Friday, July 31, 2015

Is Eating Chicken Worse Than Killing Cecil The Lion?

Well, there's an obvious case to be made that it is...


Blogger The Mystic said...

Of course, one can purchase chicken which is raised in a humane, free-roaming manner from local farms. That's what my wife and I do. Though we eat chicken, we go to significant length to ensure that it is treated humanely. The act therefore seems to me not worse than voluntarily killing for pleasure.

I've personally struggled with the rationale by which I kill to live. Having accepted that there is little one can do in this world which does not result in the deaths of living beings, I have reached the tentative conclusion that doing so is morally permissible, but only if the life made possible thereby is undeniably honorable and noble in excess of that which would have been possible by the prior state of the world.

That is, it is reasonable that a fish or a chicken should die so that a human being may spread joy and good works, but it is unreasonable that anything should die so that a human being might miserably wallow about in vice.

Further, it is always unreasonable to kill merely for pleasure or convenience. I have been known to stop play to carry spiders out of racquetball courts, and my general rule of operation in this regard is that I should intervene to prevent unnecessary harm to life if I am able. I don't seek out these situations, but if I encounter one, I do not permit myself to ignore it.

I make a point to think of this when I eat meat, that I must pay my debt for this deed by living a virtuous life. Still, I worry that one who has the option of living as a vegetarian, or perhaps even a pescetarian, is obligated to do so. I balk at this for a variety of reasons which, I admit, I have not concluded to be very firm.

The mistreatment of our livestock is an absolutely horrifying problem. I must prevent myself from thinking of it or looking upon it for fear of what I might do to those responsible if I continually subject myself to such atrocities. I wish the matter would get more attention. I agree that, if we could leverage the outrage over Cecil's killing against the terrible livestock practices in this country, it could give us the energy we need to take a huge step forward.

But this probably mostly underscores the type of material over which the public is easily outraged; that which is viewed as easily resolvable. It's easy enough to castigate and lock up a single asshole, and that's a solution that lends itself to anger.

The kind of solutions we really need, however, do not lend themselves to anger. They are complex and must be rigorously designed, tested, and implemented, often at great cost to many. Such a process provides no ground for anger, and so the public, hungry for outrage, cares not.

2:00 PM  
Blogger Pete Mack said...

That's a #slatepitch if I ever saw one. He gave away the game when he pointed out all the Bambis that would live once Cecil was dead. There is a problem with pure utilitarianism.

6:14 PM  
Blogger Winston Smith said...

Yeah, I agree PM.

Interesting points, Mystic... Gotta think about that more... We keep trying to eat only humanely-raised-and-slaughtered meat...but we keep falling off of the wagon because restaurants...

10:35 AM  

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