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Gastelum 1 Edgar Gastelum WCWP 10B Veronica Pear 17 August 2011 The Power of Interest A current debate amongst

philosophers is whether it should be permissible or impermissible to use animals as a food source. This idea sparks many arguments amongst ethicists whether animals should be given rights, moral protection or moral consideration. Eating meat is impermissible because animals have interest; therefore, we should avoid meat. As humans, we need to understand that animal's interests are just as valuable as human interest. The human perception of animals has been construed by morality, industrialization, speciesm and tradition. Under morality, I will first discuss the fundamental principle of equality and its importance for humans to consider animals as part of the moral community. I will then explain how the meat industry disregards animal's interests regardless of the process of making it. Then explain the concept of speciesm and its impact on humans to believe that the mistreatment of animals is normal. Lastly, I will contradict an argument that the philosopher Michael Fox imposes about the moral community. An important reason why humans should not eat meat is that animals have interest. The philosopher Peter Singer advocates for the principle of equality which "implies that our concern for others out not to depend on what they are like, or what abilities they possess...but rather equal consideration of interest" (Singer 49). This principle focuses on the interest of all beings. "The capacity for suffering and enjoying things is a prerequisite for having interest at all" (Singer 50) In other words under Singers definition of equality, as long as a being has interest in avoiding pain or gaining happiness then they are candidates for moral equality. There is no reason why this equality should not extend to "the interests of humans or non-human animals, self conscious or non-self-conscious animals" (Singer

Gastelum 2 65). Under this moral definition, there is no true justification that allows humans to eat meat. This is because animals also feel pain and suffering just like humans. Since humans are interested in avoiding pain and suffering then animals should also be given this right. Therefore, if animals have interests then eating meat should be just as morally incorrect as eating another human. This is because humans should respect the interest of all living things. The problem is that humans have not yet accepted the moral code that considers animals as equals. As Michael Pollan states, "humans differ from animals in morally significant ways" (Pollan 310). This idea would be true if Pollan were objecting to equal treatment but the argument is equal consideration of interest. Of course animals cannot be treated in the same ways as humans because we posses different characteristics such as intelligence and behavior. Nevertheless, what animals and humans do share is the interest to avoid pain. Only because animals are different from humans does not make it acceptable to exploit and slaughter these animals simply to enjoy its taste. Animals also have an interest to live. The interests of animals are overlooked in the meat industry. For example, the American factory farms "are places where moral philosophy and animal cognition mean less than nothing" (Pollan 317). Since these industries have no moral philosophy this easily explains the exploitation and immoral treatment of farm animals. In a modern Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO), animals are treated as machines--production units--incapable of feeling pain. Industries such as CAFO's and other farms that include those that promote "free range farming" both do not consider that animals undergo pain and suffering during the production process. For example, cows in CAFO's or other farms are castrated, branded, broken from their herds, separated from their mothers and young, live in their own waste and ultimately slaughtered. These forms of suffering show no consideration of interest from the farmers. It is clear that CAFO's ignore animals interest, but "many people soothe their conscience by purchasing only free range meatignorant that free range has very little if any practical significance" (Steiner 2). Steiner argues that what consumers do not understand is that pain and suffering inflicted

Gastelum 3 upon these animals regardless of how they are raised. Although the affliction is clear, "the uses of animals are so institutionalized, so normalized, that in our society it is difficult to find the critical distance needed to see them as horrors" (Steiner 2). In other words since the consumption of eating meat has become such a custom in our society as consumers we neglect the awful treatment of these animals. As expressed, there are countless reasons why we should not consume meat, but the only reason that weighs against immorality is taste. The scale of morality seems unbalanced if taste is the only factor that allows "53 billion land animals to be slaughtered every year for human consumption"(Steiner 2). Pollan objects as he states, "my mouth still waters at the sight of a steak cooked medium rare" (Pollan 314). Millions of Americans like Pollan simply consume meat for pleasure. However, the pleasure that the human taste bud gets from a steak does not outweigh the suffering of a cow at a CAFO. Hence, consumers should avoid the consumption of meat to end the exploitation of animals and because of the unreasonable motive consumers have to eat meat. Another reason why eating meat should be impermissible is to change the tradition of specieism Animals are being neglected from a moral community that only considers humans. If the interests of animals are being ignored then by not treating the animals, equally humans are considered as being spiciest. A speceist is defined as "giving greater weight to the interests of those of our species" (Singer 52). This explains why humans feel that they can treat animals immorally because they feel superiority over the animals. The lack of moral consideration of animals inclines humans to exclude these animals as part of our moral community. The exclusion of animals is closely linked to racism. "Racism violates the principle of equality by giving greater weight to the interest of their own race when there is a clash between their interest and the interest of those of another race" (Pollan 51). The only difference between racism and speciesm is the group that is being discriminated against. During times of slavery, "America had no self-interested reason for treating blacks any better than they did. The blacks had no way of retaliating" (Singer 70). Since blacks were seen as non-humans then it was perfectly acceptable

Gastelum 4 to mistreat them. Until we began to realize that blacks should be considered as part of the moral community. The way we exploit our animals is similar to the exploitation in times of slavery. Therefore, consumers need to stop eating meat in order to accept animals as part of this moral community. If the moral status were elevated closer to humans then people would begin to realize that meat is not a necessity. An opposing view to the utilitarian idea is that meat should be permissible under the perspective of a deontologist. Michael Fox believes that meat is morally permissible because animals are not a part of the moral community. Fox defines a moral community "as a social group composed of interacting autonomous beings where moral concepts and precepts can evolve and be understood" (Fox 56). Under this definition of moral community Fox states "animals however are denied full and equal moral status for reasons that are morally relevantlack of autonomy and moral agency" (Fox 61). I agree with Fox that equal moral status should be given to humans but should also extend to animals. Fox's logic for the permissibility of eating meat is fixed on the idea that animals are not able to make their own decisions or decide what is right from wrong. Only because animals do not possess the same complexities as humans, does not mean we can disregard animal's interest. "Pain of the same intensity and duration are equally bad, whether felt by humans or animals" (Singer 54). Fox is obviously a specieist because he neglects the consideration that animals hold similar basic characteristics such as the interest to avoid pain and suffering. However, Fox does consider humans in marginal cases into the moral community. "The problem is how to classify beings that fall short of autonomy but which we still consider for rightsmentally retarded, those who are senile, autistic mentally ill, badly brain damaged and comatose and so on" (Fox 62). If Fox has a moral inclination to include humans of marginal cases into the moral community then why aren't animals being considered? Compared to a person in a coma there are several animals including a cow whom are more autonomous and self-conscious then these humans. So if a person with a coma is favored over an animal into the moral community it becomes

Gastelum 5 clear that the permissibility of meat is based on speciesm. Only because animals are not humans is not a good argument to consume meat. It may be true that an animal is not as autonomous or complex as a human is but that does not condone humans from acknowledging that animals also have interest. Therefore, as humans we hold no acceptable reason to consume meat because although Fox believes that only humans are granted moral right, consumers should stop eating meat to consider animals as part of our moral circle and grant them the right to live. Therefore, in conclusion humans should avoid eating meat because animals have interest. If humans realized that, the interest of animals is just as valuable as a human then this would motivate people to stop eating meat. However, the interest of animals is not being considered in society. Places like industrial farms overlook the morality of mistreating and exploiting animals. People should not consume meat to end the suffering and pain the animals go through. Nevertheless, this neglecting of the animals pain and suffering is powered by the speciesm that lives amongst Americans. This speciesm drives people like Michael Fox to believe that consuming meat is acceptable by ignoring animal's right to be considered into our moral community. Therefore, under the moral umbrella of interest animals should not have a fate of being on the plates of Americans.

Gastelum 6 Work Cited Fox, Michael A. "The Moral Community." Web. 18 Aug. 2011. Pollan, Michael. The Omnivore's Dilemma: a Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2007. Print. Singer, Peter. "Equalities for Animals?" Web. 18 Aug. 2011.

Steiner, Gary. "Animal, Vegetable, Miserable." New York Times (2009). Web. June-July 2011.