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A View on Animal Ethics

Do we have the moral duty to become vegan ?

Manuel Sant Ana

on 28 June 2017

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Transcript of A View on Animal Ethics

Do we have the moral duty to become vegan ?
La surconsommation
(overconsumption), so it is called this poignant video available on the internet. It is taken from the documentary
(directed by Ron Fricke, 2011), an absolutely amazing viewing experience of the asymmetries of our wonderful, and yet terrifying, planet Earth. The film covers five continents and took nearly five years to be filmed.

The excerpt in question seems to be filmed in China and depicts the superlative in the industrialization of factory farming. It then goes on to make the connection to consumerism and obesity. The director describes carefully (through image since the film has no commentaries) key aspects of three of the most important forms of livestock production: the mechanical harvesting of broilers, the milking in dairy cattle and the farrowing crates of sows. A fourth aspect, the human worker, is not forgotten. The slow traveling of the HD camera allows us to focus on the small details and each of these details would deserve a lengthy reflection. The images are often fast forwarded to convey a sense of urgency which, coupled with the almost superhuman scale of the spaces, prompt us to reflect on our consumption habits and their consequences. I can hardly wait to see the full movie.
The Fallacy of the Wrong Level
No value
Instrumental value

Intrisic Value



Rat as lab animal


Rat as pest

Rat as pet

Do animals have moral value (or worth) ?
Carnism is the invisible belief system, or ideology, that conditions people to eat certain animals. Carnism is essentially the opposite of veganism; “carn” means “flesh” or “of the flesh” and “ism” denotes a belief system. Most people view eating animals as a given, rather than a choice; in meat-eating cultures around the world people typically don’t think about why they find the flesh of some animals disgusting and the flesh of other animals appetizing, or why they eat any animals at all. But when eating animals is not a necessity for survival, as is the case in much of the world today, it is a choice - and choices always stem from beliefs.
Do animals have moral rights ?
The rights view
"animals have the right to live free from human dominance"
The welfare view
"animals have the right to food and shelter, and to be free from suffering and cruelty"
A View on Animal Ethics
Manuel Magalhães Sant'Ana
Veterinary Council of Ireland Educational Trust
Newman Fellow in Veterinary Ethics

Do we have the moral duty to become vegan ?
Two possible arguments against it.
... claiming that because most factory farming has a high environmental footprint, as well as considerable health and welfare problems, does not mean that every form of animal farming is bad or that the overall consumption of animal products is wrong.
"...consists in making direct translation of properties or relations from one level of analysis to another, namely in making too simple inferences from the individual-level to the aggregate-level of analysis."
(atomistic fallacy; ecological fallacy)
We do have a moral duty to:
"Think global, act local"
Be (well) informed about our eating choices
Eat balanced diets
The Dominion Fallacy
Then God said, "Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground."
Support and promote initiatives that aim at improving science-based animal welfare.
Domestication was not a conscious act of dominion over animals. In fact, animal domestication was mostly unconscious and unplanned.
Domestication is a result of human dominance over animals and nature
"If we come to see the domestication of animals not as a crime against nature, but as a product of nature, we will in the process confront something much more fundamental about man's part in nature. If life with man was a better evolutionary bargain for domesticated animals than was life the wild, then it makes no sense to say that nature (really just another word for evolution) ends where man's presence begins."

(Budiansky, 1992)
(Galtung, 1967)
Domestication was a process of co-evolution between humans and other animals
The Animal Welfare View - The scientific approach
What is Ethics ?
What are characteristics of Ethical Reasoning?
• Reflective
more than just feelings or opinions
• Coherent and consistent
Treat equals equally
• Informed

Appropriate use of scientific, technical and legal information
• Unbiased
Considering different viewpoints
Defending universal principles

"...the evolution and history of humanity ought to be regarded as a process of co-evolution, in which various species develped interactive partnerships that have been mutually beneficial to their prospets for survival."

(Zwart & Bart Penders 2011)
Critically revise our assumptions !
Omnivore Dilemma – Nollan asks the seemingly straightforward question of what we should have for dinner. To learn more about those choices, Pollan follows each of the food chains that sustain us; industrial food (fast-food), organic food, and food we forage ourselves ("hunter-gatherer"); and Vegetarian from the source to a final meal, and in the process writes a critique of the American way of eating. Pollan calls veganism a 'utopia' and advocates for locavorism.
Eating Animals – Foer explores the topics of factory farming and commercial fisheries. He builds on and ultimately criticizes the work of Michael Pollan on our relationship to the food we eat. He advocates vegetarianism.
Farmageedon – Philip Lymbery, head of Compassion in World Farming. Farm animals have been disappearing from our fields as the production of food has become a global industry. It is both a wake-up call to change our current food production and eating practices and an attempt to find a way to a better farming future.
Animal Machines - Concerned with welfare standards at a time when animal production was increasing in scale and mechanisation, Ruth Harrison set about investigating the situation in a fair and even-handed way. Reporting her findings in Animal Machines, Harrison alerted the public to the undeniable suffering of calves living in veal crates and birds in battery cages.
Animal Liberation – Animals deserve equal consideration of interests.
The Animal Question – Italian Philosopher, most known for her work arguing for extension of human rights to the other animals

The Animal Rights View - The emotional approach
School of Veterinary Medicine
University College Dublin

1. Reflexivo
Não se limitar a uma mera opinião (
equilíbrio reflexivo

2. Coerente
i. Passar a prova da consistência (tratar iguais de forma igual)

3. Informado
Caminhar a par do conhecimento científico
À luz do enquadramento legal

4. Procurar reunir consensos
Mas não necessariamente consensual
Saber ouvir e respeitar outros pontos de vista
Defender princípios / interesses universalizáveis

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