I have a question. The case is: The production of meat places a relatively large amount of our natural resources.

I need to check for Rawls' justice whether this should be called a moral problem.

Can somebody help me?

  • This sounds like homework... That doesn't mean we wont or can't help you, but it does mean you should tell us what you've thought of so far...
    – virmaior
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 11:20
  • What does "The production of meat places a relatively large amount of our natural resources" mean? Places the resources where? Do you mean "uses a relatively large amount of our natural resources"?
    – Not_Here
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 11:47
  • Whether what should be called a moral problem? The question of whether we personally should eat meat, or whether meat production should be banned by the state, or whether farmers should no longer wish to produce meat? A moral problem under Rawls requires a definition of the society or social contract being proposed in order to assess it's attractiveness from the "original position".
    – user22791
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 7:41

1 Answer 1


As a Kantian (A necessary condition for a moral agent is rationality), Rawls does not think cows' lives matter. But he might have something to say about food ethics (the production and distribution of food for human consumption in the society).

The question is whether it is morally wrong to produce meat, given that the production of meat requires more resources than vegetables.

Rawls' system of just society is supported by several moral principles (axioms). Two principles are relevant to address the question: Pareto Principle and Difference Principle.

  1. Pareto Principle

Pareto Principle, a la Rawls, states that it is immoral to stay in the status quo when we can make someone better off without making anyone else worse off.

Under this principle, if someone is dying of hunger while someone else is eating Korean BBQ, the social arrangement of the society is immoral. The food production system of the society needs to be changed.

  1. Difference Principle

Difference Principle, a la Rawls, states that the difference in wealth among people is morally permissible (or recommended??) insofar as the inequality maximally benefits the least advantaged class. If Mr Gates makes billions of dollars and uses that money to assist the poor in the society, his wealth is morally justified.

Under this principle, there is no moral wrong when Mr.Gates eat Korean BBQ and the poor eat tofu.

  • Would a priests sodomy also be justified according to this Mr Gates morality? (As long as the priest also ,assist, the poor)
    – Neil Meyer
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 9:45
  • not a good counterexample due to Rawls' principle of the priority of the basic right Commented May 15, 2017 at 14:21

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