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Abbate, Cheryl. Meat Eating and Responsibility: Exploring the Moral Distinctions between Meat Eaters and Puppy Torturers
2020, Utilitas, 2020: 1-8
Added by: Björn Freter, Contributed by: Cheryl Abbate
Abstract: In his influential article on the ethics of eating animals, Alastair Norcross argues that consumers of factory raised meat and puppy torturers are equally condemnable because both knowingly cause serious harm to sentient creatures just for trivial pleasures. Against this claim, I argue that those who buy and consume factory raised meat, even those who do so knowing that they cause harm, have a partial excuse for their wrongdoings. Meat eaters act under social duress, which causes volitional impairment, and they often act from deeply ingrained habits, which causes epistemic impairment. But puppy torturers act against cultural norms and habits, consciously choosing to perform wrongful acts. Consequently, the average consumer of factory raised meat has, while puppy torturers lack, a cultural excuse. But although consumers of factory raised meat aren't blameworthy, they are partially morally responsible for their harmful behavior – and for this, they should feel regret, remorse, and shame.

Comment: This essay would be best taught alongside Alastair Norcross's widely taught paper "Puppies, Pigs, and People" (https://spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/readings/norcross.pdf), as Cheryl Abbate's paper is a direct response to Norcross's.

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