Are we Ethically Justified in Killing Animals for Consumption?
Meat has been a major food for humans since the ancient ages when people lived in forests and hunted animals to get food and clothing from animal skin. In the modern world, the consumption of different animals, including wild animals, is embraced in most societies. However, there has been a heated debate on whether we are ethically justified in killing animals for consumption. The debate includes three viewpoints. The first viewpoint suggests that killing animals subjects them to suffering, which is why it is not ethically justifiable to kill animals for consumption. The second viewpoint suggests that killing animals for consumption can be ethically justifiable when they are killed in a humane way that does not subject them to suffering. The third viewpoint suggests that animals have no humanity or moral status, which is why it is ethically justifiable to kill them for consumption. Each of these viewpoints holds some truth that can be applied in concluding whether people should continue killing animals for consumption or not. I support the argument that we are ethically justified in killing animals for consumption as long as the killing eliminates the animal’s suffering.
According to Louise Antony, no morally good human being would allow suffering if he or she can prevent it unless there is a good reason for allowing the suffering (Rosen et al., 2018). Animals experience different forms of suffering such as disease, hostile weather conditions, thirst and malnutrition, parasitism, and psychological stress. Human beings can identify a suffering animal and take the necessary measures to eliminate the suffering. In some instances, they may be forced to kill the animal for consumption to eliminate its suffering. Such cases occur when an animal suffers from psychological stress because the animal would be hostile towards other animals and humans, thus posing a threat to them. Therefore, the ethical justification for killing an animal for consumption can only be supported when killing is the only option to help eliminate the animal’s suffering.
Antony also argues that no being is both morally good and omnipotent, and only omnipotent beings would always be able to prevent suffering (Rosen et al., 2018). Therefore, since human beings are not omnipotent, they may kill animals for consumption to meet their interests when there is no suffering to be prevented. For instance, domestic animal owners may feel justified in killing the animals for consumption because they have invested their time and money in taking care of them. Pulina (2020) argues that eating animal meat from domesticated animals is a priority for human well-being, and therefore, the moral interests of the human being prevail over the non-moral interests of the animal. Thus we may be ethically justified in killing animals for consumption when there is a mutually beneficial relationship between the animal and us during the animal’s lifetime.
Richard Taylor argues that the point of life for a living thing is life (Rosen et al., 2018). Therefore, killing a living thing eliminates its meaningfulness. Human beings’ lives may be considered more meaningful than animals, so their lives should be prioritized over animals’ lives. However, it is vital to ensure that we only kill animals that have reached the meaningless point of their existence based on how they are living. For instance, if an animal does not add value to the owner or other animals, it would be considered meaningless, thus justifying its killing. Therefore, the ethics of killing animals for consumption is regulated by the animal’s relational value for the owner and offspring.
Pulina, G. (2020). Ethical meat: Respect for farm animals. Animal Frontiers, 10(1), 34-38. https://doi.org/10.1093/af/vfz052
Rosen, G., Byrne, A., Cohen, J., & Shiffrin, S. V. (2018). The Norton Introduction to Philosophy (2nd ed.). W. W. Norton & Company.
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Choose one of the following two topics: (i) Are there Objective Ethical Truths?,
(ii) Are we Ethically Justified in Killing Animals for Consumption?, or (iii) In the Light of the Existence of Evil, is it Possible to Argue that God Exists? [At least two full pages; font: TNR 12; margins: 1.5; spacing: 1.] It is critical for you to receive a high grade that you justify your answers with a robust, convincing argument. To do this, you will have to carefully and critically discuss the corresponding readings (Martin, Taylor, or Antony’s respectively).
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