Varieties of the Cruelty-Based Objection to Factory Farming
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Timothy Hsiao defends industrial animal agriculture (hereafter, factory farming) from the “strongest version of the cruelty objection” (J Agric Environ Ethics 30(1):37–54, 2017). The cruelty objection, following Rachels (in: Sapontzis S (ed) Food for thought: the debate over eating meat, Prometheus, Amherst, 2004), is that, because it is wrong to cause pain without a morally good reason, and there is no morally good reason for the pain caused in factory farming (e.g., people do not need to eat meat in order to live healthy, flourishing lives), factory farming is morally indefensible.In this paper, I do not directly engage Hsiao’s argument for the moral permissibility of factory farming, which has been done by others (Puryear et al. in J Agric Environ Ethics 30(2):311–323, 2017). Rather, my aim is to assess whether Hsiao’s criticism of one version of the cruelty-based objection is a criticism of all versions of the cruelty-based objection, or objections to factory farming that appeal to the harm or suffering experienced by farm animals. I argue that there are, at least, four distinct kinds of cruelty-based objections to factory farming, distinguishable by their different moral principles or moral observations, and that Hsiao’s criticism of one kind of cruelty-based objection does not generalize to the others.
KeywordsFactory farming Industrial farming Vegetarianism Animal cruelty
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