Ethics Philosophy

Ethical treatment of animals

A friend described my home as rural. We have a barrier of trees obscuring the subdivision behind us. On the other side of them is another just being built and the other side of them a major shopping center. Across the street, behind them is a farm with horses. Another farm with cows is close enough, I can hear them moo.

On the drive to school, we pass a puppy daycare which always elicits excitement when they are in the pens outside. There is also a pasture with goats.

The troubling one is we pass an auction house. Sometimes they auction cars. This week, they have cows. Fleur has not asked where they go yet. And, honestly, I am not sure. I think they probably will go slaughter.

In that context, I found this article interesting:

Many adult consumers are averse to harm against living entities yet accept food production systems involving harm to maintain their eating practices. To solve this inner moral conflict, adults have been shown to objectify food animals (Bastian & Loughnan, 2017Bratanova et al., 2011)—attributing less intelligence, sentience, and ability to suffer. Our data shows, in late childhood, children evaluate eating animals and animal products as less morally acceptable. Children may be less likely to objectify farm animals as demonstrated by their reduced likelihood of classifying animals as food. Hence, we can speculate that adults learn effective strategies to solve inner moral conflicts regarding animal treatment. This, however, does not warrant the conclusion that children simply see all animals as equal. To assess that possibility, we asked participants about animals that we could argue have particular moral standing in society, namely, humans great ape cousins on the one hand (chimpanzees) and pests (rats) on the other (see Supplemental Information for results). We found that children think that chimpanzees ought to be treated better than pigs, and pigs better than rats. An important step in the research will be to establish at what age, and why, children start to form moral hierarchies.

McGuire, Luke; Palmer, Sally; Faber, Nadira. The development of speciesism: Age-related differences in the moral view of animals. Social Psychological and Personality Science.

My reluctance to offer up what will happen to these cows is related to that. I am not sure how I will respond when she asks.