In Defense of Eating Meat


Authors
Tim Hsiao
Grantham University
Abstract
Some arguments for moral vegetarianism proceed by appealing to widely held beliefs about the immorality of causing unjustified pain. Combined with the claim that meat is not needed for our nourishment and that killing animals for this reason causes them unjustified pain, they yield the conclusion that eating meat is immoral. However, what counts as a good enough reason for causing pain will depend largely on what we think about the moral status of animals. Implicit in these arguments is the claim that sentience is sufficient for having moral status. These arguments, however, fail to specify the conceptual connection between the two. I argue in this paper that sentience is not sufficient for moral status. Thus, although animals experience pain as it is physically bad, their experience of it is not in itself morally bad. They are harmed in feeling pain, but this harm is not of a moral kind. This distinction parallels the more familiar distinction between moral and non-moral goods. When considered, this significantly mitigates the force of sentience-based arguments for moral vegetarianism. Since animals lack moral status, it is not wrong to eat meat, even if this is not essential to nutrition.
Keywords Animal ethics  Vegetarianism  Moral status  Sentience
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DOI 10.1007/s10806-015-9534-2
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References found in this work BETA

Principles of Biomedical Ethics.Tom L. Beauchamp - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Natural Law and Natural Rights.John Finnis - 1979 - Oxford University Press.
Morality: Its Nature and Justification.Bernard Gert - 1998 - Oxford University Press.
Puppies, Pigs, and People: Eating Meat and Marginal Cases.Alastair Norcross - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):229–245.
Good and Evil.Peter Geach - 1956 - Analysis 17 (2):33 - 42.

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Citations of this work BETA

On a Failed Defense of Factory Farming.Stephen Puryear, Stijn Bruers & László Erdős - 2017 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 30 (2):311-323.
The Problem with Person‐Rearing Accounts of Moral Status.Travis Timmerman & Bob Fischer - 2019 - Thought: A Journal of Philosophy 8 (2):119-128.
Industrial Farming is Not Cruel to Animals.Timothy Hsiao - 2017 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 30 (1):37-54.
Hsiao on the Moral Status of Animals: Two Simple Responses.Timothy Perrine - 2019 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 32 (5):927-933.
Sentience, Rationality, and Moral Status: A Further Reply to Hsiao.Stephen Puryear - 2016 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 29 (4):697-704.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations

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