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Should cultured meat be refused in the name of animal dignity?

Abstract

Cultured meat, like any new technology, raises inevitable ethical issues. For example, on animal ethics grounds, it may be argued that reformed livestock farming in which animals’ lives are worth living constitutes a better alternative than cultured meat, which, along with veganism, implies the extinction of farm animals. Another ethical argument is that, just as we would undermine human dignity by producing and consuming meat that is grown from human cells, eating meat that is grown from nonhuman animal cells would violate animal dignity because it is a way to create an us and them, which would make veganism the only ethical option. The present study challenges this argument. First, I examine the fundamental issue of whether cultured meat provides such an attack on animal dignity. The second issue is whether, assuming that it is true that cultured meat undermines animal dignity, it would be acceptable to reject cultured meat even though this implies sacrificing nonhuman animals.

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Acknowledgments

I acknowledge Yves Bonnardel, Marie Gibbons, Melvin Josse, Karine Mazoyer, Christopher Monteiro, Nathalie Rolland, Sébastien Sarméjeanne, Paul Shapiro, Elliot Swartz, Federico Zuolo and the three anonymous reviewers for the conversations we had on the issue of cultured meat or other issues and/or their valuable comments on all or part of the manuscript.

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Correspondence to David J. Chauvet.

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Chauvet, D.J. Should cultured meat be refused in the name of animal dignity?. Ethic Theory Moral Prac 21, 387–411 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10677-018-9888-4

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Keywords

  • cultured meat
  • animal meat
  • global veganism
  • (in vitro) cannibalism
  • animal dignity
  • animal rights
  • staging hypothesis