Vegetarianism, Traditional Morality, and Moral Conservatism

Journal of Philosophical Research 32 (Supplement):39-48 (2007)
“Moral vegetarianism,” the doctrine that it is immoral to eat meat, is widely dismissed as eccentric. But I argue that moral vegetarianism is thoroughly conservative—it follows directly from two basic moral principles that nearly everyone already accepts. One is that it is morally wrong to cause unnecessary pain. The other is that if it is wrong in one case to do X, then it will also be wrong to do so in another, unless the two cases differ in some morally relevant respect. Since everyone agrees that it is wrong to kill humans for food,this principle entails that defenders of meat eating must find some morally relevant difference between eating humans and eating other animals if they are to justify their practice. I argue that this burden cannot be met. Finally, I offer four arguments against the claim that the moral permissibility of eating meat is intuitively evident
Keywords Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 1053-8364
DOI 10.5840/jpr_2007_1
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