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. (shrink)
It is common for conservationists to refer to non-native species that have undesirable impacts on humans as “invasive”. We argue that the classification of any species as “invasive” constitutes wrongful discrimination. Moreover, we argue that its being wrong to categorize a species as invasive is perfectly compatible with it being morally permissible to kill animals—assuming that conservationists “kill equally”. It simply is not compatible with the double standard that conservationists tend to employ in their decisions about who lives and who (...) dies. (shrink)
Agnieszka Jaworska and Julie Tannenbaum recently developed the ingenious and novel person‐rearing account of moral status, which preserves the commonsense judgment that humans have a higher moral status than nonhuman animals. It aims to vindicate speciesist judgments while avoiding the problems typically associated with speciesist views. We argue, however, that there is good reason to reject person‐rearing views. Person‐rearing views have to be coupled with an account of flourishing, which will (according to Jaworska and Tannenbaum) be either a species norm (...) or an intrinsic potential account of flourishing. As we show, however, person‐rearing accounts generate extremely implausible consequences when combined with the accounts of flourishing Jaworska and Tannenbaum need for the purposes of their view. (shrink)
What can be said in favor of consuming animal products? This chapter surveys the options, with special focus on it attempts to exploit pro-vegan principles for anti-vegan ends. Utilitarian, rights-based, contractualist, and agrarian proposals are explored, as well as some recent arguments that attempt to revive a form of speciesism. Ultimately, the chapter considers how such arguments might inform a broad case for consuming animal products—that is, one that might earn respect from those in a variety of moral camps—and it (...) suggests that there may be good reasons to eat roadkill, bugs, bivalves, in vitro meat, animal products that will be wasted, and the bodies and byproducts of animals that live full, pleasant lives. (shrink)
According to modal empiricism, our justification for believing possibility and necessity claims is a posteriori. That is, experience does not merely play an enabling role in modal justification; it isn’t simply that experience explains how, say, we acquire the relevant concepts. Rather, the view is that modal claims answer to the tribunal of experience in roughly the way that claims about quarks and quails answer to it. One serious objection to modal empiricism is the problem of empirical conservativeness: it doesn’t (...) seem that experience can distinguish between modal claims. And if experience can’t manage that, it’s hard to see how it can provide evidence for one claim over the other. So if modal empiricism is true, we ought to be modal skeptics. On the assumption that we shouldn’t be modal skeptics, we should reject modal empiricism. I have two aims here: first, to reply to this objection to modal empiricism; second, to sketch a modal epistemology that fits with the reply I offer. (shrink)
Entomophagy—eating insects—is getting a lot of attention these days. However, strict vegans are often uncomfortable with entomophagy based on some version of the precautionary principle: if you aren’t sure that a being isn’t sentient, then you should treat it as though it is. But not only do precautionary principle-based arguments against entomophagy fail, they seem to support the opposite conclusion: strict vegans ought to eat bugs.
This collection highlights the new trend away from rationalism and toward empiricism in the epistemology of modality. Accordingly, the book represents a wide range of positions on the empirical sources of modal knowledge. Readers will find an introduction that surveys the field and provides a brief overview of the work, which progresses from empirically-sensitive rationalist accounts to fully empiricist accounts of modal knowledge. Early chapters focus on challenges to rationalist theories, essence-based approaches to modal knowledge, and the prospects for naturalizing (...) modal epistemology. The middle chapters present positive accounts that reject rationalism, but which stop short of advocating exclusive appeal to empirical sources of modal knowledge. The final chapters mark a transition toward exclusive reliance on empirical sources of modal knowledge. They explore ways of making similarity-based, analogical, inductive, and abductive arguments for modal claims based on empirical information. Modal epistemology is coming into its own as a field, and this book has the potential to anchor a new research agenda. (shrink)
We have some justified beliefs about modal matters. A modal epistemology should explain what’s involved in our having that justification. Given that we’re realists about modality, how should we expect that explanation to go? In the first part of this essay, I suggest an answer to this question based on an analogy with games. Then, I outline a modal epistemology that fits with that answer. According to a theory-based epistemology of modality, you justifiably believe that p if you justifiably believe (...) a theory that says that p and you believe p on the basis of that theory. (shrink)
We should disassociate ourselves from wrongdoing. If Hobby Lobby is against LGBTQ rights, we shouldn’t shop there. If Old Navy sources their clothing from sweatshops, we shouldn’t buy them. If animals are treated terribly in factory farms, we shouldn’t eat the meat, eggs, and dairy products that come from them. Let’s call these disassociation intuitions. What explains the existence and force of disassociation intuitions? And based on that explanation, are they intuitions worth taking seriously? In other words, depending on the (...) etiology of these intuitions, should we accept that you ought to dissociate yourself from wrongdoing? Our aim here is to outline a hypothesis that would, if true, answer the first question, and which suggests a way to vindicate some disassociation intuitions as morally correct. (shrink)
Effective altruists call us to apply evidence-based reasoning to maximize the effectiveness of charitable giving. In particular, effective altruists assess causes in terms of their scope, neglectedness, and tractability, and then recommend devoting resources to the cause that scores best on these criteria. So far, effective altruists concerned with animal suffering have seen these criteria as supporting interventions that improve the lives of layer hens, and they now seem to think that these criteria support directing efforts toward broilers. In this (...) paper, however, we argue that the effective altruist framework commits animal advocates to focus at least much attention--if not more--on fish. (shrink)
Suppose that animals have rights. If so, may you go down to your local farm store, buy some chicks, raise them in your backyard, and eat their eggs? You wouldn't think so. But we argue, to the contrary, that you may. Just as there are circumstances in which it's permissible to liberate a slave, even if that means paying into a corrupt system, so there are circumstances in which it's permissible to liberate chickens by buying them. Moreover, we contend that (...) restrictions on freedom of movement can be appropriate for chickens, but not humans, because of the obvious differences between the interests of healthy, adult humans versus those of chickens who have been bred for human use. We also argue that egg consumption is permissible based on the plausible assumption that no one's rights are violated in their consumption, and so while there may sometimes be morally preferable uses for eggs, you do nothing unjust in eating them. If we're right, then the rights view doesn't imply that veganism is obligatory; rather, it implies that the constraints on how we source animal products, though highly demanding, are not so demanding that they can't be met. (shrink)
Arguments for veganism don’t make many vegans, or even many who think they ought to be vegans, at least when they’re written by philosophers. Others — such as the one by Jonathan Safran Foer — seem to do a bit better. Why? To answer this question, I sketch a theory of ordinary moral argumentation that highlights the importance of meaning-based considerations in arguing that people ought to act in ways that deviate from normal expectations for behaviour. In particular, I outline (...) an eclectic theory, where we draw on a variety of moral frameworks and don’t assume that morality is generally overriding. I suggest that meaning-based considerations help us sort through the array of reasons available to us, as well as explain why, in a particular case, what we ought to do morally is what we ought to do all things considered. (shrink)
In a world of industralized farming and feed lots, is eating meat ever a morally responsible choice? Is eating organic or free range sufficient to change the moral equation? Is there a moral cost in not eating meat? As billions of animals continue to be raised and killed by human beings for human consumption, affecting the significance and urgency in answering these questions grow. This volume collects twelve new essays by leading moral philosophers who address the difficult questions surrounding meat (...) eating by examining various implications and consequences of our food choices. Some argue for the moral permissibility of eating meat by suggesting views such as farm animals would not exist and flourish otherwise, and the painless death that awaits is no loss to them. Others consider more specific examples like whether buying french fries at McDonalds is just as problematic as ordering a Big Mac due to the action's indirect support of a major purveyor of meat. The Moral Complexities of Eating Meat is a stimulating contribution to the ongoing debate on meat consumption and actively challenges readers to reevlaute their stand on food and animal ethics. (shrink)
There are many modal epistemologies available to us. Which should we endorse? According to Bob Hale, we can start to answer this question by examining the architecture of modal knowledge. That is, we can try to decide between the following claims: knowing that p is possible is essentially a matter of having a well-founded belief that there are no conflicting necessities—a necessity-based approach—and knowing that p is necessary is essentially a matter of having a well-founded belief that there are no (...) conflicting possibilities—a possibility-based approach. Hale argues for the first of these claims, but I contend that his arguments fail. However, it doesn't follow that we should endorse a possibility-based approach. I repurpose Hale's arguments to show those who would endorse possibility-based approaches need to say more about our modal knowledge concerning logic and mathematics; if they can't, then they ought to endorse a hybrid modal epistemology that doesn't give priority to one modality across the board. Additionally, those who endorse possibility-based views may be committed to Peter van Inwagen's modal skepticism. (shrink)
Faced with the choice between supporting industrial plant agriculture and hunting, Tom Regan’s rights view can be plausibly developed in a way that permits a form of hunting we call “dignitarian.” To motivate this claim, we begin by showing how the empirical literature on animal deaths in plant agriculture suggests that a non-trivial amount of hunting would not add to animal harm. We discuss how Tom Regan’s miniride principle appears to morally permit hunting in that case, and we address recent (...) objections by Jason Hanna to environmentally-based culling that may be seen to speak against this conclusion. We then turn to dignity, which is especially salient in scenarios where harm is necessary or justifiable. We situate “dignitarian” hunting within a larger framework of adversarial ethics, and argue that dignitarian hunting gives animals a more dignified death than the alternatives endemic to large-scale plant agriculture, and so is permissible based on the kinds of principles that Regan endorses. Indeed, dignitarian hunting may actually fit better with Regan’s widely endorsed animal rights framework than the practice of many vegans, and should only be rejected if we’re just as willing to condemn supporting conventional plant agriculture. (shrink)
Gary Francione is an abolitionist: he maintains that we ought to abolish the institutions and practices that support the exploitation of animals. He also believes that veganism is the “moral baseline” — that is, he thinks it’s morally required of nearly everyone in the developed world, and many beyond it. Luis Cordeiro-Rodrigues claims that abolitionism is guilty of racism, albeit “racism without racists.” I contend that his arguments for this conclusion aren’t successful.
C. E. Abbate (2019) argues that, under certain conditions, cat guardians have a moral duty to allow their feline companions to roam freely outdoors. She contends that outdoor access is crucial to feline flourishing, which means that, in general, to keep cats indoors permanently is to harm them. She grants that, in principle, we could justify preventing cats from roaming based on the fact that some cats kill wildlife. However, she points out that not all cats are guilty of this (...) charge, and she argues that, in any case, cats don’t cause more harm to wildlife—and may actually cause less—than those animals would suffer anyway. I criticize both of these replies, arguing that cat guardians have a responsibility not to let their cats harm wildlife, that cat guardians usually don’t know whether their cats kill wildlife, and that, on balance, cat-caused harms to wildlife may well outweigh the harms that cats suffer when confined. (shrink)
This monograph articulates and defends a theory-based epistemology of modality (TEM). According to TEM, someone justifiably believe an interesting modal claim if and only if (a) she justifiably believes a theory according to which that claim is true, (b) she believes that claim on the basis of that theory, and (c) she has no defeaters for her belief in that claim. The book has two parts. In the first, the author motivates TEM, sets out the view in detail, and defends (...) it against a number of objections. In the second, the author considers whether TEM is worth accepting. To argue that it is, the author sets out criteria for choosing between modal epistemologies, concluding that TEM has a number of important virtues. However, the author also concedes that TEM is cautious: it probably implies that we are not justified in believing some interesting modal claims that we might take ourselves to be justified in believing. This raises a question about TEM's relationship to Peter van Inwagen's modal skepticism, which the author explores in detail. As it turns out, TEM offers a better route to modal skepticism than the one that van Inwagen provides. But rather than being a liability, the author argues that this is a further advantage of the view. Moreover, he argues that other popular modal epistemologies do not fare better: they cannot easily secure more extensive modal justification than TEM. The book concludes by clarifying TEM’s relationship to the other modal epistemologies on offer, contending that TEM need not be a rival to those views, but can instead be a supplement to them. (shrink)
We tend not to blame those who eat meat--even if they are blameworthy for so doing. Some think that this is a moral failure on the part of vegetarians and vegans. My aim here, however, is to argue that this isn't so. In short, I argue that if it would be unreasonable to demand that someone behave in a particular way, then we shouldn’t blame her for failing to behave in that way. But it would be unreasonable to demand that (...) someone abstain from eating meat. So, we shouldn’t blame her for eating meat. (shrink)
Let’s make three assumptions. First, we shouldn’t support factory farms. Second, if animal-friendly agriculture lives up to its name—that is, if animals live good lives (largely free of pain, able to engage in species-specific behaviors, etc.) and are slaughtered in a way that minimizes suffering—then there is nothing intrinsically wrong with killing them for food. Third, animal-friendly agriculture does, in fact, live up to its name. Given these assumptions, it might seem difficult to criticize individuals who source their animal products (...) from “animal-friendly agricultural operations. However, I argue that they should drastically reduce their support for animal-friendly agriculture because it isn’t scalable—i.e., if we were to switch to that form of agriculture, most people would be priced out of its products. I say that it’s wrong to support a solution to a moral problem without sharing its costs. (shrink)
Ed Gein was a serial killer, grave robber, and body snatcher who made a lampshade from human skin. Now consider the detective who found that lampshade. Let's suppose that he would never want to own it; however, he does find that he wants a synthetic one just like it – a perfect replica. We assume that there is something morally problematic about the detective having such a replica. We then argue that, given as much, we can reach the surprising conclusion (...) that it's morally problematic to consume realistic fake-meat products. After explaining why we might the detective's replica lampshade morally problematic, we clarify the analogy between the replica and fake meat products. Then, we defend it against a number of objections, the most notable one being we can sever any association between fake meat and the real stuff without moral cost. We conclude by pointing out that our argument generalises: if it works, then there is something morally problematic about many fake animal products, including fake leather and fur. (shrink)
Its difficult to process the number of fish killed annually by the fishing industry. Nevertheless, governments are encouraging people to eat even more fishsee, e.g., the USDA dietary guidelinesand although animal advocates certainly dont concur with this advice, they generally havent prioritized fish in their lobbying efforts. Given the influence of utilitarianism on animal advocacy, the odds are good that this is motivated by an expected utility calculation. For those concerned about fish, is there any way to defend them against (...) this calculation? I argue for an affirmative answer: once you factor in an asymmetry between fishing and terrestrial animal agriculture, the expected utility calculation comes out in favor of devoting resources to reducing fishing. (shrink)
If Klein & Barron are right, then insects may well be able to feel pain. If they can, then the standard approach to animal ethics generates some implausible results. Philosophers need to develop alternatives to this framework to avoid them.
Some people feel that they should boycott Israel or their local anti-LGBTQ bakery, despite it being difficult to establish these obligations based on standard consequentialist or deontic considerations. I develop a framework on which such self-reports are accurate: I propose that we see some boycotting as akin to a public mourning practice, such as the Jewish tradition of sitting shiva. Mourning practices are complex and socially recognized ways of honoring the dead, as well as expressing and directing the range of (...) emotions we have in the face of loss. Likewise, I suggest that some boycotts are a way of standing in solidarity with victims, as well as expressing and giving direction to our reactive attitudes in the face of injustice. And just as your obligations to mourn are grounded in community membership and your relationships with others, I say the same about your obligations to participate in those boycotts. (shrink)
We show that Lewis’s modal realism, and his serviceability-based argument for it, cohere with his epistemological contextualism. Modal realism explains why serviceability-based reasoning in metaphysics might be reliable, while Lewis’s contextualism explains why Lewis can properly ignore the possibility that serviceability isn’t reliable, at least when doing metaphysics. This is because Lewis’s contextualism includes a commitment to a kind of pragmatic encroachment, so that whether a subject knows can depend on how much is at stake with respect to whether the (...) belief is true or false. Accordingly, we suggest that Lewis can count as knowing that serviceability is a reliable guide to truth in metaphysics, since the stakes are generally low there, and so can be justified in believing that modal realism is true based on its serviceability. (shrink)
One way to defend humane animal agriculture is to insist that the deaths of animals aren’t bad for them. Christopher Belshaw has argued for this position in the most detail, maintaining that death is only bad when it frustrates categorical desires, which he thinks animals lack. We are prepared to grant his account of the badness of death, but we are skeptical of the claim that animals don’t have categorical desires. We contend that Belshaw’s argument against the badness of animal (...) death relies on overly simplistic thought experiments and isn’t sufficiently careful in how it attributes mental states to animals. We present some cases of animal behavior from recent work on animal cognition that are most plausibly understood as spurred by categorical desires and we show how an independently plausible account of mental content—Ruth Millikan’s teleosemantics—supports our attribution of categorical desires in those cases. We end by arguing that even if you’re wary of our reliance on teleosemantics, you should still accept it due to considerations about moral risk. (shrink)
If David Lewis's modal realism is true, then there are many, many people. According to Mark Heller, this is bad news. He takes modal realism (MR) to imply that "there are at least some cases in which it is permissible to let drowning children drown when it would be easy to save them." But since he holds the reasonable view that this is never permissible, he thinks that MR is false. Here, I argue that Lewis needn't be troubled by this (...) objection, and that it provides no reason to reject MR for those who share Lewis's moral outlook. Moreover, I argue that disagreement with common sense needn't be severe if we can show both (a) that there's a sense in which common sense is correct and (b) we have little reason to care about the sense in which common sense is mistaken. (shrink)
There is public support in the United States and Europe for accounting for animal welfare in national policies on food and agriculture. Although an emerging body of research has measured animals’ capacity to suffer, there has been no specific attempt to analyze how this information is interpreted by the public or how exactly it should be reflected in policy. The aim of this study was to quantify Americans’ preferences about farming methods and the suffering they impose on different species to (...) generate a metric for weighing the trade-offs between different approaches of promoting animal welfare. A survey of 502 residents of the United States was implemented using the online platform Mechanical Turk. Using respondent data, we developed the species-adjusted measure of suffering-years, an analogue of the disability-adjusted life year, to calculate the suffering endured under different farming conditions by cattle, pigs, and chickens, the three most commonly consumed animals. Nearly one-third of respondents reported that they believed animal suffering should be taken into account to a degree equal to or above human suffering. The 2016 suffering burden in the United States according to two tested conditions was approximately 66 million SAMYs for pigs, 156 million SAMYs for cattle, and 1.3 billion SAMYs for chickens. This calculation lends early guidance for efforts to reduce animal suffering, demonstrating that to address the highest burden policymakers should focus first on improving conditions for chickens. (shrink)
Some people have moral objections to insect consumption. After explaining the philosophical motivations for such objections, I discuss three of them, suggesting potential replies. The first is that insect consumption ignores the precautionary principle, which we can gloss here as “Don’t know, don’t farm.” In other words, while there might be evidence that insects are not conscious, we do not know that they are not; so, we should not take the moral risk associated with killing them en masse. The second (...) concern is driven by a different way of assessing moral risk — namely, by calculating expected utility. The short version: even if it is incredibly unlikely that insects are conscious, farming them involves harming so many of them that it is better simply to grow plants instead. The third concern is about whether insects live “net negative lives,” with more pain than pleasure. The thought is that if they do, then their lives are not worth living overall, in which case it is wrong to bring them into existence. I conclude by considering the prospects for strategic alliances between animal advocates and those who promote insect consumption, in the even that they are unable to resolve their moral disagreements. (shrink)
If many wild animals have net negative lives, then we have to consider how likely it is that the good for animals, considered as individuals, aligns with the good for species, or the climate, or the preservation of wild spaces.
Persson and Savulescu are advocates for moral bioenhancement—i.e., using drug treatments and genetic engineering to enhance our core moral dispositions. Among other things, they suggest that moral bioenhancement would improve how we treat animals. My goal here is to argue that we have little reason to think that moral bioenhancement will help in this regard. What’s more, it may make things worse. This is because there are cognitive mechanisms that lead us to discount animal interests relative to human interests—mechanisms not (...) overridden by increased altruism and a stronger sense of justice—and there are deep tensions between the interests of humans and animals that moral bioenhancement may well exacerbate. (shrink)
Realists about modality offer an attractive semantics for modal discourse in terms of possible worlds, but standard accounts of the worlds—as properties, propositions, or causally-isolated concreta—invoke entities with which we can’t interact. If realism is true, how can we know anything about modal matters? Let's call this "the Benacerraf Problem." I suggest that C. I. Lewis has an intriguing answer to it. Given that we’re willing to disentangle some of Lewis’s insights from his phenomenalism, we can take the following line. (...) If the Benacerraf Problem is a genuine one, then it threatens all knowledge—not just modal knowledge. But then it leads to a general and implausible form of skepticism, not a limited and more plausible debunking argument. Hence, whatever we’re willing to say about skepticism we should say about the Benacerraf Problem. (shrink)
Based on the claim that animals have rights, Tom Regan ultimately endorses some radical conclusions: we ought to be vegans; it’s wrong to wear leather; we shouldn’t care about conserving species, but about respecting the rights of individual animals; etc. For many, these conclusions are unbelievable, and incredulous stares abound. Incredulous stares are not arguments, but they do force us to consider whether it might be reasonable for some people to reject Regan’s conclusions based on their considered beliefs. My aim (...) here is to argue that it is. The argument is based on an analogy between Regan's defense of animal rights and David Lewis's defense of modal realism. In short, if it's reasonable to reject modal realism based on its incredible implications, then it’s probably reasonable to reject the thesis that animals have rights, and to instead accept a moral theory that, while much less elegant, doesn’t require abandoning any of our Moorean beliefs. (shrink)
1. We argue that while the evidence does not show that insects are conscious, moral caution is still appropriate for researchers. 2. We propose a way to adapt the 3Rs framework to guide decision regarding insect collection, which calls for replacing, reducing, and refining the use of animals in research. 3. Specifically, we consider the use of Malaise traps for insect sampling, suggesting that their use should be posted publicly so that other researchers can make use of bycatch.
Many mainline Protestant communities want to be welcoming while preserving their identities; they want to be shaped by the central claims of the faith while making room for those who doubt. And crucially, they want to do this in a way that leads to vibrant, growing communities, where more and more people gather to worship, encourage one another, and live out the Gospel. How should the Episcopal Church—and other mainline Protestant denominations, insofar as they’re similar—try to achieve these goals? I (...) suggest that local churches borrow some resources from John Rawls’s Political Liberalism. On the view I outline, it’s valuable for local churches to see themselves as akin to political bodies composed of reasonable citizens. The idea, in essence, is that the relevant kind of reasonableness would make congregations more unified even while tolerating more diversity, and would accomplish all this without giving up their distinctly Christian identity. (shrink)
Universities regulate speech in various ways. How should we assess when such restrictions are justified, if they ever are? Here, we propose an answer to this question. In short, we argue that we should think about speech restrictions as being like acts of war, and so should approach their justification using just war theory. We also make some suggestions about its implications. For instance, one of the jus ad bellum requirements for a just war is that you have a reasonable (...) hope of success; you shouldn’t enter or continue a war unless you’ve got good reason to think that your objectives are achievable. We offer some reasons to think that many speech restrictions fail to pass this test in our current political climate: we are too far from the kind of society that universities hope to create via speech restrictions, and in employing them, they only exacerbate the problems they’re trying to solve. (shrink)