Animals and Causal Impotence: A Deontological View

Between the Species 19 (1):32-51 (2016)
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In animal ethics, some ethicists such as Peter Singer argue that we ought not to purchase animal products because doing so causally contributes to unnecessary suffering. Others, such as Russ Shafer-Landau, counter that where such unnecessary suffering is not causally dependent on one’s causal contributions, there is no duty to refrain from purchasing animal products, even if the process by which those products are produced is morally abhorrent. I argue that there are at least two plausible principles which ground the wrongness of purchasing animal products produced by morally abhorrent means. First, respect for the wishes and dignity of animals who have been wrongly tortured and killed requires treating their losses as losses, and not exploiting the ‘spoils’ of their losses. Second, we ought to refrain from rewarding wrongdoing, which we fail to do when we purchase wrongfully produced animal products.



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Blake Hereth
University of Pennsylvania

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Do I Make a Difference?Shelly Kagan - 2011 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 39 (2):105-141.
All Animals Are Equal.Peter Singer - 1989 - In Tom Regan & Peter Singer (eds.), Animal Rights and Human Obligations. Oxford University Press. pp. 215--226.
War and Self Defense.David Rodin - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Puppies, pigs, and people: Eating meat and marginal cases.Alastair Norcross - 2004 - Philosophical Perspectives 18 (1):229–245.
War and Self Defense.David Rodin - 2002 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.

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