I don't buy the assumption that seems to be implied that many arguments have to be weak and a single argument has to be strong.
Why not have many strong reasons instead of one weak reason?
Certainly for complex questions I find multi-threaded answers more convincing than single-threaded ones.
Fox over hedgehog for me.
In terms of picking a major, do something you enjoy that you can conceivably use to get a job. You can actually get a job with a philosophy degree. I did... after I quit accounting because it was too darn boring...
Restrict propositions to observable references? (Or have a rule about falsifiablility?)
The problem with the observable reference rule is that sense can be divorced from reference and things can be true (in principle) even if un-sensed or un-sensable. However, when we learn language we start by associating sense with concrete reference. Abstractions are trickier.
It is the case that my sensorimotor apparatus will determine my beliefs and my ability to cross-reference my beliefs with other similar agents with similar sensorimotor apparatus will forge consensus on propositions that are meaningful and true.
Falsifiability is better. I can ask another human is Orwell post-Utopian? They can say 'hell no he is dystopian'... But if some say yes and some say no, it seems I have an issue with vagueness which I would have to clarify with some definition of criteria for post-Utopian and dystopian.
Then once we had clarity of definition we could seek evidence in his texts. A lot of humanities texts however just leave observable reference at the door and run amok with new combinations of sense. Thus you get unicorns and other forms of fantasy...
A difficulty of utilitarianism is the question of felicific exchange rates. If you cast morality as a utility function then you are obliged to come up with answers to bizarre hypothetical questions like how many ice-creams is the life of your first born worth because you have defined the right in terms of maximized utility.
If you cast morality as a dispute avoidance mechanism between social agents possessed with power and desire then you are less likely to end up in this kind of dead-end but the price of this casting is the recognition that different agents will have different values and that objectivity of morals is not always possible.
Quite so. The OP I think is more concerned about factory farming than the more traditional grazing approaches to cattle. But I think if you push a morality too far up against the hill of human desire it will collapse. Many activists overestimate the "care factor". My ability to care is pretty limited. I can't and won't care about 7 billion other humans on this planet except in the thinnest and most meaningless senses (i.e. stated preferences in surveys which are near worthless) let along the x billion animals. In terms of revealed preferences (where I put my dollars and power) I favour the near and the dear over the stranger and the genetically unrelated.
Fascinating paper. Will there be a release of the code used? I would like to be able to play these games and tinker with the code myself.
Hacking is believing...
I think you should put out a game called Modal Combat!
I have no argument with your desire to establish the most cost-effective way to get the most bang for your bucks. I simply do not accept the premise that it is wrong to eat meat.
Consider the life of a steer in Cape York. It is born the property of a grazier. It is given health care of a sort (dips, jabs, anti-tick treatment). It lives a free life grazing for a few hundred days in fenced enclosures protected by the grazier's guns from predators. Towards the end, it is mustered by jackaroos and jillaroos, shipped in a truck to the lush volcanic grasslands of the Atherton Tableland to be fattened up. On its last day, it is trucked to an abattoir to be stunned and killed.
If the grazier did not exist the steer would not exist. Now I could make some argument about 'utility' but I won't. And indeed there is a distinction between the factory farming you object to (grain-fed beef) versus older ways (grass-fed beef).
I would not like to be given this treatment myself but I am not a domesticated animal. I am not a beast or a dumb animal. I am a top predator. We have evolved to prefer meat and vegetables in our diet. We have arranged the ecosystem to satisfy our desire for meat. I value steers dead, butchered and then grilled or roasted. I have no interest, rational, emotional or otherwise, in funding a life for free steers in the wild.
A fundamental political problem for vegan advocacy is that people enjoy meat and that it is 'natural' to eat it. Now being natural is not a right maker but going against nature and being dependent on vitamin supplements to avoid anemia is not a right maker either. Stick people in the bush with no food and a bow and arrow and they will figure out how to shoot cute kangaroos and koalas quick smart rather than starve. Submit homo sapiens to enough stress and those predator instincts and drives that are suppressed in the civilized ecosystem come to the fore.
Desire drives us all. Argument that goes against basic human desire goes uphill. Vegetarian advocacy has been around for a long time (since Buddha, Mahavira) as have the moral arguments. Alas, human moral functionality is limited. Your research dollars would be better spent on finding an ethical alternative to meat that tastes way better than soy burgers. When vegans can provide a product that rivals that of the butchers in taste and appeal, then they will succeed.
Until then, they are a tiny minority that get recruits and suffers defections at more or less similarly measurable rates. In the meantime, I prefer organic and free-range products.
Gerd Gigerenzer's views on heuristics in moral decision making are very interesting though.
The will of the few people funding the super PACs which are telling the sheeple what to bleat, in the few states whose result matter.
The sheeple? That is a contemptuous remark. You should withdraw it.
There are no super PACs in my country. We have sensible electoral laws Down Under... Sensible gun laws too. Oh and Medicare for all without any squibbing, mandatory 401ks for all workers. And freedom... Lot of good stuff...
What is your constructive alternative to voting and political activism?
What are you offering? Some cafe society "I am vastly superior to the bleating sheeple masses" pose?
Or I will take a long shot and get rich and buy the country option?
FYI, People did die for the right to own slaves. They LOST. There is a subtle but important difference.
You have to fight to win. You got nothing but rationalizing your chicken out cynicism option.
Seriously, how much effort goes into voting? Perhaps an hour at the most?
Compared to how much tax gets taken off you every day it seems that having some minor influence in guiding the assembly that sets the budget for the spending of said tax is worth your while. If only to sack a representative assembly that displeases you.
What virtues are displayed by not voting? Sloth? Indifference?
If no one voted how would democratic government work?
Does voting increase utility? In a single case not by much but in the aggregate the people can remove a government that displeases them. This is surely better than the alternative (shoot them out as in Syria today).
The fact that Super PACs pay money to persuade people to vote speaks to the value of your vote not its worthlessness.
I think there are reasonable grounds for making the modest effort required to vote.