27 September 2010

Philip E. Devine on Demi-Vegetarianism

Philip E. Devine Some might argue that while eating meat is in general acceptable, we are under an obligation to abstain from meat produced in particularly harsh ways: from veal perhaps, or from lobster or from pâté de foie gras. Others might argue that what is important is the level of the animal's evolutionary development, so that while it is acceptable to eat poultry one should abstain from the flesh of animals, or while it is acceptable to eat fish one should abstain from the flesh of warm-blooded animals. Or one might distinguish according to the kinds of value which may justify the eating of meat: turkey dinners on holidays with the family might be thought legitimate, while a bachelor cooking for himself would be under an obligation to abstain from meat. And there are many who see nothing wrong with buying meat at a supermarket, while disapproving of hunting even when the resulting meat is eaten by the hunter's family. Finally, one might, without accepting vegetarian ideas oneself, still feel that vegetarians are entitled to the kind of respect frequently accorded to pacifists by those who do not share their convictions.

(Philip E. Devine, "The Moral Basis of Vegetarianism," Philosophy 53 [October 1978]: 481-505, at 502 [footnote omitted])

20 September 2010

H. J. McCloskey on Punishment of Cruelty to Animals

[T]here is another class of cases where the state is accorded the right to interfere with the individual when he is not interfering with any other person, namely, where cruelty to animals is involved. We accept that the state has the right to ban cruelty to animals, even when such cruelty is in the interests of the person being cruel, for example, of the greyhound owner who trains his dog on cats, first removing the cat's claws to protect his dog from injury, or of the householder who half-starves his dog so that he can have an extra beer or two, or of the person who hunts kangaroos, wounding many and killing a few, for the fun of the sport. Legislation forbidding cruelty to animals represents the use of coercion against the interests of the individual coerced, and not to further the interests of any other person (it may do so but need not to be justified). Yet it is legislation that few of us should wish to condemn as lacking in justification. (It is, of course, arguable that the liberal who is prepared to allow state legislation against cruelty to animals is compromising his liberalism, even though it is typically in liberal societies that we find such legislation. Certainly a strange mode of justification is offered along the lines of interpreting animals as weaker members of the community, as individuals who cannot protect their own interests, and who therefore need the sort of protection extended to others such as children, lunatics, etc., who cannot protect their interests. Animals, in fact, are not members of the community, they are not weaker individuals in the sense that children are, and this is recognised in very many ways.)

(H. J. McCloskey, "Some Arguments for a Liberal Society," Philosophy 43 [October 1968]: 324-44, at 330-1)

19 September 2010

President Clinton Goes Vegan!

Former president Bill Clinton has been following an essentially vegan diet since May for its health benefits. (A vegan diet is an entirely plant-based diet centered around whole grains, vegetables, fruit, and beans, and contains absolutely no animal products—i.e., it contains no meat of any sort, no fish, no seafood, no dairy products, and no eggs.) The only thing that prevents his diet from being completely vegan is that once in a while, he eats fish, but not often. He notes that 82% of people who follow a low-fat vegan diet (like the diet recommended by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Dean Ornish, and Dr. T. Colin Campbell) are able to reverse heart disease, and he is trying to be in that 82% so that he can live long enough to enjoy his grandchildren. President Clinton discusses his decision to go vegan here. If you'd like to join President Clinton in adopting a heart-healthy vegan diet, you can find menus, recipes, and other meal-planning ideas at the PCRM's 21-Day Vegan Kickstart Mealplan.

01 September 2010


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