Frans de Waal (wiki)
In 2017 in a 3 hour interview on Dutch television primatologist and author Frans de Waal said that the meat industry is bad, but he admitted that he continued eating meat. When the interviewer confronts him with this discrepancy, De Waal responds with: I am part of the food chain; animals eat animals; I do what animals do; I eat meat. It's natural. That argument is known as the 'Naturalistic Fallacy'.
It's an invalid
argument. You cannot logically derive human morality from nature.
I have put much effort into proving Frans de Waal committed the Naturalistic Fallacy. I have the crucial 28 sec video fragment on my youtube channel, and I added the most concise analysis of the fallacy; I blogged about it several times. I studied the fallacy to be certain it is indeed a fallacy. I have been working on a blog to show all the unexpected and absurd consequences of the Naturalistic Fallacy when it is taken as a valid argument. I haven't finished it yet.
And then this happened
I was browsing a Dutch book about another subject when I accidentally discovered a short discussion of the Naturalistic Fallacy. The author illustrated the fallacy with a quote:
"The problem is that one can’t derive the goals of society from the goals of nature. Trying to do so is known as the naturalistic fallacy, which is the impossibility of moving from how things are to how things ought to be.
Thus, if animals were to kill one another on a large scale, this wouldn't mean we have to do so, too, any more than we would have an obligation to live in perfect harmony if animals were to do so. All that nature can offer is information and inspiration, not prescription." (The Age of Empathy Chapter 2: The Other Darwinism.)
The quote is from from the book: The Age of Empathy. Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society (2010). Indeed, it is a perfect description of the naturalistic fallacy. The author of the book is: Frans de Waal! I never anticipated that the same person committing the Naturalistic Fallacy on television, had described it 7 years years before in one of his own books. He did not describe it in general, no, he applied it specifically to killing animals:
"Thus, if animals were to kill one another on a large scale, this wouldn't mean we have to do so, too...".
So, he knows perfectly well that nature cannot give a moral justification for killing animals. And he made no secret of it: 'Naturalistic Fallacy' is present in the alphabetic index of The Age of Empathy. It never occurred to me to search for it in his own books. But there it is.
But why would someone use the Naturalistic Fallacy in a live television talk show if he knew it was a fallacy? An obvious possibility is that he did not have a good answer to the question But why do you still eat meat? and fell back on a false argument dressed up as a deep insight of a biologist who studied animal behaviour his whole life. He called it the 'The natural cycle of life' as if it was a law of nature. He got away with it. The interviewer did not question his argument. It looks like one of 'Nature's Lessons' (that is the subtitle of his book). Possibly this was not the first time he used this trick. Possibly his family and friends had the same question in the past and he found that this answer appeared convincing enough to stop further questioning.
I blog about this because Frans de Waal has a large audience and I suspect nobody knows that he described the Naturalistic Fallacy in one of his books and later used that same fallacy to defend eating animals. I discovered this only a few days ago. He should not get away with this. More importantly, it should be widely recognised that this 'justification' for eating animals is a fallacy.
Frans De Waal uses a fallacy to defend eating meat. No empathy with animals. Not a vegan. youtube 3 Oct 2017. (This is the 28 sec fragment).
Frans de Waal (2010) The Age of Empathy. Nature's Lessons for a Kinder Society. hardback. Paperback 2019. (The book with the Naturalistic Fallacy described.)
Hypocrisy: "Hypocrisy is the practice of engaging in the same behavior or activity for which one criticizes another or the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one's own behavior does not conform." (wikipedia).