Poult Sci. 2008 Feb;87(2):392-4.
Department of Animal Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, OR 97331, USA. firstname.lastname@example.org
Numerous animal rights and animal liberation theorists have concluded that nonhuman animals have moral standing and noninterference rights. Therefore, they say that humans are morally obligated to stop using animals for food, fiber, labor, and research. I disagree with that conclusion for at least 2 reasons. First, it has been suggested that food production models are possible using large herbivores that might actually cause less harm (kill) to animals than a vegan food production model. This is because intensive crop production used to produce food for a vegan diet kills (harms) far more animals of the field than extensive agriculture (pasture production). So, a combined food production system that includes crops and pasture harvested by large herbivores to be used for human food may kill fewer animals than would a vegan-crop model. Second, pragmatically, it is improbable that all peoples of the world could ever be convinced that they must give up animals. In fact, it may be unethical to try to do that, because in poor countries, these animals are essential to the survival of the human populations. But what about the richer nations? Maybe they will or should be convinced to do without animals because of the moral strength of the animal rights and animal liberation theories. However, I believe that there are far too many obstacles for that to happen. What then are we morally obligated to do about animals? I suggest that animals do have moral standing, and that we are morally obligated to recognize their unique species-specific natures and treat them accordingly. That would mean treating animals according to their physical and behavioral needs or telos. That, I believe, is the most likely outcome of the conversation about animal rights.PMID: 18212387 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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The demand for renunciation of killing animals has already been discussed by mankind since ancient times. Many arguments for and against this demand have accumulated in the meantime. The reproaches of the vegetarians repeatedly forced the ones who eat meat to justify their diet. Today most of these historical justifications however have to be rejected because of lacking plausibility. Many of the vegetarian arguments on the other hand must be rejected for similar reasons as well. Remaining as morally convincing is the demand for doing the killing absolutely painless and without frightening the animals, which was already formulated for example by Kant and Schopenhauer. Arguments which consider this way of killing as still immoral belong in a broad sense to the "anthropocentric" animal ethics. They do not belong to what is called in Germany "pathocentric" animal ethics, because an animal that is killed without being frightened or tortured, has not suffered, for it hasn't consciously realized anything like danger or harm. We do even argue that these animals are not harmed at all, because it seems senseless to talk about harm without negative conscious phenomena. To push ahead a ban on animal slaughter for moral reasons could be itself morally wrong because it would disturb indirectly many people's conscious well-being without being justified by protecting an animal's conscious well-being. It is however possible to derive from a general duty not to make animals suffer (pathocentric animal ethics) a duty to boycott food of animal origin if these animals had to suffer during their lives.
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