Sunday, January 14, 2007

veggie question

Can a moral vegetarian legitimately own a meat-eating pet? I'm trying to work out the implications here: by the moral vegetarian's reckoning, humans should not eat meat because of the suffering they-- we-- cause through meat-eating. The idea of animal suffering is linked to the idea that animals can be viewed through a moral prism: they have rights, hopes, dreams, and needs. Does this latter stance imply that moral vegetarians see animals as moral agents? If so, then some animals must be morally superior to others: all meat-eating animals must needs be morally inferior due to the suffering they inflict. The best pet to own would be a ruminant, I imagine-- something large and stupid that feeds only on grass or other plant life. But even pet-owning should be frowned upon if the deeper issue is animal suffering, yes? And how exactly does one assess the level of an animal's contentment or suffering? To what extent can we say that we know what is going on in an animal's mind?

I think moral vegetarians base too many assumptions on unprovable claims involving animal subjectivity. "Go thou and eat a burger!" I say.

*By the way: the above spiel is full of holes and isn't meant to be taken as a serious argument. While it's true that I don't quite get the moral vegetarian stance, I'd have to work harder to formulate a decent argument against that worldview.


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