Table of Contents
RIGHTS AND MORAL STATUS
Direct but unequal theories
Moral equality theories
This paper discusses the ethical dilemma of eating animals, not from a health and environmental perspective, but only around the wrongs to the animals involved. The issue will be analyzed according to different philosophical arguments, in order to present an exhaustive overview of the problem.
More specifically I will firstly discuss violations of rights and moral status, and then consequentialist arguments, in order to provide theoretical support to the analysis.
The choice of this dilemma is due to a personal interest in analyzing an issue that concerns every human being. The growing interest in this topic is in favor of a meatfree alimentation. Hence, I feel is crucial to approach a deep discussion in order to provide us a code of conduct that reflects our morality.
The conclusion of this paper will eventually propose an answer, based on my moral principles and on what I feel to be right, however, it doesn’t want to imply or impose any final code of conduct to the reader.
The ethical dilemma that I propose concerns the entire human population, which is whether or not, is morally right to eat animal’s meat. Even though this topic might be addressed from an environmental or health issue, I believe it is more important to focus on the premise if in the first place is right to eat an animal. Having stated the issue, it is clear that the stakeholders involved are many: the whole humanity and the animal kingdom.
The issue will firstly be analyzed from a right’s violation perspective, which will be divided into three main categories: indirect theories, direct but unequal theories, and direct theories. Secondly, I will discuss the consequentialist or utilitarian argument, which instead focus on the consequence of the action of eating meat. The conclusion instead will eventually combine the result of the two analyses from a personal perspective about the issue.
RIGHTS AND MORAL STATUS
The first analysis of this paper will discuss the three most popular categories of philosophical thinking about animal’s rights: indirect theories, direct but unequal theories, and moral equality theories.
These theories don’t recognize any moral right to animals on their own, but only when they are directly related to human actions. (Moral Theories, 2016)
The oldest point of view was made by Aristotle, who defends the natural hierarchy of the world. According to him different abilities determine which place you have in this world, hence which living being you have to serve. Therefore, his functionalistic approach, regard animals as inferior to humans, (just like plants are inferior to animals) hence it’s in their nature to serve human’s interests. (Ethics and Philosophical Theories, 2016)
Immanuel Kant developed a moral theory that justifies any action if every rational individual could will it. (Cureton et al., 2016)
However, even if animals might have desires that require actions, only a human being can stand back from his desire and choose a different course of action. Rene Descartes already conceived this mechanistic behavior of animals in “Animal thought”. (Decartes, n.d.)
Therefore, since animals don’t have this ability, they don’t have a will, and without a will, for Kant, it is not possible to have intrinsic values.
The point of indirect theories is that humans don’t have to consider animal’s interests as relevant when assessing our behavior. However, it doesn’t imply that we can behave as we want with everything that is not morally relevant (e.g. we can’t harm an animal for fun because it will cause people distress).