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The arguments for vegetarianisms seem to be very convincing to me. Are there

The arguments for vegetarianisms seem to be very convincing to me. Are there any good arguments philosophers have made that eating animals is not immoral?

Good question. There have been at least two lines of reasoning that have some following among philosophers. The first consists of seeking to object to the positive reasons that are advanced for vegetarianism and against raising animals for food. So, Peter Singer initially built his case for vegetarianism on a utilitarian foundation to the effect that raising animals and killing them causes undeserved suffering. Arguably, however, it seems that he would not have a strong reason to object to painless killing. And if you breed animals who have happy lives, there might even be a utilitarian reason for having large numbers of animals that then meet a painless end. A second kind of argument has been launched by R.G. Frey (who, sadly, died last year), Peter Carruthers, and others that animals lack morally relevant interests. Frey and Carruthers argue for this on the grounds that animals lack language. The argument is quite controversial as it is based on the view that there cannot be non-linguistic or pre-linguistic thought and consciousness. This is also quite troubling as it would seem to entail that pre-linguistic human children lack morally relevant interests, but this seems quite counter-intuitive. One may also argue that some animals have language or at least the power to communicate and this is evidence that they have reflection and possibly self-awareness (something that seems reasonable in cases when animals pass what is called "the mirror test," being able to recognize their reflection and act accordingly. Ockham's razor has also been deployed to argue that it is not reasonable to believe that the animals we eat have higher order thoughts and reflection that would make them objects of moral concern. Ockham's razor is, essentially, the policy of only positing entities or phenomena that is necessary to describe and explain something. Arguably, some of our intentional behavior can be explained without positing higher order self-awareness. I, for example, very occasionally sleepwalk and some persons have even been known to sleep drive. These are cases when we are able to do complex things opening doors, getting into a car, turning it on, and so on without knowing what you are doing. If you like, this may involve a subject knowing which car is his, but not knowing that he knows it. Could it be that chicken, cattle, lambs, fish... might have some sensory life and cognition, but they lack the higher order self-reflection necessary to be taken seriously ethically?

I do not personally adopt the above arguments, especially the last one which has the consequence of assuming that nonhuman animals are on a par with sleep walkers!

Good question. There have been at least two lines of reasoning that have some following among philosophers. The first consists of seeking to object to the positive reasons that are advanced for vegetarianism and against raising animals for food. So, Peter Singer initially built his case for vegetarianism on a utilitarian foundation to the effect that raising animals and killing them causes undeserved suffering. Arguably, however, it seems that he would not have a strong reason to object to painless killing. And if you breed animals who have happy lives, there might even be a utilitarian reason for having large numbers of animals that then meet a painless end. A second kind of argument has been launched by R.G. Frey (who, sadly, died last year), Peter Carruthers, and others that animals lack morally relevant interests. Frey and Carruthers argue for this on the grounds that animals lack language. The argument is quite controversial as it is based on the view that there cannot be non-linguistic...

If I was in a situation that impose me to choose between an animal or a human to

If I was in a situation that impose me to choose between an animal or a human to save their life, which one should I choose ? and why ?

Not an easy question to answer as one can imagine all kinds of factors entering the picture: imagine the human being is s murderer who threatens to kill you or someone who intends to commit suicide after the rescue or imagine the human asks you to rescue the animal instead of him or herself. Leaving aside that humans are also animals, the nonhuman animal may be carrying a deadly disease or a being with very little evidence of thought, emotion, and rationality (like an ant) or it may be a porpoise who rescued you when you were drowning (there is a record of such a rescue in the first history in the west by Heroditus (Book I of his Histories). But leaving aside all these complications, I think we humans are naturally disposed to value other humans because of our being thinking, feeling, reflective individuals who are capable of appreciating and protecting values, being creative and imaginative, capable of entering into worthy, loving relationships, beings who have meaningful goals and desires, and other such properties and capabilities. There may also be religious reasons that enter the picture. But while I would opt for saving the human (assuming that all the other facts noted at the outset were not in play) and if I am the human I hope you will rescue me, some philosophers such as Tom Regan and Peter Singer regard your question as very important and they allow for cases when (in principle) it would be better to rescue the nonhuman animal rather than rescuing you or me. See Regan's major work on animal rights.

Not an easy question to answer as one can imagine all kinds of factors entering the picture: imagine the human being is s murderer who threatens to kill you or someone who intends to commit suicide after the rescue or imagine the human asks you to rescue the animal instead of him or herself. Leaving aside that humans are also animals, the nonhuman animal may be carrying a deadly disease or a being with very little evidence of thought, emotion, and rationality (like an ant) or it may be a porpoise who rescued you when you were drowning (there is a record of such a rescue in the first history in the west by Heroditus (Book I of his Histories). But leaving aside all these complications, I think we humans are naturally disposed to value other humans because of our being thinking, feeling, reflective individuals who are capable of appreciating and protecting values, being creative and imaginative, capable of entering into worthy, loving relationships, beings who have meaningful goals and desires, and other...

Can someone help me with this basic argument.I just want it to make sense and

Can someone help me with this basic argument.I just want it to make sense and than I will look at the major tweaks later. I believe I need to fix the conclusion because when I get around to writing the paper about it I will be proving P2 and have nothing to say by P3 because it is the same thing.I'd appreciate some help thank you very much. (P1) If animals can critically interpret similarly to humans, it makes sense to assume they understand the feeling of pain as well. (P2) Most people agree it is morally unjustifiable to intentionally afflict pain on those who can feel it, especially in cases that are not of self defense. (P3) Animal cruelty is not a case of self defense, therefore animal cruelty is morally unjustifiable.

Looks very promising! You might want to adjust the first premise. First, you might want to refer to "some nonhuman animals." The notion of "critically interpret" seems a little awkward. Are you here asserting that some nonhuman exercise reason or that they involve higher order evaluations of some sort (e.g. they not only interpret situations but they critically do so)? I am on your side in this matter with respect to some nonhuman animals; great apes and dolphins seem to have higher order thoughts (they can recognize themselves in mirrors for example and have some powers of communication that is very close to language). If you are trying to reach P3, perhaps all you need in P1 is that some nonhuman animals suffer, and that thesis would seem to be supported on the grounds of analogy with humans --their brain and nervous system and ostensible pain-avoidance behavior is similar to our own. In P2 you might need to claim that it is not just morally unjustified to inflict pain (or suffering? some distinguish pain and suffering) but cruel unless there are overriding reasons for doing so. Minor additional point: self-defense may be a licit reason to inflict pain, but sometimes we think it is permissible to inflict pain in a person (or animal) if that will prevent much worse pain.

Good wishes in your filling out this argument. Peter Singer may be a helpful resource or the work of Tom Regan.

Looks very promising! You might want to adjust the first premise. First, you might want to refer to "some nonhuman animals." The notion of "critically interpret" seems a little awkward. Are you here asserting that some nonhuman exercise reason or that they involve higher order evaluations of some sort (e.g. they not only interpret situations but they critically do so)? I am on your side in this matter with respect to some nonhuman animals; great apes and dolphins seem to have higher order thoughts (they can recognize themselves in mirrors for example and have some powers of communication that is very close to language). If you are trying to reach P3, perhaps all you need in P1 is that some nonhuman animals suffer, and that thesis would seem to be supported on the grounds of analogy with humans --their brain and nervous system and ostensible pain-avoidance behavior is similar to our own. In P2 you might need to claim that it is not just morally unjustified to inflict pain (or suffering? some...

If you personally cannot slaughter an animal by your own hand or even imagine

If you personally cannot slaughter an animal by your own hand or even imagine doing so, then should you still eat meat? Do you still have the natural right to eat meat?

Good question! If one could not imagine oneself slaughtering an animal for food under any circumstances, then perhaps one should reflect on whether one's reluctance stems from a realization (deep down) that there is something morally disquieting or even wrong about killing animals for food. Still, the reason for the reluctance might rest on non-moral grounds (due to a childhood accident, one cannot stand the site of blood) and reflect a deep personal preference (perhaps one cannot imagine ever being a plumber or sanitation worker, but one still believes that the vocation of being a plumber or sanitation worker are good and vital for society).

Flipping the question around, though, it might be noted that even if one can conceive of oneself slaughtering animals for food, and doing so happily, that alone would not be a reason to think that such slaughtering is good or morally permissible.

Good question! If one could not imagine oneself slaughtering an animal for food under any circumstances, then perhaps one should reflect on whether one's reluctance stems from a realization (deep down) that there is something morally disquieting or even wrong about killing animals for food. Still, the reason for the reluctance might rest on non-moral grounds (due to a childhood accident, one cannot stand the site of blood) and reflect a deep personal preference (perhaps one cannot imagine ever being a plumber or sanitation worker, but one still believes that the vocation of being a plumber or sanitation worker are good and vital for society). Flipping the question around, though, it might be noted that even if one can conceive of oneself slaughtering animals for food, and doing so happily, that alone would not be a reason to think that such slaughtering is good or morally permissible.

Would it be wrong to eat a cow that had been specially bred to WANT to be eaten?

Would it be wrong to eat a cow that had been specially bred to WANT to be eaten? (a la Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy)

Great question. Off hand, it seems that this would not make a difference. Presumably, it would be just as wrong to have a human child in order to harvest his organs whether or not the child had been engineered to want this fate. Sometimes wanting or consenting does make a substantial moral difference. Robbery, rape, and the like, crucially depend on a person not consenting to an act; if I want you to take something I own then (in a general sense) I am more or less giving it to you and a robbery (in the straight forward sense) has not taken place. But in the case you present, we do not think the cows are exercising their freedom; it appears they have no choice but to want to be eaten. In this case (unlike the robbery case) it seems their wanting this fate does not make a moral difference. If we assume (for the sake of argument) some form of moral vegetarianism (it is morally wrong to kill cows to eat them), then the presence of the 'want' would not seem to make a moral difference.

However, let us assume there are no compelling moral reasons for being a vegetarian and you have a choice between killing and eating a cow that has been bred to want this fate versus a cow that does not want to be killed and eaten. Although this is a bit of bizarre thought experiment, I suggest that it would be less worse to kill and eat the first, because you would not be directly violating a creature's preference (even if it had been bred to have that preference). Still, we might raise a different question: if cows are so advanced that they can have wants, maybe we should not want to kill and eat any of them.

Great question. Off hand, it seems that this would not make a difference. Presumably, it would be just as wrong to have a human child in order to harvest his organs whether or not the child had been engineered to want this fate. Sometimes wanting or consenting does make a substantial moral difference. Robbery, rape, and the like, crucially depend on a person not consenting to an act; if I want you to take something I own then (in a general sense) I am more or less giving it to you and a robbery (in the straight forward sense) has not taken place. But in the case you present, we do not think the cows are exercising their freedom; it appears they have no choice but to want to be eaten. In this case (unlike the robbery case) it seems their wanting this fate does not make a moral difference. If we assume (for the sake of argument) some form of moral vegetarianism (it is morally wrong to kill cows to eat them), then the presence of the 'want' would not seem to make a moral difference. However, let us...

Is it equally wrong to hurt a cow and human, if the pain experienced by each is

Is it equally wrong to hurt a cow and human, if the pain experienced by each is equal?

Great question. A huge amount of thought is being devoted to the assessment of the mental life of nonhuman animal. Some (but I don't think a majority) philosophers still deny that we can rightly recognize (morally relevant) pain in beings without language, but I think it is quite reasonable to think that cows feel pain (given what appears to be pain-avoidance behavior, their brains and nervous system) even in the absence of language. So, let us grant that a human being and a cow can be hurt, they both can feel pain, and then ask whether if the hurt causes equal pain, then hurting the human and cow is equally wrong. There is some reason to think that we cannot draw that conclusion, because of factors that go beyond pain. Imagine a cow feels the same intensity of pain, you feel when someone slaps you (hard). The pain felt by the cow and you may be equal, but there could be more serious harms going on in your case (you have just been insulted or been betrayed by a friend or ..) that is not undergone by the cow. Being insulted or betrayed can be painful, but we often think of such harms in terms of suffering rather than, say, painful sensations. Similarly, compare another case in which harm has been done to a human and cow, there is equal pain, but not equal wrongness: imagine a human being robs someone and a policeman harms the wrong-doer in apprehending him (pain level L) and a cow experiences the same level of pain (L) through some accident (the cow receives a shock from an electric fens). In this case we might think that the pain inflicted on the robber was not morally wrong at all owing to the circumstances, but that the pain the cow experiences was worse (let's say the farmer should have used less voltage).

Great question. A huge amount of thought is being devoted to the assessment of the mental life of nonhuman animal. Some (but I don't think a majority) philosophers still deny that we can rightly recognize (morally relevant) pain in beings without language, but I think it is quite reasonable to think that cows feel pain (given what appears to be pain-avoidance behavior, their brains and nervous system) even in the absence of language. So, let us grant that a human being and a cow can be hurt, they both can feel pain, and then ask whether if the hurt causes equal pain, then hurting the human and cow is equally wrong. There is some reason to think that we cannot draw that conclusion, because of factors that go beyond pain. Imagine a cow feels the same intensity of pain, you feel when someone slaps you (hard). The pain felt by the cow and you may be equal, but there could be more serious harms going on in your case (you have just been insulted or been betrayed by a friend or ..) that is not undergone by...

Can anyone defend using animals as food? All I see are pro-vegetarian responses.

Can anyone defend using animals as food? All I see are pro-vegetarian responses. We shouldn't hurt animals etc etc...they are alive. Plants are alive. As are bacteria. Why is eating bacteria and plants condoned? Having helped raise chickens I am not inclined to think they are more intelligent than your average root vegetable. And I was thinking. I recently got offered a job that several fairly desperate people I know needed. Needed badly. They need to support families and children. Yet I got the job. I earned it. Should I step aside and let one of my less qualified colleagues have the job. Should I spare them the pain and discomfort of being jobless and searching? If I shouldn't eat animals, because it causes them pain, then shouldn't I not take this job because it causes a human being pain? Is there not a limit to this line of thinking. By virtue of being mariginally attractive, I "won" a competition for a mans attention. He was subsequently my boyfriend and I loved him. However, the runner up...

I understand. I believe you are making the point that (in the case of the boyfriend and the job) we do not always have duties to minimize the stress or pain of others. In the two cases you cite, I think we can even propose that you have zero obligation of any sort to relieve stress. In the case of raising nonhuman animals, however, the case is different (they are not suffering, if they are suffering at all due to the aftereffect of a fair competition, because of a romantic competition or competition on a job front; rather they are made the direct object of suffering for the sake of benefiting another party). So, I suggest that if we do have reason to believe that, say, chickens are the object of directly inflicted suffering, this is something to take seriously ethically. Two things can be said on behalf of your position: while I think chickens have feelings and plants do not (plants lack brains, nervous system...), it may be that by allowing them to be free range or not overly cramped, you are able to give them a decent life, without intense suffering. A second point follows the first, you may be allowing and bringing about more life than if we all went vegetarian. Assuming it is good for there to be chickens (they have the goods of motion, feeling, play...), it might be better for them to have lived and be eaten than never to have lived at all.

I understand. I believe you are making the point that (in the case of the boyfriend and the job) we do not always have duties to minimize the stress or pain of others. In the two cases you cite, I think we can even propose that you have zero obligation of any sort to relieve stress. In the case of raising nonhuman animals, however, the case is different (they are not suffering, if they are suffering at all due to the aftereffect of a fair competition, because of a romantic competition or competition on a job front; rather they are made the direct object of suffering for the sake of benefiting another party). So, I suggest that if we do have reason to believe that, say, chickens are the object of directly inflicted suffering, this is something to take seriously ethically. Two things can be said on behalf of your position: while I think chickens have feelings and plants do not (plants lack brains, nervous system...), it may be that by allowing them to be free range or not overly cramped, you are able...