Food Ethics 1 (4):online first (2018)

Authors
Abstract
When consumers choose to abstain from purchasing meat, they face some uncertainty about whether their decisions will have an impact on the number of animals raised and killed. Consequentialists have argued that this uncertainty should not dissuade consumers from a vegetarian diet because the “expected” impact, or average impact, will be predictable. Recently, however, critics have argued that the expected marginal impact of a consumer change is likely to be much smaller or more radically unpredictable than previously thought. This objection to the consequentialist case for vegetarianism is known as the “causal inefficacy” (or “causal impotence”) objection. In this paper, we argue that the inefficacy objection fails. First, we summarize the contours of the objection and the standard “expected impact” response to it. Second, we examine and rebut two contemporary attempts (by Mark Budolfson and Ted Warfield) to defeat the expected impact reply through alleged demonstrations of the inefficacy of abstaining from meat consumption. Third, we argue that there are good reasons to believe that single individual consumers—not just individual consumers taken as an aggregate—really do make a positive difference when they choose to abstain from meat consumption. Our case rests on three economic observations: (i) animal producers operate in a highly competitive environment, (ii) complex supply chains efficiently communicate some information about product demand, and (iii) consumers of plant-based meat alternatives have positive consumption spillover effects on other consumers.
Keywords causal inefficacy  causal impotence  expected impact  vegetarian  vegan  economics  animal agriculture  animal ethics  food ethics
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Do I Make a Difference?Shelly Kagan - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (2):105-141.
Puppies, Pigs, and People: Eating Meat and Marginal Cases.Alastair Norcross - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):229–245.
Consequentialism and the Problem of Collective Harm: A Reply to Kagan.Julia Nefsky - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (4):364-395.

View all 13 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Consumer Choice and Collective Impact.Julia Nefsky - 2018 - In Mark Budolfson, Tyler Doggett & Anne Barnhill (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Food Ethics. New York, USA: Oxford University Press. pp. 267-286.
Causal Inefficacy and Utilitarian Arguments Against the Consumption of Factory-Farmed Products.Moti Gorin - 2017 - Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 30 (4):585-594.
The Case Against Meat.Ben Bramble - 2015 - In Ben Bramble Bob Fischer (ed.), The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat. Oxford University Press.
The Inconsistent Vegetarian.Merle E. van der Kooi - 2010 - Society and Animals 18 (3):291-305.
Duty and the Beast: Should We Eat Meat in the Name of Animal Rights?Andy Lamey - 2019 - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Economic Consequences of Animal Rights Programs.James R. Simpson & Bernard E. Rollin - 1984 - Journal of Business Ethics 3 (3):215 - 225.
The Market for Animal Welfare.Jayson L. Lusk - 2011 - Agriculture and Human Values 28 (4):561-575.
Animals and Causal Impotence: A Deontological View.Blake Hereth - 2016 - Between the Species 19 (1):32-51.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2018-11-30

Total views
731 ( #5,651 of 2,325,680 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
327 ( #1,033 of 2,325,680 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes