26

Not a terribly philosophical answer here... Animals in the wild are actually quite efficient at resource utilisation. For example, a lion kills a zebra, the pride eats enough food for them to last for 2-3 more days without any other food. The scraps and bits the lions don't want to eat get eaten by smaller animals (and so on until literally there's nothing ...


21

I think that one can find a rational justification for the position, if one is willing to accept certain basic principles. Let us start from the standpoint of Kant's second formulation of the Categorical Imperative (from the Groundwork of a Metaphysics of Morals) which reads: Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the ...


20

I'll attempt to work within the lens of utilitarianism and against the idea that we hold any obligation: The possible implementations of such a plan to suppress the occurrence of hunting and violence (e.g. to grow meat in a lab or lock up all the tigers) in nature would lead to unnecessary exploitation and disturbance of the environment, where nature does a ...


18

There are multiple reasons one might want to preserve animals from going extinct, not all philosophically based. Psychological People tend to value what is scarce. (Whole books have been written on this.) A nearly-extinct animal is as scarce as you can get without being nonexistent: not only are there extremely few, but there is little hope of getting it ...


10

The Naturalistic Fallacy is defined as making an argument based on what is naturally the case, and is closely related to the is-ought problem. Your example has elements of both. The argument can be phrased like this: Since a monkey's natural environment is the jungle, monkeys all ought to live in the jungle. Both the Naturalistic Fallacy and the is-ought ...


9

Gary Francione is a strong critic of the idea that humans can own animals - a master-slave relationship that you may want to read about in his works. Animal Rights and Wrongs, by Roger Scruton, approaches the idea from a legal (social contract) point of view. In his Discourses, Descartes established the idea that animals are automatons; this was perhaps the ...


8

There is a large debate about the moral status of animals that is enlarged by the way philosophers have positioned the dialogue. Generally, the debate may be reorganized along the following lines: is there something unique or distinctive about humans that allows humans to have moral rights that are denied to nonhumans based on that distinction? As several ...


8

"Animals do not participate in ethics" is simply wrong. See the work of Franz DeWaal on primates, they show an understanding of fairness, justice, care for others, all ethical considerations. A more logical approach would be to consider our ethics as that of a specific social species, a system which has evolved to promote our survival in our particular niche ...


6

Firstly, what is punishable by law and what is moral are two very different things, and it would be a mistake to conflate the two. While someone may not go to jail for killing an animal, this does not thereby guarantee that it is morally permissible to kill an animal. Going in the other direction, it may be illegal to consume certain substances (for instance)...


6

Here's a selection I've enjoyed that covers the breadth of the field (most generally, "Animal rights"): All Animals Are Equal by Peter Singer The Case for Animal Rights by Tom Regan Moral Vegetarianism and the Argument from Pain and Suffering by R. G. Frey The Case for the Use of Animals in Biomedical Research by Carl Cohen Human and Animal Rights Compared ...


5

Disclaimer: Some (many?) of the things I wrote below may not reflect my personal views on the matter. However, I wrote all this thinking like the best vegan I could be. under no circumstance would they eat an animal or use an animal product (say, for clothing). This is nonsensical, right? I tend to think it is nonsensical, primarily because they can ...


5

I don't think that it is necessary to motivate your choice from 'how important' human lives are. But from the fact that humans are responsible for other humans, in a different way from the way they are responsible for other animals. Species naturally advance their own genes. By the standards of many biological theories, that is what makes a species a ...


5

Strictly utalitarian, you want to maximize the well-being of all. From this perspective, the misfortune of a few prey is easily outweighted by the advantages of the many. In addition to the predators, there are other advantages to the ecosystem that increase the well-being of many animals, including the (other) prey. In the wild, predators tend to kill weak,...


4

Yes. In particular, the philosophy of the Australian moral philosopher Peter Singer takes this point of view in some cases. He does not argue that, for example, any given pidgeon has a higher 'value' than all human beings but instead that there is a sliding scale where it is possible in some cases for animals to have more worth than humans (essentially that ...


4

1) As a practicing lacto vegetarian for 35 years (no animal flesh or eggs but dairy OK) I believe there is no way one can be totally "pure", if that is the end in mind. One can look at the Jain sect in India; they sweep the sidewalk in front of them before walking and strain their water before drinking lest the injure even the tiniest life. I find these ...


4

A couple of years ago the New York Times solicited mini-essays on this very topic, and this was my submission (unfortunately, it was not selected for print): Is it ethical for human beings to eat meat? In order to consider this question, we need an moral framework capable of including both humans and animals; and that additionally matches our ethical ...


4

This isn't really an "answer"—just some contributing thoughts. If psychological circumstance counts as "rational," then maybe it's that some of us feel a kind of respect for (or fear of) permanent change. For example, people die, but people are born; you may lose someone you love, but you may also gain another in time. This isn't the case with ...


3

"Rights" are a rather problematic concept. Let us first consider whether humans have any rights, and if so, how they get them and what it means to have them. One way to proceed is to identify some characteristic of humans--possessing a rational will, let's say--and then try to deduce from that what behaviors are acceptable. This leads to efforts like Kant'...


3

Great question and for me, it points up one of the major confusions evidenced by the typical conservationist assertion that somehow, nature as we observe it in the recent centuries is in some type of 'balance', that is, before human intercession interrupts this 'natural' ecological normalcy. Species have come and gone in their multi-thousands upon thousands ...


2

The goal is to do the least amount of harm possible. The notion that if you cannot save everyone, you should save no one is ridiculous. The mere fact of you existing will cause someone else to suffer somehow, but intentionally causing suffering is completely different. Yes, a rabbit may have been killed by mistake in harvesting the crops to feed a vegan, but ...


2

Almost every choice you make could have some "irrational" part to it since not all causes and effects can be understood completely. There are arguments today for rejecting any animal food source that are rational for the pressure they put on producers. Your position could be motivated by pure empathy, physical or mental experience or even offensive denial. ...


2

IMO your "One could state that 3. is irrelevant", including the "value of human life stems not from the fact that a person is conscious", leads in the right direction. However, said value doesn't have to depend on existence of souls or any other religious justification. IMO respecting the value of human life is, eh, let's say "categorical imperative". The ...


2

I would claim that (3) is indeed irrelevant. Specifically, it is no foundation for postulating "animal rights", like the right to live. For, if this were so, we would be in a dilemma: Should we, for example, prevent wolves from feeding on caribou? Or change the diet of polar bears somehow? It turns out that we could do nothing to prevent animals from ...


2

In nearly all commonly accepted ethical and religious traditions, human life is considered intrinsically more valuable than animal life. However, there are significant exceptions. Most notably there's a school of Utilitarianism, dating back to Jeremy Bentham, and most closely associated in more recent times with Peter Singer, that holds human life to NOT ...


2

I think that perhaps the biggest point here is that chemically identical but ethically "clean" dairy products could be developed using humane methods, and this would allow consumption with no ethical ramifications. However, that isn't immediately viable or what you're asking, so I've attempted to address your sub-points more closely. a) To borrow from ...


2

First, I should warn that I'm not a vegetarian nor do I play one on TV. My wife is one however, and there are many different reasons people make this choice: ranging from not liking the taste of meat, health reasons, moral concerns (which could include religious reasons) about animal consumption or the treatment of animals who are later consumed, religious ...


2

These are some interesting questions. I'll start with the third one: Can an abstract construct such as a species even have rights of itself, like a right to survive (as a species)? Here you're importing a pretty strong assertion in the "abstract construct" language. There's a lot of different ways of parsing what a species is. On the one hand, it's a ...


2

To be clear, Norcross is not advocating the Doctrine of Double Effect (DDE). Norcross is a utilitarian, and utilitarians reject the DDE. He mentions the DDE only because there are other people who believe in it, and he wants to make the point that even if you believe in the DDE, it doesn't help the meat-eater. To answer the OP, if factory farming maximized ...


2

In Kant's ethics, the primary concern is whether an agent's actions accord with reason (understood in a universal sense). Thus, he is not generally concerned with the outcomes of our actions, and he saw certain acts as right or wrong in themselves, regardless of results. For him, actions are always wrong if they cause harm to rational beings. But Kant did ...


2

First off, I want to note that this is a good way to extend the concepts you're encountering elsewhere. Second, in contemporary philosophy, the word "Utilitarianism" is often used interchangeably with the word "Consequentialism." This is important because the classical definition of utilitarianism comes from Jeremy Bentham who defined it as the ...


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