Mike Huemer, my favorite philosopher, responded to yesterday’s post on Facebook.  Huemer’s words, reprinted with his permission:

don’t think the best way of determining whether x is true is by seeing
whether x-advocates are hypocritical or morally flawed. (Btw, on this
criterion, the slavery-defenders who knew Thomas Jefferson would presu
mably have declared that slavery is probably right, since even Jefferson held slaves.)

the best way to find out whether x is true is to just look at the
arguments for and against x, especially if those arguments are simple
and easy to find.

The arguments on ethical
vegetarianism are simple and easily found. It seems wrong to cause
extreme amounts of pain and suffering for the sake of minor benefits to
oneself. If you just look at some of the things that go on on factory
farms, you’re going to be horrified. If you look, I think you are going
to find it extremely difficult to say, “Oh yeah, that seems fine.”

you think it is not wrong to inflict severe suffering as long as the
victim of the suffering is stupid, then you’d have to say that it is
permissible to torture retarded people for fun. Etc. (I don’t have
anything to add to the standard arguments.) You also have to explain why
pain isn’t bad when the victim is stupid.

Now, what
is the proposed response to the argument? The fact that people kill
many insects is supposed to be evidence that . . . pain isn’t really
bad? That it’s not really wrong to cause lots of bad things for the sake
of minor benefits to oneself? But how could the number of insects that
people kill be evidence for any of these things?

blog post even seems to suggest that it’s impossible that it’s wrong
to cause pain to stupid creatures. That is, that we know that pain is
only bad if you’re smart. But really, could that plausibly be said to be
something that we know? How would that be? Is there some proof of that

Maybe the suggestion is that it’s
self-evident that pain is only bad if you’re smart. But then, rather
than trying to draw inferences about this by looking at the behavior of
PETA-members, etc., it seems like we could just introspect and see
whether that’s self-evident. When I do, I see that it’s not self-evident
(indeed, it isn’t even plausible). I don’t have to make any inferences
or look at anyone else’s behavior, since I can just look and see.