The Invisibility of Evil: Moral Progress and the 'Animal Holocaust'

Philosophical Papers 32 (2):109-131 (2003)


This paper explores the concept of an ?animal holocaust? by way of J.M. Coetzee's The Lives of Animals, and asks whether the Nazi treatment of the Jews can be legitimately compared to modern factory farming. While certain parallels make the comparison appealing, it is argued, only the holocaust can be described as ?evil.? The phenomena share another feature, however, namely, the capacity of perpetrators to render victims ?invisible.? This leaves the moral dimension of the comparison in tact since it shows defenders and critics of an ?animal holocaust? to be talking about different things: the comparison is offensive for many because it levels degrees of moral value attributed to human and animal life, respectively, while for others it articulates the challenge of bringing non-human sentient beings into the same moral universe as their human counterparts. The paper concludes by asking whether such moral progress can ever render the death of human beings and animals similar in kind

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Timothy Costelloe
College of William and Mary

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The Epistemology of Meat Eating.C. E. Abbate - 2021 - Social Epistemology 35 (1):67-84.

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