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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
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Added by: Björn Freter

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.

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Diamond, Cora. Eating Meat and Eating People
1978, Philosophy, 53 (206): 465.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord

Abstract: This paper is a response to a certain sort of argument defending the rights of animals. Part I is a brief explanation of the background and of the sort of argument I want to reject; Part II is an attempt to characterize those arguments: they contain fundamental confusions about moral relations between people and people and between people and animals. And Part III is an indication of what I think can still be said on-as it were-the animals’ side.

Comment: This text contains a useful overview of both Regan and Singer's classic arguments in favor of vegetarianism. Diamond introduces the concept of 'fellow creatures' as a useful way to discuss membership in the moral community. This text would be useful as a supplement to a unit on vegetarianism, speciesism, or animal rights.

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Gruen, Lori. Ethics and Animals: An Introduction
2011, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord

Back Matter: In this fresh and comprehensive introduction to animal ethics, Lori Gruen weaves together poignant and provocative case studies with discussions of ethical theory, urging readers to engage critically and empathetically reflect on our treatment of other animals. In clear and accessible language, Gruen provides a survey of the issues central to human-animal relations and a reasoned new perspective on current key debates in the field. She analyses and explains a range of theoretical positions and poses challenging questions that directly encourage readers to hone their ethical reasoning skills and to develop a defensible position about their own practices. Her book will be an invaluable resource for students in a wide range of disciplines including ethics, environmental studies, veterinary science, women’s studies, and the emerging field of animal studies and is an engaging account of the subject for general readers with no prior background in philosophy.

Comment: This book is a comprehensive introduction to ethical problems involving non-human animals. It could be the main text for a course on animal ethics, but would also make a nice addition to a unit of a course on environmental ethics or contemporary ethical problems.

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Korsgaard, Christine M.. Facing the Animal You See in the Mirror
2009, The Harvard Review of Philosophy 16(1): 4-9.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord

Introduction: What does it mean to be an animal? About 600 million years ago, certain organic life forms on this planet began to wake up, and to become aware of their surroundings. They found themselves to be hungry, and to be the target of unwelcome interest on the part of others who were hungry. And for both of these reasons, they had to work to take care of themselves. To prod them to do that, nature made many of them capable of pain, and of terror. But some of them were also capable of the opposite feelings of pleasure and security. And out of these various feelings grew feelings of interest and boredom, of grief and joy, of family attachment and hostility to outsiders. These life forms are constructed in such a way that they cannot help but struggle to stay alive, and perhaps even to care about their lives. And a few of them know themselves to be, in spite of that, ephemeral beings. The organic life forms sharing this strange evolutionary adventure are the animals, and you and I are among them. This gives rise to a moral question: How should we interact with the others?

Comment: A useful introduction to the idea of human exceptionalism and logocentrism. Korsgaard presents a clear and accessible argument by analogy for respecting/caring for non-human animals based on degrees of self-consciousness. This would make a good introductory text in any class that covers the relationship of humans to non-human animals.

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