Turn for the Wurst

I had a moral dilemma for lunch.  There were two queues in the refectory:  one for a sinister-looking vegetarian moussaka and another for a chicken curry which looked very much like something other than a chicken curry.  To paraphrase a popular vegetarian line of thought, if there are readily available dietary alternatives, then one ought to choose the ones that do not involve unnecessary animal suffering.  Each time any of us eats an animal product, we probalby could just as easily have had a vegetarian dish — maybe it would take a little effort, but that’s small moral change.  We’re talking about avoiding unnecessary suffering, and we should be willing to do a lot in exchange.   I’ve tried to find statistics for vegetarians by country, but the numbers are all over the place.   Suffice to say that a very large number of people in the West eat a very large amount of meat.

I’ve heard many arguments for vegetarianism, but I only know carnivorism in terms of replies to those arguments.  If you eat meat, do you have an argument for this practice?  Prima facie, don’t you need one?  The debate seems to go (1) vegetarian argues for vegetariansim, (2) carnivore blasts argument.  Isn’t the burden of proof on the meat-eating party?  Why do you think it is right (or anyway morally acceptable) to eat meat?

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40 Comments.

  1. this is about the closest I can find to an argument for carnivorism…

  2. Regarding the burden of proof, eating meat is part of the natural order of things. Shouldn’t the vegetarian have to show why we must upset that order?

  3. And regarding the suffering – if abbatoirs can kill animals quickly and painlessly then is there any suffering involved?

    And then there is the suffering I would undergo if I had to convert to a vegetarian diet. You might think it callous to equate my gastronomic pleasures with the life and death of living creatures but it’s just simple utilitarianism. How many delicious bacon sandwich experiences equate to the life of one pig?

  4. Check out this slightly creepy news piece where school-children voted to send their hand-reared lamb to slaughter. To quote the teacher “his purpose in life is meat”.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/kent/8255125.stm

    I expect she’d be willing to offer an ethical justification for carnivorism (although there was a distinct absence of any in the interview).

  5. delmont, vegetarians have already given plenty of arguments that establish their position, so the omnivore or carnivore needs to establish their position. Appealing to “natural order” of things is ineffective since we can justify pretty much anything under the sun with that. e.g. I could justify rape, murder, and bigotry as natural.

  6. We do not have the teeth of a herbivore for a reason. We are omnivorous creatures. You may as well say that the lion or the leopard needs a moral justification for their diet. The fact is that eating meat for humans is natural.

    Personally, I wish I did not love the taste of meat. I try to eat raw food, and it is usually the taste of meat that draws me back to something cooked.

    But, hey, we are what we are. Now, if you want to talk about something we do that is outside the natural order of things, why are we the only mammals that cook our food?

  7. An amusing quote I heard:

    “If God hadn’t wanted us to eat animals, he wouldn’t have made them outta meat.”

    Hehe

  8. Saying that something is natural is no good moral justification for much of anything. Its not natural for people to wear clothes, drive cars, or type at keyboards, but we do it… It is natural for people to lie, kill, and rape, but we don’t think that people should do things like that.

    Moreover how do we determine what natural exactly is? If we go by functions and such, then would we have to say that homosexuality is morally wrong because it uses the organs “incorrectly”? The “natural” argument simply doesn’t work.

    We’ve got good reasons not to eat animals, because it inflicts unnecessary suffering in their RAISING and slaughter. As moral people we should be minimizing the amount of unnecessary suffering in the world, and this is something that we can do since we don’t need meat to survive.

  9. Took the words out of my mouth, Wayne. So is the only argument for eating meat the dubious one about the natural order? That can’t be it. Billions of people eat meat every day. There must be a good argument out there for it. Come on carnivores, you should have plenty of energy to devote to this.

    There are those other thoughts about consequentialism from Delmot, but can it really be true that the pleasures had by meat eating override the awful lives and early deaths had by the animals we eat?

  10. “It is natural” is not an argument for meat eating, it merely suggests, contrary to the article, that the burden of proof might be on the vegetarian after all.

    As to the claims that not just the slaughter but the raising of animals causes unnecessary suffering – well that is a good argument against factory farming, but not meat eating per se. It is perfectly possible to raise animals for food humanely and ethically.

  11. delmot- True enough, it is against factory farming and not meat eating in general. However the typical american does not have access to ethically reared meat. Buying organic doesn’t mean that it was raised ethically. Simply put, the scale of animal rearing that is required to get meat to a grocery store (ANY grocery store including Whole Foods) virtually eliminates the possibility that the animal was ethically raised.

  12. I’m a vegetarian myself, but I’ll play the devil’s advocate and say that the real argument for eating meat is that people like its taste and that what one eats is not an ethical issue.

  13. There was also an interesting ethical discussion like this one here: http://forum.cat.org.uk/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=142

    And I’d repeat what I said there.

    The total exclusion of meat and other animal products from one’s diet can only ever be an ideological decision. The unhealthy prominence of meat in the modern diet and the morally questionable methods used to meet this demand do NOT constitute arguments for vegetarianism or veganism.

    They are and will only ever be arguments for sustainable pastoral agriculture.

  14. Why are we always expected to Be something? To hold a point of view, which we would defend to the death? This Black or White demand I can never understand. There are many shades of grey between Black and White, Carnivore and Vegetarian. I am accordingly a somewhat reluctant carnivore. I would not eat meat merely just for pleasure it gives me and nothing more. Why should an animal be sacrificed for my pleasure alone? For the same reason I dislike bull fighting. However I believe that eating meat is necessary, and good for me. Nature, the Process of Evolution, or whatever you like to call it, has designed me to be both meat eater and vegetable eater and I see no good reason to go against this. Fighting, Fleeing, Feeding, and Reproduction (the famous four Fs) are what preserves my continuance on this planet and all these are solidly embedded in the evolutionary process which has brought me and other humans about and are supremely important in survival as a species. We do tend as a result of moral codes to modify the manner in which our adherence to the above four is made, often with arguable results; what is natural is not always what is considered moral. So far as feeding goes in this connection I feel that meat is an essential ingredient for my survival but meat fun foods are not; so those who eat Squirrels, Ostriches, Sharks fins, etc. not for nourishment, but gustatory pleasure alone commit an offence against the non-human animal world. Yes I am uneasy about the possibility of animal suffering as a result of my need for meat and my refusal to take any substitute and am accordingly very anxious that any animal I may eat has up to the time of its death had a comfortable life followed by a sudden extinction which was also quick and painless and I hope that this may somehow be achieved as a general practice. It is a great sadness that this cannot always be achieved in animal experimentation and we can only hope that sufficient knowledge is gained there from which will benefit animals by way of the enhancements to veterinary science. Another topic for discussion maybe. I must say that my relationships with vegetarians and ex-vegetarians over the years has always additionally persuaded me to avoid this discipline even more. Details of this would be extraneous here.
    Having renounced their natural carnivorous ancestry what do vegetarians think about other carnivores; should Lions somehow be censured for the cruelty of their eating habits? What about their pets like cats and dogs are they not to be fed on meat, to withhold it would surely be out of accord with natural processes? Outside of the food chain I think we should leave animals alone unless there is no alternative but use them. Why induce a fish to swallow a hook and remove it for a certain period from its natural environment if it is not to be eaten? Why do we continue to ride horses, teach them silly dances, race them, often to death, we now have motor vehicles for that. I am aware of the great skill in horsemanship but am cautions that this still justifies these practices. Has the horse not served man enough? We have maimed and blown them to pieces on battlefields made them toil all day pulling heavy loads. Many of these things, not only with horses but other animals, we do not need to do now. Unfortunately however, I still see no alternative but to continue with meat in my diet. My own survival, is more important to me than the animal I need to eat.

  15. I see no-one has raised the issue of “cows farting” as a reason to give up eating meat:

    http://www.earthsave.org/globalwarming.htm

    “With methane emissions causing nearly half of the planet’s human-induced warming, methane reduction must be a priority. Methane is produced by a number of sources, including coal mining and landfills—but the number one source worldwide is animal agriculture. Animal agriculture produces more than 100 million tons of methane a year. And this source is on the rise: global meat consumption has increased fivefold in the past fifty years, and shows little sign of abating. About 85% of this methane is produced in the digestive processes of livestock, and while a single cow releases a relatively small amount of methane, the collective effect on the environment of the hundreds of millions of livestock animals worldwide is enormous. An additional 15% of animal agricultural methane emissions are released from the massive “lagoons” used to store untreated farm animal waste, and already a target of environmentalists’ for their role as the number one source of water pollution in the U.S.”

  16. invictus- Yes its an ideal. Whats wrong with that? We pass laws that state that people shouldn’t murder and rape, and those laws will never be followed perfectly. Should we eliminate them? We should all strive for moral perfection even if we will never attain it.

    Don- You’re giving the natural argument again. Evolution made you an omnivore so it is necessary for your survival. Evolution would also tell us that to maximize your procreative powers you should do whatever it takes to have sex with as many women as possible. If you can steal and get away with it because of your advanced brain then you should, because it aids in your survival.

    Moreover it is not necessary for your survival. I’ve been a vegetarian for 3 years now, and I’m not dead. I know people who have been vegetarians for their entire lives and they’re not dead. All necessary ammino acids required for survival can be found from vegetarian sources.

    As for other carnivores, like lions and such, they’re not rational creatures who can conduct themselves in accordance with ethical principles. So we don’t hold them morally responsible for their actions. Just like small children, we could try to teach them better (and in the case of the lion it would be futile) but they’re not obligated to.

    Besides, human beings are TERRIBLE hunters. In a “natural” setting we would be eating far more plants with only the occassional supplement of meat. The average american’s diet consists of meat at EVERY meal.

  17. Mr Yuen,

    You misunderstand. I mean ideological; I mean that it is the product of ideology rather than the product of reason, be that reason pragmatic or idealistic.

    There is, in my view, no moral argument to suggest that we should all be vegetarian or vegan, and those who suggest that there is are invariably confused, extremist, or both.

  18. Wayne: I had anticipated a reply, which asked if I also maximised my procreative powers. The answer to this is unfortunately not, and I do not have any current plans to alter this state of affairs. It may or may not have been-beneficial to survival of the the species to inundate the world with people having some of my genetic material but I saw no great harm would be done by not doing this and only great inconvenience to myself would most likely ensue if I proceeded otherwise. In particular I did not feel my own personal survival would be threatened by the production of two offspring alone. I have however subsequently sometimes wondered about that. As I pointed out originally there are shades of grey in most decisions we make in life things are rarely Black and White, or as Kant pointed out, Moral Worth only is generated only by one doing one’s duty, nothing more, a recipe for disaster in my opinion. We need to make decisions in life and often there is some sort of Moral stricture or recommendation to be considered together with a multitude of other factors. This I have done and the carnivorous diet just squeezes out. This you probably think is most unsatisfactory, or worse still plainly wrong but it is my decision under due serious consideration as was yours when you decided to become a vegetarian. I was hesitant to mention my experience of vegetarians but since you mention that three years in this discipline have not harmed you I decided to make some comment here. At university I was in discussion with a tutor in Philosophy like yourself, who told me he had been a vegetarian for years until a friend talked him out of it. Having never bested this man in argument I was surprised at his capitulation here (Perhaps this unknown friend has just the argument James Garvey is seeking in support of meat-eating). However the tutor continued, having renounced Vegetarianism he generally felt so much better, his life had been one of privation and there was always hanging over him a consideration, which overwhelmed more important things in his life, In short it was getting in the way of what he regarded as a normal life. I once had Christmas dinner where another invited guest was a vegetarian. What was normally a very pleasant helpful easy going person was transformed by the prospect of meat into a difficult, argumentative, nit picking, person who all but brought the whole proceedings to a halt. I do not as a rule drink alcohol believing it to be one of the curses of humanity. However at a Christmas dinner I would have no hesitation in joining my friends in a drink or two although do not care for the taste of the substance nor its effects. I have met many vegetarians in my life from many different quarters and very few of then ever looked in blooming health. I know all this is subjective, and a few instances do not normally make a case, but it has all conspired in my decision to remain carnivorous be it with a degree of reluctance. I think Richard Dawkins stated that certain people think the mention of God trumps everything well it does not, and similarly can be the case with some moral strictures

  19. Bloody hell, Don. Didn’t they teach the use of paragraphs at your university?
    (Or, come to that, brevity and clarity!)

  20. invictus- I think I’ve already raised the standard argument for vegetarianism… cruelity to animals, so why is minimizing unnecessary suffering to animals NOT a moral issue? Because it doesn’t deal with human beings? Because animals can’t experience cruelty?

    Don- I think you bring up two interesting points that people usually don’t bring up… The feeling of being a vegetarian, and what we can reasonably engage in. But before I deal with those two points, let me address the health issue once more since towards the end you bring it up. Vegetarians live longer than non-vegetarians, suffer fewer disease because of their plant based diet. We get more antioxidents and less cholesterol. I think one of the most grueling sports ever conceived is the triathalon. http://www.brendanbrazier.com/ is a triathalete who is a vegan. He appears to me to be very healthy.

    Okay so the other two points. There is a certain feeling of exclusion and desire for meat. I don’t deny that. I would LOVE to have some bacon, or a burger…. or a bacon burger…. mmm. But I don’t think its right (for the aforementioned reasons). I don’t think being moral is easy, or that we should only be moral when its easy. I think, in fact, that when its hard to be moral, its usually the most important time to be moral (no real argument there just intuition.) So the fact that I get socially excluded because I don’t get invited to as many barbeques, and people don’t want to come over for dinner weighs on me. However, if my desires were for something else, say I was a pedophile, I think I should equally restrain my desires, no matter how difficult that would be, and if that meant not hanging out with friends with young children, then so be it. Thats my moral obligation.

    After being a vegetarian for a few years, it becomes much easier. I still smell a yummy hamburger and know it would taste wonderful, but I simply choose not to eat it. People usually stop being vegetarians because of the difficulty and the “non-normalcy” of it. But human beings, given enough time, can adapt to many things and it is now very normal for me to be a vegetarian. If I fail at being a vegetarian, I don’t fret or gorge my self on fried chicken, I simply go back to my diet, and try to be a little more aware next time.

    Now to the point of engaging in moral behavior. You say that carnivorism just squeezes out of your life. I agree when you argue things arn’t black or white, and I would bet that you would agree that things can be better or worse when it comes to moral matters. So instead of simply being a carnivore (I know you’re probably an omnivore), you could do some good or make some strides towards relieving animal suffering by consuming less meat. This is what most Americans do in regards to global warming and fuel consumption and carbon emissions, why not do the same for animals?

  21. INVICTUS: Apparently they not teach you courtesy at your university?

  22. I’ve been a vegetarian for about ten years, and meat turns me off now. It basically is a question of habit. As to health, my cholesterol level is lower; my blood pressure is lower; my weight is almost back to what it was when I was in the university (I’m 63).

  23. Don: It’s worth turning the issue of courtesy around: It’s courteous to spend the extra time formatting your response into a more readable format, and keeping it concise (this is a comments section, after all).

  24. Hi

    I just wanted to mention that several years ago I changed my diet, greatly increasing the fraction devoted to vegetables, and it seems to be working very well.

    Has no one mentioned Peter Singer, a popular American writer on this issue? He is a philosophy teacher at Princeton.

    Best wishes

  25. Wayne:I suppose my decision to stick to eating meat included amongst other things an element of “Gut Feeling” about it, which probably participates in many decisions we make in Life. This was why I stressed some of my views concerning vegetarians was subjective. Rightly so, you have drawn my attention to data supporting good health in vegetarians.
    I do not have a problem with eating meat per se. Like you my problem is with the nurturing, harvesting, and preparation of the substance for my consumption. A while ago I became greatly troubled by the abominable way that poultry was treated from birth to death. I resolved to refrain from eating it. After over a year of abstaining I decided my diet of Lamb Beef and Pork was over rich and chicken was what I needed for the protein therein. I also reasoned that my abstinence had not really helped one chicken and there was no prospect that sufficient people would join me in this venture such that a difference would be made. All I was doing was making an empty gesture at my own expense. There must be a better way.
    I respect your views on the matter and applaud your resolution to continue. Your views on morality seem pretty much compatible with Kantian ethics. However it seems to me that the privation you are experiencing and your resolution to endure this, notwithstanding any possible type of damage to your own life/way of life and those of your nearest and dearest, do not firmly square with any good which may come out of it for animals. Would it accordingly not be better to put all that energy into actively and strongly advocating humane treatment for animals selected for food. Remember we have one life to live, and it can so easily be squandered by sticking to principles, or moral and religious strictures, which lack flexibility and room for common sense.
    It is a worry to me that I seem to lack the “get up and go” to pursue the path I am here advocating.

  26. Do animals have an awareness of what they are to become, that is dead and eaten? You might say that this is an absurd question, but if we are not physically cruel so as to inflict physical pain and we are fairly sure they do not have an awareness of their death then one level of cruelty, a supposed mental one is taken out of the equation in addition to the physical one. The other level of cruelty is forcing them to eat foods that are not natural for them, or cooping them up in confined spaces.These are akin to mental cruelty but do not rest on an awaress of a future demise.
    I realise that taken as it stands what i have said is tantanount to killing for meat any person who fails to demonstrate this basic awareness and I know there are such people, but I would neither kill them or eat them. But then Im adding something about we can only eat animals not persons, and Ive gone round in a circle.

  27. Mr Yuen,

    I don’t disagree that animal welfare is important, or that the western world could benefit from eating less (and better) meat than it does, or that vegetarianism can be healthy.

    My position is simply that all the animal welfare arguments in the world only add up to a set of reasons to improve animal welfare, rather than a reason to be a vegan or vegetarian.

  28. This is all very interesting. Thanks for the posts.

    There’s a thought in recent posts that we have to look after animals better than we do, but that we can still eat them. Is there a little tension in there somewhere? Isn’t eating them a failure to look after them?

    Look after the children, will you?

    Arrrhhhhhh!

  29. James Garvey:
    A vast number of non-human animals eat other animals including us, the human animal, if we are not careful. There seems to be a continuity across the species so far as eating is concerned. So eating other animals is what happens in the animal kingdom, which includes the human animal. Those who support the theory of Human Exceptionalism baulk at this because they devise moral codes by which to live and seek to impose them on the rest of the kingdom, which in point of fact seems to get on far better without them, than we do with them.

    I think we do look after other animals by the manner in which we kill and eat them. If a rabbit could talk I am sure he would tell us that when, and if, he is to be eaten, a human animal is his preference. All the others would tear him limb from limb while he lives disregarding his screams and terror.

  30. Isn’t the thought that all carnivorous animals seem to be eating each other, so that’s just what happens, another version of the natural order argument above? As Wayne is about to point out, even if it’s true that eating animals is ‘what happens in the animal kingdom’, that’s no good reason for carnivorism. There’s lots of ‘natural’ stuff that’s awful, that we rightly reject.

    And I think that bunny would rather not be eaten at all, now that you mention it.

  31. Don- Heh, I’m much more of a utilitarian. The arguements I’ve been putting forth, mostly echo Peter Singer’s.

    If there is less demand, the factory farmers simply have to make less of it. We create the demand through consumption, so reducing our consumption (or eliminating it) will do >some< good.

    Often meat eaters will avoid things like Foie Gras and veal for the exact same reasons that I’m utilizing for vegetarianism in general. I rarely point out the incredible inconsistency, but the inconsistency is baffling.

    Sure one person ceasing to eat Foie Gras isn’t going to bring the industry to its knees. But adopting a “drops in an ocean” attitude about virtually any ethical scenario will no doubt leave a person simply going along with the status quo.

  32. There’s also the question of preaching with the example, which is much more effective than preaching with a sermon. If I don’t meat, others may follow my example. They are unlikely to give up eating meat if I preach about it, without doing it myself. Do it with a smile, politely explain why you don’t eat meat, and others (not everyone of course) will at least consider not eating meat as a serious option.

  33. I am not quite clear why Amos, Wayne Yuen, and presumably James Garvey decided to renounce the promptings of their evolutionary background and become vegetarians and do their decisions embrace the whole of the animal kingdom? Were their decisions made because they did not like meat, or notwithstanding liking it, they stopped consuming it due to the underlying cruelty to animals.

    If you do not like meat then by all means do not eat it. If you like it and feel it necessary on health grounds then eat it.

    If the meat eater has a problem concerning cruelty to animals, which I agree does exist, then vegetarianism is I am sure, the slowest and least effective remedy, probably doomed to failure. Far better be it to turn one’s efforts directly and actively on to reducing the cruelty the animal suffers before its dispatch.

    I have wondered during the course of these discussions if there is a beneficial psychological component associated with eating meat. I always somehow feel physically and mentally, “buoyed up” after a good beef steak, notwithstanding the knowledge that possibly cruelty, of which I do not approve, has ensued before it reaches my plate.

  34. Don: I’m sure that you’re familiar with the word “boycott”.
    Refusal to eat meat is an individual decision, but if enough people refuse to do so, it will effectively be a boycott of the meat industry, which will either run them out of business or force them to treat animals in a less cruel and exploitative manner. As to evolution, it explains everything, doesn’t it?
    Since everything we do is in some sense the product of evolution, then vegetarianism must be too. And since everything we do, be it good or bad, is in some sense the product of evolution, ethics is precisely the discipline of determining which evolutionary behaviors are good and which are bad.

  35. OUR TEETH ARE OMNIVOROUS IN DESIGN.
    OUR BRAIN ALLOTS US REASON, TO CHOOSE WHAT WE EAT. THE REST IS A QUESTION OF YOUR MORALS.
    ABATTOIRS AND SLAUGHTERHOUSES ARE SUCH, COLD, COLD, DARK PLACES. CONSIDER WHAT YOUR DOING… KARMA MIGHT DO YOU, DARK.

  36. Amos: I do not have a problem with vegetarianism in itself nor with a balanced diet containing some meat. My only real problem is being a vegetarian solely on the grounds that cruelty to animals exists in the meat trade. In my opinion this cruelty is what needs to be confronted head on and vegetarianism on its own lacks the clout to get down to this problem quickly and effectively. You need presumably to convert many millions of existing meat eaters who, notwithstanding all your arguments, continue to regard meat eating as a normal innate propensity. All this time the animals continue to suffer and vegetarian or not we should all take more positive steps to address this cruelty directly.

    I agree that vegetarianism is probably a product of evolution and I am wondering what random genetic mutation gave rise to it. Yes I know it is not quite that simple, in fact it may be on reflection memetic rather than genetic. Whatever the case, if vegetarianism confers better survival value than meat eating and especially if it is genetic, then all your problems will be solved.

    I prefer to eat fish the reason being that the Japanese on a high fish diet live longer and suffer far less from coronary heart disease. I still hate to see fish in respiratory death throws when hauled from the depths of the sea. What to do about that I have no idea. I do know however I need Omega3 in my system for a healthy heart and fish provide this in abundance and life for any living organism is at bottom, about survival, the mainstay of evolution.

  37. One of the arguments I have seen here for meat eating is that meat tastes better. Let me tell you this. Americans and the people in the west simply do not know how to cook delicious veg food.

    I am from India and am a vegetarian. In India, we have thousands of varieties of tasty veg foods. I tried eating meat a few times and each time I thought it was too bland.

  38. I’m surprised that this hasn’t appeared more often in people’s comments, save (I think) for Jonathan’s above, but isn’t the term ‘suffering’ (or ‘cruelty’) being used in an assumed blanket sense? Is there good reason to quantify the suffering of a non-human animal in the way we would a human? I’m not convinced there is.

    Sentimentally I would be distressed by seeing a suffering animal, and similarly would refuse to eat chimpanzee, or dog, perhaps, because of the level of affection and intelligence they seem to display (as opposed to cows or fish, for example). But I don’t totally trust this emotional reaction; I think intellectually if animals don’t possess consciousness like humans then it isn’t far wrong to see their suffering – ie the physical reactions to pain, confinement etc. – purely as biological mechanisms, different from pain for a conscious being. Is the animal really feeling the pain in the way we do, as an abstract sensation seemingly above the body’s own physical reactions? I don’t want to sound callous, but I’m not convinced arguments for animal welfare even make sense unless this issue is more clearly defined.

    Similarly, to follow on James’s point, it does seem odd to me to be concerned about the welfare of an animal while it is alive but have no issues with killing it for consumption – what sort of being has the right not to suffer but not to still be bred for slaughter? It seems a little inconsistent to me.

    There are still plenty of other reasons to take up vegetarianism – health issues for one – and I think there is an argument to be had for refraining from all meat consumption ‘just in case’, while science makes more advances in the understanding of consciousness, but I still feel most people don’t even stop to consider what it means for an animal to ‘suffer’, and assume it is equivalent to human suffering.

  39. Dave J L:
    Some interesting points are raised here, which I do think deserve consideration. One of my post grad dissertations dealt with the question of conscious states in animals. It finally all boiled down to stating that conscious states peculiar to the animal, do exist. However there is something it is like to be an animal and something it is like to be a human and one will never be able to experience conscious states across the species, other than one’s own, conscious state. I am sure however that whatever the organism, its conscious state has evolved, and accordingly functions in its survival. In this connection it seems reasonable to assume that there are substantial similarities between ourselves and other animals. The phenomenological consciousness of physical pain being one. What would be the point of testing analgesics on rats if the assumption were not made that they are valid models for human pain.

    I think that the psychological prospect of impending death by execution after a period of torture is probably far worse for a human than an animal, which may not have the cognitive acumen to make and dwell on this this prospect. However animals certainly can suffer psychological trauma. We are all familiar with case of the ill treated dog, which cowers and trembles in the presence of its tormentor. If I accidentally tread on my cat’s paw she screams loudly shaking the injured limb and regarding me with apprehension and her ears back. This is a similar reaction a human might make whose friend for no reason suddenly slaps him in the face. There is however far better and vast empirical evidence for animal consciousness than this somewhat anthropomorphic example.

    I am sure there are substantial similarities in both animal and human distress and if this can be reduced or even eliminated in the preparation of animals for human consumption, then the problem must be addressed.

  40. I will stop eating meat if everyone else agrees to stop eating meat. Otherwise, it seems to me it is a general social norm to eat meat and I will not be defending that social norm.

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