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Tuesday, September 30, 2003

I find it problematic that a lot of people claim there's somehow a utilitarian justification for being a vegetarian. A lot of the time, for those of you who are not familiar, the essential argument goes: Pain is bad, animals experience pain as a result of being slaughtered/kept in captivity, therefore the incidentals of factory farming as opposed to being a vegetable make eating meat morally impermissable.

The argument is just another in a long list of instances where people attribute behavior in animals which they can equate to humans as being caused by the same thing. The type of pain we would typically tend to say is worthy of moral consideration is that which a rational being has (definitionally) a measure of ability to understand the pain within a greater context. This is why we would pass moral judgements on things like stabbing someone, but not so much a person skinning his knee (or taking actions which increase the probability of doing so.) "Pain" is not the same when used in the context of a goldfish or amoeba as when used referring to people.

cranked out at 5:12 PM | |

 
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