In the modern world, the question on whether it is right to eat animal meat has become a heated debate in gastronomy, health, and ethics studies. From a moral standpoint, the most fundamental argument against eating meat has been that for most of the people who reside in economically advanced countries eating meat is not a survival question. This view supports the argument that, farming and slaughtering animals just for human pleasure in food taste is not morally justifiable. Opponents relate their objections to animal welfare, environmental considerations, and religious concerns. Proponents on the hand cite the value of eating meat for nutritional, cultural, and religious reasons. Based on Peter Singer animal equality proposition and Alastair Norcross morality argument, eating factory-farmed meat is unethical.
Peter Singer is a world-renowned animal rights activist and anti-crusader of consuming factory meat products. Singer makes a strong case for animal equality in his book practical ethics. The basis of Singer argument is a belief that the principle of equality that guides the equality of all humans, should inform equal considerations in all interests. He hypothesis that if humans accept the principle of equality has a moral standing to guide relations between human beings, equally they should extended the understanding of morality to non-humans.
Prejudices form the basis of human indifference to animal equality. Singer reflects on a common believe that there are more important issues worth human focus than animal equality. He notes that while majority of the people are concerned about racial oppression and women discrimination, they perceive animal welfare as something entirely different. Singer points out that the principle of equal consideration of interests demand humans beings to be concerned with others irrespective of their abilities and looks. That for example, a member of a different race or a less intelligent person requires the same equal consideration. Based on this principle, Singer is proposes that the exploitation of animals for meat products just because they are not human and are less intelligent should cease.
The capacity for suffering in animals presents a justification for equal rights consideration. Singer argues that animals and humans share the capacity to suffer. This suffering relates to pain or happiness and it is separate from the capacity to express feeling through language. The prerequisite for a species capacity to suffer is the ability to have interest. Considering non-living objects, it is irrational to say, "It is not in the interest of water to be boiled by a chef." Water does not represent any interest and nothing human beings can do affects its welfare. In comparison, a chicken has an interest of not being tortured since cruelty would subject it to suffering. No matter the type of a being, equality principle demands the treatment of its suffering as any other suffering. Singer considers people who put the interests of their own species ahead of others to be "speciests." Such humans deny that the pain felt by a pig during slaughter is different from that felt by a human. Even though human beings can anticipate, remember, and be aware of what happens to them, still animals experience pain. Since there is no measure of comparison for suffering between species, when the interests of beings clash, then the principle of equality must prevail. This reasoning of interest and suffering becomes a justification to stop killing animals for meat.
Human use of flesh as food is questionable since animals count on their right. The most widespread human use of animals and point of contact is food. According to Singer, people believe that it is good to eat meat generally because of an assumption that animals only exists at the pleasure and convenience of human beings. There should be no justification to kill animals for food unless human existence depends on the flesh as the case of Eskimos. Most citizens in advanced societies can access alternative sufficient source of food. There is enough proof that animal products do not necessarily improve human health, as humans tend to think. Besides, in industrialized countries factory production of meat involves fattening them with food crops that can directly feed people. These references indicate that meat is not consumed to increase food supplies or for health reasons. Meat is a luxury food, eaten to satisfy human taste preference. Singer criticizes the sacrifice of a majority of animals' interests to satisfy the interest of a minor human population.
The misery subjected to animals during factory production provides another foundation to decline meat consumption. In modern intensive farming, humans employ scientific and technological processes in husbandry with an attitude that animals are mere objects for use. In ensuring cost efficacy in production, mass production of animal takes places in confined spaces and deplorable conditions until slaughter. The indignities animals suffer in farms include castration for fattening, branding with hot metal, separation from young ones, and eventual slaughtering. Such treatment raises an important question to consumers on whether the production processes of the flesh they devour involved animal suffering. This interrogation leads to the fundamental arguments of Alastair Norcross.
Norcross puppy analogy on factory farming is resounding enough to halt meat consumption. The analogy involves a person called Fred who after an accident loses his ability to taste chocolate. A doctor prescribes a hormone called "cocoamone" which is produced in a puppy's' brain after torturing the animal for six months. Fred tortures a puppy, kills it to get the hormone, and recovers after eating it. Norcross argues that such an action by Fred is morally unjustifiable. If one accepts that the manner in which Fred treated the puppy is wrong, then equally eating meat from factory farm is immoral and by extension, it is wrong to purchase factory-farmed flesh.
The puppy analogy raises a number of assumption that supports the case against eat. First, meat consumers argue that unlike Fred they do not know animal suffering occurred. As such, they justify their purchase actions as less immoral than for those who are aware. The counter argument is that the defense of "not knowing" still validates the immorality of the action in reference and it becomes a reason to stop eating meat. Secondly, people who eat flesh say that unlike Fred who tortures the puppy they do not directly harm animals. They only purchase the meat and cook it. The reply to this view is that if Fred did not harm the animal and only bought the hormone from someone who tortured the puppy for him, it is still unethical. That said purchasing meat amounts to paying someone to torture animals on one's behalf. Thirdly, there are meat partakers who debate that unlike Fred whose intention is to harm the puppy, the suffering of animals in factory farms is unintended. A rejection to this perspective is that morality is judged by the intention to kill the animal and more so the deplorable conditions in rearing. Therefore, while eating meat may not intentionally cause animals suffering, it contributes to foreseen side effects on animals.
The most fundamental argument by meat proponents is the tragedy of commons approach. The consumers argue that even if they stopped eating meat it would not have an effect on farm factories. This suggestion assumes that an individual action will have an insignificant impact on number of animals slaughtered and their suffering. In response, Norcross says that action by a given number people will have an effect on the meat industry. He postulates the attainment of a number significant enough to influence the industry in the future. As such, any single choice to refrain from meat consumption adds to the number needed make a positive contribution. Additionally, Norcross says that even if an individual cannot make a difference, it is still wrong to eat factory-farmed flesh on moral grounds.
Peter Singer and Alastair Norcross questions the ethics of meat consumption from an animal equality and moral perspective. Singer castoff human prejudice and exploitation of animals based on appearance and intelligence. He advocates for equal consideration of animals since they have interests and capacity for suffering. Singer points to the fact that consumption of meet is not a health or food supply concern but a mere human leisure. Mistreatment of animals in farm factories and poor husbandry condition adds credence to end meat consumption. Using the puppy analogy, Norcross makes a non- refuted case that meat consumption is immoral. He rejects meat consumers excuses of not knowing animals suffer, not harming animals directly, not intentionally wanting to hurt the animals and not having the ability to make a difference. The debate on whether to eat factory-farmed meat will continue to be a hot debate for people who advance human and animal goals.
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