Tag Archives: vegetarianism

Michael Benton

[A]ll living things fall into […] three great domains. The Domain Bacteria includes Cyanobacteria and most groups commonly called bacteria. The Domain Archaea (‘ancient ones’) comprises the Halobacteria (salt-digesters), Methanobacteria (methane-producers), Eocytes (heat-loving sulphur-metabolizing bacteria), and others. The Domain Eucarya includes an array of single-celled forms that are often lumped together as ‘algae’, as well as multicellular organisms. Perhaps the most startling observation is that, within Eucarya, the fungi are more closely related to the animals than to the plants, and this has been confirmed in several analyses. This poses a moral dilemma for vegetarians: should they eat mushrooms or not.

Michael Benton, The History of Life: A Very Short Introduction, New York, 2008, pp. 35-36

Dan Moller

When earlier versions of this paper were presented (initially in 2003), the author discovered, to his amazement, that audiences varied quite consistently in their receptiveness depending on whether the central example was abortion or vegetarianism. The hostility to philosophical arguments raising a problem specifically with abortion was palpable. Perhaps this is due to intrinsic features of the arguments, or perhaps it is related to the lack of cognitive diversity in many philosophy departments.

Dan Moller, ‘Abortion and Moral Risk’, Philosophy, vol. 86, no. 3 (July, 2011), p. 426.

Stuart Rachels

Suffering, by its nature, is awful, and so one needs an excellent reason to cause it. Occasionally, one will have such a reason. Surgery may cause a human being severe postoperatory pain, but the surgeon may be right to operate if that’s the only way to save the patient.

And what if the sufferer is not a human, but an animal? This doesn’t matter. The underlying principle is that suffering is bad because of what it’s like for the sufferer. Whether the sufferer is a person or a pig or a chicken is irrelevant, just as it’s irrelevant whether the sufferer is white or black or brown. The question is merely how awful the suffering is to the individual.

Stuart Rachels, ‘Vegetarianism’, in T. L. Beauchamp & R. G. Frey (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Animal Ethics, Oxford, 2012, pp. 883-884

Benjamin Franklin

[I]n my first Voyage from Boston, being becalm’d off Block Island, our People set about catching Cod and hawl’d up a grat many. Hitherto I had stuck to my Resolution of not eating animal Food; and on this Occasion I consider’d with my Master Tryon, the taking every Fish a kind of unprovok’d Murder, since none of them had or ever could do us any Injury that might justify the Slaughter.– All this seem’d very reasonable.–But I had formerly been a great Lover of Fish, and when this came hot out of the Frying Pan, it smelt admirably well. I balanc’d some time between Principle and Inclination: till I recollected, that when the Fish were opened, I saw smaller Fish taken out of their Stomachs: Then thought I, if you eat one another, I don’t see why we mayn’t eat you. So I din’d upon Cod very heartily and continu’d to eat with other People, returning only now and then occasionally to a vegetable Diet. So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable Creature, since it enables one to find or make a Reason for every thing one has a mind to do.–

Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, London, 1973, pt. 1

Jeff McMahan

Almost any shift away from the ways in which meat is currently produced and consumed would be better for both animals and people.

Jeff McMahan, ‘Eating Animals the Nice Way’, Dædalus, vol. 137, no. 1 (Winter, 2008), p. 76