Three moral hints
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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A vegetarian argument: We should avoid meat not because we think that animals are like us but because most animals are very different from humans. Most animals are not persons: they think and feel but do not have thoughts and feelings about their thoughts and feelings. With persons the obligation to prevent suffering, and indeed the obligation to preserve life, can be over-ridden by mutual agreement. I'll risk my life and welfare to protect your children if you do the same for mine. And even when the agreement is not explicit a person is capable of understanding what might have been part of a necessary trade-off. But this is not possible with non-persons: their lives are not held together by anticipations of future experiences and understanding of past ones. There are no social contracts, no deals. So a modern agricultural economy in which meat is produced cheaply at the expense of suffering for animals cannot be justified by any benefits to us, or to the animals. Their suffering is simply suffering; it can't be balanced away.
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