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animals and morals

1. Is it morally preferable to be vegetarian than to eat meat, poultry, and eggs produced in factory farms? Do conditions in those farms impose a moral duty to adopt a vegetarian diet? Why or why not?

2. Are there any reasons why humans' interests should count more than the interests of non-human animals? If so, can we conclude that a human's desire to eat a cheeseburger morally "trumps" a cow's interest in not being slaughtered? Why or why not?

3. "The factory farms are just giving the consumers what they want!" "We are a capitalist society, so of course businesses will try to produce the most meat at the lowest cost possible!" Do these statements support the conclusion that factory farming practices are moral? Or do they provide grounds for concluding that consumer wishes and our capitalist economy bear some responsibility for unethical treatment of animals?

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To answer any of these questions we must understand some basics about ethics. Ethics has to do with human relationships. Specifically, when we behave in ways that show concern to another individual, we act in an ethically sound manner. The old adage, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a perfect summation of sound ethical principles. When our "ethics" contradict this maxim, we have poor ethics.

Using that as our starting presume, let's see what we can say about each of the three positions presented.

1. Is it morally preferable to be vegetarian than to eat meat, poultry, and eggs produced in factory farms? Do conditions in those farms impose a moral duty to adopt a vegetarian diet? Why or why not?

Response: The question concerns what occurs in factory farms. If the practice that takes place on factory farms violates the principle of "do unto others, etc." then we should be concerned. From my understanding, factory farms mass produce meat products at the expense (not only of animal health, but) of human health. They do this through the use of pumping the animals with high concentrations of antibiotics, growth hormones, and other sorts of chemicals. In and of themselves, we may choose not to be concerned since this doesn't seem to affect our fellow man. However, it does affect our fellow man because these chemicals end up in the human diet. They become part of our food chain. ...

Solution Summary

MOrality associated with animals is investigated.

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