Values vs Aims [ was Consensus landscape?]
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Fri, 21 Sep 2012 06:16:12 -0700 (PDT)
On Sep 21, 2012, at 12:12 AM, Karen Carlson <kcarlson2 [at]> wrote:

> we updated basic values to guide our decisions.  For example, emphasis on 
> native plants that require little water; removal of invasives, especially 
> non-natives; reduction of grassy areas requiring mowing, etc.

We are in an animal rights debate over buying wool rugs for the CH. One side is 
advocating not using any product that is the result of enslaving animals and 
the other that we currently have wool rugs and people eat eggs and meat in the 
CH regularly and we allow cats to be outdoors when this has proven to shorten 
their lives.

This is being debated as a values issue but (very late) last night, I realized 
that it could be more clearly debated as a difference in aims. We all value the 
welfare of animals and don't want to contribute to suffering. But what are our 
aims in this regard? Do we have any? 

Aims are tangible products, services, or conditions that can be measured. I can 
measure how many eggs I've eaten or not eaten this week. I can't measure how 
much I have contributed to the welfare (or demise) of chickens this week.

I can measure how many wool rugs I've purchased and how many shearings of a 
sheep it took to make that rug. I can't measure whether that caused any sheep 
any harm or whether the sheep would have benefited from my not purchasing that 

I can't measure how much I have contributed to awareness of animal welfare when 
I use cotton instead of wool unless I  make a conscious effort to some procure 
that data. Is that my aim?

Vegans can avoid all products associated with animals; omnivores can eat 
organic animal products when possible. "When possible" is immeasurable. It 
needs to be "eat organic products 50% (or 90%, etc.) of the time."

And what is my aim anyway?

I don't want to start a violent debate over animal rights but to start a 
discussion about whether distinguishing between values and aims makes sense to 
people? Is it helpful?

Sharon Villines, Historic Takoma Park, Washington DC
"Behavior is determined by the prevailing form of decision making." Gerard 

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