16 June 2004

From the Mailbag

"But animals are harmed (egregiously, profoundly, irreversibly) by meat-eating, so the presumption in favor of tradition is rebutted in this case, as is the corresponding commonsense belief that meat-eating is morally acceptable." [See here.]

Although I understand what this sentence was about, I think the wording is incorrect, and thinking about alternate meanings led me to some questions.

I think you really meant to say animals are harmed by being killed (for their meat)—the physical act of eating their flesh does not harm their interests, since they are already dead. Even if the meat were not eaten, their interests would be harmed irreversibly, so I don't see how the act of meat-eating would add anything to that.

I don't think it's a minor terminological issue, either, since it raises the question—do you think it's moral to eat meat from animals that died a natural death?

I don't recall this being addressed on your website, but I could have missed it. I believe that lower-caste Indians do actually eat the meat of cows that die of natural causes in India, but not sure how reliable that is.

A related question would be if it's okay to raise animals for that purpose, giving them a reasonable life, then as soon as they die-off to market.

John Crawford

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