Thursday, September 24, 2009

Comments on Dr. Lusk's Guest Post

For readers who perused the guest post by Jayson Lusk, he is my colleague at OK State and the co-author of our upcoming book on farm animal welfare. I appreciate Jayson's thoughts, and have enjoyed out intellectual adventures sorting through the farm animal welfare debate.

One thing I like about Jayson's thoughts is that he views ethical dilemmas by the outcomes of various actions. People have different approaches to moral philosophy. Some like rights-based approaches that are heavy on terminology but weak on consequences, but I prefer the simple layout of utilitarianism. Perhaps it is my own intellectual defect, but I have trouble making ethical decisions using any method other than utilitarianism. When I deviate from utilitarianism, I generally find myself just trying to justify my prior beliefs.

Though my previous post regarding how I treat my dog and pigs was not related to ethics, the issue of whether it is "ethical" to eat certain meats is an interesting issue. The way I view the dilemma of whether to eat pork is as follows.

(1) If I eat factory farmed pork, a certain number of hogs will exist and will experience misery or merriment of the amount __________.
(2) If I eat pork produced under more humane means, a certain number of hogs will exist and will experience misery or merriment of the amount __________.
(3) If I don't eat pork, a certain number of hogs will not be brought into existence and will not experience misery or merriment of the amount __________.

Those are generally my only three options. Regardless of whether I use the phrase "moral community" within my thought process the outcomes are the same, so what should we fill in for the blanks? That, to me, is the great debate. If you look at Chapter 8 you will actually see a rarity for me: the expression of my beliefs and preferences. In this chapter I state that I think eating beef leads to the best outcome for animals but that refraining from pork leads to the best outcome, and these professions are based on my perception about the misery/merriment that cattle and hogs experience.

I would like to add to Jayson's post where he states...

What line of logic or code or ethics can reconcile the supposed “moral schizophrenia” Francione finds distasteful?Bailey does not expect the same thing from his dog and a pig. Does that make him a speciest? I do not expect to receive shoes from my baker or bread from my cobbler, but does that make me a speciest or an “occupationalist?” I expect and receive different things from different people. But I do not mandate people to give the fruits of their labor. In a market based economy, people freely trade the results of their productive abilities and we accept them because they satisfy our wants and needs.

...that those belonging to the Abolitionist Franchise also treat animals differently according to their species, but contend that their suffering should receive equal consideration.