The Pig’s Squeak: Towards a Renewed Aesthetic Argument for Veganism
In 1906, Henry Stephens Salt published a short collection of essays that presented several rhetorically powerful, if formally deficient arguments for the vegetarian position. By interpreting Salt as a moral sentimentalist with ties to Aristotelian virtue ethics, I propose that his aesthetic argument deserves contemporary consideration. First, I connect ethics and aesthetics with the Greek concepts of kalon and kalokagathia that depend equally on beauty and morality before presenting Salt’s assertion: slaughterhouses are disgusting, therefore they should not be promoted. I suggest three areas of development since Salt’s death that could be fruitfully plumbed to rebuild this assertion into a contemporary argument: (1) an updated analysis of factory farm conditions, (2) insights from moral psychologists on the adaptive socio-biological benefits of disgust as a source of cognitive information, and (3) hermeneutical considerations about the role of the audience that allow blameworthiness for slaughterhouse atrocities to be laid upon the meat-eater.
KeywordsVegetarianism Animal ethics Aesthetics Sentimentalism Virtue ethics Aristotle Henry Stephens Salt
- Anonymous. (2015a). Affidavit #1. Resource document. The Food Integrity Campaign and the Government Accountability Project. http://www.foodwhistleblower.org/campaign/wtf-hormel/#affidavits. Accessed 16 April 2016.
- Anonymous. (2015b). Affidavit #2. Resource document. The Food Integrity Campaign and the Government Accountability Project. http://www.foodwhistleblower.org/campaign/wtf-hormel/#affidavits. Accessed 16 April 2016.
- Aristotle, (1984a). Nicomachean ethics. In J. Barnes (Ed.), The complete works of Aristotle: The revised oxford translation (Trans.) (II ed., pp. 1728–1827). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Aristotle, (1984b). Politics. In J. Barnes (Ed.), The complete works of Aristotle: The revised oxford translation (Trans.) (II ed., pp. 1985–2128). Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Cosmides, L., & Tooby, J. (1995). Cognitive Adaptations for Social Exchange. In J. H. Barkow, L. Cosmides, & J. Tooby (Eds.), The adapted mind: Evolutionary psychology and the generation of culture (pp. 163–228). Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Dover, K. J. (1974). Greek popular morality in the time of plato and Aristotle. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Eisnitz, G. A. (2007). Slaughterhouse: The shocking story of greed, neglect, and inhumane treatment inside the US meat industry. Amherst: Prometheus.Google Scholar
- Gadamer, H. G. (2004). Truth and method (J. Weinsheimer & D. G. Marshall, Trans., 2nd ed.). New York: Continuum Books.Google Scholar
- Gandhi, M. (1931). The moral basis of vegetarianism, Lecture given to a meeting of the London Vegetarian Society. November 20th; transcript http://worldvegfest.org/news/evu/other/gandhi2.html Accessed April 16, 2016.
- Katz, S. E. (2006). The revolution will not be microwaved: Inside America’s underground food movements. White River Junction: Chelsea Green.Google Scholar
- Kuehn, G. (2004). Dining on Fido: Death identity, and the aesthetic dilemma of eating animals. In E. McKenna & A. Light (Eds.), Animal pragmatism: Rethinking human-nonhuman relationships (pp. 228–247). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Pi, J. J. (2012). Kant’s aesthetic reading of aristotle’s Philia: Disinterestedness and the mood of the late enlightenment. Revisia de Filosofia, 37(2), 55–68.Google Scholar
- Plato (1989). Lysias. J. Wright (Trans.). In: Hamilton, E. & Cairns, H (Eds.). The Collected Dialogues of Plato. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
- Pollan, M. (2006). The omnivore’s dilemma: A natural history of four meals. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Salt, H. S. (2012). The logic of vegetarianism: Essays and dialogues. London: Forgotten Books.Google Scholar
- Schlosser, E. (2002). Fast food nation: The dark side of the America meal. New York: Houghton Mifflin.Google Scholar
- Scully, M. (2002). Dominion: The power of man, the suffering of animals, and the call to mercy. New York: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
- Singer, P. (2009). Animal liberation: The definitive classic of the animal movement (Updated edition ed.). New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar