Field Deaths in Plant Agriculture

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 31 (4):409-428 (2018)
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Abstract

We know that animals are harmed in plant production. Unfortunately, though, we know very little about the scale of the problem. This matters for two reasons. First, we can’t decide how many resources to devote to the problem without a better sense of its scope. Second, this information shortage throws a wrench in arguments for veganism, since it’s always possible that a diet that contains animal products is complicit in fewer deaths than a diet that avoids them. In this paper, then, we have two aims: first, we want to collect and analyze all the available information about animal death associated with plant agriculture; second, we try to show just how difficult it’s to come up with a plausible estimate of how many animals are killed by plant agriculture, and not just because of a lack of empirical information. Additionally, we show that there are significant philosophical questions associated with interpreting the available data—questions such that different answers generate dramatically different estimates of the scope of the problem. Finally, we document current trends in plant agriculture that cause little or no collateral harm to animals, trends which suggest that field animal deaths are a historically contingent problem that in future may be reduced or eliminated altogether.

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Author Profiles

Andy Lamey
University of California, San Diego
Bob Fischer
Texas State University

Citations of this work

Veganism and Children: Physical and Social Well-Being.Marcus William Hunt - 2019 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 32 (2):269-291.
Veganism, Animal Welfare, and Causal Impotence.Samuel Kahn - 2020 - Journal of Animal Ethics 10 (2):161-176.
The Freegan Challenge to Veganism.Bob Fischer & Josh Milburn - 2021 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 34 (3):1-19.

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References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Animal Liberation.Peter Singer (ed.) - 1977 - Avon Books.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
The Case for Animal Rights.Tom Regan - 2004 - Univ of California Press.

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