform-type diseases resulting from such an act. Animal feed has ubiquitous warning labels on which animals should and should not be fed a specific feed formulation based on where the protein source came from. Meat digest (used to boost protein content) derived from cattle should not be fed back to cattle with similar caveats for other feed formulations and animal species and the various types of meat digest used in the feed industry.

    As a disbelieving child I always found the sacrament to be a bit creepy.

  7. J-Mac
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    says:

    “What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism? An interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus “yuck reaction” absolutism.

    That would mean the “growing humans” from scratch is just around the corner, wouldn’t it?

  8. PeterP
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    says:

    J-Mac:
    “What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism? An interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus “yuck reaction” absolutism.

    nope

    That would mean the “growing humans” from scratch is just around the corner, wouldn’t it?

  9. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    J-Mac:
    “What if human meat is grown? Could we overcome our taboo against cannibalism? An interesting test case for consequentialist morality versus “yuck reaction” absolutism.

    That would mean the “growing humans” from scratch is just around the corner, wouldn’t it?

    No. It would mean only that it would be possible to grow cultures of human muscle cells.

    As I understand it, the big issue in synthetic meat is that it doesn’t have the texture and flavor that we crave, because it’s just cloned muscle cells. But the flavor profiles of steaks and chops depend on the relative proportions of fat and bone to muscle, and the mouth feel depends on the right amount of connective tissue. Cloned muscle cells can function as a substitute for ground beef in a meat sauces or in a sausage or hamburger (if mixed with the right binding agents — maybe egg or soy derived?) but they won’t feel and taste right as a steak/chop substitute.

    This means that eating cloned human muscle cells wouldn’t tell you much about what human flesh tastes like. Sadly, there’s just no substitute for the real thing.

  10. petrushka
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    says:

    keiths: What’s interesting about the moral dumbfounding cases is that the judgments don’t follow rationally from the moral axioms that people think they hold.

    I think that’s irrelevant to my point. Feelings do no need to be explicit or even rise to consciousness. The behavior of reacting is the functional definition of a moral feeling.

    Now, it is generally useful to bring unconsciousness feelings to the level of awareness. That was the original basis for psychotherapy. But the behavior can be address directly, with or without conscious awareness or understanding.

  11. Mung Mung
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    says:

    It’s my understanding that (some?) Catholics believe they are eating the actual body of Jesus. So I don’t see a real problem here.

    Can you make Jesus meat?

  12. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    Mung: It’s my understanding that (some?) Catholics believe they are eating the actual body of Jesus. So I don’t see a real problem here.

    Mung:
    It’s my understanding that (some?) Catholics believe they are eating the actual body of Jesus. So I don’t see a real problem here.

    Can you make Jesus meat?

    As I understand the doctrine of transubstantiation, the blessing of the wafer during the Eucharist transforms the wafer’s essential properties while preserving its accidental properties. So the person receiving Communion is taking in the body of Christ despite the fact that it looks and tastes like a wafer.

    As variations on Orphic omophagy> go, it’s not bad.

  13. J-Mac
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    says:

    Mung:
    It’s my understanding that (some?) Catholics believe they are eating the actual body of Jesus. So I don’t see a real problem here.

    Can you make Jesus meat?

    Hey! Welcome back, Mung!
    How did you manage the “rehab” from blogging? lol

  14. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:
    It’s my understanding that (some?) Catholics believe they are eating the actual body of Jesus. So I don’t see a real problem here.

    Can you make Jesus meat?

    I think we should all be true Christians like Barry and the Gang at UD and embrace cannibalism due to the catholic communion thingy… If Catholics can be certified cannibals, why can’t we?

    We could also solve world hunger problems by this idea…Maybe not in the western world directly but in less developed countries were people eat once a day, like 300 grams of food…
    But that could put funeral homes, graveyards and cremation facilities at risk… Donnie Trumpet probably wouldn’t allow it…as he owns a chunk of everything in this country…

    My new business idea would be to charge a flat fee 695 cremation plus1 for extra per pound over 150 pounds.

    What’s an average weight of an average American? 245? 275 pounds?

    Then burn a $6.45 chicken from Costco and sell the pure meat of the American (deceased) People to the 3rd world country…

    At least once, American People would contribute something to the world economy rather than sucking out of it all the time because they have nukes….

  15. J-Mac
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    says:

    Kantian Naturalist:
    As I understand the doctrine of transubstantiation, the blessing of the wafer during the Eucharist transforms the wafer’s essential properties while preserving its accidental properties. So the person receiving Communion is taking in the body of Christ despite the fact that it looks and tastes like a wafer.

    As variations on Orphic omophagy> go, it’s not bad.

    You don’t understand anything because you don’t want to… If you did, you wouldn’t make a fool of yourself that a moron like Barry Arroganton noticed it…
    Need a link?

  16. Mung Mung
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    says:

    Thanks J-Mac. I just replaced it with a different addiction.

  17. J-Mac
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    says:

    Mung:
    Thanks J-Mac. I just replaced it with a different addiction.

    Can I try to guess what it is?

  18. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:
    Thanks J-Mac. I just replaced it with a different addiction.

    There is nothing wrong with an addiction, it just has to be for the long-term benefit of the mind, such as true contentment, happiness and long-lasting satisfaction…
    Anything outside of that can turn you into a miserable human being that can be both Barry Arroganton or an unbeliever ….

  19. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    J-Mac: You don’t understand anything because you don’t want to… If you did, you wouldn’t make a fool of yourself that a moron like Barry Arroganton noticed it…
    Need a link?

    The fact that Arrington fails to understand why I’m right is on him. The fact that you agree with him is on you.

  20. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung:

    It’s my understanding that (some?) Catholics believe they are eating the actual body of Jesus.

    It ain’t just Catholics:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Real_presence_of_Christ_in_the_Eucharist

    The shit that Christians will believe is remarkable. They describe the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as “a mystery”, which is Christianese for “something incredibly stupid that we believe anyway.”

  21. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:

    What’s interesting about the moral dumbfounding cases is that the judgments don’t follow rationally from the moral axioms that people think they hold.

    petrushka:

    I think that’s irrelevant to my point. Feelings do no need to be explicit or even rise to consciousness. The behavior of reacting is the functional definition of a moral feeling.

    No, because there are many emotional reactions and behaviors that don’t amount to “moral feelings”.

  22. walto walto
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    says:

    petrushka: Emotions are the axioms of morality.

    Yes.

  23. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    walto: Yes.

    I’m all in favor of the role that emotions play in moral experience, and I’m not averse to the idea that emotions are cognitive as well as affective. (Nussbaum has been promoting this idea.) But I worry that the more emphasis we give to emotions in getting the moral psychology right, the less room we’ll have for understanding the role of justification and argument in moral life. Is this worry misplaced? Or is that a bullet you’re willing to bite?

  24. Mung Mung
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    says:

    keiths: … “a mystery”, which is Christianese for “something incredibly stupid that we believe anyway.”

    We believe that God loves us. That includes you. And even Adapa and Glen.

    I agree, it’s a mystery. 🙂

  25. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Mung: We believe that God loves us. That includes you. And even Adapa and Glen.

    I agree, it’s a mystery.

    It’s not a mystery…We just don’t know all the details…I’m working on it though… 🙂

  26. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:

    The shit that Christians will believe is remarkable. They describe the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as “a mystery”, which is Christianese for “something incredibly stupid that we believe anyway.”

    Mung:

    We believe that God loves us. That includes you. And even Adapa and Glen.

    I agree, it’s a mystery. 🙂

    The Christian concept of a powerful God who loves humans is indeed “something incredibly stupid that they believe anyway”. The evidence tells a different story.

  27. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: The shit that Christians will believe is remarkable. They describe the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as “a mystery”, which is Christianese for “something incredibly stupid that we believe anyway.”

    It is stupid only if one has evidence that an ompotent Being is incapable of such an action otherwise it is faith.

  28. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:

    The shit that Christians will believe is remarkable. They describe the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist as “a mystery”, which is Christianese for “something incredibly stupid that we believe anyway.”

    newton:

    It is stupid only if one has evidence that an ompotent Being is incapable of such an action otherwise it is faith.

    No, it’s just plain stupid.

    Such a belief would only make sense if you

    a) knew that God existed;

    b) knew that he was capable of this magic trick; and

    c) knew that he actually wanted, for some odd reason, to convert bread and wine into the body and blood of an apocalyptic Jewish preacher from around 2000 years ago.

    Christians don’t know any of those things.

  29. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Another dishonest take, this time from Breitbart:

    Whether Dawkins’s Brave New World — where every taboo is bulldozed and nothing is forbidden — would make people happier, better, or more fulfilled, is far from self-evident.

    For now, dinner guests in the Dawkins home would be well advised to choose a seat near the door, in case their host decides to change up the menu.

  30. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    An overwrought and dishonest reaction from cnsnews.com:

    Dawkins clearly thinks it is time for society to overcome its aversion to harvesting the flesh of other human beings and then eating it.

    <snip image from Frankenstein movie>

    As Dawkins is an atheist, this should come as no surprise. He believes the entire universe was created by some sort of accident and that, essentially, all that exists are atoms randomly smashing into each other. Morality and truth are not absolute. They change. All is chance.

    Manufacture human meat in a lab for consumption by other humans — what could possibly be wrong with that?

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