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While I see no issue with the killing of animals, I feel that modern forms of meat production inflict far greater suffering than what would occur in nature. If animals are capable of feeling pain in the same way that humans do, shouldn’t we take this suffering into account?

asked Oct 11 '10 at 05:11

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edited Jan 26 '11 at 12:50

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

Animal suffering should be taken into account, in the sense that farmers shouldn't inflict any more suffering than is necessary to use animals for productive purposes. But morality exists to guide human beings in achieving our interests. How much suffering occurs in nature has no bearing whatsoever on how much pain a farmer should inflict on an animal. The standard has to be human life.

It's definitely true that all other things being equal, animal suffering is disvalue. And I think there could even be cases where, as a society grows richer, people--rational people--would become willing to pay a few cents more for beef if it meant less suffering for the animals. But the point is that animal suffering per se does not trump human welfare, and if people aren't willing to pay more in order to reduce animal suffering, that is not a moral black mark on them.

answered Oct 11 '10 at 10:27

Publius's gravatar image

Publius ♦

Animals that suffer usually don't achieve max weight. Therefore less valuable to the producer. Dairy cows are actually pampered.

(Oct 11 '10 at 12:52) adamsdad ♦ adamsdad's gravatar image

Publius, are you saying that sacrifice is okay as long as it is not a human making the sacrifice?

(Oct 11 '10 at 20:08) ethwc ♦ ethwc's gravatar image

I would say that I don't approve of human sacrifice, and that placing the interests of animals above human well-being is a sacrifice. I don't think you can speak of animals making sacrifices, or even of us sacrificing their interests to ours.

(Oct 12 '10 at 01:28) Publius ♦ Publius's gravatar image

To "sacrifice" is to surrender a greater value for the sake of a lesser value or a disvalue. It applies to the agent making the choice, and only human beings that are capable of sacrifice. (Animals automatically choose the greater value, to the best of their ability.)

If we could reason with a cow, we might offer to trade value for value. Then I, for one, would stick to milk and cheese and lay off steak. But it's not possible, and like it or not we evolved to eat meat.

By the way, factory farming can't hold a candle to the cruelty of treatment animals receive in poor countries.

(Oct 13 '10 at 04:52) Robert Garmong ♦ Robert%20Garmong's gravatar image
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Asked: Oct 11 '10 at 05:11

Seen: 2,257 times

Last updated: Jan 26 '11 at 12:50